Wednesday

21st Feb 2024

Agenda

New commission unveiled This WEEK

EU Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen will unveil her team of commissioners next Tuesday (10 September) and their designated portfolios, after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations.

"I am happy to have received all names from EU member states," von der Leyen tweeted.

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The only wild card left seems to be Romania, where the government put forward two names: Dan Nica and Rovana Plumb.

Von der Leyen will kick off her week with a working lunch on Monday (9 September) with current commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, before making the announcement the next day.

The attention will then turn to the parliament, where the various parliamentary committees will start grilling the commissioner candidates.

Political groups will meet to work out their positions on the nominees over the weekend and next week.

The Romanian and Hungarian candidates can expect some heat from MEPs, but Italy's and Poland's candidates seem to be in a safe position.

Brexit saga reaching endgame?

The week will see the Brexit saga continue with an effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson to push - again - for a snap election.

MPs will get another chance to vote for an early election on Monday (9 September), the government announced.

Parliament rejected Johnson's plan for a snap election for 15 October, immediately ahead of the EU summit on 17 October. Legislators at the same time are pushing through a bill that would make a no-deal Brexit illegal and force Johnson to ask for an extension to the 31 October Brexit deadline if there is no divorce deal until then.

Johnson said this week he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than go to Brussels to ask for a further delay.

The fresh vote on an early election is scheduled just before parliament is due to be suspended from next week until 14 October. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the suspension would begin on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday but did not say precisely when, the BBC reported.

Opposition parties are holding talks about how to respond to the prime minister's call for a mid-October election.

Meanwhile, the deal to prevent a no-deal Brexit was being voted on by the upper chamber House of Lords on Friday (6 September).

In Brussels, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday (12 September) will debrief the leaders of the European parliament's political groups and the parliament president on where things stand with the Brexit negotiations.

Crucial Russia vote

Russians go to the polls on Sunday (8 September) in municipal and regional elections.

Most of the attention will focus on Moscow, where during the campaign opposition rallies were galvanised, because president Vladimir Putin's administration wanted to stop opposition candidates from running for seats there.

Putin's United Russia did not formally nominate any candidates, and its candidates are running as independents because of the party's low popularity.

The rallies degenerated into the biggest police crackdown on protesters in nearly a decade in Russia.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny urged Russians to participate in the "smart vote" project, calling for voting for the strongest candidates standing against Putin's nominees.

"The only way to say 'NO' is coordinated voting for the strongest competitors of the United Russia candidates," Navalny wrote.

The elections will be keenly-watched ahead of the parliamentary elections in 2021, and will be a litmus test for authorities to adjust to the newly-energised opposition.

Any other business

Leaders of the European parliament committees will hold a meeting on Wednesday (11 September) with the Romanian and Estonian commissioners-designate, who have been put forward to join the outgoing Juncker-commission for the remainder of its term, until November, and replace commissioners who took up seats in the parliament.

On Monday, new European Parliament president David Sassoli will meet Spain's foreign minister Josep Borrell who had been nominated by EU heads of state to take over as the bloc's foreign affairs chief. Borrell himself had served as the EP's president between 2004 and 2007.

Von der Leyen aims to 'rebalance Europe'

The German EU Commission president-elect hopes to bridge divisions within the EU, as she meets with EU leaders setting up her team of commissioners.

The new European Commission: what's next?

Informal interviews with von der Leyen, hearings with parliamentary committees, and votes in the EU parliament and Council await the 26 candidates.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

Nato, defence summit, and UNRWA in focus This WEEK

Nato defence ministers will meet this week ahead of the Munich Security Conference. ECB chief Christine Lagarde will address MEPs in the committee on economic affairs and MEPs will hold a debate about the defunding of the UNRWA agency.

Opinion

Ukraine refugees want to return home — but how?

Fewer than one-in-ten Ukrainian refugees intend to settle permanently outside Ukraine, according to new research by the associate director of research and the director of gender and economic inclusion at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Podcast

Podcast: Navalny, Ian Bremmer and "more Europe"

EU headlines, Russia after Navalny, the Munich Security Conference and an interview with Ian Bremmer, author and founder of the Eurasia Group on his main takeaways from the conference.

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