EU Weekly Blog

01 February 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 European Parliament is in plenary session in Strasbourg. MEPs will debate EU and China relations and market economy status, and it is likely the ongoing EU steel crisis will feature in this. MEPs will also discuss preparations for the European Council (18-19 February) with the Commission and Council. MEPs will agree their report on the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and will also debate the role of local and regional authorities in EU Structural Funds implementation.

It is Start Up Europe week, a new initiative aimed at promoting the work at regional level across Europe to support entrepreneurship and business start-ups. In Wales events are planned in Cardiff and Wrexham.

Last week the European Commission published a proposal on Fair Taxation aimed at addressing corporate tax evasion, an issue that has been prominent in the news recently. Any changes to EU tax laws require unanimity in Council, meaning any Member States (including the UK) can block the proposals from becoming EU law. The European Commission also published its evaluation of FP7, the EUs research and development programme for 2007-2013 period.

The European Commission presented a draft paper setting out its strategic approach to EU agricultural research and innovation last week at an EU conference in Brussels. The strategic approach will input into “programming the remaining three years (2018 to 2020) of Horizon” as well as “guiding agricultural and forestry research and innovation activities after 2020”. As such it is an important document for Welsh researchers looking to bid into Horizon 2020 within this field of research.

Prime Minister David Cameron cancelled a planned trip to Denmark and Sweden to hold a series of meetings in Brussels over the weekend to discuss the EU reform agenda. He first met European Commission President Juncker, followed by a meeting with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, and subsequently European Council President Donald Tusk, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the European to discuss a draft UK negotiating text. There has been much speculation in UK and EU media (e.g. Politico.EU and BBC) about a deal being reached on a so-called ‘emergency brake’ migration and access to in-work benefits, however, following their meeting on Sunday President Tusk following the meeting tweeted “No deal yet. Intensive work in next 24 crucial.” A second day of negotiations has been agreed for today and we should shortly know whether or not a breakthrough has been made – and whether the UK negotiating text will be published. UKIP and EFDD MEPs discussed the EU reform agenda with Jonathan Faull Head of the European Commission Taskforce on the UK Referendum when he attended a meeting of the EFDD Group last week – a podcast recording is available on UKIP’s web-site.”

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM is in Brussels this week in his capacity as Committee of the Regions rapporteur on Ocean Energy and will attend an EU workshop on “The Role of City-Regions in the Achievement of a Low Carbon Economy”. The workshop is part of a Smart Energy Regions action under the EUs COST (Co-operation in Science and Technology) initiative, and is being led by the the Low Carbon Research Institute in Wales, Chaired by Professor Phillip John Jones from Cardiff University. The final event for this Smart Energy Regions action takes place in Cardiff on 11-12 February.

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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Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg