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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 3-6 October 2016

What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:Pre-summit debate on migration, Russia and EU trade policy; Climate change; export ban on “torture goods; conflicts of interest; safety requirements for food contact materials; developments in Syria and Colombia; Calais “jungle” camps ; uniform fair treatment for EU fishermen ; debate women’s rights in Poland


Pre-summit debate on migration, Russia and EU trade policy

Parliament to discuss input to EU Council October on migration, Russia, trade

In preparation for the 20-21 October European Council summit of EU leaders, MEPs will discuss latest developments and progress on migration policy, key issues in international trade and future EU-Russia relations with Council and Commission representatives on Wednesday morning.

 The EU heads of state or government will meet in Brussels, where Parliament’s President Martin Schulz will deliver his address at the start of the Council meeting.



Debate:  Wednesday, 5 October

Procedure:  Council and Commission statement

#euco #migrationEU #Russia #trade

Agenda of the European Council meeting
EP resolution on relocation of refugees (Press Release 15.09.2016)
EP resolution on the State of EU-Russia relations (Press Release 10.06.2015)

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


EP  to debate the state of Greece's economic reforms

EP will discuss the progress of Greece’s structural reform agenda

 Parliament will hold a public debate with Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Tuesday afternoon about the state of Greece’s economic adjustment programme, its impact and the prospects for future negotiations between Greece and its creditors.

 Parliament has been involved in the scrutiny of Greece’s financial assistance programme, notably through its Financial Assistance Working Group led by Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT).

 Background on the Financial Assistance Working Group

 On 21 January 2016, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament approved a series of measures to increase the parliamentary scrutiny of financial assistance programmes at the Union's level. These measures notably included the creation of a Financial Assistance Working Group (FAWG) within the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, as well as fact-finding missions in programme countries.


 Debate:  Tuesday, 4 October

Procedure:  Commission statement followed by debate

#ESM #Greece

Press release following FAWG meeting with VP Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici in Strasbourg (11.04.2016)
Procedure file

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


Climate change: Parliament ready to ratify Paris agreement

Parliament ready to ratify world-wide climate change agreement; call on the EU to upgrade its emission reduction pledges.

The European Parliament is ready to ratify the world-wide climate change convention agreed in Paris late last year. With the EU ministers expected to agree on the EU conclusion of the Paris Agreement on Friday 30 September, Parliament is preparing to ratify the agreement next week.

 With an official signature and after a brief debate and a vote in the presence of UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, MEPs intend to mark this historic step in reversing world-wide climate change.

Next phase

Parliament will also hold a debate with the Council and Commission on priorities for the next round of talks, to take place in Marrakesh in November.

In a draft resolution, MEPs stress the urgent and critically important need for all Parties to raise their emission reduction commitments. The EU should also commit to further emission reductions for 2030, they add.

Background information

The COP21 Agreement will enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties (out of 197) to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the UN Depositary.

To date, 61 parties, including the US and China, have ratified the Convention, accounting for 47.79% of global GHG emissions.


Vote and signature of EU ratification: Tuesday, 4 October

Debate:  Wednesday, 5 October (COP22) Vote:  Thursday, 6 October (COP22)

Procedure:  Oral question to Council and the Commission (with resolution)

#COP22 #ParisAgreement #ClimateChange


Press release on committee vote COP 22 (08.09.2016)
Question for oral answer to the Council on 2016 UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco (COP22)
Question for oral answer to the Commission on 2016 UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco (COP22)
Procedure file

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


Mobile roaming: are “fair use” safeguards fair?

MEPs will discuss with the Commission the future of telecommunications, fair use and intra-EU calls Proposed “fair use” safeguards to prevent mobile phone users from taking unfair advantage of EU rules on zero roaming charges will be debated in plenary on Tuesday evening.

 When agreeing on the "Roam like at Home" principle included in the telecoms package approved by Parliament in October 2015, the European Parliament and Council asked the EU Commission to develop supporting measures to make it work in practice. These included "fair use" mechanisms for operators to prevent “abusive or anomalous usage” of the system, such as the systematic resale of low-price SIM cards for permanent use in other countries.

 The European Commission’s latest proposal on “fair use” rules was discussed in the Industry Committee on 26 September where some MEPs stressed the need to further clarify the “fair use” rules (“implementing act”) and strengthen data protection and consumer privacy. They also asked for details of the procedure for stopping abuse, operators’ tools for dealing with identified abuse and the role of national regulators in the process of enforcing the “fair use” policy.


 Debate:  Tuesday, 4 October

Procedure:  Commission statement

#fairuse #roaming 

Watch the video recording of the debate in the Industry Committee (26.09.2016)
ITRE meeting documents
European Commission FAQ on fair use policy and other preparatory measures

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin),


MEPs to strengthen EU export ban on “torture goods”

New EU rules to prevent trade in  goods and services that may contribute to torture or execution will be debated and put to a vote on Tuesday. In negotiations with member states on previous drafts, the European Parliament inserted  a ban on the marketing and transit of equipment used for cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of people in third countries.


A key EU tool for fighting torture and the death penalty  is the 2005 Regulation imposing restrictions on trade. This  bans the export of goods which have no other practical use than execution or torture (e.g. electric chairs, automatic drug injection systems or spiked thumbscrews) and controls trade in  products that have been designed for other purposes, but could be used for torture or execution (e.g. weapons designed for riot control, or certain anaesthetics used in lethal injections).

Despite achieving some results, the Regulation has been criticised for loopholes that allowed trade or brokering and advertising of such goods to continue. Responding to a 2010 Parliament resolution, the Commission adopted a legislative proposal to amend the Regulation in 2014. Parliament’s International Trade Committee proposed several amendments to further restrict the trade. The final compromise, adopted in three-way talks with the EU Commission and ministers, reflects most of the committee’s proposals, and needs now to be confirmed by Parliament as a whole. .


Debate:  Tuesday, October 4

Vote: Tuesday, October 4

Press conference: Tuesday, October 4 at 15.30 with Commissioner Cecilia Malmström

Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure


#trade  #torture #deathpenalty

Press release on committee vote at the end of legislative trilogues (07/2016)
Amendments adopted by the EP on Council Regulation concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (10/2015)
EP resolution of June 2010
Procedure file
EP Research Briefing: Fighting trade in tools for torture and executions (09/2016)

MEPs to quiz Commission on conflicts of interest

MEPs are set to quiz Commission on conflicts of interest

 Following several revelations to do with the business ties of past and present European Commission chiefs, MEPs will quiz Commissioner X on Tuesday evening on how the Commission plans to prevent conflicts of interest for its members. Former Dutch competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes is the latest to come under fire for not having declared her directorship of an offshore firm in the Bahamas while serving as the most powerful corporate watchdog in Brussels.

 Former Commission President José Manuel Barroso has also been criticised for taking up a post this summer with the investment bank Goldman Sachs, as the non-executive chairman of its London-based international operations, the bank’s largest subsidiary.

 This move has prompted an intervention by the EU Ombudsman.


Debate:  Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Procedure:  Commission statement followed by debate

#ConflictofInterest #EUCommissioners


Letter from EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly to Commission President Juncker - on the move by Mr Barroso

Irish MEPs following this issue: Marian Harkin, Independent, (Midlands-North-West), Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands-North-West),


Consumer health: MEPs want a tighter safety assessment of materials in contact with food

 Chemicals emanating from food contact materials may endanger human health or change the composition of the foodstuffs

The EU should further harmonise the safety requirements for food contact materials, which are largely used in everyday life in the form of food packaging, kitchen utensils and tableware. Only few of them are sufficiently checked regarding their safety for human health, says a non-binding draft resolution to be put to a vote on Thursday.

 Depending on their composition and properties, the different materials may behave adversely and transfer their constituents when put in contact with food,. In such cases, chemicals emanating from FCMs could endanger human health or change the composition of the foodstuffs, say MEPs.

 Only four out of listed 17 food contact materials are currently covered by specific safety measures foreseen in existing EU framework legislation: plastics, ceramics, regenerated cellulose and “active and intelligent” materials.

 Given the prevalence of the materials on the EU market and the risk they pose to human health, the EC should prioritise the drawing-up of specific EU measures for paper and board, varnishes and coatings, metals and alloys, printing inks and adhesives, MEPs say.

 Note to editors

According to a study led by the European Parliament’s research department, a number of substances present in food contact materials have not been assessed. In particular impurities and/or chemical reactions present in the finished material.

 According to the EPRS, there is a broad consensus among all relevant stakeholders that the lack of uniform measures is detrimental to public health and the protection of the environment, and to the smooth functioning of the internal market.


 Debate:  Wednesda, 5 October

Vote:  Thursday, 6 October

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution

#FCMs #foodsafety #EUconsumers







Draft report on the implementation of the Food Contact Materials Regulation
Procedure file
EP Research: European Implementation Assessment, Food Contact Materials - Regulation (EC) 1935/2004

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


Debate on Syria and Colombia

Recent developments in Syria, including US - Russia attempts to revive the ceasefire, which broke down after the 19 September attack on a UN aid convoy and a Syrian government offensive against Aleppo, will be debated on Wednesday afternoon. This will be followed by another debate on the Colombian peace process and the results of the 2 October referendum on a peace deal with leftist rebels FARC.

 The conflict in Syria has cost more than 250,000 lives since it started in 2011, and over 4 million Syrians have been forced to seek security in neighbouring countries.

The resolution on Syria will be voted at the October II plenary session.


On 2 October, Colombians will hold a referendum to approve or reject the historic peace deal, struck on 23 June and signed on 26 September by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel leader Timoleon Jimenez, to end a 52-year civil war.

 Representatives of the European Parliament and  their Latin American counterparts from EuroLat will be in Colombia to observe the referendum process.


 Debate: Wednesday, 5 October

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

#Syria #Colombia


EP Research note on conflict in Syria (January 2016)
EP Research note on the Colombian peace process (January 2016)

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


Caterpillar, Alstom cases: vote on call to “reindustrialise” the EU

A call for a policy to “reindustrialise” the EU, in the wake of closure and redundancy plans announced by Caterpillar and Alstom, will be set out in a non-legislative resolution to be voted on Wednesday.  In a September session debate, MEPs said that Europe needs a forward-looking industrial strategy to improve operating conditions for companies, make the best use of existing European financial instruments, and protect workers.

 Many MEPs argued that the closures at Caterpillar and Alstom were a symptom of Europe’s industrial malaise. They deplored the absence of a long-term vision for European industry, while highlighting important factors affecting it, such as the financial and legislative frameworks for companies, globalisation, and worldwide competition.



Vote:  Wednesday, 5 October

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

#Alstom #Caterpillar


Video recording of debate (click on 14.09.2016)
Draft resolution on the need for a reindustrialisation policy (not yet available

Irish MEPs following this issue: Deidre Clune, Fine Gael (South), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands-North-West), Marian Harkin, Independent, (Midlands-North-West), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South)


A free Interrail pass for your 18th birthday?

The idea of giving young Europeans free Interrail passes for  their 18th birthdays, to enable them to explore and better know  Europe,  will be debated with the European Commission representatives on Tuesday. This idea has attracted growing public attention in recent weeks.

Interrail passes are railway tickets, which allow unlimited rail travel in and between all participating countries for a given period of time.


 Debate:  Tuesday, 4 October

Procedure:  Commission statement

#FreeInterrail  #interail




Intervention of Manfred Weber (EPP, DE) at the 2016 State of the Union debate touching on the free pass idea

Debate on acute political tensions in the Congo

MEPs will debate the deteriorating political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday afternoon. Violence broke out last week in the capital Kinshasa during a march protesting against President Joseph Kabila’s apparent intention to remain in power after his term ends in December. Deadly clashes between police and political protesters continue, claiming dozens of lives.

 President Kabila is refusing to hold elections and cede power, despite months of warnings from the international community urging him to organise a free and fair election and allow for Congo’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power.



 Debate: Wednesday, 5 October

Procedure: Statement by the VPC/HR without resolution

#Congo #RDC



European Parliament resolution of 23 June 2016 on Massacres in eastern Congo 2016/2770(RSP)
EU-ACP resolution of 15 June on
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2016 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2016/2609(RSP))

Migration: MEPs to discuss Calais “jungle” camps

The situation in the informal migrant camps around Calais will be up for  discussion in plenary on Tuesday afternoon. Visiting the area on 26 September,  French François President Hollande said that the camp known as the “jungle” would be completely dismantled before the end of the year and called on the UK government to assist France in this task.

 According to the French government, there are around 7,000 migrants and asylum-seekers living in the area and seeking access to the UK.  NGOs put the figure at  up to 10,000, of whom around 1,000 are unaccompanied minors.


 Debate: Tuesday, 4 October

Procedure: Commission statement

#Calais #migrationEU #refugeecrisis

Migration: MEPs assess refugee camps in Calais (Press release, 14.07.2016)
Europarl TV: Inside the Nord-Pas-de-Calais refugee camps: the hardships of many women (23.02.2016)

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


Parliament to debate women’s rights in Poland

MEPs will discuss women’s rights in Poland including laws on abortion and IVF

Moves to make Poland’s stringent sexual and reproductive health laws still more restrictive will be debated  on Wednesday afternoon.  MEPs are most concerned about Polish parliament bills on women’s access to legal abortion and on the use of human embryos in In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) procedures.



Debate:  Wednesday, 5 October

Procedure:  Commission statement followed by debate (without resolution)

#abortion # IVF #InVitro #Poland #womensrights



Situation in the EU

Abortion is legal in nearly every EU country although  restrictions on the circumstances in which  it is permitted vary widely.

Abortion is treated as a crime in almost all cases in Northern Ireland and in Malta, illegal in the Republic of Ireland (8th amendment to the Constitution), restricted but allowed in Poland only in cases of risk to the life or health of the woman, when the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act, or when the foetus is seriously malformed.  abortion laws  are however more or less strictly enforced in these countries in practice.

New situation in Poland

The current sexual and reproductive health law in Poland is among the most restrictive in the EU but it does reflect a political consensus reached by all the parties years ago. This consensus has recently been put at risk by the pro-life movements calling for a total ban on abortion. Their “Pro- Right to Life” proposal (“citizen initiative”) and the restrictive act on IVF have been passed on for further work in the Polish parliament while a   “Save the Women” proposal (a rival bid to liberalise access to legal abortion and introduce a large package of sexual and reproductive health services”) has been rejected despite earlier assurances that citizens’ initiatives will not be rejected without consideration in committees. Several demonstrations have been  held  in Poland  (and also  in Brussels and London, together with the Irish) against abortion bans and a women’s strikes are planned for 1-3 of October. Protest hashtag: #CzarnyProtest


Gender equality strategy- 9 June 2015 -
Progress on equality between women and men in the EU in 2013/
Equal access to sexual and reproductive health care - 15 January 2014

Widening the Transparency Register

MEPs debate proposal to make Transparency Register of lobbyists mandatory not only for EU Parliament and Commission but also Council. A proposal to apply the Transparency Register - listing independent organisations and people whose business is to influence EU decision-taking processes - also to the Council, will be debated on Wednesday. A mandatory system covering all EU institutions is a reform eagerly awaited by MEPs.

 Parliament and the Commission introduced a joint transparency register on 23 June 2011. From then on, and without waiting for other institutions to do likewise, Parliament made it mandatory for interest groups wishing to enter its premises to register beforehand.

 Note to editors

In 2011, the European Parliament succeeded in introducing a joint lobbyists’ register with the European Commission. (Before that Parliament had its own, voluntary system.) 

 From 2008, in various resolutions, Parliament called on other EU institutions also to opt for a mandatory register. The EP also took several further incentive measures, such as precluding any lobby representative not listed in the transparency register from speaking at its public hearings, and introducing a facilitated accreditation system.



 Debate:  Wednesday, 5 October

Procedure:  Statement by the Commission




Common Transparency Register
EP Research Briefing – EU Transparency Register

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent, (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, (Midlands-North-West), Marian Harkin, Independent, (Midlands-North-West),


MEPs to call for uniform fair treatment for EU fishermen

EU fisheries rules should be applied uniformly to all EU fishermen, so that they are treated fairly, say MEPs in a draft resolution to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday. Inspection procedures, e.g. for net mesh sizes and catches, should be standardized, as should penalties for infringements, it says. Introducing an  EU “core curriculum” for training all fisheries inspectors, and using compatible real-time communication technologies EU wide would also help improve fairness, it adds.

 MEPs are concerned about huge differences in national control methods, sanctions and the use of technologies as these create an environment where “for the same infraction the sanction may be either an administrative or a penal one” (para 15).

 They ask that inspections be expanded to cover the entire production chain and that controls at sea be assigned to a single national administrative body (para 50).

 The non-legislative resolution comes ahead of the upcoming revision of the Control System Council Regulation expected in 2017.


Debate: Monday, 3 October 

Vote:  Tuesday, 4 October

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution


#EUfisheries #fisheriescontrol








Draft resolution on how to make fisheries controls in Europe uniform
Procedure file
EUROSTAT webpage on fishery statistics

Irish MEPs following this issue: Deidre Clune, Fine Gael (South), Matt Carthy Sinn Fein (Midlands-North-West), Liadh Ni Riada, Sinn Fein, (South),


Human rights and democracy resolutions


Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights and democracy topics on Thursday 6 October, around 11:00, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Rwanda , the case of Victoire Ingabire
  • Sudan
  • Thailand, notably the case of Andy Hall



 Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

Debates/votes: Thursday 6 October

#humanrights #democracy