REPORT
By Ata Ufuk ┼×eker
Brussels briefing, May 15

In the aftermath of the conclusion of the Turkish referendum, EU relations appear to be entering a more stable period with both sides signaling efforts to reduce tension and improve cooperation in various areas. Consequently, the tone in bilateral dialogue has recently become softer.

 

Foreign Affairs Council

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council will gather in Brussels on Monday and Thursday. The Council will take stock of the implementation of the EU global strategy in the area of security and defense, and in particular on civilians. The Council will discuss the situation in the Horn of Africa, a region facing destabilization, particularly in Somalia and South Sudan. The Council will also examine EU-Africa relations.

 

Cooperation Council

On Monday the EU-Tajikistan Cooperation Council, chaired by George Vella, minister of foreign affairs of Malta who holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, will meet in Brussels. The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan, Sirodjidin Aslov will lead the Tajik Republic’s delegation to discuss political developments in Tajikistan, including areas for democratic reform, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. In addition, the Council will examine the Tajikistan economy, as well as bilateral trade and EU development assistance.

 

EEA

The European Economic Area (EEA) Council will meet in Brussels on Tuesday to assess the overall functioning of the EEA agreement. In particular, it will examine cooperation between the EU and the EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) within the framework of the EEA agreement. In addition, the Council will debate energy and climate change following the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

EU summit preparations

The General Affairs Council will gather in Brussels on Tuesday to begin preparations for the European Council on June 22 and 23 by discussing an annotated draft agenda. The European Commission will brief ministers on how it has followed up on the White Paper on the future of the EU.

 

European Parliament

The European Parliament’s (EP) plenary session will take place in Strasbourg this week.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will debate the outcome of the last European Council, which approved guidelines for negotiations with the U.K. on the terms of its withdrawal from the EU. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who took office in January, will deliver a formal speech to MEPs on Wednesday. The situation in Syria, the refugee crisis and the EU’s role in implementing sustainable development goals are likely to be among the issues addressed by the UN Secretary-General.

New rules enabling EU citizens with subscriptions for online films and TV series to access this content while temporarily in another EU country will be debated on Wednesday and on Thursday it will be voted on in the EP. A resolution on Hungary’s fundamental rights, wrapping up a debate from the previous plenary session, will be put to a vote on Wednesday.

 

Last week

The Council adopted the implementation of a decision setting out recommendations to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.

The council also adopted a regulation on visa liberalization for Ukrainian citizens traveling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. 

In a joint hearing organized by the committees of Civil Liberties, Employment and Petitions, most MEPs in the EP underlined the “moral duty” to end the uncertainty created for both EU citizens living in the U.K. and for U.K. nationals in the EU since the June referendum.

The European Commission released its Spring 2017 economic forecast. According to the report, the European economy has entered its fifth year of recovery, which has now extended to all EU member states. The European Commission expects a GDP growth of 1.7 percent in 2017 and 1.8 percent in 2018 in the euro area (1.6 percent and 1.8 percent in the winter forecast). GDP growth in the EU as a whole is expected to remain constant at 1.9 percent for both years (1.8 percent for both years in the winter forecast).

During EU Minister Omer Celik’s visit to Brussels last week, he met various commissioners in an attempt to improve EU-Turkey relations.

 

15 May,2017

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