BN-IL271_strasb_G_20150515141300By Viktoria Dendrinou

European Union watchers should prepare for a lot hustle and bustle across the bloc next week. Foreign and defense ministers will convene in Brussels, EU leaders will meet in Riga and European lawmakers will hold their sessions in Strasbourg. Meanwhile the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will present its plan for better regulation, and negotiations on Greece’s international bailout are set to continue for yet another round, in search of a deal that would allow the debt-stricken state to access desperately needed cash. Here are five things to watch in the week ahead:

  1. EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday (18 May). They were joined by EU defence ministers to discuss the bloc’s military operations and security challenges in the region. The foreign policy chiefs will also talk about plans to tackle illegal migration following a meeting of EU leaders in late April and the publication of a quota proposal by the Commission aimed at a more even sharing of the burden of the EU’s migration emergency across its countries.
  2. On Tuesday (19 May) the commission will present its plan for better regulation, which aims to ensure that no excess, irrational or redundant regulations are proposed. At the heart of  the “Better Regulation Package” — a draft of which was seen by the Wall Street Journal — is beefing up the practice of drawing up “impact assessments” for every new piece of legislation, looking at the rationale and expected effects not only of the initial text proposed by the European Commission, but also for the emerging compromise with national governments and the European Parliament.
  3. Meanwhile over in Strasbourg, European lawmakers will discuss and debate some of the EU’s latest plans. On Tuesday MEPs will debate the commission’s new digital single market strategy – a plan to unite the region’s fragmented online markets and crack down on possible abuses by U.S. Internet firms — which will be presented by Andrus Ansip, the bloc’s digital chief. On Wednesday lawmakers will give their views on the EU’s plan for migration in a debate with commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
  4. Attention will shift to Riga on Thursday and Friday where EU leaders will meet for the fourth annual Eastern Partnership Summit. There, they will be joined by the heads of state of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Discussions will cover a range of topics from energy security to conflict resolution, while Greece might feature on the sidelines, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hopes to press other EU leaders for a deal in order to unlock an impasse that has resulted after several rounds of talks between Greece and its creditors.
  5. Speaking of Greece, technical talks between the debt-ridden state and its international creditors are expected to resume in person in Brussels early next week – while some teleconferences are already taking place. Talks between the two sides have become more constructive but differences on several key issues remain wide, European officials say.