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EU BYTES


EU Bytes


Former Executive Director of the European Casino Association and current Managing Director of Time & Place Consulting, Glenn Cezanne provides the latest info on what’s trending and what’s coming down the pipeline in Brussels and around the EU.


T Glenn Cezanne


he snow is hitting the streets of Brussels and as a result it is no surprise to see people do the same. Making it safe from one office to the other is quite challenging and can be *cough cough* quite the


gamble. This doesn’t necessarily make it easy for all the EU decision-makers, lobbyists, and general supporting staff of the whole system trying to get policy dossiers finalised before the European Parliament elections and the selection of the new European Commission. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the procedural aspects…as yet. That will be for a later edition before the elections in May.


Romanian Presidency


I tried to, but as a half-Romanian I cannot stay away from discussing the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. It has, before it even started, been one of the more controversial Presidencies which has raised many eyebrows, not least because of internal political turmoil. Here is a taster: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called for the Romanian government (led by the Prime Minister) to step down in mid-November. This prompted the Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to raise the readiness level to switch Presidencies with Romania. This is as Finland is set to take on the next Presidency from July 2019. For another taster, see what Commission President Juncker had to say about the then-upcoming Romanian Presidency. Even though the seventh biggest Member State of the EU, both by population and area, Romania’s social, economic and political role within the Union remains widely uncharted outside Romania and its diaspora, with news on, for example, the heavily criticised judicial reforms finding ad hoc awareness. One has to admit though that since Romania joined the EU in 2007, it has not been an easy ride for the country. But even before that, coming to terms with its Communist past has proven increasingly


32 FEBRUARY 2019


challenging, with party politics and public opinion determined and dichotomised by the sentiments that the Revolution was a coup d’état. Remember the “exceptional” trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu on 25 December 1989 resulting in the summary execution by firing squad? So, what does the Presidency of the Council of the EU actually mean? In essence it allows a Member State to set agendas and EU policy targets for six months on the platform where national Ministers, experts, fonctionnaires, etc. from the EU Member States meet and make decisions. The Council of the EU is one of three bodies (the others being the European Commission and the European Parliament) which have to agree together on the bulk of EU legislation. As a Dutch Member of the European Parliament recently reminded me, the European Parliament can have significant input, but nothing gets through without the Council approving it. Brexit and the EU’s budget for 2021 to 2027 are


expected to undergo significant decisions during the Presidency. These are heavyweight dossiers. Furthermore, there are quite a few other EU policies ranging from transport to consumer protection which are still in the pipeline. The rush to finalise legislation will result in an intensive first half of the six months. Not least because Members of the European Parliament want to demonstrate achievements ahead of the European elections in May. Let’s hope the snow doesn’t inhibit ambitions too much.


Meanwhile in Italy


Remember the gambling advertisement ban in Italy? Well, if you are involved in the gambling business and you like directing gamblers to your service or product, you should keep an eye on this. Actually, no matter what aspect of the gambling business you are, you should keep an eye on this. When law-


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