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12th Apr 2024

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Environment, Ukraine imports, fish and Easter this WEEK

  • Polish and Ukrainian governments are due to meet on Thursday in Warsaw to discuss farmers' protests in Poland over Ukraine's 'cheap' imports (Photo: Paula Soler/EUobserver)
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This week in the EU bubble is almost all about the environment, agriculture and fisheries — including talks between the Polish and Ukrainian governments over angry protests by Polish farmers objecting to cheap grain imports from Ukraine

On Monday (25 March), EU environment ministers are expected to discuss the proposed revision of the waste framework directive, as well as a draft regulation on preventing maritime pellet losses to reduce microplastic pollution.

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At the environment council, EU ministers will also discuss the commission's recent communication on the 2040 climate change target — but not the nature restoration law, one of the biggest pieces of environmental legislation to date.

Environment ministers were expected to give final formal approval to the legislation at Monday's council meeting, but a qualified majority among EU ambassadors failed to materialise last Friday — and there is no fixed timetable yet.

The legislation has faced a huge backlash in the parliament and, more recently, in some EU capitals, which have raised concerns about the burden of another environmental law on farmers.

The pressure on member states has been intense following months of protests by farmers across the EU demanding fair prices, a level playing field with third-country imports into the single market, less red tape, and more support for the green transition.

The situation is even more tense on Poland's border with Ukraine, where Polish farmers are blocking Ukrainian products from entering the country, claiming that cheap imports are undercutting prices for national produce.

Polish and Ukrainian governments are due to meet on Thursday (28 March) in Warsaw to the issue.

Also on Monday, an informal meeting of fisheries ministers will continue in the Belgian city of Bruges, where the future of EU fisheries is on the agenda.

EU fisheries ministers will specifically hold talks on how to protect and boost the attractiveness of the sector.

And Tuesday will be focusing on the same policy areas, as it will be marked by a council meeting on agriculture and fisheries, where the current situation of the EU's agricultural markets will be discussed.

Ukrainian minister for agrarian policy and food, Mykola Solskyi, will address the EU's ministers.

During the council meeting on Tuesday, more details on the provisional agreement reached last week on tariffs in emergency cases on currently duty-free imports of Ukrainian oats, eggs, poultry, and sugar could emerge — as some countries have expressed their desire to go further.

Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia have currently temporary bans on Ukrainian grain imports.

Last week, EU leaders agreed to address issues related to Ukraine's duty-free trade policy "in a fair and balanced way" at their summit, where Ukraine's president, Vlodomyr Zelensky, warned EU capitals that any loss of trade for his country would mean less money to fight Russian aggression.

Also this week, the World Health Organization is discussing the latest proposal for a pandemic treaty, a global agreement to set out obligations before and during a pandemic.

Meanwhile in the European Parliament, little to nothing will happen this week, as there are no parliamentary sessions scheduled in Brussels — and the parliament offices will be closed on Thursday, Friday, and Monday (1 April) for Easter.

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Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

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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This week, EU leaders come together in Brussels for their usual two-day summit to discuss defence, enlargement, migration and foreign affairs. EU ministers for foreign affairs and EU affairs will meet earlier in the week to prepare the European Council.

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