27th May 2017


This WEEK in the European Union

  • Soaring fuel prices will also come up at the EU summit (Photo: European Community, 2006)

Following the Irish No, the future of the Lisbon Treaty is set to feature high on the European Union's agenda next week.

When EU leaders meet for their regular meeting in Brussels at the end of week (19-20 June), all eyes will be on Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who will be expected to offer a way out of the fiasco.

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Mr Cowen has already excluded "a quick fix" to the situation, while declaring Ireland will do its best not the halt the ambitious project of EU reform.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, for his part, has refused to declare the treaty dead and called for the ratification process to go on.

Aside from institutional affairs, EU leaders are also set to look for a coordinated response to oil prices, which reach their highest level since the end of the 1970s. The European Commission is set to ask member states to "carefully" consider "targeted measures" aimed at helping low-income households.

The union of Belgian truckers (UPTR) has already said it will try to block the streets of Brussels during the summit in order to make their case as visible as possible.

EU foreign ministers

The summit agenda will be first digested by the union's foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday (16 June). In addition, ministers will discuss "recent changes" in Cuba and reconfirm "the EU's determination to pursue a dialogue" with Havana.

The EU froze high-level diplomatic ties with the Fidel Castro regime in 2003 after the jailing of 75 dissidents and the execution of three people trying to flee to the US. The measures were temporarily suspended in 2005 and are reviewed every six months.

Ministers will also "call upon the government to improve effectively the human rights situation by, inter alia, releasing unconditionally all political prisoners, including those who were detained and sentenced in 2003", one Slovene diplomat said ahead of the meeting.

On the eve of the EU leaders summit (18 June), ministers in charge of competitiveness will try to put a full stop behind the wrangling over where to place the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU's flagship for innovation and education.

Last month, they failed to agree due to a Polish veto.

But Hungary's capital Budapest looks certain to win the seat as it is the only applicant able to meet the two criteria set by ministers - that the winner should be a "new" member state and not already have an EU agency.

The Western Balkans

The beginning of next week will produce a good piece of news for two EU-hopefuls in the Balkans.

On Monday, Bosnia and Herzegovina is to make an important step on its way to becoming an EU member one day by signing a pre-accession deal, the stabilisation and association agreement.

On Tuesday, Croatia is expected to open one or two additional chapters of the country's negotiating book, bringing the total to 20. While the chapter on social policy and employment is relatively trouble-free, some talks are still ongoing when it comes to the free movement of workers chapter.

Similarly, Turkey will also make a small step forward, opening two chapters - company law and intellectual property law. This will bring the overall number of chapters open to eight.

European Parliament

European lawmakers, meeting in Strasbourg, are also set for heavy agenda. They will kick of by grilling the two commissioners - France's Jacques Barrot and Antonio Tajani from Italy.

Following the departure of Franco Frattini, the commission vice-president in charge of justice and home affairs dossier, in May, Mr Tajani was appointed EU transport commissioner. Mr Barrot has already assumed the prominent justice and home affairs position.

On Tuesday, MEPs will debate Slovakia's entry to the eurozone foreseen for January 2009. Some German MEPs are expected to once again voice concerns over the possible rise of consumer prices in the country, but it is unlikely to influence the parliament's vote on the matter.

Later in the week, EU leaders are expected to rubberstamp the Slovak euro application.

On Wednesday (18 June), the European Parliament is set to give its opinion on common rules for returning non-EU nationals that have illegally entered EU territory or those who no longer fulfil the conditions for stay or residence in a member state.

The Slovene EU presidency has said it should be an easy task as all the parliament's political groups back the compromise struck by EU capitals last week.

It is estimated that some eight million illegal immigrants are present in the 27-nation bloc. The draft legislation, dubbed the return directive, lays down a maximum 18-month period of detention and introduces a ban on re-entry into the EU, which should not exceed five years.

MEPs will also debate dossiers on waste reduction and the internal market in energy.

Brexit summit, Turkey and Hungary dominate EU This WEEK

European leaders will adopt their negotiating position on the Brexit summit on Saturday, whereas the situation of Hungary's democracy and post-referendum Turkey will be under scrutiny in the EU this week.

Brexit, Syria and Greece on the agenda This WEEK

The European Parliament will adopt its position on the UK's exit, and eurozone finance ministers will try to break a deadlock on the Greek bailout talks. Meanwhile in Brussels, there will be discussions on ending the war in Syria.

UK to file EU divorce This WEEK

UK prime minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday, with the EU expected to respond within 48 hours.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.


Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

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