Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, gave his first State of the Union speech in plenary on Wednesday morning, focusing on migration and the situation in Greece. MEPs also supported a emergency scheme for relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other member states and welcomed the Commission's new proposals for dealing with the growing influx of refugees. They also approved a ban on cloning farm animals and a stricter ban on seal products.
On Wednesday MEPs evaluated the first State of the European Union address by Juncker. "The first priority today is and must be tackling the refugee crisis," Juncker said, who also stressed his commitment to focus on climate change, the economic crisis and democracy in countries bordering the EU. Read up on the debate by visiting our coverage on and watch the video of the debate.
In response to the refugee crisis, MEPs backed in a non-binding vote temporary emergency rules to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other member states. On the same day the Commission outlined further proposals to ease the crisis. On Tuesday MEPs said that the fundamental rights of asylum seekers in the EU could be infringed by reception centre conditions and other deterrence measures.
On Tuesday, MEPs strengthened the Commission’s proposal to ban the cloning of all farm animals, their offspring and products derived from them, including imports.
A stronger EU ban on the trade in seal products was approved in plenary on Tuesday. The new rules will extend the ban to products resulting from hunts to protect fishing stocks, although Inuit and other indigenous communities will continue to be exempt.
The cuts to the EU's budget for next year that have been proposed by member states are unacceptable as they reduce funding for migration, research and neighbourhood policy, MEPs said on Tuesday, after hearing the national governments' positions from the Luxembourg presidency of the Council.
On Tuesday MEPs criticised the Commission's response to the first EU citizens' initiative called Right2Water and demanded legislative proposals and a more ambitious effort from the EU's executive body.
No EU technologies or products should be used to violate human rights in countries outside the EU, MEPs said on Tuesday. They also urged the EU to encrypt its communication with human rights defenders around the world.
In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, MEPs defended gender equality measures to be applied at all levels of the education system in order to end gender stereotyping and to help close the gap between women’s education and their professional development.
On Thursday Parliament condemned the unlawful judgments handed in Russia to Estonian police officer Eston Kohver and to Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Olexandr Kolchenko, also demanding their immediate release.
Parliament invited active Instagram and Youtube users to the plenary to follow the State of the Union debate. Their photos and videos taken in Strasbourg will be shared on Parliament's social media channels.