EU struggles to deal with Western Balkans This WEEK

EU leaders will meet in Slovenia on Tuesday and Wednesday (5-6 October), for the first time since the summer recess, to discuss relations between the EU and the Western Balkans.

The six leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia and Kosovo will also be in Brdo pri Kranju for Wednesday’s meeting.

There will be a “reaffirmation” of “the shared commitment to work for a strong, stable and united Europe”, as the President of the European Council Charles Michel said last Friday in his invitation letter – but without giving anything of concrete on the European perspective to the six candidate countries.

And this reaffirmation also hangs by a thin thread. Fearing a political backlash, some Member States are reluctant to give a guarantee of future membership to the six Balkan countries.

“The Western Balkans have a place in the EU. It is in our common interest, but I think it is also our destiny,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week at his tour of the region, in response to media reports that EU countries no longer support the ultimate goal of membership.

The EU will provide up to € 30 billion to the region over the next seven years to boost regional investments and help green and digital transitions.

On Tuesday evening, EU leaders will discuss China, Afghanistan, the EU’s role in the world, the migration stalemate with Belarus and rising energy prices.

On Tuesday in Luxembourg, EU economy and finance ministers will give the green light to financing Malta’s recovery.

Ministers will also prepare for the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors later this month.

Ministers are also expected to endorse the conclusions on climate finance ahead of the United Nations climate change conference (COP26) at the end of the month in Glasgow.

A day earlier, eurozone finance ministers will focus on banking union and consider eurozone priorities in Covid-19 stimulus packages.

At the end of the week, the Interior and Justice Ministers will meet in Luxembourg to discuss children’s rights and pre-trial detention.

Interference

On Thursday, October 7, the justice ministers will discuss the work of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (European Public Prosecutor’s Office) on the basis of the first months since the start of its operations.

Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, has yet to name its European prosecutors, prompting EU chief prosecutor Laura Kövesi to tell MPs last week that Ljubljana is interferes in the EU justice system and questioned whether the bloc’s budget was protected against fraud. or corruption.

“The fact that a Member State interferes with the proper functioning of an EU judicial institution sets a very dangerous precedent,” she said.

On Friday, interior ministers are expected to adopt without debate the “Blue Card” directive, which would establish rules for highly qualified non-EU nationals coming to live and work in the EU. EUobserver has revealed that Hungary will be the only EU member to vote against the new rules.

The revival in the spotlight

In Strasbourg, MEPs will debate EU-US relations and how to deal with the Biden administration, and adopt a resolution on the issue on Wednesday 6 October.

On Tuesday, MEPs will question EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson on relations between the EU and Belarus, where migrants are being pushed to Latvia and Poland. MEPs will adopt a resolution on this subject on Thursday 7 October.

On Wednesday morning, MEPs will hold a debate on the high cost of energy, caused by high demand and low stocks in member states, and discuss possible European solutions.

Also on Wednesday, MEPs will hear from committee vice-chairman Valdis Dombrovskis and economic commissioner Paolo Gentiloni on the recovery plans for Hungary and Poland – which have not yet been approved by the executive, although the deadlines have expired.

Liberal group Renew has called for debate on the Hungarian and Polish plans, and several political groups will seek to ensure that the EU’s financial interests are properly protected, but there will be no resolution on the matter.

On Monday 4 October, French Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield will hold a press conference, after leading a delegation of MEPs to Hungary last week, to assess developments on issues of democracy and the rule of law.

In the meantime, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Helsinki on Monday, after her committee approved Finland’s recovery plan.

She will travel to Estonia the next day to mark the official approval of the Estonian stimulus package as part of the EU’s Covid-19 stimulus fund.

About Eleanor Blackburn

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