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24th Feb 2024

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Russia sanctions and EU elections on top This WEEK

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European voters will head to the polls from 6-9 June next year to choose the next European Parliament, selecting the around 705 MEPs to serve from 2024-2029, EU ambassadors decided last week.

The shake-up could rattle the EU Commission too, if alliances among European parties shift.

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Current parliamentarians pushed for a single voting date across the continent on 9 May, but that has not gained the support of member states, as in many EU countries elections are held on Sundays.

The parliament's constitutional affairs committee is set to vote on Wednesday (24 May) on a draft proposal on the number of seats in the European Parliament, and their distribution among EU countries, ahead of the 2024 elections.

The seat distribution takes into account the population of member states, and its changes in the last five years.

At the beginning of the week, top EU officials will be in Seoul for the EU-Korea summit.

European Council president Charles Michel and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will meet with president Yoon Suk-Yeol on Monday (22 May).

The leaders are expected to discuss Ukraine, North Korea's repeated ballistic missile launches, and its ongoing nuclear programme, economic partnership based on the South Korea-EU free trade agreement.

Hungary holdup

Back in Brussels on the same day, EU foreign ministers are set to discuss the 11th sanction package.

Sanctions are focused on cracking down on those breaking trade curbs already in place, and the commission proposed limiting trade with third countries that are deemed to be involved in bypassing sanctions.

Hungary has been holding up talks, saying that the EU's latest sanctions against Russia plan was "fully contrary to common sense" and that the previous 10 had failed.

Foreign minister Péter Szijjártó said last week that his government will block a further €500m to Ukraine from the European peace facility, a fund used to reimburse EU countries that supply military aid to Ukraine, unless Kyiv removes Hungary's OTP Bank from its list of war sponsors.

Committee business

MEPs on the environment committee on Wednesday are set to vote on their position on the revision of EU industrial emissions rules that currently cover over 30,000 large industrial plants and 20,000 intensive livestock farms.

The civil liberties committee is expected to vote on Tuesday (23 May) on new rules to beef up the EU's regime for recovering criminal assets, extending the scope of the rules. Profits from organised crime in Europe are estimated to be worth around €139bn annually.

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee on Wednesday will adopt two resolutions evaluating the progress made by North Macedonia and Albania towards EU membership.

MEPs are expected to urge the government in North Macedonia to intensify its efforts to improve governance and access to justice, and ask Albania to demonstrate progress in guaranteeing the rule of law and fundamental rights.

It comes as EU foreign ministers on Monday are set to have an informal discussion over lunch with their counterparts from the six countries in the Western Balkans.

On Wednesday, EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis is expected to set out the European spring semester package.

In its annual exercise, the executive examines and assesses the member states' budgetary plans, and progress on economic reforms.

On the same day, MEPs on the budget and budget control committee are set to hear from budget commissioner Johannes Hahn on how effective is the new tool of linking EU funds to the rule of law.

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.

Nato, defence summit, and UNRWA in focus This WEEK

Nato defence ministers will meet this week ahead of the Munich Security Conference. ECB chief Christine Lagarde will address MEPs in the committee on economic affairs and MEPs will hold a debate about the defunding of the UNRWA agency.

Opinion

After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports

Two years of tragedies, with well over 100,000 Russian war crimes now registered, underscore the urgent need to stop international LNG investments in Russia that continue to fund Vladimir Putin's war chest.

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