Saturday

23rd Jan 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.

Green Deal

EU's new 2030 climate target slammed on 'accounting trick'

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.

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.

Vaccines in focus in the EU This WEEK

The European Parliament's environment committee will hear from the person who negotiated the vaccine contracts, commission director-general of health and food safety, Sandra Gallina.

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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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