Brussels (Brussels Morning) As it approaches the Easter break, the European Commission’s agenda features a two-day, high-profile conference on the future of Syria, plus discussions on the governance of digital platforms, energy efficiency and the Republic of Serbia’s accession process to membership of the bloc.
On Monday, Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič attends the fifth Brussels Conference, which will review future support to Syria and the region, ten years on from the onset of the civil war that has degenerated into a proxy conflict.
The conference is co-chaired by the EC and the UN, the overarching objective being to sustain support for the Syrian people and to mobilise the international commitment for a comprehensive and credible political solution to the conflict, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
On 5 March, the Commission announced an additional 130 million euros support for Syrian refugees and local communities in Jordan and Lebanon. Since 2014, with the creation of the EU’s regional fund to support the Syrian humanitarian crisis, more than 2.3 billion euros has been mobilised from EU budget and voluntary contributions by 21 EU countries, along with the UK and Turkey.
On Tuesday, Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit addresses an online event, organised by the European Parliament, to discuss the governance of online platforms. The main focus of the debate will be on policy options to shape and deliver a principled digital future. Recently, the Commission unveiled its vision for a European “digital decade”, in which it elaborated on the pitfalls and opportunities digitalization can offer.
The EU executive is fully aware of the serious risks associated with digitalization, which can range from mass surveillance and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure to the spread of state-sponsored disinformation designed to polarise societies and undermine democracy. By way of response, the EU’s administrative branch seeks to strike a balance between openness and other EU core interests and values.
Also on Tuesday, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson addresses the International Energy Agency’s Annual Global Conference about the EU’s current framework of energy efficiency .The conference outcomes will feed into the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow.
Policy-makers are assessing how next-generation energy efficiency policies and programmes can accelerate achievement of high-ambition climate goals and clean energy transitions. A clear example is the EU-backed “Renovation Wave”, which aims to promote new building standards that take due account of environmental concerns.
Macedonia and Serbia
On Wednesday, Interinstitutional Relations Commissioner Margaritis Schinas discusses the impact of the Recovery Fund in the Region of Central Macedonia. On the same day, Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi will present an update on the EU accession process of the Republic of Serbia at an event organised by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.
In the EP report adopted last week for dispatch to the Commission, Serbia was urged to substantiate results in areas such as the judiciary, freedom of expression and the fight against corruption and organised crime. Normalisation of relations with Kosovo and genuine respect for fundamental rights are also deemed essential to determining the pace of accession negotiations.