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Week ahead: Improving Europe’s data access for the digital age




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The big Commission announcement this week (23 February) will be the Data Act (incl. Review of the Database Directive).  The Data Act is described as a major new initiative to ensure fairness by providing better control for data sharing to citizens and businesses, in line with European values. The initiative will aim at facilitating data access and use and review the rules on the legal protection of databases. The Act aims to respect the EU’s rules on data protection and ePrivacy while promoting a fairer use of data in business-to-business and business-to-government applications. 

The ongoing crisis caused by the build up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders is likely to dominate today’s meeting of Foreign Affairs ministers in Brussels (21 February), ministers will also hold a discussion on Europe’s security situation. The ministers will hold an informal exchange with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Diplomatic discussions continue with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and President Biden has agreed “in principle” to meet with President Putin “if an invasion hasn’t happened”.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The ministers will discuss the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina which is described as one of the deepest political crises since the end of the armed conflict in 1995. There will also be a stock taking of the situation in Mali.


EU foreign affairs ministers will meet their counterparts from the Gulf countries in the joint council of the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council.



On Monday (21 February), Vice President Maroš Šefčovič will meet with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Northern Ireland’s former First Minister Paul Givan described today as “a significant date for the Northern Ireland Protocol”. We will see…

Just and sustainable economy

The Commission will also launch its ‘just and sustainable economy package’ which will consist of two announcements: a Communication on decent work worldwide (Dombrovskis) and sustainable corporate governance (Jourova).

European Parliament

There will be no parliamentary meetings in Brussels this week, instead MEPs will be in their constituencies or participating in delegations or missions.

Rule of law/Poland: A delegation from the Civil Liberties and Constitutional Affairs Committees will travel to Warsaw. They will assess the rule of law situation, including the issue of the primacy of EU law, in the framework of the ongoing “Article 7” procedure on possible breach of EU values against Poland. MEPs plan to meet, among others, representatives of the Polish Government, the judiciary, civil society organisations and media (Monday to Wednesday).

Ukraine crisis/Estonia/Lithuania: A delegation of the Security and Defence Subcommittee will go to Tallinn and Vilnius, to receive first-hand information on the threat from cyber-attacks in the context of escalating tensions related to the Ukraine crisis. MEPs will meet representatives from the government, NATO and private companies (Monday to Thursday).

Turkey/Human rights: A Subcommittee on Human Rights delegation will travel to Ankara and Istanbul, where MEPs will meet with political representatives and stakeholders to discuss the country’s human rights situation, the rule of law, and refugee protection and migration management (Tuesday to Thursday).

Trade/Mexico: An International Trade Committee delegation travels to Mexico City to meet with government and parliament representatives to learn about the status of the modernisation of the EU-Mexico trade agreement (Tuesday to Thursday).

2021 natural disasters/Netherlands/Germany/Belgium: A Regional Development Committee delegation will go to The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium to visit flood-affected regions. MEPs will take stock of EU relief measures in these regions following the severe flooding and landslides that hit several European countries in the summer of 2021 (Monday to Wednesday).

Other Council meetings: 

Agriculture and Fisheries Council (21 February): Ministers will hold a policy debate on the proposed regulation on deforestation-free products. The afternoon session will conclude with a discussion on the market situation for agricultural products. During the meeting, under other business, the Commission will present its reports on the phytosanitary measures on imports into the EU and on the extension of the use of plant passports in the EU. Ministers will also discuss the need to improve the welfare of dogs kept and sold for commercial purposes; emergency funding for the pigmeat sector; the revision of the agricultural promotion policy; the labeling of free-range eggs; and drought conditions in Portugal and Spain. They will also exchange views on the need to ensure a fair income for farmers affected by high input prices. 

General Affairs Council (22 February): Ministers will start preparations for the European Council meeting on 24 and 25 March 2022 with an exchange of views on the annotated draft agenda. The presidency will provide information on the Conference on the Future of Europe and ministers will exchange views in particular on the arrangements for coordinating the Council’s position. Ministers will hold a policy debate on enhancing preparedness, response capability and resilience to future crises. There will be a hearing on the rule of law in Poland (Article 7(1) TEU). The Commission will brief ministers on the latest developments in EU-UK relations. There will also be an information item on the protection of journalists.

Informal meeting of Transport Council (21 - 22 February) to be held in Le Bourget, France. 

Competitiveness Council - Internal Market and Industry (24 February): Ministers responsible for the internal market and industry will discuss the directive as regards corporate sustainability regulation (CSRD) and are expected to agree on a general approach on the file.  The CSRD proposal requires companies to publish detailed information on sustainability matters such as the environment and social rights. It also extends and strengthens existing rules on non-financial reporting. Ministers will hold a policy debate on the regulation on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market. The regulation addresses the potential distortive effects of foreign subsidies in the single market and that harm the level playing field. 
Eurogroup (25 February): The Eurogroup will meet on Friday, there will also be an informal meeting of Economic and Finance ministers on 25 and 26.

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