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EP Plenary Newsletter 11-14 March 2019

11-03-2019

What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include; the Future of Europ; EU-US Trade; Brexit and Climate Change

 

MEPs to debate priorities of 21-22 March EU Summit  

On Wednesday morning, MEPs will discuss their priorities for the 21-22 March EU summit with the Romanian Council Presidency and the Commission.

The spring meeting of EU heads of state or government traditionally focuses on jobs, growth and competitiveness.

EU leaders will also discuss the EU’s long-term strategy to fight climate change, external relations (especially the EU-China summit of 9 April) and ways to fight disinformation and protect the democratic integrity of the European and national elections across the EU.

During the debate, MEPs are also likely to comment on the outcome of the vote on the Brexit deal in the UK House of Commons on 12 March and assess its consequences.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday, 13 March

Procedure:  Debate without resolution

 

Draft Agenda of the European Council 21-22 March 2019

Irish MEPs following this issue are: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North-West); Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)

 

Future of Europe debate with Slovak Prime Minister Pellegrini

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini will debate with MEPs on Tuesday at 10.00 his vision of the future of the EU to ensure it delivers on citizens’ expectations.

This will be the eighteenth in a series of debates between MEPs and EU heads of state or government. Find out more about previous debates here.

Mr Pellegrini and EP President Antonio Tajani will hold a joint press point following the debate at around 12.30 in front of the Parliament's Protocol Room.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 12 March

Procedure: Future of Europe debate (without resolution)

Biography of Peter Pellegrini
Free photos, video and audio material
 

MEPs to limit negative impact of no-deal Brexit on citizens

To ensure the least possible disruption to citizens and businesses, MEPs will vote on travel, air and road transport, Erasmus, social security and fisheries measures.

At the request of the European Parliament and the Council, the European Commission proposed contingency measures to mitigate the effects of a withdrawal of the UK from the EU without an agreement.

Contingency measures do not replicate the benefits of membership or of a transition period. They are limited in time and adopted unilaterally by the EU on the condition that the UK adopts similar measures (reciprocity).

The legislative measures being put to the vote in an urgency procedure on Wednesday in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU include:

  • Continuing the European cross-border cohesion and cooperation PEACE IV programme between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. (***I (A8-0021/2019 - 150) MIHAYLOVA REGI)
  • Fishing authorisation for EU fishing vessels in UK waters and fishing operations of UK fishing vessels in EU waters (***I PECH)
  • Allowing Erasmus students and teachers in or from the UK to complete their ongoing learning activity abroad (***I ZDROJEWSKI CULT)
  • Ensuring EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU 27 will keep their social security benefits acquired before withdrawal. (***I (26/02) HARKIN, LAMBERT EMPL)
  • Temporary measures to ensure that operators avoid full interruption of transport operations between the UK and the EU, by allowing UK freight transport and bus and coach operators to provide services between the EU and the UK, as long as the UK provides equivalent access to EU operators (Vote: 13/02/2019) ***I (A8-0063/2019 - 150) DE MONTE TRAN

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote:  Wednesday

Procedure:  ordinary legislative procedure, first reading

Vote in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee
Vote in Culture Committee on Erasmus+
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue are: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North-West); Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South)

 

Climate action: EU’s roadmap to 2050

MEPs will debate the long-term reduction targets of greenhouse gas emissions with the Council and Commission, and adopt a resolution on Thursday.

The debate will focus on the recent communication from the European Commission that set out possible policy scenarios for the EU to implement the Paris agreement. MEPs will then adopt a resolution giving their recommendations. 

The European Council will also adopt the strategy later this year.

Background

Parties signed to the Paris Agreement are invited to communicate, by 2020, their mid-century, long-term, low GHG emission development strategies. In the Communication “A Clean Planet for all,” adopted on 28 November, the Commission presented its strategic, long-term vision for a climate-neutral economy by 2050, including eight possible pathways.

This debate should allow the EU to adopt and submit an ambitious strategy, by 2020, to the UNFCCC, as well as setting out the EU's future climate and energy policy.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday 13 March

Vote:  Thursday, 14 March

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Press release on committee vote (20.02.2019)
EP research: European policies on climate and energy towards 2020, 2030 and 2050
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue are: Lynn Boylan, Sinn Fein (Dublin); Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)

 

Cybersecurity: MEPs to counter IT threat from China

Security threats due to China’s rising tech presence in the EU are set to be addressed in a resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs will also adopt the EU Cybersecurity Act.

The increase of China’s technological presence in the EU poses serious security threats that require urgent action to be taken at EU level, says a draft resolution, to be put to the vote on Tuesday.

MEPs are also set to adopt the EU Cybersecurity Act, on Tuesday. This will strengthen Europe’s cybersecurity, by setting up a European Cybersecurity Certificates scheme for products, processes and services. It will also extend the mandate of the EU Cybersecurity Agency, ENISA, allocating more resources to enable it to fulfil its goals.

In a separate vote on Wednesday, MEPs will vote on a proposal to establish a new EU Competence Centre to strengthen EU’s cybersecurity capability.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debates:  Monday, 11 March (Cybersecurity Act  & Competence Centre)

Votes:  Tuesday, 12 March (Cybersecurity Act & Chinese IT)

Wednesday, 13 March (Cybersecurity Competence Centre)

Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure (Cybersecurity Act & Cybersecurity Competence Centre) ; non-legislative resolution (Chinese IT)

Procedure file: Cybersecurity Act
Rapporteur Angelika Niebler
Procedure file: Security threats connected with the rising Chinese technological presence in the EU and possible action on the EU level to reduce them
EP Research Briefing: ENISA and a new cybersecurity act
EP Research: Cyber-attacks: Not just a phantom menace
Procedure file: European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre and Network of National Coordination Centres
EP Research: The new European cybersecurity competence centre and network

Irish MEPs following this issue are: Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South)

 

Counteracting hostile propaganda ahead of 2019 European Elections

MEPs are set to protect European democracies from foreign actors spreading misinformation or misusing personal data.

A vote to be held on Tuesday, will allow MEPs to introduce financial penalties for pan-European political parties and foundations that deliberately breach data protection laws and regulations.

Recent cases like the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal have shown how misuse of personal information may undermine democratic processes. The new rules have already been informally agreed by member states, and are set to be in place before the May 2019 European Elections.

On Wednesday, MEPs will also vote on a resolution that takes stock of the EU’s latest efforts to counteract hostile propaganda by foreign actors, in general, and promote new technologies to deal with propaganda and fake social media accounts.

The draft resolution also strongly condemns the increasingly aggressive attempts of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea to undermine the “normative foundations and principles of European democracies and sovereignty of all Eastern Partnership countries,” which influence political elections and provide support for extremist movements.

Additional information

Debates: Tuesday, 12 March

Votes: Wednesday, 13 March

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, 1st reading agreement (Personal data in EE19); non-legislative resolution (Hostile propaganda)

Press conference: “Propaganda file” with Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, 13 march, 14.00 to 14.30

Procedure file: protection of personal data in the context of elections to the European Parliament
Procedure file: counteracting propaganda
Draft resolution on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties
Co-rapporteur (personal data file): Mercedes Bresso (S&D, IT)
Co-rapporteur (personal data file): Rainer Wieland (EPP, DE)
Rapporteur (propaganda file): Anna Elżbieta Fotyga (ECR, PL)
Guidance on the application of Union data protection law in the electoral context
Press release on trilogue agreement on personal data (16.01.2019)
Press release on the committee vote on propaganda (22.01.2019)
Propaganda: “The weapons used against us are continuously evolving” (Interview)
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Parliament to establish its position on EU’s future relations with Russia

The EU should remain open to imposing further sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law, says a draft resolution to be put to the vote on Tuesday.

MEPs suggest that the EU should review its current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and limit cooperation with Russia to areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism and climate change.

Closer relations would only be possible if Russia fully implements the so-called Minsk agreements to end the war in eastern Ukraine and starts respecting international law.

In the meantime, the EU has to stand ready to adopt further sanctions, especially those targeting individuals. MEPs also note that sanctions should be proportionate to the threats posed by Russia.

In December last year, the Council prolonged economic sanctions until 31 July 2019.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 11 March

Vote: Tuesday, 12 March

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Press release on the committee vote (04.02.2019)
Committee on Foreign Affairs
Procedure file
Profile of rapporteur: Sandra Kalniete (EPP, LV)
Webcomm article: Sandra Kalniete: “Russia can no longer be considered a strategic partner of the EU”
Free photos, video and audio material
 

EU-US trade negotiations: Parliament to decide on its support

Parliament to decide on Thursday whether to endorse the launch of limited trade talks with the United States, linking their conclusion to certain conditions being met.

Starting talks is in the interest of European citizens and companies, as it would ease current tensions in EU-US trade relations, Trade Committee MEPs said.

They therefore recommend the start of trade talks, based on the current negotiating mandates proposed by the European Commission in the fields of industrial tariffs and conformity assessments. Reaching a limited trade agreement, however, has to be conditional on lifting ongoing tariffs on steel and aluminium and including cars and car parts in the talks.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 13 March

Vote: Thursday, 14 March

Procedure: Commission statement with resolution

Press release on committee vote (19.02.2019)
Profile of rapporteur Bernd Lange (S&D, DE)
Press release of the Commission on the negotiating directive proposal (18.01.2019)
 

EU-Turkey relations need to be redefined

MEPs to reiterate their recommendation to formally suspend EU accession talks with Turkey, in a draft resolution to be put to the vote on Wednesday.
Turkey’s poor track record in upholding human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption all remain serious concerns for MEPs. In a draft resolution, to be put to the vote on Wednesday, they welcome Turkey’s decision, proposed last year, to formally lift the state of emergency introduced after the failed coup attempt in 2016.

However, taking note of years of severe political and democratic backsliding, MEPs recommend once again that the EU accession negotiations with Turkey be formally suspended, and expect current EU-Turkey relations to be redefined in terms of an effective partnership.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 12 March

Vote: Wednesday, 13 March

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Press conference: Wednesday, 13 March with Rapporteur, Kati Piri, 11.00 to 11.30

Draft resolution on the 2018 Commission Report on Turkey
Press release on the committee vote (20.02.2019)
Profile of rapporteur Kati Piri (S&D, NL)
Procedure file
EP Research briefing: Future EU-Turkey relations (October 2018)
EP Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material
 

Clean air: calls for better enforcement of EU standards

MEPs are to set out ways to cut air pollution, in a resolution to be adopted on Tuesday.

Improving air quality requires action at all levels of governance, says the draft resolution. Cutting air pollution and reducing CO2 emissions from the transport sector are twin challenges in urban areas, while ammonia emissions and methane cause air pollution in rural areas. 

Background

In May 2018, the European Commission referred France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the UK to the European Court of Justice for failing to cut air pollution. In total, there are 13 infringement cases pending against member states (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom).

Relevant authorities in member states must engage in new 'Clean Air Dialogues', by bringing together EU countries, regions and cities, and by using EU funding to support measures to improve air quality, according to the European Commission Communication.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday 13 March

Vote:  Thursday 14 March

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Procedure file
EP research: Air quality and urban traffic in the EU: best practices and possible solutions
 

Food supply chain: new rules to clamp down on unfair trading

The draft EU law to protect farmers against unfair trading practices, by buyers, will be debated in plenary on Monday, and voted on Tuesday.

New rules, provisionally agreed with EU ministers in December, seek to introduce a better balance in the food supply chain. They blacklist certain practices, such as late payments for delivered products, late unilateral cancellations or retroactive order changes, refusal by the buyer to sign a written contract with a supplier and the misuse of confidential information.

Other practices, such as returning unsold products to a supplier without paying for them, forcing suppliers to pay for the advertising of products, or imposing discount costs onto the supplier, would also be outlawed unless pre-agreed in the supply agreement.

More information about the draft regulation is available here.

Background

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for measures to tackle unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain, since 2010, after adopting the resolution on fairer revenues for farmers and better functionality of the supply chain.

According to Commission estimates, agriculture and food processing SMEs in the EU lose some €2.5 - €8 billion per year (1% - 2% of their turnover) due to UTPs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 11 March 

Vote: Tuesday, 12 March

Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision), 1st reading agreement

Press conference: Tuesday, 12 March at 15h00

Press release on the committee vote (23.01.2019)
Profile of rapporteur Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT)
Procedure file
EP Research on unfair trading practices
Study: Unfair Trading Practices in the Business-to-Business Food Supply Chain
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Security and borders: enhanced information sharing on non-EU nationals

A brand new EU information system and the upgrade of another will ensure information on border control and law enforcement is shared more efficiently and quickly.

MEPs will discuss on Monday and vote on Tuesday on a new centralised database on third-country nationals (ECRIS-TCN) to improve the tracking of non-EU nationals’ criminal records throughout the EU.

The database will complement the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), which is used to exchange information on EU citizens’ previous convictions. Parliament and Council negotiators already reached a preliminary deal on the topic in December.

MEPs will also vote on the reform of the Visa Information System (VIS) to better respond to evolving security and migratory challenges by improving functionality and enhancing screening of third-country nationals, including those with long-stay or so-called golden visas.

The Parliament will adopt its position on the reform of the Visa Information System in a vote on Wednesday, following a debate on Tuesday.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: ECRIS-TCN: Monday 11 March; VIS: Tuesday, 12 March

Vote: ECRIS-TCN: Tuesday 12 March, VIS; Wednesday, 13 March

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure

Draft report establishing ECRIS-TCN system (Regulation)
Draft report on the exchange of information on third country nationals and as regards ECRIS (Directive)
Draft report on the revision of the VIS Regulation
ECRIS rapporteur Daniel Dalton (ECR, UK)
VIS reform rapporteur Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT)
Procedure file: ECRIS-TCN regulation
Procedure file: ECRIS-TCN directive
Procedure file: VIS reform
EPRS: European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs (May 2017)
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Improving the European Citizens’ Initiative strengthens participatory democracy

The European Citizens’ Initiative is set to become more accessible, inclusive and easier to use.

In order to foster democratic debate and participation, MEPs will discuss measures (agreed with the Council since mid-December) to improve the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), on Monday. The new rules will be tabled for approval on Tuesday.

The new mechanism will make it easier for European citizens to get information and support to make their voices heard in the European institutions. It will allow citizens to set up, run and manage initiatives online, and support an initiative (regardless of their place of residence in the EU).

Background

ECIs were introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, in April 2012.If one million citizens, from at least one quarter of EU member states, produce a signed petition, they can urge the European Commission to take action.

Approximately nine million Europeans from all 28 member states have supported an ECI to date. Four initiatives have been successful in collecting over one million signatures, and the Commission has committed to follow-up actions, on three of those.

Additionnal information

Debate: Monday, 11 March

Vote: Tuesday, 12 March

Procedure file
Committee on Constitutional Affairs
Profile of rapporteur György Schöpflin (EPP, HU)
 

Non-performing loans: new measures to cover losses

MEPs are set to introduce EU rules for standard minimum coverage of bad loans, on Thursday.

Measures to mitigate the risk of future, non-performing loans (NPLs) accumulating due to the recessions brought about by the 2008 financial crisis are to be approved by the Parliament. They will help strengthen the Banking Union and ensure competition in the banking sector, as well as preserving financial stability and encouraging lending to businesses.

NPLs are loans that are either more than 90 days past due, or are unlikely to be fully repaid. To complement the existing rules relating to own-funds, Parliament will vote to introduce a common minimum loss coverage. Each bank will have to set an amount of money aside, to cover losses caused by future loans that could become non-performing. Where NPLs are not sufficiently covered, a deduction from banks' own funds will be required.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 13 March

Vote:  Thursday, 14 March

Procedure: Co-decision (1st reading with agreement)

Draft resolution
Procedure file
Profile of the rapporteur Esther de Lange (EPP, NL)
Profile of the rapporteur Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT)
EP Research: Fostering secondary markets for non-performing loans (NPLs) and easing collateral recovery
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Votes on candidates to financial supervisory watchdogs amid gender balance row

Plenary will vote on the appointment of candidates to the EU’s financial watchdogs on Thursday, amid concerns from MEPs that women are woefully under-represented.

The three votes will give Parliament’s opinion on the suitability of Philip Lane, José Manuel Campa, and Sebastiano Laviola for the posts of Executive Board member of the European Central Bank, head of the European Banking Authority, and Single Resolution Board member respectively. A separate resolution will also be voted on at the same time, decrying the poor gender balance in EU economic and monetary affairs' nominations.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Thursday, 14 March

Procedure:  Consultation

Press release on committee vote (26.02.2019)
Profile of rapporteur : Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT)
Procedure file
Appointment of a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank
Appointment of the Chairperson of the European Banking Authority
 

MEPs to debate new EU sanctions for human rights perpetrators

Inspired by the US Magnitsky Act, the scheme would impose asset freezes and visa bans, to punish individual culprits of human rights atrocities.

The proposal of an EU Human Rights Sanctions Regime is currently being considered by EU member states in the Council.

Similar legislative frameworks are already in place in the US, Canada, and several EU countries, with the purpose of sanctioning individuals responsible for human rights violations all over the world.

President Barack Obama signed the US Magnitsky Act in December 2012 to target the Russian officials deemed responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison, in 2009.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Tuesday, 12 March

Vote: Thursday, 14 March

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Procedure file
EP Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material
 

Goods and services must be easier to use for disabled and elderly persons

Key products and services, like smartphones, ATMs, ticketing machines and banking services, will have to be made more accessible to people with disabilities.

The European Accessibility Act, to be voted on by Parliament on Wednesday, was provisionally agreed with Council last November. It aims to improve the daily lives of disabled and elderly persons and to encourage businesses to innovate and provide more accessible products and services.

The “built environment” where the service is provided (infrastructure such as ramps, doors, staircases, etc) should also become continuously and progressively more accessible, EU lawmakers said, encouraging member states to align their diverging requirements as much as possible.

All goods and services complying with the accessibility requirements will be able to circulate freely on the internal market.

Around 80 million people in the EU live with a disability to some degree, a number that is expected to increase due to an ageing population.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Wednesday, 13 March

Procedure: Co-decision, 1st reading agreement

Text of the provisional agreement
Press release after the final trilogue (08.11.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE, DK)
EP Research briefing
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights, democracy and rule of law topics on Thursday morning 14 March, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Human rights situation in Kazakhstan
  • Situation of human rights in GuatemalaIran, notably the case of human rights defender

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Specialist: Viktor

Debate: Thursday, 14 March

Vote: Thursday, 14 March

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

Free photos, video and audio material