Thursday

20th Jan 2022

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

EU relations with Russia are set to take up much of the discussion between European foreign ministers meeting on Monday and Tuesday. At the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, they will discuss preparations for the EU-Russia summit to be held in Nice at the end of the week.

Lithuania and Poland however are loth to resume talks with Moscow, frozen by the EU after the Georgian conflict in August. They are frustrated that realpolitik over Europe's need for Russian energy resources takes precedence over their worries about a newly belligerent neighbour to the east, arguing that Russia has not done enough to meet commitments contained within EU-brokered peace agreements.

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  • The Russian enigma is the focus of EU foreign ministers discussions in preparation for talks with the Kremlin later in the week (Photo: kremlin.ru)

In Brussels on Friday (7 November), Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said that the key elements of the ceasefire agreement "were never actually fulfilled."

However, the two countries cannot veto the reignition of talks, as the European Commission is not required to have unanimous support from the member states in order to do so.

Also on Monday, the commission is to adopt its proposals on annual fishing quotas for the northeast Atlantic and the North Sea. Covering some of the most profitable fish stocks in European waters, the Atlantic and North Sea quotas are some of the most important in determining the fate of the EU fishing industry for the coming year. Fisheries ministers will subsequently consider the proposals on 17-19 December, to be applied from 1 January 2009.

Proposals for 2009 quotas for the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and for deep-sea species have been presented separately and should be adopted by the Council this month.

Additionally, the European Court of Auditors will publish its annual report on Monday, an analysis of how the EU spent its 2007 budget.

Finally on Monday, Czech President Vaclav Klaus heads to Ireland for three days. Ahead of the Czech Republic taking up the EU reins in January as chair of the six-month rotating presidency, the two heads of state are to discuss problems surrounding the Lisbon Treaty in the wake of the No vote in Ireland.

The following day, the commission is to adopt a communication on rare diseases. Most rare diseases are genetic diseases but other categories include rare cancers, auto-immune diseases, and congenital malformations. The commission aims to set out an overall community strategy for ensuring effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and research on the subject.

Also on Tuesday, the centre-right grouping in the European Parliament, the European People's Party, is to host a debate on the incoming Obama Administration in the US and EU and US engagement in the Middle East. Later in the week, EPP group chiefs will head to Prague to meet leaders of the Czech Republic ahead of the Czech EU presidency.

Midweek, Lithuania's representative on the EU executive, Dalia Grybauskaite - commissioner for financial programming and budget, is to present the results of a consultation about the union's future budgetary priorities for 2008-2009. The results will be presented at the conference ‘Reforming the budget, changing Europe', hosted by commission President Barroso and the president of the parliament Hans-Gert Poettering.

Also on Wednesday, the commission is to unveil its proposals for re-regulation of credit ratings agencies, widely held to have been guilty of substantial conflicts of interest that resulted in underestimating the credit risk of structured credit products. The agencies failed to reflect early enough in their ratings the worsening of market conditions and have thus been shouldered with a large chunk of the responsibility for the current market turmoil.

Thursday will see the launch of negotiations for an EU-Libya Framework Agreement, and a proposal from the commission on new regulations reinforcing fisheries controls. The commission is worried that a large part of EU fish stocks are overfished, with many scientists arguing that world fish stocks are just decades away from commercial collapse.

Lastly, Saturday, of course, kicks of the G20 talks in Washington on the construction of a new architecture for international finance. Separately, the Spanish parliament in Valencia hosts Nato's 54th parliamentary assembly (to November 18), and the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of nations holds its council to discuss the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement and agree on a mandate for negotiations on the partnership, which are to start at the beginning of 2009.

New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

The lead candidate is the centre-right European People's Party's (EPP) Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who has been outspoke against corruption and rule-of-law issues - but some MEPs are concerned over her anti-abortion voting record.

Key talks with Russia over European security This WEEK

The Nato-Russia council will take place in Brussels on Wednesday, as western and Russian officials begin a series of meetings this week in an effort to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine's eastern border - where Russia has amassed troops.

Recovery and green financing plus Omicron This WEEK

Energy has emerged as a key dividing issue between EU countries, with leaders failing to agree on a common statement on the rise of energy prices (and how to tackle them) last week at their summit in Brussels.

News in Brief

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  2. Nato membership 'very unlikely' on her watch: Finland's PM
  3. Germany investigates Green leaders' Covid-bonuns
  4. Officials surprised by Macron's call for seperate EU-Russia talks
  5. Commission to withhold EU funds from Poland in mine row
  6. 'Patriotic millionaires' call for wealth tax at virtual Davos
  7. Borders must not be moved by force, Scholz warns
  8. MEPs demand public consultation on gas and nuclear

MEPs focus on Belarus, digital rules This WEEK

The debate over a successor for David Sassoli, the centre-left Italian president of the European Parliament will heat up, and Belarusian democratic opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will address the plenary.

Facebook scandal and COP26 climax in focus This WEEK

Facebook whistleblower is expected to meet with MEPs and representatives of the French senate this week. Meanwhile, eyes turn again to the Glasgow UN climate summit as pressure is mounting for negotiators to finish the 2015 Paris Agreement rulebook.

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