Friday

1st Jul 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

G7, Nato, gas anxiety and Ukraine top This WEEK

EU energy ministers and environment ministers are expected to reach common positions on different aspects of the Fit for 55 package — as the continent is increasingly worried about energy prices and future supplies.

EU leaders talk Ukraine candidacy This WEEK

EU leaders will gather in Brussels and discuss Ukraine's candidacy status, and the impact of Russia's invasion of the country on energy and defence. European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde will give a briefing to MEPs on inflation to MEPs.

Taxonomy and Ukraine on top This WEEK

MEPs will vote on an objection to the EU Commission's proposal to classify, temporarily, gas and nuclear energy investment as 'green', under the so-called taxonomy. Meanwhile, EU finance ministers are expected to approve Poland's recovery plan.

EU leaders zoom in on sanctions and energy This WEEK

EU leaders are gathering in Brussels after they got stuck on imposing on oil embargo on Russia. Poland's recovery plan gets approved and Danish voters will vote in a historic referendum this week.

Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss the economic worries with the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, agriculture ministers are set to talk food prices, and EU affairs ministers will put Hungary on the spot in the Article 7 procedure.

Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK

The EU Commission is expected to put forward the RePowerEU plan, which aims to help the diversification of fossil fuel imports in the bloc, as the EU aims to get rid of its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship

Two MEPs have withdrawn their nominations from the MEPs Awards over the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis's participation as a sponsor — currently involved in an alleged bribery scandal in Greece.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us