EU Weekly Blog

25 January 2016

Article by Gregg Jones, Head of EU Office, National Assembly for Wales  

The EU Weekly blog provides a snapshot of key developments on the EU agenda (in Brussels and back at home) of most relevance to Wales.

This week committees meet in the European Parliament in Brussels. The European Semester and discussions on the Annual Growth Survey feature in a number of Committees, whilst Budget Committee will consider preparation for the revision of the Multi-annual Financial Framework for 2014-2020. Agriculture Committee will consider the Animal Health Law proposals, following Council agreeing its common position in December, and it is expected that plenary will take second reading on the proposals in February.

There are no formal Council meetings to note this week, although Justice and Home Affairs Ministers and Competitiveness Ministers hold informal sessions as part of the Dutch EU Presidency.

The steel crisis dominated headlines of course last week and will remain high on the agenda in Wales. Research Service published two blogs at the end of the week and further blogs will follow as events develop. CEPS (the Centre for European Policy Studies) published a report on the EU Steel Industry in 2013 which provides a very readable overview of the structure of the industry, and the pressures facing it (which pre-dates of course the current crisis). State aids and the potential to provide government support to the sector is one of the issues that has been raised as part of a package of measures to address the crisis, and the EU Competition Commissioner made a speech explaining the Commission’s approach to supporting this sector – including looking at two recent investigations it has conducted into aid to the sector (in Belgium and Italy), as well as the recent approved aid scheme for the UK.

Migration and the refugee crisis also remain high on the political agenda, with European Council President Donald Tusk warning at the European Parliament last week, that “The March European Council will be the last moment to see if our strategy [on immigration/the refugee crisis] works. If it doesn’t we will face grave consequences such as the collapse of Schengen.”

Prime Minister David Cameron was in the Czech Republic as part of his negotiations on EU reform. The UK in a Changing EU site published a number of blogs on these issues last week as well. The transcript and evidence from the House of Lords recent Brussels visit is now available on the Lords web-site. The Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee last week held evidence sessions on alternatives to EU membership.

Finally, on Thursday the French Ambassador to the UK will visit the Assembly present the Legion d’Honneur to ten Welsh veterans from World War II at special ceremony in the Pierhead, introduced by the Deputy Presiding Officer David Melding AM.

Useful links:

Europa Newsroom (press releases; details of all new proposals)

European Parliament Committees (details of meetings, agendas etc)

European Parliament UK (representation based in London and Edinburgh)

European Commission Office in Wales

Council of the European Union (press releases etc.)

UK in a Changing EU (ESRC project to inform public in lead up to EU referendum – includes Cardiff Law School)

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