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12-05-2017

EP Plenary Session Newsletter 15-18 May 2017

What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be the European Council conclusions, addresses by Secretary General of the UN and Head of African Union Commission, portability of online content services, road transport in the EU, the war in Syria, fundamental rights in Hungary, and much more.

 

Brexit negotiations: debate with Tusk

MEPs will debate the outcome of the last European Council, which approved guidelines for the negotiations with the UK on the terms of its withdrawal from the EU, with European Council President Donald Tusk and the Commission, on Wednesday morning.

The European Parliament had already adopted its key principles and conditions for the UK's withdrawal agreement on 5 April. In their resolution, MEPs gave priority to securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU.

Any agreement at the end of UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday 17 May

Procedure: European Council and Commission statements

Press conference tbc

#euco, #Brexit @eucopresident

EP resolution - red lines on Brexit negotiationsPress release on plenary vote (05.04.2017)Steps of the procedureBrexit background informationEP Research StudyAudiovisual materials for professionals

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands North-West), Marian Harkin, Independent (Midlands North-West), Seán Kelly, Fine Gael (South), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands North-West)

 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres to address Parliament

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who took office in January, will deliver a formal speech to MEPs on Wednesday at noon.

The situation in Syria, the refugee crisis and the EU’s role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals are likely to be among the issues addressed by the UN Secretary-General.

Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani and Mr Guterres will hold a joint press conference after the formal sitting.

António Guterres was UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015 and Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He succeeded Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary-General on 1 January 2017.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday 17 May 2017

Procedure: Formal sitting

Press conference: TBC

@antonioguterres @UN

Webpage of the United Nations Secretary-GeneralAudiovisual material for professionals

Irish MEPs following this issue: Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael (Midlands North-West), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands North-West)

 

Watching online films and TV while abroad

Parliament takes final vote on new rules allowing EU citizens to access their subscribed online content while abroad.

New rules enabling EU citizens with subscriptions for online films and TV series to access this content while temporarily in another EU country will be debated on Wednesday and voted on Thursday.

EU citizens visiting another EU country are often prevented from accessing online content services, such as films, TV series, music, games, or sporting events, for which they have paid subscriptions for in their home country.

The new rules, informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in February 2017, will remove these restrictions so that EU citizens can also watch, listen or play when abroad in another EU country for holidays, studies or business.

These rules will apply only to online fee-based services such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Deezer etc. But providers of free-of-charge services will have the option of making their content portable EU-wide.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday 17 May

Vote: Thursday 18 May

Procedure: Ordinary Legislative Procedure (1st reading agreement)

Press conference: TBC

#portability

Compromise text on the cross-border portability of online content services in the internal market Draft resolution on the cross-border portability of online content services in the internal marketPress release on the inter-institutional agreement (7.2.2017)Press release on the committee vote (29.11.2016)Procedure fileEP Research Briefing: Cross-border portability of online content services (April 2017)Audiovisual material for professionals

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

 

Future of Europe: harnessing globalisation

MEPs debate proposals to tackle negative effects of globalisation in the EU

MEPs will discuss how the EU can tackle the negative effects of globalisation. The debate, on Tuesday, follows up on proposals made by the EU Commission.

The proposals on globalisation are part of a broader discussion on the future of Europe launched in resolutions voted by Parliament in February and in an EU Commission White paper in which it outlines five possible scenarios for the future development of the EU.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday 16/05/2017

Procedure: Statement of the Commission

#FutureOfEurope #globalisation

Future of the EU: harnessing globalisation (EP article, 09.05.2017)Reflection paper on harnessing globalisation (European Commission, 10.25.2017)Parliament sets out its vision for the future of Europe (press release 16.02.2017)EP Research: The impact of globalisation: Winners and losers in the EU and the USA (EPRS analysis, 04.07.2016)Procedure fileAudiovisual material for professionals

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

 

Cutting food waste

MEPs put forward possible measures to cut the 88 million tonnes of food wasted in the EU per year by half by 2030

MEPs will advocate efforts to halve food waste in the EU – 88 million tonnes per year - by 2030. A draft resolution to be voted on Tuesday calls on the European Commission to lift existing restrictions on food donations and to dispel confusion about “best before” and “use by” labels.

National authorities and stakeholders should do more to help consumers to understand “use by” and “best before” labels, including the fact that food can be eaten after the “best before” date, says the text.

The Commission should propose a changing the VAT directive to authorise tax exemptions for food donations, explicitly, it adds.

Quick facts

In the EU, food waste has been estimated at some 88 million tonnes, or 173 kg per capita per year. The production and disposal of this food waste leads to the emission of 170 million tonnes of CO2 and uses up 261 million tonnes of resources.

The highest food waste occurs in the Netherlands (541 kg per capita and per year) and Belgium (345 kg), the lowest in Slovenia (72kg) Malta and Romania (76kg).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday 15 May 2017

Vote: Tuesday 16 May 2017

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Press conference: tbc

#foodwaste

Draft report on reducing food waste, improving food safetyPress release on committee vote (11.04.2017)Procedure fileEP Research: tackling food waste, the EU’s contribution to a global issueEU-Fusions project studyAudiovisual materials for professionals

Irish MEPs following this issue: Nessa Childers, Independent (Dublin), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands North-West), Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (Dublin), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South)

 

Boosting innovation, fairness and low emission road transport

MEPs call on the EU Commission to include in its forthcoming road transport package proposals to boost technological development, improve social conditions and safety and cut CO2 emissions.

In a resolution to be voted on Thursday, MEPs call for ambitious standards for trucks and buses to reduce CO2 emissions, measures to enforce user/polluter pays principles, the eradication of “letterbox” companies, and rules on connected and automated driving. They also want clarifications of “cabotage” operating rights and of rules on driving and rest times.

The Commission is expected to come up with the first “mobility package” on 31 May.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 17 May

Vote: Thursday, 18 May

Procedure: Commission statement, non-legislative resolution

#CO2emissions #EUTransport

Draft resolution Press release on the vote in the Transport and Tourism Committee (28.02.2017)Procedure fileSpeech by Commissioner Bulc to the Transport and Tourism Committee (03.05.2017)Video recording of the debate in the Transport and Tourism Committee (03.05.2017)Audiovisual materials for professionals

Irish MEPs following this issue: Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael (South), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South), Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands North-West)

 

Options for ending the war in Syria

Ways and means to help end the war in Syria, the worst humanitarian crisis since WW II, will be debated with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday. A resolution will be voted on Thursday.

The future of Bashar al-Assad regime, the challenges to UN-led peace talks, national reconciliation and a credible political transition are among the issues MEPs are likely to address with Ms Mogherini.

The EU is a leading donor in the response to the Syria crisis with over € 9.4 billion in humanitarian and economic aid, including life-saving emergency operations, providing safe drinking water, sanitation, shelter and food to refugees in Syria and in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.

Quick facts

In March 2017, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini presented a “joint communication” on an EU strategy for Syria, which seeks to define the EU’s potential contribution to ensuring a lasting political solution to the conflict in Syria under the existing UN-agreed framework, to help build stability and to support reconstruction once a credible political transition is underway.

Since 2011, the conflict in Syria has cost almost half a million lives and over 11 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May

Vote: Thursday, 18 May

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

#Syria @FedericaMog

EPRS note on mapping the future of Syria (March 2017)Commission communication on EU strategy for Syria (March 2017)Audiovisual material for professionals

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

 

Serbia and Kosovo: 2016 progress reports

Parliament will review the reform efforts of Serbia and Kosovo in 2016 with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Tuesday and vote on two separate resolutions on Wednesday.

MEPs will welcome progress made by both countries in normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina. They will also call for additional efforts to put the relevant agreements into effect, in full and on time, as a condition for EU accession.

They will also flag areas that are lagging behind in the reform process, such as the rule of law, freedom of expression and fighting corruption.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debates: Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Votes: Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Procedure: Own-initiative procedures

#Serbia #Kosovo #EUenlargement

Draft resolution on the 2016 Commission Report on SerbiaDraft resolution on the 2016 Commission Report on KosovoPress release on committee vote (28.02.2017)Procedure file - SerbiaProcedure file - KosovoEP Research “At a glance”: Serbia and Kosovo: Normalisation of relations (March 2016)Audiovisual material for professionalsEU enlargement status (European Commission information)

Irish MEPs following this issue: Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin)

 

Votes: EEA solidarity contributions and EU-Norway and EU-Iceland fisheries deals

Financial solidarity contributions by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to the European Economic Area and EU fisheries trade protocols with Norway and Iceland will be debated on Tuesday and put to a vote on Thursday.

The latest European Economic Area (EEA) financial mechanism agreement with the three countries and a separate EEA deal with Norway would together provide €2.8 billion in 2014-2021 “to reduce economic and social disparities” within the EEA.

The review of the EU-Iceland and EU-Norway fisheries trade protocols renews existing arrangements with a modest quota increase for some products over the same period.

In another debate on Tuesday, MEPs will ask the Commission and the EU External Action Service about developments since Norway’s imposition in 2013 of high duties on EU cheese, lamb and beef, which Parliament viewed as a breach of the relevant trade agreement.

The two agreements and two protocols have applied provisionally applied since July and August 2016 respectively.

Background

The EEA agreement enables Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to participate in the EU single market, with the exception of agriculture and fisheries, and the three countries contribute financially to the EEA.

The previous mechanisms expired in April 2014. In 2014-2021, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia will benefit from the two financial instruments.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 17 May

Vote: Thursday, 18 May

Procedure: Consent

#Norway #EEA

Committee report tabled for plenaryOral question on “Increase in Norwegian duties on agricultural products/recent negotiations on the fish trade protocol”Procedure fileAudiovisual materials for professionals

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

 

Middle East: MEPs to push for a two-state solution

MEPs will vote a resolution on the situation in the West Bank, as a follow-up to a debate held in November with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini

They are likely to push for the EU’s objective of a two-state solution and ask High Representative Ms Mogherini for further action to revive the peace process talks.

In a February plenary debate, MEPs criticised the current Israeli settlement policy including the so-called "Regulation Bill" which retroactively “legalises” several thousand settlements illegally built on Palestinian private land and could threaten the viability of the two-state solution. They also criticised demolitions and confiscations of many EU-funded aid structures in the West Bank.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Vote: Thursday, 18 May 2017

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

#WestBank @FedericaMog

Procedure fileFull verbatim of the plenary debate on the situation in the West Bank, including settlements (22.11.2016)Full verbatim of plenary debate on the situation in the West Bank, in particular settlements (14.02.2017) Press release: Recognise Palestine to preserve the two-state solution, says European Parliament Delegation (23.02.2017) European Parliament resolution on Palestine statehood (17.12.2014) Top Story Israel and Palestine - Hopes for a lasting peace in the region?The EU and the Middle East Peace Process Statement by the HRVP Federica Mogherini on the announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in the West Bank (01.02.2017)UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (23.12.2016)Audiovisual materials for professionals

Irish MEPs following this issue: Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin (Midlands North-West), Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin (Dublin)

 

Calls to halt GM maize and cotton import authorisations

MEPs oppose EU Commission plans to authorise imports of products made from herbicide resistant, genetically modified (GM) maize and cotton

MEPs object to EU Commission plans to authorise imports of products made from maize and cotton genetically modified (GM) so as to resist herbicides. In two resolutions to be voted Wednesday, they highlight concerns raised by independent research and member states, and repeat Parliament’s call for an overhaul of the EU’s GMO authorisation procedure.

Background

A separate EU law that would enable any EU member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was opposed by Parliament in October 2015. MEPs are concerned that this law might prove unworkable or that it could lead to the reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GMO countries. They call on the Commission to table a new proposal.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Wednesday, 17 May

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

#GMOs

Press release on committee vote (04.05.2017)Audiovisual materials for professionals

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

 

Head of the African Union Commission to address Parliament

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission will address MEPs at 12.00 on Tuesday in the Strasbourg Chamber.

Malnutrition and starvation, sustainable development, youth and intra-African trade as well as cooperation aspects relating to peace and security on the continent will be among the issues raised by Mr Faki.

Elected as Chairperson of the 55 African states organisation Commission during the 28th African Union Summit in January, former Chad’s foreign minister Faki pledged to place development and security at the top of his agenda and streamline the organisation’s bureaucracy.

Earlier this month, EU proposed reinforced partnership with Africa on peace and security, and job creation for youth in the two continents. The fifth EU-Africa Summit will take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in November 2017, with youth being the key theme. It provides a critical opportunity for African and European leaders to reshape and deepen their relationship in response to the evolving context.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May

Procedure: Formal Sitting

#AfricanUnion @MoussaFaki_M @_AfricanUnion

Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council for a new impetus of the Africa-EU PartnershipWebpage of the African UnionWebpage of the African Union CommissionAfrica-EU dialogueAudiovisual material for professionals
 

Vote on fundamental rights situation in Hungary

MEPs will vote on a resolution assessing the fundamental rights situation in Hungary following up on an April plenary debate.

Hungary’s fundamental rights situation will be put to a vote on Wednesday wrapping up a debate from the previous plenary session.

MEPs debated Hungary’s new education law in April, seeing it as targeting the Central European University. They also discussed the tightening of rules for NGOs and asylum seekers and a government survey entitled “Let’s stop Brussels!” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took part in the debate, as wekk as Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Wednesday, 17 May

Procedure: Resolution on topical subjects

#Hungary #CEU #fundamentalrights

Draft resolution on the situation in HungaryPress Release: MEPs discuss situation in Hungary with Prime Minister Orbán (26 April, 2017)Press release: Fundamental rights in Hungary discussed in Civil Liberties Committee (27 February, 2017)European Parliament resolution of 10 June 2015 on the situation in Hungary Audiovisual materials for professionals
 

Relocating refugees: MEPs to urge EU countries to honour their commitments

Parliament will reiterate its calls to member states to transfer refugees from Italy and Greece to other EU countries, as agreed by the Council in September 2015.

Despite EU member states’ pledge to move 160,000 asylum-seekers from “frontline” countries Italy and Greece by September 2017, so far only around 18,000 persons have effectively been relocated, i.e. just over 11% of the total. Following a plenary debate with Council and Commission on Tuesday morning, MEPs will vote on a resolution on Thursday.

Progress by member states (you can find info on your specific MS here)

So far, only Malta and Finland are on track to meet their obligations to both Italy and Greece in time. Some countries, like Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia, are relocating on a very limited basis. Whilst Austria has announced it will start relocating soon, Hungary and Poland are still refusing to participate in the scheme at all.

Quick facts

Under two emergency decisions adopted in September 2015, 160,000 asylum-seekers with a high chance of being granted refugee status should be moved by September 2017 from Italy and Greece to other member states, where their applications are to be processed.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Vote: Thursday, 18 May

Procedure: Council and Commission statements, with resolution

#refugees #migration

State of play of MS support to the relocation mechanism Eleventh report on relocation and resettlement (European Commission, 12.04.2017)EP Research study on Implementation of the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation of asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece (March 2017)EP Research Service: Dossier on migration and asylumAudiovisual material for professionals
 

€2.6m in job-search aid for 821 former Nokia workers in Finland

MEPs will vote to make €2,641,800 available to help 821 ICT workers in Finland find new jobs after they were made redundant

  • 945 workers were made redundant by Nokia Network Systems and three of its suppliers and downstream producers.
  • 821 out of the 945 are expected to benefit from the measures.
  • The job losses were the result of fierce competition between the Finnish ICT sector and its competitors.

MEPs note that the redundancies are part of Nokia’s worldwide transformation programme, “which is needed in order to be able to compete with East Asian rivals.” The areas concerned are the regions around the cities of Helsinki, Oulu and Tampere (Helsinki-Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa, Northern Ostrobothnia).

The Council will vote on the proposal on 15 May.

Background

The aid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund would provide career coaching and individual guidance, employment and business services, a variety of vocational training schemes, services for new entrepreneurs and start-up grants, hiring incentives, training-related allowances, pay subsidy and contributions towards removal costs. The Fund’s annual ceiling is €150 million.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote: Wednesday, 17 May

Procedure: Budgetary procedure

Draft report (prior to committee vote)Procedure file

Irish MEPs following this issue: Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Féin (South)

 

Situation of Christians in the Middle East

MEPs will discuss the situation of Christians in the Middle East with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday afternoon.

Although the Middle East is home to some of the world's oldest Christian denominations, Christian communities throughout the region continue to decline as they find themselves under threat from political repression and violent attacks.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May 2017

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

@FedericaMog

European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2016 on mass graves in IraqEuropean Parliament resolution of 24 November 2016 on the situation in SyriaEuropean Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 on the situation in Northern Iraq/Mosul
 

Debate on LGBT persecution in Chechnya

Shocking reports by independent Russian media and human rights organisations alleging persecution, detention, disappearances and killings of homosexual men in Chechnya will be debated on Tuesday evening.

MEPs will seek more information from the European Commission and Council on recent reports that more than 100 men suspected of being gay have been detained and at least three killed in Chechnya, Russia. They are also likely to ask to how the Council's LGBTI guidelines are being implemented and what action EU can take to stop these atrocities.

The debate will take place on the eve of International day against homophobia and will be wound up by resolution to be voted on Thursday.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Procedure: Oral question with resolution

EP resolution on roadmap against homophobia (04.02.2014)Council LGBTI guidelines (2013)

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

 

Human Rights

Parliament will hold urgent debates on the following human rights and democracy topics on Thursday 18 May, at around 10.00, with the votes following at 12.00.

  • Zambia, particularly the case of Hakainde Hichilema
  • Ethiopia, notably the case of Dr Merera Gudina
  • South Sudan

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure: non-legislative resolutions

Debates/votes: Thursday 18 May

#humanrights #democracy

 

Other items on the agenda

- EU eGovernment action plan 2016-2020, Verheyen (INI), debate Mon, vote Tue. Irish MEPs following this issue: Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael (South), Brian Hayes, Fine Gael (Dublin), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South)

- The right funding mix for Europe’s regions: balancing financial instruments and grants in EU cohesion policy, Novakov, debate Thu, vote Thu. Irish MEPs following this issue: Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Féin (South), Sean Kelly, Fine Gael (South)