By Ata Ufuk Şeker
Brussels letter, week beginning Dec. 5

-Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council meeting

On Monday, energy ministers are expected to debate measures to safeguard security of gas supplies and focus on issues including regional cooperation, solidarity-related procedures and the extent of information exchange on gas contracts. The Commission will present the winter package, within the framework of the Energy Union Strategy implementation. The package includes legislative proposals on energy efficiency, market design, renewables and governance. The Council will also evaluate progress on the development of the external dimension of the EU's energy policy.


-Eurogroup meeting to take place Monday

The Eurogroup will discuss the euro area member states' draft budgetary plans for 2017. It will also look into the budgetary situation and prospects in the euro area as a whole. The Eurogroup will be briefed by institutions on the state of play of the second review of the economic adjustment program, following the review mission which took place mid-November. Depending on the progress achieved in the context of the second review, the Eurogroup may return to the issue of debt-related measures and the International Monetary Fund’s IMF's involvement in Greece's program. The second review focuses on Greece's budget for 2017, its medium-term fiscal strategy and labor market reform.


-Economic and Financial Affairs Council to convene Tuesday

The Council is expected to agree its negotiating position on amending the regulation on the European fund for strategic investments. The proposal for regulation aims at prolonging the term of the European fund for strategic investments until Dec. 31, 2020, increasing the EU budget guarantee for the fund to €26 billion (set at €16 billion up to 2018), increasing the European Investment Bank's contribution to project funding to €7.5 billion (currently at €5 billion). The Council is also expected to adopt conclusions on a number of issues affecting investment in the EU, identified by the Economic Policy Committee. The Council will exchange views on the progress achieved on a proposal on a financial transaction tax in 10 EU countries, which are willing to introduce it into their national law. These countries -- Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain -- are working on the proposal under the 'enhanced cooperation procedure' which allows a group of at least nine EU member states to introduce EU law without obliging others to join in or apply it.


-Justice and Home Affairs Council

Justice and Home Affairs Council will come together on Thursday and Friday. The Council will discuss the reform of the common European asylum system. In this context, the presidency will inform ministers about the state of play of all the related files, including: the reform of the Dublin regulation, which aims to improve the system's capacity to determine a single EU country in charge of examining the asylum application request. It will also discuss the proposed establishment of the European Agency for Asylum. In addition, the Council seeks to ensure a fair burden-sharing by complementing the current system with a corrective system of refugees' allocation. The European Agency for Asylum, when established, would build on the work of the existing European Asylum Support Office. It would be responsible for ensuring consistency in the assessment of asylum requests across the EU. Ministers will hear a presentation by EU Counter-Terrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, who will set out various policy options to tackle the issue of foreign terrorist fighters and returnees. They will also discuss a proposal from France and Germany that seeks to improve cooperation between law enforcement agencies and telecommunications companies in the fight against terrorism.


-European Parliament

Under a draft EU counter-terrorism directive informally agreed between Parliament and Council negotiators, travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, training or being trained for terrorism, inciting terrorism or financing terrorist activities will be made criminal offences. The deal, which would also require EU countries to help terrorist attack victims, will need to be confirmed in a vote by the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday.


-Rail market

A provisional Parliament/Council agreement on legislation to open up the EU market for domestic passenger rail transport and ensure equal conditions for railway companies will be voted in the Transport Committee. It aims to boost the quality of services offered to passengers and to improve the performance of the rail sector on Monday.


-Visa suspension tool

Parliament and Council negotiators will try to strike a deal on rules to strengthen the EU’s visa suspension mechanism, which enables it to temporarily reintroduce visa requirements for countries exempted from them, in the event of sudden surges in irregular immigration, unfounded asylum applications or lack of cooperation on readmissions. If there is a deal, it will be put to a vote in the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday.


-TRNC president to visit Brussels

Mustafa Akıncı will make an official visit to Brussels where he will meet with EP President Martin Schulz, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini this week.


-NATO Foreign Ministers meeting to include Turkey’s FM

A NATO Foreign Ministers meetings is to be held in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday. Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will attend the meeting.


05 Dec,2016