Wednesday

1st Feb 2023

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

  • Teenagers in Tbilisi. Their country is the focus of an international donor's conference in Brussels next week. (Photo: EUobserver)

Strasbourg is hosting the European Parliament's plenary session this week, the first time since the parliament's roof collapse in August forced the block's legislative to hold its sessions in Brussels.

The financial crisis is still high on the agenda, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso debating the conclusions of the latest EU summit on Tuesday in the parliamentary plenary. On the same day, the heads of the political groups in the chamber are also to discuss the next steps in stabilising financial markets with Mr Barroso.

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A first reading of the EU budget for 2009 is also to be debated in the plenary in the context of the financial crisis, with a vote on Thursday (23 October). MEPs have increased most of the figures proposed by the European Commission.

The fight against climate change, the EU's social dimension and security questions are the parliament's priorities for 2009. But recent policy commitments, such as food aid to developing countries and aid for reconstruction in Georgia, have been added to ordinary EU policies, thus creating a gap between the forecasts of financial needs and programmed expenditure, the EP's budgets committee reads. Thus, the EP proposal is to increase the EU budget to 0.954 percent of the gross national income (GNI) of the member states up from the commission's proposal of 0.885% percnet of GNI. Budgetary conciliation between parliament and Council, the two arms of the budgetary authority, takes place on 21 November.

On the climate change front, environment ministers are to meet from 20-21 October in Luxembourg. Despite having failed to agree on the national commitments with a deadline set for the December summit, environment ministers are to decide on the EU's position at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan in December 2008.

The ministers will also draw up a progress report on the energy-climate legislative package with a view to preparing the conclusions that the EU Presidency would like to see adopted at the December summit of heads of state and government. The environment ministers will also debate Europe's position on genetically modified organisms.

Justice and home affairs ministers will gather in Luxembourg on Friday to adopt a draft regulation on upgrading the block's border security system known as Schengen. Additionally,Political agreements are expected on the establishment of a European Criminal Record Information System, which would interconnect the criminal records of the 27 member states. They are also set to adopt regulation on alimony, maintenance or spousal support obligations designed to simplify collection for European citizens.

Georgia donor's conference

In an attempt to support Georgia's finances following the conflict in August, the European Commission and the World Bank are co-hosting a Georgia donor's conference in Brussels on Wednesday, which will be co-chaired by the French and incoming Czech EU presidencies.

A group of international institutions co-ordinated by the World Bank have estimated that Georgia needs €2.38 billion over a three-year period to cover budget support, social sector support and infrastructure development.

New Trade commissioner hearing

Catherine Ashton, leader of the UK House of Lords and London's proposal to replace Peter Mandelson as trade Commssioner, will take part in a hearing before the parliament's trade, foreign affairs and development committees on Monday, with a plenary vote on her assumption of the position on Wednesday (22 October).

If approved by the parliament, she will also need to win the approval of a qualified majority of EU member states to be appointed as commissioner.

Finally, on Thusday (23 October), the winner of the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought will be chosen by political group leaders from the three finalists Hu Jia, Aleksandr Kozulin and Apollinaire Malu Malu.

Fears on migration plus Ukraine summit this WEEK

MEPs are expected to present their migration and asylum priorities on Wednesday (1 February), before EU leaders will focus on the issue at the 9-10 February special European Council.

New sanctions and democracy in focus This WEEK

On Monday, Brussels will see EU foreign affairs ministers focusing on a 10th sanctions package against Russia, a special tribunal, and preparing the EU-Ukraine summit on 3 February in Kyiv.

Gas price-cap tops agenda This WEEK

On Monday, we will also find out of there is a deal among European Parliament and EU government negotiators on the agreement to reform the bloc's Emissions Trading System (ETS) and on the Social Climate Fund.

Pre-Xmas EU summit push on This WEEK

This week officials from the parliament and council are also set to try and find an agreement on three major bills which are part of the Fit for 55 initiative to make the EU climate neutral by 2050.

Hungary's funds showdown in focus This WEEK

On Tuesday, EU finance and economy ministers are expected to discuss a whole series of highly-political files, with one country tying it all together: Hungary. EU and Western Balkan leaders will also meet in Tirana.

Polish backpedal on windfarms put EU funds at risk

Draft legislation in Poland aimed at relaxing some of Europe's strictest laws surrounding onshore wind-turbines has been derailed by a surprise last minute amendment, which could put Poland back on a collision course with the EU.

Opinion

More money, more problems in EU answer to US green subsidies

Industrial energy-intense sectors, outside Germany and France, will not move to the US. They will go bust, as they cannot compete in a fragmented single market. So to save industry in two member states, we will kill the rest?

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