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28th Jan 2022

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EU bubble prepares for state of the union This WEEK

  • EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will meet with group leaders in the European Parliament to prepare her annual state of the union speech (Photo: European Parliament)
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Preparations are in full swing for the return of the EU political season - which traditionally starts with the EU Commission president's state of the union address.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen will on Thursday (9 September) participate in the meeting of group leaders in the European Parliament, to prepare her annual state of the union speech - which she will deliver the week after.

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One of the topics for the speech will certainly be the Covid-19 recovery. Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Spain, and Portugal have already received their pre-financing.

Bulgaria and the Netherlands have not yet submitted their national plans for the EU recovery money, while the approval of the national plans from Poland and Hungary are on hold until further assurances are given over rule of law.

On Monday (6 September), economy and finance ministers will exchange views on the implementation of the €800bn recovery fund, and expected to give the green light to the national plans of the Czech Republic and Ireland.

On Monday, six parliamentary committees will team up to quiz commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager, in charge of digital and competition policies, on her plans for areas such as the digital services act, the EU strategy on data, and the regulation of social media.

Afghan women

On Monday, the European Parliament's committee on women's rights and gender equality will hold a topical debate on women's and girls' rights in Afghanistan.

It will also discuss how the EU's activities can support women there. Afghan human rights NGOs and Afghan film director Sahraa Karimi, who is also the president of the Afghan Film Organisation, will participate.

On Monday, the parliamentary committee on regional development will discuss the catastrophic flooding in Belgium and Germany earlier this summer, and the implementation of EU relief.

Berlin trip

In the meantime, the largest group in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) will travel to Berlin in the second half of the week.

Key speakers at their event will include Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, Austria chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Croatian PM Andrej Plenković, and Ingrida Šimonytė , the prime minister of Lithuania.

Analysis

The State of the Union speech - digested

The 61-year old former German defence minister, who only narrowly won the backing of MEPs last year, outlined not a vision, but an ambitious list of policies to tackle - including more health care competencies to the EU.

Von der Leyen: new budget will be EU's corona response

The Commission argues that by using the next EU budget to leverage money guaranteed by member states, it could both circumvent the tricky issue of 'coronabonds' and allow larger overall investment.

Ukraine and Covid-19 on Europe's minds This WEEK

Throughout the week, MEPs will vote on the chairs and vice-chairs of the 20 standing committees and three sub-committees for the next two-and-a-half years, the remainder of the current legislative term.

New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

The lead candidate is the centre-right European People's Party's (EPP) Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who has been outspoke against corruption and rule-of-law issues - but some MEPs are concerned over her anti-abortion voting record.

Key talks with Russia over European security This WEEK

The Nato-Russia council will take place in Brussels on Wednesday, as western and Russian officials begin a series of meetings this week in an effort to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine's eastern border - where Russia has amassed troops.

New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

The lead candidate is the centre-right European People's Party's (EPP) Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who has been outspoke against corruption and rule-of-law issues - but some MEPs are concerned over her anti-abortion voting record.

Key talks with Russia over European security This WEEK

The Nato-Russia council will take place in Brussels on Wednesday, as western and Russian officials begin a series of meetings this week in an effort to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine's eastern border - where Russia has amassed troops.

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