27th Sep 2023


This WEEK in the European Union

This week sees the European Union finally come out of its legal limbo as the new European Commission starts its work on Monday.

The Brussels executive was in caretaker status for three weeks as the original line-up of Commissioners had to be adjusted after complaints by MEPs.

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The new Commissioners face a packed agenda as they try and shift the backlog of meetings that had been scheduled for the past three weeks.

Kicking off the week, EU foreign and defence ministers will meet on Monday in Brussels. One of the main topics on their agenda will be EU's plans to create battle groups - a series of 1,500-strong forces deployable within 15 days to deal with trouble-spots in the world.

Foreign ministers will also discuss the situation in Iran, Sudan, the Ivory Coast and the Middle East. Sunday's Presidential elections in Ukraine will also be discussed - the first round of elections took place amid allegations of fraud and intimidation.

Another important event this week is the EU-Russia Summit - taking place on Thursday after having been postponed once; ostensibly due to the delay with the new European Commission.

Up for discussion are the four common spaces between the EU and Russia covering the economy; freedom and the rule of law; external security; and education.

Both sides have had difficulty in agreeing all four spaces with talks held up by disagreements over security and human rights issues.

Also on Thursday, EU budget and competitiveness ministers will meet, while their agriculture and fisheries counterparts will meet at the beginning of the week.

A reform of the EU's sugar subsidies regime will be the main issue on the table for agriculture ministers.

Meanwhile, in the European Parliament, there will be a hearing on the European Constitution on Thursday and a parliamentary conference on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) from Wednesday to Friday.

The Budgetary Control Committee will hear Commissioners Siim Kallas (administration and audit), Dalia Grybauskaite (budget), Mariann Fischer Boel (agriculture), Danuta Hübner (regional policy) and Vladimir Spidla (employment and social affairs) on Monday and Tuesday.

China trade tension and migration deal This WEEK

An EU-China high-level economic is scheduled on Monday amid renewed tensions. Later this week, EU home affairs ministers will discuss the EU-Tunisia deal and the state of play of the EU pact on asylum and migration.

Spain's EU-language bid and UN summit This WEEK

While the heads of EU institutions are in New York for the UN high level meeting, Spain's EU presidency will try to convince ministers to make Catalan, Basque, and Galician official EU languages.

Von der Leyen's State of the Union address This WEEK

The EU's political season is back in full swing after the summer break, with the EU Commission president's State of the Union address on Wednesday. Meanwhile, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will also address the European Parliament.

La Rentrée and MEPs anti-corruption reform This WEEK

The European Parliament's committee on constitutional affairs will vote on a 14-point anti-corruption reform, after the Qatargate allegations. Meanwhile, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will participate in the first Africa Climate Summit.

EU aims to revive cooperation with Latin America This WEEK

The EU-CELAC summit will take place in Brussels this week, after after eight years of hiatus. But disagreements over the condemnation of Russia's war in Ukraine have complicated the finalisation of the joint agreement.


How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?

The EU Commission's new magic formula for avoiding scrutiny is simple. You declare the documents in question to be "short-lived correspondence for a preliminary exchange of views" and thus exempt them from being logged in the official inventory.

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