Monday

8th Mar 2021

Agenda

Germany's EU presidency launches This WEEK

  • German chancellor Angela Merkel (l) and German EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will meet to discuss the bloc's priorities for the next six weeks (Photo: Council of the European Union)

On Sunday (28 June) Poland's voters cast their ballots in the first round of presidential elections - in what was first major election in an EU country since the coronavirus outbreak.

The ballot was initially scheduled to be held in early May but was cancelled with just four days to go after the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) dropped an attempt to push through a highly-controversial all-postal vote.

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Voting will most likely go to a second round on 12 July as neither incumbent Andrej Duda, an independent allied with the nationalist PiS party, nor opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski, the current mayor of Warsaw, are expected to have an absolute-majority victory in the first round.

Duda, whose tenure focused on rubber-stamping controversial PiS measures that created a rift with the EU, ran a campaign attacking the LBGTI community, claiming they are not people but an "ideology" worse then communism.

Trzaskowski has tapped into growing discontent over Poland's perpetual clash with the EU and concerns over the looming economic recession.

German takeover

Germany is set to take over the EU's rotating presidency on Wednesday (1 July).

It will have lots of heavy files on its table: sorting out the legislative files for the long-term budget - if and when EU leaders come to an agreement on this - and managing the files on the recovery fund.

German diplomats will also have their hands full pushing compromises on digital and green issues, plus they will also have to manage the political landmines of the EU Commission's upcoming migration package.

Germany will also spearhead the Conference on the Future of Europe as negotiations can now start between the EU institutions on the exact format, and consequences of the reform exercise.

The Commission and the German government will have a joint meeting on Thursday (2 July) followed by a joint press conference by commission president Ursula von der Leyen and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Parliament action

On Monday (29 June), MEPs on the parliament's civil liberties committee will hear from commissioner Didier Reynders and others on a EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.

MEPs have been pushing the commission to do more on monitoring rule of law developments in member states on a regular basis.

The same day MEPs on the economic committee will listen to the European Banking Authority's candidate for executive director, Francois-Louis Michaud - and will vote on Thursday whether to confirm or reject the candidate. MEPs previously rejected Gerry Cross for the post.

On Tuesday, senior budget MEPs and parliament president David Sassoli will discuss the EU's planned long-term budget and the recovery package ahead of EU leaders meeting mid-July. The parliament also needs to approve any compromise emerging from the summit.

Video call

On Tuesday, the South Korea-EU leaders' video conference will see EU Council president Charles Michel, von der Leyen, the Korean president Jae-in Moon discuss the Covid-19 pandemic.

The same day the EU and the UN will host the fourth Brussels Conference on "Supporting the future of Syria and the region" - in support of Syria, now entering its tenth year of war.

Column

That German court ruling hurts EU rule-of-law fightback

The short-term damage to financial markets may be smaller than feared. The damage to democracy is considerable because it weakened the ECJ - the most effective institution to stop attacks against democracy and rule of law in EU member states.

Opinion

Polish rule of law crisis at point of no return

Modelled in many respects on the same blueprint for democratic decline followed in Hungary by strongman Viktor Orbán and his ruling Fidesz party, the government in Poland has sought to fuse the ruling party and the state.

Opinion

Covid-19 derails Germany's EU presidency climate focus

Action on climate change was long-slated as the priority for Germany's six-month presidency of the European Union which starts tomorrow. But as Europe struggles to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, is Germany really going to maintain momentum on climate?

EU 'Future' Conference plus Covid recovery talks This WEEK

MEPs will give the green light for a more united EU health policy, a new investment plan, and debate the Covid recovery fund, which is yet to be unleashed. Lawmakers will also debate media freedom in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia.

EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK

EU leaders talk vaccines, while the Portugues EU presidency introduces itself to MEPs. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president of the United States, and the EU hopes this will mark a new beginning for EU-US relations.

Unblocking Brexit and budget in focus This WEEK

With only five weeks to go before the UK severs all ties with the EU, chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the "same significant divergences persist" between the two sides in post-Brexit talks.

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