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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 5-8 October 2015


What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include State of the EU debate with Angela Merkel and François Hollande; address by Felipe VI of Spain; Debate on outcome of EU summit on the refugee crisis; Car industry: manipulation of exhaust emission tests; capital markets union


Debate with Angela Merkel and François Hollande

President of the French Republic François Hollande and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel will pay an official visit to the European Parliament on Wednesday. This highly symbolic joint visit, 25 years after Germany was reunified and 26 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, echoes that of President François Mitterrand and Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who addressed the assembly in November 1989. They will address the plenary session and debate the current state of the European Union with political group leaders between 15:00 and 17:00.

After a formal welcome by President Schulz, President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel will each make a 20-minute statement, followed by Parliament's eight political group leaders. Mr Hollande and Ms Merkel will then reply to questions.

Debate: Wednesday, 7 October
Procedure: Statements followed by a debate
Debate with Angela Merkel and François Hollande

#Merkel #Hollande

EP Press conference by Martin SCHULZ, EP President (01.10.2015)
Audiovisual material: Visit of Helmut KOHL, Federal German Chancellor and François MITTERRAND, President of the French Republic (22 November 1988

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North West)


Felipe VI of Spain to address Parliament on Wednesday

King Felipe of Spain will deliver a formal address to the House at noon on Wednesday. This will be his second visit to the European Parliament since becoming monarch in June 2014, following his visit to Brussels on 15 April. His father, King Juan Carlos I, appeared before Parliament twice: in 1986, months after Spain joined the European Communities, and in 1998.

President Schulz invited King Felipe to address Parliament in Strasbourg when they met in Brussels last April

Procedure: Formal sitting
Date and time: Wednesday, 7 OctoberSeptember – 12.00


Web page of the Spanish Royal House


Debate on the outcome of the EU summit on the refugee crisis

Measures to deal with the unprecedented refugee crisis, as agreed by heads of state or government at an informal EU summit on 23 September, will be debated with European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday, at 9.00. The humanitarian situation of refugees within the EU and in neighbouring countries will also be addressed by MEPs in a separate debate also on Tuesday.

At an informal summit on 23 September, EU leaders discussed ways to respond to the urgent needs of refugees in the region, including an additional €1 billion to help the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme, an increase in EU funds to help Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, and strengthened controls at EU's external borders.

Migration will also be high on the agenda of the 15-16 October European Council summit.

Debate: Tuesday, 6 October
Procedure: Council and Commission statements followed by debate
#EUCO #refugeecrisis #migrationEU #asylumseekers


Informal meeting of EU heads of state or government on migration, 23 September 2015 - Statement

European Council, 15-16 October 2015 - Agenda highlights

Irish MEPs on this issue :Mairead McGuinness Fine Gael, (Midlands-North West); Marian Harkin Independent, (Midlands-North West)


Car industry: manipulation of exhaust emission tests up for a debate

MEPs will debate the unfolding Volkswagen exhaust emissions scandal on the basis of a parliamentary question. They will ask Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska on Tuesday afternoon to clarify whether emission test manipulation took place in Europe as well as the USA, whether polluting emissions other than NOx, or even CO2, could be involved, and what must be done to improve emissions testing in the EU.

The parliamentary question says that in view of the importance of protecting citizens, their health and the quality of air, as well as consumer trust and confidence in the standards and type approval mechanism used in Europe, it is essential that information be provided to assess whether European testing regimes have also been adversely affected by such manipulation.

Long before the Volkswagen scandal, MEPs repeatedly urged that testing should take more account of emissions in real-world driving conditions, and amended legislation to this end. They highlighted that car manufacturers have exploited weaknesses in the current procedure, leading to official consumption and emission figures far below those achievable every day on the road...

Debate: Tuesday, 6 October
Vote: October III
Procedure: Oral question to Commission with resolution
#Volkswagen #VWgate

Oral question to the European Commission

Press release: MEPs push for real life emissions test protocol (23.09.2015)


Irish MEPs on this issue: Nessa Chllders, Independent (Dublin)


Updating payment service rules: MEPs set for a final vote

EU rules on payment services will be updated to improve security, widen consumer choice and keep pace with innovation in a vote on Thursday. These rules, agreed informally by MEPs and ministers in May, aim to cut the cost of payment services by stimulating competition to provide them and fostering innovations such as mobile and online payment methods.

After Parliament's vote, the agreed text, which also updates rules in a wide range of related areas, such as refund rights, payment service charges and surcharges, will need to be officially endorsed by the Council of Ministers before the legislation enters into force.

Debate: Wednesday 7 October
Vote: Thursday, 6 October TBC

Press release after the deal with the Council (05.05.2015)

Procedure file

Profile of the rapporteur, Antonio Tajani (EPP, IT)

EP Research note: Consumer protection aspects of mobile payments

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


MEPs to call for better protection for traditional know-how

EU-wide geographical indication (GI) protection should be extended from agricultural products to include locally manufactured goods and handicraft products rooted in traditional know-how, MEPs are expected to say in a non-binding resolution to be voted on Tuesday. The draft text calls on the Commission to propose legislation without delay.

The draft resolution calls for EU-wide protection of geographical indications for products such as Bohemian glass, Scottish tartan and Carrara marble, in order to fully exploit the economic benefits of protecting the distinctive nature and the quality of such products, provide consumers with reliable information and preserve traditional know-how and the jobs related to them. It could also help combat counterfeiting and other misleading practices, the text adds. (7-9)

Debate: Monday, 5
Vote: Tuesday, 6 October
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution
#GeographicalIndications #handicraft #GI


Draft resolution

Procedure file

Profile of rapporteur Virginie Rozière (S&D, FR)

Article: Protecting traditional products could boost demand and create jobs
European Commission: Geographical indications for non-agricultural products


Irish MEPs on this issue: Deidre Clune Fine Gael (South); Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands-North West); Sean Kelly Fine Gael (South)


Small Claims Procedure to ease cross-border recovery of debts up to €5,000

The simplified EU procedure for recovering small debts across borders will be updated by a draft law to be debated and voted on Tuesday and voted on Wednesday. Changes already informally agreed by MEPs and ministers include raising the debt ceiling from €2,000 to €5,000 to enable more claims, and incentives to use electronic tools, such as videoconferencing, to help resolve disputes. The new rules should also further curb court fees.

The EU Small Claims Procedure, in use since 2009, enables citizens and small firms to use standard forms to recover money owed by someone in another EU country. To widen its use, which would remain optional, the law would raise the ceiling on claims covered from €2,000 today to €5,000.

The Small Claims Procedure has cut the cost of cross-border small claims litigation by up to 40% and its average duration from two years and five months to just five months.

Debate: Tuesday, 6 October
Vote: Wednesday, 7 October
Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading (agreement)
#SmallClaims #crossborder


Draft report
Press release: Small claims procedure: MEPs strike a deal with Council (23.06.2015)

Profile of the rapporteur Lidia Joanna GERINGER DE OEDENBERG (S&D, PL)
Procedure file:

Commission: European Small Claims Procedure – Citizen Factsheet

E-Justice: Small claims (with link to standard forms)

EP Research briefing: Reform of the European Small Claims Procedure

EP Research briefing: European Small Claims Procedure Legal analysis of the Commission's proposal to remedy weaknesses in the current system


Irish MEPs on this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent


Capping emissions from medium-sized combustion plants

Draft plans to set sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits for medium-sized combustion plants, such as electricity generators or domestic, residential or industrial heating systems, will be put to a vote on Wednesday. The limits have already been informally agreed by MEPs and ministers. But EU member states would have to assess whether to introduce stricter ones in areas where these emissions breach EU air quality standards.

There are about 143,000 “medium” combustion plants in the EU, i.e. those with a thermal input rated between 1 and 50 MW. They have a wide variety of uses, such as electricity generation, domestic or residential heating and cooling and providing heat or vapour for industrial processes. These plants are an important source of SO2, NOx and dust emissions, which are detrimental to air quality in urban areas.

While most small combustion plants are covered by EU ecodesign legislation, and large combustion ones by the industrial emissions directive, there is as yet no EU legislation to cap emissions of air pollutants from medium combustion plants even though these emissions contribute to poor air quality in hotspots (large cities), and areas where coal is commonly used for residential heating (e.g. Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Slovakia).

Debate: Tuesday, 6 October
Vote: Wednesday, 7 October
Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure (first reading agreement)


Text of the informal agreement with Council of Ministers

Profile of rapporteur Andrzej Grzyb (EPP, PL
Procedure file

At a glance: Air pollution from medium combustion plants



Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness Fine Gael; (Midlands-North West); Lynn Boylan Sinn Fein (Dublin); Sean Kelly Fine Gael (South), Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)


Kick-off debate on capital markets union package

MEPs will quiz Commission Vice-president Jyrki Katainen on Wednesday on the Commission's action plan for the EU Capital Markets Union (CMU), which seeks to foster investment in all 28 EU countries by removing barriers and upgrading the investment network.

The new "Action Plan for the Capital Markets Union" was presented by Commissioner Jonathan Hill, responsible for financial stability, financial services and CMU on Wednesday, 30 September. MEPs will ask about the specifically European approach to the CMU, SME-friendly rules and whether the future legislation will be consistent with existing financial rules.

Parliament passed a non-binding resolution in July, in response to the Commission's launch of its CMU project earlier in the year, which says that reliable non-bank sources of finance should be further developed alongside well-established bank financing. MEPs want CMU building blocks, such as a wider range of investment choices, risk mitigation tools and clear information on investment opportunities across the EU to be in place by 2018.

Debate: Wednesday, 7 October
Procedure: Commission statement followed by debate
#CapitalMarkets #CMU

European Parliament resolution of 9 July 2015 on Building a Capital Markets Union

EPRS: Capital Markets Union What Think Tanks are thinking

EPRS: Capital Markets Union

Commission Green Paper: Building a Capital Markets Union


Irish MEPs on this issue: Brian Hayes Fine Gael (Dublin); Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands-North West); Sean Kelly Fine Gael (South); Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)


Debate with Mogherini: Turkey, Syria, Libya

MEPs will quiz EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Wednesday morning on how the EU can contribute to efforts to end the civil war in Syria and on the changing situation in Turkey ahead of the general election in November, amidst the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. The House will also discuss with Ms Mogherini plans for a national unity government in Libya on Tuesday afernoon.


Debate: Tuesday 6 October (LibyaTurkey), Wednesday, 7 October (Syria, TurkeyLibya)
Procedure: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Statement
#Syria #Turkey #Libya #ISIS


What foreign policy and bilateral measures is the EU taking to discourage recourse to the death penalty in third countries, especially for drug-related crimes? MEPs will put the question to the Council on Tuesday evening. The EU’s anti-drug cooperation with third countries must not encourage them to execute those convicted of such crimes, they will add. Parliament votes a resolution on Wednesday.

MEPs will table an oral question to the Council ahead of the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October. Experts at a Human Rights Subcommittee hearing on 22 September urged MEPs to pass a "resolution which will clearly set up Europe's position that EU funds should not be spent on such operations".

Note to editors

Amnesty International recorded executions in 22 countries in 2014, the same number as in 2013. At least 607 executions were carried out worldwide, a reduction of almost 22% compared with 2013. As in previous years, this figure does not include the number of people executed in China, where data on the death penalty is treated as a state secret.

At least 2,466 people are known to have been sentenced to death in 2014, an increase of 28% compared with 2013. This increase was largely due to sharp spikes in death sentences in Egypt and Nigeria, where courts imposed mass sentences against scores of people in some cases.

According to Amnesty International, the death penalty was imposed or carried out for drug-related offences in countries that included China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, UAE and Vietnam. About 8% of all recorded executions in China were carried out for drug-related crimes.


Debate: Tuesday, 6 October
Vote: Wednesday, 7 October
Procedure: Oral question to Council (with resolution)
hashtags #deathpenalty


Oral question to Council

Watch the hearing on death penalty held by the Human rights subcommittee (22.09.2015)

Factsheet: The death penalty in the world in 2015 – abolitionist and retentionist countries

Report "Death sentences and executions" from Amnesty International

Document "Death Penalty: Ratification of International Treaties from Amnesty International
UN resolution adopted on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty (18.12.2014)


MEPs to call for binding measures to close gender pay gap

Despite the EU’s 2006 Directive on gender equality in the labour market "the differences in pay for men and women persist and are even growing as a result of the crisis", says a draft non-legislative resolution to be debated and voted on Thursday. MEPs are set to urge the EU Commission to table fresh legislation "providing for more effective means of supervising the implementation and enforcement in member states".

EU member states are often slow to apply and enforce the equal pay principle and the gender pay and pension gaps still average 16.4 % and 38.5 % (Eurostat 2012) respectively across the EU, with significant differences between countries, says the text drafted by the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee.

To close the gender pay gap, members are set to propose mandatory pay audits for large stock exchange listed companies and possible sanctions at EU level in cases of non-compliance (such as excluding companies from EU budget-funded public procurement of goods and services). (37)

Furthermore, the draft resolution calls for:

• harmonized gender-neutral job classification and evaluation,
• objective criteria for comparing work of “equal value”
• wage transparency (to reveal gender bias and pay discrimination) and
• free legal aid for victims of discrimination.

Debate: Thursday, 8 October
Vote: Thursday, 8 October

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution
#equalpayforeqaulwork #women #paygap


Draft resolution on equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation

Profile of rapporteur Anna Záborská (EPP, SK)

Procedure file

EP Research Study on Gender Pay Gap

Eurostat: Gender pay gap statistics per country (February 2015)

European Commission: the situation in the EU

Tackling the gender pay gap in the European Union:

Eurobarometer published on 8/03/2012: gender inequalities in the EU:

Draft Council Conclusions: Closing the gender gap in pensions



Irish MEPs on this issue: Lynn Boylan Sinn Fein (Dublin); Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands-North West); Nessa Childers, Independent (dublin)


Greece: fast-tracking over €35 billion in EU funding for jobs and growth

Parliament votes on Tuesday on a set of specific, one-off measures aimed at boosting the effective use of €35 billion earmarked for Greece for the EU 2014-2020 budget. This includes €20 billion from the European structural and investment funds and €15 billion from agricultural funds.

Iskra Mihaylova (ALDE, BG), the rapporteur and the chair of the regional development committee, wants the proposal to be adopted unchanged, as a matter of urgency. Her report has already been backed, almost unanimously and with no amendements, by the regional developpment committee. The Council also seems ready to approve the Comission's initial proposal if it is adopted unchanged by Parliament. Nonetheless, MEPs are still free under Parliament's rules to table amendments before the plenary vote.
These specific measures, if adopted, would:

• remove the need for national co-financing by increasing the EU contribution rate to 100% (this measure concerns the investments started in the 2007-2013 programming period);
• make available the total amount, including pre-financing and interim payments, immediately (for the same period); the last 5% of EU payments would normally be held back until 2017;
• increase by 7% the level of initial pre-financing available for cohesion policy programmes for the 2014-2020 period; this could make an additional €1 billion available.
These step are justified by the unique situation in Greece, where the financial crisis has led to persistently negative growth and to serious liquidity problems. Public funds are lacking in particular for much-needed investment to boost growth and job creation.

Next steps

The measures have to be adopted by the Council as well as by Parliament before they can enter into force. The Greek authorities will have to establish a mechanism to guarantee that the additional amounts made available under the period 2007-2013 are fully used for the beneficiaries and operations under the programmes.

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure (codecision)
Debate: Monday, 5 October
Vote: Tuesday, 6 October
Twitter: #Greece #EUfund

Draft report

Procedure file

Rqpporteur: Iskra Mihaylova (ALDE, BG),

EC proposal COM 2015/0365 to amend the Common Provisions Regulation as regards specific measures for Greece

EC Communication: "A new start for Jobs and Growth in Greece" adopted (15.07.2015)

EC press release A new start for jobs and growth in Greece (15.07.2015)

Press conference following the regional development committee meeting on 3 September



MEPs to debate plans to expand Nord Stream pipeline from Russia

Russia's Gazprom and several European energy firms recently revealed plans to double the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. A number of MEPs fear this could increase dependency on Russia, weaken Ukraine and affect EU countries bypassed by the pipeline. The debate with the Luxembourg presidency and the Commission is on Wednesday night.

Written questions by MEPs from several political groups raise concerns that the plans, unveiled by the Russian energy firm Gazprom and European firms E.ON, Shell, OMV, BASF/Wintershall and ENGIE, will increase EU's dependency on Russia and harm the political, security and economic interests of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and other EU countries that are bypassed. MEPs also fear that Ukraine will become even more vulnerable as a result of losing its strategic role as an important transit country on the Russia-EU gas transit route. The Nord Stream pipeline links Russia’s Baltic Sea coast near Vyborg with Germany’s Baltic Sea coast near Greifswald.

Debate: Wednesday, 7 October
Procedure: Council and Commission statements followed by debate
hashtags #NordStream2


Question for written answer: Plans for new Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea


MEPs to call for action to clamp down on abusive banking in Spain

MEPs are set to urge the Commission to initiate legislation to harmonise mortgage contract terms and debt settlement procedures so to reinforce consumer protection across the EU, in a draft, non-binding resolution to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday. (7)

The resolution, drafted by the petitions committee, says that in Spain "civil society has been protesting against hundreds of thousands of housing evictions, abusive terms in mortgage contracts and lack of protection for borrowers". It is estimated that more than 700,000 Spanish citizens have been victims of financial fraud, as their saving banks sold them risky financial instruments without informing them properly. (B,J)

MEPs ask the Commission to closely monitor the effective implementation of the new measures taken by the Spanish Government in the banking sector to prevent abusive banking. To enable consumers to take informed decisions on financial instruments, banks need to provide them with clear, understandable and correct information, says the text. (A,11,14)


Debate: Monday, 5 October
Vote: Tuesday, 6 October
Procedure: Oral question to Commission (with resolution)
hashtags #Spain #mortgage



Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following topics relating to human rights and democracy, on Thursday 8 October around 11.00 with the votes following at 12.00.

1. Central African Republic
2. Situation in Thailand
3. Children tragedy in Nigeria: 500 000 children on the run from Boko Haram
3.4. The case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr in Saudi-Arabia


Other Topics on the Agenda:


Financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union-  Report:Andrzej Grzyb (A8-0160/2015)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Liadh Ni Riada, Sinn Fein (South)



For further information, please contact Catherine Bunyan, Press Officer on 086 8559423 or at .

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