The Prime Minister is facing her Brexit plans being rejected by MPs when the House of Commons votes on them next Tuesday, December 11. The growing list of opposition, which includes over 100 Conservative MPs, has prompted demands for Mrs May to return to Brussels and attempt to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on the future declaration. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has already made clear there is no room for renegotiations after the deal was signed off by leaders in Brussels two weeks ago. But Brussels is engulfed by what it considers more serious issues, which has left Brexit-fatigued EU leaders shying away from reopening talks.
French President Emmanuel Macron is preoccupied attempting to head off the so-called “yellow jacket” revolts, which have spread violence across the country.
The working class outcry on the rising costs of fuel, tax and living prompted protests that have claimed one life and injured hundreds since the first outbreak in November.
After attacks on the police, torched cars, looted shops and vandalised landmarks, Mr Macron began climbing down from his ivory tower in Paris.
The cocky leader decided to scrap a new fuel tax from his 2019 budget after it sparked the backlash.
In a statement on Wednesday night, the Elysee said prime minister Edouard and President Macron “both wished the increase in the carbon tax be removed” from the upcoming budget.
It added: “The citizen and parliamentary debate in the coming weeks and months will have to find solutions and funding that will meet the challenges of the ecological transition; solutions that will preserve the purchasing power of our citizens.”
Rome’s populist government may have signalled it is willing to make changes to its budget plans in a bid to avoid sanctions by the European Commission, but the row will rumble on.
The League’s Matteo Salvini and Five Star’s Luigi Di Maio have gone head-to-head with Brussels after announcing plans to increase government spending despite claims adding to the country’s national debt could spark an EU-wide financial crisis.
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte hinted minor amendments could be made to the budget to avoid the row escalating to sanctions.
Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for economic affairs, insists he is still waiting for a “credible” details from Rome on how the budget would be adjusted.
If no agreement is reached between Brussels and Rome, the Commission could impose sanctions of up to €9 billion on Italy.
Despite being on the verge of taking over the EU’s rotating presidency, Romania has been criticised for failing to combat corruption by the Commission.
As the country who will tasked with sealing agreements on huge EU policy areas – Brexit and the next Multiannual Financial Framework – Brussels is concerned they might not be up to the job.
Last month, the European Parliament said it is “deeply concerned” about the levels of corruption across Romania and a Commission report was also highly critical.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said questions on the rule of law and the upcoming presidency are two separate issues and the country is “well prepared” for handling the later.
He added: “The more Romania is going to improve on the rule of law and fighting corruption, the easier it will be to deliver on its presidency.”
Hungary and Poland
Both countries are facing disciplinary action from the Commission, which may result in them losing their EU voting rights.
The EU Commission triggered Article 7 proceedings against Poland last December, amid concerns about the country’s rule of law, but the Council has yet to decide whether Warsaw is responsible for a serious breach of EU values.
Hungary faces a similar situation after the EU Parliament triggered the same procedure after prime minister Viktor Orban was accused of attacks on the media, minorities and rule of law.
But there has been delays in action because the two procedures have become drowned in policy.
Also both countries have pledged to block any punishments by using their own individual vetoes to save one another from sanctions.
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