3rd Dec 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.

UN climate talks and passengers' right in focus This WEEK

The two-week UN climate talks (#COP28) will kick off on Thursday. Earlier this week, the EU Commission will unveil a proposal to improve passengers' rights and Nato foreign affairs ministers will meet in Brussels.

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

The controversial 'mass surveillance' bill aimed at preventing online child sexual abuse will be voted on by the parliament's civil liberties committee on Tuesday. A day later, the EU Commission is expected to unveil its Talent Mobility Package.

Western Balkans and pre-COP meeting in focus This WEEK

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will be travelling this week throughout the Western Balkan. Meanwhile, the pre-COP28 on Monday and Tuesday will bring together ministers in Abu Dhabi to prepare for the UN climate talks.

EU summit plus pesticide vote in focus This Week

European leaders come together on Thursday and Friday to discuss the latest developments in Israel/Gaza, reconfirm their support for Ukraine, and address migration. Meanwhile, a key EU proposal to reduce pesticide use will be voted upon on Tuesday.


Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground

Discussion of the biggest existential threat humanity has ever faced is barely mentioned on billboards or signage in Dubai — yet visitors are made aware quite quickly that t world rugby sevens tournament is imminent.


'Pay or okay?' — Facebook & Instagram vs the EU

Since last week, Mark Zuckerberg's Meta corporation is forcing its European users to either accept their intrusive privacy practices — or pay €156 per year to access Facebook and Instagram without tracking advertising.

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