28th Nov 2023


Dutch elections and Spain's rule-of-law debate This WEEK

  • MEPs will discuss threats to the rule of law in Spain and several environmental files, at the November plenary session in Strasbourg (Photo: European Union 2023 - Source: EP)
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Dutch voters will go to the polls on Wednesday (22 November) to elect a new government — after the long-standing government of prime minister Mark Rutte collapsed earlier this year over a disagreement between coalition parties over asylum policies.

There are 26 different political parties in this election, but polls indicate that 'only' 17 will make it to the 150-seat parliament.

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  • Ex-commissioner for climate change, Frans Timmermans, now leading a Socialist-Green alliance in the Netherlands, is expected to gain wide support in Wednesday’s Dutch elections (Photo: European Parliament)

So far, Dilan Yeşilgöz from Rutte's liberal-conservative VVD and Pieter Omtzigt from the centrist New Social Contract party are vying for position at the top of opinion polls.

Ex-commissioner for climate change Frans Timmermans, leading a Socialist-Green alliance, is also expected to gain wide support in Wednesday's elections.

Also on Wednesday, EU Council president Charles Michel and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will attend a virtual summit of G20 leaders, hosted by the Indian G20 presidency.

Both EU leaders will be in Berlin on Monday (20 November) to participate in the Conference on the G20 Compact with Africa.

This comes after von der Leyen's trip to Egypt at the weekend.

Later in the week, the EU leaders will travel to Canada for the two-day EU-Canada summit on Thursday (23 November) and Friday (24 November).

The latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine war and the Middle East as well as cooperation on green energy, climate diplomacy, trade and investments will be high on the summit agenda.

EU foreign affairs ministers, for their part, will meet in Brussels to discuss the initiatives of Team Europe in Africa on Tuesday (21 November).

Rule of Law debate

After the controversial agreement between the Spanish socialists and a Catalan separatist party that made possible the return of Pedro Sánchez as prime minister last week, MEPs will hold a debate about the "threats to the rule of law in Spain" resulting from this agreement.

That debate, taking place on Wednesday, was requested by the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and supported by the liberal Renew Europe group. But the S&D and Greens opposed it.

"The idea is to send out an alarm call to the European Commission," said an EPP spokesperson last Friday. "What we're saying to the commission is be ready to step in if necessary. Be ready to act."

The EPP is concerned that the amnesty law, which is the cornerstone of the agreement, risks violating the separation of powers and undermining the independence of judges.

Also on Wednesday, MEPs are set to greenlight the EU-New Zealand trade agreement.

EU parliament president Roberta Metsola will meet Bulgaria's prime minister Nikolay Denkov the same day. After their bilateral meeting, Denkov will address MEPs in the plenary in Strasbourg.

Following a debate about treaty change on Tuesday, MEPs will vote on the report on Wednesday.

On Thursday, MEPs will vote on an own-initiative report calling on EU institutions to respect the so-called 'Spitzenkandidaten' process. At the last European elections in 2019, the EU parliament complained because the lead candidate system was not applied, von der Leyen was ultimately picked in a backroom deal by EU governments — instead of EPP leader Manfred Weber.

MEPs will discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war on Wednesday.

A group of about 70 MEPs of different nationalities and political groups have called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza — after EU leaders finally agreed to call for humanitarian "pauses" during the last summit.

Green files

The European Parliament will debate (on Monday) and vote (on Tuesday) on the right-to-repair proposal, which aims to make it easier for consumers to repair products instead of buying new ones.

A debate about how to reduce the use of pesticides by at least 50 percent by 2030 in the 27-nation bloc will take place on Tuesday, followed by a vote on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, new packaging rules aimed at reducing packaging waste will be subjected to a plenary vote. Once adopted, this will pave the way for negotiation with EU member states.

To improve air quality in the EU, new thresholds for CO2 emission from buses, trucks and trailers will be subjected to a vote on Tuesday.

MEPs will vote on Tuesday on the flagship Net-Zero Industry Act, which aims to boost the manufacturing capacity of strategic net-zero technologies in the EU. Once adopted, inter-institutional negotiations will EU member states will be able to start.

Meanwhile, MEPs will hold a debate on Thursday about gender violence ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Saturday (25 November).

In Brussels, EU agriculture ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the controversial proposal on the use of new genomic techniques in agriculture, the EU forest strategy for 2030 and fishing opportunities for next year.

Later this week, EU ministers responsible for education, youth, culture and sport will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss digital skills and digital excitation as well as youth mental health and working conditions for artists.


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