2nd 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)
Listen to article

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Spain's PM Sánchez travels to Kyiv to begin EU presidency

Spain will assume the six-month rotating presidency of the EU Council from Sweden this weekend — with PM Pedro Sanchez immediately travelling to Kyiv to express its support for Ukraine. But a July election in Spain may complicate matters.


When the EU found the political will to act on rule of law

In 2012, it was against Orbán's Hungary that the EU first proposed to suspend cohesion funds under strengthened budgetary rules, after Budapest failed to step up efforts to end the country's excessive government deficit. Then Orbán toed the line.

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.


Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground

Discussion of the biggest existential threat humanity has ever faced is barely mentioned on billboards or signage in Dubai — yet visitors are made aware quite quickly that t world rugby sevens tournament is imminent.


'Pay or okay?' — Facebook & Instagram vs the EU

Since last week, Mark Zuckerberg's Meta corporation is forcing its European users to either accept their intrusive privacy practices — or pay €156 per year to access Facebook and Instagram without tracking advertising.

Latest News

  1. Israel's EU ambassador: 'No clean way to do this operation'
  2. Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law
  3. Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground
  4. Germany moves to criminalise NGO search-and-rescue missions
  5. Israel recalls ambassador to Spain in new diplomatic spat
  6. Migrant return bill 'obstructed' as EU states mull new position
  7. Paris and Berlin key to including rape in gender-violence directive
  8. What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us