Members of EU and national parliaments this week are looking at ways how to better coordinate economic policies, with negotiations on the next seven-year budget and on the single banking supervisor entering the final phase.
The commissioners for economics and social affairs will be grilled on Tuesday (29 January) by MEPs and some 100 members of national parliaments, as part of the “Parliamentary week on the European Semester for economic policy coordination.”
The joint sessions will also include debates on democracy and sovereignty in this new exercise of strengthened economic coordination, established in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis.
Top officials from the European Central Bank, European Commission and European Council will also address the gathering.
From the national guests, particular attention will be directed to the chair of the EU affairs committee in the Cypriot parliament, Averof Neophytou, as member states are wary of approving a €17 billion bailout for the tiny island nation due to concerns about money laundering.
On Monday, the court of the free trade area with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland (Efta) will reach a verdict in the case of the Icelandic bank Icesave that went bankrupt and let Dutch and British investors out in the cold, while Icelanders’ deposits were guaranteed. Iceland has filed an application to join the EU, but the island has meanwhile put membership talks on hold.
The European Commission on Wednesday is due to issue a special report on Romania’s rule of law after a row last summer with the government of Victor Ponta whose political feud with the country’s president overstepped legal boundaries. The two have since signed a truce, but members of the Romaian Parliament recently voted for more immunity against anti-corruption investigations and shielded dozens of colleagues from being put on trial, raising new questions about the country’s rule of law.
Also on Wednesday, the Commission is set to adopt a draft bill on improving the bloc’s railway networks. Germany has already signalled its opposition to the scheme because it would ban companies from owning both the tracks and operating the trains.
Foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the situation in Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks after the reelection of the Israeli government. Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Wednesday will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Also in Berlin, EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski on Thursday will address the EU affairs committee in the German upper chamber, the Bundesrat, comprising of regional governments.
Over the weekend, EU officials, foreign ministers and the vice-president of the US, Joe Biden, will participate to the Munich Security Conference.