Friday

5th Mar 2021

Agenda

Brexit and EU online summit in focus This WEEK

  • EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (l), spent last week in London for talks, and will return to Brussels for another round of negotiations (Photo: European Parliament)

EU leaders will hold a summit by videoconference on Thursday (19 November) in a further effort to better coordinate the response to the rising Covid-19 infections around Europe.

Most EU countries have introduced strict measures to battle the surge in infections, while the promising news of a possibly successful vaccine will also hasten talks on how to buy and distribute it.

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The recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria could also prompt leaders to discuss efforts to tightening the EU's external borders and the fight against terrorism.

Talks between the EU and the UK on their future relations have moved little over the past week, with only seven weeks left until the UK breaks all formal ties with the EU.

Negotiations are expected to resume on Monday (16 November) in Brussels.

On Tuesday, EU affairs ministers will hold a meeting online, and discuss the rule of law situation in several member states based on the recent annual review report by the EU Commission.

Ministers are discussing the rule of law situation in all member states during their upcoming meetings - in an effort to have a better understanding of each others' systems, and to ward off the accusation that the EU singles out Poland and Hungary when it comes to checking EU rules and values.

Ministers will also discuss the enlargement process with regards to Albania and North Macedonia, whose progression has been blocked by Bulgaria for historical reasons.

Bulgaria wants North Macedonia to acknowledge that the language spoken by the Slav Macedonian majority in North Macedonia is not "Macedonian" but Bulgarian, or a dialect of it.

Ministers will also discuss the recent developments on the EU budget and coronavirus recovery package, after the German EU council and the European Parliament struck a deal last week over the details of the €1.8 trillion package.

Member states still need to sign off the rule of law conditionality, linking EU funds to respect for the rule of law, over which Poland and Hungary have threatened to block the entire package aimed at mitigating the economic affects of the pandemic.

EU foreign ministers will hold a videoconference on Thursday (19 November) and defence will be on their agenda on Friday (20 November).

Migration debate

MEPs in the environment and public health committee on Monday will have their first debate on the commission's proposal to better coordinate health responses among member states.

The civil liberties committee on Monday will hear from home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson about EU tools to fight terrorism, organised crime and cyber threats, in the light of recent terrorist attacks in Vienna, Nice and Paris.

On Thursday, the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde will talks to MEPs on the economic committee on the economic recovery from the pandemic.

At a virtual conference on migration and asylum, MEPs plus national MPs will discuss the EU's asylum policy with parliament president David Sassoli, commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and the presidents of the German parliament, Wolfgang Schäuble, of the Portuguese parliament, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, and of Slovenia's parliament, Igor Zorčič.

UNHCR high commissioner Filippo Grandi and International Organization for Migration director general António Vitorino will also take part in the discussion on Thursday.

Budget deal struck, with Hungary threat still hanging

Ultimately, the European Parliament managed to squeeze an extra €16bn in total - which will be financed with competition fines the EU Commission hands out over the next seven years, plus reallocations within the budget.

EU demands answers on Croat border attacks against migrants

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson wants to send her officials to Croatia sometime this month to make sure authorities there are complying with fundamental rights following numerous allegations of violence against migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country.

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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