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21st Jan 2022

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Facebook scandal and COP26 climax in focus This WEEK

  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has accused the company of prioritising profits over hate speech, violence and misinformation (Photo: Web Summit)
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EU lawmakers will discuss on Monday (8 November) the harmful impacts of 'Big Tech' platforms with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

The hearing comes at a timely moment since the European Parliament and Council are moving into negotiations on two key pieces of digital policy – the Digital Service Act and the Digital Markets Act.

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"Haugen's hearing will help Europeans understand the role of online platforms in society and help us in the European Parliament make better laws to deal with them," said Andreas Schwab, lead MEP for the Digital Markets Act.

The Facebook whistleblower will also be in Paris before the senators of the committee of culture on Wednesday (10 November).

Also on Monday, MEPs will discuss the latest AI development with representatives from the Slovenian, French and Czech parliament.

On Tuesday (9 November), they will debate the currently volatile-but-booming cryptocurrencies and the impact on taxation.

Finance ministers on Monday will also explore crypto developments at the international level and the potential uses of a digital euro, looking into privacy, competition and innovation aspects.

The next day, they will hold a meeting to talk about the EU's recovery plans, skyrocketing energy prices and inflation, as well as about the reform of the EU banking system.

Later on Thursday (11 November), they will discuss the financial programming and the EU budget.

Also on Monday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn will open the annual budget conference, which will cover issues such as new own-resources and the EU's recovery plan.

Glasgow finale

Discussion over how to tackle climate change will continue this week at the UN climate summit in Glasgow, where EU commissioner for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, will be present until Friday (12 November).

By then, negotiations are expected to reach an agreement over several pending issues, such as finalising the 2015 Paris Agreement rulebook.

On Tuesday, EU commissioner for fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius is expected to participate in the COP26 side event on the third edition of the EU Ocean Day.

On the same day, MEPs will discuss with the EU Commission the EU action plan on organic agriculture and energy aspects of the Fit for 55 package.

The EU Arctic Forum and the Annual Arctic Indigenous Peoples' Dialogue will also take place on Wednesday where representatives of the regions and EU officials will discuss the updated EU Arctic strategy and geopolitical challenges emerging in this fragile region.

Foreign affairs and trade

Additionally, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell is expected to present on Wednesday the so-called Strategic Compass, which is seen as an attempt to define a common EU's security and defence policy.

European trade ministers will discuss on Thursday the World Trade Organization (WTO) reform and the relations with the US.

On the same day, EU lawmakers will hold a debate on the outcome of last month's EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), aimed at deepening transatlantic cooperation as a response of China's growing power.

MEPs on Tuesday will also discuss the current and future assistance to Afghanistan with EU aid commissioner Jutta Urpilainen.

On the same day, they will also discuss the EU action plan to tackle migrants smuggling with the commission and have an exchange of views with the EU anti-racism coordinator Michaela Moua.

Analysis

COP26 climate summit: could it be different this time?

World leaders and national negotiators from almost 200 countries will meet in Glasgow next month to discuss global cooperation in response to the climate change emergency. What outcome can be expected? Why does it matter?

Investigation

How Big Tech dominates EU's AI ethics group

Despite the responsibility for drafting the EU's artificial intelligence ethics guidelines, few of the expert group members were ethicists. In fact, 26 experts – nearly half of the group's 56 members – represented business interests.

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.

Recovery and green financing plus Omicron This WEEK

Energy has emerged as a key dividing issue between EU countries, with leaders failing to agree on a common statement on the rise of energy prices (and how to tackle them) last week at their summit in Brussels.

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MEPs focus on Belarus, digital rules This WEEK

The debate over a successor for David Sassoli, the centre-left Italian president of the European Parliament will heat up, and Belarusian democratic opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will address the plenary.

Facebook scandal and COP26 climax in focus This WEEK

Facebook whistleblower is expected to meet with MEPs and representatives of the French senate this week. Meanwhile, eyes turn again to the Glasgow UN climate summit as pressure is mounting for negotiators to finish the 2015 Paris Agreement rulebook.

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