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11th Apr 2021

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Von der Leyen delivers 'State of Union' speech This WEEK

  • EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen will address MEPs in Brussels, rather than Strasbourg, after the parliament president decided not to take risks with coronavirus (Photo: European Parliament)

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will lay out her vision of the state of the European Union, in her first such annual speech on Wednesday (16 September) in the European parliament in Brussels.

The speech launches the autumn political semester in the EU, and commission president is expected to address the Covid-19 pandemic, migration and key foreign political issues.

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She is also expected to present her plans for the bloc's economic recovery, and the fight against climate change.

MEPs are then set to grill the commission president on the executive's plans for 2021.

MEPs will gather in Brussels this time, after parliament president David Sassoli decided to hold the plenary in the Belgian capital, instead of Strasbourg for fear of spreading the virus and exposing MEPs and staff to Covid-19 - despite a subsequent scolding from Paris.

EU lawmakers will set in motion legislation on the EU's 'own resources', that is, new levies, that will help unlock the EU's €750bn recovery fund.

The parliament's negotiating team, and the German EU presidency, will continue discussions on a compromise on the long-term EU budget and the recovery fund.

MEPs will also adopt on Wednesday the parliament's positions for negotiations with EU ministers on setting up the Just Transition Fund, which is intended to help the greening of European economies.

EU legislators will on Tuesday (15 September) debate the lack of coordination regarding COVID-19 health assessments, risk classification between member states and its negative consequences for the passport-free Schengen area.

They will call for a common approach in the EU in a vote on Thursday (17 September).

On Tuesday, MEPs will hear from foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell on the situation in Russia with regards to the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, on Belarus, and on Lebanon.

Borrell will also brief lawmakers on the upcoming EU summit's concerns on the escalation of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey.

MEPs will vote on resolutions on on Russia, Belarus and the eastern Mediterranean on Thursday.

EU lawmakers on Thursday are also expected to call for an urgent EU response to the humanitarian crisis on the island of Lesbos, after the fire that swept through the Moria refugee camp.

MEPs will debate on Monday and vote on an interim report on Thursday on the democratic backsliding and rule of law breaches in Poland, which is subject to an EU sanctions probe for those violations.

They are also expected to address the situation of LGBTI people in Poland, where authorities have designated so-called LGBTI-free zone in some parts of the country.

MEPs will call on member states and the EU commission to protect fundamental rights in the country.

Earlier in the week, on Monday, EU Council president Charles Michel will chair a videoconference with Chinese president Xi Jinping, along with von der Leyen and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

They are expected to discuss responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and trade issues.

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