The Brussels Brief

Good news for Malta

In its Summer Economic Forecast, which reviewed its previous forecast for economic growth across the bloc, the European Commission is predicting Malta’s GDP growth of 5.6% this year and 5.8% for 2022, compared to the previously forecasted amount of 4.6% for 2021, while the EU average is set to expand by 4.8% this year and 4.5% for 2022.

Read the full report here.

Belarus vs EU

In another act of escalating tensions between the EU and Belorussia following the sanctions imposed on Belarussian’s authorities, its President is instrumentalising the issue of migration to destabilise the region. The Belarussian regime is attracting immigrants from the Middle East and Iraq, transporting them to the border and assist them in crossing into the EU illegally. In a show of solidarity, European Council President Charles Michel visited Lithuania and said that the Lithuanian border is the EU border and expressed support to Lithuania through the EU’s resources. Meanwhile, Belarus expelled two top Lithuanian diplomats from the country.

More here.

No funds for Hungary?

During a European Parliament plenary question from MEP Guy Verhofstadt, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová has confirmed that the European Commission will not be endorsing Hungary’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, worth around €7.2 billion, before the July deadline. In an unprecedented move, the European Commission has upped its stakes vis-à-vis Hungary. The Commission is dissatisfied with two key elements contained in the plan, which diplomats have confirmed, do not satisfy enough the criteria on efforts to fight corruption in the spending plan. While Hungary may have failed this assessment, many are interpreting this move as a punishment due to the recent controversial LGBTIQ law enacted by the Hungarian Parliament, effectively banning gays from schoolbooks, as well as other rule of law issues. Budapest would need to change the plan for it to receive the funds. However, considering that a national election in Hungary is fast approaching, many are expecting a rise in tensions between Budapest and the European Commission.

Read more here.

More Jobs please!

The European Parliament has expressed its intention to increase its staff by over 300 officers, drawing the ire of Member States and other institutions. While Member States are all focused on returning their economies to growth, and the Commission and Council equally concerned on overcoming the difficulties of the pandemic, the EP seems to indulge in a splurge. The justification is that since the Commission is introducing new legislation, the Parliament needs the resources to cope with the increased load, however, failing to acknowledge that both Council and Commission have managed to remain below the 2012 headcount!

Bulgaria election

Bulgaria has gone to the polls this weekend in an election seen to have the potential to unseat the incumbent Boyko Borissov. Borissov’s government has been in the spotlight this year for allegations of corruption and other crimes. His main contender is Slavi Trifonov, a TV host, entertainer and singer-turned politician. This weekend’s elections were a re-run of the inconclusive April elections where no political party mustered the necessary majority to govern.

Full review here.


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