28th Jul 2021


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.

Recovery and rule of law are back This WEEK

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will continue to travel to member states to "personally hand over the assessment" of the EU executive on national Covid-19 recovery plans.

Mammoth green package out This WEEK

Aside from the green package, Poland will also be the centre of attention. Two decisions by the controversial Constitutional Tribunal could affect the country's EU future. Belarus' border with Lithuania will also be in the spotlight.

Slovenia takes the EU steering wheel This WEEK

While Slovenian prime minister Janey Janša will not have an impact on the day-to-day operations on the presidency, the platform it gives to the increasingly bellicose PM has been a cause for concern.

EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers will try to sort out a new round of sanctions on Belarus, and EU affairs ministers will hold intergovernmental conferences with two candidate countries, Serbia and Montenegro.

Biden in Brussels, recovery package underway This WEEK

The EU Commission is expected to approve the first recovery plans submitted by national capitals on how they will use funds available from the EU's €800bn recovery fund. Spain, Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg seem to be first crossing the line.


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