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EP Plenary Newsletter 25- 28 March 2019

25-03-2019

What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include; BREXIT; Copyright and regional development

 

The provisional deal reached in February on copyright rules for the internet will be put to the House on Tuesday.

Hammered out by negotiators of the European Parliament and the member states over three years, the provisional deal aims to ensure that the rights and obligations of copyright law also apply to the internet. It therefore empowers creatives and news publishers when negotiating licensing agreements with internet platforms such as YouTube and news aggregators such as Google News or Facebook. Numerous safeguards attempt to ensure that the internet also remains a space characterised by freedom of expression.

The deal also aims to make it easier for copyrighted material to be used for research carried out through text and data mining, thereby removing an important competitive disadvantage that European researchers currently face. It stipulates that copyright restrictions will not apply to content used for teaching or illustration.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday 26 March
Vote: Tuesday 26 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure
Press conference: Tuesday, 26 March, 15.00

Press release on deal reached after the trilogue (13.02.2019)
Profile of rapporteur: Axel Voss (EPP, DE)
Procedure file
Questions and Answers on issues about the digital copyright directive after 13 February deal
Repository of information products by the European Parliament on the copyright directive
European Commission Questions & Answers on the 13 February deal
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue are: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)

 

Parliament to debate Brexit and other EU summit priorities

MEPs will discuss the outcome of the 21-22 March EU spring summit, including Brexit, with European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday morning.

EU leaders are meeting on 21-22 March in Brussels for their spring summit, to discuss - in EU 27 format - Brexit developments. Other key topics on the agenda - for all EU 28 leaders - include the strengthening of the EU’s economic base; climate change; the upcoming summit with China; and ways to tackle disinformation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: Council and Commission statements (without resolution)

Annotated draft agenda, European Council 21-22 March 2019
Free photos, video and audio material

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

 

Parliament to greenlight ban on disposable plastics

MEPs are set to endorse the ban on single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws and cotton buds sticks from 2021, in a vote on Thursday.

The law, informally agreed with EU ministers, also sets a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 and by 2025, 25% of plastic bottles should be made of recycled material, increasing to 30% by 2030 (
Additionally, it strengthens the polluter pays principle, in particular for tobacco, by introducing an extended producer responsibility (EPR), and an EPR regime for fishing gear to ensure that manufacturers, and not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost in the sea.

Background

According to the European Commission, more than 80% of marine litter is plastics. The products covered by the legislation constitute 70% of all marine litter items. Due to its slow rate of decomposition, plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and on beaches in the EU and worldwide. Plastic residue is found in marine species – such as sea turtles, seals, whales and birds, but also in fish and shellfish, and is therefore present in the human food chain.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday 27 March
Vote: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, first reading agreement

 

Provisional agreement with Council on single-use plastics
Press release on committee vote (22.01.2019)
Profile of rapporteur frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE)
Procedure file
EP research: Single-use plastics and fishing gear: Reducing marine litter
Plastics in a circular economy: Opportunities and challenges
Free photos, video and audio material

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

 

Parliament to vote on curbing CO2 emissions from cars

Plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and vans by 2030, already informally agreed with EU ministers, will be put to a vote on Wednesday.

MEPs and Council had agreed on a higher target (37,5%) than the European Commission proposed (30%) to reduce EU emissions for new cars by 2030. The legislation also sets a CO2 reduction target for new vans of 31% by 2030.

Social impact of a low-carbon transition

Manufacturers whose average emissions exceed the limits will have to pay an excess emissions premium. By 2023, the European Commission will have to evaluate whether these amounts should be used to fund a fair transition towards zero-emission mobility, and to support developing workers’ skills in the automotive sector.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 26 March
Vote: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure, first reading agreement

 

Provisional agreement with Council
Press release on committee vote (22.01.2019)
Profile of rapporteur Miriam Dalli (S&D, MT)
Procedure file
EP Research - CO2 standards for new cars and vans
Study - Post 2020 CO2 emission targets for cars and vans: the right level of ambition?
Free photos, video and audio material

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

 

Parliament to vote on ending switch between summer and winter time  

On Tuesday, MEPs will vote on the proposal to end the practice of adjusting clocks by an hour in spring and autumn from 2021.

EU countries that decide to permanently keep their summer time should adjust clocks for the last time on the last Sunday in March 2021, says the draft Parliament position. Countries that prefer to keep their standard (winter) time, could change the clocks for the last time on the last Sunday in October 2021.

MEPs also want EU countries to coordinate with each other to ensure that the functioning of the single market is not hampered.

Background

Responding to citizens’ initiatives, in February 2018, Parliament called on the Commission to assess the summer-time arrangements directive and, if necessary, present a proposal for the directive to be revised.

Following the assessment, which received 4.6 million responses, of which 84% were in favour of ending the clock changes, the Commission tabled the proposal, which will now need to be agreed upon between the Parliament and EU ministers.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 25 March
Vote: Tuesday, 26 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, first reading

 

Draft report on discontinuing seasonal changes of time
Press release on committee vote (04.03.2019)
Rapporteur Marita Ulvskog (S&D, SE)
Procedure file
EP Research (November 2018) Discontinuing seasonal changes of time
Free photos, video and audio material

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

 

Parliament to make EU electricity market cleaner and more consumer-friendly

New rules to create an unhindered European market for electricity and to make it cleaner, more competitive and risk-prepared will be put to a vote on Tuesday.

MEPs are expected to adopt four laws related to the EU electricity market on Tuesday and hereby conclude the Clean Energy for All Europeans package.

One of the main objectives of the new rules is to tackle barriers to cross-border trade of electricity, making it easier to trade renewable energy across EU borders and hence support efforts to reach the EU’s binding goal of 32 % renewables by 2030.

The most polluting coal power plants in Europe will no longer receive state aid to be on stand-by in case there is a demand peak for electricity e.g. during unusually cold winters.

Smart meters, dynamic pricing and changing providers

In addition, the new laws strive to make the EU’s electricity market more competitive and consumer-oriented by giving them access to smart meters, dynamic pricing and the option to switch provider at no cost within a maximum period of three weeks (and 24 hours by 2026).

Finally, to better protect EU citizens against sudden electricity supply shortages, the sector will be better prepared to handle risks and more tasks and power will be given to ACER, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators to better regulate the EU electricity market.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 25 March
Vote: Tuesday, 26 March
Procedure: COD - Ordinary legislative procedure

 

Press release after votes in the Industry Committee
Provisional agreement on the Internal market for electricity. Recast (Regulation)
Procedure file
EP Research Briefing: Internal market for electricity (Regulation)
Procedure file: Common rules for the internal market in electricity. Recast (Directive)
Provisional agreement on Common rules for the internal market in electricity. Recast (Directive)
EP Reserach Briefing: Common rules for the internal electricity market (Directive)
Provisional agreement on Risk-preparedness in the electricity sector
Procedure file: Risk-preparedness in the electricity sector
EP Research Briefing: Risk-preparedness in the electricity sector
Provisional agreement on the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)
Procedure file: European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)
EP Research Briefing: European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)
Profile of rapporteur Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL)
Profile of rapporteur Flavio Zanonato (S&D, IT)
Profile of rapporteur Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE, DK)
Free photos, video and audio material

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

 

Parliament to vote on root and branch reforms to fight financial and tax crimes

In the wake of recent multi-billion Euro scandals, on Tuesday plenary is set to adopt a detailed roadmap revamping taxation and tackling financial crimes.

The 70-page report, resulting from the year-long work of the special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance, calls for thoroughly improving cooperation in all tax and finance-related areas between the national authorities, new legislation, and setting up new bodies at EU and global level, such as an EU financial police force and an EU anti-money laundering watchdog.

The report also flags up seven EU countries - Belgium, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and The Netherlands - as potentially acting like tax havens and calls for an end to golden visa schemes.

Background

The special committee was established in March 2018, following continued revelations over the last five years (Luxleaks, the Panama Papers, Football leaks and the Paradise papers). It held 18 hearings dealing with particular topics of interest, 10 exchange of views with finance ministers and European Commissioners, and four fact-finding missions – to the US, the Isle of Man, Denmark and Estonia, and Latvia.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 25 March
Vote: Tuesday, 26 March
Procedure: Own initiative
Press conference: Tuesday 26 March, 15.30

Draft report on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance Only currently available in EN here:
Press release on committee vote (27.02.2019)
Profile of co-rapporteurs: Luděk Niedermayer (EPP, CZ)
Jeppe Kofod (S&D, DK)
Procedure file
All documentation related to the work of the special committee
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Parliament to adopt its position on reforming road transport sector

On Wednesday, MEPs will debate and vote to amend rules on posting of drivers, to tackle illegal practices in road haulage sector and amend rules on drivers’ rest time.

The reform proposals aim to improve enforcement of rules in the road transport sector to better tackle illegal practices, such as use of letterbox companies or operating in national markets beyond existing limits. They would also define for which transport operations the rules on posting of workers, such as those on minimum wage, should apply and amend drivers’ rest time.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 27 March
Vote: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, first reading

Draft report on posting of drivers in the road transport sector
Draft report on drivers rest times
Draft report on access to the road haulage market
Mobility package: rapporteurs, procedure files and press releases
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Protecting consumer rights online and offline

New rules to strengthen consumer rights and facilitate cross-border trade in the EU will be debated and put to the vote on Tuesday.

The two directives provisionally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators - on digital content and on the sales of goods - are part of the Digital Single Market strategy, which aims to ensure better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe. The new laws harmonise key contractual rights, such as the remedies available to consumers and the ways to use those remedies.

Digital content directive

Under the first EU-wide “digital content” rules, people who buy or download music, apps, games or use cloud services will be better protected if a trader fails to supply the content or service or provides a defective one. These consumer protection rights will apply in an equal manner to consumers who provide data in exchange for such content or service and to “paying” consumers alike.

Sales of goods directive

The directive on the sales of goods applies to both online and offline (face-to-face) sales, e.g., whether a consumer buys a household appliance, a toy or a computer via the internet or over the counter in a local store. Goods with digital elements (e.g. “smart” fridges, smartphones and TVs or connected watches) are also covered by this directive.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday 26 March
Vote: Tuesday, 26 March
Procedure: Co-decision, 1st reading agreement

Text of the provisional agreement on digital content
Text of the provisional agreement on sales of goods
Press release on digital content
Press release on sales of goods
Profile of the rapporteur from the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on digital content, Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE)
Profile of the rapporteur from the Legal Affairs Committee on digital content, Axel Voss (EPP, DE)
Profile of the rapporteur from the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on sales of goods, Pascal Arimont (EPP, BE)
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Better protection of workers from cancer-causing chemicals

Parliament will vote on Wednesday to limit worker’s exposure to chemicals harmful to health.

The new law, agreed with EU ministers in January, will improve working conditions and health at work, by adding exposure limit values for five chemicals used in a wide range of sectors, such as nickel-cadmium battery manufacture, zinc and copper smelting, laboratories, electronics, funerals and embalming, construction, healthcare (pathology departments and autopsy rooms), plastics and recycling sectors.

Background

The third revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) adds cadmium, beryllium, arsenic acid, formaldehyde and 4,4'-Methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA) to the EU list of harmful substances. According to the European Commission, the new rules will improve working conditions for over 1 million EU workers and prevent over 22 000 cases of work-related illness.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure (final vote)

 

Draft report on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work
Press release on committee vote (29.01.2019)
Profile of rapporteur: Laura Agea (EFDD, IT)
Procedure file
EP Research Service Briefing: Limits on exposure to carcinogens and mutagens at work: Third proposal
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Drinking water: new plans to improve tap water quality and cut plastic litter

MEPs will vote, on Thursday, on plans to improve consumers’ trust in drinking tap water, a more environmentally friendly and cheaper alternative to bottled water.

Raising confidence in the quality of tap water for domestic consumption could help households save money and reduce plastic waste. The legislation tightens the maximum limits for certain pollutants such as lead (to be reduced by half), harmful bacteria, and introduces new caps for certain endocrine disruptors. It also monitors the levels of microplastics.

Member states are also encouraged to take measures to provide universal access to clean water in the EU and improve water access in cities and public places.

Background

With Thursdays’ vote, Parliament will close its first reading, having established its position in last October. However, EU ministers did not reach their own position in time to open negotiations before the end of the legislative term.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday 27 March
Vote: Thursday 28 March
Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure, first reading

Report on the quality of water intended for human consumption.
Press release on plenary vote (23.10.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Michel Dantin (EPP, FR)
Procedure file
Briefing: revision of the Drinking water directive
Free photos, video and audio material

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

 

Boosting green investments in the EU

MEPs will vote on setting out criteria for determining whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable on Thursday.

The aim of the legislation is to gradually develop an EU taxonomy for climate change, environmentally and socially sustainable activities to provide economic actors and investors with clarity on which activities are considered sustainable, thereby allowing them to take decisions that are more informed.

Background

The regulation is part of a package of three measures presented by the European Commission in May 2018 as a follow-up to its EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 
Debate: Thursday, 28 March
Vote: Thursday, 28 March
Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure (1st reading)

Draft report on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment
Press release on committee vote (12.03.2019)
Profile of the co-rapporteur: Bas Eickhout (EFA/Greens, NL)
Profile of the co-rapporteur: Sirpa Pietikainen (EPP, FI)
Procedure file
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Parliament to agree on future regional and cohesion funding

MEPs are set to adopt on Tuesday new funding rules aiming to strengthen the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion.

The updated rules, which will apply from 2021 to 2027 to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF), will cover all regions, with special focus on less developed communities, urban areas and outermost regions.

MEPs are expected to agree on spending a significant part of the ERDF, which is by far the largest public EU fund, on smart growth and the green economy. The draft text stipulates that regions should spend at least 30% to 50% of the funding received on a smart, innovative Europe, and at least 30% on the fight against climate change and for the circular economy. The Cohesion Fund should continue to focus on investment in environmental and transport infrastructure

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 26 March
Vote: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, first reading

Draft resolution
Press release on the committee vote (14.02.2019)
Procedure file
Rapporteur profile: Andrea Cozzolino (S&D, IT)
Committee on Regional Development
What Europe does for me?
Free photos, video and audio material

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

 

External action: more funds for human rights, development and climate change

EU external action funding should support development, climate and environmental goals, and promote democracy, rule of law and human rights.

On Wednesday, Parliament is set to adopt its position on the proposed Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).

The new financial instrument would, once agreed by both Parliament and EU ministers, be used to distribute a large part of EU external action funding, with a proposed budget of € 93.154 billion in current prices for the 2021-2027 period, an increase of almost EUR 4 billion compared to the EU Commission’s proposal.

Once in force, it will be the EU’s main tool to foster cooperation with non-EU countries in the neighbourhood and beyond, and to implement its international commitments deriving from the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 26 March
Vote: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure

Press release on the committee vote (04.03.2019)
Procedure file
Study: The European Parliament and the new external financing instruments (November 2018)
Profile of co-rapporteur Frank Engel (EPP, LU)
Profile of co-rapporteur Cristian Dan Preda (EPP, RO)
Profile of co-rapporteur Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT)
Profile of co-rapporteur Charles Goerens (ALDE, LU)
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Tougher requirements to get funding for countries wishing to join the EU

EU funding to countries that are aspiring to join the European Union must be distributed on a ‘fair share’ basis and suspended in cases of rule of law breaches.

The European Parliament is set to adopt its position on the third Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III) on Wednesday. EU pre-accession funds help countries aspiring to join the EU to reform their political, economic and legal systems, in order to prepare them for possible EU membership.

MEPs in Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee have proposed to allocate 14.66 billion euros in current prices to the new instrument’s fund (2021-2027).

Background

The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) is an EU programme for countries wishing to join the EU that was established for the 2007 to 2013 programming period, that replaced several former pre-accession assistance programmes.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 26 March
Vote: Wednesday, 27 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure

 

Press release on the committee vote (04.02.2019)
Procedure file
Profile of co-rapporteur José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (EPP, ES)
Profile of co-rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE)
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Vote on new Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027

On Thursday, MEPs will vote to triple the 2021-2017 Erasmus+ funds, allowing more people to take part and adapting the grants to the needs of participants.

The Parliament focuses on people with fewer opportunities, proposing a detailed set of measures to lift all economic, social, cultural barriers and allow more people to take part in different learning mobility schemes. These measures could include: adapting the level of funding to the needs of participants, regularly reviewing and adjusting living and subsistence costs, as well as simplifying the application procedure.

MEPs also propose that pre-school and early education staff, young athletes and sport coaches could be offered the possibility to participate in mobility schemes (not possible under the current programme).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday, 28 March
Vote: Thursday, 28 March
Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure

Draft resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing ‘Erasmus’
Press release on committee vote (20.02.2019)
Profile of rapporteur Milan ZVER (EPP, SI)
Procedure file
Audiovisual material on Erasmus
 

MEPs to debate situation in Algeria and Crimea

On Tuesday, Parliament will discuss recent political protests in Algeria, as well as the situation in Crimea five years after the Russian illegal occupation.

This week saw thousands of protesters take to the streets in Algeria once again, calling on the country’s president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down. The demonstrations, while also being a call for more democracy, originally started earlier this year because of Mr Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth term, despite his declining health.

MEPs will also debate the current situation in Crimea. Five years after Russia’s annexation of the peninsula in 2014, no political solution to the diplomatic crisis is currently in the pipeline.

The illegal occupation of Crimea and Moscow’s deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine are also the main reasons behind current EU sanctions on Russia.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 26 March
Procedure: Statement by the Commission VP/HR

EP Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material
 

MEPs to debate shortcomings in the rule of law in Malta and Slovakia

Plenary will debate the situation of rule of law in the EU, particularly in Malta and Slovakia, on Monday.

The draft conclusions of the working group set up within the Civil Liberties Committee to monitor rule of law in the EU state that democracy is at risk in Malta and Slovakia. They also denounce the efforts of some EU member states to weaken the rule of law, the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. The text underlines the “chilling effect on journalists” across the EU following the assassinations of Ms Caruana Galizia, Mr Kuciak and Ms Kušnírová.

A resolution will be put to the vote during the next part session.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 25 March

Procedure: Oral question to the Commission and the Council, with resolution

Mission report following the joint ad-hoc Delegation to Malta (30 November - 1 December 2017)
Report on the ad hoc delegation to Slovakia (7-9 March 2018
Mission report following the ad-hoc delegation to Slovakia and Malta (17-20 September 2018)
Multimedia material
 

Emergency situation in Venezuela: vote in plenary

Parliament will adopt a resolution on the emergency situation in Venezuela, on Thursday.

MEPs will assess the latest events in the political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is going through, including the electricity blackout that plunged the country into darkness for several days.

This will be the second plenary resolution on Venezuela this year, after the one passed on 31 January, in which the EP recognised Juan Guaidó as interim President and called on the EU to follow suit.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Debate: Tuesday, 12 March
Vote: Thursday, 28 March
Procedure: Statement by the High Representative, followed by a non-legislative resolution

 

Free photos, video and audio material