Thursday

2nd Jul 2020

Agenda

EU diplomacy in eastern Europe and Africa tops agenda This WEEK

  • Europe's offer of a free trade treaty to Ukraine helped to start a revolution and prompted Russia's invasion (Photo: Christiaan Triebert)

EU diplomacy in the former Soviet region and in west Africa will dominate events this week, as the European Parliament (EP) halts work ahead of the upcoming election.

EU foreign ministers will meet counterparts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine in Brussels on Monday (13 May) to celebrate 10 years since the launch of the 'Eastern Partnership'.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Sahel region saw French troops free European hostages from Islamist kidnappers in special operations last week (Photo: emilio labrador)

The leaders of the former Soviet satellites, with the exception of Belarus, will also hold a summit with top EU officials later the same day.

The partnership scheme, designed by Poland and Sweden, was meant to build closer relations, including association and free-trade treaties, with countries on the EU's eastern flank.

But Azerbaijan, an oil and gas dictatorship, and Belarus, a staunch Russian ally, have kept their distance from the project, while Armenia, under Russian pressure, opted to join Moscow's alternative Eurasian Union instead.

Russia also invaded Ukraine in 2014 in order to keep it from aligning with the West, in a war which has claimed 13,000 lives and prompted critics of the EU policy to say Europe should not have tried to encroach on Russia's backyard.

EU foreign and defence ministers will also meet their counterparts from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss counter-terrorism and broader security cooperation in the Sahel region.

And EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini will meet the EU and UN-backed Libyan prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj on Monday to shore up support for his rule, amid fighting in Tripoli which threatens to turn into a civil war, pushing more refugees toward Europe.

The EU foreign ministers will discuss the Venezuela political crisis and the threat of US law suits against European firms doing business in Cuba on Monday.

They will also hold talks on EU efforts to compete with China and Russia for influence in the Western Balkans, while defence ministers, on Tuesday, will discuss EU-Nato cooperation and EU projects to develop joint military capabilities that could one day led to the creation of a joint European armed forces.

Turning away from the world of international diplomacy, EU agriculture ministers will discuss reforms of the bloc's own agricultural subsidies beyond 2020 on Tuesday, including on how to make European farming more climate friendly.

EU development ministers will also hold talks on Thursday on how to use financial assistance to help poorer nations meet global warming targets.

Rounding off the week, finance ministers will, on Friday, discuss digital taxation in the international arena as well as common application of excise duties on alcohol, tobacco and energy.

They will also discuss the future of European Commission monitoring of EU member states national budgets amid calls by Italy to loosen fiscal discipline rules.

But the European Parliament and the European Commission will have a quiet week, as MEPs head home to fight for their seats in the upcoming EP elections, starting on 23 May, as the political action shifts from Brussels back onto home turf.

EU-Sahel talks next week amid 'unprecedented attacks'

Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are meeting EU foreign, defence, and development ministers next week in Brussels. The visit comes amid "unprecedented levels" of armed attacks, says the UN.

Ukraine comic-president invited to EU capitals

EU leaders have invited Ukrainian TV comic Volodymyr Zelensky to Berlin and Brussels after he became the country's new president in a landslide victory on Sunday.

Germany's EU presidency launches This WEEK

Germany will take over the EU's rotating presidency for the next difficult six months, making two of the three EU institutions led by German politicians and officials. Poland will digest the results of the first round of its presidential election.

EU's virtual summit with China This WEEK

This week, the European Union and China are holding their first joint summit since April 2019. It comes amid the pandemic, which first surfaced in China's Wuhan, protests in Hong Kong and a belligerent US president.

News in Brief

  1. China to block Hong Kong exiles fleeing to UK
  2. EU stuck with Putin until 2036
  3. Malaysia pushes to keep selling palm oil to EU
  4. Austria raises corona alert on Western Balkans
  5. Turkey poised to convert Istanbul museum into mosque
  6. France leaves Nato operation after clash with Turkish ships
  7. EU Commission sets up skills agenda for next five years
  8. Bundestag gives floor to 'disgrace' Schröder on pipeline

Opinion

On toppling statues

In Belgium, there are 443 statues, busts, plaques, and street names that celebrate that country's colonial past. As recently as 2005, school textbooks lauded Belgium for "civilising the black population, step-by-step."

Feature

The 150 random French citizens advising Macron

Some 150 randomly-picked men and women make up Emmanuel Macron's Citizens' Climate Convention. This week Macron invited them to the Élysée Palace and promised - nearly - all of their wishes would come true .

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Eminent women appeal for EU action on Palestine
  2. EU silent on US buying up world's remdesivir supplies
  3. Merkel warns of gaps as Germany takes EU helm
  4. Regions urge EU to act on 'green hydrogen'
  5. On toppling statues
  6. EU Parliament hits back at Czech PM in fund misuse row
  7. EU: Accountability needed on Uighur 'forced sterilisations'
  8. France shuts oldest reactor amid Macron climate pledges

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us