Tuesday

15th Jun 2021

Agenda

Key Brexit and budget talks This WEEK

  • EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and British PM Boris Johnson. This time their meeting will be virtual (Photo: European Commission)

In the cumbersome, long, and often tetchy, negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU, a videoconference call seems like a rare good sign.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen talked on Saturday (3 October) to give a push to finishing negotiations that have yet to produce a breakthrough.

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Negotiators will continue to talk until the October summit next week, when EU leaders are expected to assess the progress in talks.

A deal has to be reached by the end of October to give time for ratification by the end of the year, when the UK's transition period runs out.

Negotiators from the German EU presidency and the European Parliament will also be hard at work starting Monday (5 October) to clinch an agreement on the seven-year budget and the coronavirus recovery package.

One key disagreement is the rule-of-law conditionality linking the disbursement of EU funds to the respect of EU rules and values.

The German EU presidency presented a proposal on the mechanism, based on EU leaders' agreement in July, but MEPs and some governments want a stronger tool, while Hungary and Poland are keen to water it down.

On Monday evening, MEPs will hold a debate on the rule of law in the parliament.

On Wednesday, MEPs will vote on a legislative initiative to streamline EU tools targeting autocratic and illiberal tendencies, corruption and disinformation - under a similar mechanism to the economic surveillance of EU economies.

MEPs will also debate the ongoing protests against corruption and alleged state capture in Bulgaria, with a resolution to be voted upon on Thursday (8 October).

On Tuesday (6 October) MEPs will debate the outcome of last week's EU summit on Turkey, and foreign affairs with European Council president Charles Michel.

MEPs on Wednesday are also set to vote on the appointment of financial market commissioner-designate Mairead McGuinness and on the new trade portfolio for commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis.

After their hearings last week, both of them are expected to get the nod from MEPs.

MEPs will also vote on the 2030 emissions reduction target on Wednesday, which aims to transform the political goal, that the EU will become climate-neutral by 2050, into a binding obligation for countries.

Migration will be back on the agenda next week as home affairs ministers on Thursday (8 October) will have their first discussion about the commission's proposed new migration pact.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will be in Brussels for the summit between his county and the EU, notably von der Leyen and Michel. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell will also participate.

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The EU's updated 2030 climate-target plan, due to be presented by the European Commission, have been criticised for including land and forest carbon sinks in its emissions-reduction goal. Green groups describe it as an "accounting trick".

Analysis

'Sponsored returns' may shuffle failed asylum seekers around EU

The European Commission is banking on cooperation and coordination among EU states to help makes its new migration and asylum pact viable. But its plan is already being greeted with suspicion by more hardline anti-migrant countries like Austria and Hungary.

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.

Biden in Brussels, recovery package underway This WEEK

The EU Commission is expected to approve the first recovery plans submitted by national capitals on how they will use funds available from the EU's €800bn recovery fund. Spain, Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg seem to be first crossing the line.

First return to Strasbourg for EU Parliament This WEEK

There will be still a very limited number of people traveling to Strasbourg. Many think it is an early return: those travelling will have to respect the French curfew and will need to quarantine upon their return to Belgium.

Tax avoidance and AI in focus This WEEK

The European Parliament's special committee on artificial intelligence and the internal market committee will discuss the commission's AI proposals with vice-president Margrethe Vestager.

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