15.05.2017

Brexit negotiations: debate with Tusk 

MEPs will debate the outcome of the last European Council, which approved guidelines for the negotiations with the UK on the terms of its withdrawal from the EU, with European Council President Donald Tusk and the Commission, on Wednesday morning. 

The European Parliament had already adopted its key principles and conditions for the UK's withdrawal agreement on 5 April. In their resolution, MEPs gave priority to securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU 

Any agreement at the end of UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

Debate:  Wednesday 17 May

Procedure: European Council and Commission statements Press conference tbc

#euco, #Brexit @JunckerEU @eucopresident

UN Secretary-General António Guterres to address Parliament 

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who took office in January, will deliver a formal speech to MEPs on Wednesday at noon.

The situation in Syria, the refugee crisis and the EU’s role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals are likely to be among the issues addressed by the UN Secretary- General.

Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani and Mr Guterres will hold a joint press conference after the formal  sitting. 

António Guterres was UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015 and Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He succeeded Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary-General on 1 January  2017.

Debate: Wednesday 17 May Procedure: formal sitting Press conference: TBC

@antonioguterres @UN

Watching online films and TV while abroad 

New rules enabling EU citizens with subscriptions for online films and TV series to access this content while temporarily in another EU country will be debated on Wednesday and voted on  Thursday.  

EU citizens visiting another EU country are often prevented from accessing online content services, such as films, TV series, music, games, or sporting events, for which they have paid subscriptions for in their home  country.

The new rules, informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in February 2017, will remove these restrictions so that EU citizens can also watch, listen or play when abroad in another EU country for holidays, studies or    business. 

These rules will apply only to online fee-based services such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Deezer etc. But providers of free-of-charge services will have the option of making their content portable EU-wide.

Debate: Wednesday 17 May Vote: Thursday 18 May

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure (first reading agreement) Press conference: TBC

#portability

Future of Europe: harnessing globalisation 

MEPs will discuss how the EU can tackle the negative effects of globalisation. The debate, on Tuesday, follows up on proposals made by the EU    Commission.

The proposals on globalisation are part of a broader discussion on the future of Europe launched in resolutions voted by Parliament in February and in an EU Commission White paper in which it outlines five possible scenarios for the future development of the   EU.

Debate: Tuesday 16 May

Procedure: statement of the Commission

#FutureOfEurope ##globalisation

Cutting food waste

MEPs will advocate efforts to halve food waste in the EU – an estimated 88 million tonnes per year - by 2030. A draft resolution to be voted on Tuesday calls on the European Commission to lift existing restrictions on food donations and to dispel confusion about “best before” and “use by”   labels. 

National authorities and stakeholders should do more to help consumers to understand “use by” and “best before” labels, including the fact that food can be eaten after the “best before” date, says the text.

The Commission should propose a changing the VAT directive to authorise tax exemptions for food donations, explicitly, it     adds. 

Debate: Monday 15 May Vote:  Tuesday 16 May

Procedure: non-legislative resolution Press conference: tbc

#foodwaste

Vote on fundamental rights situation in Hungary 

A resolution on Hungary’s fundamental rights situation, wrapping up a debate from the previous plenary session, will be put to a vote on  Wednesday.

MEPs debated Hungary’s new education law in April, seeing it as targeting the Central European University. They also discussed the tightening of rules for NGOs and asylum seekers and a government survey entitled “Let’s stop Brussels!” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took part in the debate, as wekk as Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

Vote: Wednesday, 17 May

Procedure:  resolution on topical subjects

#Hungary #CEU #fundamentalrights

Debate on LGBT persecution in Chechnya

Shocking reports by independent Russian media and human rights organisations alleging persecution, detention, disappearances and killings of homosexual men in Chechnya will be debated on Tuesday evening.

MEPs will seek more information from the European Commission and Council on recent reports that more than 100 men suspected of being gay have been detained and at least three killed in Chechnya, Russia. They are also likely to ask to how the Council's LGBTI guidelines are being implemented and what action EU can take to stop these atrocities.

The debate will take place on the eve of International day against homophobia and will be wound up by resolution to be voted on Thursday.

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May Vote: Thursday, 18 May

Procedure: oral question with resolution\

Relocating refugees: MEPs to urge EU countries to honour their commitments

Parliament will reiterate its calls to member states to transfer refugees from Italy and Greece to other EU countries, as agreed by the Council in September 2015.

Despite EU member states’ pledge to move 160,000 asylum-seekers from “frontline” countries Italy and Greece by September 2017, so far only around 18,000 persons have effectively been relocated, i.e. just over 11% of the total. Following a plenary debate with Council and Commission on Tuesday morning, MEPs will vote on a resolution on Thursday.

Progress by member states (you can find info on your member state here)

So far, only Malta and Finland are on track to meet their obligations to both Italy and Greece in time. Some countries, like Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia, are relocating on a very limited basis. Whilst Austria has announced it will start relocating soon, Hungary and Poland are still refusing to participate in the scheme at  all.

Quick facts

Under two emergency decisions adopted in September 2015, 160,000 asylum-seekers with a high chance of being granted refugee status should be moved by September 2017 from Italy and Greece to other member states, where their applications are to be processed.

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May Vote: Thursday, 18 May

Procedure: Council and Commission statements, with resolution

#refugees #migration

Boosting innovation, fairness and low emission road transport

MEPs call on the EU Commission to include in its forthcoming road transport package proposals to boost technological development, improve social conditions and safety and cut CO2 emissions.

In a resolution to be voted on Thursday, MEPs call for ambitious standards for trucks and buses to reduce CO2 emissions, measures to enforce user/polluter pays principles, the eradication of “letterbox” companies, and rules on connected and automated driving. They will also seek clarifications of “cabotage” operating rights and of rules on driving and rest times.

The Commission is expected to come up with the “mobility package” on 31 May.

Debate: Wednesday, 17 May Vote:  Thursday, 18 May

Procedure:  Commission statement, non-legislative resolution

#CO2emissions #EUTransport

Options for ending the war in Syria 

Ways and means to help end the war in Syria, the worst humanitarian crisis since WW II, will be debated with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday.  A resolution will be voted on  Thursday.

The future of the Bashar al-Assad regime, the challenges to UN-led peace talks, national reconciliation and a credible political transition are among the issues MEPs are likely to address with Ms Mogherini. 

The EU is a leading donor in the response to the Syria crisis with over € 9.4 billion in humanitarian and economic aid, including life-saving emergency operations, providing safe drinking water, sanitation, shelter and food to refugees in Syria and in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and   Turkey.

Quick facts 

In March 2017, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini presented a “joint communication” on an EU strategy for Syria, which seeks to define the EU’s potential contribution to ensuring a lasting political solution to the conflict in Syria under the existing UN-agreed framework, to help build stability and to support reconstruction once a credible political transition is underway

Since 2011, the conflict in Syria has cost almost half a million lives and over 11 million Syrians have been forced to flee their  homes.

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May Vote: Thursday, 18 May

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

#Syria @FedericaMog

Votes: EEA solidarity contributions and EU-Norway and EU-Iceland fisheries deals

Financial solidarity contributions by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to the European Economic Area and EU fisheries trade protocols with Norway and Iceland will be debated on Wednesday and put to a vote on Thursday.

The latest European Economic Area (EEA) financial mechanism agreement with the three countries and a separate EEA deal with Norway would together provide €2.8 billion in 2014-2021 “to reduce economic and social disparities” within the   EEA.

The review of the EU-Iceland and EU-Norway fisheries trade protocols renews existing arrangements, with a modest quota increase for some products over the same period.

In another debate on Tuesday, MEPs will ask the Commission and the EU External Action Service about developments since Norway’s imposition in 2013 of high duties on EU cheese, lamb and beef, which Parliament viewed as a breach of the relevant trade agreement.

The two agreements and two protocols have applied provisionally applied since July and August 2016 respectively.

Background

The EEA agreement enables Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to participate in the EU single market, with the exception of agriculture and fisheries, and the three countries contribute financially to the  EEA.

The previous mechanisms expired in April 2014. In 2014-2021, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia will benefit from the two financial   instruments. 

Debate: Wednesday, 17 May Vote: Thursday, 18 May Procedure: consent

#Norway #EEA

Middle East: MEPs to push for a two-state solution 

MEPs will vote a resolution on the situation in the West Bank, as a follow-up to a debate held in November 2016 with EU foreign policy chief Federica   Mogherini. 

They are likely to push for the EU’s objective of a two-state solution and ask High Ms Mogherini for further action to revive the peace process   talks.

In a February plenary debate, MEPs criticised the current Israeli settlement policy including the so-called "Regulation Bill", which retroactively “legalises” several thousand settlements illegally built on Palestinian private land and could threaten the viability of the two-state solution. They also criticised demolitions and confiscations of many EU-funded aid structures in the West  Bank.

Debate: Tuesday, 22 November 2016 Vote: Thursday, 18 May

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

#WestBank @FedericaMog

Calls to halt GM maize and cotton import authorisations 

MEPs object to EU Commission plans to authorise imports of products made from maize and cotton that has been genetically modified to resist herbicides. In two resolutions to be voted Wednesday, they highlight concerns raised by independent research and member states, and repeat Parliament’s call for an overhaul of the EU’s GMO authorisation procedure.

Background

A separate EU law that would enable any EU member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was opposed by Parliament in October 2015. MEPs are concerned that this law might prove unworkable or that it could lead to the reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GMO countries. They called on the Commission to table a new   proposal.

Vote: Wednesday, 17 May Procedure:  non-legislative resolution

#GMOs

Blacklist of states at risk of money laundering could be  rejected again

MEPs could again reject a proposed list of countries thought to be at high risk of money laundering, as still inadequate.

Earlier this year, Parliament vetoed a similar list, drawn up by the EU Commission, of countries thought to be at risk of money laundering, financing terrorism or promoting tax evasion. A resolution to be voted on Wednesday says the EU should have an independent, autonomous process for judging whether countries pose a threat of financial criminality, rather than relying on the judgement of an external body. 

Currently the Commission relies heavily on an international body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in drawing up its   list. 

To be adopted, the resolution requires the votes of a majority of the component members of Parliament.

Under the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the Commission is responsible for producing an inventory of countries thought to be at risk of money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing. People and legal entities from blacklisted countries face tougher than usual checks when doing business in the  EU.

Vote: Wednesday, 17 May

#antimonerylaundering

Head of the African Union Commission to address Parliament

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Head of the African Union Commission, will address MEPs  at 12.00 on Tuesday in the Strasbourg   Chamber. 

Malnutrition and starvation, sustainable development, youth and intra-African trade as well as cooperation issues to do with peace and security on the continent should  be among  the issues to be raised by Mr   Faki. 

Elected as Chairperson of the 55 African states organisation Commission during the 28th African Union Summit in January, Chad’s former foreign minister Mr Faki pledged to place development and security at the top of his agenda and streamline the organisation’s bureaucracy. 

Earlier this month, the EU proposed a reinforced partnership with Africa on peace and security, and job creation for youth in the two continents. The fifth EU-Africa Summit will take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in November 2017, with youth as the key theme. The summit will be a critical opportunity for African and European leaders to reshape and deepen their relationship in an evolving  context.

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May Procedure: formal sitting

@MoussaFaki_M @_AfricanUnion

Job-search aid worth €2.6m for 821 former Nokia workers in Finland

MEPs will vote to make €2,641,800 available to help 821 redundant ICT workers in Finland to find new  jobs. 

  • 945 workers were made redundant by Nokia Network Systems and three of its suppliers and downstream
  • 821 out of the 945 are expected to benefit from the
  • The job losses were the result of fierce competition between the Finnish ICT sector and its

MEPs note that the redundancies are part of Nokia’s worldwide transformation programme, “which is needed in order to be able to compete with East Asian rivals.” The areas concerned are the regions around the cities of Helsinki, Oulu and Tampere (Helsinki-Uusimaa,  Pirkanmaa,  Northern Ostrobothnia).

The Council will vote on the proposal on 15 May.

Background

The aid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund would provide career coaching and individual guidance, employment and business services, a variety of vocational training schemes, services for new entrepreneurs and start-up grants, hiring incentives, training-related allowances, pay subsidy and contributions towards removal costs. The Fund’s annual ceiling is €150  million.

Vote: Wednesday, 17 May Procedure: budgetary procedure

#Nokia #EUfunds

Situation of Christians in the Middle East

MEPs will discuss the situation of Christians in the Middle East with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday   afternoon. 

Although the Middle East is home to some of the world's oldest Christian denominations, Christian communities throughout the region continue to decline as they face political repression and violent attacks.

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May 

Procedure: statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

@FedericaMog

MEPs to quiz Federica Mogherini on Dadaab refugee  camp, Kenya

Living conditions in the Dadaab refugee camp and the Kenyan government’s decision to close it will be debated with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday afternoon. MEPs will vote a resolution on  Thursday.

MEPs will quiz the European Commission and Council on how, specifically, the EU contributes to supporting refugees in Dadaab. They might also condemn the Kenyan government’s decision to close the  camp.

The Kenyan government has long maintained that the Dadaab camp has been used as a base by the al-Shabaab terror group. Kenya’s highest court recently blocked a Kenyan government proposal to shutter the camp. Despite that, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration continues to insist upon its closure, setting the end of May as a deadline for residents to leave.

Opened in eastern Kenya in the 1990s, as a temporary shelter for people fleeing civil war in neighbouring Somalia, Dadaab is one of the world's biggest refugee camps with more than 275,000 people, according to UN Refugee   Agency.

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May Vote: Thursday, 18 May

Procedure: statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

@FedericaMog #Dadaab #refugees

Human rights

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights and democracy topics on Thursday 18 May, at around 10.00, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Zambia, particularly the case of Hakainde Hichilema
  • Ethiopia, notably the case of Dr Merera Gudina
  • South Sudan

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions Debates/votes: Thursday 18 May

#humanrights #democracy

Other topics for debates and votes

  • EU eGovernment action plan 2016-2020, Verheyen (INI), debate Monday, vote Tuesday
  • Annual report 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality, Karim,debate Wednesday, vote Thursday
  • The right funding mix for Europe’s regions: balancing financial instruments and grants in EU cohesion policy, Novakov, debate Thursday, vote Thursday
  • Future perspectives for technical assistance in Cohesion Policy, Tomašić, debate Thursday, vote Thursday
  • European qualification framework, debate Mon, vote Tue, OQ with resolution
  • Annual report 2015 on the protection of EU's financial interests - Fight against fraud, Pitera, debate Monday, vote Tuesday
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