5th Aug 2021


Budget, Zuckerberg, Pelosi and Cayman Islands This WEEK

  • EU Council president Charles Michel held meetings with all EU leaders before the summit to find a compromise (Photo: Council of the European Union)

EU leaders will gather on Thursday (20 February) for a special summit in Brussels to dive deep into negotiations on the next seven-year budget for the bloc.

Budget talks are traditionally divisive, but the EU-27 have never been so far apart as this time, when the approximately €12bn annual gap left by UK's departure need to be filled and at the same time the bloc wants to spend more on innovation, digitalisation, climate and migration.

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EU council president Charles Michel proposed on Friday 1.074 percent of the EU gross national income as an overall figure for the seven-year budget ahead of crucial talks with EU leaders next Thursday.

Michel also proposed to have more flexibility for member states in the spending of EU funds, and to weaken the threshold for procedures against countries that have rule of law "deficiencies".

The Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, who are net contributors to the budget, are demanding a budget of no more than 1.0 percent.

One diplomat from a net payer country said Michel's proposal is "not a step forward".

Michel held bilateral talks over the last weeks with EU leaders to find common ground for the summit, but a final deal is unlikely to happen on Thursday.

EU affair ministers will have a first go-round at the new proposal on Monday (17 February).

Digital papers

On Wednesday, the EU Commission will roll out policy papers on artificial intelligence (AI) and creating big data sets from non-personalised data in the EU.

Under the European Data Strategy, the commission wants to store and share data in Europe, to help create services and advance machine-learning.

The commission also wants to put more funding into developing AI.

It will also outline new requirements for the development and use of "high-risk" AI applications that could put human rights at jeopardy.

Commissioner Thierry Breton will roll out the proposals and then head to the EU parliament's internal market committee to brief MEPs.

The civil liberties committee will also discuss AI's affect on fundamental rights on Thursday.

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet Breton and commission vice-presidents Vera Jourova and Margrethe Vestager. Jourova will be especially focusing on disinformation in their talks.

Cayman Islands blacklisted after Brexit

On Monday, EU foreign affairs ministers will be in Brussels to discuss the bloc's Africa policy, the latest US plan for a Middle East peace deal, Venezuela and the Western Balkans.

On Tuesday, economy ministers will, among other things, update the EU's list of tax havens.

The Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory, is expected to be added to the blacklist, less than two weeks after the UK's withdrawal from the bloc.

Meanwhile, MEPs in the energy committee will on Wednesday discuss the upcoming commission revision of the guidelines used to select energy projects of European interest.

The EU executive will propose new legislation to incorporate the objectives of the Green Deal objectives into the methodology on how EU priority infrastructures are being chosen and funded.

In other meetings, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Monday will meet with Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives and other members of Congress.

On Tuesday, EU Parliament president David Sassoli will meet London Mayor Sadiq Khan and parents of murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak.

Von der Leyen warns on EU budget cuts

The new EU Commission president will tell EU leaders next week that they need to put money behind their pledges for border protection, defence policy and fighting climate change.

The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

As EU leaders gather on Friday to start discussing the future of the EU's spending after the UK leaves, major battle lines are already emerging among member states. Here is a look at the key issues.

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.

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