By Ata Ufuk ┼×eker
Brussels letter, week beginning Dec. 12

-Foreign Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on Monday

Ahead of the meeting, the EU and Cuba will sign the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement. At the meeting the council will debate on EU-Africa relations and ministers will follow up on developments in Syria. It will discuss migration and will also look at progress made in the partnership framework approach and country-specific compacts. After the council meeting, ministers will hold informal discussions with President Santos of Colombia. This will be followed by the signature of the constitutive agreement of the EU Trust Fund for Colombia.


-General Affairs Council meeting will be held Tuesday

Ministers will discuss draft conclusions and finalize preparations for the European Council on Dec. 15. The Slovak Presidency will inform member states on the state of play of the mid-term review of the multi-annual financial framework for 2014-2020. Ministers will be invited to approve the council’s joint declaration -- the European Parliament and Commission’s main priorities set out for 2017.


- EU Leaders’ Summit meeting on Thursday

The EU leaders’ summit will gather in Brussels on Thursday. The European Council will discuss the most pressing issues, including migration, security, the economy and youth and external relations. On migration, the leaders will look at the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement, assess progress on the compacts signed with selected African countries and set goals for further work. They will also assess the legislative progress on the External Investment Plan and encourage swift adoption by co-legislators - to reinforce the implementation of the Valletta Action Plan and the migration compacts. In addition, they will discuss the reform of the Common European Asylum System, and how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future. The European Council will reaffirm its commitment to the European Union Internal Security Strategy. It will also address the strengthening of EU cooperation on external security and defense. The leaders will take stock of progress regarding the extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investment, single market strategies, youth-related initiatives and the fight against youth unemployment.

The European Council is expected to exchange views on the situation in the Netherlands in the context of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, Russia and the conflict in Syria.

An informal meeting of the 27 leaders will be held on the margins of the December European Council. The objective is to set out how the Brexit process will be handled by the EU 27 once the U.K. has formally notified the EU of its intention to leave.


-European Parliament plenary sessions will take place in Strasbourg this week

The Slovak Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers will be debated by political group leaders in the European Parliament on Tuesday with Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday. Malta will take up the six-month rotating presidency in January.

During the plenary session, new rules to introduce bidding for public contracts to supply passenger rail services in EU countries and to boost the development of new commercial services will be voted on Wednesday.

New rules to allow visa requirements to be re-imposed faster and more easily on third-country nationals will be put to a vote in plenary on Thursday. Under the new rules, visa requirements may be reintroduced if there is a substantial increase in irregular migration or unfounded asylum applications, lack of cooperation on readmission of migrants or threats to public or EU internal security.

12 Dec,2016