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EurActiv | The Brief

Today's EU policy news, 28.02.2017, 5PM


Habemus White Paper!


By James Crisp

Habemus Paper! Will a puff of pontiff-white smoke billow from Brussels tomorrow when Jean-Claude Juncker presents his vision of post-Brexit Europe?

Most likely not. Although a touch of the theatrical would be welcome when Juncker addresses the MEPs circling him in the European Parliament.

Tomorrow’s speech will be closely scrutinised by the EU’s friends and foes. A European Commission White Paper does not normally garner such attention.

But this one has been much-discussed and expectations are unforgivingly high. It will be, in black and white, the closest to a detailed response to the UK referendum earthquake that we’ve got so far from the executive.

Unless you count just repeating “no negotiation without notification” until the ears of your unfortunate audience bleed from boredom.

Belgium’s Le Soir reported that Juncker could put forward a number of scenarios for the future of Europe.

They include the status quo, a “Verhofstadt” full-federalist vision, a two-speed Europe and a secret “innovative” plan combining elements of the others. Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe runs through them in English here.

There is a refreshing sense of urgency to the finalisation of the White Paper. Juncker has called an extraordinary meeting of his Commissioners to discuss it tonight. Do take a look at this Agence Europe cartoon by the way.

The executive is desperate to get its two (European) cents on the table before member states, reported to have suggested the paper is shelved for now, have their turn at the Rome summit in March.

The European Parliament has already had its go, and we have the European People’s Party’s take on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union here.

Juncker’s speech is not quite make or break. Brussels doesn’t often do make or break. It is much better at the last minute fudge, the unhappy compromise, or just kicking the can down the road.

The Commission is already moving to dampen down expectations. This is just the beginning of a process, they insist, the start of a long debate that will drag past the 60th anniversary celebrations in Rome.

The dream of European integration is facing unprecedented challenges.The EU’s true believers will be hoping for a show of strength and a vision of hope from Juncker.

But instead of a passionate call to arms, they look likely to get the launch of a consultation instead.


The Roundup

EU environment ministers are in Brussels. They are expected to reach agreement on draft revisions to the bloc’s carbon market. A press conference is scheduled for 5.30PM. The ministers are likely to oppose European Parliament efforts to regulate shipping under the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Meanwhile, Europe’s paper industry has warned that EU climate legislation has cost its recyclers more than 40% of their profits.

The European Commission’s handling of the ‘Barrosogate’ affair is set to be scrutinised by Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly.

Barroso’s former colleague, Günther Oettinger, warned that Germany and other net contributors to the EU budget may have to pay more once the UK has left.

UKIP is at war with itself. Fresh from its leader losing a by-election, former head Nigel Farage has called for the party’s only MP to be sacked. Former UK PM John Major has had his say on Brexit. Brexit, though, will boost Irish efforts to improve its energy interconnections.

Austria and Germany are still not on the same page when it comes to migration policy and one senior Arab diplomat had some choice words to say about the EU debate on the refugee crisis.

Brussels has approved visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens, granting them up to 90 days access to the Schengen zone. The Council also agreed to continue sanctions against Belarus and step up measures against North Korea after it carried out more illegal missile tests.

If Marine Le Pen wins the French election then former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta thinks it’s “game over” for the EU. Socialist rival Benoît Hamon will cut a number of marquee infrastructure projects and cut down on pesticides if he manages to win.

The biofuels industry has urged the EU to be more ambitious in its post-2020 proposal on transport targets. The war on microplastics in our oceans has gained more support.

MEPs have backed stricter anti-tax dodging laws on trusts in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal. Here’s Jim Brunsden’s excellent piece and here is what campaigners made of the vote.

Sam Morgan contributed to this Brief.


Look out for...

MEPs will debate the post-Brexit rights of EU citizens in Britain, and UK citizens in the EU, at 12.30PM tomorrow.

Views are the author's and not our sponsor's. 


This Brief is powered by Boeing. EU policy support is critical to advance sustainable aviation biofuels development and commercialisation.


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