4th Dec 2023


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

  • US secretary of state Anthony Blinken (left) will discuss Ukraine and Russia with EU foreign ministers on Monday (Photo:
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On Monday (24 January), EU foreign ministers will meet, with US secretary of state Antony Blinken joining them for a discussion online on the situation in Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian threat to the country.

There has been cracks in the EU and US alliance over how to deal with Russia, as French president Emmanuel Macron said last week that European should come up with their own security framework and propose it for negotiations with Russia.

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US president Joe Biden also drew criticism last week when he said minor military incursions by Russia into Ukraine would divide allies - suggesting that a strong response would not be forthcoming.

Early in the week, MEPs from the foreign affairs and defence committees will travel to Ukraine, where they will go to Kyiv and the administrative boundary line with illegally-occupied Crimea.

On Tuesday (25 January), EU affairs ministers will discuss the latest developments on the Covid-19 pandemic, plus EU-UK relations.

They will also take stock of the state of play of the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the ministers will publicly hold a policy debate on the "Reinforcing democracy and integrity of elections" legislative package.

It will be a busy week in the parliament, which continues to select its new senior MEPs.

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 this legislative term.

After almost two years of work, the parliament's special committee on foreign interference is set to vote on Tuesday (25 January) on its final report drafted by MEP Sandra Kalniete.

The draft lays down recommendations to the EU Commission on how to make the bloc more resistant to foreign hostile interference.

On Tuesday, MEPs on the economic committee will hear from commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, and economic commissioner Paolo Gentiloni and social affairs commissioner Nicolas Schmit on the 2022 European Semester Autumn Package.

MEPs are expected to focus on the upcoming country-specific recommendations for EU governments and the implementation of national Covid-19 recovery plans.

The discussion will come a day after the deadline expires for Hungary and Poland to respond to the EU executive on questions over corruption, and judicial independence. This comes under a preliminary phase of the recent conditionality mechanism - which allows for the suspension of EU funds, if a government does not respect the rule of law.

On Thursday, the parliament will organise a special plenary meeting to commemorate the International Day of Commemoration, 77 years after the Auschwitz Nazi death camp was liberated on 27 January 1945.

Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer will address MEPs.

Digital values

On Wednesday, the MEPs on the industry committee will vote on the agreement reached with EU governments on new roaming rules for mobile networks. The new agreement cuts roaming costs further and will improve the quality of service for European citizens.

On the same day, the EU Commission is expected to come forward with the proposals named the Digital Decade Principles - a set of ideas to promote and uphold EU values in the digital space.

On Tuesday, MEPs will start debating the proposed Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act which aims to ensure that any AI improvements are based on rules that safeguard people's safety and fundamental rights.

And still on Tuesday, commission president Ursula von der Leyen will meet with Serbian prime minister, Ana Brnabić.

EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines

The case is one of many disputes between the EU and Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which have started to cost money for Warsaw.

Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia

Emmanuel Macron also took hits from French political opponents, including the Green party presidential challenger MEP Yannick Jadot in the European Parliament ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in France in April.

EU warns against Ukraine talks without Europe

The German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock warned in Washington that "it is out of the question, and let me make this very clear - there cannot be a decision on the security in Europe without Europe."


EU Commission letters to Poland, Hungary: too little, too late?

The EU Commission has made a first move in the battle that could result in financial sanctions against Hungary and Poland over rule-of-law issues. However, this initial step has irritated those arguing for quicker action.

EU-China summit and migration files in focus This WEEK

This week, EU and Chinese leaders will meet in Beijing to discuss how to cooperate in the international area despite their rivalry. Meanwhile, a marathon trilogue on the five migration files takes place on Thursday.

UN climate talks and passengers' right in focus This WEEK

The two-week UN climate talks (#COP28) will kick off on Thursday. Earlier this week, the EU Commission will unveil a proposal to improve passengers' rights and Nato foreign affairs ministers will meet in Brussels.

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