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EP Plenary Newsletter 26-29 April 2021

What will our MEPs be working on in this week's plenary session in Brussels? Highlights include the EU-UK trade agreement and the Digital Green Certificate.


MEPs will vote on giving their consent to the agreement that sets the rules for the future EU-UK relationship, on Tuesday, with the result announced on Wednesday morning.

They will also debate and vote on a resolution assessing the agreement, in which they insist on its full implementation along with the Withdrawal Agreement, and stressing Parliament's role in scrutinizing the practical application of the deals. The result of the votes will be announced at 9:00 on Wednesday.

On 24 December 2020, EU and UK negotiators agreed on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishing the terms for future EU-UK cooperation on free trade without quotas and tariffs, on fisheries, energy, internal security and fair competition standards. To minimise disruption, the agreement has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021 and will lapse on 30 April 2021. Parliament’s consent is necessary for the agreement to enter into force permanently.

The draft text, prepared by the political groups in the UK Coordination Group and by the Conference of Presidents, calls the UK’s departure from the EU a “historical mistake”. It welcomes the trade and cooperation agreement, but condemns recent unilateral UK actions in breach of the Withdrawal Agreement and demands that the agreed terms of the deal be fully implemented.

Next steps

With Parliament’s consent, the agreement will enter into force once Council has voted on it.



Debate and vote: Tuesday, 27 April

Vote announcement: Wednesday 9:00, 28 April:

Press conference:  Tuesday, 27 April at 14:30, with rapporteurs Andreas Schieder (S&D, AT), Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU), and committee chairs David McAllister (EPP, DE) and Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) (tbc)


Procedure file
Free photos, video and audio material

Digital Green Certificate: EP to adopt its position for talks with EU countries

MEPs will discuss and vote on the Commission’s proposal for a Digital Green Certificate, after which they can swiftly start negotiations with member states.

Once Parliament has amended the legislative proposal and thus finalised its mandate for negotiations, talks with member states can promptly start in order to adopt the Digital Green Certificate by the summer. Council adopted its negotiating mandate on 14 April 2021.

In the debate preceding the vote, MEPs are expected to underline the importance of facilitating free movement without discrimination with a secure and interoperable certificate in digital or paper format, containing information on a person’s vaccination status, COVID-19 test results or recovery status.

MEPs are also expected to call for affordable and accessible COVID testing in order to avoid potential discrimination against those not vaccinated, and for high data protection standards. How to handle those inoculated with vaccines currently not approved in the EU, the lack of scientific consensus regarding acquired immunity as well as clarifications on the possibilities of member states using the EU certificate at national level, and how long the document should be in use, are among the issues likely to be raised.

The debate and vote on Parliament’s negotiating position for talks with EU countries will take place on Wednesday, with results announced on Thursday morning. MEPs will also assess, in the same debate, the accessibility and affordability of Covid-testing. A resolution on the matter will be put to the vote on Thursday.


Debate: Wednesday, 28 April

Vote: Wednesday, 28 April, result Thursday 29 April

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, first reading, plus resolution

Procedure file (EU citizens)
Procedure file (Third-country nationals)
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Russia: MEPs to discuss latest developments with Josep Borrell

Alexei Navalny, Russian military build-up around Ukraine and the recent Czechia-Russia diplomatic row will be debated with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on Wednesday.

Mr Navalny, who was imprisoned earlier this year, was recently hospitalised. He began a hunger strike weeks ago, after the Russian authorities denied him access to medical personnel of his choice to examine physical pain and numbness he was experiencing in prison.

MEPs will also debate the latest Russian military build-up around Ukraine and the recent diplomatic row between Czechia and Russia. The Czechia-Russia spat began after Czech authorities accused Russian intelligence officers of being involved in an explosion in an ammunition storage depot in Czechia in 2014, which killed two people. Following the row, several diplomats from both countries have been expelled.

The plenary debate will be wound up with a resolution to be put to the vote on Thursday.


Debate:  Wednesday, 28 April

Vote and result: Thursday, 29 April

Procedure: Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative, followed by a resolution TBC

EP Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

European Council and EU-Turkey meeting: debate with Michel and von der Leyen

MEPs will assess the outcome of the 25-26 March European Council and the recent EU-Turkey meeting in Ankara with Presidents Michel and von der Leyen.

The joint plenary discussion will take place on Monday afternoon.

At their meeting, EU leaders discussed the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and the EU’s vaccination strategy. The single market, as well as the EU’s industrial, digital and economic policies were also in the agenda. Regarding foreign affairs, they took stock of the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and with Russia.

MEPs will also comment on the trip made by Presidents Michel and von der Leyen to Ankara on 6 April. They discussed with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan how Turkey can re-engage with the European Union and give the relationship new momentum. Both sides expressed their interest in strengthening economic ties and in co-operating on topics such as the fight against climate change, vaccination against COVID-19, as well as on refugees and migration. Presidents Michel and von der Leyen also stressed that respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law in Turkey are crucial for the European Union.


Debate: Monday, 26 April

Procedure: Council and Commission statements, without resolution

EP Multimedia: EU – Turkey

Parliament to debate Chinese sanctions against MEPs

MEPs and EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell will debate the recent Chinese sanctions against several European entities and politicians, on Wednesday.

The Chinese sanctions imposed in March on several European entities and political representatives, including five Members of the European Parliament and the Subcommittee on Human Rights, were a retaliatory act in response to the EU decision to enact restrictive measures against four Chinese officials over human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region.

The MEPs in question are Reinhard Bütikofer (The Greens/EFA, Germany), Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D, France), Ilhan Kyuchyuk (Renew Europe, Bulgaria) and Miriam Lexmann (EPP, Slovakia).

Others targeted by China’s sanctions include academics, national Members of Parliament  and the European Union’s Political and Security Committee (PSC).

In a statement after the sanctions were imposed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry declared that the individuals concerned are banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. The statement also said that these individuals, “companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China”.

The plenary debate will be wound up with a resolution to be put to the vote during the May session.


Debate: Wednesday, 28 April

Vote: May session

Procedure: Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative

Videoclip: David SASSOLI, EP President, meets with MEPs blacklisted by China
EP Multimedia Centre: free photos, video and audio material

MEPs to adopt landmark research programme Horizon Europe

The 2021-2027 research programme will help the EU’s health systems prepare for future pandemics and its industry to decarbonise and innovate.

Horizon Europe, to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday, will have an overall budget of €95,5 billion, including €5,4 billion from the EU’s Next GenerationEU recovery plan, and an extra reinforcement of €4 billion from the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF). The research programme secures short- and long-term financing for research and innovation relating to global challenges such as the fight against climate change, digitalisation, and the coronavirus pandemic. Horizon Europe incorporates the highest budget ever for digital-related research and digitalisation, as well as providing support for innovative SMEs, European research infrastructure, and  an additional €1bn for basic research channelled through the European Research Council.

European Institute of Technology

On Tuesday, MEPs will also vote on the new priorities for the European Institute of Technology (EIT), which aims to better transform European fundamental research into successful practical applications.

Those priorities include the European Green Deal, the European post-COVID recovery plan, strategies for small businesses and industry, the Union’s strategic autonomy and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.


Debate:  Monday, 26 April

Vote and result: Tuesday 27 April

Procedure:  Ordinary legislative procedure

Legislative train schedule: Horizon Europe
Free photos, video and audio material

MEPs ready plans for fundamental change to international tax rules

On Wednesday, MEPs will debate resetting outdated international tax rules, including introducing a minimum effective corporate tax rate.

The debate will conclude with a vote on a resolution, which will clearly set out MEPs’ priorities on these rules, with changes coming at what may be a pivotal moment in the shift towards root and branch reform of global tax policy.

MEPs have long said that international tax rules designed in the early 20th century are wholly inappropriate for the digital age, leading to a significant loss in revenues for national governments. They have also repeatedly said that if international negotiations do not yield a satisfactory result, the EU should take the lead and go it alone.


Debate and Vote:  Wednesday, 28 April, result Thursday, 29 April

Procedure:  Own initiative resolution


Draft resolution on Digital taxation
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MEPs set to approve European Defence Fund programme

The Defence Fund is the first EU programme to finance common defence-related research and development (R&D) in order to save costs.

The 7,9 billion Euro European Defence Fund (EDF) will finance projects jointly agreed by member states that are compatible with the European Union’s defence priorities, taking into consideration member states’ cooperation within other regional and international organisations such as NATO. The legislation setting up the programme will be debated and put to the vote on Thursday.

The Fund will invest in projects involving at least three participants from three member states, provide co-funding for common prototypes and promote cross-border activities of small and medium-sized enterprises by making more financing available.

The Fund also aims to contribute to strengthening the interoperability of the defence systems used by European armed forces.


Debate:  Thursday, 29 April

Vote and result: Thursday, 29 April

Procedure:  Ordinary legislative procedure

Legislative train schedule: European Defense Fund
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MEPs to approve deal to invest €5.4 bn in climate and environmental projects

The 2021-2027 programme for Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) will become the EU’s most ambitious climate and environmental programme.

The total budget allocated for LIFE in the compromise on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework is EUR 5.4 billion (current prices), of which EUR 3.5 billion will go to environmental activities and EUR 1.9 billion to climate action.

The programme will contribute to mainstreaming climate actions and to achieving the overall target of spending at least 30 % of the EU’s budget on climate objectives. LIFE will also support many biodiversity projects and contribute to spending 7.5 % of the annual EU budget on biodiversity objectives from 2024 and 10 % in 2026 and 2027.

The debate and vote will take place on Thursday.


Debate: Thursday, 29 April

Vote and results: Thursday 29 April

Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure

Legislative train schedule: “LIFE programme for 2021-2027”
Free photos, video and audio material

MEPs to vote on European digital transformation programme

EU plans to deploy digital technologies like artificial intelligence, supercomputing and data platforms more widely will be debated and put to the vote on Thursday.

The Digital Europe programme, worth 7,5 billion Euro, will fund the deployment of European supercomputers and data processing capacities (€2.2billion), and make supercomputing more accessible in the health, environmental, and security sectors and industry, and in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

It will strengthen and support artificial intelligence testing and trials in the health and mobility sectors, and encourage member states to cooperate in this area, with the aim of setting up a European data space. Businesses and public administrations will also be able to use artificial intelligence more (€2 billion).

€1.6 billion are also dedicated to cybersecurity, to strengthen coordination between member states, boost Europe’s capabilities and support the deployment of cyber-security technology through initiatives such as the EU cybersecurity competence centre and network.


Debate:  Thursday, 29 April

Vote and result: Thursday, 29 April

Procedure:  Ordinary legislative procedure

Procedure file
Legislative train schedule: Digital Europe
Free photos, video and audio material

Improved EU prevention, preparedness and response to disasters

Parliament is set to adopt the reformed EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), building on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The civil protection mechanism aims to ensure that the EU and its member states will be better prepared to respond to large-scale emergencies, especially when these affect several countries simultaneously. In order to deploy crisis relief more swiftly, the Commission will be able to directly acquire, under specific conditions, the necessary resources via rescEU.

1.263 billion EUR will be allocated to the UCPM to be used during the 2021-2027 financing period, supplemented by 2.056 billion EUR from the EU Recovery Instrument.


The EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) was set up in 2013 as a voluntary system to help member states deal with increasingly frequent natural disasters. Since 2019, when rescEU was created, the EU has been able to jointly procure resources to assist countries hit by disasters when national capacity is overstretched. A new strategic rescEU medical reserve, currently hosted by nine EU countries, allows the EU to react faster to crises.

Additional Information

Debate: Monday, 26 April

Vote and result: Tuesday, 27 April

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure

Press release: COVID-19 lessons learnt: boosting EU civil protection (8.02.2021)
Free photos, videos and audio material

MEPs set to approve provisions for a common mandatory Transparency Register

The interinstitutional agreement will reinforce a common culture of transparency for Parliament, Council and Commission.

Parliament’s co-negotiators Katarina Barley (S&D, DE) and Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) reached a political agreement with the Council and the Commission last December. The introduction of these new measures signifies a major change to the existing structure: interest representatives will have to register in order to be able to carry out certain activities,  vis-a-vis all three signatory institutions, while each institution will now also put in place complementary transparency measures to encourage registration.

The accompanying report, drafted by Ms Hübner and endorsed by the Constitutional Affairs Committee, welcomes that the Council of the EU will no longer be just an observer to the public register for interest representatives set up between Parliament and Commission in 2011. The text also comments on the outcome of the negotiations, addresses how the agreement can be improved in the future, and looks into how Parliament can apply the new internal rules stemming from the agreement - for example, in relation to indirect lobbying activities, which have become more prevalent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vote will take place on Tuesday.


Debate: N/A

Vote: Tuesday, 27 April

Procedure: interinstitutional agreement

Legislative train
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MEPs to approve update of the EU’s space programme

The 14.8 billion euro programme will improve flagship initiatives such as Galileo, Copernicus and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).

The 2021-2027 EU space programme, to be debated on Tuesday and put to the vote on Wednesday, will fund projects that provide high-quality space-related data as well as services with key socio-economic benefits and potential to create jobs.

It also aims to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy, its security and its role in the space sector.


On 6 June 2018, the European Commission presented the new Space Programme. It aims to ensure investment continuity in EU space activities, encourage scientific and technical progress, and support the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the European space industry.


Debate:  Tuesday, 27 April

Vote:  Wednesday, 28 April

Procedure:  Ordinary legislative procedure

Legislative train schedule: EU space programme
Free photos, video and audio material

Rule of law in Malta: deep concern over recent revelations

Parliament set to call for justice in the Daphne Caruana Galizia case and related investigations, and for further steps to protect EU values in Malta.

Following the confession by convicted criminal Vincent Muscat of the murder of Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, MEPs are setto express their deep concern regarding the possible involvement of ministers and political appointees in the case. [1] The draft text acknowledges the progress made in the investigation and welcomes the steps taken by the Maltese authorities to protect independent journalism. However, in the resolution MEPs will point to persisting and new issues relating to media freedom and EU values in the country.

It asks for all potential incidents of corruption to be investigated and prosecuted by the authorities with the necessary rigour [7] and highlights serious and persistent threats to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in Malta, including on issues of media freedom, the independence of law enforcement and judiciary from political interference, and the freedom of peaceful assembly [9].

The vote will take place on Wednesday, results will be announced on Thursday.


Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16 October 2017. She reported on government corruption, allegations of money laundering, and organised crime.

For more Information

Vote: Wednesday, 28 April, result Thursday 29 April

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution

EP launches Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism on anniversary of her murder (15.10.2020)
Free photos, video and audio material (press freedom in Malta)