Tuesday

31st Mar 2020

Agenda

EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK

After the parliament (narrowly) approved Ursula von der Leyen as the new president of the European Commission, the EU effectively goes on holiday from next week, as Brussels empties out with thousands of officials and politicians leaving for a summer holiday.

But work will still go on in some corners of the EU institutions.

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EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will meet next week with von der Leyen, a commission spokesperson said Friday, without giving an exact date.

On Wednesday (24 July) commissioners will gather for their weekly meeting in Brussels.

Commissioner for rule of law and better regulation Frans Timmermans will meet with a group of Polish lawyers from the FreeCourts Initiative, a civil group of Polish lawyers seeking to preserve the independence of the judiciary in their country.

Parliamentary committees will still be meeting with trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom paying a visit to the trade committee of the parliament on Tuesday (23 July) after the EU sealed the trade deal with Argentina, Brazil Paraguay and Uruguay.

Parliament's committees will also meet representatives of the Finnish EU presidency to discuss the priorities.

On Wednesday, the economic committee will hear from Elke Konig, the chairperson of the single resolution board, the central resolution authority in the EU.

On the same day, the budget control committee will discuss their priorities for the next five years - as the committee becomes one of the key authorities for checking the use of EU funds, with alleged abuse in several member states such as Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Still on Wednesday, the civil liberties committee will hear from security commissioner Julian King, and the next day MEPs in the committee will quiz Vera Jourova, the justice commissioner.

Meanwhile, the transport committee will hold a debate with transport commissioner Violeta Bulc.

On Monday (22 July), the budget committee of the parliament will meet to discuss amending the 2019 EU budget, partly to reinforce the Horizon 2020 research program, the Erasmus exchange program, and additional solidarity fund to Romania, Italy and Austria.

In the meantime, EU countries began nominating their commissioners, but so far, the gender balance sought by von der Leyen seems like an uphill battle.

PM Boris Johnson?

In the UK, the battle for the Conservative party leadership and with it the role of prime minister will end on Tuesday (23 July), when the result from the party elections will be announced.

Former foreign minister Boris Johnson is expected to become the UK's next prime minister. Johnson campaigned for Britain's exit from the EU, and is now signalling that a a no-deal divorce is possible, with the UK scheduled to leave the bloc at the end of October.

It is unlikely that a late surge in votes for the current foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, who is also in the race, could block the gaffe-prone Johnson from becoming prime minister.

With Johnson becoming prime minister, the Conservatives are expected to dive deeper into a crisis over Brexit, with current finance minister Philip Hammond already threatening to bring down the Johnson government in case it pushes for a no-deal Brexit.

Hammond said it was "absolutely necessary" for the UK to extend its EU membership beyond 31 October.

As well as being a former foreign minister, Johnson spent his childhood in Brussels in the 1970s whilst his father worked for the EU Commission, before returning to the city as a journalist for the Daily Telegraph in the 1990s, a eurosceptic newspaper.

Trump advocates no-deal Brexit on eve of UK visit

Johnson and Farage in charge, a no-deal Brexit, chlorinated chicken in British shops, and privatised healthcare - that is what the UK should head towards, Trump and his ambassador have said.

Conflicts of interest loom for Brexit Party MEPs

New Brexit Party MEP June Alison Mummery is the director of a company active in the fishing industry. She just joined the EU parliament's fisheries committee as a substitute member.

Analysis

What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

The vote on von der Leyen showed the fundamental change in EU politics. The rise of the European Parliament, the power of political parties, and the fragmentation of politics, are new realities to be taken into account.

EU struggles to remain united This WEEK

EU countries continue to wrestle with economic shock of pandemic and with sharing of medical resources, posing deep questions on solidarity in the bloc.

EU goes fully online in lockdown This WEEK

EU leaders will discuss the coronavirus reponse online, while MEPs will vote on urgent measures by email. Starting accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia will also be high on the agenda.

News in Brief

  1. 12-year old Belgian girl dies of coronavirus
  2. EU Commission: no 'indefinite' emergency measures
  3. Denmark plans 'gradual' return to normal after Easter
  4. Globally over 780,000 cases of coronavirus, 37,000 deaths
  5. EU states losing 3% of GDP a month, IMF says
  6. Fruit pickers need to cross borders too, EU says
  7. Former Slovak minister to become EU envoy on Kosovo-Serbia
  8. Hungary's Orban wins rule-by-decree vote in parliament

Podcast

Věra Jourová on surveillance and Covid-19

Commissioner for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, says Brussels will vet moves in Hungary to give prime minister Viktor Orbán scope to rule by decree and urges Facebook and Google to push official health advice to WhatsApp and YouTube.

EU struggles to remain united This WEEK

EU countries continue to wrestle with economic shock of pandemic and with sharing of medical resources, posing deep questions on solidarity in the bloc.

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