On the agenda: Brexit, glyphosate, Eurogroup elections and what to expect next week.
On the podium: Commission deputy chief spokesperson Alexander Winterstein.
Brexit lunch: Jean-Claude Juncker will have a working lunch with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Brexit this Monday. But the Commission said it could not confirm if other key EU officials on Brexit including chief negotiator Michel Barnier, his deputy Sabine Weyand and Juncker’s powerful head of cabinet Martin Selmayr will attend. Winterstein declined to comment when asked if the lunch could help resolve the latest sticking point in Brexit talks, the problem of the Irish border.
‘Stay tuned:’ After the daily press briefing, Commission officials also declined to confirm if a press point or a joint press statement from May and Juncker is foreseen, either before or after the lunch. Several EU officials told POLITICO the meeting will, however, kick off a busy week of events for the Brexit talks.
Tillerson in Brussels: The Commission spokeswoman for foreign affairs Catherine Ray said the meeting between EU foreign ministers and the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday will focus on transatlantic relations. Ray said the meeting was scheduled weeks ago and declined to comment when asked if the lunch was a “solidarity message” to Tillerson amid suggestions he could be departing the U.S. administration.
Glyphosate and scientific advice: Reporters also quizzed Winterstein on the letter his boss Margaritis Schinas wrote to the Financial Times published Friday, in which he said the Commission will on December 12 propose a change in EU rules “to make sure that scientific studies are publicly available.” Winterstein said, “this is what the public asks for,” but declined to confirm if raw data from scientific studies will be made public by EU agencies, as requested by NGOs. It follows a long-running debate on the scientific evidence behind the safety of the weedkiller glyphosate, which was put to bed Monday when EU ministers reapproved the chemical’s license.
Eurogroup presidency: The Commission declines to back any individual candidate bidding to be the next president of the Eurogroup in Monday’s election. “We worked well with the actual president, we will work well with the future president,” Winterstein said. Juncker, who chaired the Eurogroup between 2005 and 2013, praised this week in the financial daily Paperjam the Luxembourg candidate Pierre Gramegna, stating the finance minister of the Grand Duchy “has the qualities” for the job. An informal endorsement of his countryman?
Juncker’s agenda: Besides the Brexit lunch, Juncker will meet on Monday Gianni Pittella, the chair of the center-left Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament. He receives on Tuesday the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. On Wednesday Juncker will chair an important College of Commissioners, including a presentation of Eurozone reforms and an update from Barnier on the Brexit talks. The full agenda for European commissioners is available here.
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