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10-03-2014

What's happening in the European Parliament 10-16 March

Parliament's March plenary session is taking place this week in Strasbourg.  On Monday the Foreign Affairs Committee will discuss the €11 bn. EU aid package to Ukraine ahead of a debate and vote on Wednesday.  Also on the agenda NSA inquiry,  the Troika performance and Package Travel.  Read on for more information.

Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia and rapidly unfolding developments on the Crimea are up for a debate and vote on Wednesday. On Monday evening, the Foreign Affairs Committee will discuss the €11 bn. EU aid package to Ukraine.

Data protection.* MEPs are set to beef up safeguards for data transfers to non-EU countries in a vote on a major overhaul of 19-year-old EU data protection laws. The new rules seek to give people control over their personal data while at the same time making it easier for companies to move data across Europe. MEPs also want to increase the fines imposed on firms that break the rules. (Debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday)

NSA inquiry. A separate resolution closing a six-month inquiry into US mass surveillance says data protection should be kept out of the EU-US trade talks and negotiated separately, The EU should suspend its bank data deal with the US and the Safe Harbour privacy principles for US firms; the fight against terrorism can never justify secret and illegal mass surveillance. (Debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday)

Troika performance. The EU/ECB/IMF "Troika" helped four EU countries through the crisis and prevented it from getting worse, but there were important flaws in their way of working, says a draft resolution after a four-month investigation. A second resolution touches on adverse impacts of Troika-inspired reforms on employment and calls for a revision of the measures put in place. (Debate Wednesday, vote Thursday)

Money laundering.* The actual owners of companies and trusts will have to be listed in public registers in EU countries, under draft anti-money laundering rules to be voted on Tuesday. The aim is to make dodgy deals harder to hide and fight tax evasion. Casinos are included in the scope of the draft rules, but member states may decide to exclude other gambling services posing a low risk. (Tuesday)

Package travel.* Holiday makers should be guaranteed help getting home if their travel agency goes bust while they are abroad and travel organisers should be obliged to offer reimbursement if they raise the price or change the flight times significantly after a sale is concluded. (Debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday)

President's diary. President Schulz will meet Andreas Voßkuhle, President of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany on Wednesday. On Thursday he will start an official visit to Slovenia, including meetings with Borut Pahor, President of Slovenia, Alenka Bratušek, Prime Minister, and Janko Verber, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic, as well as with students. On Sunday he will be in Vienna, where he will meet Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

*Note to editors: Votes closing parliament's first reading on legislation without agreement with Council.