Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

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.

Fears on migration plus Ukraine summit this WEEK

MEPs are expected to present their migration and asylum priorities on Wednesday (1 February), before EU leaders will focus on the issue at the 9-10 February special European Council.

New sanctions and democracy in focus This WEEK

On Monday, Brussels will see EU foreign affairs ministers focusing on a 10th sanctions package against Russia, a special tribunal, and preparing the EU-Ukraine summit on 3 February in Kyiv.

Opinion

Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Column

Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue

All member states complain about European compromises, each for their own reasons. Nevertheless, these decisions tend to be robust precisely because there is enough in them for everybody. And nobody wants to start negotiating all over again for another deal.

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