Briefing 

 

Newsletter - 11-14 April 2016 - Strasbourg plenary session 

  • MEPs will vote on Thursday on new rules on data protection. The aim of the reform is to put internet users in control of their personal data and to regulate data transfers to third countries. The reform also sets high standards on use of data for policing and judicial purposes. Parliament and Council negotiators reached a provisional agreement on both the regulation and the directive last December. Plenary will hold a joint debate on Wednesday and vote Thursday.

  • MEPs will vote on Thursday on the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive, which will oblige airlines to hand EU countries their passengers' data in order to help authorities to fight terrorism and serious crime. Plenary will hold a debate on the subject Wednesday afternoon, after a discussion on the data protection package.

  • The agreement to return migrants and asylum seekers from the Greek islands to Turkey, reached at the meeting of heads of state or government on 18 March in Brussels, will be at the centre of a debate with Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning.

  • A centralised asylum system would allow the EU to better manage the increasing flows of migrants and asylum seekers, according to a draft resolution MEPs will debate and vote on Tuesday. The text advocates safe and lawful ways for third-country nationals to enter the Union without risking their lives and resorting to criminal smugglers.

  • The “Panama Papers” revelations about more than 200,000 offshore companies and their secret owners, including many politicians and celebrities, will be debated with the Commission and Council on Tuesday afternoon. The key question: Are existing EU measures against tax evasion and money laundering working?

  • Recent terrorist attacks and existing and new measures to fight terrorism will be debated on Tuesday at 15.00 with Commission and Council. MEPs are likely to reiterate their urgent call on member states to step up information-sharing and ensure that all existing legislative instruments are fully implemented and operational.

  • As long as serious concerns remain about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, which is widely used in farming, forestry and gardening, the EU Commission should not renew its market authorisation, says a non-binding resolution to be put to a vote on Wednesday.

  • Parliament is set to give the go-ahead for 2016's first draft amending budget, to provide for €100 million of emergency support for refugees within the EU as well as €2 million to hire new staff at EUROPOL’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC). Given the urgency, MEPs fast-tracked the procedure to be completed in just over a month.

  • Stabilising Europe's neighbourhood, keeping up EU's enlargement and integration commitments, and earmarking at least 2% of EU member states’ GDP for defence expenditure are among MEPs’ suggestions for the upcoming EU global strategy to be debated on Tuesday and voted on Wednesday. MEPs will also scrutinise last year's common foreign and security policy choices in a debate with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

  • Draft rules to help businesses obtain legal redress against the theft or misuse of their trade secrets are up for final vote on Thursday. MEPs inserted safeguards to ensure that new rules wil not restrict the work of journalists or deter whistle-blowing. The vote confirms an informal agreement with Council, reached in December 2015.

  • MEPs are set to vote on a non-binding resolution on the situation in Poland wrapping up the plenary debate of 19 January with Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydło and Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

  • Portugal’s new President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, elected on 24 January 2016, will deliver a speech in the European Parliament on Wednesday at 12.00. The 30th anniversary of Portugal's EU membership, the migration and refugee crisis and the current terrorism challenges are expected to be among the topics addressed. Portugal joined the European Communities on 1 January 1986.

  • Parliament will debate the 2015 reform efforts of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Wednesday. It is likely to call on Albania to intensify its reform efforts in key priority areas, such as the rule of law or the fight against corruption, needed to start EU accession talks. MEPs are also likely to welcome Bosnia and Herzogovina’s recent EU membership application.

  • MEPs will vote Tuesday on a resolution asking that the Erasmus+ funding programme be better used to increase mobility of young apprentices and students in vocational education. Mobility strategies and partnerships between local and regional authorities and businesses, chambers of commerce, trade unions and other organisations should be put in place to promote, plan and manage apprentices' professional training schemes abroad, says the draft resolution.

  • MEPs will quiz EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, on Tuesday, on details of the Commission's latest aid package to help EU farmers cope with combined impacts of falling prices, costly inputs and the Russian embargo on EU foodstuffs, inter alia. They will also assess the effectiveness of the 2015 package and present their ideas about an efficient response to the ongoing agricultural crisis.

  • Parliament will vote on a proposal to grant €1,793,710 in EU aid to Sweden to help find new jobs for 500 workers made redundant by Volvo Trucks, mainly in the Umeå plant, and four suppliers and downstream producers.

  • EU member states should impose a moratorium on winter heating disconnections, so that no household can be cut off from energy in the cold, says a draft resolution to be put to a vote on Thursday. To step up the fight against poverty in the EU due to growing household costs, MEPs call for more support for poor families and further investment in energy efficiency projects to reduce utility bills.

  • Parliament will vote on Wednesday on the nominations of auditors to the European Court of Auditors from Slovakia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Poland, Malta and Slovenia on the basis of recommendation from the Budgetary Control Committee. The final decision on appointments to the Luxembourg body will be taken by the EU Council of Ministers.

  • The EU fisheries agreement with Mauritania should serve as a role model for transparency and enforcement, says a draft resolution on the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to be debated on Monday and voted on Tuesday. MEPs will call for stricter rules on imported fish products and sanctions against non-complying vessels.

  • Under a new five-year-deal to be approved in plenary on Tuesday, EU vessels targeting mainly prawn, halibut, cod and redfish would be allowed to continue to fish in the waters of the Greenlandic Exclusive Economic Zone. In return, the EU would pay Greenland a financial contribution of €17.8 million per year. This Protocol follows the expiry of the 2013-2015 Protocol.

  • The recent resurgence of the 22 years old frozen-conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan that declared its independence in 1991 backed by Armenia, will be debated with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday to see how the EU could help in mitigating the crisis.

  • The EU-Cuba political and cooperation agreement, and how it will enhance EU-Cuba relations, will be discussed on Tuesday afternoon with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.