20th May 2022


Biden's democracy summit and gig workers in focus This WEEK

  • The EU Commission is expected to present proposals on platform workers, making them official employees - incurring costs for the companies they work for (Photo: The Left)
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As Covid-19 infections are on the rise across Europe, and member states debate whether mandatory vaccination is necessary in their country, the EU is ramping up work in an end-of-the-year political rush.

Senior EU officials will participate in the summit for democracy on Thursday (9 December) hosted by US president Joe Biden.

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EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was invited to co-chair a leaders' session at the conference, but it has come under question what she can and cannot say - after Hungary prevented a joint EU statement.

Hungary was not the only EU country not invited to summit because of concerns over democratic backsliding, overseen in this case by prime minister Viktor Orbán.

Von der Leyen will "express herself as president of the EU Commission" in introductory and closing statements and she will moderate the session, the commission's spokesman Eric Mamer explained.

"We are not a collective here, there are various distinctions to be made between the presidents of the different institutions," he said last Friday (3 December).

The commission is expected on Wednesday (8 December) to present a revision of the Schengen border code a part of its effort to reform its asylum and migration policy.

The commission is also expected to put forward a legislative proposal on the rights of so-called platform workers, such as Uber and Deliveroo, making workers into employees.

Gender gap

On Monday (6 December), EU social affairs ministers are expected to adopt their joint position on new EU rules to increase gender pay-transparency.

The commission presented its proposal in March with the aim of ensuring that workers can enforce their right to equal pay for equal work.

On Tuesday (7 December), EU finance ministers are expected to find a common position on updating rules for reduced VAT following a 2018 commission proposal that updates a list of goods and services for reduced rates.

Ministers will also hear from the outgoing Slovenian presidency of the EU council on where the Fit for 55 legislative package stands, particularly regarding the regulation establishing a carbon border-adjustment mechanism.

Euro country finance ministers will discuss the economic policy and budgetary plans for the eurozone for 2022.

On Thursday, home affairs ministers will discuss migration as a hybrid attack tool, in light of the weaponisation of people being carried out by the Belarus regime.

Conference update

The European Parliament is gearing up for the upcoming French presidency of the EU council starting in January.

On Thursday, the president of the parliament and leaders of the political groups will meet ministers of the French government in Paris, including prime minister Jean Castex.

On Wednesday evening, EU governments and the parliament are expected to reach an agreement on the new roaming rules for mobile networks.

On Thursday in the constitutional affairs committee, MEPs will hear from MEP Guy Verhofstadt who will report on the current state of the Conference on the Future of Europe and the role of the parliament.

On the same day in the internal market committee, MEPs will asses how EU rules on toy safety have been implemented and will propose measures to ensure that toys bought online from non-EU countries are also safe.

Still on Thursday, the parliament's special committee on beating cancer will adopt its final recommendations to the commission to develop an EU cancer policy.

On Friday (10 December), MEPs and national parliamentarians will debate migration partnerships with non-EU countries and where the latest asylum reform proposal stands.

Finally, the three films that will compete for the parliament's LUX Audience Award will be revealed during the European Film Awards ceremony on Saturday.


Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'

Last October, the European Commission gave an optimistic outlook on the adoption of its migration and asylum pact. EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said its pact on migration was lowering the landing gear - suggesting agreement was possible.

Hungary and Estonia blocking EU tax reform

Hungarian and Estonian diplomats have blocked a revised set of tax rules, potentially derailing an effort to curb the race for ever-lower corporate taxes in the EU.

EU warned against making 'Future EU' conference a one-off

Former European Council president Herman van Rompuy plus local authorities warned EU policymakers against making the Conference on the Future of Europe a one-off exercise, arguing that democracy will continue to be under pressure after 2022.

Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK

The EU Commission is expected to put forward the RePowerEU plan, which aims to help the diversification of fossil fuel imports in the bloc, as the EU aims to get rid of its dependence on Russian energy supplies.


Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

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