Wednesday

26th Apr 2017

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

  • Putin: Russia's hardman PM will be in Brussels next week, amid an agenda dominated by democracy and human rights in north Africa (Photo: NATO)

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Sunday (20 February) evening and Monday aim to pledge support for grassroots north African revolutions, as the bloc scrambles to come up with a co-ordinated response to events.

The ministers' draft conclusions say the EU will offer "support to democratic transition in the wider region that comes from within," according to German press agency DPA. The draft paper also speaks of new EU "support packages" and "adequate means to contribute to the most urgent needs for socio-economic development" in post-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia, but gives no figures.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Amid escalating violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen going into the weekend, ministers might be confronted with entirely new problems by the time they sit down to dinner on Sunday. "No one could have predicted what is happening," one diplomatic contact said.

Zooming in on details, ministers are likely to debate how to handle the exodus of north African refugees to Europe ahead of talks on the subject at EU-leader-level in March. EU efforts to freeze the financial assets of the ousted Egyptian and Tunisian dictators will also come up.

In other business, the UK is to propose further toughening of economic sanctions against Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme. And Poland is to call for extra measures against Belarus after it jailed a young protester for four years.

For her part, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton will visit Egypt on Monday.

On Wednesday, she will host an international conference in Brussels with senior officials from Maghreb and Middle East countries, the US, Japan and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, to frame a multilateral masterplan for the region.

Following the EU ministers' high-minded pro-democracy declaration on Monday, EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso will host the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, in the EU capital on Wednesday.

The atmosphere in Brussels will change on Thursday however, when Russia's hardman prime minister and likely next president brings his full suite of ministers to spend two days in meetings with Mr Barroso and his team.

The regular, once-every-two-years event comes shortly after Russia sentenced oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky to stay in jail until 2017 in a case seen as proof of Mr Putin's contempt for the rule of law.

The Liberal group in the European Parliament last week called for EU countries to consider imposing sanctions on Russia. And EU ministers in January discussed whether or not to prune back the multitude of content-lite EU-Russia meetings each year, including the option of dropping one of the two annual EU-Russia summits.

Ms Ashton will on Wednesday in Brussels also meet a controversial figure - Cuban foreign minister Bruno Parilla. Spain last year urged the EU to normalise relations with the Havana regime, but the death of a prominent hunger striker put paid to the idea.

The week will end with a likely drubbing for the incumbent centre-right Fianna Fail party in Irish general elections on Friday.

Electoral campaigning has been dominated by Dublin's recent €85 billion EU-IMF loan - the final humiliation for a government that was once seen as a posterchild of EU success.

Brexit summit, Turkey and Hungary dominate EU This WEEK

European leaders will adopt their negotiating position on the Brexit summit on Saturday, whereas the situation of Hungary's democracy and post-referendum Turkey will be under scrutiny in the EU this week.

Brexit, Syria and Greece on the agenda This WEEK

The European Parliament will adopt its position on the UK's exit, and eurozone finance ministers will try to break a deadlock on the Greek bailout talks. Meanwhile in Brussels, there will be discussions on ending the war in Syria.

UK to file EU divorce This WEEK

UK prime minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday, with the EU expected to respond within 48 hours.

EU-27 to back integration This WEEK

EU leaders meet in Rome to recommit to European integration after Brexit, but Greece and Poland serve as reminders of economic and political divisions.

EU tackles CO2 threat This WEEK

EU states will haggle over the reform of a carbon trade system, while MEPs vote on overhauling EU car emissions oversight.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  2. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  3. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  4. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  5. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  6. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  7. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan
  8. Ivanka Trump to meet Merkel at Berlin women's conference

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. European states still top media freedom list
  2. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  3. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  4. Orban set to face down EU threats
  5. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU
  6. Russische schwarze Kassen bedrohen EU Demokratie
  7. Libya commanders in Brussels for migration talks
  8. Mixed review for EU asylum spots in Greece and Italy