29th Jan 2023


Meloni, but not many others, in Brussels This WEEK

  • Italy's new prime minister Giorgia Meloni will have her first taste of Brussels (Photo: Hermann Tertsch and Victor Gonzalez)
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When I first arrived to Brussels on 1 November, 2011 as the Brussels correspondent for the now shut down Hungarian daily, Népszabadság (People's Freedom), I was so excited to get started.

I had been working as a foreign correspondent for what was at the time the largest daily in Hungary, moving from one conflict in Afghanistan to another in Cairo's Tahrir Square earlier that year, but I had never been a permanent correspondent before.

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I had taken EU studies (under the guidance of former EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, — who is now a minister for Viktor Orbán trying to unlock the suspended EU funds — but I did not know yet how to work such massive institutions as a journalist.

My first coffee at the Exki on Schuman roundabout (the first of dozens if not hundreds), was with Marc Peeperkorn from the Dutch daily Volkskrant, who has since become a friend, and at that coffee gave me some basic, but vital guidelines on how to do EU journalism.

We couldn't meet that first week though.

I arrived in the middle of the euro crisis, eager to understand what was happening, so I started calling people. No-one was available.

As it turned out, I arrived exactly on one of the quietest weeks in the EU bubble, the first week of November. It has a long-weekend, a school holiday, and people who work in the EU bubble take a break before the last push ahead of the end of the year.

The European Parliament has a so-called green week, which means MEPs are supposed to travel home to their constituency. The diplomats in the council do not schedule meetings.

This week will be equally quiet, as always. Except for one very, very big visit.

On Thursday (3 November), Italy's new prime minister, far-right leader Giorgio Meloni, will come to town and meet with top EU officials, EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel.

Meloni has triggered concerns that she will take Italy in a more illiberal direction, similar to her ally, Hungary's Viktor Orbán.

However, Meloni, has so far has emphasised her pro-Europe, pro-Nato stance, easing worries over Italy's future.

At the end of the week, 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27, will be held from Sunday (6 November) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Op north, the Nordic Council takes place in Helsinki from 31 October to 3 November. This year's summit of Nordic parliamentarians, prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers will officially focus on "The future of the Nordic Region's role in the world".

Denmark votes in a national elections on Tuesday (1 November). Opinion polls predict Danish social democrat leader, Mette Frederiksen, to continue in government in alliance with center-left parties.

Your Agenda author will also take a little break, as she has learned by now the ins-and-outs of the workings of the EU bubble.


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