Insights | EU Insight 2 October, 2020

05/10/2020

EU Insight 2 October, 2020

Brussels, 2 October 2020

EU LEADERS ADOPT CONCLUSIONS ON EXTERNAL RELATIONS AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
The European Council gathered in Brussels to discuss external relations as well as digital and single market developments. On the former item, EU leaders exchanged views on the situation in the Mediterranean, relations with China and the ongoing political tensions with Belarus where they agreed to impose sanctions. On the latter, they called for a review of the European competition framework, invited the Commission to present a new Digital Compass for 2030 and welcomed the creation of common European data spaces in strategic sectors, urging the Commission to give priority to setting up a health data space by the end of 2021. The next summit will be held on 15-16 October.

COMMISSIONERS-DESIGNATE FOR TRADE AND FINANCIAL SERVICES ATTEND HEARINGS
Today the European Parliament’s Economy and Trade committees hosted the hearings with Mairead McGuiness and Valdis Dombrovskis, ahead of their expected confirmation as Commissioners for Finance Services and Trade, respectively, next week. McGuiness was notably quizzed on the Banking Union, Brexit, green finance, and Covid-19, among others. As for Dombrovskis, questions revolved around the way forward for trade relations with US, China, and the UK, as well as on the reform of the WTO. Next week the Conference of Committee Chairs will assess the outcome of the two hearings and forward its conclusions to the Conference of Presidents, before a final vote in Plenary.

EU LAUNCHES INFRIGEMENT PROCEDURE AGAINST UK FOR BREACHING AGREEMENT
On 1 October, the European Commission launched of a formal infringement procedure against the UK for breaching its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. Against this backdrop, tomorrow Commission President von der Leyen will meet with UK PM Johnson via videoconference to take stock of the negotiations and discuss next steps. Earlier in the week, following the latest meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on the Withdrawal Agreement, Commission Vice-President Šefčovič noted that the window of opportunity to fully implement the Withdrawal Agreement on time, and for both sides to find a compromise within the future relationship talks, is rapidly closing.

FIRST REPORT ON THE RULE OF LAW ACROSS THE EU FINDS IMPORTANT CHALLENGES
This week the European Commission published its first report on the state of the rule of law across the European Union. The report includes input from every Member State and shows that although many have high rule of law standards, important challenges to the rule of law remain. The report notably focuses on the following four pillars: justice systems, anticorruption frameworks, media freedom and pluralism, and institutional check and balances. Overall, the Commission aims to enlarge the existing EU toolbox with a new preventive tool and kick-start an inclusive debate and rule of law culture across the EU.

INTER-INSTITUTIONAL DEAL ON AMENDED RAIL PASSENGER RIGHTS
The European Parliament and the Council reached an informal deal for an improvement of rail passenger rights. The amendments to the existing Regulation aim to facilitate access to people with disabilities or reduced mobility, allow passengers to take their bikes on board and establish mandatory through-tickets, among others. The new proposed rules will apply to an increased number of services, thereby reducing the large number of exceptions that currently apply. This informal deal is still pending the final approval by the co-legislators, which is expected in the coming weeks.

COMING UP NEXT WEEK
• 5 October: Videoconference of the Eurogroup. On the agenda: Priorities for reform and investment in the euro area, Greece, exchange rate developments.
• 5 – 8 October: European Parliament plenary session. On the agenda: Vote on new Commissioners-designate, Wirecard scandal, fight against money laundering
• 6 October: EU-Ukraine summit. On the agenda: Socio-economic impact of COVID-19, Association Agreement (next steps), state of reforms in Ukraine.
• 6 October: Informal meeting of energy ministers.
• 6 October: Video conference of economics and finance ministers. On the agenda: Recovery and Resilience Facility, digital finance, European Semester, Capital Markets Union.
• 8 October: Video conference of ministers of home affairs. On the agenda: Migration and asylum, police cooperation.
• 9 October: Video conference of ministers of justice. On the agenda: Digital justice, fundamental rights, combatting sexual abuse of children, European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab
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Kreab • Tel: +32 2 737 6900 • karl.isaksson@kreab.com • www.kreab.com/brussels • Twitter: @KreabEU.

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