5th Jun 2023


Concerns about Russia dominate EU AGENDA March 14-20

  • Eurpean Council president Charles Michel, French president Emmanuel Macron, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in Versailles on Friday (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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Russia's war in Ukraine continues to be the focus, with EU leaders pushing to phase out Russian fossil fuels and governments scrambling to mitigate the economic fallout of the sanctions hitting Moscow.

On Tuesday (15 March) EU finance ministers are scheduled to gather in Brussels to discuss the economic and financial consequences of those sanctions and how governments can best shield their economies from the blowback.

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Finance ministers are also expected to debate the EU's proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which would put a levy on imports to compensate for carbon emissions. Ministers will also talk about how to implement an agreement, reached at the OECD, that would see large multinational corporations having to pay a minimum 15-percent rate of tax.

At the European Parliament, the war in Ukraine is set to remain the agenda-setter.

On Thursday (17 March), Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov briefs MEPs in the foreign affairs committee on the current military situation in his country.

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday (15 March), commissioner Kadri Simson meets lawmakers to discuss plans to wean Europe away from Russian gas.

The following day, commissioner Thierry Breton meets with the parliament's internal market committee on how to fight propaganda on online platforms and to discuss how the Digital Services Act, an EU proposal on the use of personal data by platforms, can help with that.

Lawmakers were expected to get a briefing on Thursday by commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on how sanctions on Russia and the war in Ukraine are affecting the agriculture sector and European farmers.

Bosnia's future

On Tuesday, the discussions about Russia zoom in on the Western Balkans.

European lawmakers on the foreign affairs committee debate the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where tensions have been on the rise since Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Serb entity of the federation and an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, threatened to tear up a longstanding power-sharing agreement in the multiethnic country.

Dodik and other top officials and lawmakers from the Serb entity, Republika Srpska, including Šefik Džaferović, Željko Komšić and Dragan Čović will give their views to MEPs on Tuesday (15 March).

Christian Schmidt, EU high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, is expected to brief MEPs on Monday.

The EU is withholding some €600m of road and rail investments from Republika Srpska until a "return to the full functioning of state institutions."

Climate issues

On Monday (14 March) Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is scheduled to debrief MEPs in the parliament's environment committee about the panel's latest report.

The following day, MEPs are set to debate a commission proposal to include some gas and nuclear sources in the EU's so-called taxonomy, a hotly contested classification system that is meant to channel investment into environmentally-sustainable sectors.

On Thursday, MEPs on the employment and women's rights committee are expected to put forward their position on mandatory transparency rules for salaries and pay in Europe. The initiative is targeted at unequal pay for women, who earn on average 14.1 percent less than men across the EU, for doing the same job.

In a separate event on Wednesday focused on equality, MEPs in the same committee are set to vote on their position ahead of negotiations with member states on a draft legislation requiring at least 40 percent of corporate boards of publicly listed companies to be composed of women. Currently, 29.5 percent of board members in the EU are women.

A draft law to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, will be up for a vote in the parliament's economic committee on Monday. Those rules are expected to cover issues like the regulation of crypto assets held outside the EU, and how to decrease the climate footprint of crypto mining.

Leaders gather at Versailles after atrocity in Ukraine

Amid the pomp, and the grandness of the setting for an EU summit in Versailles, few breakthroughs were seen on how to rein in Russia's aggression in Ukraine, like the possible "war crime" at a Mariupol hospital.

Gas supplies and the Ukraine war top This WEEK

After elections in Hungary and Serbia this weekend, the focus of attention in the EU again will be on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and how it impacts gas supplies to the EU and the European economy.

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