Week Ahead (8 February)
W/C Monday, 8 February - Mario Draghi to hold second round of government formation talks with details of new cabinet expected by Friday
Mario Draghi will hold further talks with Italian political parties this week, beginning today at 3pm, as he seeks to secure a majority for the formation of a new government. Talks held over the weekend with Matteo Salvini, the Lega leader, and an M5S delegation including founder Beppe Grillo, were positive, with both giving Draghi their provisional support; he needs the support of at least one of these parties to secure a majority. A further round of consultations is planned for tomorrow, with Draghi aiming to return to President Mattarella by mid-week with details of his cabinet, which should be sworn in on Friday.
W/C Monday, 8 February - Talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol to continue in London
Talks between the European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, will resume this week as they seek to make progress on the "proper implementation" of the Northern Ireland protocol. The protocol has been the subject of controversy after the European Commission was forced to reverse its decision to invoke article 16, designed to allow for the suspension of the elements of the agreement in exceptional circumstances. The Commission had decided to make use of the article as a means of ensuring export controls in the context of vaccine supply issues, which prompted an angry response from politicians in Ireland and the United Kingdom, who said that the measure would introduce checks on the border between the two, in breach of the Good Friday agreement. After fielding calls from the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, and the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the Commission decided not to proceed.
The UK government sought to capitalise on the Commission's error of judgement to push for significant changes to the Protocol, with Gove writing in a letter to Šefčovič that the EU should extend waivers on post-Brexit customs checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the British mainland until 2023.
Tuesday, 9 February - European Parliament to vote on regulation for the establishment of Recovery and Resilience Fund
The European Parliament will meet in plenary session on Tuesday, with a vote on the establishment of the Recovery and Resilience Fund, RRF, on the agenda. The rapporteurs will present their report on a regulation to establish the RRF, which will place the fund on a legislative basis. As a reminder, the RRF is the €672.5 billion fund by which the European institutions propose to fund the bloc's recovery from the pandemic-induced economic crisis and makes up the bulk of the Next Generation EU recovery instrument. Following the vote, Siegfried Mureşan (EPP), Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D) and Dragoș Pîslaru (Renew) who led negotiations with the Council on behalf of Committees on Budgets and on Economic and Monetary Affairs will present the political agreement on the final text.