Thursday

5th Aug 2021

Agenda

Second phase of Brexit starts This WEEK

  • EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will be back to set out exactly what the EU and the UK should be talking about (Photo: Council of the European Union)

The EU has entered the week with one less member, as the UK has officially became a "third country" last Friday (31 January).

However, Brexit continues as negotiations on the future relationship will start, to reach an agreement by the end of the year - a deadline that will be almost impossible to respect, officials warn.

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

On Monday (3 February), EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will unveil the EU commission's proposal on the negotiating mandate for the next phase of talks.

The broad mandate will be around 30-pages long, will lack details, and be based on the political declaration attached to the Brexit withdrawal agreement and the recent negotiating mandate on trade talks with Australia, one EU official said.

The EU will be looking for one overall agreement on all aspects of trade, because it would want to avoid the sectorial approach similar to its troubled agreement with Switzerland.

One key aspect to look for in the proposal will be the legal framework of the agreement: a mixed agreement could mean that in the end national and regional parliaments would have to ratify the deal, which takes several years.

The proposed mandate is expected to be agreed by member states on 25 February, so that the actual negotiations with the UK can start in early March.

Enlargement?

In the meantime, the EU moves on.

The enlargement commissioner Oliver Varhelyi will on Wednesday (5 February) present a new methodology for the EU enlargement process.

Albania and North Macedonia's bid for opening accession negotiations with the EU was denied in October last year.

It was mainly down to opposition from France, which insisted on a new accession strategy and methodology, to be developed before candidate countries start the negotiations for EU membership.

The new methodology will have to be agreed by member states eventually, but EU officials and diplomats hope it would be enough to nudge Paris into agreeing to the start of negotiating talks at the Zagreb summit in early May.

On Thursday (6 February) MEPs on the civil liberties and budget control committee will hear from Laura Codruta Kovesi, the EU's first-ever chief prosecutor, on the establishment on the office.

The economic committee will host Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, on the same day.

The environment committee will will discuss the outbreak of coronavirus on Monday with Andrea Ammon, executive director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Top officials from the centre-right European People's Party will meet early in the week in Brussels and are expected to decide on the fate of their suspended party member, Hungary's ruling Fidesz.

The decision has since been postponed, and the suspension will remain in place, but tensions could still run high over prime minister Viktor Orban's party.

Orban, meanwhile, will meet with commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Monday.

EU council president Charles Michel will be meeting heads of governments all week in preparation for the 20 February summit on the EU's seven-year budget.

Member states have been deeply divided on the budget and how to fill in the gap left b the UK's departure. Michel will try to figure out where is room for compromise.

EPP to keep Orban's Fidesz suspension

European People's Party president Donald Tusk told his group's MEPs that the suspension of Hungary's Fidesz party will continue - and vowed not to compromise on the centre-right party alliance's values.

Recovery and rule of law are back This WEEK

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will continue to travel to member states to "personally hand over the assessment" of the EU executive on national Covid-19 recovery plans.

Mammoth green package out This WEEK

Aside from the green package, Poland will also be the centre of attention. Two decisions by the controversial Constitutional Tribunal could affect the country's EU future. Belarus' border with Lithuania will also be in the spotlight.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

Column

Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion

There are no fixed rules. Anyone can criticise, condone and codify women's apparel. The game is inclusive, bringing together an assorted collection of voyeurs, misogynists, racists, bigots, religious fanatics and culture warriors – but also feminists and other equality campaigners.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us