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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 1-4 October 2018

EP Plenary
EP Plenary

What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include; free flow of non-personal data in the EU, simplifying VAT, reducing CO2 emissions from private vehicles.


Free flow of non-personal data: MEPs to vote on EU’s fifth freedom

Barriers to the free movement of non-personal data handled by firms and public authorities will be banned within the EU, under new rules to be voted on Thursday.

The new legislation, already provisionally agreed with the Council, will prohibit national rules requiring that data be stored or processed in a specific member state.

“Non-personal” data includes, for example, aggregate and anonymized datasets used for big data analytics, data on precision farming that can help to monitor and optimize the use of pesticides and water, or data on maintenance needs for industrial machines.

The new regulation aims to pave the way for artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data analysis.

The only grounds allowed for restricting where non-personal data may be located will be public security. Any remaining data localisation requirements will have to be published online, to ensure compliance and transparency.


The free flow of non-personal data regulation complements the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which provides for the free movement and portability of personal data within the EU. Together they will create a framework for a common European data space. Data is thus becoming the fifth freedom in the single market, after persons, goods, services and capital.


Procedure Code: 2017/0228(COD)

Debate: Wednesday, 3 October

Vote: Thursday, 4 October

Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), 1st reading agreement

Draft compromise text on the regulation on the free flow of non-personal data in the EU
Press release on committee vote (12.07.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, SE)
Procedure file
EP Research briefing
Free photos, video and audio material

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


MEPs want cleaner cars on EU roads by 2030

A new law to be put to the vote on Wednesday advocates cutting carbon dioxide emissions from new cars and boosting the market share of zero - and low- emission vehicles.

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee proposes setting a higher, 45% target for reducing EU fleet-wide emissions for new cars by 2030, (compared to the EU Commission’s proposed target of 30%; year of reference 2020) with an intermediate target of 20% by 2025. The law also sets similar targets for new vans.           

Carmakers would also have to ensure that zero- and low- emission vehicles - emitting less than 50g of CO2 per kilometre -  have a 40% market share of sales of new cars and vans by 2030, and 20% by 2025.


Transport is the only major sector in the EU where greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, says the text. In order to meet the commitments made at COP21 in 2015, the decarbonisation of the entire transport sector needs to speed up, on the path towards zero emissions by mid-century.

At the same time, the global automotive sector is changing rapidly, in particular in electrified powertrains. If European carmakers engage late in the necessary energy transition, they risk losing their leading role, says the report.


Procedure Code: 2017/0293(COD)

Debate:  Tuesday 2 October

Vote:  Wednesday 3 October

Draft report on emission performance standards for new passenger cars and for new light commercial vehicles
Press release on committee vote (11.09.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Miriam Dalli (S&D, MT)
Procedure file
EP research: CO2 standards for new cars and vans
Free photos, video and audio material

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


Updating rules on audiovisual media services

MEPs will vote on updated rules on audiovisual media services, ensuring better protection for children and a 30% quota of European works in online platforms’ catalogues.

The revised legislation will apply to broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to live streaming on video-sharing platforms.

The new rules, designed to protect children, now oblige online platforms to take action against flaggedcontent which incites violence, hatred and terrorism, and are stricter  on advertising and product placement in children’s programmes.

New rules on advertising

New general rules on advertising are also defined. Advertising can only account for a maximum of 20% of the daily broadcasting period between 6.00 and 18.00, with a prime-time window between 18:00 and 0:00.


Procedure Code: 2016/0151(COD)

Vote:  Tuesday 2 October

Press conference: Wednesday, 3 October from 10.00 to 10.30

Consolidated text as agreed with the Council (June 2018)
CULT Committee endorses the agreement on new audiovisual media rules (11.07.2018)
Profile of rapporteurs: Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE)
Petra Kammerevert (S&D, DE)
Procedure file and related documents
EP Research – Briefing
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-Northwest)


MEPs to debate priorities for 18-19 October EU summit

MEPs will discuss, on Tuesday morning, their priorities for the 18-19 October meeting of EU heads of state or government in Brussels, which is set to focus on Brexit,.

With little more than six months to go before Brexit, formally scheduled to take place on 29 March 2019, EU heads of state or government will meet to discuss (in an EU27 format) the state of play of the negotiations over the terms of the UK’s withdrawal agreement.

For more Information

Procedure Code: 2018/2771(RSP)

Debate: Tuesday, 2 October

Preliminary agenda of the European Council 18-19 October 2018
Free photos, video and audio material
European Parliament resolutions on Brexit

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-Northwest)


Rule of law in Romania: independence of the judiciary up for debate in plenary

MEPs will discuss on Wednesday the latest judicial reforms in Romania and their impact on the separation of powers, in the presence of Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă.

A resolution will be put to a vote in plenary in November.I.

The European Parliament already discussed the rule of law in Romania last February, following massive street protests after the Romanian Parliament approved an overhaul of how the judicial system is organised and changes to rules about conflicts of interest. The criminal code and the criminal procedure code have also been modified, but these changes are currently being reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

Demonstrators took to the streets again last month to protest over corruption and changes to the judiciary. Several people were injured in clashes with riot police.

The European Commission warned in January about the effect that these amendments might have on the independence of Romania's judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption effectively. Prior to the plenary debate, Frans Timmermans, first Vice-President of the Commission, will be in the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday 1 October to discuss the situation in the country with MEPs.


Debate: Wednesday, 3 October 

Vote: November I

2017 Progress report of Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (15.11.2017)
Free photos, video and audio material

Jüri Ratas to debate future of Europe with MEPs

Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas will debate the future of Europe with MEPs and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning at 10.00.

Jüri Ratas has been Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia since November 2016. He is also the chairman of the Estonian Centre Party.

Mr Ratas will be the tenth EU head of state or government to address the House and debate with MEPs about the future of Europe, following on from:

The President of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, will debate the future of Europe with MEPs at the October II plenary session in Strasbourg.

EP President Antonio Tajani and  Prime Minister  Ratas will give a joint press point on Wednesday at 12.30 in front of the protocol room .

For More Information

Procedure Code: 2018/2731(RSP)

Debate: Wednesday 3 October, at 10:00

Biography of the Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas
Debates on the Future of Europe in the European parliament
Free photos, video and audio material

Quicker freezing and confiscation of criminal assets to fight organised crime

MEPs will debate on Wednesday and vote on Thursday on new rules to speed up the freezing and confiscation of criminal assets across the EU.

The new rules, already informally agreed between Parliament and Council negotiators in June, will make it quicker and simpler for EU member states to ask each other to freeze criminal assets or confiscate criminal property.

Depriving criminals of their assets is an important tool for fighting organised crime and terrorism. However, currently only an estimated 1.1% of criminal profits are confiscated in the EU. The new measures, including tighter deadlines for authorities and standard documents for all EU countries, aim to cut off the sources of financing for criminals and terrorists across the EU by speeding up freezing and confiscation of their criminally-acquired assets.

For More Information:

Procedure Code: 2016/0412(COD)

Debate: Wednesday, 3 October

Vote: Thursday, 4 October

Draft resolution on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders
Profile of rapporteur: Nathalie Griesbeck (FR, ALDE)
Procedure file
Europol report: Does crime still pay? (2016)
Free photos, video and audio material

Netherlands: MEPs to back €1.2m in job-search aid for 450 redundant workers

Following the dismissal of 1,324 workers in 20 banks in three Dutch regions, the most disadvantaged among them should receive EU aid worth €1,192,500 to help find new jobs.

The redundancies in the financial services sector occurred because of the economic and financial crisis, causing many regional branch offices to close. The beneficiaries of the aid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) are not the banks, but the 450 most disadvantaged workers from the regions of Friesland, Drenthe and Overijssel.

The majority of the workers who lost their jobs are women (59%) with a low or average education level, such as administrative personnel and receptionists. 27% of the redundant workers are over 55 years old, says the draft report by MEP Ivana Maletić (EPP, HR).

EGF funds can be used to cover measures such as job-search and outplacement assistance, training and entrepreneurship support.


Procedure Code: 2018/2220(BUD)

Debate:  No debate

Vote:  Tuesday, 2 October

Procedure file
Free photos, video and audio material

No improvement in respect for EU values: MEPs to cut support for Turkey by €70m

MEPs will vote on Tuesday to cancel €70 million in pre-accession funds earmarked for Turkey, as conditions to improve the rule of law were not met.

Last November, Parliament and Council decided to place in reserve €70 million in pre-accession funds for Turkey (€70m in commitment appropriations and €35m in payment appropriations), under the condition that “Turkey makes measurable, sufficient improvements in the fields of rule of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom, according to the annual report of the Commission.”

The Commission, however, in its annual report on Turkey, published on 17 April 2018, did not find evidence of any such improvements. The conditions were thus not met and MEPs are set to support the draft amending budget 5/2018, in which the Commission proposes transferring the funds earmarked for Turkey to strengthen programmes dealing with migration.


Procedure Code: 2018/2165(BUD)

Debate:  No debate

Vote:  Tuesday, 2 October

Procedure file
Free photos, video and audio material

Montenegro’s President Milo Đukanović to address European Parliament

The President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović, will address MEPs in a formal sitting in Strasbourg on Tuesday at 11:30.

Progress made during Montenegro’s EU accession talks, security cooperation and election meddling and intervention by foreign powers are likely to be among the topics addressed by Mr Đukanović during his first official visit to the European Parliament.

Montenegrin authorities have accused Russia of attempting to orchestrate a coup on 16 October 2016 (the day of the parliamentary election) against Mr Đukanović, when he was still Prime Minister, with the help of pro-Russian sympathisers. This was allegedly done in order to prevent the country from joining NATO.

Nevertheless, Montenegro became the 29th member of the military alliance on 5 June 2017. EU accession negotiations with the country began in June 2012.

A press point by EP President Tajani and President Đukanović  is scheduled for 12.00 in front of the protocol room.


Debate: Tuesday, 2 October

European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Montenegro
Free photos, video and audio material: EU enlargement - Western Balkans
Free photos, video and audio material

MEPs to debate US decision to stop funding for Palestinian refugees

The Trump administration’s move to cease all US funding of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will be debated by MEPs, Council and EU Commission on Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement was made by the US State Department in August and sparked widespread Palestinian outrage, since around 5 million Palestinian refugees rely on the UN programme to sponsor health care schemes, schools, infrastructure and social services.

The current US administration has described the work of the UNRWA as an “irredeemably flawed operation” and also criticised other countries for not sharing the burden of supporting the Palestinian community enough.

MEPs are also set to discuss how the European Union should react to the US announcement. The EU and its member states are together UNRWA’s largest donor, contributing with 441 million euros in 2017.


Debate: Tuesday, 2 October

Procedure:  Statement by the European Commission

European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on the situation of UNRWA
Palestine refugees: Parliament urges US to reconsider decision to withhold Unrwa funding
Free photos, video and audio material

Yemen: Parliament to review EU’s role in peace efforts

MEPs will debate the latest developments in Yemen, which is facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, on Tuesday and vote on a resolution on Thursday.

More than three years of conflict between the forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government and Houthi rebels have devastated the country, leaving 22 million Yemeni people (80% of the total population) in dire need of humanitarian assistance or protection. The country is also suffering from the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded in modern history, with over one million suspected cases reported in 2017 and over 2 200 related deaths.

The war in Yemen is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran, backing Houthi rebels, and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, leading the Western-backed alliance of Arab states trying to restore the internationally-recognised government.

Throughout the civil war in Yemen, the European Parliament has called on all actors to de-escalate the conflict and to engage in UN-led peace talks and strive for political solutions. MEPs also called on EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to launch an initiative to impose an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, given the serious allegations that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is breaching international humanitarian law in Yemen.


Procedure Code: 2018/2856 (RSP)

Debate: Tuesday, 2 October

Vote: Thursday, 4 October 

EP resolution on situation in Yemen (30.11.2017)
Yemen and the EU
Procedure file

MEPs to quiz Commission and Council on loss of voting rights ahead of EU elections

MEPs are set to quiz the Commission and Council on Tuesday on protecting the rights of EU nationals living in another member state in national and European elections.

In view of the upcoming European elections in May 2019, MEPs will ask the Commission and Council if they intend to propose measures to safeguard the right of all EU citizens to choose to vote either in their member state of origin or in their host member state. The Parliament will ask the Commission if it considers limiting or depriving citizens of their right to vote a violation of the right to free movement under EU law.

Currently, six member states (Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom), under different conditions, deprive their nationals living abroad of voting rights in national parliamentary elections. Nationals of some member states may not be able to vote for Members of the European Parliament elected in their member state of origin. In some EU countries (e.g. Spain and Portugal), there are insufficient or no facilities to vote from abroad, which is an obstacle to the exercise of the right to vote.

Nationals of some member states may not be able to vote for Members of the European Parliament elected in their member state of origin.


Procedure Code: O-000069/2018 / O-000070/2018

Debate:  Tuesday 2 October

Procedure:  Oral question to the Commission and Council

Oral question to the Commission, Cecilia Wikström, on behalf of the Committee on Petitions
Oral question to the Council, Cecilia Wikström, on behalf of the Committee on Petitions
EPRS briefing: Disenfranchisement of EU citizens resident abroad - Situation in national and European elections in EU member states
Free photos, video and audio material

MEPs set to request more funds for cities and regions dealing with migration

Local and regional authorities tend to be tasked with receiving and integrating migrants and refugees, but they often lack the necessary support and funding.

Pointing to the humanitarian crisis taking place in the Mediterranean, MEPs are likely to call on the EU and the member states to increase direct funding for cities and regions, by granting them direct access to budget lines under the Multiannual Financial Framework.


Debate: Wednesday, 3 October 

Oral question to the Commission
Oral question to the Council
Free audiovisual material

Plans to boost the joint assessment of medicines

A draft law to be voted on Wednesday aims to avoid duplicating national assessments to determine a medicine’s added value and help EU countries decide on pricing.

Health professionals, patients and institutions need to know whether or not a new medicine or medical device is an improvement compared to other products on the market. Health technology assessments (HTA) therefore aim to identify their added value and to help EU countries decide on pricing and reimbursement. HTAs are, however, under the exclusive competence of member states, leading to an unnecessary duplication of assessments.

The new law aims to boost cooperation between member states in the field of HTA, by laying out the procedure to carry out voluntary joint assessments. Provisions cover aspects such as rules for sharing data, setting up coordination groups, avoiding conflicts of interest among experts, and publishing the results of the joint work.


MEPs highlight that there are many barriers to accessing medicine and innovative technologies in the EU, the main ones being the lack of new treatments for certain diseases and the high price of medicines, which in many cases do not have an added therapeutic value.


Procedure Code: 2018/0018(COD)  

Debate:  Monday, 1 October

Vote:  Wednesday, 3 October

Draft report on health technology assessment
Press release on committee vote (13.09.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Soledad Cabezon Ruiz (S&D, ES)
Procedure file

MEPs to hear from Mario Draghi on money laundering risks in EU banks

With numerous prominent cases of money laundering by EU banks making the headlines in recent months, ECB president Mario Draghi will update the chamber on Wednesday.

MEPs will seek to obtain a better understanding of what measures should be put in place to tackle the proliferation of such cases.


Debate:  Wednesday, 3 October

Free photos, video and audio material

MEPs to back VAT overhaul to simplify system and cut fraud

MEPs will vote on Wednesday to broadly back the Commission’s proposed reform of the VAT system, while proposing adjustments to set a maximum VAT rate.

The two pieces of legislation on the table are part of the wide-ranging package of measures proposed by the European Commission to reform the VAT system and improve cross-border clarity. One aims to facilitate trade for SMEs within the single market and reduce VAT fraud, while the other deals with setting up a clearer system of VAT rates.

Every year, EU countries lose up to €50 billion to cross-border Value Added Tax fraud.

MEPs are expected to back the broad drive put forward by the Commission, while proposing to establish a maximum VAT rate of 25%, dispute resolution mechanisms, and an information portal through which to quickly obtain accurate information on VAT rates in other member states.


Procedure Code: 2017/0251(CNS) and 2018/0005(CNS)

Debate:  Tuesday, 2 October

Vote:  Wednesday, 3 October

Draft report on a proposal amending Directive 2006/112/EC as regards VAT rates.
Draft report on a proposal amending Directive 2006/112/EC as regards harmonising and simplifying certain rules in the VAT system and introducing the definitive system for the taxation of trade between Member States
Press release on committee vote (04.09.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Tibor Szanyi (S&D, HU), (VAT rates)
Procedure files Definitive VAT regime
VAT rates
Commission valuations on income lost due to VAT fraud
European Parliament research serices briefing on VAT reforms
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin)


EU’s judicial cooperation arm, Eurojust, to become more effective with new rules

Updated rules to clarify the role of Eurojust and improve its effectiveness will be discussed in plenary session on Wednesday and voted on Thursday.

Eurojust, the EU’s judicial cooperation unit, facilitates cross-border investigations and prosecutions of serious crimes in the EU. The changes in the Agency’s structure, field of action and operation, including a new governance model, will enhance Eurojust's efficiency in tackling cross-border crime.

The updated rules, already agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in June, also take into account the establishment of the European public prosecutor's office (EPPO) as well as the new rules on data protection. Furthermore, with the revision of the rules, the European Parliament and national parliaments will in future be more involved in evaluating Eurojust’s activities.


Procedure Code: 2013/0256(COD)

Debate: Wednesday, 3 October

Vote: Thursday, 4 October

Draft report on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust)
Profile of rapporteur: Axel Voss (DE, EPP)
Procedure file
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 4 October, at around 10.00, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97
  • The United Arab Emirates, notably the situation of human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor
  • Mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China


Debate:  Thursday, 4 October

Vote: Thursday, 4 October

Free photos, video and audio material


- Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains:building trust with disintermediation, OQ Commission, Wed

- Humanitarian emergency in the Mediterranean:supporting local and regional authorities, OQs Council, Commission

- Public procurement strategy package, Coelho, debate and vote Thu

- The EU's input on a UN binding instrument on transnational corporations with respect to human rights, OQs, debate Tue

-International Financial Reporting Standards: IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts, Commission statement with resolution, debate Mon, vote Wed

- Fighting customs fraud and protecting EU own resources, Commission statement with resolution, debate Mon, vote Wed

- EU Agenda for Rural, Mountainous and Remote Areas, Commission statement with resolution, debate Mon, vote Wed