Sunday

18th Apr 2021

Agenda

Brexit delay rolls into This WEEK

  • British PM Boris Johnson will push for a vote on general elections on Monday (Photo: Number 10 - Flickr)

Next week would have been a historic week with the UK leaving the EU, but that is unlikely to happen just now.

The remaining 27 member states agreed on Friday (25 October) on an extension, but postponed deciding how long to delay the 31 October Brexit deadline.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

As the European Parliament and most of the council of member states slides back into a comfortable autumn break, the EU-27 ambassadors will monitor events in London on Monday, as prime minister Boris Johnson pushes for snap elections on 12 December.

The ambassadors will meet early in the week. Member states want to decide by Tuesday on the extension.

It was France that pushed for a decision to be taken later on the length of the extension. Johnson asked for a dealy untul 31 January.

French president Emmanuel Macron hopes to put pressure on the House of Commons to back the withdrawal agreement clinched last week by the EU and the UK.

The EU's delay puts the leader of the opposition Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, in a difficult position.

He had said Labour would only vote in favour of a general election if the EU confirmed that it would grant an extension, taking no-deal Brexit off the table.

Johnson needs Labour's votes to go ahead with a general election, which can get a green light with a two-thirds majority of the MPs' votes.

Westminster lawmakers are expected to vote on Monday. The chances of enough MPs backing the motion appear uncertain for now.

Corbyn called on Johnson to go to parliament on Monday and rule out - to his "satisfaction" - a no-deal Brexit.

While British politicians waited for the EU to set the timeline, the EU-27 passed the ball back and insisted that the UK needed to set Brexit's course.

This awkward dance sent the pound slightly down against the euro by 0.4 percent.

Macron at the recent EU summit praised Johnson and said the British PM had been underestimated.

"He may be a colorful character sometimes, but we all are at times. He's got a temper, but he's a leader with a real strategic vision. Those who didn't take him seriously were wrong," the French president said after the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

New commissioners

But it is not only Brexit that is getting delayed.

European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen and her team will take office one month later than planned.

And the delayed, 1 December start, might also be missed, as the Romanian government has still to nominate a new commissioner.

Von der Leyen will meet on Monday with new commissioner-nominees from France, Thierry Breton, and Hungary, Oliver Varhelyi.

The original candidates from France, Hungary, and Romania were rejected by the European Parliament.

Gas talks

On Monday, the EU, Ukraine, and Russia will hold trilateral gas talks once again to agree on transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine.

In September, commission vice-president for the energy union, Maros Sefcovic, sounded upbeat at the end of the last round of discussions.

The current agreement expires in January.

The sides agreed that the contract will be based on EU law, but key issues remained, such as volumes, tariffs, and the duration of the future contract.

Throwback Tuesday

On Tuesday, two veterans of EU politics, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, former president of the European Parliament, and brain behind the spitzenkandidaten system, will meet in Brussels.

Juncker will also receive Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic the same day. The EU's foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini will host a working dinner with the leaders of the six Western Balkan partners in Brussels in the evening.

The next day, enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn will meet Hashim Thaci, president of Kosovo.

North Macedonia and Albania, two Western Balkan countries, were snubbed by the EU last week as mainly France refused to agree to start accession talks with the two countries.

Nordic climate

Meanwhile, climate and sustainability will be top of the agenda when 87 members of Nordic parliaments and five Nordic prime ministers meet between Tuesday and Thursday in the Swedish parliament in Stockholm for the annual Nordic Council's 71 session.

A new strategy for co-operation on Nordic security has been worked out prior to the session, including closer cooperation between national emergency services, such as fire and rescue services, communication and police.

Brexit impasse, as UK and EU refuse to move first

Britain's main opposition party wants the EU to decide on a Brexit extension before agreeing to UK elections, but France wants to see what happens on the British vote first.

EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate

Climate change was part of the agenda of the EU leaders for Friday's summit. However, the council decided to finalise the EUʼs long-term strategy on climate change at its next meeting in December.

EU leaders to warn von der Leyen over 'giving in' to MEPs

The new commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen will meet for the first time with EU leaders who nominated her for the job. She will be asked to lay out her plans for getting her commission through parliament.

Travel certificates back on the agenda This WEEK

On Thursday, MEPs in the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group meeting will hear from Polish judges, prosecutors, and government representatives on the situation of the judiciary in Poland.

Turkey on EU leaders' plate This WEEK

Ahead of the EU summit, on Monday foreign affairs ministers are set to approve a new package of sanctions on individuals in several countries, including China and Russia, over human rights abuses.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK

EU leaders talk vaccines, while the Portugues EU presidency introduces itself to MEPs. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president of the United States, and the EU hopes this will mark a new beginning for EU-US relations.

Unblocking Brexit and budget in focus This WEEK

With only five weeks to go before the UK severs all ties with the EU, chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the "same significant divergences persist" between the two sides in post-Brexit talks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us