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17-05-2013

EP Plenary Session News: 20-23 May 2013

What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary session in Strasbourg?

Click here to see draft agenda
 
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MEPs to urge European Summit action against tax fraud

Parliament will urge member states to step up the fight against tax havens and improve tax collection, in a debate on Tuesday that gives input to the 22 May European Council. On Tuesday MEPs will vote on a draft resolution that says EU member states should join forces to halve the €1 trillion uncollected "tax gap" by 2020.

Parliament's debate with Council and Commission will look at ways to combat tax fraud and evasion and close avoidance loopholes, including drawing up a common blacklist of tax havens. MEPs also want the summit to make progress towards a real EU monetary union and better investment in energy infrastructure.

A second draft resolution highlights ways in which member states could benefit by better coordinating their tax systems, without harming healthy tax competition.

Procedure: Commission and Council statements, non-legislative resolutions

Debate/Vote: Tuesday, 21 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin) Marian Harkin (Independent-North West) Nessa Childers (Labour-East) Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East) Phil Prendergast (Labour-South)

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EU bank supervision package to be debated in plenary

The EU single banking supervision mechanism, as agreed by lead MEP negotiators and the Council Presidency in late March, will be debated in plenary session on Tuesday. The final vote on the rules will come later, to allow more time for parallel talks between the EP and the European Central Bank on detailed accountability provisions for the system's supervisor.

MEPs are expected to use the debate to stress that accountability rules must match the supervisory powers created or transferred to EU level. The ECB, in its supervisory role, will therefore have to be much more open and accountable than for its monetary policy one.

They will also highlight the need to develop a supervisory system with the widest possible membership, so as to avoid fracturing the single market in financial services.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading and Consent

Debate: Tuesday, 21 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Phil Prendergast (Labour-South) Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin) Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Marian Harkin (Independent-North West)

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Parliament to state expectations for trade talks with the US

The goals that Parliament expects to be achieved and values that it wants to be defended in talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with United States will be debated on Wednesday and voted on Thursday.

The talks, to be authorized by the EU Council of Ministers in June and launched in July, should lead to a comprehensive deal capable of boosting economic growth in the EU by 0.5% of GDP, according to the Commission.

The deal should further EU economic interests in public procurement, transport and financial services, says the draft prepared by Vital Moreira (S&D, PT). At the same it must safeguard EU fundamental values, protect intellectual property rights, including geographical indications, and ensure strong protection of personal data. US-EU differences over GMOs, cloning and consumer health must not undermine the EU's "precautionary principle", it adds.

The current draft also says cultural and audiovisual services should be excluded from the negotiating mandate.

When MEPs debate the issue with the Council and Commission, they are expected to press for Parliament to be kept fully informed and on board throughout the negotiating process, given that the TTIP agreement will require Parliament's consent.

Procedure: Council and Commission statements, non-legislative resolution

Debate: Wednesday, 22 May

Vote: Thursday, 23 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Sean Kelly (Fine Gael-South) Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin) Phil Prendergast (Labour-South)

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Media freedom in the EU

Changes to member states' media laws and their impact on government interference in the media should be monitored every year at EU level, says a draft resolution to be voted on Tuesday. It also advocates broadening the scope of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive to ensure full respect for media freedom and pluralism. A second draft resolution, also to be voted on Tuesday, calls for improved media education and protection for minors.

"A mechanism for monitoring and reporting on the full respect of media freedom and pluralism across the EU should become a regular democratic exercise," said Renate Weber (ALDE, RO), who drafted the first resolution for the Civil Liberties Committee.

This draft advocates broadening the scope of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive to ensure full respect for the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information, media freedom and pluralism.

The other resolution highlights the threat to freedom of information posed by the concentration of media ownership. It also considers the accessibility of on-line audiovisual content and media education, and calls for measures to improve protection of minors. The text was drafted by Piotr Borys (EPP, PL) for the Culture and Education Committee.


Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

Debate: Monday, 20 May

Vote: Tuesday, 21 May

Irish MEPs on this issue:


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Parliament to adopt position on dates for next year's European elections

The 2014 European elections should be held from 22 to 25 May, instead of 5 to 8 June, says a draft decision to be voted by Parliament on Tuesday. This will give the new Parliament more time to prepare for the election of the European Commission President in July 2014.

The draft Council decision to bring forward the dates of the next European elections from 5 to 8 June to 22 to 25 May 2014 meets a request made by Parliament in a resolution passed on 22 November last year.

As well as giving the newly elected Parliament more time to prepare for the election of the European Commission President, holding the elections in May rather than June means that they will not clash with the Whit weekend which falls in the school holidays in many member states.

The Council of the European Union has to decide unanimously on the dates of the election period after consulting the European Parliament.

Procedure: Consultation

Vote: Tuesday, 21 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Marian Harkin (Independent North-West) Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East) Nessa Childers (Labour-East)


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EU-wide protection for victims of stalking or gender violence

A draft law to ensure that a victim of violence who is granted protection in one EU member state can get the same protection when she or he moves to another will be voted on Wednesday. The law would also speed up recognition of protection measures by creating standard multilingual certificates.

These new rules would add civil law protection to the criminal law protection already enforced under the European Protection Order (EPO) Directive. If adopted, the rules would cover all threats to a person's physical and moral integrity, including threats to dignity, security, personal freedom and sexual integrity.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement

Debate/Vote: Wednesday, 22 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue:


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Updating rules on cross-border trips for pets

New legislation on the "non-commercial transport" of pets, already informally agreed with EU ministers, will be put to a vote on Thursday. It should make it easier to transport pets across borders and will strengthen animal health requirements. It will also ensure that pet owners get clearer information on line.

Owners should make sure that their animals' anti-rabies vaccinations are still valid. Young animals between 12 and 16 weeks that have been vaccinated against rabies - but have yet to achieve immunity - should still be allowed to travel.

However, people will not be allowed to transport more than five animals at once under these rules, unless they can prove that they are taking part in a competition, exhibition, sporting or other recreational event. This restriction is needed to prevent or discourage abuse of the rules for commercial purposes, say MEPs.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement

Debate/Vote: Thursday, 24 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Nessa Childers (Labour-East) Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East) Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin)


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Offshore oil and gas: stricter rules to protect the environment

A provisional deal with the Council on the environmental safety of offshore oil and gas drilling will be debated on Monday and put to the vote on Tuesday. It would require oil and gas firms to prove their ability to cover potential liabilities deriving from their operations and to submit major hazard reports and emergency response plans before getting a licence to drill.

Operators would have to prove their financial ability to remedy any damage caused to the environment by their operations. They would also have to submit "major hazard" reports, and emergency plans for dealing with accidents to national authorities before starting operations.

The new directive would set minimum safety requirements across the EU. Landlocked countries and those with no offshore operations would need to enforce only the relevant provisions.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement

Debate: Monday, 20 May

Vote: Tuesday, 21 May

Press Conference: Tuesday, 21 May - 11.30-12.00 (tbc)

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Nessa Childers (Labour-East)


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EU enlargement prospects of Bosnia and Herzegovina and FYR Macedonia

MEPs are set to insist that EU enlargement decisions continue to be based on each candidate country's individual progress, when they discuss the second wave of 2012 progress reports on Wednesday. Separate resolutions on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be voted on Thursday.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - falling further behind

A political élites that lacks a consistent commitment and joint vision of Bosnia and Herzegovina's overall direction, less than fully-functional institutions at federal and local levels and a high level of corruption are among key factors identified in the draft text as reasons why the country is falling further behind others in the region. MEPs are also set to stress that women and youth must be empowered.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - start talks before July

The start of accession negotiations could itself be a "game-changer" to the current status quo, giving positive impetus to further reforms and better relations with the country's neighbours, the draft text says. It also stresses that the name issue must be solved without delay and says that all political forces must respect the country's parliament as a key democratic institution.

Procedure: Council and Commission statements followed by debate (non-legislative resolutions)

Debate: Wednesday, 22 May

Vote: Thursday, 23 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)

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Public pensions, which remain the main source of income for pensioners in the EU, must be safeguarded by all EU member states, MEPs stress in a draft resolution to be put to vote on Tuesday. They also call for diversified pension schemes as the financial and economic crisis have revealed the vulnerability of both private and public pension schemes.

There are now roughly four people of working age for every person of retirement age. In 50 years' time, the ratio will be only two to one.

The resolution is Parliament's response to the Commission White paper published in February 2012.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

Debate: Monday, 20 May

Vote: Tuesday, 21 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

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Recovering Arab Spring countries' assets

Commissioner Štefan Füle will attend the plenary on Wednesday to discuss arrangements for recovering assets stashed by the former dictators of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

In March, five MEPs asked the Commission, on behalf of the S&D Group, whether asset recovery was a political priority, what the Commission was doing to aid the process, and whether the EU might establish a group of investigators, lawyers and prosecutors to help resolve conflicts between national and international law, e.g. on bank secrecy.

Procedure: Commission statement followed by debate

Debate: Wednesday, 22 May

Vote: Thursday, 24 May


Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin) Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)

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Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries

The plight of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries will be debated with Commissioner Štefan Füle in plenary session on Wednesday. Recent reports suggest that there are now over 1.3 million refugees registered and awaiting registration in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and North Africa. The UN predicts that 3.5 million refugees will have left Syria by the end of this year.

Procedure: Statement by the Commission, non-legislative resolution

Debate: Wednesday, 22 May

Vote: Thursday, 23 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)

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MEPs to recommend restoring Myanmar's free access to the EU market

Plans to reinstate Myanmar's duty- and quota-free access to the EU market will be debated by MEPs on Wednesday and put to a vote on Thursday, along with a resolution calling on the Commission and EU firms to take steps to eradicate remaining forced labour and other human rights violations there.

The draft proposal recommends giving duty- and quota-free access to the EU market for all Myanmar's exports except arms and ammunition. The EU suspended this access in 1997, due to the widespread use of forced labour in Myanmar.

Procedure: Commission statement following by debate (with resolution)

Debate: Wednesday, 22 May

Vote: Thursday, 23 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)

Further legislation on economic and monetary union

Parliament will quiz the Commission on its plans to present further legislation on economic and monetary union in a debate on Tuesday. A resolution setting out Parliament's priorities for the next steps of EMU will be put to the vote on Wednesday.

The resolution is expected to highlight the need to establish more accountability for economic governance powers transferred to the EU. It is also likely to suggest financial incentives for countries undertaking difficult structural reforms and to call for an employment and social "dimension" to be built into economic governance.

The draft resolution will first be voted in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Monday evening.

Ideas for strengthening EMU's "social dimension", e.g. by creating a social and employment scoreboard to provide input for the European Semester, will also be discussed by MEPs and the Commission on Wednesday morning.

Procedure: Question to Commission followed by debate (with resolution)

Debate: Tuesday, 21 May

Vote: Wednesday, 22 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East) Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Phil Prendergast (Labour-South)

MEPs to voice grave concerns about labour conditions in Bangladesh

MEPs will press the Commission to act to improve working conditions in Bangladesh, following the recent fire and the collapse of a building at factories producing clothing chiefly for European and American brands.

MEPs have already called for thorough investigations and compliance with health and safety legislation in a resolution adopted earlier this year, pointing to the deadly collusion between local safety inspectors and factory owners.

Procedure: Commission statement, non-legislative resolution

Debate: Thursday, 23 May

Votes: Thursday, 23 May

Further information

Irish MEPs on this issue: Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East) Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin) Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East) Phil Prendergast (Labour-South)

Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following topics relating to human rights and democracy, on Thursday 23 May at 15.00, with the votes following at around 16.00.

Guantánamo: hunger strike by prisoners

India: execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru and its implications

Rwanda: case of Victoire Ingabire

Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions

Debate/vote: Thursday, 23 May

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin)

Other topics on the agenda

Other topics for debate and votes include the following:

Renewable energies, debate Monday, vote Tuesday

Irish MEPs on this issue: Sean Kelly (Fine-Gael-South)

EU & international investment laws, debate Wednesday, vote Thursday

Irish MEPs on this issue: Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)

Pyrotechnic articles, vote Wednesday

Oral question on voluntary permanent Union relocation schemeVoluntary permanent Union relocation scheme (oral question), debate Monday, vote Tuesday

Resolution on on women’s rights in the Balkan accession countries Women's rights in the Balkan accession countries, debate Monday, vote Tuesday


Draft WIPO treaty, Tuesday

Other items on the agenda:

Irish MEPs on this issue: Phil Prendergast (Labour-South) Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

 

For further information, please contact Catherine Bunyan, Press Officer on 086 8559423 or at catherine.bunyan@europarl.europa.eu or contact the Irish MEPs' Press Officers directly.

To watch any part of the Plenary Session live, please click on the EP Live section of the Parliament's website and select Live Broadcast from the menu on the left-hand side.

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