The Brussels Brief

EUCO Summit  

In another sign of a return to some sort of normality in the EU, European leaders are expected in Brussels this week for their scheduled European Council which will be held between Thursday and Friday. The agenda should not be contentious, and the meeting is not expected to turn out into an all-nighter despite featuring migration as one of the main items. That is because the EU wants to spare itself from appearing dysfunctional and thus will be focusing solely on the external dimension of migration i.e. the countries of origin and transit rather than the holy grail of internal solidarity. The Journal.mt will have a full round-up of what to expect in this European Council, tomorrow.

Banning Gay People

Another slap in the face for EU values as Hungary’s Parliament enacted a law effectively banning gay people from appearing in adverts and TV programmes for the under 18s. As non-sensical as it may sound, the Hungarian Government believes that such a move would somehow shield minors from gay promotion.

This move has drawn the ire of many across Europe. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet that the European Commission will be assessing whether such law breaches Union law.

Malta’s European Commissioner Helena Dalli, who in her time in Malta has worked tirelessly to put Malta on the map in terms of LGBTIQ rights, went a step further by threatening to block funding.  She was quoted by Reuters saying “The message is that if you don’t uphold the values of democracy or equality of the European Union, you are not entitled to take money for your project,” in a reference to the Polish case where some regions declared ‘LGBT Free Zone’.

A thawing relationship – All smiles as Trump is not around!

EU-US allies are closing ranks once again after a four-year hiatus during the Trump Presidency. In a show of unity that can be translated also into a show of force, the EU chiefs and the US President discussed their relations in a summit in Brussels this week, which was also an attempt to iron out their differences on trade. The summit was described as very positive, with both parties agreeing not to impose tariffs on aviation and shooting the can five years down the road, and secondly, emerging united on Russia and China. This was quite an important step for the US President who met Russia’s Vladimir Putin the following day in Geneva.

Read the Full Statement here.

The Future is in your Hands

The inaugural plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe was held yesterday in Strasbourg. The Conference Plenary was composed of 108 representatives of the European Parliament, 54 from the Council (2 per Member State) and 3 from the European Commission, representatives from the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, 108 representatives from the national Parliaments and the President of the European Youth Forum, together with a wide representation of citizens.

The Multilingual Digital Platform (www.futureu.europa.eu) is the main hub of the Conference and remains available at all times for citizens to share ideas on key thematic issues, organise events and receive information on how, when and where they can participate in this pan-European initiative.

On the road to Sainthood

Pope Francis has recognised one of the EU’s main founders, Robert Schuman’s ‘heroic virtues’ effectively placing the French Statesman on the path to sainthood. Robert Schuman held the roles of both French Prime Minister in 1948 and its Foreign Minister. He was instrumental in setting up supra-national organisations such as the Council of Europe and NATO, however he is mostly remembered for what is now known as the Schuman Declaration of 1950 in which he laid the grounds for the European Coal and Steel Community, known now as the European Union.

Prior to the creation of the European Union, wars on the European continent were considered common with battles every 20 or 30 years. Robert Schuman and the other bold European leaders at the time managed to break a war cycle which has resulted in peace and prosperity for all Europeans.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”

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