Insights | EU Insight, 11 October 2019, Brussels

11/10/2019

EU Insight, 11 October 2019, Brussels

EU HOPEFUL OF A BREXIT DEAL AFTER GETTING “PROMISING SIGNALS” FROM IRELAND

With less than three weeks until the 31 October deadline, Brexit negotiations seemed to have reached another impasse following the UK’s proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, after a lunch meeting between Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the European Council President Donald Tusk announced “promising signals” received from Ireland, signalling that the EU thinks a deal is still possible. Negotiations will now enter the so-called tunnel phase, with both parties negotiating intensely ahead of next week’s crunch European Council summit.

 

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BACKS EXECUTIVE VP-DESIGNATES BUT REJECTS FRANCE’S GOULARD

The European Parliament continued to conduct hearings of Commissioner-designates. Among others, the three Executive Vice Presidents-designate, Margrethe Vestager, Valdis Dombrovskis and Frans Timmermans, defended their views in front of MEPs on digital policy and competition, economy and finance, and the European Green Deal, respectively. They all got the green light from MEPs, as did Janusz Wojciechowski (Agriculture) and Ylva Johansson (Home Affairs). Conversely, Sylvie Goulard was rejected as Commissioner-designate for Internal Market after a second hearing, so France will now have to put forward an alternative candidate. Hearings will continue next week, with the Hungarian, Romanian and possibly French candidates on the agenda.

 

EUROGROUP AGREES ON PATHWAY FOR EUROZONE BUDGET

The Eurogroup came to an agreement on the Budgetary Instrument on Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC), commonly referred to as the Eurozone budget. The instrument will be tied to the European Semester process, providing an incentive to Eurozone countries undertaking reforms or investment programmes to increase their competitiveness, in the form of money for these projects. The instrument falls short of France’s original hopes for a genuine stabilisation function but it could open the door for such a development in the future. The final size of the tool will be decided during the negotiations on the EU budget for 2021-2027.

 

ECOFIN APPROVES PROPOSAL TO REMOVE SELECTED COUNTRIES FROM BLACKLIST

EU Finance Ministers agreed to remove the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Marshall Islands from the EU’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes (i.e. the ‘blacklist’). According to EU Finance Ministers, both countries have passed the necessary reforms to improve their tax policy framework. While the UAE is now delisted altogether, the Marshall Islands are still listed on the Council’s grey list, as its commitments regarding exchange of information continue to be monitored. Lastly, Albania, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Serbia and Switzerland will be removed from this list, having implemented all necessary reforms to comply with EU tax good governance principles.

 

COMMISSION REFERS POLAND TO THE CJEU TO PROTECT JUDGES FROM POLITICAL CONTROL

The European Commission decided this week to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), arguing that the new disciplinary regime for Polish judges undermines their independence and does not ensure the necessary guarantees to protect them from political control. Having received both a letter of formal notice and a reasoned opinion earlier this year, in its latest response Poland failed to address the Commission’s concerns. Consequently, the Commission decided to proceed with the referral to the CJEU, requesting an expedited procedure to obtain a final judgement as soon as possible.

 

COMING UP NEXT WEEK:

  • 14 October: Foreign Affairs Council. On the agenda: current affairs, Turkey, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine.
  • 14-15 October: Agriculture and Fisheries Council. On the agenda: Baltic Sea fishing, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund post-2020, EU forest strategy post 2020, Future of the CAP post 2020.
  • 15 October: General Affairs Council. On the agenda: Article 50 and the preparation of the October European Council.
  • 16 October: Tripartite Social Summit. On the agenda: a just transition, adult training, industrial policy of the future.
  • 17-18 October: European Council. On the agenda: long-term EU budget, Strategic agenda and the next institutional cycle, climate, Brexit.

 

Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab