On Tuesday (14 May), a Downing Street official announced that British Prime Minister Theresa May will bring her Brexit deal back to Parliament by June 3. The announcement came after weeks of cross-party talks between the government and Labour Party failed to produce any tangible outcome so far. With less than two weeks left to the EU elections, Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en Marche (LREM) party published its European election programme in Berlin titled ‘Renaissance’. It seeks to form a Liberal coalition with eight other European parties. Transatlantic ties between the US and the EU appear to be deteriorating over Iran’s nuclear deal escalation, as well as EU-US bilateral trade discussions, and the EU push to achieve strategic autonomy. US re-imposition of sanctions on Iran has impacted the country’s economy negatively. Click on the image to read more.
The EU Summit in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May was planned as the first post-Brexit meeting of the 27 EU member states. The theme for this summit was “Europe’s place in the world” as EU leaders discussed the “strategic agenda” to be adopted in June after the European Parliamentary elections. On Thursday (2 May), the leading candidates for EU Commission President clashed in a second debate held in Florence. The debate was heated with candidates clashing over topics such as the common European army and future of Europe. Click on the image to read more.
Theresa May’s efforts to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) in Parliament still faces challenges as both options and time are running out before the May 22nd deadline for avoiding European elections. Cross party compromise has proven to be difficult though both May and Labour leader Corbyn tried to signal that they are close to a deal. On Monday (29 April), the first debate between 5 leading candidates for the European Commission Presidency took place in Maastricht. Environmental issues and digital regulation were the big topics of the debate. The 26th EU-Japan summit took place in Brussels on 25 April. At the summit President of EU Council Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed their support for free trade, multilateralism and an international order based on the rule of law. Click on the image to read more.
A new “Remain Alliance” is being formed in Britain ahead of the European elections in May. The Change UK party was formed by the former Independent Group of eleven defecting Labour and Conservative MPs and now includes Boris Johnson’s sister and journalist, Rachel Johnson, and former BBC reporter Gavin Esler as lead candidates. The EU Parliament’s projection of seats in the next Parliament with the UK parties’ participation shows that the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are in the lead. POLITICO similarly projects that even without the UK’s participation, the EPP still holds the lead but S&D would have a slight boost in their numbers if the UK participates. Click on the image to read more.
The House of Commons is on Easter break until April 23. Meanwhile, the UK government continues to engage in talks with the Labour Party to find a compromise on the post-Brexit future relationship with the EU. A new report by the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, claimed that almost 100 million swing voters are moving “fluidly between parties of the right and left,” and that they are “seeking change”.A senior Huawei official in Brussels, Sophie Batas, has acknowledged that Chinese State Security Law “sets out an obligation on organisations and individuals to provide assistance with work relating to State Security”. European Union countries approved plans for trade talks with the United States on Monday (15 April).
On Wednesday (10 April), EU leaders agreed to a second Brexit extension until October 31 although Theresa May had only asked for an extension till June 30th.The conditions for the October deadline include a review at the end of June and requirement for UK to participate in the European Parliament elections. The EU-China Summit on 9 April was declared a win-win for EU-China trade relations. Donald Tusk declared the talks a “breakthrough” as Beijing made last minute concessions to EU demands. The United States has threatened the European Union with billions of euros worth of trade sanctions in retaliation for EU subsidies to Airbus. This follows from a long running dispute between Washington and Brussels over mutual claims of illegal aid given to rival aviation giants Boeing and Airbus that began almost 15 years ago. On Friday (5 April), EU institutions put their cyber systems to the test in a bid to assess the efficiency of responses to attacks against critical network infrastructure, ahead of the European elections in May. While internet voting systems will only be used in Estonia for May’s ballots, electronic voting appliances could be used elsewhere across the bloc, despite previous concerns. Click on the image to read more.
A no deal brexit is “almost inevitable” as MPs failed to pass Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement for the third time on Friday (29 Mar) and also failed to break the impasse with a second round of indicative votes held on Monday (1 April). To break the deadlock, May has sought a cross-party compromise with the opposition Labour Party to pave the way for a soft Brexit. On Friday (29 March), Facebook unveiled a raft of measures to prevent foreign campaigns from interfering in national elections.However, the plans will complicate pan-European parties’ ability to advertise in countries where they are not directly represented. On the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), experts share of their visions for the alliances’ future in a changing global order. Despite 70 years of solidarity, the alliance has faced some new challenges, including the fissures in diplomacy exposed by US president Donald Trump. Click on the image to read more.
On Monday (25 Mar), House of Commons voted by 329 to 302 in support of an amendment that gives MPs control of parliamentary agenda. Following this inconclusive vote, the government has put forth a motion to submit PM May’s Withdrawal Agreement (without the political declaration on future relations) for another vote on Friday (29 Mar) in an effort to secure the extension deadline of May 22 offered by the EU. The EU has told China that it no longer sees the latter as a developing nation and China needs to rebalance relations with the rest of the world. French president Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of European unity and respect for European values while German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed to the importance of EU-US-China relations. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Tuesday (26 March) backed historic measures to reform European Union (EU) copyright laws. Under the new directive, tech giants like Facebook and Google will have to “negotiate licensing agreements with rights-holders — such as record companies, collecting societies and media companies — to publish their content on YouTube and Google News”. On Wednesday (March 20), Netherland’s far-right populist newcomer Forum for Democracy (FvD) stunned the Dutch political establishment after winning the most votes in the provincial elections.Strong gains were also made by both the Eurosceptics and the Greens, setting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on course to lose control of the upper house of parliament. Click on the image to read more.
British Prime Minister Theresa May went to Brussels on Thursday (21 May) to seek a delay on Brexit following her failure to get her deal through the British Parliament twice. After much heated debates and discussions that went overtime upending the original agenda of the European Council meeting, the EU27 leaders agreed to grant the UK a delay until 22nd May if British MPs approve Prime Minister May’s withdrawal deal when it is put to vote for the third time next week. The EU is supposed to gather Thursday (21 March) at their summit dinner in Brussels to discuss heightened defensive strategy against China, possibly indicating an end to the free and easy access that Chinese businesses have enjoyed so far in Europe (This was however upended as the discussions on how to respond to PM May’s request to delay Brexit went over time leaving the EU27 leaders with little time to discuss their China strategy). On a recently adopted cybersecurity certification scheme, EU’s Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said, “it is essential that the certification scheme gets off to a good and fast start” as global actors are watching the EU. This came amidst concerns about the roll out of Chinese 5G network infrastructure which the US claims have severe cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The European People’s Party (EPP) suspended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party on Wednesday (20 March) amidst concerns over the rule of law in Hungary. An expulsion comes with high stakes for both parties. Click on the image to read more.
UK Parliament voted down Theresa May’s deal for the second time on Tuesday (12 Mar) by 391 to 242 one day after May revealed a separate “joint legally binding instrument” that would act as “an insurance policy” for the backstop. The European Commission has launched an action plan to “deepen its engagement” with China, while emphasising the importance of partnership between the two global powers. The Commission laid out 10 concrete actions for discussion and endorsement by the European Council. The text enshrining the cooperation between the French and German assemblies was adopted by the French National Assembly on Monday (11 March). The launch of the new Franco-German Assembly, which will be inaugurated on 25 March, is further confounded by seemingly cooling relationships between the two nations less than two months after the Aachen Treaty was signed. EU interior ministers on Thursday (7 March) failed to conclude an overhaul of the bloc’s migration policy. No further progress can be expected under the Juncker Commission. Click on the image to read more.