By Ata Ufuk ┼×eker
Brussels letter, March 6

EU Kyrgyz Republic Cooperation Council meeting

The Cooperation Council between EU and the Kyrgyz Republic will meet in Brussels on Monday to address cooperation both at national and regional levels. The Council will take stock of political issues, including internal developments in the Kyrgyz Republic in view of the upcoming presidential elections in autumn 2017. In particular, it will look into recent democratic reforms, as well as the civil society and human rights situation.


EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting

EU’s Foreign Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on Monday. The ministers will start with a session of defense and security and will also discuss migration. The ministers will discuss political developments and economic reforms in Egypt, as well as the country's role in the region, with Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry. The situation in the Western Balkans, the Middle East peace process and new U.S. administration are also on the agenda.


-Taxation/EP inquiry

The Special Committee on Money Laundering, Tax avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) will finalize its hearings on the roles of bankers, lawyers and accountants in secret offshore financial vehicles on Monday. Journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists will also attend.


- General Affairs Council

General Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on Tuesday when EU ministers from 28 member states will discuss draft conclusions in preparation for the European Council on March 9-10 also known as the EU Leader Summit.


-Customs Union

The future of Turkey-EU Customs Union will be discussed in Brussels on Tuesday. The event organized by IKV will gather various experts from Turkey to discuss the Customs Union.


- EU asylum system

On Tuesday MEP Cecilia Wikstrom from the European Parliament will hold a press conference to outline her main proposals ahead of the committee debate about the reform of the EU asylum system.


- Tripartite Social Summit

The Tripartite Social Summit which is a forum for dialogue between the EU institutions at presidential level and the European social partners at top management level will meet in Brussels on Wednesday. The main theme of the summit is the future of Europe: charting the course towards growth, employment and fairness. Discussions will focus on making work pay as a way to promote employment and social inclusion, new forms of work and the future of industry, the European pillar of social rights and the role of the social partners.


- Future of European steel

The European Commission is organizing a seminar on the 'Future of European steel - Innovation and sustainability in a competitive world and EU circular economy' on Wednesday.


-Turkey’s foreign policy

Turkey's policy in the Middle East will be discussed in the European Parliament on Wednesday.


-Reform of the EU asylum system

Proposals to reform the Dublin system, which determines the member state responsible for processing an asylum application, will be presented and debated for the first time in the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday. The talks will include possible changes to ensure more solidarity and sharing of responsibility among EU countries in tackling the migration and asylum crisis.


- EU Leaders Summit

European Council will gather in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

The leaders from 28 EU member state will look at a number of the most pressing issues, including the economy, security and migration. The

Council is expected to elect its President for the period from June 1, 2017 to Nov. 30, 2019. On Friday March 10, an informal meeting of the 28 heads of state or governments of the EU will be held to prepare for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties.


-The rule of law in Poland

Civil Liberties MEPs will also debate the ongoing probe, launched by the Commission, into the rule of law in Poland, with Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans on Thursday.


Last week:

The Council adopted a regulation to revise the suspension mechanism that can be applied to all existing visa liberalization agreements.

The suspension can be triggered by a notification of a member state or by the Commission. If a simple majority of member states notify, the Commission will have to adopt an implementing decision temporarily suspending the exemption from the visa requirement for certain categories of nationals of the third country concerned for a period of nine month

The Council adopted a regulation on visa liberalization for Georgians travelling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.

In December 2015, the Commission found that Georgia had met all the benchmarks of the visa liberalization action plan, and was therefore ready for the exemption of the visa requirement. Following this, on March 9, 2016 the Commission presented a proposal for visa liberalization for Georgian citizens. The Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the proposal on Dec.13, 2016.

The Council adopted legal acts imposing further restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The measures include restrictions on transactions in coal, iron and iron ore from the DPRK, and a ban on imports of copper, nickel, silver, zinc as well as statues from the DPRK. The measures also include a ban on the export of new helicopters and vessels to the DPRK, the tightening of existing restrictions in the transport sector as well as the financial sector. Other restrictions include the prohibition for a DPRK diplomatic mission and for a DPRK diplomat to have more than one bank account in the EU as well as bans on the use of real estate property by the DPRK in the EU.

EU ambassadors confirmed, on behalf of the Council, the informal agreement reached on Feb. 28, 2017 between the Maltese Presidency and the European Parliament on visa liberalization for Ukrainians.

The agreement provides visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens when travelling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.

EU ambassadors confirmed the regulation, on behalf of the Council,  and now the agreement has been will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and subsequently to the Council for adoption. In December 2015 the Commission found that Ukraine had met all the benchmarks of the visa liberalization plan and was therefore ready for the exemption of the visa requirement. On April 20, 2016 the Commission published the proposal for visa liberalization for holders of Ukrainian passports.

Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed on a negotiating mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament on a proposal for an entry-exit system. This system will register entry, exit and refusal of entry information of third country nationals crossing the external borders of the Schengen area.

The Commission presented a White Paper on the future of Europe: Avenues for unity for the EU at 27. The paper sets out the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade. It presents five scenarios for how the Union could evolve by 2025 depending on how it chooses to respond.

The European Parliament on Thursday asked the EU Commission to impose visa requirements for U.S. citizens visiting EU countries. Currently, nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Greek Cypriot administration, Poland and Romania cannot travel to the U.S. without a visa, although American citizens can go to all EU states visa-free.

06 Mar,2017