Saturday

13th Aug 2022

Agenda

Turkey on EU leaders' plate This WEEK

  • US secretary of state Antony J. Blinken will be in Brussels this week and meet with EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (seated) (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU leaders will hold a videoconference on Thursday and Friday (25 and 26 March) where they once again will discuss the roll-out of vaccines and the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The EU Commission published its proposals for the 'digital green certificate' aimed at making free movement possible in the EU, with the certificate proving that the holder is either vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19, or has a negative test.

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Leaders will also talk EU-Turkey relations, after last December they proposed asset-freezes and travel-bans over Ankara's "unauthorised drilling activities" for natural gas in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

The EU leaders agreed then to weigh tougher economic sanctions at this March summit - but it is unlikely that further sanctions will be adopted as Ankara has shown a more conciliatory tone.

Heads of state and government will have a strategic debate on relations with Russia. Leaders will also look at economic policies and digital taxation.

Ahead of the EU summit, on Monday EU foreign affairs ministers are set to approve a new package of sanctions on persons in several countries, including China and Russia, over human rights abuses.

Vaccine prices

Staying on vaccines, on Tuesday (23 March), MEPs in the budget control committee will hear from a senior commission official, Sandra Gallina, who played a key role in negotiating the contracts with pharmaceutical firms, to discuss how much the EU and member states are spending on vaccines.

On the same day, MEPs in the environment committee will question the European Medicines Agency (EMA) director Emer Cooke on the EMA's review and conclusions regarding the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Last week, the EMA confirmed that AstraZeneca's vaccine is safe and efficient, after several member states halted its use due to several deaths due to blood clots.

Rule of law redux

MEPs on Wednesday will vote on a resolution to warn the EU Commission to activate the rule-of-law mechanism adopted by EU leaders last December, without delay.

The new mechanism, which links EU funds to the respect of the rule of law, was challenged by Poland and Hungary at the EU's top court.

The commission has said it would wait for the ruling of the commission before taking action under the mechanism.

MEPs are also expected to stress that parliament will use all means at its disposal if the commission fails to use the new mechanism to protect the budget before the summer.

MEPs will also say that the parliament will request an expedited procedure in the European Court of Justice over the legality of the mechanism.

On the same day, MEPs will also vote on the rules implementing the EU's new sources of revenue, which enable the recovery fund to kickstart an economic rebound after the pandemic.

On Thursday, MEPs on the committee on foreign financing will discuss anti-abortion and anti-choice organisations in the EU that undermine women's sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Blinken in Brussels

US secretary of state Antony J. Blinken will be in Brussels this week to attend the Nato ministerial meeting.

Blinken will also meet with commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell to discuss transatlantic efforts to contain the pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, and strengthening democracy.

On Tuesday (23 March), China, the EU, and Canada co-convene a meeting with ministers and representatives from over 30 countries, including G20, to discuss global cooperation ahead of the UN climate talks in Glasgow (COP26).

First glimpse of new EU 'vaccine certificate' for summer

The European Commission has presented a common approach to vaccine certificates to facilitate travel. All EU-wide approved vaccines will be accepted for this document, but member states can decide to accept other vaccines too.

Brussels urges capitals to coordinate Covid re-openings

EU governments' lack of coordination in the first and second wave of the pandemic has caused concerns around supply chains, long queues at borders, and practically froze the bloc's passport-free Schengen zone.

Rule of law and Czech presidency priorities This WEEK

The European Commission will unveil its rule-of-law audit of all EU member states this week. Meanwhile, several ministers from the Czech Republic will present to EU lawmakers the priorities of the rotating EU Council presidency for the next six months.

Czech presidency and key nuclear/gas vote This WEEK

MEPs will gather in Strasbourg for the final plenary before the summer break, with a crucial vote on the classification of gas and nuclear. The Czech Republic will present to EU lawmakers its presidency's priorities for the next six months.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

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