22nd Oct 2020


This WEEK in the European Union

  • MEPs to debate the European diplomatic service that will be established by the Lisbon treaty. (Photo: EUobserver)

The coming week will see the rest of the EU continue the wait for an indication from Czech president Vaclav Klaus concerning his next moves on the Lisbon Treaty.

A signal that he will sign the document if it is given the green light by the constitutional court and if other countries bow to his recent demand for a Czech opt out from a rights charter contained in the treaty would free up a series of institutional decisions, including the shape of the next European Commission.

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The issue is set to be the main topic during a European Parliament discussion on preparing the 29-30 October EU leaders meeting in Brussels. The Swedish EU presidency would like to have a summit where the jobs created by the Lisbon Treaty and the new line up in the European Commission is decided. However, without a concrete signal from Mr Klaus, it would make little sense to begin the jobs horse-trading.

Another hot topic next week is set to be the external action service, the European diplomatic service that will be established by the treaty.

There is currently a power tussle going on between the European Commission, the European Parliament and member states about its exact shape, size and nature. MEPs and the commission would like to keep it communitarian in nature, run under the EU budget and drawing staff equally from the commission, the council secretariat, and from member states.

Larger countries, such as the UK and France, are keen to see a streamlined service, weighted in favour of member states and with budgetary autonomy. The parliament will have its first formal shot at the matter next week when it debates and votes on a report on the diplomatic service by German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok.

Question time

Next week will also see the first Barroso question time in the parliament. An innovation initiated by Mr Barroso as part of his charm offensive in his campaign to be elected for a second time as commission president, it foresees a half hour of free questions by MEPs and a half hour of questions on a set topic. Tuesday's topic is the financial crisis.

The European Commission will make a series of announcements next week, including proposals to simplify and harmonise procedures among member states for granting asylum to third country nationals.

It is also due to produce a report on how its plans to reduce red tape in the EU are progressing. Although it has an overall ceiling of reducing administrative costs by 25% by 2012, progress towards this goal is only coming along slowly.

E-trade will be the focus of a commission report published on Thursday which examines the barriers that still exist to online trade, including differences between member states in VAT and copyright.

Several ministers from each of the member states will be in Luxembourg over the coming week for council meetings, including finance and farm ministers on Monday, environment ministers on Wednesday and justice ministers on Friday.

The December international talks on a climate change deal will feature on the agendas of both finance and environment ministers with the former considering the cost implications of C02 cutting measures and the latter fine-tuning the EU's Copenhagen offer.

Finance ministers will also discuss the G20 Finance Ministers meeting to be held in the UK early next month as well as preparing the EU summit talks on an exit strategy for measures put in place to fight the economic and financial crisis.

Brexit and EU budget in spotlight This WEEK

Tense post-Brexit talks in London, and EU budget and rule-of-law negotiations in Brussels, will continue this week, as EU countries battle the second wave of Covid-19.

EU summit focuses on Brexit and Covid-19 This WEEK

Talks between the UK and the EU have progressed painfully slowly, but a deal on future relations needs to be agreed by the end of October. MEPs and diplomats will have another go at settling the next EU budget.

Key Brexit and budget talks This WEEK

Breakthroughs are needed this week in both the EU-UK talks and negotiations on the budget between member states and the European Parliament. Migration will also be back, with ministers having their first debate on the new migration pact proposal.

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