2nd Apr 2023


Pre-Xmas EU summit push on This WEEK

  • MEPs will grill senior EU officials on the upcoming EU summit, Ukraine, and what to do about US plans to subsidise green technology (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)
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This week will see a pre-Christmas push in the EU bubble in both Brussels and Strasbourg, as officials need to hammer out last-minute deals on a price-cap, Russia sanctions, Ukraine aid, Hungary's funding — to name just a few of the hot-button topics.

EU leaders meet on Thursday (15 December) in Brussels with an intense schedule on Russia, economy, and possible internal tensions created by the increasing use of vetoes by Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán.

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Before the 27 leaders get together for this year's final group therapy, foreign ministers meet on Monday (12 December) and discuss the new round of sanctions against Russia, and the latest in Iran, which has seen months of protests over civil and political rights.

On Monday, all eyes will be on the ambassadors' meeting. They are expected to discuss how to untangle the complicated package that includes the possible approval of Hungary's recovery fund, a vote on suspending EU funds to Hungary over rule-of-law concerns and Budapest's blockade of joint EU aid to Ukraine and the bloc's adoption of a global minimum tax.

On possible scenario is that member states agree to a smaller percentage of suspension of funds than the 65 percent originally proposed by the EU Commission, and Hungary lifts is veto on the global tax.

However, it is unlikely Budapest would change its mind on the Ukraine aid, in which case the 26 governments will have to proceed among themselves.

Last Satruday, EU governments reached an agreement to unblock an €18 billion package of financial aid to Ukraine for next year circumventing the veto by Hungary, significantly decreasing Budapest's potential for blackmail.

EU affairs ministers on Tuesday (13 December) meet to prep the summit later in the week, and energy ministers will try to hammer out a decision on the gas price-cap on the same day in an extraordinary meeting.

Not an easy week for member states' diplomats.

On Wednesday (14 December) in the European Parliament, president Roberta Metsola will award the 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the people of Ukraine.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to address plenary assembly remotely.

On the same day, MEPs will hold a debate with EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on the summit and its agenda.

Green push

MEPs are also expected to grill commission and council officials on how the EU is handling the massive tax breaks to companies producing in the US, a scheme that puts European industry at a disadvantage.

Slovenian prime minister Robert Golob on Tuesday is set to address MEPs and set out his vision for Europe.

On Thursday, lawmakers will debate Russia's attacks on critical infrastructure as well as the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor, a Soviet-imposed famine that killed millions of Ukrainians between 1932 and 1933. MEPs will also vote on a resolution on the topic.

On the same day, parliament and council negotiators will attempt to agree on a draft law to ensure that women and men earn the same when doing the same job.

The legislation would oblige companies to disclose information and make it easier to compare salaries and expose existing gender pay gaps.

Later in the week, officials from the parliament and council will try to find an agreement on three major bills which are part of the Fit for 55 initiative to make the EU climate neutral by 2050: including the carbon border adjustment mechanism, the Social Climate Fund, and the reform of the EU Emissions Trading System.

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