24th Mar 2018


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:

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.

Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK

The EU will maintain pressure on the US to resolve a tariff dispute. On Monday, European Commission president Juncker, along council president Tusk, will discuss relations with Turkey's president Erdogan. Additional national measures against Russia are also expected.

Brexit and trade will top This WEEK

A crucial EU summit will decide whether to give a green light to the Brexit transition period, while the EU is also fighting to get exemptions from the new US steel and aluminium tariffs.

'Selmayrgate' moves to the EU Parliament This WEEK

As a global trade war looms over the new US steel tariffs, the EU's attention will shift to Strasbourg - where MEPs are expected to debate the Martin Selmayr appointment, trade, Brexit, journalism and the budget.

Italy and migration will top This WEEK

Italy will have voted for a government, Germany's social democrats will have voted to confirm a government (or not): the dynamics in European politics may change, while Brussels will focus on Brexit again.

Election fever picks up This WEEK

Italian general elections, a German coalition in the balance, and the European parliament fighting to get a voice in nominating an EU commission president. This and much more in a week packed with intrigue.

ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK

EU leaders will gather to begin talking about the 2019 election process and the post-2020 budget, while eurozone finance ministers will ponder choosing the next European Central Bank deputy chief.

EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'

EU leaders demanded a permanent exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminium - and ruled out any bilateral trade talks within the 1 May deadline set by Donald Trump.

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