No more roaming charges as of 15 June
A great EU success story - from 15 June 2017, you will be able to use your mobile device when travelling in the EU, paying the same prices as at home, i.e. to roam like at home. "The EPP Group stood firm on the promise made to consumers that roaming charges will disappear this summer", said Paul Rübig MEP, the EPP Group negotiator on the new rules.
Happy Birthday Erasmus!
Almost 1.3 million young people have been part of the Erasmus exchange programme since it started in 1987. The European Parliament will celebrate this great European success with an award ceremony on Tuesday in the hemicycle for 33 Erasmus participants - one for each participant country. The success story now goes under the new name Erasmus+, launched in 2014, as the EU is passing on the European idea not only to students, but to numerous other target groups. EPP Group MEP Milan Zver, author of the implementation Report for Erasmus+, emphasises that we have to improve the quality and visibility of the programme to get as many young people as possible enthusiastic for Europe: "We are living in historical times! It is of paramount importance that young people not only read about Europe, they must experience it! Therefore Erasmus+ is the best investment in the European future!"
New EU Energy Label
The EU Energy Label, a coloured sticker showing the energy efficiency of products, is a proven tool for consumer information. In July 2015, the European Commission proposed a revision of the Energy Efficiency Label as some existing labels have come up against technological advances, leaving little room for differentiation. The EPP Group is committed to the conversion of the EU Energy Label to A-G for a flexible, practical and bureaucratic solution so that consumers are not unnecessarily confused and the manufacturers and traders involved are not overwhelmed. In the future, a new calibration will take place as soon as more than 30 percent fall into efficiency class A, or more than 50 percent into efficiency classes A and B. "Due to the planned automatic re-calibration, the product classes are again distinguishable and a renewed reform of the popular label becomes superfluous", says Herbert Reul MEP, the EPP Group Member responsible for setting out a framework for energy efficiency labelling.
Climate Change: debate on Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement
On Wednesday, MEPs will debate the preparation of the European Council of 22-23 June with the European Commission and the Council. They will also debate the decision by the US Administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on the fight against climate change. For the EPP Group, this decision by US President Trump should be seen as an opportunity for Europe to finally grow up. "On many matters of key importance, the US has proved that it is no longer a reliable partner. This decision will make Europeans’ determination to lead the fight against climate change even greater", said Manfred Weber after the US decision was announced.
Binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions
MEPs will vote on Wednesday on setting out binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States for the period 2021–2030. These targets cover sectors of the economy that fall outside the scope of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). This is an important step towards significantly reducing emissions since it takes into consideration sectors including transport, building, agriculture and waste management which account for almost 60% of total EU emissions. The proposal is the follow-up to the Effort Sharing Decision which established national emissions targets for Member States in the non-ETS sectors between 2013 and 2020.
Digital Economy: towards better regulation
The collaborative economy is of key importance to the digital economy as it results in lower prices and greater choice by enabling people to share goods and services by using new platforms and applications. A joint debate on the digital economy will take place in the plenary session on Wednesday followed by votes on the Reports on the 'European Agenda for the collaborative economy' and 'Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market' on Thursday. The Reports aim at clear EU regulation for legal certainty, customer protection and fair competition.
EFSI did better than expected on SMEs
On Thursday, MEPs will vote on the Report on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) which is at the heart of the Juncker Investment Plan. “So far, EFSI has delivered the expected results and largely exceeded expectations as regards SME investments. EFSI has so far mobilised more than €194 billion in investment and supported more than 400,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. It has helped to create jobs and has contributed to growth", stated the EFSI Co-Rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes MEP. The three-year investment plan, now in place for around 1.5 years, was benchmarked to mobilise a total of €315 billion: €240 billion for infrastructure projects and €75 billion for SMEs.
Tax Transparency: Socialists want to discriminate against European companies
On Monday evening, the joint committees of Economic and Legal Affairs vote on a new law obliging multi-national companies to disclose profit shifting to low tax countries. Dariusz Rosati MEP, the EPP Group's negotiator of the new rules, accuses European Socialists of discriminating against European companies. "We want to make visible how multi-national companies shift their profits to low tax countries. European companies doing business outside Europe must not be forced to reveal everything if competitors don't do the same", Rosati said.
Foreign investments in stategic sectors
While the EU attracts international investors like a magnet, many of our non-EU investors are subject to unnecessary restrictions. "An imbalance that needs to be fixed urgently, especially since foreign investors do not always go the direct way and look for legal loopholes in the EU", says Daniel Caspary MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on International Trade with regard to the Council and Commission statements on foreign investments in strategic sectors scheduled for Wednesday in plenary. In the current situation, numerous investors bypass national blockades by acting through a European shell company. European companies are unprotected as national mechanisms for the protection of sensitive economic areas no longer apply in this case. The EPP Group considers that this loophole urgently needs to be plugged by a strategic EU audit procedure.
New Blue Card rules
The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs will vote on Thursday on the revised rules for granting 'Blue Card' working permits to highly-qualified third-country workers. The new EU law would replace current national schemes for attracting highly-skilled workers by a single EU-wide one. The new rules will also strengthen the rights of Blue Card holders and their family members and allow for more freedom to travel between EU countries. The EPP Group is in favour of a more efficient Blue Card system which would ease the migration crisis over time and help the European economy. However, we have made sure that a balance was reached between making the EU more attractive to highly-skilled migrants and reducing the unemployment rate among EU nationals.
New EU rules for applicants of international protection
Common criteria for the recognition of applicants of international protection across the EU will be voted on by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on Thursday. According to this new EU law, EU countries would have to apply more stringent rules to the recognition of applicants of international protection who would, in turn, have a clear, well-defined set of rights and obligations. The EPP Group supports the European Commission’s proposal with the aim of addressing secondary movements of beneficiaries of international protection. Nevertheless, our guiding principle is that international protection must be granted only to those who truly need it. We will not support efforts from other left-leaning political groups which give rise to the abuse of the asylum system.
Improving the visibility of EU investments
The Plenary will vote on Tuesday on how to significantly improve the visibility and communication of projects co-financed by the European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds. Research shows that only one third of Europeans know of projects funded by the EU in their area. Rapporteur Daniel Buda MEP is convinced Europe can do better. "By showing the positive investments in the economies and business in thousands of municipalities and hundreds of regions all over Europe, we give people a realistic perspective of the positive impact of the EU on the well-being of people. That's why a transparant approach by stakeholders and a communication plan should be part of all projects that receive money from ESI funds."
Tuesday: Meeting with Jorge Toledo, Spanish State Secretary for European Affairs
Wednesday: Meeting with Alassane Ouattara, President of the Ivory Coast
Press Conferences (12-16 June)
Tuesday @ 10.30 Antonio Tajani MEP, President of the European Parliament, Milan Zver MEP, EP Rapporteur for Erasmus+, and Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and others on '30 years of Eramus+'
Tuesday @ 11.00 EPP Group Chairman Manfred Weber - Plenary briefing
Wednesday @ 15.30 Lefteris Christoforou MEP on 'Priorities for the June Plenary Session Agenda'
Wednesday @ 16.00 Lambert van Nistelrooij MEP on 'Let the Stars Shine'