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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 5-8 February 2018

What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be the 2019 European Elections, climate change, EU enlargement, and much more.

 

Shopping online without borders

Online buyers will have wider cross-border access to products, hotel bookings, car rentals or concert tickets under new rules banning unjustified geo-blocking to be debated on Monday and put to a final vote on Tuesday.

Under the new rules, consumers will be able to choose from which website they wish to buy goods or services without being blocked or automatically re-routed to another website due to their nationality, place of residence or even their temporary location. (Arts. 1 and 3).

Traders will have to treat online shoppers from another EU country in the same way as local customers, i.e. grant them access to the same prices or sales conditions, when they: (Art. 4, recitals 11 and 18-20)

  • buy goods (e.g. household appliances, electronics, clothes) which are delivered to a member state to which the trader offers delivery in his general conditions, or are collected at a location agreed by both parties in an EU country in which the trader offers such option,
  • receive electronically supplied services not protected by copyright, such as cloud services, firewalls, data warehousing, website hosting, or
  • buy a service which is supplied in the premises of the trader or in a physical location where the trader operates, e.g. hotel stays, sports events, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets.

Copyrighted content excluded for now

Digital copyrighted content, such as e-books, downloadable music or online games, will not be covered by the new rules for the time being. However, Parliament’s negotiators inserted a “review clause” in the law, which requires the EU Commission to assess within two years whether the ban on geo-blocking should be widened to include such content. Audio-visual and transport services are also excluded from the scope for the time being. (Art. 9, recitals 6 and 29)

The geo-blocking regulation was provisionally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on 20 November 2017. It will be applicable nine months from the day of its publication in the EU Official Journal.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 5 February

Vote:  Tuesday, 6 February

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

Press conference: Tuesday, 6 February, at 15.00

#DigitalSingleMarket

Provisional text of the agreement
Press release on the provisional deal reached by EP/Council negotiators (20.11.2017)
Online shopping: fewer borders make for better deals (WebComm article)
Video EuroparlTV: Online purchases taking over the high street
Profile of rapporteur Róża Thun (EPP, PL)
Procedure file
EP Research: Briefings on geo-blocking
Study on geo-blocking of consumers online (European Commission, May 2016)
EU consumers show growing demand for cross-border online shopping, new survey reveals (25.07.2017)
Multimedia material on geo-blocking

Irish MEPs following this issue: Brian Hayes.

 

Elections 2019: new distribution of EP seats and reform of EU electoral law

The European Parliament should shrink from 751 to 705 MEPs when the UK leaves the EU, says a legislative initiative to be debated and voted on Wednesday.

Besides reducing Parliament’s size, a proposed re-distribution of seats for 2019-2024, would place 46 of the 73 UK seats to be freed up by Brexit in a reserve. The other 27 former UK seats would be distributed among the 14 EU countries that are currently slightly under-represented.

EU-wide electoral lists

MEPs will also vote on a proposal to set up “transnational”electoral lists comprising the entire territory of the Union. The final decision on the composition of the European Parliament for the next parliamentary term requires unanimous backing by all EU heads of state or government. 

The text also stresses that this allocation would apply only if the UK actually leaves the EU. Otherwise the current arrangements would stay.

Reform of electoral law

Later on Wednesday, MEPs are also set to reiterate their request that EU governments complete the EU electoral law reform  needed to create a legal basis for introducing transnational lists. They are set to urge the Council to end the inter-institutional stalemate which has prevented previous attempts to modernise the rules for European elections.

Background

On 11 November 2015, the European Parliament made use of its right under Article 223 (1) of the EU treaties to initiate a reform of the 1976 European Electoral Act.

Next steps

Parliament’s proposal for a modernised electoral law is now being considered by the Council, which decides unanimously, followed by a final yes/no vote in Parliament as a whole. 

The provisions as adopted will also have to be approved by all EU countries, in line with their respective constitutional requirements.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 7 February 

Vote:  Wednesday, 7 February

Procedure:  legislative initiative, question for oral answer to the Council

Press conference: Wednesday, 7 February at 14.30, with EP co-rapporteurs Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) and Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D, PT) TBC!!

#EP2019

Draft report on the composition of the European Parliament
Press release on committee vote (23.01.2018)
Profile of rapporteur Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL)
Profile of rapporteur Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D,PT)
In-depth analysis: the composition of the European Parliament
Procedure file (Composition of the European Parliament 2019-2024)
Question for oral answer to the Council (on the reform of the European electoral law)

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Matt Carthy, Brian Hayes.

 

Climate change: cutting CO2 emissions faster and funding low-carbon innovation

A law to strengthen greenhouse gas emission curbs via the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), so as to begin delivering on Paris climate accord pledges, will be put to a vote on Tuesday.

The draft EU law, already informally agreed with EU ministers, would accelerate the yearly reduction in the quota of ETS emission allowances to be auctioned. It also provides for a doubling of the ETS Market Stability Reserve’s capacity to mop up excess emission allowances on the market.

To promote low-carbon innovation, the law would also establish a “modernisation fund” to  help upgrade energy systems in lower-income EU member states and an “innovation fund” to support renewable energy, carbon capture and storage and low-carbon innovation projects.

Background

The EU ETS sets a cap on the total amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by the sectors covered by the system. Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed.

The Commission published its proposal for Phase IV of the ETS on 15 July 2015.

This aims to meet the EU’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of “at least” 40% while protecting EU industry against the risk of carbon “leakage” (emitters moving to third countries with less stringent limits) and promoting innovation and modernisation in the EU’s industrial and power sectors over the decade from 2020.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Monday 5 February 2018

Vote:  Tuesday

Procedure:  Ordinary legislative procedure, first reading agreement

Press conference: Tuesday or Wednesday 14h (depending on voting time)

#EUETS

Press release on committee vote (09.11.2017)
Profile of rapporteur Julie Girling (ECR, UK)
Procedure file
EP research: Post-2020 reform of the EU Emissions Trading System
EU emissions trading system (EU ETS)
 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to debate future of Europe with MEPs

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of Croatia will be the second EU leader to debate the future of Europe with MEPs on Tuesday morning.

At the invitation of Parliament's President Antonio Tajani and the Conference of Presidents (political group leaders), Mr Plenković will address the house and then debate the future of the European Union with MEPs.

Before becoming Prime Minister of Croatia in October 2016, Mr Plenković was one of eleven Croatian MEPs, serving from 2013 until his resignation as an MEP.

Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland Leo Varadkar was the first leader to hold a Future of Europe debate with MEPs, in January.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Specialist: Maja

Debate: Tuesday, 6 February

Press point with Prime Minister of Croatia, Mr Andrej Plenković Tuesday 6 February at 12.00 (outside the hemicycle)

#FutureofEurope @AndrejPlenkovic

Link to AV page
Link to Top Story
Andrej Plenković CV

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy.

 

EU elections 2019: choosing ”Spitzenkandidaten” for Commission President

Parliament is ready to reject any candidate for EU Commission President who is not nominated as a “lead candidate” ahead of the 2019 EU elections, says a resolution to be debated and voted on Wednesday.

MEPs reiterate their support for the “Spitzenkandidaten” process, in which European political parties designate “lead candidates” for the role of Commission President ahead of EU elections. This system was first used in 2014, to select current Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Parliament’s proposed changes to a framework agreement on its relations with the European Commission would allow serving EU Commissioners to run for election to Parliament, and also to be designated as Spitzenkandidaten for the job of EU Commission President, without first having to take unpaid leave of absence.

Background

The suggested changes to the inter-institutional agreement is a result of negotiations between Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (President and political group leaders) and the European Commission. They were approved by the Constitutional Affairs Committee on 23 January 2018.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday, 7 February

Vote: Wednesday, 7 February

Procedure: Consent

#EP2019 #Spitzenkandidaten

Draft report on the revision of the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission
Profile of rapporteur Esteban González Pons (EPP, ES)
Procedure file

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy.

 

Pesticides: Parliament to set up special committee

The mandate and make-up of a special committee to look into the EU’s authorisation procedure for pesticides will be put to a vote on Tuesday.

The special committee is a response to concerns about the risk assessment of the herbicide glyphosate. EU member states renewed glyphosate’s marketing licence for five years in November last year.

The term of the special committee, which will have 30 members, is to be nine months from its first meeting. It will deliver a final report on its factual findings and recommendations, to be approved by the full House.

Background

In a resolution voted on in October, Parliament stated that the release of the so-called “Monsanto Papers” from the company which owns and produces Roundup®, of which glyphosate is the main active substance, shed doubt on the credibility of some studies used in the EU’s glyphosate safety assessment, say MEPs.

The EU authorisation procedure, including the scientific evaluation of substances, should be based only on published, peer-reviewed and independent studies commissioned by competent public authorities, MEPs said. EU agencies should be beefed up to allow them to work in this way, they added.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote:  Tuesday 06.02.18

Procedure:  mandate

#glyphosate #pesticides

Procedure file
EP research: EU’s Pesticide Risk Assessment System: The Case of Glyphosate
Audiovisual material for professionals and existing EP TV and WEBCOMM products to be picked-up here

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Nessa Childers.

 

Diesel exhaust tests on humans and monkeys:  debate with EU Commission

The alleged manipulation of scientific research by multinationals will be debated by MEPs and the EU Commission on Monday.

The debate follows reports that German car manufacturers commissioned research in which humans and monkeys were exposed to diesel exhaust emissions in the US.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Monday 5 February 18

Procedure:  Commission statement with debate

 

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers.

 

Summer time/winter time: debate and vote on ending twice-yearly hour change

MEPs are likely to call on the EU Commission to propose ending the twice-yearly switch between summer and winter time in a debate on Thursday morning. A resolution will be voted at noon.

Responding to citizen’s initiatives and petitions that cite health concerns about the effects of the bi-annual time change, a draft of the resolution tabled by EP transport Committee calls on the Commission to propose ending it.

Spring and autumn time changes in EU member states are governed by the EU directive on summer-time arrangements. A unified EU time regime should be maintained even if  the  hour changes are abolished, the text says.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday, 8 February

Vote: Thursday, 8 February

Procedure: resolution

 

 

Draft resolutions on summer-time arrangements
Procedure file
EP Research: EU summer-time arrangements under Directive 2000/84/EC (October 2017)
Video recording of the public hearing on summer time arrangements (24.03.2015)
 

Rule of law in Romania: MEPs to assess reform of the justice system

The ongoing reform of the Romanian justice system and the threat it may pose to the rule of law will be debated with the Council and the Commission on Wednesday.

The Romanian Parliament recently approved an overhaul of the the judiciary, by amending three pieces of legislation dealing with the status of judges and prosecutors, the organisation of the judiciary and the organisation and functioning of the Superior Council of Magistracy.

It also modified the rules on conflicts of interest and it is planning to amend the criminal code and criminal procedure code.

These developments  have prompted massive protests in the country. Last week the EU  Commission voiced concerns about the likely impact of the changes on the independence of Romania's judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption effectively.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 7 February

Procedure: Council and Commission statements, no resolution

 

Joint Statement of European Commission President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans on the latest developments in Romania (European Commission, 24.01.2018)
2017 Progress report of Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (15.11.2017)
 

MEPs to condemn civilian deaths in Afrin and crackdown on press freedom in Turkey

Turkey’s military assault on the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin (Syria) is likely to be condemned on Tuesday. MEPs are also set to denounce hundreds of arrests by the Turkish government in an attempt to censor criticism over its military operation.

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on 29 January that Turkey had detained 311 people in the previous 10 days for "spreading terrorist propaganda" on social media. Detainees include politicians, journalists and activists who have called for peace and condemned the Turkish government’s military offensive in the northwest Syrian enclave of Afrin.

These arrests are part of a wider crackdown on press freedom in Turkey since the failed military coup of July 2016, MEPs will point out in a debate with EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, on Tuesday late afternoon and in a resolution to be voted on Thursday.

Following on from this debate, MEPs are likely to condemn the Turkish air and ground offensive against the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, which caused the deaths of many civilians.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debates: Tuesday, 6 February

Vote: Thursday, 8 February (human rights in Turkey)

Procedures: Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

EPRS Study: Media freedom trends 2017: Turkey (May 2017)
EPRS Study: Mapping the future of Syria: State of play and options (March 2017)
Audiovisual material for professionals
 

MEPs to assess Zimbabwe’s future

MEPs will discuss Zimbabwe’s future, the coming presidential elections and how it can lift itself out of its deep economic crisis, in a debate on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially succeeded 93-year-old Robert Mugabe on 24 November. Mr Mugabe resigned, after 37 years of authoritarian rule, having resisted several days of pressure to go from the military, his party, Zanu-PF, and the Zimbabwean people.

MEPs will discuss how the new head of state, who will represent Zanu-PF at the country's next presidential elections in 2018, can lift Zimbabwe out of the deep economic crisis the country has been experiencing since the early 2000s, with people anxiously awaiting reforms.

The recent change in Zimbabwe's leadership was discussed by MEPs and MPs from  African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries at the 34th ACP-UE Joint Parliament Assembly, which took place in Haiti on 18-21 December.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 13 February

Vote: No resolution

Procedure: Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

@FedericaMog

European Parliament resolution on Zimbabwe (15.09.2016)
EU partnership with Zimbabwe
Audiovisual material for professionals
 

EU enlargement: new Western Balkans strategy

The EU’s new Western Balkans strategy will be unveiled by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and debated by MEPs on Tuesday.

The Western Balkans are set to dominate the EU’s foreign policy agenda in 2018, as the region is one of Bulgaria's EU Council Presidency priorities. Efforts to integrate the region into the EU are also traditionally supported by the European Parliament, which nonetheless highlights shortcomings in the rule of law, fundamental rights or the fight against corruption there.

After revealing its Western Balkans strategy on 6 February, the EU Commission is scheduled to present its regular EU enlargement reports in April.  These take stock of progress made by countries wishing to join the EU, and are scrutinised in  European Parliament resolutions voted in the course of the year. 

Serbia and Montenegro are closest to joining the EU,  as membership talks are in full swing, while the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania are still waiting for negotiations to start. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are further behind, but have potential candidate status.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 6 February

Procedure: Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

 

EP Research note on Western Balkans (January 2018)
EU enlargement strategy and reports (European Commission information)
EU enlargement status (European Commission information)
Audiovisual material for professionals
 

Crisis in Venezuela: a democratic solution must be found

Venezuela’s government and opposition must find a solution to the worsening crisis in the country, MEPs are set to urge in a resolution on Thursday.

In a debate on the deteriorating political, social and economic situation in Venezuela, with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday evening, MEPs are likely to comment on recent developments:

In the light of these developments, MEPs are set to call for democratic, shared solutions, which could bring political stability to the country.

Representatives of the democratic opposition of Venezuela received the European Parliament´s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in December 2017.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 6 February

Vote: Thursday, 8 February (tbc)

Procedure: Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

European Parliament resolution of 27 April 2017 on the situation in Venezuela
The political crisis in Venezuela (December 2017)
 

UN agency for Palestinian refugees in dire straits

The critical financial position of the UN agency for  Palestinian refugees and its impact on people’s lives and the Middle East Peace Process will be assessed in a debate on Tuesday and a resolution to be voted on Thursday.

MEPs are likely to quiz EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on  the EU’s next steps after the recent statement by the US authorities that they will withhold crucial budget support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) this year.

MEPs are also set to urge EU member states and the global community to step up help for UNRWA, so as to prevent human suffering.  

In a resolution on the 2018 EU budget, MEPs called for more support for the Middle East Peace Process, the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, to help them cope with growing needs and to promote stability in the region.

Background

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides essential services for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Since 1971, an EU-UNRWA partnership has enabled millions of Palestinians to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the stability and development of the entire region. The EU is the largest multilateral donor to UNRWA, and the US is the biggest single contributor.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Debate: Tuesday, 6 February
Vote: Thursday, 8 February
Procedure: Commission statement with resolution
@UNRWA #refugees

EP resolution of October 2017 on the 2018 budget
EP resolution on the EU’s role in the Middle East peace process (10 September, 2015)
EP Briefing: US development policy - New priorities under President Trump (July 2017)
Website on UNRWA
Audiovisual material for professionals
 

EP leadership wants Vice-President Czarnecki to step down

The European Parliament political group leaders decided on Thursday to propose to the full House next week that Vice-President Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR, Poland) be stripped of his function. This means he would no longer represent them or the Parliament.

The political group leaders in the Conference of Presidents decided by the required majority of at least three-fifths of the votes of at least three groups to terminate Mr Czarnecki’s term of office as Vice-President due to “serious misconduct”. Mr Czarnecki had compared fellow MEP Róża Thun to Polish Nazi collaborators during the Second World War.

The full Parliament will vote on the proposal on Wednesday 7 February and will need a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast, constituting a majority of its component Members, to remove Mr Czarnecki from office. It would then need to elect a new Vice-President at a later stage.

The proposal by the Conference of Presidents is not aimed at Poland or the ECR political group. The proposal simply expresses the opinion of the political leaders that Mr Czarnecki should no longer represent them.

 

Tunisia’s inclusion on money laundering blacklist up for plenary vote

MEPs will decide Wednesday whether Tunisia and two other countries should be included on a blacklist of states thought to be at high risk of money laundering and terrorism financing.

The move follows a joint meeting on Monday in the Economics and Home Affairs Committees.  Members debated the proposal of the European Commission to add the North African state, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago to its list of third countries judged to have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regimes.

After that gathering, committee members narrowly supported the Commission’s decision, Parliament will now debate the issue on Monday, with a vote to follow on Wednesday.

Parliament has veto power over the list. If a majority of MEPs support the objection, then the addition of the three countries would be rejected and the Commission would revert to the existing list.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Monday

Vote:  Wednesday

Procedure: objection to a delegated act

Draft resolution on Objection pursuant to Rule 105 (3as regards adding Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Tunisia to the table in point I of the Annex (C(2017) 8320)
Press release on committee vote (29.01.2018)
Commission proposal to add Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Tunisia
 

Clean energy: citizen-driven energy innovation

To speed up the switch to low-carbon energy, innovators need more support from committed citizens, says a resolution to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday.

To succeed, the transition from fossil fuels towards a lower carbon energy mix needs better coordination of EU and national funds, a bigger research and innovation budget, plus a change in  the mind-set of EU citizens when it comes to consuming and saving energy, says a  draft non-legislative resolution prepared by Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL).

The text also advocates crowd funding and lower barriers to energy market entry for innovators, and energy efficiency education and engagement schemes for citizens.

“Energy transition” measures should  take full advantage of digital technology to ensure that  energy is more affordable, secure, and reliable, and is used more sustainably, it adds. 

Background

The resolution is Parliament’s response to the EU Commission Communication on “Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation”, which is part of the Clean Energy Package launched in November 2016, which in turn is crucial to complete the Energy Union, a key priority  of the Juncker Commission.

The 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index ranks five EU countries among the top 10 on emerging clean technology innovations, eleven EU member states being in top 20, and twenty in top 40 worldwide.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Monday, February 5

Vote:  Tuesday, February 6

Procedure:  Own initiative report (INI)

Press conference (if applicable: date)

#energyunion #cleanenergy

Press release on committee vote (11.01.2018)
Draft reports, amendments and voting lists
Procedure file - Accelerating clean energy innovation
Clean Energy Package
Energy Union
Audiovisual material for professionals

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers.

 

Bigger role for EU Investment Bank to tackle migration crisis

MEPs will vote Thursday on legislation enabling the European Investment Bank to lend an additional €5.3 billion to projects outside the EU

€3.7 billion of this amount will be earmarked for projects addressing migration issues. The agreement between Parliament and Council is up for a vote on Thursday. The debate is planned for Wednesday afternoon.

Other key changes:

  • the EIB’s mandate for lending to non-EU countries gets a fourth “high-level” objective to address the root causes of migration,
  • provisions for preventing money laundering, and fighting terrorism and tax avoidance, tax fraud and tax evasion to be strengthened, and
  • EIB’s lending objective on mitigating climate change also to be reinforced.

MEPs will, in addition, vote on a separate report assessing the Annual Report on the Financial Activities of the European Investment Bank for 2016, in which they defend the importance of the EIB's investments and call for more transparency and more efforts to fight tax avoidance.

How it works

The EU provides a budgetary guarantee to the European Investment Bank (EIB) with a maximum ceiling of €30 billion (€27 billion plus €3 billion in reserve) for ”external” operations for the 2014-2020 period.

The new rules would release these €3 billion kept in reserve. Of this, up to €1.4 billion would be earmarked for public sector projects addressing the root causes of migration. In addition, €2.3 billion for that period would be provided for private sector lending for migration-related projects, raising the ceiling to €32.3 billion.

Projects outside the EU account for around 10% of total EIB lending.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday, 7 February

Vote:  Thursday, 8 February

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement (EIB Guarantee); Non-legislative resolution (EIB financial activities report)

@EIB #EUBudget #EUfunds #MigrationEU

Draft reports will be available here:
Press release on committee vote (04.12.2017)
EP Think tank Briefing:
Profile of rapporteur: Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, ES)
Procedure file: EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank (EIB)
Procedure file: Guarantee Fund for external actions
Procedure file: Financial activities of the European Investment Bank - Annual report
Fact Sheets on the European Union - The European Investment Bank
 

Draghi debate on investment, post-crisis support for banks and cyber threats

The scale of European Central Bank support for banks is still not being reflected in their lending to the real economy, MEPs are set to say in a debate with ECB President Mario Draghi on Monday evening. Cyber threats and the consequences of Brexit are also likely to be raised.

MEPs are set to voice concerns about how prolonging the ECB’s post-crisis bank asset purchase programme could affect individual savers and the financial equilibrium of pension and insurance schemes. They call on the ECB to assess the benefits and side effects of its policy and communicate it clearly to the financial markets.

They will also ask the ECB to continue reporting on cyber threats to the financial sector and to adopt a clear and public policy on whistle blowing.

MEPs are likely to call for a more comprehensive policy on non-performing loans and for the EU banking union to be completed, so as to ensure that savers’ deposits are safe.  They are also likely to urge the ECB to assess all the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and prepare the EU’s post-Brexit financial architecture in good time.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 5 February

Vote: Tuesday, 6 February

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

Draft European Central Bank annual report for 2016
Profile of the rapporteur: Jonás Fernández (S&D, ES)
EP Think tank: Blog on the ECB

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy, Brian Hayes.

 

Zero tolerance for female genital mutilation

MEPs are set to urge the EU to step up its efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) in a resolution to be debated Tuesday afternoon and voted Wednesday.

To mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on Tuesday 6 February,  MEPs will quiz the EU Commission on the  progress of its strategy ‘‘towards the elimination of FGM’’ and action taken to date.

In a resolution to be put to a vote on Wedensday, MEPs are likely to call on the Commission and member states to include FGM prevention measures in all policy areas (including health, social work, education, justice, etc.), to step up cross-sector cooperation and to guarantee a strong preventive action in refugee camps.

MEPs are also set to voice concern  that, although criminal law protects women from FGM in all member states, only a handful of cases are brought to justice and that training schemes are especially needed for those responsible for  FMG detection, investigation and prosecution.

Background

According to the World Health Organisation, at least 200 million women and girls around the world are currently living with the harmful consequences of FGM. In the EU, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) reports victims in at least 13 member states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the UK).

FGM comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals call for an end to FGM by 2030, under Goal 5 on Gender Equality.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 6 February

Vote: Wednesday, 7 February

Procedure: Question for oral answer to the Commission, with resolution

#endFGM

Question for oral answer to the Commission
Procedure file
Rapporteur Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D, LT)
Women’s rights and gender equality webpage
Female genital mutilation: the scourge affecting half a million women in the EU
Multimedia centre

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy.

 

Listing

- Decision on the Fair Taxation Package II and III Commission statement, debate Mon

- Situation of women human rights defenders and their support by the EU, debate Wed, Oral Question

- Shrinking Space for civil society, Council and Commission Statements debate Tue`

- Request for waiver of the immunity of Steeve Briois vote Tuesday

- Protection and non-discrimination with regard to minorities in the EU Member States vote Wednesday

- The consequences of rising socio-economic inequalities for European citizens , debate Wednesday

- - Address by a representative of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Nobel Peace Prize, debate Wednesday

 

Other issues being followed by Irish MEPs

Situation of women human rights defenders: Matt Carthy.

Consequences of rising socio-economic inequalities for European citizens: Nessa Childers.