Friday

24th Jan 2020

Agenda

Iran, Brexit test 'geopolitical' commission This WEEK

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has invited the Iranian foreign minister to Brussels - but has yet to receive a response (Photo: exteriores.gob.es)

The EU this week will continue to struggle to deal with the latest crisis sparked by the US administration's killing of Iran's senior general Qassem Suleimani and US president Donald Trump's continued threats to bomb Iran.

Brussels said it wants to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East, but has appeared to be so far remaining on the sidelines and taking few concrete actions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

This will be the first major test for the new EU executive, which its president, Germany's Ursula von der Leyen, has promoted as a "geopolitical" commission.

The EU's foreign affairs chief, Spain's Josep Borrell, is trying to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, and has invited Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif to Brussels. Tehran has yet to confirm the visit.

EU foreign affairs ministers are expected to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the crisis on Friday (10 January) in Brussels, according to EU diplomats.

Meanwhile, the commission will travel to Zagreb on Thursday and Friday (9-10 January) as Croatia kicks off its first-ever EU presidency.

Von der Leyen will hold a joint press conference on Friday with Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic - whose name also came up as possible commission president last summer during the haggling for the EU top jobs.

London calling

Before Zagreb, von der Leyen will travel to London to meet with British prime minister Boris Johnson.

The UK will become the first country ever to leave the EU, on 31 January.

Von der Leyen pledged the commission will be ready in February to start negotiations with the UK on the future trade deal, but the negotiating mandate for the EU executive will have to be first approved by member states.

The two sides will "discuss holistically the UK's withdrawal from the EU, and to look forward to the year ahead in all of its dimensions", a commission spokesperson said.

If the UK does not extend the transition period (due to expire at the end of this year), the UK and the EU have only 11 months to negotiate a trade deal that usually take several years to hammer out. Johnson has so far ruled out any extension request.

Parliament meets

In the meantime, European Parliament committees will this week also discuss some controversial issues.

On Thursday (9 January), MEPs on the civil liberties committee will hear from the commission on questions by Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld after EUobserver revealed that the UK had been illegally copying classified personal information (including photographs and fingerprints) from the Schengen Information System (SIS).

EUobserver reporter Nikolaj Nielsen has also shared the internal EU report on the UK's mishandling of the data.

On the same day, the legal affairs committee will discuss waiving the immunity for Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt.

Lawyers with the Polish ultra-conservative institute, Ordo Iuris, have accused Verhofstadt of defamation after, in 2017, he described the far-right participants of the Polish Independence March as "fascists", "neo-Nazis" and "white suprematists".

A Polish court asked the parliament to waive the MEP's immunity.

Exclusive

Breton's firm hosted unlawful copy of EU police data

France's Thierry Breton is set to become the next European Commissioner for industrial policy. While he was CEO of IT giant Atos, the firm hosted unlawful partial copies of EU police data on behalf of the United Kingdom.

Analysis

Suleimani assassination strengthens Iranian regime

With the assassination of Iranian general and war hero Qassem Suleimani, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei gets the opportunity to reunite the people in his country, after weeks of mass protests.

Von der Leyen warns of tough Brexit talks in 2020

The EU Commission president told MEPs in Strasbourg that time is running out in the expected 11 months available to strike a future trade deal with the UK - negotiations will have to continue into 2021 too.

Brussels warns UK of 'difficult' Brexit trade talks

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, warned the UK that future negotiations would be tough and that the relationship between the EU and the UK will never be the same after Brexit.

Davos and Libya in focus This WEEK

The all-powerful will meet in Davos after Berlin tries to resolve the Libyan conflict over the weekend, while MEPs will set the stage for final ratification of the Brexit deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us