Week Ahead (15 July)
Tuesday 16 July, MEPs to vote on Von der Leyen’s candidacy for Commission President
Despite frantic work over the weekend, Von der Leyen’s candidacy still hangs in the balance. In Strasbourg today she will meet the EPP group, her own political family, in order to shore up support.
Assuming there is no substance to the rumours that the EPP will jettison Von der Leyen in order to promote a candidate which will enjoy cross-party support in the EP, on Tuesday the entire parliament will vote on her candidacy. To be appointed, von der Leyen needs to achieve a majority of 376 of the 751 EU lawmakers.
The Green group confirmed they would be opposing Von der Leyen’s bid as have the 16 German SPD members. Ryszard Legutko, PiS member and head of the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), indicated that his group MEPs were unlikely to support the jobs deal organised at Council after former Polish PiS Prime Minister Beata Szydło was blocked by MEPs from becoming the chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee.
Wednesday 17/Thursday 18 July, G7 Finance Ministers expect to highlight transatlantic tensions
The US has responded strongly to respective efforts by the UK and France to introduce taxation on digital ad revenues, which members of the Trump administration see as aimed squarely at US firms.
Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, ruled out any potential free trade agreement with the UK should they go ahead with this tax while the US Treasury Department is considering a proposal from Senator Wyden, co-signed by Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley to doubling the US tax rate on French interests, a possibility envisaged under Section 891 of the tax code, in the event of France adopting the digital tax. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has responded defiantly to these proposals. This week’s G7 meeting presents the first opportunity for the respective parties to air their grievances.
Wednesday 18 July, Rule of Law in Poland back on the agenda
On Wednesday 18 July, the General Affairs Council will meet to discuss the present situation regarding the rule of law in Poland. When PiS came to power in 2015 they pushed through several reforms, including lowering the age of retirement of Supreme Court Judges. This enabled the government to force out some judges and replace them with its own appointees, chosen by the National Council of the Judiciary. The Polish government has taken steps to improve its relationship with the EU, most notably suspending elements of the controversial judicial reform. Although the Article 7 procedure remains open, this
week’s General Affairs Council represents an opportunity for détente between Warsaw and Brussels.