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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 18-21 January 2016

13-01-2016

What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
- Key debate with Presidents Tusk and Juncker on migration, terrorism and UK referendum
- Debate on Dutch presidency priorities with Prime Minister Mark Rutte
- EU role in mutual defence clause
- MEPs scrutinise the rule of law in Poland
- MEPs to consider vetoing plan to relax diesel car emission limits
- Using culture and education to tackle migration and radicalisation challenges
- Skills policies for fighting youth unemployment

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Key debate with Presidents Tusk and Juncker on migration, terrorism and UK referendum

MEPs will quiz Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the outcome of the 17-18 December meeting of EU leaders in Brussels in a debate scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

MEPs are likely to comment on key issues debated by the heads of state or government, i.e. dealing with migration pressures, exceptions to Schengen rules and EU member states’ reactions to the recent proposal to establish a European Border and Coast Guard. The fight against terrorism and Britain's EU reform demands ahead of the UK referendum are also likely to be addressed in the debate.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 19 January

Procedure: Council and Commission statements

#EUCO #UKinEU #migrationEU

Press release on the conclusions of the European Council meeting (17-18.12.2015)
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MEPs to debate Dutch presidency priorities with Prime Minister Mark Rutte

MEPs are set to debate the priorities of the Dutch Council presidency with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning.

The Netherlands Presidency bases its priorities on three principles: "a Union that focuses on the essentials, a Union that creates innovative growth and jobs, and a Union that connects with society". It wants to achieve results in the areas of migration and international security, innovation and employment, sound finances and a robust Eurozone and a forward looking climate and energy policy.

President Schulz, Prime Minister Rutte and Commission President Juncker will hold a joint press conference after the debate at round 12.30.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 20 January

Procedure: Council and Commission statements

Press conference: Wednesday 20 January at 12.30

hashtags #EU2016NL

Website Dutch Council PresidencyNational Programme of the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European UnionProcedure file

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North-West), Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands-North-West)

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Mutual assistance clause: MEPs to debate EU role

The implications of France’s decision to invoke the EU treaty’s mutual assistance clause, for first time ever, to ask for EU member states’ help in its “war” against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) will be debated by MEPs on Wednesday afternoon. A resolution will be voted on Thursday.

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, France called on EU member states to provide it with aid and assistance, including intelligence sharing, to fight ISIS. It invoked EU Treaty Article 42 (7), which says that "if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all means".

All EU member states unanimously promised their full aid and support for France, but are still in the process of defining the substance of their commitments.

As the EU mutual assistance clause has yet to be put into practice, MEPs are likely to debate its scope, implementation and the role of the EU institutions as well as making some recommendations for its management.

MEPs are also likely to debate the political considerations which prompted France to trigger the mutual assistance clause rather than the “solidarity” one (Article 222), which foresees a more prominent role for EU in mobilising all available instruments to help a member state in the event of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 20 January

Vote: Thursday, 21 January

Procedure: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Statement (with resolution)

#mutualassistance

Procedure fileEU treaty (see art. 42.7 on mutual defenceTreaty on the functioning of the EU (see art. 222 on solidarity) EP Research note on EU's mutual defence clause

Irish MEPs on this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands-North-West), Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands-North-West)

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MEPs scrutinise the rule of law in Poland

Parliament will debate the state of the rule of law and restrictions to press freedom in Poland on Tuesday afternoon, following statements by the Commission and a declaration by the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

Since the Law and Justice Party (PiS) won both the presidential and parliamentary elections in Poland in autumn 2015, the new government has undertaken a series of reforms that critics say restrict democracy. Parliament's President Schulz and Commission Vice-President Timmermans have voiced concern for the freedom and pluralism of Poland’s public-service television and radio and for the status of the Constitutional Court.

On 13 January the Commission decided to start the first stage of the "Framework for addressing systemic threats to the Rule of Law" in Poland.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 19 January

Vote: February

Procedure: Council and Commission statements followed by debate

#Poland

The debate on EP LiveThe debate on EP EbS+Framework for addressing systemic threats to the Rule of LawCollege Orientation Debate on recent developments in Poland and the Rule of Law Framework: Questions & Answers

Irish MEPs on this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin), Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (Dublin)

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MEPs to discuss Paris climate agreement with COP21 President Laurent Fabius

French foreign affairs and international development minister Laurent Fabius will debate the December 2015 global deal on tackling climate change with MEPs on Wednesday afternoon. Mr Fabius chaired the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) meeting in Paris that delivered the deal. A delegation of MEPs attended the talks, and the deal needs Parliament's consent before it can be ratified by the European Union.

The new agreement aims to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, while recognising the need to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees. It also aims to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) “emissions neutrality” (volumes emitted equal volumes sequestered, so zero net emissions). in the second half of the century. The conference of parties is to review progress in achieving these aims every five years.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 20 January

Procedure: Statement by COP21 President + 1 round of political group speakers

#COP21

European Parliament resolution: towards a new international climate agreement in ParisPress release: COP21 Paris agreement: MEPs hail a new beginning for climate actionProfile of rapporteur Gilles Pargneaux (S&D, FR)European Parliament at COP21Audiovisual material
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MEPs to consider vetoing plan to relax diesel car emission limits

A proposal to veto a draft decision to raise diesel car emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) by up to 110% when the long-awaited Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test procedure is introduced will be discussed on Monday and put to the vote in the next plenary session. The Environment Committee argues that Parliament should veto plans to relax the limits because this would undermine the enforcement of existing EU standards.

MEPs will also vote on Thursday on the composition of the 45 member inquiry committee set up last December, in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, to investigate breaches of EU rules on car emission tests and alleged failures to enforce EU standards.

Debate on Real Driving Emissions tests

As part of a package to introduce the RDE test procedure, endorsed by EU member states in the Technical Committee for Motor Vehicles (TCMV) on 28 October, the European Commission proposed to raise car NOx emission limits by up to 110%.

The new RDE procedure is designed to make emission tests more realistic, by using a portable device to do them on the road. The current laboratory-based procedure suffers from various loopholes which carmakers exploit to brand their products as cleaner than they really are.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 18 January

Vote: February

Procedure: Legislative resolution (objection to delegated act)

#RDE #CarEmissions #NOx #emissions #vehicles

Press release on committee vote (14.12.2015)Procedure fileEC Memo

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North-West)

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Stop geo-blocking and boost digital single market with apps

Geo-blocking practices such as discrimination based on IP address, postal address or the country of issue of credit cards, must end to improve EU consumers' access to goods and services, say internal market and industry MEPs in a draft resolution to be debated and voted on Tuesday. They call for the swift adoption of the 16 digital single market initiatives announced by the Commission last May. (31, 36, 1)

EU laws regulating the digital single market should allow new opportunities for users and businesses and new innovative cross-border online services at competitive prices to emerge and grow; remove barriers between member states and facilitate access for European businesses, in particular SMEs and start-ups, to cross-border markets, as a key driver for growth and employment in the EU, says the draft resolution. (B)

MEPs are concerned that the member states are currently pursuing different approaches towards regulating the internet and the sharing economy, which represents new business models for selling goods and services online (for example, Uber, eBay or Airbnb). They point to the opportunities that new technologies, such as big data, cloud computing or 3D-printing, could create for the economy and society.

Background

This non-binding resolution is Parliament's response to the EU Commission's communication "A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe", presented on 6 May 2015. MEPs examine the 16 initiatives to be delivered by the Commission by the end of this year, elaborate further on actions to be taken to complete the digital single market and the consequences the implementation of the digital single market will have on society and the economy as a whole.

Currently, only 1.7% of EU enterprises are making full use of advanced digital technologies and only 14% of SMEs are using the internet as a sales channel. In 2013, the market size of the sharing economy was around 3.5 billion worldwide, and today the Commission is forecasting a growth potential that exceeds 100 billion (C,E)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 19 January

Vote: Tuesday, 19 January

Press conference: Tuesday, 19 January, 15.00

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

#Digitalsinglemarket

Draft report Press release on committee vote (14.12.2015)Profile of internal market committee rapporteur Evelyn Gebhardt (S&D, DE)Profile of industry committee rapporteur Kaja Kallas (ALDE, ET)Procedure file

Irish MEPs on this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands-North-West), Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North-West), Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands-North-West)

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Using culture and education to tackle migration and radicalisation challenges

The EU should make more use of education and mobility for young people and teachers, and systematically use culture in its external development programmes, to enhance mutual understanding and thus help to promote common fundamental values and combat extremism of all kinds, say MEPs in a draft resolution to be voted on Tuesday.

All forms and branches of teaching must help to develop fundamental civic values and promote active citizenship from the earliest age, say MEPs in the draft text.

Cultural and social diversity should be encouraged in classrooms and other learning settings. MEPs urge member states to make better use of EU programmes to promote training for the teachers, educators and course leaders who lend them the pedagogical skills needed to tackle the challenges of migration, assimilation and cultural psychology.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 18 January

Vote: Tuesday, 19 January

Procedure: non legislative resolution

#InterculturalDialogue #education

Proposition de résolution sur le rôle du dialogue interculturel, de la diversité culturelle et de l'éducation dans la promotion des valeurs fondamentales de l'UnionProfile of rapporteur Julie Ward (S&D, UK)Procedure fileHearing on Intercultural dialogue and education for mutual understanding (17.09.2015)EP Research : Education and Intercultural Dialogue as tools against radicalisation
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Debates with Ms Mogherini on Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran

Developments in Syria and mounting tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran after the kingdom executed 47 alleged criminals, including some prominent Shia activists, and the resulting protest in Iran, will be debated with the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday afternoon, MEPs will also debate how to prevent systematic mass murder of religious minorities by ISIS and assess the humanitarian situation in Yemen as well as growing tensions in South East Turkey.

A resolution on Yemen and ISIS is to be voted at the next plenary session in February.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 19 January (Yemen, ISIS, Turkey); Wednesday, 20 January (Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran)

Vote: February I

Procedure: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Statement (with resolutions)

#syria #saudiarabia #iran #turkey #yemen

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Concerns over permitted sugar content in baby food

Draft EU rules on the composition of baby foods allow them to contain too much sugar. They therefore fail to protect infants and young children against obesity and should be vetoed, says a draft resolution to be voted on Wednesday. The text recommends reducing the maximum sugar content to match World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

The WHO recommends limiting sugar content to less than 10% of total energy intake. But under the European Commission’s proposal, sugars could continue to provide up to 30% of the energy intake from baby foods (7.5g sugar/100kcal is equivalent to 30kcal from sugar in 100kcal energy).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Wednesday, 20 January

Procedure: Legislative resolution

hashtags #Babyfood

Draft resolution on the specific compositional and information requirements for processed cereal-based food and baby foodPress release on committee vote (14.01.2016)Profile of rapporteur Keith Taylor (Greens/EFA, UK)Procedure file
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Youth unemployment: improving skills to find better jobs

The EP will on Monday debate a resolution containing recommendations for tackling an EU-wide shortage of relevant skills for available jobs and an education and training mismatch, major factors causing youth unemployment. They include developing strategies to anticipate market needs, encouraging entrepreneurship and creating partnerships between academia, businesses and social partners.

The non-binding resolution, drafted by Marek Plura (EPP, PL) and to be put to the vote on Tuesday, calls on member states to exchange good practice in vocational education and the development of training through skills. It also says crafts and professions with traditional and cultural elements, which often cannot be relocated elsewhere and help local communities, should be preserved and passed down to younger generations.

Background for editors

More than 7 million young Europeans are neither employed nor in education or training (NEETs). The rate of unemployment across the Union was 9.9% at the end of 2014, while the rate for young people was more than double at 21.4%. At the same time, there are 2 million unfilled vacancies in the EU and many over-qualified unemployed young people whose skills do not match the needs of the labour market.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 18 January

Vote: Tuesday, 19 January

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

# youth #unemployment

Draft resolution on skills policies for fighting youth unemployment Profile of rapporteur Marek Plura (EPP, PL) Procedure file

Irish MEPs on this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin), Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands-North-West), Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North-West), Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands-North-West)

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Personal protective gear, gas ovens and cableways: votes on new safety rules

Updated EU safety rules for personal protective equipment, gas ovens and cableways will be put to votes on Wednesday. The equipment rules aim to ensure that gear that is sold as “protective”, such as bike helmets or oven gloves, better protects its users, whilst reducing red tape for its makers.

Merely “decorative” oven gloves will be excluded, as will dishwashing gloves and umbrellas. Updates to EU safety rules for gas appliances and cableway installations will also be put to a vote.

The three draft regulations that are up to a final vote in Parliament lay down common rules for placing on the market personal protective equipment (such as life jackets, bicycle helmets or sunglasses), gas appliances (such as portable cookers or boilers) and cableway installations (such as funiculars, gondolas or aerial tramways).

The rules, already provisionally approved by MEPs and the Council, have been amended to use standard EU product law wording on the obligations of economic operators and of “notified bodies” chosen by member states to check compliance with safety standards. The aim is to improve market surveillance by public authorities without imposing unnecessary burdens and costs on industry.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 19 January

Vote: Wednesday, 20 January

Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), 1st reading agreements

#productsafety #consumersafety #gasovens #cableways

Press release on the EP/Council deals on the three regulations (22.09.2015)Procedure file on personal protective equipmentProfile of rapporteur on personal protective equipment, Vicky Ford (ECR, UK)Procedure file on appliances burning gaseous fuelsProfile of rapporteur on appliances burning gaseous fuels, Catherine Stihler (S&D, UK)Procedure file on cableway installationsProfile of rapporteur on cableway installations, Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP, ES)EP Research - Cableway installations
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Women entrepreneurs

MEPs urge EU member states to remove hurdles for women entrepreneurs, and table strategies for making full use of female entrepreneurship potential to boost growth and prosperity, in a draft resolution to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday.

About one-third of EU entrepreneurs are women. The specific hurdles that they face include gaining access to funding and bank loans, unbalanced sharing of family responsibilities, a lack of childcare facilities and stereotypes about leadership qualities, says the text drafted by the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee.

The draft resolution calls on member states to:

  • facilitate and simplify access to finance,
  • include gender quotas in targeted support,
  • use EU funds to guarantee affordable quality care for children and older people,
  • improve the work/life balance (e.g. by promoting paternity leave), and
  • promote an entrepreneurial culture in education and training and encourage more women to choose careers in scientific, finance and high-growth, profitable sectors (e.g. new technologies, including green technology, digital environments and IT).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 18 January

Vote: Tuesday, 19 January

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

hashtags # Womenentrepreneurs

Draft resolution on external factors that represent hurdles to European female entrepreneurship:Profile of rapporteur Barbara Matera (EPP, IT):Procedure file:

Irish MEPs on this issue: Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (Dublin), Mairead Mc Guinness, Fine Gael (Midlands-North-West)

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MEPs to ratify EU-Kosovo Association Agreement

MEPs are set to debate the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement, an important first formal step in Kosovo’s integration into Europe, on Wednesday afternoon and to approve it on Thursday. To enter into force, this agreement needs the European Parliament’s consent.

The agreement, which aims to enhance political dialogue and open up trade between the EU and Kosovo, was signed on October 2015 by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and ratified by National Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo on November.

All the matters dealt with in this agreement fall within the EU sphere of competence. This makes it an “EU-only” agreement, i.e. one that does not need to be ratified by individual EU member states.

It is also the last EU association agreement to be concluded with Western Balkan countries.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 20 January

Vote: Thursday, 20 January

Procedure: Consent

#Kosovo

Draft recommendationProfile of rapporteur Ulrike Lunacek (Greens, AT)Procedure file

Irish MEPs on this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands-North-West)

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Progress of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine towards the EU

MEPs discuss the progress of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine towards the EU, since they signed EU association and free-trade deals, with foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Wednesday afternoon. They vote on Thursday on a non-binding resolution taking stock of political, judicial and other improvements in the three countries after they committed to the EU integration agenda back in 2014.

Parliament ratified association and trade liberalization deals (“deep and comprehensive free trade agreements”) with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in the second half of 2014.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 20th January

Vote: Thursday 21th January

Procedure: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Statement (with resolution)

#freetrade #Georgia #Moldova #Ukraine

European Parliament ratifies EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (16.09.2014) European Parliament backs EU-Moldova association deal (13.11.2014)European Parliament approves EU-Georgia association deal (18.12.2014)Commission memo: The EU's Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine

Irish MEPs on this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands-North-West)

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Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following topics relating to human rights and democracy, on Thursday 21 December around 11.00 with the votes following at 12.00.

  • North Korea
  • Ethiopia
  • EU citizens under detention in India

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday, 21 January

Vote: Thursday, 21 January

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

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Other items on the agenda:

- Strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at trial in criminal proceedings, debate Tue, vote Wed, Griesbeck (COD)
-Irish MEPs on this issue: Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (Dublin)

- Annual report on EU Competition Policy, debate Mon, vote Tue, Langen (INI)
-Irish MEPs on this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands-North-West)

- Increased terrorism threat, debate Wed, Council and Commission statements

- Annual activity report of PETI committee, Debate and Vote Thu, Geringer (INI)
-Irish MEPs on this issue: Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands-North-West)

- Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, debate mon, vote Tue, Mato

- Stocktaking and challenges of the EU Financial Services Regulation and Capital Markets Union, debate Mon, vote Tue, Balz
-Irish MEPs on this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands-North-West)

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