5th Mar 2021


Searching for a commissioner This WEEK

  • Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney (left), here with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Coveney has been a key player in the Brexit talks (Photo: Council of the European Union)

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will start her 'rentree' to the EU bubble's autumn semester with a reshuffle of her team, after the resignation of Irish trade commissioner Phil Hogan last week.

Ireland's deputy prime minster Simon Coveney is the frontrunner to be nominated by Dublin to the position, Irish media reported over the weekend.

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Von der Leyen requested two candidates from the Irish government, a female and a male candidate, but it is not yet decided if Dublin will adhere this request.

The centre-right MEP, and vice-president of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness is also interested in succeeding Hogan.

The three parties of the Irish government were expected to meet on Monday (31 August) to discuss the nomination.

Hogan's departure also gives the opportunity for von der Leyen to reshuffle the commissioners' portfolios.

Budget talks

The parliament is also back in business after the traditional long summer break.

On Tuesday (1 September), MEPs on the budget committee will discuss the negotiations on the EU's long-term budget and the corona recovery plan.

MEPs have yet to give their consent to the deal, approved by the EU-27 leaders back in July.

Last week, the leaders of four parliamentary groups warned German chancellor Angela Merkel and von der Leyen in a letter that, for their approval, the rule of law conditionality attached to the distribution of EU funds will have to be ramped up.

The parliament's negotiators will report back to the committee on the first round of talks held with member states on the budget.

The budget committee will hear from Michael Roth, German state minister for European affairs, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Roth will also brief the constitutional affairs committee on the same day on the presidency's priorities.

On Wednesday, German finance minister Olaf Scholz will update MEPs on the economy committee on his country's priorities.

Covid update

On Wednesday (2 September), Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will brief MEPs on the environment committee on the latest Covid-19 situation in Europe.

After the summer holidays, some countries have already introduced fresh measures to restrict people's movements across Europe.

Poland will ban flights from 46 countries - including France, Spain and Croatia - as of Wednesday, and Hungary has shut all its borders to foreigners from the beginning of September.

On the human rights front, on Wednesday MEPs on the civil liberties committee will vote on a report on the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies, aiming to combat negative attitudes towards the Roma in Europe.

Top EU officials urge MEPs give quick budget-deal approval

MEPs criticised the EU deal on the budget and recovery package clinched by leaders after five days of gruelling talks, saying it is not enough "future-oriented", and cuts too deeply into EU policies, including health, innovation, defence and humanitarian aid

EU Parliament gears up for fight on budget deal

European parliament president David Sassoli said certain corrections will have to be made in the budget, citing research and the Erasmus program for students, calling the cuts "unjustified".

EU leaders agree corona recovery after epic summit

After gruelling five-day talks, EU leaders agreed on €390bn in grants and €360bn in low-interest loans to hardest-hit member states - after much opposition from the Dutch-led 'frugal' bloc of countries.

Women fighting Covid-19 in focus This WEEK

To help bridge the stubborn gender pay gap, the EU Commission will present pay transparency measures so that differences in wages and salaries do not remain hidden from employees.

EU summit on vaccine problems This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers will meet in Brussels and are expected to agree to visa-bans and asset-freezes on Russian officials involved in the jailing of opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny.

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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