15th Apr 2024


EU summit prep work and von der Leyen's Egypt visit This WEEK

  • On Sunday, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will be in Egypt for talks regarding a potential 'cash-for-migrant-control' deal (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)
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At a plenary debate in Strasburg on Tuesday (12 March), MEPs will share their expectations for the next European Council summit due later in March, and hear from the Belgian EU Council presidency and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Although the agenda for the next EU summit is yet to be defined, the war in the Middle East, the EU's support to Ukraine, enlargement and defence are set to dominate the talks.

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Tuesday's debate will be the first address by von der Leyen to the European Parliament since she was confirmed last week as the European People's Party (EPP) lead candidate.

Her nomination has sparked questions from the EU commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton (of French president Emmanuel Macron's liberal party) about whether the commission should be led again by a centre-right EPP politician — a sentiment expected to be echoed by some MEPs.

With the EU election campaign now taking shape, Breton could emerge as a Spitzenkandidat (lead candidate) for Renew Europe to challenge von der Leyen — but the liberal party will only make an official announcement on its lead candidate(s) later this month.

The socialists, for their part, have nominated EU commissioner for employment Nicolas Schmit as their lead candidate for the EU elections.

In the meantime, leading up to June's elections, all three are still expected to come together every week and work as a team delivering proposals under the principle of collegiality — despite evident tensions posing a significant challenge.

"Yet another fiction of EU democracy, prepping for the Spitzen charade," said Alberto Alemanno, professor of EU law at HEC Paris, on X (formerly Twitter).

Also on Tuesday, the European Commission is expected to outline the reforms the EU needs to undertake to enlarge to a bloc of more than 30 states.

EU leaders previously agreed to adopt a roadmap for future enlargement reforms by this summer.

Last year, a group of German-French experts proposed a list of institutional reforms to make the EU ready for enlargement by 2030 — including ending unanimity voting in the council, securing the harmonisation of EU electoral laws and reducing the size of the college of commissioners.

Also on Tuesday, the commission is expected to unveil a plan focused on climate resilience — following the publication of a report by the European Environment Agency about the main climate risks currently facing the continent on Monday (11 March).

Von der Leyen: from Greenland to Egypt

On Sunday (17 March), von der Leyen will be in Cairo to meet with the country's autocratic leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, alongside Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo, Italy's Giorgia Meloni, and Greece's Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Talks will focus on a potential 'cash-for-migrant-control' deal between the EU and Egypt, similar to those signed with Tunisia and Mauritania.

Earlier this week, von der Leyen will travel to the Faroe Islands with Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday (15 March) and to Greenland on Friday (16 March).

In Brussels, the Eurogroup will kick off the week to discuss macroeconomic developments and fiscal policy in the euro area in 2025 on Monday.

EU ministers in charge of employment will meet on the same day to discuss the Platform Work Directive — after Germany, France, Greece, and Estonia opposed an agreement on the new rules aimed at improving conditions for gig workers in Europe last month.

The following day, the ministers will have a joint debate with ministers of economics and financial affairs on social investment and future priorities.

EU ministers of economics and financial affairs on Tuesday will discuss the implementation of post-pandemic recovery plans, the financial impact of the war in Ukraine and the results of the last G20 finance ministers meeting.

Finnish PM in Strasbourg

On Wednesday (13 March), Finnish prime minister Petteri Orpo will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg — as part of the series of 'This is Europe' debates.

Orpo's address in Strasbourg follows a visit of European Parliament president Roberta Metsola last week to Helsinki.

On the same day, MEPs will have a debate about Gaza and the Ukrainian children forcibly deported to Russia.

Despite widespread concerns regarding facial recognition provisions, MEPs will give the final green light to the AI Act the same day.

The European Media Freedom Act and new rules to reduce emissions from cars will be also put to a final vote by MEPs on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, female Spanish national football players will speak before MEPs on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of women in sports.

This comes in light of International Women's Day last Friday and in the wake of a national scandal last year when the national FIFA chief forcibly kissed one of the players of the Spanish team after winning the World Cup.

Following a plenary debate on Monday, MEPs will adopt their position on a new directive aimed at preventing greenwashing on Tuesday.

Also on Monday, MEPs in the environment committee will have a debate with Stella Kyriakides about the implementation of the EU health programme, proposed after the Covid-19 pandemic.

EU should talk about cost of failed enlargement, experts say

Many challenges remain before the EU's historically celebrated enlargement policy can be successfully revived, experts warn — after EU leaders managed to agree to open accession talks with Ukraine at the European Council in December.

Defence joins migration in EU centre-right manifesto

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) has unveiled its priorities for the next parliamentary term, as European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is expected to get confirmed as the party's lead candidate in the June elections.

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Plenary session, single market and economy in focus this WEEK

This week, get ready to dive into another plenary session of the EU Parliament and an agenda packed with economic and financial issues, ahead of a special EU summit in Brussels that will focus on competitiveness and the economy.

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