The Brussels Brief

Porto Social Summit

EU Leaders met in Porto over the weekend to discuss a new impetus to the European Pillar of Social Rights. In a declaration published at the end of the meeting, leaders committed the EU to improve job quality, fight discrimination, address gender gaps and place education and skills at the centre of EU action.

Read the Porto Declaration here.

EU-Russia Tensions

Following the Russian travel ban on a number of EU officials, including the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, and European Commissioner Vera Jurova; the Russian Ambassador to the EU has been jointly summoned by the Secretary General of the European External Action Services and the Secretary General of the European Commission. In a joint statement on the matter, the EU “recalled Russia’s expulsion of Czech diplomats and the executive order of the Russian Federation of so called “unfriendly states”, the statement read.

Meanwhile, in an interview on Politico’s Brussels Playbook, European Commissioner VP Věra Jourová said “There has been enough evidence for everyone to realise that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not a standard international partner. It aims to divide us and sow mistrust”.

Travel to the EU?

The European Commission has this week launched a new recommendation proposal to Member States on allowing travel to the bloc this summer, following long discussions on the COVID Certificate. The proposal hinges on two aspects; the epidemiological situation in the country of origin and that the traveller must be vaccinated, with a European Medicine Agency approved vaccine within the last 14 days preceding travel. However, this proposal is a recommendation, and it is up to Member States to decide on what measures to implement. This proposal is set to generate some hick-ups during the next few days during discussions in Brussels, as one of the criteria excludes Chinese and Russian vaccines, as some EU Member States are relying on. The proposal includes a so called ‘emergency brake mechanism’ in case of a surge in imported cases of COVID-19. Read more here.

EU unanimity fails on China

Foreign Affairs Ministers are expected to discuss the situation in Hong Kong and the overall relationship with China, in a meeting on Monday in Brussels. However, unity has been thrown out the window, as ambassadors failed to agree on a draft text for conclusions which would have been endorsed by the Foreign Affairs Council. After several attempts at watering down the conclusions and making them less harsh on the Chinese, Hungary still opposed the draft and unanimity so far has been elusive. 

Welcome EU Ambassador

In a sign of thawing relations between the EU and the UK, the two sides reached an agreement on the status of the EU Ambassador to the UK. More here.

Poland’s Judiciary

In an opinion published on Thursday, the EU Court of Justice Advocate General declared that the new system of disciplining the judiciary in Poland contravenes EU law and undermines the independence of the judiciary. This comes a few weeks after the ECJ ruling backing the way Malta appoints its members of the judiciary. More here.

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