EU presidency: Belgium steps up efforts to wrap up deals before EU elections in June
It's a busy time for the diplomats and officials involved in the Belgian EU presidency. They are shuttling back and forth between Strasbourg and Brussels. Their mission is to reach political agreements with the European Parliament that can be approved before the European elections, reports VRT NWS.
Until June, Belgium holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, the institution that represents the 27 member states. This poses organisational challenges and requires people to be involved in discussions and negotiations around the clock.
Belgium is hosting 17 trilogues this week. These are informal meetings where delegations from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers negotiate legislative proposals.
During these trilogues, ministers and parliament try to reach a compromise, with the European Commission present to help. They are responsible for the original legislative proposal and ensure the substance remains intact.
Behind closed doors
Trilogues take place behind closed doors, although the initial positions of the parties entering the meeting are known. Negotiators have been meeting in Strasbourg since Monday and will move to Brussels on Friday for final talks.
At the beginning of the presidency, Belgium agreed with the parliament to conclude as many dossiers as possible before 9 February. It wants to meet this tight deadline because there is still a lot of work between reaching a political agreement in a trilogue and the final approval of the European Parliament.
The agreement must be translated into legally watertight texts, and uncertainties often need to be clarified by experts. Texts still have to be translated, followed by final checks and votes at various stages, both within the members of the Council and in the European Parliament.
The final step is the vote in plenary. As there are European elections this year, the final plenary session is scheduled for 22-25 April. Only laws on which political agreement is reached this week or by the end of February have a chance of final adoption before the European elections.
Since the start of the presidency, some 25 agreements have been reached, and more are in progress.