Over the weekend, US intelligence about an imminent invasion of Ukraine by the Russian forces amassed at its eastern border caused anxiety and intensified talks on behalf of Western allies.
The EU’s ambassador to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, tweeted a picture of a meeting with his EU Member States colleagues on Saturday:
Meanwhile, French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, reported talks with his German and Canadian counterparts on Sunday. Referencing the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ upcoming visit to Moscow on Tuesday, he stated: “We stand united, firm and in solidarity”.
EU-Russia relations are scheduled to be debated in plenary on Wednesday morning, with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell participating.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who on Saturday dismissed warnings of a Russian invasion as “stoking panic” at a press conference in Kyiv has been invited to the plenary by Parliament’s President Roberta Metsola but, at the time of publishing, no response had been received.
On Monday, plenary will vote on whether to apply an urgent procedure to approve a €1.2bn macro-financial loan proposed by the Commission to help cover Ukraine’s external financing needs. If agreed by MEPs, they will vote on the proposal itself later in the week.
Parliament will also review the Union’s Common Foreign and Security (CFCP) and Common Security and Defense (CSDP) policies and their implementation in 2021 in a debate on Tuesday afternoon, led by the reports by committee chairs David McAllister (DE, EPP) and Nathalie Loiseau (FR, Renew).
Before that, Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez will address the House in what is known as a formal sitting.
The ongoing Rule of Law crisis caused by Hungary and Poland will take center stage in a debate on Wednesday afternoon. In the morning, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is expected to announce its ruling on the two Member States’ appeal against the Rule of Law Conditionality mechanism for the disbursement of the EU.
Originally, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was supposed to take part in the debate but, to the disappointment of many MEPs she has canceled her trip to Strasbourg.
Veteran Rule of Law campaigner Sophie in ‘t Veld (NL, Renew) tweeted on Monday:
The mechanism came into force at the beginning of last year but has not yet been applied by the European Commission, which has argued that it was waiting for the outcome of the ECJ case.
Parliament itself filed a lawsuit against the Commission with the ECJ last October because of the latter’s inaction.
More inter-institutional harmony can be expected on Monday evening when Parliament celebrates the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Euro with a ceremony in the presence of European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde.
Afterwards, Lagarde will present the ECB annual report of 2021 to MEPs and face questions, with EP Vice-President Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GR, Left), who drafted Parliament’s report on it, in the lead.
And after the ECB, it is the turn of the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly to have an annual report scrutinized. Leading Parliament on this one is Eleonora Evi (IT, Greens/EFA).
In a twist that is likely to strike MEPs as ironic, the Ombudsman recently criticized Commission President von der Leyen for her untransparent negotiations about vaccine supply contracts with pharmaceutical companies.
Von der Leyen has reportedly canceled her appearance before Parliament on Wednesday because of an event organized by Covid vaccine producer Pfizer BioNTech she is to attend on that day.
On Tuesday, the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) will wrap up its work by presenting its report, drafted by Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (FR, Renew) for debate in plenary.
The committee’s recommendations include facilitating access to cross-border health care and clinical trials, managing shortages of cancer medicines more efficiently, and ensuring equal access to innovative drugs and treatments. The vote on the report will take place on Wednesday.