28th May 2023


Finnish elections and Hungary's Nato vote in focus This WEEK

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While Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin might be popular internationally, she will have to face a tough fight at the end of the week to retain her job.

Voters in Finland will head to the ballot on Sunday (2 April) with the top political parties neck-and-neck in polls.

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According to a survey published last week, the rightwing opposition National Coalition Party held a narrow lead with 20.8 percent, while the hard right Finns Party and Marin's Social Democrats shared second place, both at 19.3 percent, Reuters reported.

Back in Brussels, on Tuesday (28 March), EU energy ministers ministers will seek a common position on the gas and hydrogen package, including on proposals for internal market rules for renewables, natural gases and hydrogen.

The ministers are also expected to hold their first political debate on the EU Commission's proposal to revise the EU electricity market design.

Money talks

In the meantime, the commission is expected to respond to Hungarian proposals on judicial reforms, which aim to unblock billions of euros of funds held up because of rule of law and corruption concerns.

On Thursday (30 March), MEPs will debate and vote on the latest commission report on respect for core EU values across member states.

MEPs are expected to note that the rule of law is deteriorating in the EU.

By the way, Hungarian MPs are set to vote on Finland's Nato membership ratification on Monday (27 March) — but Sweden's bid would be decided on "later", Hungarian officials said last week.

Hungary has been holding off the vote — along with Turkey — on Sweden's and Finland's membership in the military alliance, first citing scheduling issues, and recently pointing to earlier Swedish and Finnish criticism of Hungary's rule of law.

Pay up

The European Parliament is holding a mini-plenary in Brussels, where MEPs will quiz EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel on the leaders' summit that took place last week.

On Thursday, MEPs are set to approve an agreement with EU countries on pay transparency which helps to boost gender pay equality.

The new legislation requires EU companies to disclose information that makes it easier for those working for the same employer to compare salaries.

MEPs will on Thursday will vote on new rules to ensure that products in the EU, whether sold online or in traditional shops, comply with the highest safety requirements.

The internal market committee is set to quiz the commission on the implementation of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the safety of consumers on big platforms, and specifically TikTok and Twitter.

On Tuesday afternoon, MEPs on the home affairs committee are expected to vote on an agreement on the new European Migration Pact.

Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Russian citizens were circumventing the European airspace ban by driving to Helsinki airport, which was being used as a hub to fly to other tourist destinations. Finland is now restricting those border crossings.

EU starts unprecedented rule-of-law probe against Hungary

The so-called conditionality mechanism has been invoked, for the first time in EU history, over long-standing concerns of corruption, amid allegations Viktor Orbán's allies syphoned off EU money, and over how Budapest ignored commission concerns.

Russia sanctions and EU elections on top This WEEK

The parliament's constitutional affairs committee is set to vote on a draft proposal on the number of seats in the European Parliament, and their distribution among EU countries, ahead of the 2024 elections.

Keeping China at arm's length is in focus This WEEK

The G7 aims to send a signal to China by announcing a joint effort to counter "economic coercion," with the EU hoping to avoid becoming a "vassal" in a US-China clash, as French president Emmanuel Macron said recently.


How the EU's money for waste went to waste in Lebanon

The EU led support for the waste management crisis in Lebanon, spending around €89m between 2004-2017, with at least €30m spent on 16 solid-waste management facilities. However, it failed to deliver.

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