Next week: A Macedoine de Fruits
Another real Macedoine de Fruits awaits EU observers this week. The centerpiece will be the Western Balkans Summit in Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia, on which the heads of state and government of the EU member states and the six partners of the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and Kosovo ( the t recognized by Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, for Macedonian reasons).
The President of the European Commission von der Leyen took a whistle-stop tour through the region last week, while the experienced troubleshooter and EU special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajčák, facilitated the “dialogue” between Kosovar and Serbian negotiators in Brussels, after Serbia established its military presence on the border.
On paper, this summit is intended to “reaffirm the European perspective of the Western Balkans”, but this goal belies a deadlocked process that seems to be leading nowhere. The most likely contenders for enlargement, North Macedonia and Albania are linked, but Bulgaria has a dispute with North Macedonia over the language, which means it could block enlargement. More seriously, France – along with the tacit approval of others – has generally put the brakes on enlargement.
The precarious rule of law in Poland and Hungary gave food for thought. If we do not have effective mechanisms to deal with those who reject the most basic obligations of membership in an EU of 27, how can the EU expand until this is resolved? Hungary has offered asylum to former North Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who has been charged with corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. There is also a dispute over visas. In short, it’s a mess. However, the EU will re-announce its € 30 billion Economic and Investment Plan (EIP) for the next seven years.
Slovaks seem to be the diplomats of choice at the moment, as soon as the ink on Lajčák’s deal was dry, when the Vice President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, spoke again in the European Parliament about Brexit and the Northern Ireland-Ireland Protocol (NIP). The European Parliament has approved the establishment of an interparliamentary assembly with the British Parliament as envisaged in the trade and cooperation agreement, and it has been agreed on the EU side that it will consist of 35 MEPs.
Another part of Šefčovič’s portfolio took an important step forward when the Swiss parliament finally surrendered and agreed to pay its dues.
The Eurogroup will meet earlier this week. There will be the usual recap of macroeconomic issues, as will the banking union – don’t expect a breakthrough, Greece – more of the usual intensified surveillance wave and an undoubtedly intriguing discussion in preparation for the upcoming IMF meeting, but the real point of concern is concern about the debilitating effects of rising energy prices. A paper is available and will be discussed in the meeting.
The European Parliament will meet in Strasbourg in October for the first of two plenary sessions. In order to keep it topical, Parliament decided to lead the session with a debate that has already lost momentum, the “future of EU-US relations”. In August there was widespread dismay that the US had failed to consult Europe on Afghanistan; Similarly, the French felt humiliated by Australia’s decision to reverse a defense treaty with France in favor of a US-UK submarine deal that was done without the slightest diplomatic consideration for European sensitivities.
The debate comes after a fairly successful week for EU-US relations, with EU-US leaders agreeing on ambitious plans for the future. Just look at this picture of everyone looking towards a promising horizon:
But don’t believe me, this is Executive Vice President Vestager:
Other parliamentary matters (mostly courtesy of our friends in parliament):
Not only the Eurogroup is concerned about rising energy costs, MEPs are concerned about the consequences for businesses and consumers, Parliament, Council and Commission will discuss possible European solutions to contain the crisis, as prices are rising due to the high demand and low stocks of member states . The role of energy efficiency and renewable energies, as well as the importance of combating energy poverty, will be key elements of the discussion. (Debate Wednesday)
More than a year after the fraudulent presidential elections and the brutal crackdown on the protests, MEPs will debate the situation in Belarus with EU High Representative Borrell and Interior Commissioner Johansson. You are also likely to bring up the humanitarian crisis on the EU-Belarus border after Belarusian authorities directed significant numbers of migrants to Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. (Debate Tuesday, vote and result Thursday)
Hungarian and Polish recovery plans. On Wednesday MEPs will discuss the status of the Hungarian and Polish reconstruction and resilience plans, which have not yet been approved, with Commissioners Dombrovskis and Gentiloni. You should ask about the reasons for the decision and the next procedural steps.
Road safety / zero road deaths by 2050. In order to achieve the goal of zero road deaths on EU roads by 2050, MEPs will demand more investment in safer roads, a speed limit of 30 km / h in residential areas and on high-traffic roads from cyclists and Pedestrians as well as a zero-tolerance approach to driving under the influence of alcohol. (Debate on Monday, vote and result on Tuesday)
EU cyber defense. On Tuesday MEPs will discuss the EU’s cybersecurity defense policy and how its military and civilian domains can be made more resilient. The draft text calls for more cooperation on cyber defense capabilities, operations and joint responses to cyber attacks. (Vote Wednesday, result Thursday)
Among the motions for resolutions on human rights issues, Parliament will discuss on Thursday: Myanmar, including the situation of religious and ethnic groups; the case of Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda; state abortion law in Texas, USA; and the situation in Belarus; and the humanitarian situation in Tigray.