Plenary highlights: cheaper calls, energy efficiency, Lux Film Prize, Angela Merkel  


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The EU’s long-term budget and new rules on energy and telecom were among the highlights of the November plenary. Woman at War won this year’s Lux Film Prize.

In its interim report on the EU's long-term budget for 2021-2027, Parliament called on the Council to reach an agreement soon or risk EU programmes being affected. Read more in the press release.

On Tuesday MEPs approved new EU targets to increase the use of renewables and improve energy efficiency. Under the new rules, at least 32% of the EU's energy consumption in 2030 will have to come from renewable sources.

On 14 November Parliament voted in favour of capping the cost of calls between EU countries at 19 cents per minute and text messages at 6 cents, from 15 May 2019. The new rules are part of a telecom package that also aims to boost the investment needed to make 5G connectivity available in European cities by 2020 and includes an obligatory 112 alert system.

Action comedy Woman at War has won this year's Lux Film Prize. In an interview, Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson described his film as a warning call: “The world needs saving these days and in the environmental battle women” are often at the front.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel debated the future of Europe with MEPs on Tuesday. “Tolerance is the soul of Europe and an essential basic value of the European idea,” she said.

MEPs adopted new rules strengthening rail passenger rights across the EU on Thursday, including higher compensation in case of delays and more assistance for people with disabilities.

On Thursday, MEPs called on the EU to prepare plans to combat the “silent epidemic” of Lyme borreliosis, which remains underdiagnosed and affects about one million Europeans.

Parliament will begin negotiations with the Council on a proposal adopted on Thursday, establishing transparent and predictable working conditions concerning the length of the probationary period, working hours and restrictive contracts.

The Parliament is “deeply concerned” about the reform of the Romanian judicial and criminal laws, which risks undermining separation of powers and the fight against corruption, said members in a resolution.

Following the publication of the UK's withdrawal agreement, the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier met with Parliament President Antonio Tajani and the political group leaders on 15 November to discuss the deal.

"We thank the people of Europe and its leaders for the role they played in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa,“ said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the Parliament on 14 November.

On Wednesday, the Parliament backed plans for lorries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030, with an intermediate target of 20% by 2025.

New draft rules on how, where and when small pelagic fish, such as anchovy and sardine, can be caught in the Adriatic Sea were adopted on Tuesday.

Common rules on arms export are essential to avoid human rights abuses and prevent the use of European weapons against European armed forces, said MEPs in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. In addition EU countries’ systematic failure to apply EU rules on arms export control should be addressed by a sanctions mechanism.

Outside the plenary session

What Europe does for me, a new website with short, easily readable notes, allows people to discovern how the EU has improved people's lives, was launched on Wednesday.