Things we learned in plenary: Juncker, maternity leave, free-trade agreement with US 


Jean-Claude Juncker was elected president of the European Commission on Tuesday 15 July, during the second plenary of the new term. It's the first time that Parliament has elected the candidate proposed by member state leaders based on the results of the European elections. Members also called for more transparency in the EU-US trade talks, gave Lithuania the go ahead to join the euro zone and approved four new commissioners. Read on and discover the highlights of the 14-17 July plenary session.

The European Parliament elected Juncker as new president of the Commission with 422 votes. He should take office on 1 November for a five-year term. The former prime minister of Luxembourg was proposed by the national governments on 27 June following the results of the European elections which saw the party that supported his candidacy - the EPP - win the most seats in the Parliament.

On Wednesday 16 July, Parliament approved Jyrki Katainen (Finland), Ferdinando Nelli Feroci (Italy), Martine Reicherts (Luxembourg) and Jacek Dominik (Poland) as EU commissioners until the rest of the Commission’s current term. They replace the commissioners from their countries who were elected to the EP.

After four years of deadlock in the EU Council, MEPs urged the Council of Ministers on Tuesday to resume talks on the draft directive on maternity leave. Under the proposals minimum maternity leave in the EU would be extended from 14 to 20 weeks with full pay.

Parliament's recommendations on how to deal with structural youth unemployment and successfully implement the Youth Guarantee system were adopted in plenary on Thursday, following a debate the previous day.

On Wednesday, the Parliament voted in favour of lettting Lithuania adopt the Euro on 1 January 2015. Lithuania will become the 19th member of the euro zone.

MEPs called for more transparency in the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks during a debate with EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht on Tuesday.

The Parliament condemned the violence between Israel and Palestine and called for a ceasefire in a resolution adopted on Thursday, following a debate the previous day. MEPs also examined the dramatic situation in Iraq and Ukraine.

On Thursday, MEPs elected the members of Parliament’s 44 interparliamentary delegations, including a new one for Brazil. The delegations deal with relations with parliaments in countries outside the EU.