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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 25-26 May 2016


What will MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Brussels? Highlights include:
- Address by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands
- Debate: Energy Union to benefit users and alleviate energy poverty
- Debate on new digital single market proposals with Andrus Ansip
- Crisis in the dairy sector
- Debate on run-up to G7 summit in Japan
- Virtual currencies
- Single Market Strategy & non-tariff barriers
- Relocating asylum seekers: vote on extra year for Sweden to take its share
- Vote on job-search and start-up aid for redundant workers in France and Greece


King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to address Parliament

For the first time since his accession to the throne in April 2013, King Willem-Alexander will address Parliament in a formal sitting on Wednesday, following the opening of the Brussels plenary session at 15.00.

The Dutch sovereign paid a visit to Parliament in Brussels and met with EP President Martin Schulz on 3 November 2015 prior to his country taking up the rotating 6-months presidency of the European Council on 1 January 2016.


Debate: Wednesday, 25 May 2016

@koninklijkhuis #WillemAlexander


Website of the Royal House
Website of the Dutch EU Presidency

EU-US data transfers: will the new Privacy Shield offer enough protection?

The new "privacy shield" proposal for a EU-US arrangement to protect the privacy of EU citizens whose personal data is transferred to the USA for commercial purposes will be debated on Wednesday afternoon, with Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders and Commissioner Věra Jourová.

A non-binding resolution on the arrangement, which is to replace the invalidated Safe Harbour agreement, will be put to the vote on Thursday.

Note to editors

In its ruling of 6 October 2015, the European Court of Justice declared the Commission's adequacy decision invalid, in a case brought by Max Schrems against Faceboo. This effectively killed off the Safe Harbour agreement, which had governed the transfer of EU citizens' data to the US for commercial purposes since 2000.

The new Privacy Shield deal was announced by the EU Commission and the US Department of Commerce on 2 February 2016. The texts that will constitute the Privacy Shield were published on 29 February.

Procedurally, the Privacy Shield is to be based on an implementing decision by the European Commission declaring that the arrangement ensures an adequate level of data protection (adequacy decision).

However, before the Commission can adopt such a decision, it must first seek the advice of the Article 29 Working Party (national data protection authorities (DPAs), the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and the Article 31 Committee established by the 1995 data protection directive (representatives of the member states) must give its consent.

In April the Article 29 Working Party made a number of recommendations regarding the Privacy Shield. A 19 May meeting of the Article 31 Committee ended with no conclusion.

On 17 March Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee held a hearing on the proposed Privacy Shield and MEPs have repeatedly stressed that their willingness to play the role of watchdog.


Debate: Wednesday 25 May

Vote: Thursday 26 May

#privacyshield #EuDataP #dataprotection

EU-US “Privacy Shield”: MEPs to examine new deal on transatlantic data transfers (press release 17.03.2016):
Article: Safeguarding your privacy: MEPs scrutinise new data protection agreement with US
Information on the Privacy Shield from the European Commission
EP Research: Reactions to the EU-US Privacy Shield (18.04.2016)
EP research briefing

Debate: Energy Union to benefit users and alleviate energy poverty

The role that citizens are to play in the EU Energy Union and measures to tackle energy poverty will be debated in plenary session on Wednesday afternoon. A resolution will be voted on Thursday.                                                      

The resolution drafted by Theresa Griffin (S&D, UK), backs EU plans to boost consumer buying power with price comparison tools and information on energy efficiency programmes. It also calls for EU funds to promote energy efficiency, self-generation and other cost-cutting measures to help reduce bills for energy-poor and vulnerable households and citizens.

The resolution will feed into further EU Commission work on the Energy Union proposals to build a sustainable energy future for Europe.

You can watch the plenary debate via EP Live, and EbS+.

*           *           *


Debate: Wednesday, 25 May

Vote: Thursday, 26 May


Draft resolution on delivering a new deal for energy consumers
EP Research Briefing: A new deal for energy consumers (Jan 2016)
EP study: how to end energy poverty? (2015)
Profile of the rapporteur - Theresa Griffin (S&D, UK)

Debate on new digital single market proposals with Andrus Ansip

New plans to further boost e-commerce and services, including measures on unjustified geo-blocking, cross-border parcel delivery and enforcement of EU consumer rules across borders, are to be announced at noon on Wednesday 25 May and be debated with Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, in the afternoon.

The Digital Single Market Strategy includes 16 initiatives (legislative and non-legislative) to be presented by the end of this year. The EU Commission already tabled legislative proposals on contracts for the supply of digital content (e.g. streaming music), contracts for online and other distance sales of goods (e.g. buying clothes online), cross-border portability of online content services and the use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band for mobile internet services in the EU.

Parliament's recommendations to boost the digital single market were voted on 19 January 2016, in a resolution drafted by Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE) and Kaja Kallas (ALDE, ET). Parliament will co-decide on equal footing with the EU Council of Ministers on the Digital Single Market legislative proposals.

*           *           *


Debate: Wednesday, 25 May

#DigitalSingleMarket #DSM #ecommerce #geoblocking

Press release - Stop geo-blocking and boost e-commerce and digital innovation, says Parliament (19.01.2016)
European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on Towards a Digital Single Market Act
EP Research briefings and studies on the Digital Single Market
Results of the public consultation on geo-blocking (18.03.2016)

Milk price crisis: debate on measures to rescue dairy farmers

As milk prices have collapsed across the EU, and show no signs of recovering any time soon, MEPs will quiz Commissioner Phil Hogan on measures to alleviate pressure on dairy farmers and stabilize their incomes in a debate on Thursday. Factors blamed for the crisis include the Russian ban on imports from the EU, the end of milk quotas in 2015 and a drop in global demand.

MEPs will also ask the Council why the take-up of tools to strengthen dairy farmers’ price bargaining power, such allowing them to join forces in producer organisations and negotiate delivery contracts together, is so low in some EU states.

In a 12 April plenary debate MEPs called for rapid relief for dairy farmers and structural reforms to make them more resilient to market shocks and to ensure they are paid fairly.

Parliament also called in July 2015 for mechanisms to protect dairy farmers from abuses in the retail market and insisted that the role of the Milk Market Observatory must be enhanced to enable it to issue crisis warnings earlier and recommend action.

*           *           *


Debate: Thursday, 26 May

#agricrisis #dairycrisis #milk #milkfarmers #dairycrisis #milkcrisis


Oral question to the Commission
Oral question to the Council
EP resolution on the implementation of the Dairy Package (07.07.2015)
Procedure file
EP Research: Measures to support dairy farmers after the end of EU milk quotas
EuroparlTV: End of milk quotas - concerns of the dairy sector

Debate on run-up to G7 summit in Japan

MEPs will debate preparations for the G7 summit, which will bring together the leaders of the seven most industrialised countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA – with the EU on 26 and 27 May in Ise-Shima, Japan. Counter-terrorism, the Middle East, Ukraine and North Korea, as well as challenges to global economic growth and climate change, will be on the summit agenda.

Action on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, quality infrastructure investment, strengthening responses to public health emergencies and empowering women through education will also be debated at the G7 summit.

Russia was suspended from the G8 two years ago following its annexation of Crimea.

*           *           *


Debate: Wednesday, 25 May

#G7Summit #G7 @g7

Website of the G7 summit in Ise-Shima, Japan
G7 summit: Key topics for the summit announced
EPRS note on G7

Move to crack down on use of virtual currencies for money laundering, terrorism

The creation of a taskforce which would regulate virtual currencies, like Bitcoins, to prevent their use for money laundering and terrorist financing, is to be voted on by Parliament on Thursday.

The proposal, contained in a report authored by Jakob Von Weizsäcker (S&D, DE), suggests the taskforce should build up the necessary expertise in the underlying technology of virtual currencies. It would also make recommendations for any necessary legislation to regulate the sector.


Vote: Thursday, 26 May

#Virtualcurrencies #bitcoin

Press release on Committee vote (25.04.2016)
Procedure file on virtual currencies
Profile of rapporteur Jakob Von Weizsäcker (S&D, DE)

MEPs to call for a more innovative single market, stripped of unjustified barriers

Ways to unleash the full potential of the single market, to the benefit of consumers, employees and businesses, and particularly start-ups, will be debated and put to a vote on Thursday. Priorities include eliminating unjustified barriers to trade, helping start-ups and SMEs to scale up their activities, reforming VAT rules, developing legislative tools to foster the sharing economy and building a strong culture of compliance and enforcement.

The report on the Single Market Strategy, drafted by Lara Comi (EPP, IT), is Parliament's response to the EU Commission Communication "Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business", presented in 28 October 2015.

Non-tariff barriers in the single market will be discussed on Wednesday. A report by Daniel Dalton (ECR, UK), which highlights the barriers that SMEs face when trying to trade across the EU and suggests ways to overcome them, will also be voted on Thursday.

*           *           *


Debate: Wednesday (non-tariff barriers) and Thursday (Single Market Strategy)

Vote: Thursday 26 May

#SingleMarket #NonTariffBarriers @uber @Airbnb

Press release on committee vote (21.04.2016)
Procedure file on the Single Market Strategy
Procedure file on non-tariff barriers in the single market
Profile of rapporteur on the Single Market Strategy, Lara Comi (EPP, IT)
Profile of rapporteur on non-tariff barriers, Daniel Dalton (ECR, UK)
EP Research Study - A strategy for completing the Single Market: the trillion euro bonus

Relocating asylum seekers: vote on extra year for Sweden to take its share

A proposal to give Sweden an extra year to take its share of asylum-seekers agreed in last year’s emergency relocation decisions will be put to a plenary vote on Thursday. Sweden, which already has the EU’s highest per capita rate of applicants for international protection (11,503 per million inhabitants in 2015), requested a temporary suspension of the relocations back in November in view of the sudden and sharp increase of arrivals it was facing.

Of the 160,000 people to be relocated from Italy and Greece, Sweden was allocated a total of 5,727 persons. The final decision will be taken by the Council, but Parliament needs to be consulted. Parliament´s rapporteur, Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE), is against the prolongation and has presented an amendment rejecting the Commission´s proposal.

Note to editors

Under two emergency decisions adopted in September last year, 160,000 asylum-seekers with a high chance of being granted refugee status should be moved by 2017 from Italy and Greece to other member states, where their applications will be processed. But as of 13 May, only 1,500 persons had been relocated (909 from Greece and 591 from Italy).

According to Eurostat, the number of applicants for international protection increased by more than 60% from 68,245 applicants between 1 January and 31 October 2014 to 112,040 applicants in the same period of 2015. The monthly number of applicants grew from 11,735 in August 2015 to 39,055 in October. Sweden is also facing a difficult situation because of the significant increase in the number of unaccompanied minors, with one out of four applicants claiming to fall in that category.

*           *           *


Vote: Thursday, 26 May

#refugees #MigrationEU #refugeecrisis

Draft resolution on measures for the benefit of Sweden regarding the relocation decisions from Italy and Greece
Procedure File
Third report on relocation and resettlement (European Commission, 18.05.2016)
EP Research Service: Hotspots and emergency relocation - State of play (March 2016)

Vote on job-search and start-up aid for redundant workers in France and Greece

Parliament is set to approve aid worth €6,468,000 for 557 redundant workers from the “Larissa” supermarket in Greece and €5,146,800 for 2,132 former drivers for the road haulage and delivery firm MoryGlobal SAS in France. If Parliament approves the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid, it will still need to be approved by the Council of Ministers on 6 June.

In Greece, Larissa’s 422 employees and 135 worker-owners were made redundant when the cooperative supermarket was declared bankrupt. In France, MoryGlobal’s 2,132 lorry drivers and their delivery colleagues lost their jobs due to its bankruptcy and closure. Both bankruptcies resulted from the prolonged global financial and economic crisis which has devastated the Greek economy and deeply affected the road haulage sector.

The measures, co-financed by the EGF and the Greek and French governments, would help the workers to find new jobs by providing them with occupational guidance and other assistance schemes.


The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was introduced in 2007 as a flexible instrument in the EU budget to provide support, under specific conditions, to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of mass redundancies caused by major changes in global trade (e.g. delocalisation to third countries).

The EGF contributes to packages of tailor-made services to help redundant workers find new jobs. Its annual ceiling is €150 million.

Redundant workers are offered measures such as support for business start-ups, job-search assistance, occupational guidance and various kinds of training.

*           *           *


Vote: Thursday 26 May

#EGF #EUfunds @ MoryGlobal #France #Greece

Profile of rapporteur Liadh Ní Riada (GUE/NGL, IE) (Greece)
Profile of rapporteur Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE, FI) (France)
Procedure file (Greece)
Procedure file (France)
EGF website (European Commission)

Other items on the agenda:

- Deployment of cross-border e-identification tools and online services, Commission statement, debate Wed

- Poverty: a gender perspective, Arena (INI), debate Wed, Vote Thu

Draft agenda
Follow the plenary live (EbS+)
Press conferences and other events
EP Audiovisual website
EP Newshub