Monday

18th Jan 2021

Agenda

Corona-money and student futures in EU talks This WEEK

  • Students anxious about exams and university applications to learn more this week (Photo: japanese_craft_construction)

Talks on how to spend Europe's way out of a post-lockdown economic slump and how to restart higher education dominate a short week ahead for EU institutions.

Finance ministers will discuss how to handle unemployment pay-outs and create a "safety net" for businesses at a videoconference on Tuesday (19 May).

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The European Central Bank and European Commission will also brief them on just how bad things might get.

Thierry Breton, the French single market commissioner, will brief MEPs in committee on the "EU exit strategy" one day earlier, on Monday.

Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian economic affairs commissioner, will also discuss "the EU response to the Covid-19 outbreak" in a European Parliament committee on Tuesday.

And EU culture ministers will, the same day, "take stock" of measures "to support the culture and media sectors", amid recent editorial job cuts at leading news firms.

Ministers will also discuss holding cultural events "in the context of the foreseen gradual lifting of containment measures", as Europe heads into its holiday and music festival season.

Meanwhile, students wondering when their schools and universities might reopen, what will happen with public exams, and with university applications, might know more after education ministers discuss the issues on Monday.

Students on the EU's flagship international exchange programme, Erasmus, might also learn of new measures "to facilitate the continuation of current and planned exchanges," EU officials said.

The working week ends on Wednesday, as Belgium and EU institutions close for a Roman Catholic holiday followed by a bank holiday on Thursday and Friday.

But criminals and vaccines might also make the news before that.

Catherine De Bolle, the director of joint EU police agency Europol, will brief MEPs in the health committee on Monday on "combatting Covid-19 pandemic-induced criminal behaviour".

And finance ministers will also discuss new European Commission anti-money laundering (AML) measures on Tuesday.

The commission, which meets again on Wednesday, last week blacklisted 20 countries and called for the creation of an EU-level AML tsar, but member states have a history of quashing its ambitions on this dossier.

For his part, Guido Rasi, the director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Amsterdam, will brief MEPs on the health committee on Monday on the latest in the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine.

He said earlier than even if one was discovered tomorrow, it would take until early- to mid-2021 for the EMA to get it approved.

There is little happening on the foreign affairs front, as the EU holds its breath to see if Israel goes ahead with annexation of more Palestinian lands.

But the EU will speak with Western Balkan and Turkish contacts on Tuesday on the pandemic's economic impact in the region "in the margins" of the finance ministers' talks.

And enlargement commissioner Olivér Várhelyi will speak with Greek and North Macedonian foreign ministers on Tuesday, as the EU continues to compete for influence with Russia and China in its near-abroad.

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