Thursday

27th Feb 2020

Agenda

Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK

  • London: British MPs rejected previous Brexit deal three times (Photo: Dun.can)

The future of Brexit continues to hang in the balance this week, with a crunch vote in Westminster on Saturday (19 October).

If British prime minister Boris Johnson fails to get his new Brexit deal through parliament, then the UK will either crash out of Europe with no legal safety net at the end of the month or be forced to seek another extension to the deadline.

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The opposition Labour Party, some rebels in Johnson's own Conservative Party, as well as his former Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, have already said they would vote no, putting him short of a majority.

"From what we know, it seems the prime minister has negotiated an even worse deal than Theresa May's," Labour leader Jeremy Corby said, referring to former British prime minister Theresa May.

Her Brexit deal, which was not that different, was rejected by Westminster three times before she was herself ejected from her post.

But the UK is not the only one in Europe to dither on important legislation.

For its part, the Finnish EU presidency aims to revive talks on an anti-discrimination bill to help defend minorities in Europe.

"Women, persons with disabilities, LGTBI people, ethnic minorities, including Roma and immigrants, and poor people are considered to run the highest risk of being discriminated against," the EU Council said in a preparatory memo to a meeting of employment and social affairs ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday.

But the landmark EU bill, first tabled in 2008, has failed to get unanimous support from member states "despite the efforts of more than 20 presidencies", the memo noted.

Normal business aside, MEPs will be wondering whom Croatia, France, and Romania might put forward in the coming days as their European Commission nominees.

The new candidates are needed after the European Parliament rejected those three states' initial picks due to financial improprieties.

Speculation at the EU summit last Thursday and Friday said France might pick the EU's Brexit negotiator and former French politician Michel Barnier to do the job.

But whatever names pop out of the that, it will be too late to for MEPs to vote on the new commission team as originally planned, on Wednesday, or for the new 'college' of commissioners to take up office on 1 November.

The nominations hiatus will leave MEPs to take care of day-to-day business, such as a debate on Monday on the effects of the collapse of Thomas Cook, a British holiday firm which left 600,000 Europeans stranded round the world when it bust.

MEPs will also discuss Turkey's invasion of Syria on Wednesday and vote on next year's EU budget the same day.

Further afield, the EU's foreign relations chief, Federica Mogherini, will also travel to Japan for the coronation of its new emperor on Tuesday.

But her global diplomacy comes as the EU struggles to painting its credibility on foreign policy after a French veto torpedoed Western Balkans enlargement plans last week.

EU leaders back Brexit deal as Johnson faces Westminster

EU leaders on Thursday night endorsed the deal reached by EU and UK negotiators - now it is up to British PM Boris Johnson to convince a majority of MPs to ratify the agreement in a showdown on Saturday.

French EU nominee loses vote and is out

France's nominee for EU commissioner lost the vote on her candidacy, with 82 MEPs against and 29 in favour, after hard questions in a second hearing.

Africa visit and EU parliament missions This WEEK

The European Commission will visit the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for a joint meeting with the African Union, ahead of the EU-Africa strategy being unveiled. MEPs will carry out missions in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the US.

Budget, Zuckerberg, Pelosi and Cayman Islands This WEEK

EU leaders will put their heads together on Thursday night to look for a compromise on the next long-term EU budget. EU Council president Charles Michel's latest proposal has received a lukewarm welcome from member states.

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.

Feature

Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Panic-buying, plus resentment at the media for fuelling the panic, are the paradoxical responses of residents of the Italian towns of Vicenza and Vo', where Italy's first victim of the coronavirus died last Friday.

Greek island riots require measured response, says EU

Residents on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios have been met with riot police, following protests against plans to erect new migrant detention camps. The European Commission says measures by Athens' authorities must be "necessary and proportionate."

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