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5th Dec 2022

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Macron in Moscow, chips in Brussels This WEEK

  • French president Emmanuel Macron told MEPs last month that Europe should build a new security and stability order (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)
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Kicking off the week, French president Emmanuel Macron will meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and then later the leader of Ukraine, Volodomyr Zelensky, on Tuesday (8 February) in Kyiv in a latest effort by Western powers to de-escalate tensions on the country's border with Russia.

Macron arrives in Moscow on Monday (7 February) - fresh on the heels of another EU leader, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán, who was in Moscow last week criticising sanctions against Russia, and promoting what he sees as the realpolitik of maintaining good relations with Putin.

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For his part, Macron did call once Nato, the military alliance which Putin's now wants to retreat from far-eastern Europe, "braindead'.

The French president is flying in to make a push for a negotiated solution - he already held calls with the two leaders last week. Meanwhile, the US said it was sending 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania, as Russia amassed troops near Ukraine.

Macron has been pushing for European "strategic autonomy" and "European sovereignty" - grand-sounding but still lacking definition.

He raised eyebrows last month when he told the European Parliament that Europe should "finalise a European proposal, building a new security and stability order" and then discuss it with Moscow. This kind of talk unnerves many central and eastern European politician.

De-escalation

Back in Brussels , there will be a different kind of effort to de-escalate.

On Monday EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will host Poland's president Andzej Duda.

Duda last week proposed a bill that could defuse one of the spikiest elements of the years-long rule-of-law dispute between the EU and Warsaw. Duda would have the controversial disciplinary chamber of Poland's supreme court - which the European Court of Justice already ruled goes against EU law - scrapped, in the hopes of unblocking billions of euros in Covid-19 recovery money.

Besides rule-of-law, the von der Leyen and Duda have plenty else to discuss: climate, migration, and a range of issues where Poland's position diverges from the commission view.

On Wednesday (9 February), the commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager will unveil the European Chips Act, which plans to put more money into European chipmaking, amounting to some €42bn according to Bloomberg.

The commission also plans to loosen its state-aid rules, in order to allow member states to use public money for the production of chips, all with the goal of producing 20-percent of the world's chips by 2030 in Europe.

Inflationary pressure

In the parliament, committee work will be the main focus.

On Monday, European Central Bank (ECB) president Christine Lagarde will be in the economic committee to discuss inflation expectations, and post-pandemic economic trends.

In the same committee, the same day, commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis and economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni will discuss with MEPs how member states should reduce their debt, and how to improve EU economic policy coordination.

Still on Monday, MEPs on the internal market committee will discuss its draft report on a proposal to introduce a common charger for mobile devices.

In the civil liberties committee, parliamentarians will on Monday discuss the situation of migrants in Poland and at the border with Belarus, with Poland's deputy commissioner for human rights Hanna Machińska.

On Thursday (10 February), the budget control committee will vote on a report put together by EPP MEP Petri Sarvamaa on the fight against oligarch structures, the protection of EU funds from fraud, and conflicts of interest.

After having been officially confirmed as the new leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), Friedrich Merz will visit Brussels and join the EPP group meeting on Wednesday (9 February).

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.

Allies keep close eye on Orbán's Moscow visit

"If he only goes there to talk about Russian investments in Hungary, that is a proof of non-European behaviour," an EU official said ahead of the Hungarian prime minister's visit to Moscow.

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.

Analysis

An inflation surge, but (some) economists warn on raising rates

Rising prices have fuelled the debate among economists about inflation risk - with some arguing that central banks should increase interest rates, while others urge governments and central banks to adopt more precise and targeted measures.

Hungary's funds showdown in focus This WEEK

On Tuesday, EU finance and economy ministers are expected to discuss a whole series of highly-political files, with one country tying it all together: Hungary. EU and Western Balkan leaders will also meet in Tirana.

EU's Hungary funds, China, energy, and Frontex This WEEK

In the European Parliament, MEPs will hear from ECB president Christina Lagarde, Kyiv's Vitali Klitschko, and from the three candidates proposed by the EU Commission to be the new boss of EU border agency Frontex.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

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