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12-11-2019

EP Plenary Newsletter 13-14 November 2019

What will our MEPs be working on in this week's plenary session in Brussels? Highlights include the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; the criminalisation of sex education in Poland and how to combat violence against journalists.

 

Wolfgang Schäuble to speak on 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

EP President David Sassoli and the President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble will address plenary to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The plenary session will open on Wednesday with a statement by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, followed by a speech by the President of the German Parliament, Wolfgang Schäuble, to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. The wall cut West Berlin off from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin, for 28 years.

A round of political group speakers will then wrap up this formal sitting.

Before the speeches, there will be a musical performance by Liav Kerbel of the Musica Mundi School and a projection of historical footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Read a recent statement by EP President Sassoli on the fall of the Berlin Wall.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday, 13 November

Procedure:  Formal sitting

Sassoli: The fall of the Berlin Wall has made us better and stronger
Background: “European Parliament and the path to German reunification”
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Irish MEPs following this issue are: Sean Kelly, Fine Gael/EPP (South), Mairéad McGuinness, Fine Gael/ EPP (Midlands-North-West)

 

How to combat violence against journalists

Following the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November, MEPs will discuss how to protect them, on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the UN, more than 1,000 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public in the past twelve years. In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared that 2 November would be the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’.

The discussion in the hemicycle in Brussels on Wednesday is expected to take stock of what has been done so far to combat a culture of impunity all over the world, and further measures to be put in place to prevent violent attacks against journalists.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate:  Wednesday, 13 November

Procedure:  Debate

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Irish MEPs following this issue are: Mairéad McGuinness, Fine Gael/ EPP (Midlands-North-West); Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein/GUE-NGL (Midlands-North-West)

 

Celebrating the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, MEPs will discuss the new challenges that children and youth face today.

The debate in the hemicycle in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon is also expected to consider progress made over the past three decades in promoting children’s’ rights all over the world. It will be wound up by a resolution to be voted on during the plenary session in Strasbourg later this month.

EP high-level conference on 20 November

The European Parliament will also organise a high-level conference on 20 November to mark the anniversary, which takes place on the same day.

It will be opened by Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament and Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission (TBC). Here is the draft programme.

If you wish to attend the conference, you have to register. Adults can register here and minors can register through this link.

Background

This United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 13 November

Vote: November II session

Procedure: Statement by the Council and the Commission followed by a non-legislative resolution

Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

Irish MEPs following this issue are: Mairéad McGuinness, Fine Gael/ EPP (Midlands-North-West); Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein/GUE-NGL (Midlands-North-West)

 

The situation of refugees on the Greek islands

As winter approaches, MEPs will assess the situation facing those stuck on the Greek islands and in Bosnia, in a debate with Council and Commission on Thursday.

According to UNHCR, there are still close to 30.000 migrants and refugees on the Aegean islands. Despite significantly fewer arrivals and the efforts of the Greek authorities to alleviate pressure on the hotspots, camps like the one in Moria (Lesvos) are permanently overcrowded.

Many MEPs fear the already dire conditions in the refugee camps will deteriorate further as the weather worsens. They are likely to call on EU member states to show solidarity with Greece and offer relocation places for the asylum-seekers stuck on the islands.

Asylum-seekers at the Croatian-Bosnian border

Prior to discussing the situation in Greece, MEPs will address with the Commission and the Council what is happening in Bosnia, and in particular in the refugee camp in Bihać, where thousands of asylum-seekers are held in overcrowded conditions after being expelled or not allowed into EU territory by the Croatian police.

MEPs are set to call on the European Commission to delve into the allegations of police brutality and to make sure that refugees receive adequate humanitarian aid.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Thursday, 14 October

Procedure: Council and Commission statements, without resolution

Procedure file - Refugees on
Procedure file - Refugees in Bosnia
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Irish MEPs following this issue are: Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fail/Renew (South)

MEPs to make a stand against criminalisation of sexual education in Poland

In a draft resolution to be put to the vote on Thursday, MEPs express their deep concern over a law which could put teachers who provide sex education in prison.

A new initiative to amend a Polish law against paedophilia threatens those providing sex education to minors with up to three years in prison. In the draft resolution, MEPs express their concern about the chilling effects this draft law would have on educators.

MEPs are set to condemn the developments in Poland to misinform, stigmatise and ban sexuality in education and call on the Polish Parliament to refrain from adopting the bill.

To view the October plenary debate on this topic, click here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Monday, 21 October

Vote: Thursday, 14 November

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

Draft resolutions on the criminalisation of sexual education in Poland
Procedure file
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Debate on Turkish drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean

MEPs will discuss the latest developments on the exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone on Wednesday afternoon.

Tensions are rising among Eastern Mediterranean countries over Turkey’s offshore drilling activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.

The Republic of Cyprus authorities have already awarded hydrocarbon exploration rights to Italian and French companies there, but Turkey is challenging Cyprus’ rights and executing drilling activities in the area, claiming they are taking place inside its continental shelf. Turkey does not recognise the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that prescribes rights to Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 13 November

Procedure: Statement by the VPC/HR

UN Convention of the Sea
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MEPs to discuss latest developments in Bolivia

Post-electoral deadly clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters, reported fraud and the resignation of the President has created a political vacuum.

Incumbent Bolivian President Evo Morales claimed victory in last month's disputed election, triggering countrywide protests, amid accusations of vote rigging. Ensuing violent clashes also claimed several lives and on Sunday, 10 November, President Morales finally announced his resignation, after pressure from Bolivia’s army and police forces.

His exit was preceded by a preliminary report in which the Organization of American States (OAS) on Sunday stated that fraud has been committed during the October elections.

MEPs will discuss the unrest and current political vacuum in Bolivia on Wednesday evening during the mini-plenary session in Brussels with representatives of the European Commission.

The European Parliament did not send observers to the legislative and presidential elections in Bolivia. The EU was only represented by an Expert Mission.

Read more on Election observation missions (EUEOMs).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Debate: Wednesday, 13 November     

Procedure: Statement by the Commission VP/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

EP Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material
 

MEPs to back €1.6 million to help 400 former workers of Carrefour Belgium

Four hundred retail workers from Wallonia dismissed by the Carrefour supermarket chain should receive EU aid worth €1,632,028 to help find new jobs.

The redundancies in Carrefour retail stores are due to increasing competition from online shopping from vendors outside the EU, according to the European Commission.

The measure, co-financed by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) would help the 400 workers find new jobs by providing them with career guidance, job training, entrepreneurship advice and contributions towards starting a business.

To take effect, the aid has to be approved by a plenary vote in Parliament and by the Council, which has so far refused to endorse the aid.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote:  Thursday, 14 November

Procedure:  Budgetary procedure

Draft report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Belgium – EGF/2019/001 BE/Carrefour)
Press release on committee vote (06.11.2019)
Commission proposal
Profile of rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT)
Procedure file
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More clarity on VAT for online marketplaces

MEPs on Thursday will vote on further measures to close VAT loopholes when independent vendors sell goods through online marketplaces.

The new rules supplement the provisions laid down in the VAT e-commerce directive, due to enter into force in 2021. The rules specify the type of information that the seller must transmit on the sales made through these platforms. 

The standardised reporting requirements are expected to provide the EU’s national authorities with more homogenous information to reduce the amount of VAT due but not paid. In 2017, the unpaid VAT due across the EU was EUR 137 billion.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vote:  Thursday, 14 November

Procedure:  Consultation

Draft report on distance sales of goods and certain domestic supplies
Profile of the rapporteur, Ondřej Kovařík (Renew Europe, CZ)
Procedure file
The VAT-Gap - European Commission FAQ
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MEPs to oppose plans to authorise five herbicide-resistant GMOs

On Thursday, Parliament is set to oppose plans to authorise import of products containing five glyphosate- and glufosinate ammonium-resistant GMOs.

MEPs are expected to call on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decisions on products with five types of genetically modified organisms - soybean, cotton, maize and oilseed rape - in five separate non-binding resolutions.

These GMOs are tolerant to glyphosate-based and glufosinate ammonium-based herbicides. MEPs say that a number of studies show that such GM crops result in a higher use of weed killers. The crop may be exposed to repeated doses of weed killer, potentially leading to a higher quantity of residue in the harvest, they say.

In draft resolutions accompanying the objections, MEPs are expected to criticise the Commission for continuing to authorise GMOs, in spite of a lack of support from member states and numerous objections from the European Parliament. For many MEPs, it is unacceptable that the exception is becoming the norm.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Procedure: Objections (Rule 112); non-binding resolutions

Vote: Thursday, 14 November

Objection to GMO cotton LLCotton25
Objection to GMO soybean MON 89788
Objection to GMO maize MON 89034 × 1507 × NK603 × DAS-40278-9
Objection to GMO maize Bt11 × MIR162 × MIR604 × 1507 × 5307 × GA21
Objection to GMO oilseed rape T45
Motion for a resolution on GM soybean MON 89788
Motion for a resolution on GM cotton LLCotton25
Motion for a resolution on GM maize MON 89034 × 1507 × NK603 × DAS-40278-9
Motion for a resolution on GM maize Bt11 × MIR162 × MIR604 × 1507 × 5307 × GA21
Press release on ENVI committee vote (06.11.2019)
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