Tuesday

26th Jan 2021

Agenda

Brexit, Budget, Turkey on summit agenda this WEEK

  • This is how far the EU and the UK are from the finishing line. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier at a previous press conference (Photo: European Commission)

The most important two negotiations in the EU are likely to reach their climax this week.

Negotiations between the UK and the EU are ongoing, with France warning it could veto any trade deal if it thinks the terms are not right.

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EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been under pressure by some member state governments, who fear he could strike a deal by stretching the EU's red lines, although others have said they have full confidence in Barnier.

With less than a month to go before the UK breaks all existing ties with the EU, negotiators are under immense time pressure.

Any deal achieved needs to be ratified by the European Parliament before the end of December (and later by national parliaments), while some member states want to see the agreement translated before they can agree to it.

EU leaders gather on Thursday and Friday (10-11 December) in Brussels for a summit, where they will also discuss Covid-19, climate change, security and external relations, crucially Turkey.

Turkey

Leaders are expected to decide whether or not to impose sanctions on Turkey for its aggressive policy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

But leaders may also have to deal with Hungary and Poland, which have blocked the new seven-year EU budget and the coronavirus recovery fund over their opposition to linking EU funds to respect for the rule of law - if no breakthrough is reached before then.

The German EU presidency has not started the formal approval of the rule-of-law conditionality - opposed by Warsaw and Budapest - through a so-called written procedure by the member states and a vote by the European Parliament, which could indicate, they could be open to changes.

However, other member states, such as the Netherlands insist, what is on the table, is the bare minimum.

The EU Commission in the meantime is preparing alternative scenarios for the recovery fund without the participation of Hungary and Poland.

EU affairs ministers will hold a videoconference on Tuesday (8 December) in preparation for the summit.

The day before that foreign affairs ministers will discuss the post-election situation in Georgia, the developments in Turkey and human rights.

They will also talk about future priorities for cooperation with the US.

On Wednesday evening (9 December) top EU officials will hold a videoconference with leaders of the African Union.

In the parliament, MEPs from the environment committee will discuss on Thursday the state of play on authorising Covid-19 vaccines with the executive director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Emer Cooke.

MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Monday will vote to amend the current online privacy rules, in order to allow voice over IP, messaging and email services to continue to detect content and traffic containing child sexual abuse.

The legal affairs committee on Monday will vote on guidelines for military use of artificial intelligence, and in health and justice areas.

Fish complicates last push for post-Brexit deal

"If the UK wants a deal here, there's a deal to be done. If the UK wants to use fish as an excuse not to have a deal, then that could happen too," Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney warned.

Hungary and Poland unfazed by EU outcry over budget block

France's EU affairs state secretary Clement Beaune said his country and Germany are looking into "technical clarifications" on rule-of-law conditionality to resolve the issue, but floated the idea of doing the recovery fund without Poland and Hungary.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

The director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the parliament on vaccine authorisation on Tuesday. EMA is expected to give the green light to the third vaccine at the end of the week.

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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