10th Dec 2023


European Political Community and key media vote This WEEK

  • At the previous meeting of the European Political Community last June, Charles Michel, Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron met with Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev and Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan (Photo: European Union)
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A major meeting of leaders from all over Europe will take place in the southern Spanish city of Granada on Thursday (5 October).

Enlargement and security will be high on the agenda of the third meeting of the European Political Community, French president Emmanuel Macron's pet project.

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This follows a proposal by Franco-German experts on internal reforms needed to prepare for enlarging the EU to more than 30 member states — with 2030 as a tentative deadline.

Eight countries currently have official EU candidate status, but Ukraine, Moldova, and the Western Balkans have become frontrunners in the process.

The commission is expected to come up in the next weeks with "a new way of thinking about enlargement" and concrete measures for accelerated integration, EU enlargement commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said last week.

The EU-27 leaders will remain in Granda on Friday (6 October) to hold informal talks — despite meeting again in three weeks' time in Brussels for their regular October European Council summit.

In a draft of the Granada declaration, seen by EUobserver, EU leaders are expected to agree on increasing investment in defence, strengthening industrial competitiveness, and having more effective control of EU external borders to control migration flows. They will also discuss the future of the EU.

"Looking ahead to the prospect of a further enlarged Union, both the EU and future member states need to be ready," reads the draft. "We will need to address critical questions: What do we do together? How do we decide? How do we match means and ambitions?".

Before travelling to Spain, Czech president Petr Pavel will address MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday (4 October).

Also on Wednesday, the parliament will hold a debate about the legislative files that make up the EU's pact on asylum and migration, currently under negotiation. The situation in Italy and the controversial EU-Tunisia deal will be a key focus of the debate.

European Media Freedom Act

On Tuesday, MEPs are expected to vote on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), the draft law that aims at protecting media pluralism and independence in the EU. Once adopted, this will pave the way for negotiations with EU member states.

A group of 80 advocacy organisations have called for a full ban on the use of spyware against journalists, warning that "spyware is a powerful tool that puts journalistic work, freedom of expression and ultimately, democratic values in danger".

The ban, however, is unlikely to receive backing from the plenary.

Lead MEP Ramona Strugariu said last week that the parliament will push for concrete wording on safeguards regarding the use of spyware against journalists in the EFMA during inter-institutional negotiations with EU countries.

MEPs will vote on the revision of the EU's long-term budget on Tuesday, seeking an extra €10bn for the years 2024-2027 compared to the European Commission proposal.

On the same day, the parliament will also have a discussion about China trade relations in the wake of an anti-subsidy probe into Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) which are flooding the global market. A trade dispute between China and Lithuania arose in late 2021 over its ties with Taiwan.

The ongoing visa corruption scandal in Poland will also be a subject of debate on Tuesday. MEPs are expected to call for an EU investigation into the matter.

Hoekstra's grilling

EU foreign affairs ministers and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell will meet in Kyiv to show support for Ukraine on Monday (2 October).

On the same day, MEPs from several committees will grill newly-appointed EU climate commissioner and former Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra — a position previously held by Socialists & Democrats (S&D) Frans Timmermans, who left Brussels to run for Dutch prime minister.

The hearing on the new responsibilities of vice-president Maroš Šefčovič as EU Green Deal chief will take place on Tuesday (3 October).

If the hearings are successful, there will be a plenary vote, scheduled for Thursday.

Hoekstra's limited experience in green policies and his background at Shell have raised concerns among climate activists who argue that his ties to oil and gas interests could undermine EU climate policies.

MEPs will hold a debate on the commission's proposal to renew the approval of the controversial herbicide glyphosate for 10 years on Wednesday. EU countries will vote on the renewal next week, as the current authorisation is to expire on 15 December 2023.

Recent developments in the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue as well as the territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia will also be the subject of a plenary debate on Tuesday — with a resolution on the recent attacks on the region of Nagorno-Karabakh due to be voted on Thursday.

Voters in Luxemburg will head to the ballot on Sunday (8 October) to choose the country's next parliament.

EU-China summit and migration files in focus This WEEK

This week, EU and Chinese leaders will meet in Beijing to discuss how to cooperate in the international area despite their rivalry. Meanwhile, a marathon trilogue on the five migration files takes place on Thursday.

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.


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