27th Jan 2023


This WEEK in the European Union

  • Climate protester in Copenhagen: the EU capital will be all but empty this week (Photo: Stop Climate Chaos Coalition)

Brussels will be all-but empty during the last full working week of the year, as leaders head for the climate summit in Copenhagen and MEPs go to Strasbourg.

EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and EU parliament chief Jerzy Buzek will take a gaggle of commissioners and MEPs to the Danish capital for the climax of the talks on Thursday (17 December) and Friday.

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With world leaders, including US president Barack Obama and Germany's Angela Merkel, also to attend, expectations are high that the event will lead to a landmark agreement on global warming and re-distribution of wealth to the third world.

EU leaders last week signaled the bloc is unlikely to improve its target of cutting CO2 by 20 percent by 2020, however, while observers predict that the summit will produce a political accord only, with a legally-binding pact still out of reach.

The Strasbourg agenda is dominated by foreign affairs and by the EU budget.

MEPs will at a ceremony on Wednesday honour this year's winners of the Sakharov Prize, the EU's mini-version of the Nobel peace prize.

Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva from the Russian NGO Memorial will pick up the award on behalf of the human rights workers in Russia, following a series of murders of activists this year.

Tuesday will see what could be a lively plenary debate on EU policy on East Jerusalem.

The past two weeks have seen a media furore over an EU foreign ministers' statement underlining Palestinians' rights to the occupied city, with an Israeli government plan to give state aid to illegal settlers, unveiled over the weekend, set to add fuel to the fire.

Tuesday will also see an MEPs' debate on the situation in Georgia, following elections in the breakaway region of Abkhazia over the weekend, compounding problems for supporters of the country's EU integration.

Internal matters will also come up in the plenary session: Parliament will on Tuesday debate the bloc's budget for 2010 and adopt the spending plan in a vote on Thursday.

Sweden's outgoing commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, will on Tuesday also make a last push for the EU to give citizens more access to internal documents at the meeting of an inter-institutional committee.

Meanwhile, back in Brussels, farming and transport ministers will meet on Monday and Thursday, respectively, to tidy up business before the Swedish EU presidency steps down.

But the meetings will be overshadowed by unfolding strike action by EU officials after a group of member states decided to block a planned wage increase for EU staff for next year.

New sanctions and democracy in focus This WEEK

On Monday, Brussels will see EU foreign affairs ministers focusing on a 10th sanctions package against Russia, a special tribunal, and preparing the EU-Ukraine summit on 3 February in Kyiv.

Gas price-cap tops agenda This WEEK

On Monday, we will also find out of there is a deal among European Parliament and EU government negotiators on the agreement to reform the bloc's Emissions Trading System (ETS) and on the Social Climate Fund.

Pre-Xmas EU summit push on This WEEK

This week officials from the parliament and council are also set to try and find an agreement on three major bills which are part of the Fit for 55 initiative to make the EU climate neutral by 2050.

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.


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