The Week Ahead 18 – 24 January 2021
COVID-19 vaccines. In a debate on Tuesday, MEPs are likely to reiterate the need for more clarity and transparency regarding vaccine contracts, authorisation, availability and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines. They are also expected to ask for additional clarification on the present status of the EU vaccines strategy for COVID-19, launched by the Commission in June 2020.
Biden inauguration/Situation in the US. On Wednesday, MEPs will debate the inauguration of Joe Biden as new US President taking place the same day, the future of EU-US relations, and the riots and storming of the United States Capitol by some of Mr Trump’s hard-line supporters in an attempt to overturn the results of the election and prevent the formalisation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Portuguese Council Presidency. On Wednesday morning, MEPs will discuss with Prime Minister António Costa and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen the programme of the Portuguese Council Presidency, which is set to focus on addressing the social dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving an inclusive climate and digital transition and on giving new impetus to EU relations with Africa and Latin America.
Right to disconnect. MEPs are set to call for an EU law granting workers the right to disconnect digitally from work without facing consequences from employers. They consider the right to disconnect a fundamental right that allows workers to refrain from engaging in work-related tasks and phone calls, emails and other electronic messages outside their working hours, including holidays and other forms of leave. (debate Wednesday, vote result Thursday)
Tackling the social and employment crisis. MEPs will quiz the Council and Commission on the measures the EU is taking to deal with the social and employment effects of the COVID-19 crisis. They are also set to adopt new rules that allow member states to better support those most in need during post-pandemic recovery (debates Wednesday, vote result Thursday)
Advancing gender equality. In a joint debate and votes on three resolutions, MEPs will propose a series of measures to enhance gender equality, better protect women’s rights, notably during and after the COVID-19 crisis, and tackle the digital gender gap. (debate and vote results Thursday)
Use of Artificial Intelligence. MEPs will outline their proposals on how to govern the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in military and public domains. They are expected to insist on the respect for human rights principles and meaningful human control in the use and development of AI and to warn of threats to fundamental human rights and national sovereignty arising from its use in mass surveillance. (vote result Wednesday)
President’s Diary. On Tuesday, EP President David Sassoli will meet with the President of Moldova, Maia Sandu. On Wednesday at 10.00 he will have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, ahead of the debate on the Portuguese Presidency. In the afternoon, President Sassoli will have a remote meeting with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Qu Dongyu. On Thursday, he will speak at the online “B20 Italy” conference and in the afternoon will meet with the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili.
Press Briefing. On Monday at 15.30, spokespersons from Parliament and political groups will hold a press briefing on next week’s plenary session.