9th Dec 2023


Sakharov Prize and Polish election This WEEK

  • A rally in Poland, where the highly-anticipated election will take place on Sunday (Photo: Łódzkie Dziewuchy Dziewuchom)
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Voters in Poland will head to the ballot boxes on Sunday (15 October) in highly-contested elections — with the ruling rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party aiming for a third term in office.

While Donald Tusk's Civic Platform (Koalicja Obywatelska) is striving to challenge the populist-nationalist party, Jarosław Kaczyński's PiS is expected to be victorious again. According to polls, they currently are on around 36 percent of the vote, albeit a decline from their peak of 44 percent in 2019.

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However, Tusk's Civic Platform might capitalise on a recent corruption scandal involving allegations of the sale of thousands of visas in exchange for bribes.

The former European Council president has also promised to support same-sex marriage, supported by a growing majority of Poles, and to introduce the option to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester, if he wins.

Meanwhile, EU ministers responsible for employment and social policy will meet in Luxembourg on Monday (9 October) to discuss the impact of new technologies on labour, mental health and gender violence laws.

And MEPs will reconvene their task at the committee level ahead of the second October plenary session.

Also on Monday, MEPs in the home affairs committee will discuss the 2023 commission's annual report on the rule of law with EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders on the same day.

They are also expected to hold a debate with the Spanish minister of home affairs Fernando Grande-Marlaska, whose country currently holds the EU Council presidency, and with the Dutch minister for migration Eric van der Burg.

Sakharov Prize

MEPs in various committees will on Thursday (12 Ocotber) vote on the shortlist of three candidates for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the special prize the parliament gives out each year to a person or an organisation.

The nominees this year include Jina Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman who was killed for ignoring Iran's veiling laws, Afghan education activists, the pro-European people of Georgia and Nino Lomjaria, former public defender of Georgia, Vanessa Nakate, Uganda's climate activist, women fighting for free, safe and legal abortion, and business magnate Elon Musk.

The winner is expected to be announced later this month.

Also on Thursday, the parliament's environment committee will vote on new emission rules for cars and trucks (so-called Euro 7 standards) — after EU member states agreed on a watered-down version of the text in September.

MEPs from the constitutional affairs committee will discuss the same day the European Parliament's proposal to change the treaties — as citizens demanded during the Conference on the Future of Europe.

EU budget

On Monday (9 October), MEPs in the budget committee will adopt their position on the EU budget for 2024. Once adopted, it will be voted in plenary to enter into inter-institutional negotiations with EU countries.

On the same day, the budget committee is also expected to adopt a report on the revision of the system of own resources of the EU, which includes revenues generated from the extended Emissions Trade Scheme (EU ETS) and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

New resources are expected to help repay the debt of NextGenerationEU, avoiding controversial increases from member states' contributions or cuts to key EU programmes.

Also on Monday, MEPs in the committee on industry and the committee on budgets will vote on the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) proposal, previously known as the EU Sovereignty Fund, which includes financial support for key technologies.

In the revision of the EU budget, the commission proposed to allocate an additional €10bn for the platform — while MEPs have called for an additional €3bn on top of that commission proposal.

However, the parliament's budgetary aspirations are likely to be opposed by EU member states, who have shown an appetite only to increase funding of the EU budget to keep supporting Ukraine.

Meanwhile, MEPs in the budget committee will also have an exchange of views with Olaf's director-general Ville Itälä on the agency's 2022 annual report on Thursday — including Olaf's efforts to protect the EU budget from over €600m of fraud.

Demography toolbox

EU commission vice-president Věra Jourová will participate in the UN Internet Governance Forum in Kyoto on Monday — where the impact on society of disinformation, AI and other emerging technologies will be discussed.

For her part, EU commissioner for cohesion and reforms Elisa Ferreira will kick off the 21st edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities, which will run this entire week.

And the commission will present the so-called demography toolbox on Wednesday (11 October), following a request by EU member states and MEPs. The toolbox aims to address demographic trends and challenges facing the EU.

Additionally, a meeting of Nato defence ministers is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

Socialist MEPs asked to support Vox nominee for Sakharov prize

The ultra-conservative candidate Jeanine Áñez from Bolivia was selected by the Spanish far-right Vox for the EU Sakharov prize on behalf of the conservative ECR. Socialist MEPs were instructed to support her, over a Western Sahara activist.

Poland's culture of fear after three years of abortion 'ban'

Poland in 2020 imposed a near-total ban on abortion, triggering mass protests — and today the demands for access to safe abortion continue. On International Safe Abortion Day, dozens gathered in Brussels calling for solidarity among member states.

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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