Tuesday

20th Aug 2019

Agenda

Brexit and China top EU affairs This WEEK

  • UK is still on its way out, but when will it actually go? (Photo: Martin Pettitt)

Brexit and China will dominate EU affairs this week, as leaders meet for emergency talks two days before the UK is due to crash out of the EU with no deal in place.

The Brexit summit on Thursday (10 April) will ponder whether to accept Britain's request to delay its EU departure from 12 April to 30 June.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The UK was already meant to have left on 29 March, but stayed in because MPs could not agree what kind of withdrawal deal they wanted with Europe. They had voted down the deal agreed between British prime minister Theresa May and the EU three times, despite the ticking clock.

For their part, Donald Tusk, the EU Council president, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, have suggested either flexible or more long-term Brexit delays.

If the EU-27 agree to another extension that might mean Britain has to contest the European Parliament (EP) elections in May.

That would cause a mess, with British MEPs later pulling out once Brexit takes place and upsetting the composition of the EP's next legislature.

But a no-deal crash-out would cause an even bigger crisis, upsetting trade and transport links and leaving EU and UK residents in doubt on their rights.

Tusk and Juncker will also meet Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang in Brussels one day earlier to talk trade.

The EU is pushing for greater market access for European firms in China and fewer Chinese subsidies for its industrial champions.

It is also keen to talk about the security aspects of their €1bn-a-day trade relationship, as China buys up strategic assets in the EU, including ports, railways, and mobile phone networks.

Leading human rights groups have urged them to also mention China's mass imprisonment of Uighur Muslims, its oppression of Tibet, and the "enforced disappearance" of activists.

"At previous EU-China summits, the EU's top leadership has given little more than token lip service to urgent human rights concerns," the groups, including Human Rights With and Amnesty International, said.

Meanwhile, state-building in Afghanistan, the political crisis in Venezuela, and EU relations with former Soviet states, such as Ukraine, will be on the agenda when foreign ministers start the week with a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

Libya, where a Russian-backed warlord, Khalifa Haftar, threatens to sweep the EU and UN-backed government in Tripoli off the map, will also feature in the talks.

The state of rule of law in Hungary and Poland, which risk EU sanctions for their abuses, will occupy EU affairs ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

The EU's next big budget, covering 2021 to 2027 will also come under discussion amid suggestions that misbehavers such as Budapest and Warsaw ought to be punished via cuts to EU funds for their poor regions.

The EP will hold a handful of committee meetings, on issues ranging from how to fill the EU budget gap in 2019 after the UK leaves (Thursday) and how Denmark can cooperate in an EU judicial club despite its opt-out on EU policy in that area (Monday).

But many eyes will also turn to Milan, Italy, where Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini will, on Monday, hold a congress with like-minded politicians from 20-or-so other EU states in his bid to form an anti-EU league in the EP after the May vote.

Eyes will also turn to Rwanda on Monday, where Juncker will join prime minister Paul Kagame to honour the victims, including 10 Belgian peacekeepers, of the 1994 genocide there.

May asks for Brexit extension until 30 June

British prime minister Theresa May asks the EU to further delay Brexit, until 30 June - which means the UK will start preparations to hold European elections. Meanwhile, EU Council president Donald Tusk mulls a year-long flexible extension.

TV comic wins first round of election in jaded Ukraine

A Ukrainian comic won the first round of presidential elections in a country jaded by never-ending corruption allegations and five years of Russian warfare. He is now set to face incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a run-off in three weeks' time.

EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK

Boris Johnson is almost certain to become the UK's next prime minister, and oversee Brexit until the 31 October deadline, as work in the EU bubble is winding down for the summer.

Von der Leyen vote the focus This WEEK

MEPs will vote to confirm - or not - on Tuesday the new commission president, Ursula von der Leyen - a candidate put forward at the last minute by the EU leaders, and grilled by lawmakers recently in Brussels.

Von der Leyen and Greece in focus This WEEK

The EU parliament committees will start their work, as MEPs reflect on approving Ursula von der Leyen as new commission chief. Meanwhile, Greek is about to take a conservative turn.

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Irish border plan is 'anti-democratic', Johnson tells EU
  2. Polish deputy minister targeted judges in hate campaign
  3. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  4. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  5. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  6. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  7. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  8. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us