10th Dec 2023


Rule of law and Spanish EU presidency This WEEK

  • Spain's PM Pedro Sánchez will kick off its presidency by travelling to Kyiv this Saturday (Photo: European Union)
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Attention this week will turn to Madrid, as most of the 'Brussels Bubble' will show up in the Spanish capital for the start of the country's EU presidency.

The rotating EU council presidency will be taken over by a government already in campaign mode, however, as elections in Spain will take place on 23 July.

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What is making things even more difficult is that the Spanish presidency will be the last full six-month presidency before European Parliament elections on 6-9 June next year.

It means it will be mainly up to Spanish diplomats in the fall to push through the EU's slow-moving legislative cycle any legislation or drafts that still might be stuck there before the EU machinery goes into hibernation.

Back in Brussels, the EU Commission this week is expected to publish its annual rule-of-law report, screening member states and focusing on justice systems, corruption, media pluralism and checks and balances.

On Thursday (6 July), the civil liberties committee is expected to adopt its decision on the EU-wide criminal offences and penalties for violating and circumventing EU sanctions in member states, for instance for failing to freeze funds or not enforcing a travel ban.

Proposed penalties include prison sentences for individuals and fines for companies, according to the plans.

On the same day, MEPs in the civil liberties committee are set to debate last month's migrant boat shipwreck off the coast of Greece with commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas and home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson and Frontex's executive director Hans Leijtens.

Still on Thursday, the environment and economic committee is expected to quiz commissioner Mairead McGuinness over the executive's proposal for a new set of EU taxonomy criteria for economic activities, making a substantial contribution to one or more of the EU's non-climate environmental objectives.

The parliament and the council of member states have four months to decide if they want to veto the commission's proposal.

Earlier in the week on Monday and Tuesday (3 and 4 July), MEPs and UK lawmakers will meet in Brussels for the third EU-United Kingdom parliamentary partnership assembly.

Lawmakers are expected to discuss how the Brexit divorce arrangements are working, common efforts to support Ukraine, and cooperation on trade and industrial policy.

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