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EP Plenary Newsletter 16-19 September 2019

What will our MEPs be working on in this week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include the Presidency of the European Central Bank; the UK's departure from the European Union and Climate Change.


Lagarde’s candidacy to become European Central Bank Chief in plenary for a vote

Christine Lagarde is expected to obtain a recommendation from the plenary on Tuesday. She would then be one step away from becoming ECB President.

Before the secret vote, Plenary will also hold a debate.

Ms Lagarde has already received a recommendation from the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee following a hearing last week.

The European Parliament gives an opinion on whether or not a candidate is suitable to fill the role of President of the ECB, with the final decision taken by the European Council. She will replace Mario Draghi.


Debate:  Tuesday, 17 September

Vote:  Tuesday, 17 September

Procedure:  Consultation

Draft report
Press release on committee vote (04.09.2019)
Procedure file
Opening statement of Christine Lagarde to MEPs of the economic and Monetary Affairs committee
Written replies of Christine Lagarde to questions from MEPs
Audio-visual package on Christine Lagarde in the European Parliament

Irish MEPs following this issue are: Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael/EPP (Dublin)


Brexit: Parliament to discuss the current state of play with Michel Barnier

On Wednesday, 18 September , MEPs will debate and vote on the state of play of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Following the outcome of the 10 April 2019 European Special Summit, the UK is set to leave the EU on 31 October or earlier.

To enter into force, any withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom needs to be approved by the European Parliament by a simple majority of votes cast (Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union).

Read more about the outgoing European Parliament’s debates and resolutions on Brexit.


Debate; Wednesday, 18 September

Vote: Wednesday, 18 September

Procedure: Statements by the Council and the Commission, with resolution

EP resolutions and composition of the EP Brexit Steering group
More Information
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil/ Renew (South); Mairéad McGuinness, Fine Gael/ EPP (Midlands North-West) and Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael/EPP (Dublin)


MEPs to discuss Amazon forest fires

The situation and destruction of forests worldwide, as well as in the EU, will be debated with Council and Commission on Monday and Tuesday afternoon.

In July, the European Commission adopted a communication setting out a new framework outlining action to be taken to protect and restore the world’s forests, which host 80% of biodiversity on land, support the livelihoods of around a quarter of the world's population, and are vital to efforts to fight climate change.

The situation of EU forests will be discussed on Monday, after the opening of the session.

Debates: Monday, 17 and Tuesday, 18 September

Procedure: Council and Commission statements

Press release by the European Commission - Commission steps up EU action to protect and restore the world's forests
Communication (2019) on stepping up EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests
Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil/ Renew (South); Mairéad McGuinness, Fine Gael/ EPP (Midlands North-West) and Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael/EPP (Dublin)


Plant patents: exempt naturally obtained products

MEPs will quiz the EU Commission on Monday on how it wants to ensure that products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as crossing, cannot be patented.

The debate comes ahead of the 1 October deadline for submitting statements on the patentability of naturally obtained plants to the final appellate instance in the European Patent Office (EPO).

In a non-legislative resolution, to be put to the vote on Thursday, Parliament may reiterate its previous calls for barrier-free access to plant breeding material, which is needed to promote innovation, genetic variation of crops and EU citizens’ health.


The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Enlarged Board of Appeal decided in March 2015 in the tomato (G0002/12) and broccoli (G0002/13) cases that products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as crossing, can obtain patent protection. The European Parliament responded in December 2015 with a non-binding resolution demanding that EU rules be clarified and reiterating its objection, from May 2012, to patentability of products derived from conventional breeding.

After the European Commission intervened in November 2016, the EPO amended its policy so as not to grant patents on products obtained from essentially biological breeding processes. However, the EPO’s Technical Board of Appeal rejected this decision in December 2018, arguing that the European Patent Convention takes precedence over EPO’s implementing rules.

The final judgement should come from the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal.


Debate: Monday, 16 September

Vote: Thursday, 19 September 

Procedure: Oral question for the Commission, with non-legislative resolution

Oral question for the Commission
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil/ Renew (South)


Foreign electoral interference and spread of disinformation in Europe

Fake news and interference in the democratic processes in Europe will be discussed on Tuesday at 15:00.

MEPs will hold a debate on foreign electoral interference and disinformation in national and European democratic processes, as they threaten the stability of political systems in member states and the cohesion of European integration. A resolution will be put to the vote on Thursday.

The EU is considering how to counter cyber-attacks, propaganda campaigns and misinformation from non-EU countries.

In December 2018, the European Commission published an Action Plan against Disinformation and in  March this year, the Parliament adopted a resolution pointing at Russia, along with China, Iran and North Korea, as the main source of disinformation in Europe.


Debate: Tuesday, 17 September

Vote: Thursday, 19 September

Procedure:  Council and Commission statements with resolution

Commission Communication : Report on the implementation of the Action Plan Against Disinformation, 14.06.2019
Commission Communication: Action Plan Against Disinformation, 05.12.2018
Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

Climate action summit: debate with the Commission

Parliament will call on the EU to deliver on a pledge for a carbon neutral Europe by 2050.

The Climate Action Summit, convened by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, will take place on Saturday, 21 September at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, until Monday, 23 September.

At the summit, UN countries and stakeholders will discuss ways to accelerate climate action, ahead of the COP25 UNFCCC climate talks to take place in Chile in December.

In March, the European Parliament called on EU countries to endorse a net-zero greenhouse gas by 2050 scenario proposed by the European Commission in a communication.


Debate:  Tuesday 17 September

Procedure:  Declaration by the Commission

Press release (14.03.2019) Climate change: Parliament’s blueprint for long-term CO2 cuts
European Commission communication: a clean planet for all
Visit by Greta THUNBERG, young climate activist from Sweden, to the EP
Free photos, video and audio material

Debate on the situation in Hong Kong

MEPs will discuss the latest developments in Hong Kong on Monday evening in the plenary chamber in Strasbourg.

The former British colony has seen a wave of street protests and violent clashes over the summer, ever since the Hong Kong Parliament in April proposed a new law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. On 4 September, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced that she would withdraw the law completely.

The demonstrations have nevertheless continued, with protesters now calling for a much broader range of democratic reforms and denouncing mainland China’s interference in Hong Kong’s internal matters.

The agreement on Hong Kong’s autonomy (“one country, two systems principle”) that was struck between the United Kingdom and China before the handover in 1997 is set to expire in 2047, leaving the future of the city uncertain.


Debate: Monday, 16 September

Procedure:  Statement by the Commission

Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

Vote on a €100 million boost for research and Erasmus programmes

On Wednesday, MEPs are set to approve a €100 million top-up for the EU’s research programmes (€80 million for Horizon 2020) and youth mobility (€20 million for Erasmus+).

The European Parliament and the Council decided the additional funds for research and Erasmus in December 2018.

MEPs will also vote on whether to from 2018 to the EU member states, through a decrease in the countries’ contributions to the EU budget. This is an annual budgetary exercise-whereby the funds stems from default interest and fines received by the Commission, as well as under-implementation of the EU programmes.


Vote:  Wednesday, 18 September

Procedure:  Budgetary procedure

Draft report - Horizon 2020/Erasmus+
Draft report - 2018 surplus
Press release on committee vote (03.09.2019)
Profile of rapporteur: John Howarth (S&D, UK)
Procedure file - Horizon 2020/Erasmus+
Procedure file - 2018 surplus
EP ThinkTank briefing “Erasmus+: More than just mobility”
Free photos, video and audio material

Nearly €300 million in EU aid after 2018 floods in Austria, Italy, Romania

On Wednesday, MEPs are set to approve €293.5 million in EU Solidarity Fund aid following extreme weather events in Austria, Italy and Romania in 2018.

The €293.5 million in aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) breaks down as follows: €277.2 million for Italy following heavy rains, strong winds, floods and landslides in the autumn of 2018, €8.1 million for Austria following the same meteorological events and €8.2 million for the North East region in Romania after the summer 2018 floods.

More information here (Commission proposal) and in the EP draft report by rapporteur Siegfried Muresan, (EPP, RO), who recommends approving the EUSF assistance.


Vote:  Wednesday, 18 September

Procedure:  Budgetary procedure

Press release on committee vote (03.09.2019)
Draft report
Profile of rapporteur: Siegfried Muresan, (EPP, RO)
Procedure file
Free photos, video and audio material

MEPs to debate Kashmir and the security situation in Burkina Faso

MEPs will debate several topical foreign policy issues in Strasbourg on Tuesday afternoon.

Up for discussion in the hemicycle will be:

  • The security situation in Burkina Faso,
  • Recent developments in the political situation and the implementation of the peace process in Colombia and
  • The situation in Kashmir.

The foreign affairs debates will kick off on Tuesday afternoon as the third item on the agenda, following the Council and Commission statements on the “Amazon forest fires”.


Debate: Tuesday, 17 September

Procedure: Statements by the European Commission

Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

Anti-money laundering rules need to be properly implemented

Anti-money laundering rules need coordinated and speedy implementation, MEPs are set to say during a debate with the Council and the Commission on Wednesday.

MEPs urge the member states to implement the already agreed anti-money laundering rules in national law. They see the lack of cooperation and poor information-sharing between national authorities as the main obstacles to preventing money-laundering and criminal financing in all member states.

MEPs might also stress the need to boost the European Banking Authority’s resources, the anti-money laundering watchdog.

The vote on the resolution takes place on Thursday.


Debate: Wednesday, 18 September

Vote:  Thursday, 19 September

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution

EP Research in depth analysis: Money laundering - Recent cases from a EU banking supervisory perspective
Communication from the commission to the European parliament towards better implementation of the EU's anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism framework
Commission: Factsheet on the main changes of the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive

Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights, democracy and rule of law topics on Thursday 19 September, at around 09.00, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Situation in Turkey, notably the removal of elected mayors
  • Myanmar, notably the situation of the Rohingya
  • Iran, notably the situation of women's rights defenders and imprisoned EU dual nationals


Debate: Thursday 19 September

Vote: Thursday 19 September

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Seán Kelly, Fine Gael/ EPP (South) and Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael/ EPP (Dublin)