28th Nov 2023


EU summit zooms in on global roles This WEEK

  • EU leaders are seeking to keep up with the US and China economically, while also pushing ahead with a green and digital transition of their economies (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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EU leaders are set to meet on Thursday and Friday (23-24 March) in Brussels for their regular March summit.

Competitiveness is expected be on the top of their agenda after the EU Commission rolled out last week a series of proposals to boost the bloc's capacity in green tech.

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The EU seeks to keep up with the US and China economically, while also pushing ahead with a green and digital transition of its economies.

At the summit, they are also set to discuss migration, which is once again becoming a top priority for EU leaders.

Before leaders get together, foreign ministers are set to meet on Monday (20 March) with a focus on Russia's war on Ukraine. Ministers are expected to join defence ministers in the afternoon.

On Tuesday (21 March), EU affairs ministers are expected to meet.

Besides hammering out the details for the EU summit later in the week, they will green light some decisions to make the EU-UK agreement on post-Brexit trade agreement work.

Ministers are also set to hold a discussion on key rule-of-law developments in Slovakia, Finland, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic as part of a regular debate on this.

Something officials and diplomats will watch closely on Monday (20 March) is Chinese president Xi Jinping's visit to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

There has been concern over what role China intends to play exactly in the conflict, as Politico reported Chinese companies have sent Russian entities 1,000 assault rifles and other equipment.

At the same time, apparently Western officials encouraged XI to have a phone call with Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky after the Moscow trip, as Beijing's seeks to play a part in brokering peace.

In the European Parliament, Dmitry Muratov, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and editor in chief of Russian independent daily Novaya Gazeta will be the guest of the special committee on foreign interference on Tuesday (21 March).

Transparency and repair

MEPs on Wednesday (22 March) on the budget control committee will discuss how the EU Commission controls the use of the almost €800bn Covid-19 recovery fund.

They are expected to discuss a report of the European Court of Auditors which points out that accountability gaps remain at EU level. The next day the committee is set to focus on how to prevent EU funds from ending up with individuals or companies tied to the EU-Russia sanctions lists.

Still on Thursday (23 March), the parliament's home affairs committee is set to discuss the so-called milestones — the conditions that Poland's Law and Justice party-led government must meet in order to unlock EU funds from the recovery fund.

MEPs are expected to debate the referral of the planned changes of the Supreme Court to the politicised Constitutional Tribunal.

And the EU Commission on Wednesday is set to roll out plans for the so-called right to repair, which seeks to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to fix their products. It would also require manufacturers to share repair information, provide tools, and supply parts.

'The race is on', EU Commission warns on green tech

The EU Commission is expected to detail its plans on Thursday as part of the Net-Zero Industry Act on industrial incentives, and the Critical Raw Materials Act, which seeks to reduce EU over-reliance on China.


What China's gamble to back Moscow means for EU

Failure to urgently reconsider its support for Russia's war will further damage China's relations with the West and the global community, which would ultimately be disastrous for its economy and international standing. However, China could still choose another path.

EU launches critical raw materials act

The EU presented its strategy to ensure access to critical raw materials needed for clean technologies. No country should supply more than 65 percent of any key material. Currently, China dominates almost all rare earth metal markets.

UN climate talks and passengers' right in focus This WEEK

The two-week UN climate talks (#COP28) will kick off on Thursday. Earlier this week, the EU Commission will unveil a proposal to improve passengers' rights and Nato foreign affairs ministers will meet in Brussels.


How centre-right conservatives capitulate to the far-right

Many conservatives in Europe seem to have forgotten the lesson of 1930s Germany. They sacrifice their principles on the altar of the polls and all-too-often try to overtake rightwing radicals on their own pet subjects like security or migration.


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