23rd May 2022


War in Europe and EU summit - next week's agenda

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As the war in Ukraine enters its second week, EU leaders will get together in Versailles to discuss the next sanctions on Russia, and the possible accession of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to the bloc in the wake of Russia aggression in their region.

Heads of government will gather on Thursday and Friday (10-11 March) in the French royal palace for a meeting which was originally foreseen as focusing on Europe's economic recovery.

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  • The palace of Versailles, just outside Paris (Photo: Etienne Cazin)

All of that has now been overshadowed by the largest military conflict in Europe since the second world war.

French president Emmanuel Macron, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said he wanted to discuss a major change in European defence policy.

Decisions on "a strategy for European energy independence" could be taken at the EU summit, Macron said in a speech on Wednesday (2 March)..

The leaders also were expected to try to engage with hard questions regarding the formal applications to join the EU submitted first by Ukraine - dramatically signed by Volodmyr Zelensky in Kiev in a room protected by sandbags - and then by Georgia and Moldova.

The new wave of applications presents a major challenge for EU countries, which want to show solidarity with Kyiv and other former Soviet satellite states, but do not want to make promises that are politically divisive domestically.

While central and eastern European members see membership as a way to stabilise the region, others - such as France and the Netherlands for example - fear it could weaken EU unity and slow down decision-making.

On top of that, applicant countries that have been working towards EU membership for over a decade, mostly in the Western Balkans, could seek an accelerated process for themselves if they see the three ex-Soviet countries getting a green light.

EU leaders will also talk about sanctions. Their foreign ministers are expected to meet early in the week to adopt new restrictions —possibly closing ports to Russian ships, and a range of additional sanctions against Russian president Vladimir Putin's closest circle.

Plenary focus

Ukraine also is expected to dominate the European Parliament's plenary meeting, in Strasbourg.

Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas, the leader of one of the Baltic States that has been warning about possible Russian aggression for years, will be in Strasbourg on Wednesday (9 March) to discuss Europe's new security reality with MEPs.

MEPs will on Tuesday also talk about the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war into the EU.

On Wednesday, European lawmakers will vote on a key report by the special committee on foreign interference and disinformation.

The report, put together by Latvian centre-right lawmaker Sandra Kalniete, calls for better awareness of foreign interference, mainly carried out by Russia and China, in European politics. It also calls on the EU Commission to take more action to counter those efforts.

The report highlights that Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes have funnelled more than $300m into 33 countries as part of interference efforts.

Lawmakers will also call for a ban on so-called "citizenship by investment," the different "golden visa", or "golden passport" schemes in some member states. MEPs have been arguing that these schemes pose a security threat to the EU and can be used to circumvent current sanctions against Russia and Belarus. A debate will take place on Monday, and a vote Wednesday.

On Wednesday, MEPs also will vote on a resolution detailing the implications of the recent decision by the European Court of Justice to give greenlight to the commission to suspend EU funds in case an EU government breaks rule of law principles.

MEPshave previously threatened to take the commission to court if the executive does not trigger the so-called conditionality mechanism against Poland and Hungary.

On Wednesday, MEPs will vote whether to extend the mandate for the special committee on foreign interference, and set up a committee looking into the COVID-19 pandemic and a committee of inquiry on the Pegasus spyware affair.

To mark International Women's Day, Ukrainian writer Oksana Zaboujko will Tuesday address MEPs. That is to be followed by debates on the EU's plan to include the gender in all of its policies.


EU struggles to fight disinformation within

The draft report on fighting foreign interference in the EU will be voted by the parliament plenary in March. The recommendations to the EU Commission include a mandatory code of conduct for digital platforms, and closing loopholes on party financing.

Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss the economic worries with the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, agriculture ministers are set to talk food prices, and EU affairs ministers will put Hungary on the spot in the Article 7 procedure.

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.


Are Orban's Covid powers now the 'new normal' in Hungary?

As the world continues to seek productive ways to provide assistance to the beleaguered citizens of Ukraine, the Hungarian government is now using the humanitarian crisis to further its own authoritarian ambitions.

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