Tuesday

27th Feb 2024

Agenda

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

  • European Council president Charles Michel will be in China on Thursday, meeting president Xi Jinping in Beijing (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán last week was uncharacteristically quiet about "Brussels" and the EU as news emerged that the EU Commission plans to uphold its proposal to suspend parts of EU funds to his country over corruption and rule-of-law concerns.

The commission is, nevertheless, planning to approve Hungary's recovery fund, but withholding the money until the independence of the judiciary is not reinforced.

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The EU executive is expected to announce all of that on Wednesday (30 November).

The final say lies with member states, and EU governments have until 19 December to make the unprecedented decision on the suspending funds.

European Council president Charles Michel will be in China on Thursday, meeting Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Michel is expected to speak about the geopolitical situation, trade ties, climate change — but also expected to mention both human rights and Taiwan.

In October, EU leaders had a long discussion about the bloc's China strategy, and the dependencies on Chinese manufacturing.

Hear Frontex candidates

Back in Brussels, MEPs on the economic committee will quiz European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde on Monday (27 November) on inflation and the economic outlook in Europe.

On Tuesday (29 November), lawmakers in the energy committee are set to hear from energy commissioner Kadri Simson on the latest EU response to the energy crisis, including the price cap.

On Wednesday (30 November), Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko will debate with MEPs on the regional affairs committee.

The parliament's subcommittee on human rights is set to debate the establishment of an international tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine on Monday.

MEPs on the civil liberties committee is expected on Wednesday to hear the three candidates proposed by the commission for the post of executive director for the EU border agency Frontex — Terezija Gras from Croatia, Frontex's current interim executive director Aija Kalnaja from Latvia, and Hans Leijtens from the Netherlands.

MEPs on the inquiry committee to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware is set to have a hearing on Monday on the situation in Spain.

On Thursday (1 December), MEPs on a taxation subcommittee are expected to vote on a directive to combat the misuse of shell companies for tax purposes.

The new rules set up concrete common minimum economic substance requirements that will help to identify what constitutes a company and what a tax shelter.

EU Commission to keep Hungary's EU funds in limbo

The EU executive, on the other hand, is expected to approve Hungary's recovery plan, worth €5.8bn, but only would disburse actual money if Hungary delivers on some 27 key reforms.

More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels amid new farmers' protests. MEPs will hear from Alexei Navalny's widow and give the final green light to the €50bn Ukraine facility, while the CBAM proposal faces a formal challenge at a WTO meeting.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

Opinion

For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive

The EU Commission's 2022 CSDDD proposal did not include provisions incorporating "conflict due diligence", they were added, after the Russian invasion, by the European Parliament and Council into the final directive text — for Ukraine's sake, vote for it.

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