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EP Plenary Session- Brussels Newsletter - 24-25 February 2016


On the agenda at the plenary this week:
-EU-UK reform deal up for a debate with Tusk and Juncker
-Better matching job seekers and vacancies across Europe
-Cigarettes: do EU anti-smuggling deals with tobacco firms work?
-Share information to fight pet trafficking
-Parliament's economic, social and single market priorities for 2016
-Votes on EU help for Tunisia: more duty-free olive oil imports, free trade deal


EU-UK reform deal up for a debate with Tusk and Juncker

MEPs will comment upon and react to the changes conceded by EU leaders to the UK, subject to the UK’s continued EU membership, and their consequences for the EU as a whole in a debate with Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday at 15.00.

The debate on the conclusions of the 18-19 February EU summit of will also cover other agenda items, in particular recent developments in Syria and member states' controversial responses to the ongoing migration and refugee crisis as well as progress in implementing common action on it agreed by EU leaders in December.


Debate: Wednesday, 24 February

#UKinEU #EUCO #migration #UKRef #refugeecrisis

Further information
European Council conclusions 18-19 February
EuroparlTV interview with President Schulz on UK deal

Better matching job seekers and vacancies across Europe

A draft law to revamp the European Employment Services (EURES) network with an EU-wide database of job seekers and vacancies will be debated on Wednesday and put to a vote on Thursday. The aim is to help fight unemployment by better matching labour market supply and demand. Updated rules, already agreed with the Council, will also give more say to “social partners” (employers and trade unions) and pay more attention to cross-border regions and young people.

The smarter new EURES portal should automatically match CVs with suitable job offers. Also, all vacancies published by public job offices in member states will be available EU-wide on the web portal.

Automated matching of vacancies and applications will have to be free of charge for workers; there should be no discrimination based on their nationality as regards employment, pay and other working conditions; and access for persons with disabilities will have to be ensured.

Parliament’s negotiators, led by Heinz K. Becker (EPP, AT) managed to broaden the network by offering member status also to private organisations if they provide support services to both workers and employers and inserted amendments to boost cross-border labour markets.

Draft report on regulation on a European network of Employment Services, workers' access to mobility services and the further integration of labour markets
Profile of rapporteur Heinz K. Becker (EPP, AT)
Procedure file
EP Research briefing: Enhancing workers mobility and reinvigorating EURES
EP Research briefing: Reform of the European Network of Employment Services (EURES)

Cigarettes: do EU anti-smuggling deals with tobacco firms work?

MEPs want to know whether EU deals with the four largest tobacco firms to clamp down on cigarette counterfeiting and smuggling have achieved their aims, before the one with Philip Morris International (PMI), which expires in July 2016, is renewed. On Thursday morning they will quiz the Commission on its assessment, due last December, of who benefits most from these deals.

Under these deals the four firms together agreed to pay the EU and its member states a total of $2.15 billion to drop legal proceedings against them to recover duties lost to illegal trade in cigarettes. They also agreed actively to combat smuggling and counterfeit of tobacco products.

Before the EU renews PMI’s 12-year deal, which expires in July 2016, MEPs expect the Commission to present the overdue assessment of its faults and merits. They also want clear statistical evidence that the agreements actually work to reduce smuggling of the brands concerned and to be informed of the progress of negotiations.

Given that 90% of the revenue from these deals goes to member states and 10% to the EU budget as own resources, MEPs also want to know how the future payments would be shared.

Procedure:Oral questions  to Commission (with resolution)


Debate: Thursday, 25 February

Vote: March plenary (7-10 March)


EP Research: Tobacco agreements: Fighting illicit tobacco trade
European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF on tobacco smuggling
Agreement with Philip Morris International (PMI) (2004)
Agreement with Japan Tobacco (2007)
Agreement with British American Tobacco (BAT) (2010)
Agreement with Imperial Tobacco Limited (ITL) (2010)

Share information to fight pet trafficking

The case for EU-wide data sharing on the registration of cats and dogs will be put to a vote on Thursday, amid growing concern about the massive scale of illegal trade in pets that are often badly bred and at risk of spreading diseases. Pet trafficking is increasingly linked to organised crime, and is now estimated to be the third most profitable type of illegal trade within the EU, after narcotics and weapons. It also poses a public health risk, say MEPs.

Separate motions for resolutions have been tabled by the EPP and ECR (jointly), S&D, ALDE, GUE/NGL and EFDD political groups. The issue was debated at the 1-4 February plenary session.


The draft Animal Health law, informally agreed by MEPs and EU ministers in June last year and likely to be voted by the Parliament at the second reading during the 7-10 March plenary session, empowers European Commission to ask member states to establish national databases of pets, if needed to ensure effective disease prevention and their traceability across the EU. The law would also require all professional pet keepers and sellers to be registered.

Procedure: non-legislative resolution


Debate: Thursday, 4 February

Vote: Thursday, 25 February

#pets #animalwelfare #animalhealth #petregistration

Draft resolutions on the introduction of compatible systems for the registration of pet animals across Member States
Watch the plenary debate via VOD (04.02.2016)
Procedure file

Parliament's economic, social and single market priorities for 2016

The EU's economic, social and single market priorities for 2016 will be the focus of a debate with the Commission on the European Semester for economic policy coordination on Wednesday. MEPs are expected to comment on the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact, its social aspects and how to further exploit the economic potential of the single market. Three separate resolutions will be voted on Thursday.

Flexibility for investment and structural reforms

The resolution by Maria João Rodrigues (S&D, PT), voted in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on 18 February, stresses that the Stability and Growth Pact should be implemented in full but that its room for flexibility should be used for investment and structural reforms and to deal with refugee and security challenges. MEPs also advocate a shift away from labour taxation, better national follow-up of country-specific recommendations, more domestic investments in countries with high current account surpluses and action against aggressive corporate tax planning.

Social fairness

A resolution prepared by Sofia Ribeiro (EPP, PT) and voted by the Employment Committee on 17 February, stresses the importance of recently included employment indicators in the Annual Growth Survey so as to monitor also social developments in member states. MEPs want an EU-wide definition of social fairness, to which the employment and social policies should adhere, in particular when applying structural reforms which hit vulnerable groups hardest. Finally, they argue that national governments should gradually shift taxes from labour to other taxable sources.

Single market integration and SMEs

In a resolution prepared by Catherine Stihler (S&D, UK) and voted by the Internal Market Committee on 25 January, MEPs reiterate a call to include a single market pillar in the European Semester, with a system for regular monitoring, identification of the country-specific barriers to the single market, and an evaluation of its integration and competitiveness. The focus should be on growth and jobs,, including SMEs, it adds.

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

Report in ECON: 2015/2285(INI)

Report in EMPL: 2015/2330(INI)

Report in IMCO: 2015/2256(INI)

Debate: Wednesday, 24 February  

Vote: Thursday, 25 February


Profile of rapporteur Maria João Rodrigues (S&D, PT) - ECON resolution
Procedure file European Semester for economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2016
Press release after vote in ECON :
Profile of rapporteur Sofia Ribeiro (EPP, PT) - EMPL resolution
Procedure file Employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2016
Profile of rapporteur Catherine Stihler (S&D, UK) - IMCO resolution
Procedure file Single Market governance within the European Semester 2016
Press release after vote in IMCO (25.01.2016)
EP Research: European Semester 'Revamping' and 2016 priorities
European Semester: Main Steps at the EU Level
Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Opinions on the 2016 Draft Budgetary Plans: February 2016

Votes on EU help for Tunisia: more duty-free olive oil imports, free trade deal

To help strengthen Tunisia’s economy, hard hit by terrorist attacks in 2015, MEPs are to debate Wednesday and vote Thursday on a proposed EU emergency plan to import an extra 70,000 tonnes of duty-free Tunisian olive by the end of 2017.

Concerns voiced by the EU’s own olive oil-producing regions led MEPs to provide for a mid-term “corrective measures”, should the balance of the EU market be disturbed, amongst other safeguard measures, still subject to a vote.

In a separate resolution, MEPs are to voice their views on the recent opening of free trade talks with Tunisia and call for an agreement which would “contribute to the stability of Tunisia, to the consolidation of its democracy and to the reinvigoration of its economy”.

Both votes will take place on Thursday, following a debate with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on Wednesday.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), first reading; Commission statement followed by debate (with resolution)

2015/2791(RSP);- Opening of negotiations for an EU-Tunisia Free Trade Agreement

2015/0218(COD) - Emergency autonomous trade measures for Tunisia

Debate: Wednesday, 24 February

Vote: Thursday, 25 February

#Tunisia #oliveoil

Draft report on the introduction of emergency autonomous trade measures for the Republic of Tunisia
Draft resolution on opening of negotiations for an EU-Tunisia Free Trade Agreement
Press release on committee vote (25-01-2016)
Profile of rapporteur Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE, FR)
Procedure file
Press release by the EU Commission: European Union offers Tunisia increase of olive oil exports

MEPs to call for a ceasefire in Yemen, to allow in humanitarian aid

Yemen’s warring parties should abide by a ceasefire deal, to allow life-saving aid to reach the Yemeni people, says a draft resolution to be voted on Thursday. Yemen’s humanitarian, security and political crisis, and the serious allegations that schools there being targeted by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, have prompted some MEPs to suggest that the EU should impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia.

Humanitarian organisations estimate that 21 million Yemeni people (82% of the total population) need humanitarian assistance, and 14 million are suffering from food insecurity or need health care.

Since early in 2015, forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour al-Hadi, have been fighting Shia rebels known as Houthis. In March, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia responded to a call for help from Mr Hadi by launching air strikes on Houthi targets. The coalition comprises five Gulf Arab states, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and is backed by the USA and the UK.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution


Debate: Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Vote: Thursday, 25 February

#yemen #Yemencrisis


Video recording of the debate on Yemen (20.01.2016)
Procedure file

Parliament to welcome the EU Ombudsman's transparency drive

A resolution backing the European Ombudsman's efforts during 2014 to boost transparency within the EU institutions, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks and in lobbying will be debated by Parliament on Thursday morning and voted on later the same day. The European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly will also take part in the plenary discussions.

The draft resolution on the European Ombudsman's annual report for 2014, approved by the Petitions Committee on 28 January 2016, also highlights the European Ombudsman's investigations into the protection of fundamental rights in the EU's cohesion policy and “revolving door” concerns that if former senior EU officials take private sector jobs in their fields of expertise too soon after leaving their posts, this may result in conflicts of interest.

The text also advocates increasing the Ombudsman's office's annual budget.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution


Debate: Thursday, 25 February

Vote: Thursday, 25 February


Draft resolution on the annual report on the activities of the European ombudsman in 2014
Press release on the committee vote (28.01.2106)
Procedure file
Profile of rapporteur Soledad Cabezón Ruiz (S&D, ES)
The European Ombudsman's web site

Vote on €1m in EU job-search aid for redundant glass workers in Belgium

Belgium should get €1,095,544 in EU aid to help 412 workers made redundant by two glass manufacturers to find new jobs, if MEPs back the aid in a plenary vote on Thursday. A further 100 young unemployed people should also benefit from the plan. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid also needs to be endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers.

Altogether 412 employees were made redundant by the closure of two glass production plants in Wallonia, owned by AGC Europe SA (144 workers) and Saint-Gobain Glass Benelux (268).

These two plants were located in the Hainaut and Namur regions of Belgium respectively. Belgium has also decided to include 100 young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in the plans. The total estimated number of beneficiaries is therefore 512.

Procedure: Budgetary


Vote: Thursday, 25 February

#NamurGlass #EGF

Draft report on EGF aid for Belgium
Press release on committee vote (18-02-2016)
Profile of rapporteur Tomáš Zdechovský (EPP, CZ)
Procedure file

Vote on ending EU citizens' bank secrecy in San Marino

Parliament will state its view on an agreement with San Marino, which will make it harder for EU citizens to hide capital from the tax man, in a resolution to be voted on Thursday. Under the agreement, the EU and San Marino will automatically exchange information on the financial accounts of each other’s residents, starting in 2017.

The European Union and San Marino signed an agreement on 8 December 2015 to clamp down on tax fraud and tax evasion. The information to be exchanged concerns not only income, such as interest and dividends, but also account balances and proceeds from the sale of financial assets.

Procedure: consultation


Vote: Thursday, 25 February

#TaxTransparency #taxation

Profile of rapporteur Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (ALDE, NL)
Procedure file

Free trade talks with Australia and New Zealand

MEPs plan to back the idea that the EU should start free trade talks with Australia and New Zealand, but are set to urge that EU farmers must be protected, in a vote on a non-legislative resolution on Thursday.

In the draft text MEPs insist that free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand need to be “high-quality”, to bring real benefits, and call on the Commission to study the possible gains and losses from trade enhancement with the two countries.

They stress that the agricultural sector is a sensitive one and ask that the final text take account of the interests of EU meat, dairy, sugar, cereal and textile producers, among others .


The plan to start free trade talks with Australia and New Zealand was announced in the latest EU trade strategy paper, published by the EU Commission at the end of 2015.

It is the EU Council of Ministers which will give the Commission a mandate to start the talks. An impact assessment and public consultation on the subject are about to start.


Vote: Thursday, 25 February

#Australia #NewZealand #FTA

Draft resolution on the opening of FTA negotiations with Australia and New Zealand
EU Commission “inception’ impact assessment on EU-Australia and the EU-New Zealand free trade agreements
Procedure file
Co-rapporteur Bernd Lange (S&D, DE)
Co-rapporteur Daniel Caspary (EPP, DE)

Other topics on the agenda

Other topics for debate and votes include the following:

  • Preparation for the UN General Assembly special session on drugs, debate Wednesday (statement by Council and Commission)
  • European Central Bank annual report 2014, Marias (INI), vote Thursday, debate 01.02.2016
Procedure file on preparation of the UN General Assembly special session on drugs
Procedure file on ECB 2014 annual report

Further Information

Draft agenda
Follow the plenary live
Press conferences and other events
EP Audiovisual website
EP Newshub