Brussels, 18 September 2020
STATE OF THE UNION DEBATE FOCUSES ON COVID-19 RESPONSE AND CHALLENGES AHEAD
The European Parliament held a debate on the State of the Union, where Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered a speech outlining the achievements of recent months as well as challenges for the future. Overall, her address focused mostly on the EU’s response to COVID-19, while emphasising the role of the green transition and digital transformation. Von der Leyen’s address was accompanied by a ‘letter of intent’ to EP President Sassoli and German Chancellor Merkel (on behalf of the Council Presidency), outlining a list of initiatives the Commission will put forward in the next year.
COMMISSION STEPS UP CLIMATE AMBITION WITH 55% CUT IN EMISSIONS BY 2030
The European Commission presented its plan to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 (up from a previous target of 40 per cent), compared to 1990 levels. The Commission’s impact assessment indicates that meeting this target would put the EU firmly on track to achieve its objectives under the Paris Agreement, notably that of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. As a result of this new target, Commission President Von der Leyen announced during her State of the Union speech that by next summer, the Commission will revise all climate and energy legislation accordingly.
PARLIAMENT CALL FOR LEGALLY BINDING CALENDAR FOR NEW OWN RESOURCES
The European Parliament called on the Council to adopt a legally binding calendar for the introduction of new sources of revenue for the EU budget (so called own resources) spanning from 2021 until 2026, to enable the EU to repay the €750 billion that will be borrowed for the recovery fund (i.e. Next Generation EU). Whilst the Parliament’s opinion largely mirrors the agreement reached by the European Council in July, MEPs ask the Council to include the common corporate tax base to the list of new own resources, as well as to speed up expansion of the emissions trading system.
NO BREAKTHROUGH IN VIRTUAL EU-CHINA SUMMIT OVERSHADOWED BY COVID-19
EU and China leaders held a virtual meeting to discuss trade and investment, climate change and biodiversity, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as international affairs and other issues. The meeting followed on from the 22nd EU-China Summit held on 22 June. With regard to the negotiations for an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement, the EU urged China to accelerate progress on market access and sustainable development, two issues looking to be prerequisites for a meaningful agreement by the end of the year. An EU-China Leaders’ Meeting with EU Heads of State and President Xi is foreseen to be held in 2021.
PARLIAMENT CALL FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT AND NAVALNY’S POISONERS
The European Parliament adopted a resolution with an overwhelming majority, rejecting the official results of Belarus’ presidential elections. Once Lukashenko’s term expires on 5 November, he will no longer be recognised as president of Belarus by the European Parliament, and MEPs issued calls for sanctions against those responsible for electoral fraud. Separately, the Parliament underlined that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s poisoning was part of a systematic silencing of dissidents, calling on EU countries to impose “ambitious restrictive measures” on Russia. Also, MEPs called for European assets of corrupt individuals to be collected and frozen in accordance with the findings of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
• 20-21 September: Informal meeting of EU trade ministers
• 21 September: Foreign Affairs Council
• 21-25 September: European Parliament ordinary meetings. On the agenda: Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-27, Belarus, an EU Rule of Law mechanism.
• 22 September: General Affairs Council
• 24-25 September: Special European Council. On the agenda: the single market, industrial policy, digital transformation, relations with Turkey and China.
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab
Kreab • Tel: +32 2 737 6900 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.kreab.com/brussels • Twitter: @KreabEU.