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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 10-13 September 2018

06-09-2018
The European Parliament
The European Parliament

What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include; The State of the European Union address; MEPs proposing ways to boost plastics recycling; maintaining EU regional funding for Northern Ireland post brexit; Rule of law in Hungary.

 

State of the Union debate: Juncker’s legacy

Eight months before the European elections are held in May 2019, MEPs will take stock of the Juncker Commission’s achievements to date.

The EU Commission President will kick off the debate in his fourth and last “State of the Union” speech in plenary session on Wednesday morning.

Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to outline the impact of the Commission’s work in its ten priority areas and unveil what the Commission intends to achieve in the run-up to the EU elections.

Political group leaders will assess the Commission’s work and set out what they want the EU27 to deliver on before May 2019.

 

Topic: interinstitutional

Debate:  Wednesday, 12 September

Procedure:  Statement by the President of the European Commission

Video teaser SOTEU 2018
Follow the 2018 SOTEU debate live
Commission forecast on 2018 SOTEU
Previous State of the Union speeches
Assessment of the Commission’s performance to date (EP Research)
EP Research: State of the Union debates
Free photos and audiovisual products

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin), Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands- North West), Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin)

 

Rule of law in Hungary: vote on whether the EU must act to defend its values

MEPs will debate the rule of law in Hungary before deciding  whether the EU must act to counter  the risk of a serious breach of EU values. M Viktor Orbán will attend the session.

Mr Orbán will take the floor to present his views at the beginning of the discussion.

The Civil Liberties Committee concluded that Hungary is at a clear risk of such a breach and proposed that Parliament call on EU member states to trigger the procedure laid down in Article 7(1) the EU Treaty to counter  a threat to the EU’s founding values, which include respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

To be adopted - and subsequently sent to the Council of the EU -, the proposal for a legislative initiative, prepared by Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL) needs the backing of an absolute majority of MEPs, i.e. 376, and two thirds of the votes cast.

This would be the first time that Parliament takes the initiative of recommending that  Article 7 be activated, in view of a serious threat to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in a member state.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Code: 2017/2131(INL)

Debate: Tuesday, 11 September

Vote: Wednesday, 12 September

Procedure: Legislative resolution

Press conference: Wednesday, 14.00 with rapporteur Judith Sargentini

 

Draft report on the situation in Hungary
Press release on committee vote (25.06.2018)
Procedure file
Rule of law concerns in member states: how the EU can act (infographic)
Fundamental rights in Hungary: MEPs call for triggering Article 7
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin), Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands- North West)

 

MEPs to propose ways to boost plastics recycling

They advocate creating a genuine single market for recycled plastics, and propose measures to tackle marine litter.

Incentives to collect marine litter at sea, new EU-wide standards and definitions for biodegradability and compostability, and a complete EU ban on oxo-degradable plastic by 2020 are among the proposals set out in the non-binding draft resolution.

MEPs also advocate a ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics and cleaning products by 2020.

Parliament will also hold a debate and adopt a resolution on ways to address the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation, as the presence of certain chemicals can hamper recycling.

Background

According to the European Commission, 87% of EU citizens say they are preoccupied by the environmental impact of plastics.Global annual production of plastics reached 322 million tonnes in 2015, and is expected to double over the next 20 years. Only 30% of plastic waste is collected for recycling, while only 6% of plastic placed on the market is made from recycled materials. .

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Code: 2018/2035(INI)

Debate:  Wednesday, 12 September

Vote:  Thursday, 13 September

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution, OQs with resolution

 

Draft report on a European strategy for plastics in a circular economy
Profile of rapporteur Mark Demesmaeker (ECR, BE)
Procedure file
A European strategy for plastics in a circular economy
Free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue: Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael (South), Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-Northwest)

 

Northern Ireland: MEPs to advocate maintaining EU regional funding post Brexit

Pursuing the EU PEACE and Interreg programmes for Northern Ireland,  is  crucial to its peaceful development,  MEPs are set to say on Tuesday.

To allow peace-building work to continue as the EU Commission intends, EU regional funding should be maintained at an adequate level post-2020, says a non-legislative resolution, drafted by Derek Vaughan (S&D, UK).  Young people from Northern Ireland should be enabled to continue participating in Erasmus+ programmes after Brexit, it adds. The text will be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday.

Background

Northern Ireland in particular has benefited from special cross-border and inter- and cross-community programmes, such as the PEACE Programme.

Since 1995, more than €1.5 billion has been invested to strengthen cohesion between communities involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland, and promote economic and social stability, especially in disadvantaged, rural and border areas.

 

Additional info

Debate: Monday, 10 September

Vote: Tuesday, 11 September

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Draft resolution on the impact of EU cohesion policy on Northern Ireland
Profile of the rapporteur Derek Vaughan (S&D, UK)
EP Research briefing: The European Union and Northern Ireland
Press Release: fact-finding mission to Northern Ireland by the EP Regional Development Committee (March 2018)

Irish MEPs following this issue: Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South); Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein (midlands-Northwest)

 

Single digital gateway: a time saver for citizens and firms

A “single digital gateway” to help citizens and firms to do their paperwork online, e.g. to apply for study loans or register a car, will be voted on Thursday.

The single digital gateway will make it easier to find information, forms and assistance for people moving to or doing business in another EU country, but also for those staying at home.

This single entry point will be part of the “Your Europe” portal, available in all languages. It will provide access and links to national and EU web sites and web pages, in a user-friendly way, to enable users to exercise their rights and meet their obligations within the single market.

EU member states will be required to grant online access to the most important and frequently used procedures.  In justified exceptional cases, member states may ask a user to appear in person for a procedural step. The information, online procedures and assistance services provided must be of high quality and accessible to users with disabilities. A user feedback tool will also be available.

The  EU Commission estimates that this legislation could help EU citizens save up to 855 000 hours of their time annually and companies could save more than € 11 billion per year.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Code: 2017/0086(COD)

Debate: Wednesday 12 September

Vote: Thursday 13 September

Procedure: Co-decision, 1st reading agreement

Text of the provisional agreement
Press release on committee vote (12.07.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Marlene Mizzi (S&D, MT)
Procedure file
EP Research: Briefing - EU Legislation in Progress - Single digital gateway
Free photos and audiovisual products

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)

 

MEPs to recommend measures to combat mobbing and sexual harassment

Sexual harassment victims should be encouraged to report cases and perpetrators must face sanctions, says a draft resolution to be voted on Tuesday.

To help prevent and combat mobbing and sexual harassment in the workplace, in public spaces and political life in the EU, the EU Commission should table a draft law that includes up-to-date comprehensive EU-wide definitions of “harassment” and “mobbing”, says the draft resolution prepared by Pina Picierno (S&D, IT) for a debate on Monday and a vote on Tuesday.

Local authorities, employers and trade unions need to better understand the barriers that victims face in reporting sexual harassment and to create safe reporting mechanisms, says the text.

To combat sexual harassment in politics, the text advocates a zero-tolerance policy and sanctions. Gender Equality Committee MEPs recommend mandatory training for all staff and members of national, regional and local parliaments, as well as of the European Parliament.

Background

One in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence during their adult lives and up to 55% have been sexually harassed, according to an EU-wide survey by the Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2014.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Code: 2018/2055(INI)

Debate: Monday, 10 September

Vote: Tuesday, 11 September

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Procedure file
Profile of rapporteur Pina Picierno (S&D, IT)
EP Think Tank - Sexual harassment of women in the EU (March 2018)
Multimedia package - Violence against women
Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)

 

Consumer product quality: MEPs take aim at dual standards

A product sold under the same brand and packaging should have the same composition across the EU, so as not to mislead consumers, MEPs will say on Thursday. (15)

Tests and surveys done in several EU member states, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe, have proven that products advertised and sold under the same brand and seemingly identical packaging in fact differ in composition and ingredients, to the detriment of consumers.

These differences were found not only in food products, such as fish fingers, instant soup, coffee and soft drinks, but often also in non-food ones, including detergents, cosmetics, toiletries and products intended for babies.

If a firm sells a product EU-wide, but with compositions that differ between countries, it must not label and brand it in a seemingly identical way, says the draft text.  If a manufacturer wants to customise a product, consumers have the right to know about the adjustment for each individual product.

MEPs recommend several measures at EU and national levels to tackle the “dual quality” problem, including swift cross-border cooperation and data-sharing, comparative tests, better enforcement and a clearer update of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, proposed by the Commission in April 2018.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Code: 2018/2008(INI)

Debate: Thursday 13 September

Vote:Thursday 13 September

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

Report on dual quality of products in the single market
Press release on committee vote (12.07.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Olga Sehnalová (S&D, CZ)
Procedure file
EP Research: Dual quality of branded food products: Addressing a possible east-west divide
EP Research: European Commission guidelines on dual quality of branded food products
EP Research: Modernisation of EU consumer protection rules: A new deal for consumers
Free photos and audiovisual products

Irish MEPs following this issue: Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael (South)

 

Future of Europe debate with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Alexis Tsipras will be the ninth EU leader to debate the future of Europe with MEPs and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, on Tuesday morning.

The debate will start at 9.00.

EP President Antonio Tajani and Prime Minister Tsipras will take part in a joint press point or press conference after the debate, at 12:45,.

The next EU head of state or government to address the House will be Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, at the October I plenary session in Strasbourg.

Before Mr Tsipras, the following EU heads of state or governments debated the future of Europe with MEPs:

-Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on 17 January 2018

-Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on 6 February 2018

-Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa on 14 March 2018

-French President Emmanuel Macron on 17 April 2018

-Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on 3 May 2018

-Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on 30 May 2018

-Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on 13 June 2018

-Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on 4 July 2018.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 11 September

Procedure: Debate on the future of Europe, without a resolution

Press point or press conference Tuesday, 11 September, 12:45

 

Biography of the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras
Debates on the future of Europe
Free photos and audiovisual products
 

Plenary will vote on Parliament’s position on copyright rules for the digital sphere.

Since the House decided in July to reopen the proposal made by the Legal Affairs Committee, Tuesday’s debate will offer all MEPs a chance to express their views and discuss what issues the European Parliament should champion during negotiations with the member states. On Wednesday, the proposal made by the Legal Affairs Committee, and the ensuing amendments to it will be put to a vote.

The resulting text will constitute the mandate with which Parliament negotiates with the Council to hammer out a deal.  The Council adopted its position in May 2018.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Code: 2016/0280(COD)

Debate: Tuesday, 11 September

Vote: Wednesday, 12 September

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, first reading

Press conference: Wednesday, 14.30 with rapporteur Axel Voss (EPP, DE)

Profile of the rapporteur
EP research: digital single market legislation in progress
Press release on July plenary vote (05.07.2018)
Procedure file
Free photos, video and audio material
 

New EU rules to cut off terrorist financing

New measures to combat terrorist financing, by preventing money laundering and tightening cash flow checks, will be debated on Tuesday and voted on Wednesday.

Current differences between the EU countries’ ways of defining and prosecuting money laundering offences complicate cross-border police and judicial cooperation and create loopholes that criminals and terrorists can exploit.

The new measures, including EU-wide definitions and minimum penalties for money laundering, would improve enforcement in this area and act as a greater deterrent.

The new rules on cross-border cash movements aim to close loopholes by extending the definition of ”cash” to include gold and anonymous prepaid electronic cash cards, enabling authorities to register information about cash movements below the current €10,000 threshold and temporarily seize cash if they suspect criminal activity. Finally, “unaccompanied”cash, sent by cargo or post, would also have to be disclosed.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 11 September

Vote: Wednesday, 12 September

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, first reading agreement

Draft report on countering money laundering by criminal law
Rapporteur for criminalisation of money laundering: Ignazio Corrao (EFDD, IT)
Procedure file: criminalisation of money laundering
Draft report on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union
Rapporteur for controls on cash movements: Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES)
Rapporteur for controls on cash movements: Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU)
Procedure file: controls on cash movements
EP Think Tank: Controls of cash entering or leaving the European Union
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Vote on €34m in EU aid to Greece, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria

The EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) aid should help repair damage caused in 2017 by floods in Bulgaria and Lithuania, earthquakes in Greece and storms in Poland.

The aid includes €16,918,941 for reconstruction in Lithuania, €12,279,244 for Poland, €2,535,796 for Greece and €2,258,225 for Bulgaria. The natural disasters  caused  deaths and widespread destruction.

More information in the press release on the recent vote in the Committee on Budgets.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Codes: 2018/2078(BUD); 2018/2082(BUD)

Vote: Tuesday, 11 September

Procedure:  budgetary procedure

 

Draft report on the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland
Draft report on requisite amending budget
Press release on committee vote (29.08.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Janusz Lewandowski (EPP, PL) – EUSF mobilisation
Profile of rapporteur Siegfried Mureșan (EPP, RO) – amending budget
Procedure file (EUSF mobilisation)
Procedure file (amending budget)
Commission press release
EU Solidarity Fund Interventions since 2002
EUSF (EP factsheet)
Free photos, video and audio material
 

EU should stand firm against China

MEPs are set to call for more robust measures to counter China’s attempts to take control of Europe’s strategic infrastructure in a vote on Wednesday.

Human rights, the rule of law and fair competition should be at the core of EU’s engagement with China, MEPs say, condemning the ongoing harassment, arrest and prosecution of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and other civil society members in China.

The draft resolution, to be debated on Tuesday and voted on Wednesday, highlights China’s  attempts to invest in Europe’s strategic infrastructure, using its “Belt and Road initiative”, which hampers free trade and gives Chinese companies a competitive advantage.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Codes: 2017/2274 (INI)

Debates: Tuesday, 11 September 

Votes: Wednesday, 12 September

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Draft resolution on the state of EU-China relations
Profile of the rapporteur Bas Belder (ECR, NL)
Procedure file
EU and China: what Think Tanks say (June 2017)
Free photos, video and audio material
 

FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to address MEPs in Strasbourg

Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Zoran Zaev will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday morning.

Securing public and opposition support for the name change and for the next steps required for  the republic’s  possible accession to the EU are expected to take centre stage in Mr Zaev’s speech.

Greece and FYROM signed a preliminary agreement to rename the latter in June, ending a decade-long name dispute, which has seen Greece blocking its smaller Balkan neighbour’s prospects of joining the European Union and NATO.

The proposed new name on the table is “Republic of North Macedonia”.

The outcome of the name negotiations, which has already been formally ratified by the FYROM parliament, will also be put to a referendum in the country on 30 September.

The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee  is expected to vote on a report assessing the 2018 Commission report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia later this autumn. Rapporteur on FYROM Ivo Vajgl (ALDE, SL) has welcomed the preliminary name agreement.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Specialist: Viktor

Debate: Thursday, 13 September 2018  

Procedure: Formal address

 

European Commission Fact Sheet - Key findings of the 2018 Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Free photos, video and audio material
 

Superbugs: MEPs to advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

The growing threat posed by multiresistant bacteria requires EU-wide action to bring antibiotic use under control.

MEPs call on the EU Commission and member states to restrict the sale of antibiotics by human and animal health professionals, and to remove any incentives for prescribing them, in a non-binding resolution to be voted on Thursday.

The Commission should draft an EU priority pathogen list for both humans and animals, clearly setting future R&D priorities. Incentives should be created to stimulate investment in new substances, says the text.

Parliament is also working on legislation to limit the preventive and collective use of antimicrobials in animal husbandry, and empower the Commission to draw up a list of antibiotics reserved for human use.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday, 12 September

Vote:  Thursday, 13 September

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution

 

Draft report on a European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
Press release on committee vote (20.06.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Karin Kadenbach (S&D, AT)
Procedure file
EP research: Stronger bacteria, weaker antimicrobial
Free photos, video and audio material
 

MEPs to question “America first” policy

Recent US decision to quit key international agreements, commitments and forums put at risk the EU-US partnership. However, it is important to maintain it, say MEPs.

The draft resolution, to be debated on Tuesday and voted on Wednesday, stresses that the EU-US relationship is the fundamental guarantor for global stability, but regrets that the US administration has chosen one-sided “America first” policy, that harms the interests of both the EU and the US and undermines mutual trust.

MEPs note that the US decision to impose steel and aluminium tariffs cannot be justified on the grounds of national security and calls on the US to lift them also hinting that WTO is the best place to settle trade disputes. 

Despite tense relations MEPs still believe it is essential to foster the EU-US partnership in promoting common values, rights and compliance with international law, as other major world powers such as Russia and China, have robust political and economic strategies, which go against these values.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure Codes: 2017/2271 (INI)

Debates: Tuesday, 11 September 

Votes: Wednesday, 12 September

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

 

Press release on committee vote (28.06.2018)
Draft resolution on the state of EU-US relations
Rapporteur Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)
Procedure file
Multimedia package on EU-US

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein (Midlands-Northwest)

 

Debate on Libya with EU foreign policy chief Mogherini

The emergency situation in Libya and the Mediterranean and the EU’s efforts to protect migrants will be debated on Tuesday.

Last week, the security situation in and around the Libyan capital Tripoli dramatically deteriorated, after clashes escalated between rival armed militias. The chaos also resulted in migrants fleeing detentions centres and around 400 prisoners escaping prison in the Libyan capital.

The United Nations reported that it secured a ceasefire agreement on 4 September. 

Back in May, MEPs adopted a resolution on Libya, urging the EU to focus its efforts on protecting migrants. They also noted that the UN plan is currently the only viable framework for a solution and called for elections to be held in 2018. 

EP resolution on Libya (30.05.2018)
Press release on vote in plenary (30.05.2018)
Press release on EP’s delegation visit to Libya (May 2018)
EU-Libya relations
 

Go ahead on European Solidarity Corps

MEPs will vote on establishing the EU Solidarity Corps (ECS), which will offer volunteering opportunities for young people around the EU.

Once the Council has formally adopted the text, organisations and young people can start applying for projects under the new programme.

The programme is open for participants 17 to 30 years old who can register and apply for activities that can benefit communities and are related to education, health, protecting the environment, disaster prevention, provision of food and non-food items, reception and integration of migrants and asylum seekers. The projects will be run by organisations which are recognized under a “quality label” scheme by the Commission.

An overall budget of 375.6 million euro is dedicated for the 2018-2020 period. The first call for funding is expected to be published before the end of this year. The European Commission proposed an additional budget of €1.26 billion for the budgetary period 2021-2027 for the activities covered by this new programme. 

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure:  2017/0102(COD)

Debate Monday, 10 September

Vote: Tuesday, 11 September

Procedure: Co-decision, first reading agreement

Press release on committee vote on the agreement with the Council (11.07. 2018)
EC webpage - Solidarity Corps
EP Research Briefing
 

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun to address European Parliament

The President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, will address MEPs in a formal sitting on Tuesday at 12:00.

EU-Lebanon relations and cooperation, the war in Syria, migration and promoting stability and peace in the Middle East are likely to be among the issues addressed during Mr Aoun’s first official visit to the European Parliament.

He will also be the first Lebanese head of state or government to deliver a speech at  a plenary session in Strasbourg. Mr Aoun’s current presidential term started in October 2016.

Background

EU-Lebanon relations are governed by  an association agreement in force since April 2006. The EU  is also Lebanon’s most important trading partner, accounting for around one third of Lebanese trade.

Following the devastating war in its neighbour country Syria, Lebanon currently hosts the highest per capita population of refugees in the world. Due to restrictive border policies and a freeze on registering refugees by Lebanese authorities, the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon dropped marginally from 1.017 million in 2016 to 1.001 million in 2017, according to the 2017 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian

Refugees in Lebanon.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 11 September

Procedure: Formal sitting

Free photos, video and audio material
 

Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights, democracy and rule of law topics on Thursday 13 September, at around 10.00, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Arrests of opposition parliamentarians in Uganda
  • Myanmar, notably the case of jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo
  • Cambodia, notably the case of imprisoned opposition leader Kem Sokha
 

Listing

- Protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, Ernst, (COD), debate Wed, vote Thu

- Reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness, Zitnanska,(INI)  debate Mon, vote Tue

- Autonomous weapon systems, debate Tue, vote Wed

- Europe on the Move: an agenda for the future of mobility in the EU, Ujhelyi, (INI) debate Web, vote Thu

- Relationships between the EU and third countries concerning financial services regulation and supervision, Hayes, (INI) debate Mon, vote Tue

- The future of pensions: fighting privatisation and strengthening public universal social security systems, topical debate, Wed