By Ata Ufuk ┼×eker
Brussels letter, Jan. 30

 This week European Leaders will gather in an informal meeting in Malta. The 28 EU heads of state of governments will address the external dimension of migration. They are expected to focus their discussions on the Central Mediterranean route and Libya. The heads of state will pursue their political reflection on the future of the EU with 27 member countries, in the follow-up meeting.


- European Parliament will hold plenary sessions and committee meetings in Brussels

The annual “State of the Energy Union” debate will take place on Wednesday. Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic will present progress made and the next steps to complete the European Energy Union. Energy efficiency, secure supply, smart and competitive pricing for industry and citizens as well as climate commitments will be at the heart of the debate.

 MEPs will vote on exempting nationals from Georgia from visa requirements when travelling to the EU on Thursday. Parliament ensured in a vote passed in December that visa-free travel by third-country nationals to the EU can be suspended for internal security reasons if necessary.

 EP’s Foreign Affairs and Environment committees will vote on proposals on Tuesday to better protect the Arctic against climate change and prevent international tensions, which could grow because of the new opportunities to access natural resources and the Russian military’s presence in the region.

Parliamentarians from across the EU and MEPs will gather for the 2017 European Parliamentary week to discuss economic, budgetary and social matters. Economic governance, monetary union, workers and social rights as well as EU budget reform and the Panama Papers inquiry are among the topics to be debated on Monday through to Wednesday.

The new President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev will visit Brussels to meet with European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and EP President Antonio Tajani on Monday.  He will also meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday.


- Last week

The EU has confirmed that Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to hold “high-level” talks, despite a recent diplomatic spat that laid bare divisions over Kosovo’s non-recognition by Belgrade. A statement from EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said both sides had “agreed to take the dialogue forward in a spirit of respect, cooperation and mutual understanding”.

Mogherini indicated talks would begin in the coming days.

European Milk Board (EMB) representatives, angered by the crisis in the agricultural sector with rising production costs of milk and reduced profits, sprayed milk powder in front of the European Council during a meeting of EU ministers of agriculture in Brussels in protest against the European Commission’s decision to put on sale withdrawn stocks of milk powder.

The Eurogroup gathered in Brussels. President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said growth in the euro area is firm and broadening in many countries for the first time since the economic crisis.

He commented on risk to this growth and said, “Of course there are risks: risks from the inside relating to political instability or possible instability, and risks from the outside related to a new government in the U.S. and the Brexit.

An important topic for discussion among the Eurogroup was Greece. Greek institutions and authorities will remain engaged in constructive discussions to solve the outstanding issues with a view to a quick return of the EU mission to Athens and to reach staffing levels as agreed by the Eurogroup.

 Last week, Ted Malloch who is expected to be the new U.S. ambassador to Brussels said that he expects the Euro to collapse in 18 months. This announcement was not received well by the Eurogroup participants.

 The European Council extended a freeze on the assets of 48 people deemed to be responsible for the misappropriation of state funds in Tunisia along with individuals and entities associated with them.

The sanctions were initially introduced on Jan. 31 2011, targeting former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his wife and 46 other individuals.

30 Jan,2017