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15th Apr 2024

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Western Balkans and pre-COP meeting in focus This WEEK

  • EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen's trip to the Western Balkans follows her visit to Albania earlier this month (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)
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European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will be travelling this week throughout the Western Balkans.

She will meet with the prime minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovačevski, in Skopje on Monday (30 October). Later that day, she will travel to Pristina.

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On Tuesday (31 October), she will meet Montenegro's president Jakov Milatović and the caretaker prime minister Dritan Abazović. Afterwards, she will meet with Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić.

Von der Leyen will meet in Sarajevo with the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday.

Her trip through the Western Balkans follows her visit to Albania earlier this month.

And it comes one week before the commission's annual progress report for countries in the bloc's accession process.

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

On Monday and Tuesday, a 'pre-COP28' will bring together ministers in Abu Dhabi to prepare for the UN climate talks later this year, where nearly 200 countries will hold negotiations efforts to fight climate change for over two weeks.

EU climate commissioner Wopke Hoekstra will also be there. On Tuesday, he is expected to meet COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber.

EU leaders have called for increased global action and ambition, pointing out that limiting warming to around 1.5 degrees requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak at the latest before 2025.

The 27-nation bloc is also expected to push for the global phase-out of "unabated" fossil fuels — which will leave the door open for countries to keep using coal, oil and gas if they use technology such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) to compensate for emissions.

"The European Council calls for the broadest support to the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge to be put forward by the European Union at COP28," they also said in last week's summit conclusions.

Also on Monday and Tuesday, EU ministers responsible for tourism will have an informal meeting in Spain to discuss a more sustainable approach to the sector.

On Thursday (2 November), von der Leyen will meet with UN secretary-general António Guterres in the context of the AI Safety Summit 2023.

Meanwhile, several delegations of MEPs will also embark on travel missions this week.

A delegation from the trade committee will go to San Francisco to discuss limitations in sectors such as semiconductors, the automotive industry and critical infrastructure. 

Another group will travel to Mexico to talk about the EU-Mexico partnership and how to conclude the updated trade agreement between the EU and Mexico.

Another group of MEPs from the internal market committee will travel to Washington to discuss EU legislation and initiatives in the US on the digital sector, political advertising and artificial intelligence.

On Tuesday, European Parliament president Roberta Metsola will inaugurate the Europa Experience in Paris and meet French president Emmanuel Macron.

The initiative to bring the European Union closer to citizens, using technology to explain how institutions and EU policy-making work. The Europa Experience can be found in several capitals across Europe, including Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Vienna, Paris, and Rome.

Delegations, composed of 87 national MPs, mirroring the political composition of the Nordic parliaments will gather for the 75th Session of the Nordic Council in Oslo from Monday to Thursday.

Nato chief and former Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, will address the assembly on Tuesday. The agenda includes a member's proposal for a nuclear-weapon-free Nordic zone, how to speed up the green transition, and young people's participation in democracy.

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