20th May 2019


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.

Spanish vote and EU court's Airbnb ruling in focus This WEEK

Spanish voters are heading to the polls, while in other EU member states campaigning for the European elections is picking up after Easter. The EU's top court will issue important rulings on both the EU-Canada free trade agreement and Airbnb.

EU parliament meets last time This WEEK

MEPs will gather for the last time this week in Strasbourg before the European elections in May to finalise several bills. Lawmakers will have a Brexit debate and hear from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Brexit and China top EU affairs This WEEK

Brexit and China will dominate EU affairs this week, as leaders meet for two summits - including emergency talks two days before the UK is due to crash out of the EU with no deal in place.

News in Brief

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  5. UK cross-party Brexit talks collapse
  6. Climate activists occupy German-Russian gas pipeline
  7. Farage got €515,000 of private perks
  8. French EU commissioner urges Italy not to overspend

Timmermans calls for left-wing coalition at debate

The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.


All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

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