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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 7-10 March 2016

03-03-2016

What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
-Joint debate on 7 March EU-Turkey summit and upcoming Spring Council meeting
-Debate with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
-Milk, fruit and schooling in healthier eating habits
-MEPs to call for EU measures to protect women refugees
-Cigarettes: MEPs to give a verdict on EU anti-smuggling deals with tobacco firms
-International protection of whistle-blowers
-Overcoming crises, faster recovery: MEPs to set EU budget priorities for 2017
-Thalidomide victims: debate with European Commission
-Syria: will the ceasefire hold?

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Debate with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will join MEPs for a Wednesday afternoon debate on the current situation in the EU. Mr Löfven, a Social Democrat, has led Sweden's first-ever S&D-Green coalition government since October 2014. The plenary debate will be followed by a press point with Mr Löfven and EP President Martin Schulz.

Since the 2014 EU elections, the following EU heads of state or government have taken part in plenary debates, in addition to the traditional incoming/outgoing Council Presidency ones:

  • 19 May 2015: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, on the situation in Hungary,
  • 8 July 2015: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the EU and Euro summits and the situation in Greece,
  • 7 October 2015: French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the situation in the EU, and
  • 19 January 2016: Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło on the situation in Poland

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 9 March at 15.00

Procedure: Debate

Press conference: Press point with PM Löfven and President Schulz after the debate

hashtags #Lofven #Sweden

Homepage of Stefan Löfven
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Joint debate on 7 March EU-Turkey summit and upcoming Spring Council meeting

Bert Koenders, representing the Dutch Council Presidency, and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will present the outcome of the EU-Turkey summit on the migration crisis and debate it with MEPs on Wednesday morning. They will also discuss items on the agenda of the upcoming Spring Council meeting (17-18 March).

The extraordinary meeting of EU heads of state or government and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu sought ways to address the humanitarian needs of migrants and refugees stuck in Greece and Turkey, implement the EU-Turkey Action plan and restore the normal functioning of the Schengen area.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 9 March

Procedure: Statements by Council and Commission followed by a debate

#euco #refugeecrisis #UkinEU #EUCO #migration @JunckerEU @eucopresident

European Council

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

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Posting of workers abroad: debate on new rules

Revised rules for workers who are employed in one member state and temporarily sent to another by their employer will be presented to members on Tuesday afternoon by Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, immediately after the college of Commissioners approves the proposal.

Possible abuses and unfair competition through social dumping prompted the Commission to introduce several additional provisions in the past years on how to apply the legislation, especially regarding working conditions of posted workers.

In a separate debate, members will quiz Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the “social triple-A” rating which he promised back in October 2014 as an ambition for the EU. MEPs would like to have details of the definition, aims and timetable for this concept, because there has been no further news about it since its presentation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 8 March

Procedure: Commission statement and oral question (with debates)

#employment #postedworkers

European Commission: Posted workers Question for oral answer to the Commission: What is a 'social triple-A' rating?

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

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Milk, fruit and schooling in healthier eating habits

Children across the EU should soon get the benefit of better-funded school milk, fruit and vegetable schemes, along with better lessons on healthy eating. A new draft new law to this end, provisionally agreed with EU ministers, will be debated Monday and put to a final vote on Tuesday. If approved, today's separate EU school milk and fruit schemes will merge and the annual budget of the new schemes will increase by €20 million to €250 million.

Almost 10 million children across the EU benefited from the EU school fruit scheme and some 19 million benefited from the milk one in 2013/2014

The school milk scheme was set up in 1977. The school fruit scheme, which includes a provision for education, was introduced in 2009. Both schemes were set up to promote the consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk and milk products but they have so far operated under different legal and financial arrangements. All 28 EU member states participate in the school milk scheme and 25 in the school fruit scheme (all except the UK, Finland and Sweden).

Consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk is still falling across Europe. Over 20 million EU children are overweight and adolescents on average eat only 30% to 50% of the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 7 March

Vote: Tuesday, 8 March

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

Press conference: Tuesday, at 15:00

hashtags #milk #schoolschemes #fruits #vegetables #schools

The text as agreed by Parliament and the Council of EU ministers Press release on the deal reached by MEPs and EU ministers (16.12.2015Profile of rapporteur Marc Tarabella (S&D, BE) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2014/0014(COD)&l=enAllocation of EU funds for school fruit & vegetables in 2015/2016 per member state EuroparlTV: Teaching kids healthy eating habitsEP Research briefing note: New scheme for fruit and milk in schools

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuiness, Fine Gael, (Midlands - North West), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin, (Midlands - North-West), Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael, (South)

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Stepping up the fight against transmissible animal diseases

Measures to prevent and halt outbreaks of animal diseases such as avian flu or African swine fever will be debated on Monday and put to a vote on Tuesday. The draft EU law, on diseases that are transmissible among animals and potentially to humans too, puts fresh emphasis on prevention and should help professionals to keep pace with scientific progress. The draft text was informally agreed by MEPs and the Council of Ministers in June 2015.

The new Animal Health Law, which merges and updates almost 40 scattered items of old legislation, is the first-ever EU legislation to establish a clear link between animal health and welfare and public health.

The draft law clarifies the responsibilities of farmers, traders, animal professionals including veterinarians and also pet owners, to avoid introducing or spreading diseases. For instance, all farmers, animal owners and traders will be obliged to apply the principles of good animal husbandry and prudent use of veterinary medicines, whereas vets will have to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance and the EU Commission will monitor the use of animal antibiotics in the EU.

The new law will empower the Commission to take urgent measures to tackle emerging diseases that could have a “highly significant impact” on public health and agricultural production.

To help prevent strays or illegally traded pets transmitting animal diseases, MEPs inserted rules that would require all professional pet keepers and sellers to be registered and also empower the Commission to ask member states to set up national databases of dogs, cats and other pets, if need be.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 7 March

Vote: Tuesday, 8 March

Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), early 2nd reading agreement

Press conference: Tuesday, at 15.00

hashtags #AnimalHealth #AnimalDiseases

Draft recommendation for second readingThe agreed text as adopted by the Council on 14.12.2015Press release on committee vote endorsing the deal with Council (23.02.2016)TISA: An end to negotiations in sight? In-depth analysis by EP policy departmentProfile of rapporteur Jasenko Selimovic (ALDE, SE)EuroparlTV: Fewer antibiotics for better animal health (interview with the rapporteur)Procedure fileEPRS Briefing: Animal Health Law - new EU rules on transmissible animal diseases

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

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Superbugs: MEPs want to curb use of antibiotics in farming

To fight the growing resistance of bacteria to today’s antibiotics, the use of existing antimicrobial drugs should be restricted, and new ones should be developed, say MEPs. In Thursday’s vote on proposed updates to an EU law on veterinary medicines, they are likely to advocate banning collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals, and to back measures to stimulate research into new medicines.

Veterinary medicines must not under any circumstances serve to improve performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry, say MEPs, who advocate limiting the prophylactic use of antimicrobials (i.e. as a preventive measure, in the absence of clinical signs of infection) to single animals and only when fully justified by a veterinarian.

To help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the revised law would empower the European Commission to designate antimicrobials which are to be reserved for human treatment.

Innovation

To encourage research into new antimicrobials, MEPs advocate incentives, including longer periods of protection for technical documentation on new medicines, commercial protection of innovative active substances, and protection for significant investments in data generated to improve an existing antimicrobial product or to keep it on the market.

MEPs will also vote on Thursday on a report by Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu (S&D, RO), amending another law to improve marketing authorisation for veterinary medicinal products which is to be decoupled from that for medicines for humans.

Note for editors

The objectives of the legislative proposal on antimicrobials are interlinked. It aims to:

  • increase the availability of veterinary medicinal products;
  • reduce administrative burdens;
  • stimulate competitiveness and innovation;
  • improve the functioning of the internal market; and
  • address the public health risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) recently warned that bacteria in humans, food and animals continue to show resistance to the most widely-used antimicrobials. Scientists say that resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antimicrobial that is critically important for the treatment of human infections, is very high in Campylobacter, thus reducing the options for effective treatment of severe foodborne infections. Multi-drug resistant Salmonella bacteria continue to spread across Europe.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 9 March

Vote: Thursday, 10 March

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

hashtags #veterinarymedicines #antimicrobialresistance #superbugs

Draft report on veterinary medicinal productsDraft report on the authorisation and supervision of medicinal products for human usePress release on committee vote (17.02.2016)Profile of rapporteur Françoise Grossetête (EPP, FR)Profile of rapporteur Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu (S&D, RO)Procedure file

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

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MEPs to call for EU measures to protect women refugees

A reform of EU migration and asylum policies and procedures needs to include gender-sensitive measures to ensure the safety of women seeking asylum and often travelling with young children and other dependants, say MEPs in a draft resolution to be voted on Tuesday. Just before the vote, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi will address the plenary session.

When assessing asylum claims, individual and gender-based forms of violence, such as rape, sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage or domestic violence should be recognized as valid reasons for seeking asylum in the EU, says the draft text.

It lists measures to ensure that woman’s needs are met throughout the asylum process, such as providing:

  • gender-segregated sleeping and sanitation facilities,
  • female interviewers and interpreters,
  • gender-sensitive health services, including prenatal and postnatal care and trauma counselling for women who have experienced gender-based violence,
  • childcare during screening and asylum interviews,
  • information for women on their right to lodge a claim for asylum, independent of their spouse, as a key to empowering women, and
  • gender-specific training for staff, including comprehensive training on sexual violence, trafficking and female genital mutilation.

Since the start of 2016, women and children have accounted for 55% of people reaching Greece to seek asylum in the EU, up from 27% in June 2015. (UNHC)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 8 March

Vote: Tuesday, 8 March

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Press conference: 8 March at 16.00 with Commissioner Vera Jourova, Iratxe García Pérez (S&D, ES)Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality Chair,MEP Mary Honeyball (S&D, UK) and Angelika Mlinar (ALDE, AT)

hashtags #IWD2016 #womenrefugees #asylumseeker

#refugeecrisis #asylumseekers

Draft resolution on the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EURapporteur Mary Honeyball (S&D, U.K):Audiovisuel site: The situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU: extracts from the vote on the report by Mary HONEYBALL (S&D, UKUNCHR press release: report warns refugee women on the move in Europe are at risk of sexual and gender based violence:Procedure fileBriefing from the European Parliament's Policy Departments on women refugees and asylum seekers in the EUEPRS briefing:Arbitrary detention of women and children for immigration-related purposes

Irish MEPs on this issue: Mairead McGuiness, Fine Gael, (Midlands - North West), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin, (Midlands - North-West), Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael, (South), Liadh ní Riada, Sinn Féin, (South), Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin, (Dublin), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South)

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Cigarettes: MEPs to give a verdict on EU anti-smuggling deals with tobacco firms

Better scrutiny tools are needed to show whether EU anti-smuggling and anti-counterfeiting deals with the four largest tobacco firms really work, MEPs are set to say in a draft resolution for a vote on Wednesday. MEPs are not fully satisfied with the EU Commission's recent assessment of the deal with Philip Morris International (PMI), which expires in July 2016. The Commission will decide whether or not to renew it after Wednesday's vote. But any negotiations with PMI must be transparent, say MEPs.

Under these deals the four firms together agreed to pay the EU and its member states a total of $2.15 billion to drop legal proceedings against them to recover duties lost to illegal trade in cigarettes. They also agreed actively to combat smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products.

The Commission assessment says that the PMI deal brought about an 85% reduction in the volume of smuggled genuine PMI cigarettes seized by member states between 2006 and 2014. But MEPs have serious doubts about the deal’s real effectiveness in reducing smuggling, as a surge in illicit "cheap white" cigarettes instantly filled this gap.

MEPs point out that the 2014 EU Tobacco Directive provides for an effective set of tools, such as an interoperable tracing and tracking system for the cigarettes at EU level, and say that member states should focus their efforts on implementing it. Member states should also ratify a protocol to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which does the same internationally, they add. Some MEPs expect the PMI deal to be renewed ad interim until the EU and WHO tools are fully operational but all expect the negotiations to be fully transparent.

Background

EU member states and the Commission entered into agreements with tobacco producers Philip Morris International (PMI) in 2004, Japan Tobacco in 2007, British American Tobacco (BAT) in 2010 and Imperial tobacco in 2010 in which they agreed to pay a collective total of $2.15 billion to the EU and the member states in return for the EU dropping legal procedures against them, for loss of duties caused by illegal trade in cigarettes (PMI agreed to pay $1.25 billion over 12 years, and the rest was contributed by the other three). 90% of the revenue from these deals goes to member states and 10% to the EU budget as own resources.

The tobacco firms also pledged to prevent their products from falling into the hands of criminals, by supplying only quantities required by the legitimate market, taking care to sell only to legitimate clients and implementing a tracking system to help law enforcement authorities if cigarettes are traded illegally.

Parliament called upon the member states and the Commission as early as 2006 to use the PMI payments to finance measures to prevent cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting, as the money collected by the Commission and the member states is not earmarked for any particular purpose.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday, 25 February

Vote: Wednesday, 9 March

Procedure: Oral question to Commission (with resolution)

#tobacco #PMI

European Commission: Technical assessment of the Anti-Contraband and Anti-Counterfeit Agreement of 9 July 2004 among Philip Morris International and the EU and its Member StatesEP Research: Tobacco agreements: Fighting illicit tobacco tradeEuropean Anti-Fraud Office OLAF on tobacco smugglingAgreement with Philip Morris International (PMI) (2004)Agreement with Japan Tobacco (2007)Agreement with British American Tobacco (BAT) (2010)Agreement with Imperial Tobacco Limited (ITL) (2010)Debate in Plenary (25 February 2016)

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

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International protection of whistle-blowers

"How to protect whistleblowers?" is the question MEPs will put to Commission and Council in a debate on Tuesday. MEPs may raise the case of the whistleblower and WikiLeaks website founder Julian Assange, who after being detained first in prison then under house arrest, took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012.

On 11 February 38 MEPs wrote to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to protest about Mr Assange’s treatment and stress the need to respect the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), which concluded on 4 December 2015 that Mr Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the Swedish and British governments and should be released and receive compensation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 8 March

Procedure: Council and Commission statement

#whistleblowers

@JulianAssange_ @wikileaks

Opinion No. 54/2015 of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionUnited Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Irish MEPs on this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin, (Midlands - North-West), Liadh ni Riada, Sinn Fein, (South), Nessa Childers, Independent, (Dublin)

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Port services: improving efficiency in ports to boost trade and growth

Draft rules designed to boost the efficiency and cut the cost of services supplied at EU maritime ports, such as mooring, bunkering and towage, will be put to a vote on Tuesday. To prevent price abuse and ensure fair competition, the draft text seeks to ensure greater transparency in the setting of fees for these services and for the use of port infrastructure.

Noting that the EU’s highly diverse port system includes many different models for organising port services, MEPs also seek to ensure that existing port management models at national level can be maintained in future. They wish to replace the general free market access rules proposed by the EU Commission for service providers with a toolbox of rules to follow e.g. when ports intend to limit the number of service providers or to set requirements for their professional qualifications.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 7 March

Vote: Tuesday, 8 March

Procedure: Co-decision, first reading

#portservices

Draft report on a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of portsPress release on committee vote (25.01.2016)Profile of rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE) Procedure fileEP Research background briefing on Liberalization of EU Ports ServicesPress release - Council adopts position on port services (08.10.2014)

Irish MEPs on this issue:  Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael, (South), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South)

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Fair trials for children: final vote to set minimum safeguards in the EU

A law setting EU minimum standards to protect the right of children (under 18 years old) to a fair trial will be voted in plenary session on Wednesday. Parliament and Council negotiators struck an informal deal on the draft last December The aim is to make legal protection of children who are suspected or accused of a crime more consistent within the EU, by establishing a “catalogue of rights” to meet their specific needs.

The draft directive’s priorities are to ensure that children are able to understand and follow court proceedings and to prevent re-offending. The right to be assisted by a lawyer should always be respected, unless it is not proportionate, given the circumstances of the case, but the child’s best interests must always be the primary consideration, says the text. Further safeguards are proposed for the right to an individual assessment and the right to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility (or another appropriate adult) in most of the stages of proceedings.

Background

The draft directive on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings is part of a package to strengthen procedural rights for citizens in criminal proceedings. The other two parts of the package deal with the presumption of innocence (voted in plenary session on 20 January) and with legal aid (still being negotiated in three-way talks with the Council and the Commission).The UK and Ireland have opted out of this directive.,while Denmark has a blanket opt-out for justice and home affair legislation.

On the right to be assisted by a lawyer, the situation is as follows:

Most countries guarantee the assistance of a lawyer in all stages, exceptions:

CY for children under 15 years, that only guarantees it during court sessions

CZ for children under 15 years, no guarantee at all

FI only during the investigation

NL only prior to interrogation

UK- Northern Ireland no guarantee at all

UK- Scotland: only prior to questioning by the police and before court appearance

On the right to meet an appropriate adult prior to questioning:

In 19 countries (all the rest not mentioned below) the police is obliged to contact the parents or other person of trust when the minors are apprehended by the police.

In 6 countries (AT, CZ, DE, FI, HU and PL) there is no right for the child suspects to contact parents/adult

In 3 countries (EL, IE and MT) suspect children have the right to contact parent but there is no obligation of the police to contact them.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 8 mars

Vote: Wednesday, 9 mars

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

Press conference: Tuesday 8 February, 15.30 (tbc)

#FairTrials #fairtrial #childrensrights

Profile of rapporteur Caterina Chinnici (S&D, IT)Procedure file Press release after the deal with the CouncilData on children in judicial proceedings in EU28EPRS: Chield friendly justice in the EU
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Capital requirements versus credit supply: EP to vote stance on Banking Union

Capital requirements versus credit supply: EP to vote stance on Banking Union

Parliament is to debate and vote its stance on the state of the Banking Union on Thursday. In the draft resolution, by Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), MEPs ask the EU Commission and supervisors to assess how stepping up bank capital requirements in current and future legislation could affect lending capacity and hence credit supply. They also give their views on the proposed deposit insurance scheme, the institutional set-up of the Single Resolution Fund and rules on banks’ sovereign exposure.

The draft resolution was prepared in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, which approved it by 40 votes to 16 on 16 February.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday 10 March

Vote: Thursday 10 March

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

#BankingUnion

Procedure FilePress release after vote in ECON (16.02.2016)Profile of rapporteur Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT)

Irish MEPs on this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin, (Midlands - North-West), Brian Hayes, Fine Gael, (Dublin), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South)

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Overcoming crises, faster recovery: MEPs to set EU budget priorities for 2017

Next year’s EU budget priorities should continue to be tackling the migration and refugee crisis and at the same time speed up slow economic recovery in the EU through increased and improved investment, says a draft resolution to be voted on Wednesday. MEPs highlight the current problems of long-term and youth unemployment and disparities in economic development across the EU. They also underline that the refugee crisis will not be a temporary one.

In the draft resolution drawn up by Jens Geier (S&D, DE), MEPs warn that the EU budget has only a limited capacity to deal with these crises and that “substantial additional financial means” are required. Longer-term solutions should also be sought in the upcoming mid-term revision of the EU’s long-term spending plan, the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework), with which the 2017 budget procedure will coincide.

Note

The budget guidelines are the first document that Parliament produces during the annual budget procedure. It sets out the line that Parliament expects the Commission to take when drawing up its budget proposal. The Commission usually presents its proposal in late May. Next year's budget has to be agreed between the Council and the Parliament by the end of December this year.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 8 March

Vote: Wednesday, 9 March

Procedure: Budgetary procedure

#refugeecrisis #EUBudget2017

Draft resolution on general guidelines for the preparation of the 2017 budget, Section III – CommissionPress release on committee vote (18.02.2016)Profile of rapporteur Jens Geier (S&D, DE)Procedure fileBackground information: EP Budgetary powersFact sheet: The budgetary procedure

Irish MEPs on this issue: Liadh ni Riada, Sinn Fein, (South)

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Vote on draft deal to upgrade and clarify EU lawmaking

A draft deal among key EU institutions to improve the planning, quality and transparency of their law-making will be debated on Tuesday and put to a vote on Wednesday. It provides for more democratic long-term planning, a new database of planned EU laws, and more information for the press and public on negotiations among EU institutions.

The draft deal aims both to enhance public understanding of how the EU makes its laws and to improve the quality of new and updated EU legislation. The institutions would agree to make more thorough and balanced assessments of the likely impact of proposed laws, including estimates of the costs of having 28 differing national laws instead of a common EU one.

MEPs and ministers would also be involved earlier in framing the EU's long-term priorities and EU governments would have to make clear which parts of new laws they agreed upon with their EU partners and which parts they later added themselves.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday 8 March

Vote: Wednesday 9 March

Procedure: Inter-institutional agreement

#BetterLawmaking

Draft report on an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-MakingPress release on committee vote (23-02-2016)Profile of rapporteur Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL)Procedure file

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

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Ending EU citizens' bank secrecy in Andorra

The European Parliament is set to endorse an EU deal with Andorra, which will make it harder for EU citizens to hide cash from the tax man in bank accounts there. Under the deal, the EU and Andorra will automatically exchange information on the bank accounts of each other's residents, starting in 2018 for information collected since 1 January 2017.

The agreement ensures that Andorra will apply stricter measures, equivalent to those in place within the EU since March 2014. The agreement also complies with the 2014 global standard on the automatic exchange of financial account information promoted by the OECD.

Similar agreements have already been approved with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and San Marino.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Wednesday 9 March

Procedure: consultation

#Andorra #taxation

Draft resolutionProfile of rapporteur Miguel Viegas (GUE/NGL, PT)Procedure file

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

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Thalidomide victims: debate with European Commission

Over fifty years after the thalidomide tragedy, in which a morning sickness medicine for pregnant women caused malformations in their babies, victims are still fighting for fair compensation in several EU countries. MEPs and the European Commission will discuss possible EU support measures.

Thalidomide was used to treat morning sickness, headaches, insomnia, and colds in the late 1950 and early 1960s. It was sold in various European countries for several years, and turned out to have severe side-effects for pregnant women as well as their babies born with malformations. The victims are still trying to find a solution to enable them to cover costs linked to their medical and physical condition.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday 9 March 2016

Procedure: Commission statement followed by debate, no resolution

#Thalidomide

Procedure file

Irish MEPs on this issue: Marian Harkin, Independent, (Midlands - North-West), Mairead McGuiness, Fine Gael, (Midlands - North West), Nessa Childers, Independent, (Dublin), Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin, (Dublin)

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Montenegro and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: 2015 progress reports on EU integration

Parliament will debate the 2015 reform efforts of Montenegro and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Wednesday. It is likely to welcome progress made by both countries towards EU membership, and to urge them to implement the relevant strategies and agreements in full. MEPs are also likely to flag areas that are lagging behind in the reform process, such as the rule of law, freedom of expression and fighting corruption.

The House will vote on the two separate resolutions on Thursday.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 9 March

Vote: Thursday, 10 March

Procedure: Council and Commission statements (with resolution)

#Montenegro #FYROM #Montenegro #EUenlargement

EP rapporteur on Montenegro, Charles Tannock (ECR, UK)EP rapporteur on former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ivo Vajgl (ALDE, SL)Procedure file on MontenegroProcedure file on former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
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Syria: will the ceasefire hold?

Recent developments in Syria, including the Russia-US brokered ceasefire, which came into force on 27 February, will be debated by MEPs on Tuesday afternoon. This ceasefire, widely seen as fragile, is meant to ease humanitarian access and build confidence before peace talks resume in Geneva on 7 March.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad pledged on 1 March to do his part to ensure that the ceasefire holds and offered a “full amnesty” to rebels.

Since 2011, the conflict in Syria has cost more than 250,000 lives and over 4 million Syrians have been forced to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 8 March

Procedure: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Statement

EP Research note on conflict in Syria (January 2016)EP Research note on Russia in Syria (January 2016
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Debate on Eritrea

MEPs will debate the deteriorating political, rule of law and human rights situation in Eritrea on Wednesday and vote a resolution on Thursday. Eritrean refugees are amongst the largest groups of asylum seekers arriving in Europe. MEPs might also touch upon the issue of political prisoners, some of whom have been detained without charge in Eritrea for more than a decade.

Back in 2011 the European Parliament called on the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to step up efforts to secure the release of political prisoners in Eritrea. These include Swedish citizen Dawit Isaak, a former reporter for an independent newspaper in Eritrea, detained since 2001.

"It is not law that rules Eritreans - but fear", said a UN commission of inquiry in 2015.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 9 March

Vote: Thursday, 10 March

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

#Eritrea

EP resolution on Eritrea: case of Dawit Isaak (15.06.2011)UN inquiry on Eritrea (08.06.2015)Procedure fileEU-Eritrea relations (EEAS website)
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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 10 March around 10.30 with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Freedom of expression in Kazakhstan.
  • Egypt, notably the case of Giulio Regeni
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

Debates: Thursday 10 March

Votes; Thursday 10 March

#humanrights #democracy #Kazakhstan #Egypt #GiulioRegeni #RDC

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Other items on the agenda:

- Fight against Fraud - Annual report 2014 on the protection of the EU's financial interests, Jávor (INI), debate Mon, vote Tue
- Irish MEPs on this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin, (Midlands - North-West), Brian Hayes, Fine Gael, (Dublin)

- Towards a thriving data-driven economy, OQ to the Commission, debate Tue, vote Wed
- Irish MEPs on this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin, (Midlands - North-West), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael, (South)

- What is Social triple A? OQ to the Commission, debate Tuesday
- Irish MEPs on this issue: Lynn Boylan, Sinn Fein, (South), Marian Harkin, Independent, (Midlands - North-West)

- Debate on pig prices, OQ to the Commission, debate Thu

- Debate on Zika, OQ to the Commission, debate Thu, ENVI resolution to be vote in April

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