Monday

17th Feb 2020

Agenda

Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

Greater clarity on who may take up leading roles of the EU institutions will dominate the agenda this week.

In a pre-summer summit scheduled for Thursday (20 June) and Friday, heads of state and government will return to Brussels where they are expected to parcel up the posts according to political stripes.

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The centre-right EPP currently has a presidency grip on the European Commission with Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Parliament with Italy's Antonio Tajani, and the European Council with Poland's Donald Tusk.

But a European election shake-up in May has rolled back public support for the EPP, opening the candidacy cast list to socialists (S&D) and the liberals Alde now known as Renew Europe.

Among the hopefuls for the commission presidency job is Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans and Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager.

Also at stake is the European Parliament's beloved Spitzenkandat, a German term used to describe a process where European political parties elect their candidates to take the European commission helm.

That would normally put Germany's Manfred Weber, the EPP chair, in pole position but EU states remain largely unconvinced by the spitzenkandat - possibly pitting the two EU institutions against one another.

Weber has received support from Germany's Angela Merkel, Tajani, and Juncker but lacks the government experience some say is required to handle such a large institution.

Whatever the outcome, the playing field for the top jobs will also have to consider the geographic make-up and aspire to have a woman take at least one of the posts.

The president of European commission is expected to take office at the start of November, while the European council chief starts a month later.

Socialist and Liberal leadership

The power jockeying has already started with a flurry of high level meetings and decisions in the lead up to the summit.

Everything kicks off on Monday evening when the European Parliament group leaders meet to negotiate the coalition. They may also have a name for the commission president.

The leaders will then again meet on Tuesday, along with Tajani, in the so-called conference of presidents format where they are expected to finalise the details discussed on Monday. Tusk will also be present.

The same Tuesday evening will also see S&D select their new leadership with Germany's incumbent Udo Bullman facing a challenge from Spanish MEP Iratxe Garcia.

Socialist election gains in Spain and defeats in Germany will likely factor into that decision, putting Bullman at a clear disadvantage.

Tusk is then expected to receive the parliament's input on Wednesday morning and have a discussion with the Green's co-president Philippe Lamberts later in the afternoon.

Renew Europe, composed of the pro-European Republic on the March (La Republique En Marche) party and the existing liberal Alde group, is also set to select their leader on Wednesday.

Macron's choice candidate to lead it, Nathalie Loiseau, has since backfired. Other Renew Europe contenders include Sweden's MEP Fredrick Federley, Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld and possibly former Romanian prime minister, Dacian Ciolos.

Outside institutional affairs, foreign affairs ministers will on Monday in Luxembourg be meeting to discuss Venezuela, Sudan and the Common Foreign and Security Policy. They will also be joined by defence ministers to discuss the EU's global strategy.

EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit

Political bosses of the European Parliament's groups, hoping to assemble a majority coalition, are eyeing putting forward an political agenda - and possibly a name for the commission top job - before EU leaders gather in Brussels.

Macron's EU liberal candidate insults allies, resigns

Nathalie Loiseau, the French president's top choice to lead the new European Parliament liberal group known as Renew Europe, has returned to Paris after reportedly insulting the group's leading MEPs.

EU pressed to shore up funds for South Sudan

South Sudan's country director for the World Food Programme (WFP) says he could save donors some $100m if they were to front-load funds today to stave off hunger in the war-torn country, which saw a mass rape last month.

Deja vu as EU top jobs dominate again This WEEK

Brussels will host yet another summit on Sunday (30 June) as leaders from across the 28 EU member states return, after Thursday's failed initial bid to nominate people to take on the presidencies of the major EU institutions.

EU budget battle gears up This WEEK

Member states get ready for their first real negotiations on the next seven-year EU budget, while MEPs discuss the next Brexit phase, enlargement, and vote on a highly-controversial trade deal with Vietnam.

Second phase of Brexit starts This WEEK

In its first week without the UK, the EU will reveal how it wants to negotiate future relations with London, will propose a new enlargement methodology to calm Paris, and MEPs will hear from EU chief prosecutor Laura Kovesi.

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