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Angela Merkel’s departure from office was marked last week by a Zapfenstreich, a military ceremony which brings a ceremonial flourish to the end of this very understated Chancellor’s term in office. 

The incoming traffic-light coalition (SPD, Green, FDP) government will be inaugurated on Wednesday. As of this afternoon (6 December) all three parties to the coalition have endorsed the 180 page programme proposed on 24 November. Staunch support for the rule of law has made some of the EU’s wannabee autocrats feel nervous. No surprises that Viktor Orban was first out of his box, calling the new left-wing government (which incidentally includes the very liberal FDP), “pro-immigration, pro-gender, federalist, pro-German Europe” adding that he was now “preparing for battle with his eyes wide open”. Likewise, the EU’s eyes are now wide open to the threat that Orban poses to the rule of law, even the European Peoples’ Party finally ‘fessed up to the threat that Orban’s Fidesz posed - late… but, you know,  better late than never.

Europe to ring in RENEW

One feels that Emmanuel Macron’s bonds with Renew, the European Parliament’s Liberal group, are a little tenuous, but nevertheless ‘La République En Marche!’ is part of this group and Macron will be launching France’s programme for the EU presidency on Thursday. Most of the programme is preordained, but Macron is likely to look for fast wins - he will be in pre-election mode, with the French presidential election in April. 

Whatever is planned, there will be widespread relief that the EU has come to the end of Slovenia’s presidency. Important progress was made in several domains, but most will be happy to see the back of Marshall Twitto (Janez Jansa), Slovenia’s prime minister, Orban and Trump fanboy, who used his Twitter account to hurl abuse at: Slovenian opposition politicians, the public broadcaster, journalists who were critical of him… 

Just-in-time na paghahatid


Lithuanian authorities have informed the Commission that they have been experiencing problems with customs clearance on exporting to China. The Chinese moves are thought to be linked to Lithuania allowing the opening of a Taiwanese representation (which is not an embassy or consulate). If they have, the Commission’s first line of defence will be to turn to WTO rules. In the meantime, the Commission Spokesperson in charge of Trade and Agriculture, Miriam Garcia Ferrer, said that the Commission was seeking clarification on the situation. 

Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis will introduce a new instrument to deter and counteract coercive actions by third countries on Wednesday, a measure that seems particularly timely in the light of what appears to be happening in Lithuania.

Mga manggagawa sa platform

Executive Vice Presidents Vestager and Dombrovskis will propose a directive on working conditions in platform work on Wednesday: “Nine out of ten platforms active in the EU currently are estimated to classify people working through them as self-employed. Most of those people are genuinely autonomous... However, there are also many people who experience subordination to and varying degrees of control by the digital labour platforms they operate through, for instance as regards pay levels or working conditions.” The Commission says that some are denied the rights and protections to which they are entitled as workers, including: the right to a minimum wage, working time regulations, occupational safety and health protection, equal pay between men and women and the right to paid leave, as well as improved access to social protection against work accidents, unemployment, sickness and old age.

Expect a rumpus from the gig economy operators like Uber and Deliveroo, fearful that their business model is about to go belly up. 

Biden’s summit for democracy

On Thursday and Friday, Biden will hold his virtual Summit for Democracy. Bringing together  leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector, the summit will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies. Hungary was not invited and has tried to block an EU joint statement. 


Eurogroup and Ecofin

The Eurogroup and ECOFIN will meet at the start of the week, with their International Monetary Fund Article IV meeting on the agenda, as well as the work programme for the year ahead. ECOFIN will discuss the Fit for 55 package, the Capital Markets Union, the European Banking Union and Economic. Ministers will also be asked to adopt a general approach on updating rules for reduced value-added-tax rates, following on from a 2018 Commission proposal that set out to update the list of goods and services for which reduced rates or exemptions are allowed, yes, just three years later…

Employment and social affairs council

Meeting on 6 and 7 December, the ministers are likely to agree a general approach both on a draft EU law on minimum wages and on a proposed directive on pay transparency. It also adopted conclusions on sustainable work over the life course and on the impact of AI on gender equality in the labour market. Tuesday’s meeting will be focused on the health situation

EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Council

On 7 December, the fourth meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council will review the state of relations between the EU and Kosovo.

Justice at Home Affairs

Justica and Home Affairs Ministers will meet on Thursday and Friday (9-10 December). Schengen, hybrid threats, organized crime are all on the agenda.

European Parliament - Committee and political groups meetings

Migration and asylum: MEPs and national parliamentarians will gather for the third High-Level Conference on Migration and Asylum. They will debate migration partnerships with non-EU countries and the state of play on the proposal for a Pact on Migration and Asylum. Speakers include EP President Sassoli, Slovenia’s National Assembly President Zorčič, Portugal’s Assembly President Ferro Rodrigues and Germany’s Bundestag President Bas (Friday).

Safety of toys: The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee will assess how EU rules on toy safety have been implemented and propose measures to ensure that all toys sold on the EU market, including from non-EU countries and online, are safe. Recommendations cover issues such as tackling chemicals in toys and labelling (Thursday).

Beating Cancer: Parliament’s Special Committee for Beating Cancer will adopt its final recommendations to develop an EU cancer policy that includes fighting inequalities in cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship across Europe, more support for cancer research and innovation, making treatments more accessible and affordable, especially through joint evaluation as well as the negotiation and purchase of cancer medicines (Thursday).

Conference of Presidents/French Presidency: European Parliament President and political groups’ leaders (Conference of Presidents) will meet in Paris with ministers from the French government, including Prime Minister Castex, and the speaker and members of the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale), to prepare the upcoming six-month Presidency of the EU Council, starting in 2022 (Thursday).

Mga paghahanda sa plenaryo: Political groups will prepare for the 13-16 December plenary session, where MEPs will debate and vote on the Digital Markets Act, which aims to end unfair practices used by big online platforms, measures to uphold women’s rights and reduce gender inequalities, the situation in Nicaragua as well as EU humanitarian aid. MEPs will also debate the 16-17 December European Council, the state of play on the Recovery and Resilience Facility and vote on fundamental rights and the rule of law in Slovenia. Also during the session, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will address plenary, and the award ceremony for 2021 Sakharov Prize Winner Alexei Navalny will take place.

LUX Audience Award shortlist: The three films that will compete for the LUX Audience Award, bestowed by Parliament and the European Film Academy, will be revealed during the European Film Awards ceremony, broadcast from Berlin, on Saturday (11 December) at 19.00 CET.

President’s diary: European Parliament President David Sassoli will meet Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will participate in the EU Ambassadors’ Conference. On Thursday, President Sassoli will be in Paris for the Conference of Presidents, where will have a bilateral meeting with France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex, followed by a press conference.

European Courts

Dyson damages: Dyson and other manufactures of bagless cyclonic hoovers will find out if their claim for damages of €127 million from the Commission will be successful on Wednesday. The Court ruled in 2017 that the Commission had to annul delegated legislation on the energy labelling of vacuum cleaners. The claimants argue that there is a direct causal link between loses and the unlawfulness of that delegated regulation. 8 December. 

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