Summit on climate and Russia This WEEK



EU leaders begin the week in Brussels at a special summit, in person, focusing on Covid-19, Russia, and climate change, on Monday and Tuesday (24-25 May).

They are expected to discuss recent tension with Russia and will tell the EU Commission and the external action service to draw up a more detailed strategy towards Moscow.

As negotiators agreed on the details of the Covid-19 travel certificate, leaders will take a look at how to kickstart the summer holiday season and save some of the tourism industry, that took a major economic hit from the pandemic.

Last December, EU leaders agreed on a binding EU target of a net domestic emissions reduction of at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990. Leaders will now give political guidance on the specific proposals from the commission on how to reach the target.

They will also discuss the EU’s relations with the UK after the EU-UK trade agreement entered into force at the beginning of the month. The UK and the EU have since been entangled in a legal fight over the implementation of checks on goods to and from Northern Ireland.

EU leaders will want to make it clear to London that neither the withdrawal agreement, nor the trade agreement, will be renegotiated.

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi said he would raise the issue of the onward redistribution of migrants landing on the southern shores of Europe at the summit.

The question of redistribution has held up EU asylum reform for many years. Since the EU Commission put forward a fresh proposal on it last autumn, there has been little movement among national capitals on the issue.

Despite a limited number of journalists previously being able to participate at the leaders’ summit earlier this month, journalists will not be able to return physically to this Brussels summit.

On Thursday (27 May), EU leaders will hold a summit – this time over videoconference – with Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga, and they will discuss the pandemic, economy, and efforts to combat climate change.

Rule of law issues

In the European Parliament, MEPs on the civil liberties committee on Wednesday (26 May) will debate the latest developments concerning media freedom in Poland and Hungary, which are both under the EU’s Article 7 sanctions procedure for possibly breaches of EU rule of law.

The Portuguese EU presidency aims to hold hearings among member states under the procedure in June.

Warsaw and Budapest have also challenged the new conditionality mechanism, which was adopted by the EU last year, at the EU’s top court.

The mechanism opens up the possibility of suspension of EU funds for not respecting the rule of law when it comes to the bloc’s financial interests.

The parliament last week submitted its own arguments to the European Court of Justice and requested an expedient procedure. The commission has previously said it will wait for the court’s ruling before using the mechanism.

On Wednesday, MEPs on the budget control committee will hear from the commission on where they are with the so-called guidelines that they need to put forward before triggering the mechanism.

The parliament has threatened to sue the commission if it does not put forward guidelines by the summer.

The budget control committee on Wednesday will adopt their views on recent evidence found by the commission that Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš exercised influence on the allocation of EU funds to Agrofert, a business conglomerate that he founded.

The resolution will be adopted by the parliament plenary in June.

Money talk

The regional development committee will vote on Tuesday on its position on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, a €5bn financial tool designed to help EU countries counter the negative economic and social consequences of Brexit.

The parliament will then need to negotiate with member state governments over the final shape of the instrument.

The environment committee will on Friday react to the commission’s new EU biodiversity strategy. MEPs will propose it establish protected areas for at least 30 percent of EU land and sea area.

The draft document calls for a legally binding biodiversity framework, similar to the Climate Law, and a set of binding objectives for 2030 and 2050.

On Wednesday, European parliament president David Sassoli will meet via video link with Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša to discuss the priorities of the upcoming Slovenian EU presidency.



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