13th Jul 2020


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.

Budget talks shift gear This WEEK

European Council president Charles Michel is expected to present his compromise proposal on the EU's long-term budget and the recovery fund to national capitals in the second half of the week.

Germany's EU presidency launches This WEEK

Germany will take over the EU's rotating presidency for the next difficult six months, making two of the three EU institutions led by German politicians and officials. Poland will digest the results of the first round of its presidential election.

EU's virtual summit with China This WEEK

This week, the European Union and China are holding their first joint summit since April 2019. It comes amid the pandemic, which first surfaced in China's Wuhan, protests in Hong Kong and a belligerent US president.

EU easing lockdowns, counting costs This WEEK

"Freedom is the rule," in Belgium, the EU institutions' home, from Monday, when bars and cafes reopen. But 90 percent of EU talks - on economic rescues and Africa diplomacy - to stay online.

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