By Ata Ufuk ┼×eker
Brussels letter, Feb. 20

-EU-U.S. relations

United States Vice-President Mike Pence will make his first official visit to Brussels on Monday to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.  A Trump protest in Brussels is planned during Pence’s visit.


- Competitiveness

The Competitiveness Council will gather in Brussels on Monday. The Council is expected to agree on rules to strengthen consumer protection cooperation in the internal market. The goal is to modernize cooperation between national administrations and reduce damage for consumers because of cross-border infringements to EU consumer law.

Ministers will discuss concrete action to help start-ups and scale-ups to better seize market opportunities and conduct business in the single market.



The Eurogroup will also meet in Brussels on Monday. The European Commission will present data on the current economic situation in the euro area as well as the outlook for 2017-2018, based on its winter forecast, which was published on Feb. 13.

The Eurogroup will take stock of the ongoing implementation of Greece's macroeconomic adjustment program, focusing on plans to carry forward its second review. Staff of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund will carry out the review.



Economic and Financial Affairs Council will meet on Tuesday in Brussels. The Council will give a mandate to the Economic and Financial Committee to finalize the EU's preparations for the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors. The meeting will take place on March 17 and 18 in Germany. The Council will adopt guidelines for the 2018 EU budget to serve as a reference document for the next budgetary cycle.


- European Parliament delegation week


European Parliament’s International Trade Committee delegation will be in Mexico City as the EU and Mexico are set to update a 17-year-old trade agreement from Monday to Wednesday. MEPs will meet governmental, parliamentary, civil society and industry representatives to discuss the scope and the potential of a new trade deal. Trade negotiations with Mexico were launched in May 2016.

Panama Papers

Members of the Inquiry Committee into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) will visit Malta, further to the Panama Papers revelations that some Maltese politicians and 45 intermediaries located on the island had links to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the scandal on Monday. The delegation will meet, among others, Malta’s Finance Minister, members of the tax administration, journalists and intermediaries including law firms and banks.


Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will go to Canada this week to look into its resettlement program and integration policy for asylum seekers. They will also meet members of the Citizenship and Immigration and Justice and Human Rights committees, as well as government and NGO representatives. Over 40,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Canada since November 2015.

Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency)

A Civil Liberties Committee delegation will visit Frontex headquarters in Warsaw to assess European Border and Coast Guard operations on EU external land, sea and air borders on Monday and Tuesday.


The delegation for relations with Palestine will travel there to discuss the Middle East peace process, particularly settlements, and look into EU-funded projects. MEPs will meet President Mahmoud Abbas as well as Palestinian and Israeli peace activists and visit communities at risk of forced displacement this week.


MEPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the delegation for relations with India will visit to re-launch the stalled EU-India dialogue on counter-terrorism, cyber-security, piracy and human rights. The visit will feed into a draft resolution on EU-India relations to be voted by Parliament later this year.


-Last Week

Defense spending

The U.S. issued warnings to NATO allies on defense spending during the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels. Mattis expects NATO members to spend at least 2 percent of their national budgets on defense.

“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of western values,” he said. “Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do. Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened.” he added.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik discussed the PKK/PYD terror group with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis during the NATO summit.

CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement)

The European Parliament voted in favor of the CETA between the EU and Canada, concluding the ratification process of this deal at EU level. This paves the way for CETA to enter into force provisionally, once it has also been ratified on the Canadian side. CETA will be fully implemented once the parliaments of all member states ratify the deal, according to their respective domestic constitutional requirements.


20 Feb,2017