Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

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.

More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels amid new farmers' protests. MEPs will hear from Alexei Navalny's widow and give the final green light to the €50bn Ukraine facility, while the CBAM proposal faces a formal challenge at a WTO meeting.

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.

Opinion

Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?

Disputes between member states, notably Germany, highlight the lack of coordination among national industrial capabilities for a European Defence Industrial Strategy — which may include the EU's first ever defence commissioner.

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