Monday

30th Mar 2020

Agenda

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

  • There will be no Brexit on 29 March. But a UK crash departure from the bloc is not yet ruled out (Photo: Duncan Hull)

After EU-27 leaders granted an extension to the Brexit deadline, at their Brussels summit, the UK parliament will have until 12 April to pass the withdrawal agreement - or decide on a different Brexit strategy.

British prime minister Theresa May's government has conceded it is likely to hold the third meaningful vote on the deal next week.

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According to British media reports, the vote is likely to be on Tuesday (26 March) or Wednesday (27 March), to give MPs time to pass legislation to change the exit date before 29 March, the original date for the UK leaving the EU.

Although that may still depend on the willingness of the House of Commons speaker, John Bercow, to allow another vote on essentially the same deal.

If the vote is successful, the UK has until 22 May to adopt further legislation on the divorce and leave the bloc.

If the vote fails, the UK government has until 12 April to either: revoke the Article 50 withdrawal procedure and cancel Brexit, ask for a longer extension and hold EU elections, or go for no deal.

European Parliament lawmakers will discuss the EU summit, including Brexit, with EU council president Donald Tusk on Wednesday morning in Strasbourg.

Copy paste

The parliament is due to vote on a number of bills which have been agreed in the closed-doors trilogue format with national governments and the European Commission.

On Tuesday (26 March), MEPs will debate and vote on an agreement about the EU's future copyright regime.

The copyright deal follows two years of intensive talks and a fierce lobbying battle between creative industries and tech companies.

Lobbying pressure was also very high on another file that will be debated on Tuesday: new CO2 limits for cars and vans.

The parliament generally had wanted stricter targets than national governments, but there was also a division according to whether politicians were from an EU country where the car industry plays an important economic role.

"We fought a good fight," said centre-left Maltese MEP Miriam Dalli in an interview with EUobserver.

On behalf of the EU parliament, Dalli negotiated the compromise that will be put to a vote on Wednesday.

"I'm convinced this is the maximum we could have got," she said.

Much less contentious were new rules that limit the use of plastic in throw-away items.

On Wednesday, MEPs will debate and vote on a political agreement, banning single-use plastic items like cutlery and straws from 2021.

Unlike with cars, most of these products are imported, and therefore there was much less domestic lobbying against these new rules.

MEPs will also vote on Tuesday on the proposal to end the switch between summer and winter time.

EU countries can either keep their summer time and adjust clocks for the last time on the last Sunday of March 2021, or keep their standard (winter) time, and change clocks for the last time on the last Sunday of October 2021. Member states still need to agree to the decision.

Elections

On Sunday (31 March), Ukraine will hold its first round of presidential elections. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the first vote, a second round will be held on 21 April.

A place in the runoff appears most likely to be a three-horse race between incumbent Petro Poroshenko, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and TV comedian Vladimir Zelenski who is also high in the polls.

Slovakia's presidential election is entering its final round on Saturday (30 March), where 45-year-old anti-corruption campaigner Zuzana Caputova is expected to beat commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic.

May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery

The UK is seeking a three-month delay to leave in the European Union. But its 30 June deadline is a major headache given the European elections in May. The European Commission is demanding EU summit leaders reject May's proposal.

EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants

After marathon talks, EU negotiators agree on provisional copyright reform, requiring companies to filter content to prevent unauthorized work on their platform. Online platforms and open-internet advocates warn it will hurt the free flow of information.

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Opinion

Poland's sham presidential election in a pandemic

Declaring a state of emergency is not even an option on the table for Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) chairman Jarosław Kaczyński - as it would render the 10 May election impossible.

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