6th Dec 2022


This WEEK in the European Union

Barack Obama's first visit to Europe as US president and the world's first big attempt to jointly address the financial crisis - the "London Summit" - will dominate the coming week, putting Brussels far into the background.

The US leader arrives in the UK capital on Wednesday (1 April) for a reception at Buckingham Palace and dinner at No. 10 Downing Street with the other leaders of the G20 countries plus Spain, the Netherlands and Thailand.

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  • Will Barack Obama still get a warm welcome six months into the financial crisis? (Photo: Wikipedia)

The summit proper on Thursday is expected to produce a broadly-worded declaration on global financial regulation, with swipes at hedge funds and tax havens. It is also set to increase IMF resources and push forward IMF voting rights reforms. Some analysts predict a surprise on restarting the Doha round of world trade talks.

The EU delegation - the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, the European Commission and the Czech EU presidency - may try to sell the bloc's template for financial regulation, the "Larosiere Report," unveiled earlier this month.

The London event was originally billed as a second "Bretton Woods," a 1944 conference which launched a new era of world financial governance. But diplomats have started lowering expectations in the run up to the UK meeting, saying merely it will create a positive climate for future action.

Anti-war campaigners, environmentalists and anarchist groups have their own agenda for Wednesday and Thursday, including rallies in Trafalgar Square, street parties and pickets of the summit venue, the Bank of England and delegates' hotels. The police operation is to cost €7.5 million.

After London, Mr Obama heads to Nato's special 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, on Friday and Saturday.

The gathering will be largely inward-looking, welcoming France back to full membership after a 43-year gap and selecting a new secretary general. Danish premier Anders Fogh-Rasmussen is the favourite candidate, despite Polish and Turkish discontent.

The summit is also to agree to Croatia and Albania joining the alliance. Russia, Ukraine and Georgia will be following talks for clues of Nato's eastward plans.

President Obama will on Sunday meet the 27 EU leaders at an informal summit in Prague. The agenda covers climate change, the economy, troop and police numbers in Afghanistan and Iran sanctions.

The meeting catches the Czech EU presidency in limbo, after the centre-right government of Mirek Topolanek fell last week. The now ex-premier's recent gaffe, in calling US economic plans a "road to hell," will also need to be undone.

Barack Obama while in Strasbourg on Friday will show his popular touch by addressing a crowd in a sports hall. He is also looking for a venue for a major foreign policy speech while in Prague.

Climate white paper

Away from the limelight, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas will on Wednesday publish an EU study on climate change adaptation, detailing what the bloc may need to do in terms of social changes, new types of farming and water management as the temperature rises.

The European Parliament in a mini-session on Wednesday and Thursday will vote on a new law against discrimination outside the workplace and urge EU leaders to press for a human rights clause in a future EU-Russia pact.

Committees on Tuesday will vote on bills concerning patients' rights to treatment in foreign EU countries and on protecting laboratory animals from excessive suffering.

External relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner will on Wednesday attend a foreign minister-level conference in The Hague on the future of Afghanistan, ahead of upcoming presidential elections.

Thursday and Friday will also see an informal meeting of EU finance ministers in Prague to debate the flexibility of EU budget deficit rules. Mr Larosiere - the author of the EU financial regulation report - and the chief of the European Central Bank will attend.

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.

EU's Hungary funds, China, energy, and Frontex This WEEK

In the European Parliament, MEPs will hear from ECB president Christina Lagarde, Kyiv's Vitali Klitschko, and from the three candidates proposed by the EU Commission to be the new boss of EU border agency Frontex.

Zooming in on energy and migration This WEEK

Two extraordinary meetings of ministers, on gas price caps and migration, are expected, while the European Parliament will keep the heat on Hungary and the EU Commission over rule of law.

Energy still in focus This WEEK

The European Parliament will proceed with allowing the recovery fund to be used for energy transition, and EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans will set out proposals on zero pollution.

EU summit and Sakharov Prize This WEEK

The EU Commission on Tuesday is expected to put forward emergency measures on energy — but it is not clear if it will include price-caps, before leaders discuss the plans at a summit in the second half of the week.


Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

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