25th Jan 2021


Green money and Iran tensions in focus This WEEK

  • Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic welcomed Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in Zagreb at the beginning of the country's EU presidency (Photo: European Commission)

The EU Commission will roll out its proposals on Tuesday (14 January) for funding to help European countries adjust their economies to zero-carbon emissions.

The plan is expected to mobilise at least €1 trillion over the next decade as the bloc wants to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050.

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The so-called 'Sustainable Investment Plan' is the financial centre of the European Green Deal, the flagship policy of EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The commission wants the EU budget to dedicate at least 25 percent of its resources to fighting climate change, but also wants to galvanise private investment through EU guarantees, and turn the European Investment Bank into a climate bank.

The commission's 'Just Transition Mechanism' will aim to help regions that need to make the most effort, after central and eastern European countries raised concerns over the costs of the shift.

"We are convinced the European Green Deal will be the new growth strategy," von der Leyen told reporters on Friday (10 January) in Zagreb, adding that "it is about investment, innovation, new technologies".

The EU executive will lay out the plan in the European Parliament's plenary in Strasbourg.

Money talk

The commission will on Tuesday also launch consultations with member states and social partners on plans to introduce an EU-level minimum wage, another pledge from the new EU executive, which the Socialists & Democrats have pushed for.

Nordic countries have been worried about the commission's minimum wage plans, fearing it would undermine their system where wages are regulated through collective bargaining.

In it unlikely the commission would propose a minimum wage level EU-wide, rather would define "parameters" for establishing sufficient minimum wages in Europe.

On Tuesday, Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic will also address European lawmakers on his country's plans as it takes over the bloc's rotating presidency in the next six months.

Iraq and Iran

Still on Tuesday, the EU's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrel will brief MEPs on the latest developments in Iran and Iraq.

On Wednesday (15 January) Jordanian King Abdullah II will talk MEPs about his take on the developments in the region.

'Future of Europe' soul-searching

MEPs on Wednesday (15 January) will also discuss their position on how the conference on the future of Europe should work. Both EU council president Charles Michel and von der Leyen will address MEPs on the same issue.

The idea is that a two-year soul-searching process, the EU examines what it could do better after Brexit , and also tries to bring the EU closer to its citizens, an evergreen goal for the EU institutions.

The commission, member states and parliament aims to quickly agree on the format, so the self-improvement can start swiftly.

However, ambitions vary among the EU institutions as some member states are concerned that the process could lead to further EU competencies.

Hungary and Poland

On Wednesday, MEPs once again will debate the sanction procedure with regards to Hungary and Poland.

The EU commission launched an Article 7 procedure against Poland in 2017 for curbing the judiciary's independence, while the parliament trigger the same procedure against Hungary for breaking EU rules and values on among others, media and judicial freedom.

The two procedures, now steered by the member states, are stuck as EU countries are reluctant to sanction one another.

The resolution to be adopted on Thursday (16 January) will call on member states and the commission not to let off the pressure on the two countries under the Article probe, and for a new mechanism that would monitor the rule of law situation.

MEPs will also debate citizens' rights after Brexit and will vote on a resolution calling on member states to protect the rights of those affected by the UK's departure.

The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on the withdrawal agreement at its next plenary on 29 January.

MEPs on Monday will also discuss the gender pay gap and on Wednesday will talk about what they define as distortion of the European history and World War Two remembrance.

Enter (some of) the Catalan MEPs

Catalan MEPs Carles Puigdemont and Antoni Comín will travel to Strasbourg next week to take up their seats in the European Parliament.

"Following the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated 19 December 2019, at the plenary sitting of 13 January 2020, the European Parliament will take note of [their election as MEPs]," the European Parliament announced earlier this week.

However, jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras will not be released from prison to claim his seat as an MEP, after the Spanish Supreme Court said he is serving a sentence based on a ruling whose validity has not been neutralised.

Croatia's EU presidency optimism beset by problems

Croatia wants to focus on economic development, connectivity, internal and external security and a globally more assertive Europe over its six-month presidency - but Brexit and the next budget negotiations may put pay to that.

Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row

Hungary attempted to defend its rules on academia, the judiciary, and the media questions by EU countries, while government spokesman breached EU rules by live-tweeting from the closed doors hearing.


Can the Green Deal – and Europe – succeed?

We have invested €200bn in research and innovation since 1984, but have we achieved any leadership in quantum, semiconductors, storage, artificial intelligence? The simple answer is no.

Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

The director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the parliament on vaccine authorisation on Tuesday. EMA is expected to give the green light to the third vaccine at the end of the week.

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