Sunday

18th Apr 2021

Agenda

New commission and Malta in focus This WEEK

  • The new commission president Ursula von der Leyen will start work on Sunday (Photo: European Commission)

The new EU Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen will formally take over on Sunday (1 December), and the new president is expected to move into her office, and spend the day making phone calls to capitals.

She will kick off first week with a speech on Tuesday (3 December) in Madrid at the UN climate change conference.

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Von der Leyen plans to roll out her plans for Europe to take the lead on the fight against climate change on 11 December under a European Green Deal.

She will head the first meeting of the new commission on Wednesday (4 December) before heading off the Ethiopia for an official visit with African Union officials.

Malta in the meantime will be in focus next week, as prime minister Joseph Muscat is widely not expected to survive in office due to the investigation into the 2017 murder of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia, which implicated his close advisors.

The European Parliament is sending a fact-finding mission to Malta amid serious concerns over the functioning of the rule of law there.

Muscat heads the Labour Party, and risks becoming an embarrassment for the European Socialists and Democrats (S&D), which have been vocal on rule of law issues in Hungary and Poland - but not in Malta or Romania.

The rival centre-right European political family, the European People's Party (EPP), which was heavily criticised for having supported Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban until his suspension this March, now sees a political opportunity in being tough on rule of law issues here.

Justice

On Monday (2 December), EU justice and home affairs will meeting in Brussels and review the future of the EU's migration and asylum policy. They will also discuss the future of EU internal security.

Ministers will also look at the European Border and Coast Guard rules entering in force on 4 December.

The next day the commission will brief ministers on the state of play about the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor Office.

Laura Codruta Kovesi, the newly-elected EU chief prosecutor, will present her plans to ministers.

Kovesi will also appear in the parliament's civil liberties committee on Monday, to discuss a comprehensive EU strategy to fight organised crime and corruption.

Ombudsman race

On Tuesday, the parliament's petitions committee will hear from the five candidates running to be the next EU ombudsman.

Besides Irish former journalist Emily O'Reilly (the incumbent), former Swedish MEP Cecila Wikström, Latvian-American human rights activist Nils Muiznieks, Italian local ombudsman Giuseppe Fortunato, and Estonian jurist Julia Laffranque are running for the five-year position.

The plenary is expected to elect the new ombudsman, who is tasked with looking into cases of maladministration by EU institutions and bodies, by secret ballot on 17 December. The EPP, the largest part in the parliament, is expected to back Wikström.

On Monday MEPs in the human rights subcommittee will hear from Joshua Wong, secretary-general and co-founder of the Demosisto Party, and a leading figure in the Hong Kong protests.

On the same day, MEPs in the economic committee will discuss monetary issues with Christine Lagarde, the new head of the European Central Bank.

On Tuesday, MEPs in the environment committee will hear from Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, on how to turn the bank into a Climate Bank, which will help finance the European economy's green transition.

Analysis

Von der Leyen team voted in by MEPs - amid warnings

The first female commission president and her (almost) gender-balanced team can take office on 1 December. Despite a large majority of MEPs backing the new commission, many warned that their support was not a "blank cheque".

Finnish EU presidency brief broadly offshores migration

A Finnish EU presidency paper on migration, designed to feed into the new European Commission, lays out a vision to prevent irregular migration, forced displacement, and boost cooperation on return and readmission.

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.

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