Saturday

15th Aug 2020

Agenda

EU to discuss summer travel This WEEK

  • Schengen borders were slammed shut in March for all but essential goods to contain the pandemic (Photo: Paolo Margari)

Reopening of internal borders after the pandemic abates will take centre stage in talks by EU home affairs ministers on Tuesday (28 April).

They will "share views on the future easing or lifting of internal border controls in a coordinated manner," the EU Council said, with Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein, which take part in the EU's so-called Schengen free-travel zone, also joining Tuesday's virtual meeting.

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 subscribe as a group

Free-travel is a pillar of European normality.

But political symbolism aside, people are wondering when they can be reunited with relatives abroad or go on holiday, amid tentatively positive news on flattening infection curves.

Ministers will also discuss future use of "tracing apps" to monitor disease outbreaks.

And they will discuss "the state of play and current challenges with regard to migration", as well as the "shift in criminal activities caused by the pandemic situation", the council noted.

EU transport ministers will follow up on Wednesday with video-talks on "how to coordinate the relaxation of measures currently in place in the sector in the context of the EU's exit strategy".

And as summer comes around the corner, EU tourism ministers will, on Monday, discuss "future action at national and EU level for the quick recovery of the tourism industry", which, the council said, had suffered a "sharp drop in demand and a surge in unemployment".

For their part, the heads of the European Commission, EU Council, and EU external action service will hold an Africa video-summit on Tuesday.

The event will see Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, and Josep Borrell discuss coronavirus, security, and migration with the leaders of the so-called 'G5 Sahel' countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

Individual commissioners will hold video-talks with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (Tuesday), the president of Microsoft (Thursday), and with pharmaceutical giants (Tuesday).

The FAO has issued dire warnings of pandemic-linked food shortages in Africa.

And the tech and pharma industries are on the front line of fighting the current and future viral outbreaks.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament's economic affairs committee will hear from finance and economy commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Paolo Gentiloni on Monday, as infighting continues between EU states on pandemic bailouts.

MEPs on the civil liberties committee will discuss Libya migration the same day.

And the fisheries committee will discuss post-Brexit fishing rights on Thursday, in an always-lively subplot of the British-EU divorce drama.

But the only people meeting in reality in Brussels will be ambassadors and their aides from EU member states' permanent representations.

They still keep walking back and forth to committee meetings in the cavernous chambers of the council building, with about half a dozen such events planned this week, as the Belgian lockdown goes on, albeit with plans to relax measures later in May.

Coronavirus

WHO urges caution as EU states soften lockdowns

Even though some countries in Europe are considering to ease lockdowns and restrictive measures, the European branch of the World Health Organization warns that the number of infections and death for coronavirus keeps growing in the region.

EU marathon summit plus security policy This WEEK

EU leaders resume their summit over the long-term budget and recovery fund, after a fruitless weekend of meetings in Brussels. Meanwhile, the European Commission is to present a new security strategy for the EU plus several action plans.

EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Friday and Saturday to discuss in person the EU's long-term budget and recovery plan to respond to the crisis. Meanwhile, the future of the EU-US Privacy Shield might depend on this week's ruling.

Budget talks shift gear This WEEK

European Council president Charles Michel is expected to present his compromise proposal on the EU's long-term budget and the recovery fund to national capitals in the second half of the week.

Germany's EU presidency launches This WEEK

Germany will take over the EU's rotating presidency for the next difficult six months, making two of the three EU institutions led by German politicians and officials. Poland will digest the results of the first round of its presidential election.

EU's virtual summit with China This WEEK

This week, the European Union and China are holding their first joint summit since April 2019. It comes amid the pandemic, which first surfaced in China's Wuhan, protests in Hong Kong and a belligerent US president.

News in Brief

  1. Most EU states oppose US sanctions on Russia pipeline
  2. UK imposes quarantine on France, Netherlands, Malta
  3. At least 3.5m EU nationals to stay in UK
  4. UK urged to 'calm down' on migrants
  5. Pompeo starts EU tour with anti-Chinese 5G deal
  6. Dutch lawsuit seeks billions from tech firms
  7. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  8. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says

Column

Lebanon is a new focal point

More than the tangible destruction, the explosion in the port of Beirut meant the ultimate destruction of hope for many civilians.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us