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01-02-2013

EP Plenary Session News: 4-7 February 2013

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

 
Agenda for the European Parliament Plenary Session
 

President François Hollande invited to debate with MEPs

President François Hollande of France will debate the future of the European Union and the Eurozone, the economic crisis and the EU budget for 2014 to 2020 with political group leaders and Commission President José Manuel Barroso in the Chamber from 10.30 on Tuesday.

President Hollande's visit to the EP, his first since taking office, follows an invitation from the EP President, Martin Schulz. Other topics for debate could include the French intervention in Mali and the British referendum.

President Hollande and President Schulz will hold a press conference after the debate.

Procedure:  Statement followed by a debate
Debate:  Tuesday, 5 February
Press conference: Tuesday, 5 February

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

 

MEPs to debate EU's 2014-2020 budget with a view to decisive summit

MEPs will debate the EU's budget for 2014-2020 with the Irish Presidency and the European Commission on Wednesday at 09:00. They are likely to warn member states that the more they cut the initial proposal, the less likely Parliament will be to give it the necessary blessing.

After failing to reach a compromise on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) at a summit in November last year, member states will try again at another on 7 and 8 February.

Besides insisting on adequate funding, MEPs will press for more flexibility to move spending between headings within the budget.

They will also call for genuine own resources to fund the EU Budget - as the Treaty prescribes - so as to reduce the "burden" of contributions from national budgets.

EU Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton will represent the Irish Presidency of the Council of Ministers and Budgets Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski will represent the European Commission.

Procedure:  Council and Commission statements followed by a debate
Debate:  Wednesday, 6 February
Press conference : Wednesday, 6 February at 10.00

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

 

Employment MEPs to urge sharper focus on growth and jobs

The likely short-term impact of fiscal consolidation on growth, employment and social inclusion must be properly assessed, say Employment MEPs in their position on the Commission's annual growth survey, on which Parliament will vote a resolution on Thursday. The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee is to vote its position on Monday evening.

Employment MEPs say the European Commission should revise its economic policy recommendations to take account of the IMF's recent admission that the negative multiplier effects of austerity measures on employment and social conditions have been underestimated.

The annual growth survey marks the start of the "European Semester" economic policy coordination process, which aims to ensure that member states align their economic and budgetary plans with the EU Stability and Growth Pact and the Europe 2020 strategy. The survey covers the EU as a whole, but country-specific recommendations will be included later.

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolution
Debate:  Tuesday, 5 February
Vote:  Thursday, 7 February

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

 

MEPs to demand an end to overfishing in radical "Blue Europe" reform plan

MEPs will insist that the EU's new fisheries policy is sustainable when they vote on a radical reform proposal on Wednesday. They want to end overfishing, widely seen as the worst failure of the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and ban discards, where unwanted, dead fish are thrown back into the sea.

The idea is to prevent member states from setting fishing quotas which are too high after 2015, by obliging them to fish sustainably and allow fish stocks to recover by 2020. The new CFP is due to take effect in 2014, replacing the present regime which dates from 2002. Almost 70% of EU fish stocks are currently overfished, according to European Commission figures.

Nearly a quarter of all EU catches are discarded because they are the wrong size or the wrong species and most of the discarded species die. To end this wasteful practice, MEPs want to oblige fishing vessels to land all catches in accordance with a timeframe setting specific dates for different fisheries, starting from 2014.

Parliament may also press for multi-annual planning, with fish stock plans based on more reliable and accurate scientific data from member states. These should lead to greater sustainability and enable the fishing industry to invest better and plan ahead.

Procedure:  Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading
Debate:  Tuesday, 5 February
Vote:  Wednesday, 6 February
Press conference: Wednesday, 6 February at 14.30

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Pat the Cope Gallagher (Fianna Fail-North West), Nessa Childers (Labour-East), Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

 

Vote on more transparent medicine pricing

More transparency and specific time limits for EU countries' decisions on the pricing and reimbursement of medicines are needed to improve patients' access to affordable treatments and remove barriers to getting medicines to market, says draft legislation to be voted on Wednesday.

The draft sets a 60-day time limit for EU countries to decide on the pricing and reimbursement of generic medicines, so as to make these cheaper products available faster. Pricing and reimbursement decisions on new medicines will have to be taken within the current 180-day time limit.

Member states' competent authorities would also have to disclose the names and the declarations of interests of their experts and members. They would also be required to publish the list of the medicinal products covered by their public health insurance system and their prices, at least once a year.

Procedure:  Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), first reading
Debate:  Monday; 4 February
Vote:  Wednesday, 6 February

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East), Nessa Childers (Labour-East), Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

 

President Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia to address the House

Moncef Marzouki, President of the Tunisian Republic, will address Parliament on Wednesday at noon. Tunisia's constituent assembly presented a delayed draft of the new constitution in January, amid concerns over the role of religion and women's rights. Tunisia will hold legislative and presidential elections in June 2013, the government announced in October.

Procedure: Formal Sitting
Debate:  Wednesday, 6 February, 12.00 - 12.30
Press Conference: Wednesday, 6 February at 12.30 with President Schulz

 

MEPs to urge EU to do more to prevent poaching of endangered animals

The EU must step up its efforts to prevent the poaching of elephants and rhinos, says a draft resolution to be voted on Wednesday. The EU should also state a strong position at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Bangkok (Thailand) from 3 to 14 March, adds the text.

The draft resolution also stresses the need to include several shark species in the list of animals in which trade must be controlled and to raise awareness of poaching of polar bears.

Finally, the text also proposes that CITES be asked to abolish the use of secret ballots as a standard practice and address conflicts of interest within CITES committees.

Procedure:  Oral question with resolution
Debate:  Tuesday, 5 February
Vote:  Wednesday, 6 February

 

Requiring banks to lend to small firms

Banks that received state aid or European Central Bank support to help them survive the crisis should be required to earmark some of their lending for small firms, say MEPs in a draft resolution to be voted on Tuesday.

Banks should be required to tailor loans to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), says the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee's draft resolution.

The draft also calls for clear rules on cooperation between SMEs and their creditors and new measures to help small firms to ensure that other firms pay them faster.

Small firms, such as family-run businesses, high-tech ventures and start-ups, suffer more than other economic players from the difficulty of obtaining bank loans, and are also hardest-hit by late payments.

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolution
Debate:  Monday, 4 February
Vote:  Tuesday, 5 February

Irish MEPs on this issue: Marian Harkin (Independent-North West), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)

 

Vote on fresh money for banana growers in EU outermost regions

Banana growers in the EU's outermost regions could get a one-off payment of €40 million in financial 2013 to offset their lack of competitiveness and changing EU market conditions. MEPs vote Tuesday on the informal deal, struck by Parliament and Council negotiators in November 2012.

The updated rules, if approved by MEPs, would also maintain the budget for specific measures in the EU's outermost regions and smaller Aegean islands to help farmers cope with difficulties due to their extreme remoteness.

The EU's outermost regions are the Azores and Madeira, the Canary Islands, the French overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion, and the French overseas collectivities Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement
Debate:  Monday, 4 February
Vote:  Tuesday, 5 February

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East)

 

MEPs to debate Turkey's Kurdish issue

MEPs will quiz the Council and the Commission on Wednesday on how the EU can better feed into the peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey. Hundreds of Kurdish prisoners went on a 67-day hunger strike last year, demanding more rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey and better conditions for Abdullah Ocalan, ex-leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who is serving a life sentence. Three Kurdish activists were shot dead in Paris in January.

Procedure: Council and Commission statements followed by debate
Debate:  Wednesday, 6 February

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

 

Debate on how best to help EU industry to recover

MEPs will debate how best to help EU industry and restart plants with Industry and Entrepreneurship Commissioner Antonio Tajani on Monday, with an eye on the threatened closure of several industrial sites, including the ArcelorMittal steelworks in Liège (Belgium).

The Industry, Research and Energy Committee is preparing a resolution on "reindustrialising Europe to promote competitiveness and sustainability", in response to the Commission communication on reindustrialising the EU.

Procedure:  Commission Statement followed by debate
Debate:  Monday, 4 February

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

 

Freedom and the rule of law in Bulgaria

MEPs will debate freedom and the rule of law in Bulgaria with the Council and the Commission on Wednesday afternoon. They will focus on the assault on Ahmed Dogan, leader of Bulgaria's Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, who was attacked with a gas pistol on 19 January.

Procedure:  Council and Commission statements
Debate:  Wednesday, 6 February 2013

 

MEPs to contest use of "Chateau" labels by US wine producers

Does the Commission plan to allow "Château" or "Clos" labels to be used on US wines sold in the EU? In the EU, these terms mean that the wine was made from grapes grown in a single vineyard. In the US, they may be used generically, on any wine label. MEPs will put the question in a debate on Wednesday.

The marketing of US wines labelled "Château" or "Clos" was legal in the EU between 2006 and 2009. MEPs worry that allowing such commercial practices to resume would undermine the reputation of French wines, distort competition and mislead consumers.

Procedure:  Commission statement followed by debate
Debate:  Wednesday, 6 February

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East)

 

Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following topics relating to human rights and democracy, in the morning on Thursday 7 February at 3pm, with the votes following at around 16.00.

Laos: the case of Sombath Somphone
Zimbabwe: detention of human rights activist Okay Machisa
Recent attacks on medical aid workers in Pakistan

Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions
Debate/vote: Thursday, 7 February

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

 

Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following topics relating to human rights and democracy, in the morning on Thursday 17 January at 3pm, with the votes following at around 4pm.

Violence against women in India

Human rights situation in Bahrain

The situation in the Central African Republic

Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions

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

 

Other topics for discussion and vote include the following

Liam Aylward MEP one minute speech Monday: EU food safety and transparency regulations - (debate Monday)

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

 

Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls (OQ), (debate Monday, vote Wednesday)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Marian Harkin (Independent-North West), Nessa Childers (Labour-East)

 

Sound levels on motor vehicles

Motor vehicle noise limits would be drastically lowered to protect the health of EU citizens under a draft law to be put to a vote. This law would also introduce a noise labeling scheme for new cars and set standards for making electric vehicles audible to pedestrians. (debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East), Nessa Childers (Labour-East), Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

 

Common system of VAT and combating VAT fraud - (debate and vote Thursday)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Nessa Childers (Labour-East), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael-Dublin)

 

Economic partnership agreement with Eastern and Southern Africa states, debate Wednesday, vote Thursday

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

 

European Investment Bank - Annual Report 2011, in the presence of Mr Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank -  (debate and vote Thursday)

 

Short presentation of the following report: European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing - Report Kartika Tamara LIOTARD (GUE/NGL, NL) (Monday)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East), Nessa Childers (Labour-East), Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

 

Preparations for CITES COP 16 - Oral questions to the Council and the Commission with debate (Tuesday)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael-East)

 

EU-US Agreement under GATT 1994: modification of concessions in the schedules of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania in the course of their accession to the EU - Report Vital MOREIRA (S&D, PT) (vote Wednesday)

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

 

Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States - Report Pervenche BERÈS (S&D, FR) (vote Wednesday)

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

 

Corporate Social Responsibility  - (debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Marian Harkin (Independent-North West), Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

 

22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council - Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy followed by debate (debate Wednesday)

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

 

EU strategies for 2013 international meetings on Climate Change (Warsaw),OQ - (joint debate Thursday)

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

 

Preparations for the European Council meeting (7-8 February 2013) - Council and Commission statements - (debate Wednesday)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Paul Murphy (Socialist-Dublin), Pat the Cope Gallagher (Fianna Fail-North West), Liam Aylward (Fianna Fail-East)

For further information, please contact Catherine Bunyan, Press Officer on 086 8559423 or at catherine.bunyan@ep.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.

To view a debate which has already taken place, please click on the Multimedia Library section of the Parliament's website, select 'search by date' from the menu on the left-hand side and choose the debate.  You can also scroll through the speakers and just listen to a speaker of your choice.

To access raw audio of interviews with the Irish MEPs recorded during the Plenary Session, please visit www.radioep.ie.