Thursday

21st Jan 2021

Agenda

Summit reloaded and last Brexit round This WEEK

  • European Council president Charles Michel is out of quarantine after two negative corona tests - following the positive test by one of his security guards (Photo: Council of the European Union)

After European Council president Charles Michel postponed a special summit for a week due to a corona scare, EU leaders will gather this Thursday and Friday (1-2 October) in Brussels to talk about foreign affairs.

Deciding on Belarus sanctions and the relationship with Turkey will be front and centre on the agenda, and the leaders will also discuss internal market issues.

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The next and final round of negotiations on a post-Brexit agreement also starts next week - a last chance for a breakthrough before time runs our for a deal.

On Monday, commissioner Maros Sefcovic will meet with British cabinet office minister Michael Gove to look at issues regarding the UK's internal market bill, which violates the already signed EU-UK withdrawal agreement.

Also on Monday, negotiators from the German EU presidency and the EU parliament will sit together again to find compromises on the long-term EU budget and recovery package.

The parliament wants to see a top-up for 15 "flagship" EU programmes and a tougher conditions on rule of law compliance.

Last Friday (25 September), Germany's EU ambassador put pressure on MEPs, saying "I am very concerned that the negotiations are currently progressing too slowly."

"We need to increase the pace of the negotiations significantly," ambassador Michael Clauß added.

The parliament, on the other hand, argues it is the council that is procrastinating on coming up with compromise proposals.

But there is little room for manoeuvre left for the German presidency on the EU leaders' July agreement.

The German EU presidency has yet to come up with the politically most-sensitive compromise, the rule of law conditionality, saying it would do so "soon".

On another rule of law front, it remains to be seen if the EU commission will unveil its rule of law annual report on Wednesday (30 September).

The EU executive was to roll out its first overview on the rule of law in all member states - yet another tool to police the respect for the rule of law without any teeth - but it might be delayed, with the final decision to be made on Monday.

Confirmations

MEPs will grill the two newly-appointed commissioners on Friday.

Mairead McGuinness, an Irish MEP appointed to take on the financial services and capital markets union portfolio in the commission, will be heard by the economic committee in the morning.

Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis will appear before the trade committee in the afternoon.

After the meetings, the party representatives in the committees will evaluate the candidates, and the plenary will vote in the first week of October on them.

Commission vice-president in charge of climate Frans Timmermans on Monday will debate with MEPs in the environment committee on the 2030 climate target plan, and the climate law which will be voted in the plenary at the beginning of October.

European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde will meet MEPs in the economic committee on Monday (28 September), and will discuss developments in the eurozone.

The legal committee will on Thursday adopt its recommendations on how to ensure safe and trustworthy artificial intelligence in the EU, which will feed into common rules on ethics, civil liability and intellectual property.

On Monday, the nominees for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought will be presented in a joint meeting with MEPs on the foreign affairs, and development committee and the subcommittee on human rights.

EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link

Divisions among EU governments remain between those who want to suspend EU funds if rule of law is not respected, and those who want to narrow down conditionality.

Irish MEP picked as new finance commissioner

Mairead McGuinness's nomination will have to be signed off by the European Parliament, where the Irish MEP is a well-respected first vice-president of the assembly.

Belarus opposition leader urges EU to be 'braver'

The Belarus oppositon leader asked the EU not to support the Belarus authorities financially, and not to recognise Lukashenko as the country's president when his term ends in November.

Feature

The real story why 'bonkers Brussels' went bananas

For over two decades, British tabloids have blamed faceless EU bureaucrats for creating rules to ban bendy bits of fruit. The truth is far more outrageous - it probably was the French.

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.

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  5. Air pollution killing thousands of Europeans a year
  6. First migrant tragedy of 2021 claims 43 lives
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Gruelling Brexit and budget talks continue This WEEK

After almost a week of arm-wrestling and ten days before the UK severs all of its EU ties, negotiators are back working hard on a deal on the future EU-UK relations. Budget and rule of law talks will also continue.

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