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EP Plenary Session Newsletter 9-12 May 2016

05-05-2016

What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
- Common European Asylum System reform
- Restoring a fully functioning Schengen System
- Police cooperation: MEPs to strengthen Europol as a shield against terrorism
- Vote on mandatory sharing among EU countries of corporate tax reports
- MEPs to reiterate need to protect EU industry against dumped imports from China
- MEPs to renew call for mandatory country of origin labelling of meat and milk
- Human trafficking: MEPs to call on EU member states to protect victims
- Parental leave: MEPs to call for common rules to be better enforced
- New EU-Mauritania fisheries deal
-MEPs seeking updates on investigations into CIA's use of torture

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Asylum reform: MEPs to debate proposed changes to the Dublin rules

The EU Commission's 4 May proposal to revise the Dublin rules, which determine which EU country is responsible for processing an asylum application, will be debated by MEPs and the Commission on Wednesday afternoon in Strasbourg.

In a resolution voted in April, MEPs advocated replacing country of first arrival criteria with a common scheme to ensure that member states take fairer shares of asylum seekers.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 11 May

Procedure: Commission statement followed by debate (with resolution)

#asylum #refugees

Dublin revision: Civil Liberties MEPs call for ambitious reform and centralised asylum system (statement by rapporteur on Dublin Cecilia Wikström and Civil Liberties Chair Claude Moraes, 06.04.2016):Profile of Dublin rapporteur Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) Parliament advocates a centralised EU asylum system and legal ways to migrate (12.04.2016)http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2016/582001/EPRS_ATA(2016)582001_EN.pdf

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

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How to restore Schengen? – plenary debate

MEPs, the Council and the Commission will debate on Wednesday how best to restore a fully-functioning Schengen passport-free area, given that core Schengen countries have reimposed border checks or temporarily closed their borders in response to growing flows of migrants and asylum-seekers.

A group of member states recently informed the Commission of their wish to continue applying temporary controls at internal borders for six additional months. The Commission decided on Wednesday 4 May to propose that the Council prolong “proportionate controls” at internal borders in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Norway (not an EU member state, but part of the Schengen area) for a maximum of six months (which may be renewed, no more than three times, up to a maximum of two years).

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 11 May

#Schengen

EP Research Service: Schengen and the management of the EU’s external borders (April 2016)http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/schengen/reintroduction-border-control/index_en.htmThe EU needs to overcome fear and divisions to safeguard Schengen, say MEPs (02.02. 2016)
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Police cooperation: MEPs to strengthen Europol as a shield against terrorism

The EU police agency Europol will soon be able to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other criminal offences and respond faster to threats, thanks to new governance rules up for final approval on Wednesday. The new powers come with strong data protection safeguards and democratic oversight tools.

The draft rules, agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in November last year, will enhance Europol's mandate to ensure that it is fully equipped to counter the rise in cross-border crimes and terrorist threats, in particular by making it easier for Europol to set up specialised units to respond immediately to emerging threats.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 11 May

Vote: Wednesday, 11 May

Press conference Wednesday, 11 May 14:00CEST

#Europol #terrorism #cybercrime

Press release on the vote in the Civil Liberties Committee after the agreement reached with Council (30.11.2015)Profile of rapporteur Augustín Díaz de Mera (EPP, ES)Procedure File

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

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Vote on mandatory sharing among EU countries of corporate tax reports

MEPs are set to vote their stance on Thursday on the European Commission's proposal for automatic exchange of corporate tax reports among national tax authorities.

In the draft resolution, prepared by Dariusz Rosati (EPP, PL), MEPs approve the plan as a positive step in the fight against aggressive corporate tax planning. But they also advocate adding further safeguards, to give the EU Commission access to the information exchanged too, so as to enable it to play its role as “state aid watchdog”.

Furthermore MEPs will probably ask member states to introduce sanctions to be imposed on multinational corporations that fail to comply with reporting obligations.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 11 May

Vote: Thursday, 12 May

#LuxLeaks #TaxTransparency

Draft resolution tabled for plenaryPress release on committee vote (26.04.2016)Profile of rapporteur Dariusz Rosati (EPP, PL)Procedure Filehttps://epthinktank.eu/2016/04/18/country-by-country-reporting-for-multinational-enterprise-groups-eu-legislation-in-progress/Top story on fairer corporate taxation

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

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MEPs to reiterate need to protect EU industry against dumped imports from China

Unless China meets the EU’s five criteria to qualify as a market economy, the EU should continue imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on dumped imports from it after December 2016, MEPs say in a draft resolution to be voted on on Thursday, 12 May. But they also note that the EU must abide by World Trade organization (WTO) rules, which China says oblige the EU to recognize it as a strategic trade partner by the end of 2016.

The EU Commission has just concluded a public consultation on the impact of possibly granting China a market economy status – the results are being processed and to be published in June.

Parliament’s resolution is to serve as input for the next EU Trade Council meeting on 13 May.

Background: how to deal with dumped imports from China after December 2016?

When China joined the WTO in 2001, WTO members recognized that it had not yet completed the transition to a market economy. China agreed that other WTO members could apply “non-market economy” measures to its exports. In practice, this often meant higher anti-dumping duties.

China argues that its 2001 WTO accession protocol stipulates that its recognition as a market economy by other WTO members after 11 December 2016 will be automatic.

However, China currently meets only one of the EU’s five technical criteria for defining a “market economy”. China is targeted in about 80% of EU antidumping and anti-subsidy investigations and there is widespread concern in the industry, given China’s overcapacity.

MEPs have called in the past for a "WTO-proof" plan and mitigating measures to protect EU firms against dumped Chinese imports, stressing the potential damage for EU jobs and industry. However, they have also stressed the threat of trade war with China, which could impose retaliation measures against EU businesses operating on its territory.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 10 May

Vote: Thursday, 12 May

#China #economy

EP Research: Granting Market Economy Status to China” An analysis of WTO law DG Expo: One year to go: The debate over China's market economy status (MES) heats up
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Debate on state of negotiations on Greek assistance programme

MEPs will debate the state of the negotiations on the Greek economic adjustment programme on Tuesday at 15.00 with Commission Vice-President for the Euro Valdis Dombrovskis and Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. MEPs recently went on a fact-finding mission to Greece for Parliament's Financial Assistance Working Group.

Greece and its creditors are trying to finalise the first review of its current (third) economic adjustment programme (maximum €86 billion for 2015-2018). They have to agree on the reforms needed for funds to be released.

Background on the Financial Assistance Working Group

On 21 January 2016, the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents approved a series of measures to step up parliamentary scrutiny of financial assistance programmes at EU level. These measures notably included creating a Financial Assistance Working Group (FAWG) within Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, and fact-finding missions in programme countries.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday 10 May 2016 at 3pm

#Greece

Press release following FAWG meeting with VP Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici in Strasbourg (11.04.2016)
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MEPs to renew call for mandatory country of origin labelling of meat and milk

MEPs are set to reiterate their support for introducing mandatory country of origin labelling of meat and milk, in a debate on Wednesday. A resolution will be put to a vote on Thursday. Mandatory labelling would help maintain consumer confidence in food products by making the food supply chain more transparent, says the text.

In their draft, MEPs point out that according to a 2013 Eurobarometer survey:

  • 84% of EU citizens consider it necessary to indicate the origin of milk,
  • 88% consider such labelling necessary for meat (other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat, which are already covered), and
  • more than 90% consider such labelling important for processed foods.

Note for editors

Parliament has voted several resolutions on country of origin labelling. In its resolution of 11 February 2015 on meat in processed foods, it urged the Commission to come up with legislative proposals to make the indication of the origin of meat in processed foods mandatory, in order to ensure greater transparency throughout the food chain and to better inform European consumers. However, the Commission has yet to make any such proposals, citing the costs of mandatory country of origin labelling to industry and predicting that consumers would not be willing to meet the additional costs.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Vote: Thursday, 12 May 2016

#COOL #countryoforigin

Draft resolution on mandatory indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for certain foodsOral Question to the European CommissionPress release on committee vote (22.03.2016)Procedure fileEP research: country of origin labelling for meat in processed foods

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

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Mislabelled fish: MEPs to call for strong traceability system

A strong traceability system for all fishery products sold in EU restaurants and shops would help to prevent cases of mislabelling, say MEPs in a resolution to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday. A sound EU fish labelling policy would in turn boost consumer confidence and the economic development of the EU fishing industry, they add.

MEPs voice concern about various studies showing significant levels of mislabelling of fish products sold on the EU market and call on member states to strengthen national checks.

They also call on the EU Commission to remedy the confusion caused by the current EU labelling requirements, based on UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) areas and sub-areas, whereby fish caught off Galicia and in the Gulf of Cádiz are labelled as being from “Portuguese Waters” those caught off, Wales are labelled from the “Irish Sea” and those caught off Brittany are labelled “Bay of Biscay”.

Background

The Commission's 2015 EU control plan assessing the prevalence on the market of mislabelled white fish with regard to its declared species found that the declared species was confirmed in 94% of the samples taken. However, for certain species, non-compliance levels were very high. The rate of 6% is considered relatively low compared to other more limited studies in member states.

A recent NGO study revealed alarming cases of mislabelling of fish served in restaurants in Brussels. The study was based on DNA testing and the results showed that about one third of the tested fish are mislabelled. (oral question)

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 9 May

Vote: Tuesday, 10 May

NGO study of seafood fraudUN FAO fishing areasAudiovisual material for professionals
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Human trafficking: MEPs to call on EU member states to protect victims

Member states should do more to protect victims of human trafficking, especially women, and take gender-specific prevention, assistance and support measures to help them, say MEPs in a draft resolution to be voted on Thursday. The text points out that EU legislation to protect victims of trafficking is not being properly implemented.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking gangs, says the resolution, drafted by Catherine Bearder (ALDE, UK). Children should be registered upon their arrival and included in child protection systems, says the text. According to Europol, about 10,000 unaccompanied children have disappeared since arriving in the EU in 2015.

Note to editors

There were over 30,000 victims of trafficking registered in the EU between 2010 and 2012, 80% of them women. Children make up about 16% of registered victims of trafficking in human beings (THB) and girls up to 13%. Women and girls together comprise up to 95 % of those victims trafficked for sexual exploitation, whereas the majority of registered victims of labour exploitation are male (71 %).

70% of the identified victims of THB and 70% of suspected traffickers in the EU are EU nationals, and most reported victims of sexual exploitation are female EU nationals from Central and Eastern Europe.

According to ILO, profit of THB is estimated at some 150 USD billion a year.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday, 12 May

Vote: Thursday, 12 May

#humantrafficking

Draft resolution on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims from a gender perspective:Profile of rapporteur Catherine Bearder (ALDE,U.K)Procedure FileDirective 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victimsILO study: Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced LabourEurostat: trafficking in human beings

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

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Trade talks with Latin America

As trade talks between the EU and Latin American countries in the Mercosur trade bloc gain momentum, and the two sides plan to exchange market access offers later in May, MEPs will debate the EU negotiating strategy, possible gains and EU farmers’ concerns with the Commission on Wednesday.

The EU trade talks with Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, which is not participating in talks) first launched back in 1999 and since stalled, were recently unblocked when the current leadership in the Latin American countries showed a political will to step up trade with the EU.

Later in May the two blocs plan to exchange their market access offers, a move that has prompted concern among EU farmers at the prospect of opening up the EU market to Latin American competitors, given the current EU agricultural crisis.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 10 May

#mercosur

Text of Oral question: EU-MERCOSUR: The way forward in the Association Agreement's trade negotiationsEC: EU and Mercosur agree to advance trade talks (8/04/2016)

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

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Situation in Venezuela up for a debate with Federica Mogherini

MEPs will discuss the situation in Venezuela with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday afternoon. The country is going through a deep economic crisis, and political tension is escalating. On Monday the opposition handed the electoral authorities almost two million signatures asking for a recall referendum against President Nicolás Maduro. The European Parliament will vote on a resolution in June.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 10 May

EEAS web page on EU-Venezuela relationship
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Parental leave: MEPs to call for common rules to be better enforced

The EU’s common rules on minimum parental leave should be better enforced EU-wide, says a draft resolution to be debated and put to the vote on Thursday. Member states should guarantee working parents the right to take four months off, unpaid, regardless of where and how they are employed, and fathers in particular should be encouraged to apply for it, says the text.

The text, drafted by Maria Arena (S&D, BE), points out that there are big differences in parental leave rules around the EU, and especially on who is entitled to take it. Public sector employees often have more protection than those in private businesses, and in some EU member states, workers on fixed-term or zero-hour contracts are not always included.

Background

Only 10 % of fathers in the EU are taking at least one day of parental leave. By contrast, 97% of women use the parental leave that is available for both parents. According to Eurostat, 3,518,600 employees took parental leave in 2010, but out of those only 94,800 (2.7 %) were men.

In 1995 EU cross-industry social partner organisations reached a framework agreement on parental leave which was given legal effect by a Council Directive a year later. The agreement was completely revised in 2009 and new directive approved in 2010. The rules stipulate that all employees have a right to at least four months of unpaid parental leave, of which one month should be non-transferable. However, defining detailed rules and conditions for their application remain a matter for member states and social partners.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday, 12 May

Vote: Thursday, 12 May

#parentalleave

Draft resolution on application of the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave Profile of rapporteur Evelyn Gebhardt (S&D, DE) Remember to add group + countryProcedure FileEP Research Service: Parental Leave Directive: Towards a revision?Audiovisual material for professionals

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

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CIA’s use of torture: MEPs to ask for updates on investigations

MEPs are set to voice serious concern at the lack of progress made by EU member states and institutions in investigating allegedly CIA-related fundamental rights violations and torture in Europe between 2001 and 2006. They will ask the Council and Commission for updates on the investigations on Wednesday, and vote a resolution on Thursday.

The resolution and oral questions to Council and Commission follow up Parliament's resolution of 11 February 2015 on the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA. Parliament has repeatedly called for full investigations into the involvement of EU member states in the CIA's secret detention and extraordinary rendition programme.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 11 May

Vote: Thursday, 12 May

Profile of rapporteur Claude Moraes (S&D, UK)
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MEPs to call for an EU agenda for mountainous regions

Policy makers should agree on a clear definition of “mountainous regions”, as a basis of an EU-wide strategy to channel direct investment into green jobs, small firms and farming in them, say MEPs in a draft non-binding resolution to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday.

MEPs are to call on the EU Commission to table a working definition of “mountainous regions” for cohesion (regional) policy purposes. (para 1) They argue that mountainous regions need additional support to overcome specific challenges they share (para 2) such as climate change, providing year-round jobs rather than just seasonal ones, promoting economic development, preventing and managing natural disasters and protecting the environment.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 9 May

Vote: Tuesday, 10 May

#cohesionpolicy

Draft resolution on cohesion policy in mountainous regions of the EUProfile of rapporteur Iliana Iotova (S&D, BG)Procedure FileResearch study - Cohesion in mountainous regions of the EU
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New EU-Mauritania fisheries deal

A new four-year fisheries deal with Mauritania, to be approved in plenary session on Tuesday, would allow EU vessels to fish for shrimp, demersal fish, tuna and small pelagic fish in Mauritania’s Exclusive Economic Zone. In return, the EU would pay Mauritania €59.125 million per year - €55 million for the total allowable catches and €4.125 million to support the development of Mauritania’s sector-specific fisheries policy.

This new fisheries Protocol follows the expiry of the 2012-2014 one. It was signed on 10 July 2015, and has applied provisionally since then. Most of the EU vessels fishing in Mauritanian waters are Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Dutch, Polish, British or Irish.

Background information

Parliament voted a resolution on 12 April on the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) saying that the EU fisheries agreement with Mauritania should serve as a role-model of transparency and enforcement. MEPs suggested that the transparency provisions of the most recent protocol with Mauritania, which undertakes to publish all agreements with states or private entities granting foreign vessels access to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) should be included in all Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs).

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 9 May

Vote: Tuesday, 10 May

#Mauritania #fisheries

Draft report on the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania Profile of rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES)Procedure FileCommission webpage on Mauritania
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World Humanitarian Summit – MEPs to urge the EU to show leadership

Proliferating crises, a creaking humanitarian system, and attacks on schools and hospitals will be among the topics MEPs will debate with EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides and Council representatives on Tuesday, ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit. MEPs are likely to call on the EU and its member states to play a leading role at the summit and use their influence to prevent conflicts and bring war criminals to justice.

The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, initiated by the UN Secretary General, takes place in Istanbul on May 23-24. The UN chief outlined five core responsibilities for the international community and expects leaders to make commitments for better political leadership, the protection for civilians, inclusive aid policies, root-cause solutions and investments in local capacities. The EU and it member states are leading humanitarian aid donors. MEPs approved a list of recommendations last December for the May summit.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 10 May

#ShareHumanity

EP resolution on preparing for the World Humanitarian Summit: Challenges and opportunities for humanitarian assistance (16.12. 2015)Towards the World Humanitarian Summit: A global partnership for principled and effective humanitarian action - Communication from the Commission (02.09.2015)Website of the World Humanitarian Summit First-ever World Humanitarian Summit must usher in new era of global solidarity – briefing by the UN Secretary General (04.04.2016.)EP Research - Humanitarian Aid and the EU
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Attracting non-EU students, researchers and interns to the EU: final vote

Harmonised EU entry and residence rules that will make it easier and more attractive for students and researchers from third countries to study or do research at EU universities are up for a final vote on Wednesday. The new rules, informally agreed by Parliament and Council in November last year, also have provisions to clarify and improve conditions for non-EU interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs, so as to facilitate cultural exchanges.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 11 May

Vote: Wednesday, 11 May

Press conference: Wednesday, 11 May 14:40CEST

Press release on the agreement reached with Council (17.11.2015)Profile of rapporteur Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) Procedure File

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

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Human rights and democracy resolutions

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights and democracy topics on Thursday 12 May, around 11:00, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Crimean Tatars
  • Gambia
  • Djibouti

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debates/votes: Thursday 12 May

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Other items on the agenda:

- EU assistance to Lebanon and Jordan to face the impact of the Syrian crisis, debate Tuesday
- Irish MEPs on this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)

- Council and Commission statements - Economic growth and youth employment
Irish MEPs on this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin), Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (Dublin), Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands - North-West)

- Tackling inequalities in order to boost inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the EU
- Irish MEPs on this issue: Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands - North-West)

- West Bank displacement and demolitions, including of EU-funded projects
- Irish MEPs on this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin)

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Draft agendaFollow the plenary live (EbS+)EuroparlTVPress conferences and other eventsEP Audiovisual websiteEP Newshub
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