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EP Plenary Session News: 15-18 April 2013

What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary session in Strasbourg?

Click here to see draft agenda

Banking reform: votes on bonus caps, capital and loans

Parliament will cap bankers' bonuses, step up bank capital requirements and make it easier for banks to lend to small firms in banking reform package to be voted on Tuesday.

This EU reform package, the most comprehensive to be voted to date, aims to stabilise and strengthen banking, so as to make it more resistant to any future crisis. The reform would also require banks to disclose profits made, taxes paid and subsidies received country by country.

Bankers' bonuses

To curb speculative risk-taking and encourage banks to lend to the real economy, the bankers' basic salary-to-bonus ratio should be cut to 1:1 or a maximum of 1:2 with the approval of a large majority of shareholders.

Capital requirements

According to the informal deal with Council, EU banks would have to set aside at least 8% of capital (e.g. cash, bonds, shares or loans), more than half of which must be of the highest quality.

Furthermore, systemically-important EU banks would have to constitute an additional capital buffer of 1% to 3% to enable them to cope better with crises and refund depositors and creditors.

Lending to the real economy

To spur growth and job creation, MEPs will vote to reduce the capital requirements for banks lending to small and medium-sized, in order to stimulate loans to the real economy.

Additional information

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement

Debate:  Tuesday, 17 April

Vote: Tuesday, 17 April

Workshop for the journalists after the vote: Tuesday, 16 April 16.15-18.30, Room  PFL 03.101, the meeting will be recorded

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Emer Costello (Labour-Dublin), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)


Finland's Prime Minister Katainen to debate EU's future with MEPs

On Tuesday 16 April, Finland's Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen will visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He will debate the European Union's future with political group leaders, starting at 10.30.

Mr Katainen's visit follows an invitation from EP President Martin Schulz. Messrs Katainen and Schulz will hold a press conference after the debate (tbc).

Additional information

Procedure:  Statement with following debate

Debate:  Tuesday 16 April 2013

Press conference 16.04.2013 (tbc)

 IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Sean Kelly (Fine Gael-South)


Cyprus: MEPs to seek further clarifications on financial assistance programme

MEPs will quiz the Commission and the Irish Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton on Wednesday on how the recent programme of financial assistance to Cyprus was handled. They are set to seek clarification of the actual amount of the total rescue package and Cyprus' own contributions. 

Additional information

 Procedure: Council and Commission statements followed by debate

Debate:  Wednesday, 17 April

 Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist Party - Dublin)


Formal sitting with Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Ireland's President Michael D. Higgins will deliver a formal address to Members on Wednesday at noon. Ireland holds the EU Council's rotating presidency until the end of June this year.

Additional information

Procedure: Formal sitting

Debate:  Wednesday, 17 April

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Nessa Childers (Labour-East), Paul Murphy (Socialist Party-Dublin)


MEPs discuss changes to Hungarian Constitution with Prime Minister Orbán

Parliament will debate the constitutional situation in Hungary with the Council and Commission on Wednesday. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is expected to come to Strasbourg to defend the recent adoption of a set of amendments to Hungary's basic law by the Hungarian Parliament. The EP's civil liberties committee is checking whether these changes respect EU law.

The constitutional changes passed by the Hungarian Parliament on 11 March affect areas such as the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, the independence of the judiciary, the recognition of religious groups and the legal status of homeless people.

The civil liberties committee is examining the fundamental rights situation in Hungary, as requested by the plenary in February 2012. MEP Rui Tavares (Greens/EFA, PT), is drafting a resolution for the committee assessing the legislative changes in Hungary and their compatibility with fundamental rights and values enshrined in the European treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights 

Additional information

Procedure:  Council and Commission statements followed by debate

Debate:  Wednesday, 17 April

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Sean Kelly (Fine Gael-South)


ECB crisis management to be discussed with Mario Draghi

MEPs will debate the European Central Bank's past and future activities with its President Mario Draghi on Tuesday at 15.00. Cheap ECB loans to banks must be conditional, to ensure that they lend the funds on to the real economy and the ECB itself must be made more transparent and accountable, says a draft resolution to be voted on Wednesday.

The draft resolution looks at the ever-more pervasive role that the ECB has acquired as a result of the Eurozone crisis. It suggests that the ECB should have a duty to do more to foster growth and job creation, as their stagnation is a key cause of unsustainable public accounts (para 33). 

It also calls on the ECB to be made much more accountable to democratically- elected institutions, especially when acting within the troika (para 39) (the ECB, IMF and Commission group active in countries receiving a bailout).

Additional information

 Procedure: Own initiative procedure

Debate:  Tuesday, 16 April

Vote:  Wednesday 17 April

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Nessa Childers (Labour-East), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin), Paul Murphy (Socialist Party-Dublin), Emer Costello (Labour-Dublin)


Airports: EP to decide on further liberalisation of ground handling services

The EP will have its final say on Tuesday on proposals to open up airside services at major EU airports to more competition. The transport committee voted narrowly in favour of further liberalising ground handling services and inserted minimum quality standards, as well as measures to safeguard working conditions. The full House will vote without debate.

If adopted, the new rules will raise the minimum number of firms competing to provide services such as maintenance, refuelling or baggage handling, from two to three at airports handling more than 15 million passengers and/or 200.000 tons of freight per year. According to 2011 figures, 21 airports in the EU service more than 15 million passengers annually, including London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol, Madrid Barajas, Munich, Roma-Fiumicino, Barcelona, London Gatwick, Paris Orly, Palma de Mallorca, Vienna, Düsseldorf, Milano, Stockholm, Manchester, Brussels, Dublin, London Stansted, Berlin Tegel, followed closely by Helsinki, Lisbon and Athens. (pick airports relevant for your country)

Additional information

 IM-Press topic: Transport

Procedure Code: 2011/0397

Specialist: Michaela, Jaan

Debate:  Tuesday, 11 December  2012

Vote:  Tuesday, 16 April

Procedure:  Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading

Press conference: Rapporteur Artur Zasada (EPP, PL), after the vote

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Emer Costello (Labour-Dublin)


ETS: should a "polluter's permit" cost more?

A proposed freeze on auctions of CO2 emission quotas, envisaged to revive the very low price of "polluter's permits" in the EU, will be put to a vote on Tuesday. The proposal aims to restore the incentive effect of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) and to "green" industry. MEPs will also examine an agreement with the Council to temporarily exclude intercontinental flights from the ETS.

The proposed freeze on credits, nicknamed "backloading", is controversial in Parliament, but was backed by the Environment Committee, which considered the substance, although it was opposed by the Industry Committee (consulted for opinion).

S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA and GUE-NGL group MEPs back the proposal and the text drafted by Matthias Groote (S&D, DE), arguing that raising the price of carbon will catalyse the EU's transition to a green economy by stimulating investment and innovation. A higher price could also help to connect the EU carbon market with those of other regions.

The EPP, ECR and EFD groups oppose the plan. Some of them call for a deeper reform of the ETS as a prelude to overhauling member states' subsidies for fossil fuel energies. Some believe that a rise in the carbon price would erode the competitiveness of European industry and be passed on in household energy bills.

ETS exemption for intercontinental flights

The second report, prepared by Peter Liese (EPP, DE), includes an agreement with the Council temporarily to suspend the ETS for intercontinental flights, so as to facilitate progress towards a global agreement within the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Background info for colleagues

 The ETS, a carbon market created in 2005, set an overall emissions ceiling which is gradually being reduced over the long term. By 2020, emissions from industry sectors covered by the ETS will be 21% lower than in 2005

Beneath this ceiling, companies receive or buy credits auctioned by member states. One credit corresponds to one tonne of CO2 emissions. Companies may also sell on unused credits. Limiting the supply of credits ensures that they have value, so the scheme rewards companies that invest to limit emissions.  

Additional information

IM-Press topic: ENVI

Procedure Code: ***I         2012/0202(COD)

Specialist: Baptiste

Debate:  Monday, 15 April

Vote:  Tuesday, 16 April

Procedure:  Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading (ETS)

Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement (ETS aviation)

Press conference: Tue, Tbc

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist Party-Dublin), Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East), Nessa Childers (Labour-East)


How to calculate the population of an EU member state

A new legislative proposal laying down common rules for compiling population statistics in the EU will be voted on Thursday. The data gathered will be used inter alia to calculate qualified majority voting rights in the Council and entitlements to some EU funding.

The new rules would require EU member states to supply the Commission with data on the "usually resident" population, i.e. people who have been living, or plan to live, in a member state of residence for at least twelve months.

In the Employment and Social Affairs Committee vote, rapporteur Csaba Sógor (EPP, RO) opposed the approved text on the grounds that it would penalise EU countries with high emigration rates.

Additional information

 IM-Press topic: Social policy


edure Code: 2011/0440 (COD)

Specialist: Nora

Vote:  Thursday, 18 April

Procedure: Codecision, (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading


Assessing the first year of the European Citizens' Initiative

Since April 2012, EU citizens can take part in shaping EU policy through the European citizens' initiative. MEPs will assess with the Commission on Thursday the experiences and problems encountered in the first year of this new tool, which allows one million citizens from at least seven EU countries to ask the Commission to propose new laws.

The right to water, environmental protection, waste management, media pluralism, an EU-wide speed limit of 30 km/h for urban areas, a minimum income and the end of animal experiments are some of the issues raised in the initiatives presented in this first year. The citizens' initiatives have to fall within the EU's sphere of competence.

Additional information

IM-Press topic: Citizens' rights

Procedure Code Citizens' initiative: 2010/0074(COD)

Specialist: Natalia

Debate: Thursday, 18 April 2013

Procedure:  Commission statement followed by debate

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East), Paul Murphy (Socialist Party-Dublin)


Enlargement: Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Turkey in the spotlight

MEPs are expected to back further EU enlargement but insist that the progress of each specific candidate or potential candidate must be taken into account when they discuss the 2012 reports on Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey and the integration process of Kosovo on Wednesday. Separate resolutions on each country, prepared by the foreign affairs Committee, will be voted on Thursday.


MEPs are set to stress that accession talks with Serbia should start before June 2013, provided the reform course set by the government is sustained, namely in the area of the judiciary, combating corruption, ensuring media freedom and protecting all minorities.


The foreign affairs committee says Kosovo needs to make rapid reforms in the rule of law, protection of minorities, administrative capacities and trade to allow for the launch of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which defines rights and obligations pending EU membership.


Solid progress towards EU membership and the role Montenegro plays in buttressing regional stability will be highlighted by MEPs. They will however note that more needs to be done to protect media freedom, women's rights and gender equality.


Maintaining constructive relations between the EU and Turkey needs renewed mutual engagement, the foreign affairs committee said in March. MEPs called for negotiations to be opened on the judiciary, fundamental rights and home affairs and praised current talks that might help settle the Kurdish issue.

Additional information

 IM-Press topic: Enlargement

Procedure Code: 2012/2868(RSP) - Serbia; 2012/2867(RSP) - Kosovo; 2012/2860(RSP) - Montenegro; 2012/2870(RSP) - Turkey; 2012/2863(RSP) -

Specialist: Václav Lebeda

Debate:  Wednesday, 17 April

Vote:  Thursday, 18 April

Procedure:  Council and Commission statements followed by debate (with resolutions)

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin)


MEPs to say Croatia is ready to join the EU in July

MEPs will call on Wednesday on the last two member states that still have to approve Croatia's accession to do so without delay. They will stress in the resolution to be voted on Thursday, the last one to be voted before Croatia is due to join the EU on 1 July, that it is ready to become the EU's 28th member state. 12 Croatian MEPs are to be elected on 14 July.

Denmark and Germany still have to complete the ratification process. Croatia cannot join the EU until all the member states have ratified its accession treaty.

Additional information

IM-Press topic: Enlargement

Procedure Code: 2012/2871(RSP)

Specialist: Václav Lebeda

Debate:  Wednesday, 17 April

Vote:  Thursday, 18 April

Procedure:  Council and Commission statement followed by debate with resolution


ACP/EU: reservations on Cotonou, deadline for ending EU market access

Parliament is set to vote its consent to the revision of the Cotonou Agreement, albeit with strong reservations, on Thursday. MEPs will also vote on a compromise deadline for withdrawing EU market access from African countries that have failed to ratify EU economic partnership agreements.

MEPs are likely to urge that remaining unsatisfactory clauses, and particularly the human rights one which fails to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, should be revised with a view to including them in the next revision.

MEPs will also vote on a proposal to postpone the deadline for withdrawing EU market access from Botswana, Namibia, Cameroon, Fiji, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Swaziland, due to their failure to ratify the necessary economic partnership agreements (EPAs). Despite this failure, these countries have had duty-and-quota-free access to EU markets since 2007.

According to the compromise proposal, to be voted on Wednesday, this deadline should be postponed to 1 October 2014.

Additional information

IM-Press topic:

Procedure Code: 2011/0207(NLE) - Cotonou, 2011/0260(COD) - Market access

Specialist: Raluca/Agnese

Debate:  Wednesday, April 17

Vote:  Wednesday, April 17

Procedure:  NLE - Non-legislative enactments  

Rapporteur on Cotonou file Michael Cashman (S&D, UK)

Rapporteur on Market Access regulation David Martin (S&D, UK)

Legislative Observatory file - Cotonou agreeement

Legislative Observatory file - Market access regulation

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)


Parliament to approve first discard ban in the EU

MEPs are set to vote on Tuesday to oblige fishing vessels active in the Skagerrak (between the North Sea and the Baltic) to land all caught fish in order to halt "discards" - the wasteful practice of throwing fish back into the sea, usually because they are the wrong species or size. The ban, to take effect gradually from 2014, would be enforced with a remote electronic monitoring system using CCTV.

In addition, on Thursday, MEPs intend to raise the question of unsustainable mackerel fishing in the North East Atlantic with the European Commission. Iceland and the Faroe Islands have unilaterally and significantly increased their share of mackerel, causing large economic losses to EU fishermen. Fisheries MEPs will therefore urge the Commission to implement trade sanctions on the basis of a mandate adopted last year.

Additional information

 IM-Press topic: Fisheries

Procedure Code: 2012/0232(COD)

Specialist: Armin

Vote:  Tuesday, 18 April

Procedure:  Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading


EU Globalisation Fund: aid to workers in Italy and Austria

Roughly €13 million of European aid will be used to help find new jobs for 2,500 workers in Italy and Austria who lost their jobs due to company closures if the Parliament votes to approve the funding on Tuesday.

In Italy, 1,517 former workers at household appliance maker Antonio Merloni and 856 at IT company Agile will receive aid worth €5 million and 3.9 million respectively. In Austria 270 former workers at Austria Tabak will get support worth €3.6 million.

Additional information

 Procedure Code: Merloni - 2013/2032(BUD), Agile - 2013/2049(BUD), Austria Tabak - 2013/2048(BUD)

Specialist: Ron/Eszter

Vote: Tuesday, 16 April

Procedure: Budget


Budget discharge: EP to conclude on environmental agency books, police academy move

The Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency risks failing its accounts test when Parliament votes on the approval of the 2011 budgets of European institutions and agencies. The Budgetary Control Committee wants the House to postpone granting discharge to the EU Council of Ministers too and also advocates merging the European Police College and EUROPOL. Rapporteurs will hold a press conference after the vote on Wednesday.

 Additional information

 IM-Press topic: Budgetary Control

Specialist: Eszter

Debate:  Tuesday, 16 April

Vote: Wednesday, 17 April

Procedure: Budget discharge

Press conference: 14:00 on Wed, 17 April, in LOW N-1/201 (briefing room) with committee chair Michael Theurer (ALDE, DE), Jens Geier (S&D, DE) and Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL).

IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)


MEPs to vote on short-stay EU visas for Ukrainians and Moldovans

Ukrainian and Moldovan journalists, civil society representatives, NGOs and young people would find it easier to get short-stay visas for trips to the EU thanks to visa deals to be voted on Thursday respectively.

The amended visa facilitation agreements with Ukraine and Moldova would make it easier for a wider range of applicants, e.g. civil society representatives, journalists and their technical crews, and young people going to conferences, to get short-stay visas for trips to the EU.

 Additional information

 IM-Press topic: Visa policy

Procedure Codes: 2012/0138 - 2012/0140

Specialist: Isabel Nadkarni

Vote: Thursday, 18 April

Procedure:  Consent


Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following topics relating to human rights and democracy, in the morning on Thursday 18 April at 3pm, with the votes following at around 4pm.

  • Vietnam, in particular freedom of expression
  • Human rights situation in Kazakhstan
  • Guantánamo: hunger strike  by  prisoners

Additional information

Scribo topic: Human rights

Specialist: Raluca

Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions

Debate/vote: Thursday, 18 April

IRISH MEPS ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin)


Other Topics

3. Listing

- Regional state aid, QO Tue

 IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)


- European Network and Information Security agency (INI, Chichester), debate Mon, vote Tue

- Equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services (INI, Gurmai), debate Mon, vote Tue

 IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Emer Costello (Labour-Dublin)


 - Trade and investment for growth in developing countries (INI Svensson, INI Saifa), debate Mon, vote Tue

 IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE:Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin), Sean Kelly (Fine Gael-South)


 - Impact of the financial and economic crisis on human rights (INI, Vaidere), vote Thu

 - Estimates EP budget 2014 (Hohlmeier), debate Tue, vote Tue (?)

 IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East)


 - Financial assistance for member states whose currency is not the Euro (Consent procedure; Hübner), debate Tue, vote Wed

 IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)


- Common system of VAT on vouchers (CNS; Gall-Pelcz), vote Wed

IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)


- Amendments to the Hague Convention 2007 on international recovery of child support and family maintenance (Lopez-Isturiz White), vote Thu

- Amendment of EC-Ukraine Agreement on facilitation of visa, vote Wed

- Ship recycling (vote on mandate, Schlyter), vote Thu

 IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East)


- EU-Mauritius Fisheries Agreement (Sanchez Presedo), vote Tue

IRISH MEPs ON THIS ISSUE: Sean Kelly (Fine Gael-South), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin), Emer Costello (Labour-Dublin)

 - Incidental catches of cetaceans (Romeo), vote Tue



For further information, please contact Catherine Bunyan, Press Officer on 086 8559423 or at or contact the Irish MEPs' Press Officers directly.

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