Wednesday

28th Jul 2021

Agenda

Recovery and rule of law are back This WEEK

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will continue this week to travel to member states to "personally hand over the assessment" of the EU executive of their Covid-19 recovery national plans.

On Monday (19 July), von der Leyen will travel to Prague and meet with Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš to formally approve his plan.

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Previously, the commission's own audit found Babiš in violation of the EU's Conflict of Interests Act, and his company must repay an estimated €11m of EU subsidies received in 2017. Babiš has denied any wrongdoing.

Von der Leyen will be accompanied by commission vice-president Věra Jourová - who hails from the same party as Babiš.

On Sunday (25 July), von der Leyen will be in Austria, and meet chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as part of her recovery plan tour.

The commission meanwhile has not commented on the approval of the Hungarian plan, which has been delayed, beyond the two-month deadline, for the commission's assessment.

Hungarian justice minister Judit Varga said the commission had postposed a planned visit of von der Leyen to Budapest after Hungary's so-called "child protection" law. The commission has said the law is discriminatory towards LGBTIQ people, and launched an infringement procedure last week regarding it.

"It is also unfortunate that the commission confuses ideological positions with financial-professional issues," Varga said in a Facebook post last Friday.

"The Hungarian RRF [recovery and resilience fund] negotiations have progressed smoothly so far. We do not understand, therefore, why another ideological witch hunt is needed. Hungarians are entitled to the RFF funds because they worked for it!," Varga added, saying the Hungary "won't allow LGBTQ activists among our children and that hurts the commission".

The commission last Friday did not comment on whether the commission president did indeed postpone a visit due to this new law.

A spokesperson for the commission said the EU executive's assessment of Hungary's national plan is continuing.

Rule-of-law report

The commission is expected to publish a new annual rule of law report on Tuesday (20 July), which will be the second yearly assessment of the EU executive of the status of rule of law in member states.

It partly supposed to serve as the basis for future action against member states which break EU rules and rule of law principles.

EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders will unveil the report, which is likely to draw criticism from Hungary and Poland.

EU affairs ministers will have an informal meeting in Slovenia on Thursday (22 July), where rule of law, enlargement, and the conference on the future of Europe will be on the agenda.

EUobserver's weekly Agenda will take a summer break. We will be back in September with our overview of what is coming up in the EU.

Commission to approve first Covid-recovery plans next week

This means that, following council approval, and after the financing agreement has been signed with EU governments, the first countries can receive pre-financing from the recovery fund, of up to 13 percent of their allocated funds.

EU may delay approval of Hungary's recovery plan

The EU executive is analysing the latest replies it received from the Hungarian authorities which only arrived last Friday. MEPs have urged the commission not to approve Hungary's plan until an effective anti-fraud system is in place.

Mammoth green package out This WEEK

Aside from the green package, Poland will also be the centre of attention. Two decisions by the controversial Constitutional Tribunal could affect the country's EU future. Belarus' border with Lithuania will also be in the spotlight.

Feature

'Prison island' birthplace of EU reborn as think-tank venue

Santo Stefano is being revived through a €70m refurbishment project to turn it into a high-level European think-tank, academy and open-air museum aimed at boosting the European integration project by training 'enlightened' EU youth, scholars and politicians.

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