Elections, future of Europe, Brexit... the New Year starts with a busy agenda for the European Parliament.
The next European elections - and the first after Brexit - will take place on 23-26 May. People in the EU will elect 705 MEPs to form the new European Parliament, which will then elect a new president of the European Commission. Look out for debates between the lead candidates for the post.
Future of Europe
MEPs will continue to discuss the future of Europe with EU leaders.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will be the first to address the plenary session next year.
The UK is set to leave the EU in March 2019. Any agreement on Brexit has to be approved by the European Parliament.
The EU’s long-term budget
Parliament has agreed its priorities for the EU’s next long-term budget for 2021-2027 and is urging the Council to begin negotiations. MEPs want to reach an agreement before the European elections, in order to avoid delays to important projects and job losses that a later deal on the budget could mean.
Parliament's special committee looking into the EU's authorisation procedure for pesticdes will wind up its work with a report in January calling for the highest standards to ensure a high level of protection.
Free trade agreements
In February, Parliament will be looking beyond the EU as it considers a free trade deal with Singapore. The southeast Asian nation is a key EU trade partner and hosts more than 10,000 European companies. The EU-Singapore free trade agreement will remove almost all tariffs and simplify trade.
MEPs will discuss how the EU should counteract propaganda against it by non-EU countries. The EU wants to focus on measures such as increasing media literacy, raising awareness and promoting independent and investigative journalism
MEPs will continue work on proposals to strengthen the protection of whistle-blowers across the EU in the wake of recent scandals such as Dieselgate, Luxleaks, the Panama Papers and Cambridge Analytica.