5th Mar 2024


'Foreign talent' and child-abuse bill vote in focus This WEEK

  • The controversial bill aimed at preventing online child sexual abuse will be voted on by the parliament’s civil liberties committee this week - controversial, because it has been slammed as an unprecedented mass surveillance mechanism
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EU minister for foreign affairs will gather in Brussels on Monday (13 November) to discuss the latest developments in the Israel-Gaza war — amid shy calls for a ceasefire and sanctions against Israel.

They will also have an exchange of views about the ongoing aggression of Russia in Ukraine, and the current situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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After the meeting, the ministers of the EU-27 will meet the six foreign ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. 

The EU-Western Balkans ministerial meeting will take place a few days after the EU Commission announced a €6bn growth plan for the region.

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola, for her part, will meet Armenia's foreign affairs minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Wednesday (15 November).

On Tuesday (14 November), EU ministers will meet with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg and the European Defence Agency Steering Board for breakfast. Their meeting will be followed by a discussion on the EU's defence policy and efforts to support Ukraine militarily.

Stoltenberg is also expected to meet the college of commissioners the following day and with the EU commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, on Friday (17 November).

Also on Wednesday, the European Commission is due to unveil its Talent Mobility Package. Under this initiative, Brussels want to create a system that would match European employers with third-country jobseekers to fill existing gaps in some sectors.

The package would include, for example, a recommendation for EU member states to recognise the qualifications of foreign work seekers.

European Council prep

Across the street, EU ministers in charge of European affairs will kick off preparations for the last European Council of this year, scheduled in early December.

Opening accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova and approving EU financial aid to Kyiv in the long-term are expected to be high on the agenda of the next meeting of EU leaders.

Spain's request to make Catalan, Basque and Galician EU official languages, the European electoral law and the commission's work programme for 2024 are also due to be discussed by the ministers on Wednesday.

Ministers from the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) will meet the same day in Apia, Samoa, to discuss further cooperation, before signing a new partnership.

Additionally, the decision-making body of the European Central Bank (ECB) will meet on Wednesday.

While inflation might remain high in the short term, keeping interest rates unchanged for a while could bring inflation to their two-percent target, ECB president Christine Lagarde said last Friday.

"We are at a level where we believe that, if kept long enough, — and this long enough is not trivial — will take us to the two-percent medium-term target," she said.

Child sexual abuse online

The controversial bill aimed at preventing online child sexual abuse will be voted on by the parliament's civil liberties committee on Tuesday.

While the commission proposal has been slammed as an unprecedented mass surveillance mechanism, MEPs' preliminary agreement advocates for targeted control of suspicious individuals subjected to judicial warrants.

If adopted, the bill will be subject to a plenary vote later this month.

On the same day, the committee is also expected to vote on a report extending EU crimes to include hate speech and hate crimes.

Also on Tuesday, co-legislators will gather for another round of negotiations on the first-ever EU law to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

Meanwhile, the potentially last trilogue meeting on the Critical Raw Materials act will take place on Monday. Minerals such as lithium or cobalt are considered key to the EU's strategic autonomy and economic prosperity as they are essential to the development of many modern technologies.

MEPs in the transport and tourism committee on Thursday (16 November) are poised to adopt its position on the revision of EU rules to fight illegal discharges from ships into the sea.

Also this week, Spanish socialists MPS in the Madrid parliament aim to register the controversial amnesty law that has secured Pedro Sánchez re-election as the country's prime minister — with an investiture vote that could take place on Wednesday or Thursday.

EU’s €500m gender violence plan falls short, say auditors

The 'Spotlight Initiative' was launched in 2017 with a budget of €500 million to end all forms of violence or harmful practices against women and girls in partner countries, but so far it has had "little impact", say EU auditors.

Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK

Ursula von der Leyen is expected to be confirmed as the EPP candidate for president of the next EU Commission. A new defence strategy will be unveiled this week, while the ECB is expected to maintain interest rates.

More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels amid new farmers' protests. MEPs will hear from Alexei Navalny's widow and give the final green light to the €50bn Ukraine facility, while the CBAM proposal faces a formal challenge at a WTO meeting.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.


Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour

Ukrainians struggle to match the kindness of individual Hungarians with the nationalist government's pro-Russia rhetoric. "Ukraine's primary enemies are Russians and Putin, obviously. But the number two is Viktor Orbán," Viktoria Petrovszka, a Ukrainian woman living in Hungary, says.


The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity

The EU's own analysis has made it clear this is economic self-sabotage, and it's politically foolish three months from European elections where the far-right are predicted to increase support, writes the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

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