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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 13-16 February 2017


What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? CETA; topics on the agenda inlcude combatting terrorism, Emission reductions;EU Reform; Structural & Investment funds; European Semester 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Parliament on Thursday


CETA: Parliament’s final vote on EU-Canada trade agreement

Parliament’s final debate and a vote to approve the landmark EU-Canada free trade deal CETA on Wednesday.  The European Parliament will debate and vote on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on Wednesday. The landmark deal, which aims to boost goods and services trade and investment flows, cannot enter into force without the European Parliament’s approval.

 The CETA would remove tariffs on most goods and services and open up Canada’s public procurement market.

To allay citizens’ concerns that the deal gives too much power to multinational companies, the EU and Canada explicitly confirmed states’ domestic right to regulate.

In response to parliamentary pressure, the controversial investor-state-dispute settlement mechanism was replaced by the Investment Court System so as to ensure government control over the choice of arbitrators and enhance transparency.

 EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement

MEPs are also set to give their consent to the conclusion of an EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). Complementing the CETA, this deal aims to step up EU-Canada bilateral cooperation on a wide range of non-trade issues such as foreign and security policy, counter-terrorism, fighting organised crime, sustainable development, research and culture.


 The CETA negotiations were launched in May 2009 and concluded in September 2014. The EU and Canada signed the agreement on 30 October 2016. In 2015 the EU imported goods from Canada worth €28.3 billion and exported goods to it worth €35.2 billion, a figure that is expected to rise by more than 20% when the agreement is implemented in full.

Debate: Wednesday, 15 February

Vote:  Wednesday, 15 February

Procedure: Consent

Press conference: Wednesday, 15 February 14.00-14.30 with CETA rapporteur Artis Pabriks (EPP, LT), Committee Chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström


Trade Committee MEPs back EU-Canada agreement - press release on committee vote (24.01.2017.)
Full text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
EPRS briefing: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada (January 2017)
Procedure file CETA
“This trade deal is based on best practices on both sides of the Atlantic” Facebook Live interview with rapporteur Artis Pabriks (EPP, LT) on 23 January 2017
Strategic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Canada, of the other part
Procedure file SPA
Audiovisual material for professionals
Questions and answers by the European Commission (April 2016)

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael, (Midlands NorthWest), Luke Flanagan, Independent, (Midlands NorthWest), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands NorthWest), Deidre Clune, Fine Gael (South), Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South), Nessa Childers, Independent, (Dublin), Marian Harkin, Independent, (Midlands North West)


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address Parliament

After CETA vote, official visit by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address MEPs on 16 February in Strasbourg

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver a formal speech to MEPs on the EU-Canada relationship at 11.00 on Thursday 16 February in the Strasbourg chamber. MrTrudeau will be the first Canadian Prime Minister to address the European Parliament.

The visit is scheduled for the day after Parliament has its final say on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

 Mr Trudeau is set to promote Canada’s role as a leader on progressive trade and investment, including by highlighting how the implementation of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will create jobs, bolster our shared prosperity, and help grow the middle class.‎


Procedure:  Formal address

#Canada #CETA @CanadianPM @JustinTrudeau




Audiovisual material for professionals
Website of the Canada Prime Minister

Vote on new anti-terror law to stop foreign fighters and lone wolves

New EU counter-terrorism rules to criminalise preparatory acts of terrorism, in particular foreign fighters and lone wolves

To counter the growing threats from “foreign fighters” travelling to and from conflict zones for terrorist purposes and “lone wolves” planning solo attacks, new EU counter-terrorism rules to be voted on Tuesday will make it a crime to prepare acts of terrorism.

The new rules, informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in November 2016, will criminalise preparatory acts such as travelling abroad to join a terrorist group and returning to the EU, recruiting for terrorism, training or being trained, publicly inciting terrorism or advocating it, whether directly or indirectly through the glorification of such acts, or by providing funds to commit them.

 The law also includes provisions on the protection of victims of terrorism, to ensure that victims and their families receive help immediately in the event of an attack.

 Parliament’s negotiators also ensured that, for the first time, member states will be obliged to exchange information on criminal proceedings if it could be used to prevent future attacks or assist other ongoing investigations or proceedings.

Note to editors

The new directive on combatting terrorism will replace the 2002 Council framework  decision (2002/475/JHA) to keep pace with new developments and emerging threats such as foreign fighters and lone wolves, as well as to ensure that member states comply with international obligations and standards such as UN Security Council Resolution 2178 and the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism.

 Member states will have 18 months to ensure that the new rules can be applied. The UK and Ireland will not be bound by them, but may notify the EU Commission of their intention to opt in, if they so wish.

Vote:  Tuesday, 14 Feb

Procedure:  COD

Press conference: Tuesday at 15.00 with the rapporteur, the Commission and the Maltese Presidency

#Eu #counterterrorism


Press release on committee vote (05.12.2016)
Procedure file:
Draft report on combatting terrorism
EP research briefing on the proposal for the directive on combatting terrorism (July 2016)
European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2016 (Europol report):

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West), Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael, (Midlands North West),


Parliament set to back mandatory checks at EU external borders

All EU citizens and third country nationals entering or leaving the EU are to be checked against databases, e.g. of lost and stolen documents, under a draft regulation to be voted on Thursday. This regulation, already informally agreed with the Council, would also require EU member states to check that passengers do not represent a threat to public policy and internal security.

 The proposed regulation, which would amend the Schengen Borders Code (SBC), was presented by the European Commission in December 2015. It is a response to terrorist threats in Europe, and in particular the phenomenon of “foreign fighters” from the EU seeking to join terror groups such as Daesh in Syria and Iraq.


 Debate: Wednesday, 15 February

Vote: Thursday, 16 February

Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure



Plan to check EU citizens at external borders backed by civil liberties MEPs | Nyheter | Europaparlamentet
Press release on the informal deal with the Council (05.12.2016)
Procedure file
EC Briefing: systematic checks at external borders
EP Briefing: Schengen and the management of EU’s external borders
EU external border checks tightened as security threat deterrent

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


Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen to address European Parliament

Austria’s newly-elected President Alexander Van der Bellen will address MEPs in a formal sitting on Tuesday at noon. This will be his first official trip abroad.

Former Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, 73, ran as a nominally independent candidate and finished second out of six in the first round before winning the second round against Norbert Hofer, a member of the Freedom Party of Austria, on 4 December.

 Mr Van der Bellen was born in Austria to Russian and Estonian parents who were refugees from Stalinism. He was a Professor of economics at the University of Vienna before he entered national politics.

 Formal sitting: Tuesday, 14 February

Procedure: Commission and Council statements


Austrian presidency

Greece: MEPs to debate the state of €86 billion bailout package

MEPs will discuss the state of Greece’s €86 billion bailout, amid pressure for Europe’s largest debtor and its creditors to overcome their differences over Athens’ fiscal and reform plans.

Earlier this week, one party to the bailout, the International Monetary Fund, issued a gloomy assessment of Greece’s economy and its ability to repay its debts, without drastic debt restructuring.  This prompted accusations from Brussels and Athens that the IMF was being “overly pessimistic”.

 The EU institutions are keen to obtain a settlement over the bailout before the Eurogroup meets on 20 February - one of the last gatherings of European finance ministers before elections in the Netherlands, and later in the year, France and Germany.


Debate: Tuesday, 14 February

Procedure:  Commission statement followed by debate


Reforming the EU

To tackle major political challenges ahead, improve the EU’s capacity to act, restore citizens’ trust and make the euro zone economy more resilient to outside shocks, the EU needs first to make full use of the Lisbon Treaty and then possibly reform to enable itself to do even more. This is the key message of three resolutions exploring the future development of the European Union to be voted on Thursday.

 The first resolution, drafted by Mercedes Bresso (S&D, IT) and Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) focuses on making the most of the existing Lisbon Treaty. It points to the advantages of the Union’s working methods over intergovernmental ones and suggests that the European Council (heads of state or government) should stick to its role of defining general political priorities and leave law making to the Council of Ministers and European Parliament.

 The second resolution, by Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE), notes that various crises have demonstrated the current EU’s tendency not to respond effectively and quickly enough. It analyses the possibility of moving further than the current toolbox allows, by undertaking an in-depth reform of the Lisbon Treaty.

 The third resolution, by Reimer Böge (EPP, DE) and Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR) addresses the lack of convergence, political cooperation and policy “ownership” in the euro area. It proposes a convergence strategy to be focused on labour markets, investment, productivity and social cohesion and a specific euro area budget capacity for this purpose financed by its member states.

 All these proposals are part of a package that aims to clarify The European Parliament’s position on the future of the EU, in time for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.


Debate: Tuesday, 14 February

Vote: Tuesday, 14 February ?

Procedure: Non legislative resolutions

#EUbudget #eurozone

Draft report: Possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European
Procedure file: Improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael, (Midlands North West), Luke Flanagan, Independent, (Midlands North West), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West), Nessa Childers, Independent, (Dublin)


Parliament to set out its economic, social and single market priorities for 2017

The EU's economic, social and single market priorities for 2017 will be the focus of a debate with the EU Commission on “European Semester” economic policy coordination on Tuesday.

MEPs are expected to comment on the implementation and social repercussions of the Stability and Growth Pact, and to urge member states to do more to exploit the single market’s economic potential. They are to vote three separate resolutions on these issues on Wednesday.

MEPs will probably welcome the European Commission’s Annual Growth Survey for 2017, which reaffirms the strategy of private and public investment, balanced structural reforms and responsible public finances. They will also urge member states to act on country-specific recommendations, so as to deliver on growth and jobs.

Debate: Tuesday, 14 February

Vote:  Wednesday, 15 February

Procedure:  non-legislative resolutions


ECON resolution: Procedure file European Semester for economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2017
EMPL resolution: Procedure file Employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2017
IMCO resolution: Procedure file Single Market governance within the European Semester 2017
European Semester: Main Steps at the EU Level

Irish MEPs following this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael, (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South)


MEPs to vote on tougher greenhouse gas emission curbs

ETS: MEPs to boost climate protection by strengthening EU greenhouse gas emissions curbs

Plans to strengthen greenhouse gas emission curbs via the EU carbon market (EU Emissions Trading System) will be put to a vote on Tuesday. To raise the price of carbon, MEPs propose reducing the number of “carbon credits” (emission allowances) to be auctioned by 2.4% each year, and doubling the capacity of the 2019 market stability reserve (MSR) to absorb the excess of allowances on the market.

In their amendments, MEPs advocate increasing the so-called “linear reduction factor” - the yearly reduction of credits to be auctioned, in order to deliver on the carbon curbs - by 2.4%, as against the 2.2% proposed by the European Commission.

MEPs also want to boost the MSR’s capacity to mop up excess credits on the market. When triggered, it would absorb up to 24% of excess credits in each auctioning year, for the first four years - double of its current capacity. MEPs also agree that 800 million allowances should be removed from the MSR as of 1 January 2021.

 Debate:  Monday, 13 February

Vote:  Tuesday, 14 February

Procedure:  Ordinary legislative procedure, first reading



Press release on committee vote (15.12.2016)
Procedure file

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

Draft report on the proposal to enhance cost-effective emission reductions and low-carbon investments

MEPs to call for fast-track approval of low-risk pesticides

MEPs call on the Commission to propose draft legislation before the end of 2018 in order to fast-track the registration of low-risk pesticides.

 Low-risk biological pesticides, which could replace those that may harm the environment and human health, cannot yet be as widely used as they should in the EU as arrangements for certifying them are too slow and complex, MEPs will point out on xxx. They will ask the EU Commission to propose a revision of the rules and vote a resolution on xxx.

 In their draft resolution, MEPs note that the use of conventional plant protection products is increasingly contentious, due to the risks that they pose for human health and the environment. However, only seven active substances classified as “low risk” alternatives have been approved for use in the Union.

 They call on the Commission to propose draft legislation before the end of 2018 in order to fast-track the evaluation, authorisation and registration of low-risk pesticides.



Procedure file
EP Research - pesticide legislation in the EU: towards sustainable use of plant protection products
Renewal of the authorisation of the use of the herbicide substance glyphosate (Ask EP, January 2017)
Audiovisual material for professionals

Robots and artificial intelligence: MEPs to call for EU-wide liability rules

MEPs urge the Commission to put forward EU-wide rules for the fast-evolving field of robotics in a draft resolution.

EU-wide rules are needed for the fast-evolving field of robotics, e.g. to enforce ethical standards or establish liability for accidents involving driverless cars, say MEPs. A draft resolution will be debated on Wednesday and put to a vote on Thursday.

 In their draft resolution, MEPs ask the EU Commission to propose rules on robotics and artificial intelligence, in order to fully exploit their economic potential and to guarantee a standard level of safety and security.

MEPs stress that draft legislation is urgently needed to clarify liability issues, especially for self-driving cars. They call for a mandatory insurance scheme and a supplementary fund to ensure that victims of accidents involving driverless cars are fully compensated.

They also ask the Commission to consider creating a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence, to supply public authorities with technical, ethical and regulatory expertise.

Debate: Wednesday, 15 February

Vote:  Thursday, 16 February

Procedure: Legislative resolution



Draft report on Civil Law Rules on Robotics
Press release on committee vote (12.1.2017)
Procedure file
EP Research: European Civil Law Rules in Robotics
EP Research: How will robots change our lives?

MEPs to call for EU-wide protection for whistle-blowers without delay

An “effective and comprehensive European whistle-blower protection programme” to protect the EU’s financial interests should be proposed “immediately” by the EU Commission, MEPs urge in a draft resolution to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday.

 This programme should include whistle-blower protection mechanisms for companies, public bodies and non-profit organisations, says the draft text. MEPs also advocate setting up an independent EU body, with offices in EU member states, to help internal and external whistle-blowers to use “the right channels to disclose their information on possible irregularities” affecting the EU’s financial interests.

Debate:  Monday, 13 February

Vote:  Tuesday, 14 February

Procedure:  Own-initiative procedure

#EUTransparency #lobbying

Draft resolution on the role of whistle-blowers in the protection of EU’s financial interests
Press release on committee vote (09-01-2017)
Procedure file
Press release: “EU must provide legal protection to whistle-blowers, urge MEPs” (Plenary debate, 07-07-2016)

Irish MEPs following this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael, (Dublin) Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West), Nessa Childers, Independent, (Dublin)


Parliament will debate the 2016 reform efforts of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Tuesday. It is likely to stress that credible judicial reform in Albania could prove to be a key to advancing its EU accession process. As for Bosnia and Herzegovina, MEPs are to urge it to overcome ethnic and political divisions in order to succeed in the EU membership application evaluation process.

Albania has been an EU candidate country since June 2014, but it has yet to start EU accession negotiations. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a potential EU candidate country, which submitted an application to join the EU in February 2016. The European Commission is evaluating it now.

The House will vote on the two separate resolutions on Wednesday at noon.


 Debate: Tuesday, 14 February 

Vote: Wednesday, 15 February 

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolutions

#Albania #BiH


Procedure file on Albania
Procedure file on Bosnia and Herzegovina
EU enlargement status (European Commission information)

Situation in the West Bank up for a debate with Ms Mogherini

The Israeli government’s decision to build 3,000 new houses in the West Bank and its so-called "Regulation Bill" - which would retroactively “legalize” several thousand settlements illegally built on Palestinian private land - will be debated with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday afternoon.

The construction of additional 3,000 settlement units in the West Bank is "posing a direct challenge to the prospects of a viable two-state solution", Ms Mogherini commented on the Israeli government announcement on 1 February.

UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of 23 December 2016 urged an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which it said constitute a "flagrant violation" of international law and have "no legal validity".


Debate: Tuesday, 14 February

Procedure: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Statement

#WestBank #Palestine #Israel

#Westbanks #settlements 

Procedure file
Israel and the EU
Statement by the HRVP Federica Mogherini on the most recent announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in the West Bank (01.02.2017)
UN Security council Resolution 2334 (23.12.2016)
Audiovisual material for professionals

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West),


Security situation in eastern Ukraine

The deteriorating security situation in eastern Ukraine, where heavy fighting with pro-Russian rebels recently broke out in the government-controlled town of Avdiivka, will be debated by MEPs with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday afternoon. The full house will vote a resolution on Thursday.

Security and Defence Subcommittee MEPs were given a first-hand briefing on the latest developments by Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, in Brussels on 6 February. She informed them that on 29 January, pro-Russian rebels had violated the ceasefire and attacked the Ukrainian forces in Avdiivka using various types of weapons, including those prohibited by the Minsk agreements, such as Grad multiple rocket launchers.

 In a subcommittee debate MEPs urged Russia to stop testing the West’s reactions and to go on implementing the Minsk agreements.

Debate: Tuesday, 14 February

Vote: Thursday, 16 February

Procedure: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Statement

#Ukraine #Avdiivka

Video of a debate in Subcommittee on security and defence (06.02.2017)
Audiovisual material on EU - Ukraine
Russian probing in eastern Ukraine must stop, say security and defence MEPs (06.02.2017)

Regional policy funds: an investment tool to boost local growth and jobs

MEPs call on the EU Commission to table a plan to cut delays in EU-funded regional development projects, and stress that EU investment that spurs growth and creates jobs is needed now more than ever, in two draft resolutions to be debated on Wednesday and voted on Thursday.

 In a resolution drafted by Iskra Mihaylova (ALDE, BG), MEPs call on the EU Commission to table a “cohesion acceleration plan” to cut delays in EU-funded projects aiming to reduce disparities among EU regions by stimulating growth and job creation.

 EU regional (“cohesion”) policy investment drives development and delivers jobs, notes a resolution drafted by Lambert Van Nistelrooij (EPP, NL), which argues that these projects, as well as those financed by European Structural Investment Funds (ESIFs) should be made more visible.

 Background information

 With a budget of €454 billion for 2014-2020, the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) are the EU's main investment policy tool, accounting for about one-third of EU expenditure. Due to the financial crisis, public investment has declined substantially, leaving ESI Funds and co-financing by the member states as the main public investment tool in most member states. In some, ESI funding makes up 60-80% of total public investment.

Debate:  Wednesday 15 February

Vote:  Thursday 16 September

Procedure: non-legislative resolution, oral question to the Commission with a resolution

#CohesionPolicy #EUfunds



Draft resolution on investing in jobs and growth
Procedure file
Oral question on the delayed implementation of ESI Funds operational programmes
Common Provisions Regulation

Irish MEPs following this issue: Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West)


MEPs to quiz Commission on Germany’s road toll plans

MEPs will ask the EU Commission to explain how its agreement on Germany’s proposed road toll legislation removes discrimination based on nationality, which was its initial concern, in a debate on Thursday afternoon.

A key Commission concern about the draft legislation was that it discriminated against foreign drivers, by allowing German residents to obtain a tax bill reduction corresponding to the exact amount of the toll, say the 43 MEPs putting the question

Following an agreement reached with Germany on 1 December 2016, the Commission has put its infringement procedure on hold, but Germany’s amended proposal would mean that in practice, only foreign drivers would actually pay the toll, the MEPs add.

 Debate:  Thursday, 16 February

Vote: in a future session

Procedure:  question for oral answer to the Commission

#Germany  #EUTransport

Question for oral answer to the Commission: Commission's approval of Germany's revised plan to introduce a road toll
Procedure file

Denmark - Europol: first step towards establishing a cooperation agreement

Parliament is set to recommend that Denmark be added to the list of countries with which Europol can conclude operational cooperation agreements. This is the first step towards setting up a cooperation agreement between Denmark and Europol so as to minimise the negative impact of Denmark’s departure from Europol on 1 May 2017 and avoid creating gaps in the joint fight against serious crime and terrorism.

Vote:  Tuesday, 14 February

Procedure:  Consultation


Procedure file
Joint declaration “to minimise the negative effects of the Danish departure from Europol, following the referendum in Denmark on 3 December (press release from the Commission 15.12.2016)
Council implementing decision amending decision 2009/935/JHA as regards the list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements (21.12.2016)

Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights and democracy topics on Thursday 16 February, at around 10.30, with the votes following at 12.00.


  • Situation of human rights and democracy in Nicaragua, the case of Francesca Ramirez
  • Executions in Kuwait and Bahrain
  • Guatemala, notably the situation of human rights defenders

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

Debates/votes: Thursday 16 February

  #humanrights #democracy #Nicaragua #Kuwait #Bahrain #Guatemala

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

Other Items on the Agenda

- Aviation strategy for Europe, Telicka (INI), debate and vote Thu  - Irish MEPs following this issue: Deidre Clune, Fine Gael, (South)

- Annual report on EU competition policy, Szanyi (INI), debate Mon, vote Tue - Irish MEPs following this issue: Brian Hayes Fine Gael. (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West), Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael, (Midlands North West)

- Annual report on Banking Union, Hübner (INI), debate Tue, vote Wed- Brian Hayes Fine Gael. (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands North West),

- European cloud initiative, Buzek (INI), debate Wed, vote Thu - Irish MEPs following this issue: Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South)