Plenary highlights: Paris agreement, torture, Colombia and free rail travel for 18-year-olds 


MEPs formally endorsed the United Nations global climate agreement agreed during last December’s COP21 Conference in Paris during this week's plenary session, clearing the way for its ratification and implementation. They also endorsed a ban on exporting EU products that could be used for torture and the death penalty and approved financial assistance for laid-off workers. In addition they supported the idea of free rail passes for 18-year-olds to help them discover Europe.

On Tuesday 4 October MEPs formally endorsed the UNFCCC agreement to fight climate change, paving the way for its immediate ratification by the EU and its subsequent entry into force worldwide. Following the vote Parliament President Martin Schulz signed the legal document clearing the way for member state ratification in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal, the COP21 President.

No European products should be allowed to be exported if they could be used to carry out death penalties or to torture suspects, MEPs said on Tuesday endorsing an update of European rules to ban the trade in such devices and services.

The situation in Syria was debated on Wednesday afternoon following the collapse of the ceasefire and mounting US-Russia tensions. Moscow was blamed by many, while others called for greater EU involvement in peace efforts. A resolution was adopted on Thursday.

The code of conduct for European commissioners needs to be made stricter to avoid conflicts of interests once they finish their tenure in Brussels, MEPs said in a debate on Tuesday. The issue has been in the news following recent revelations concerning former commissioner Neelie Kroes and former Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Solutions are needed in Calais to help local residents, migrants living in improvised camps and motorists heading for the port and the channel tunnel, said MEPs in a debate on Tuesday evening.

MEPs expressed alarms at plans in Poland to further restrict access to abortion and in vitro fertilisation during a debate on Wednesday afternoon.

Every European should get a free InterRail pass on their 18th birthday to help them to discover Europe, according to most MEPs in a debate on Wednesday. The Commission has promised to look into it.

The EU often helps out in different crises. This week MEPs approved funds to help Microsoft workers in Finland and Ericsson workers in Sweden who lost their jobs as well as assistance to deal with damage caused by a powerful earthquake in western Greece in 2015.

MEPs called for an improvement of European rules on mass lay-offs to help protect workers better following the announced closure of Caterpillar and Alstom plants in Belgium and France, with the potential loss of many hundreds of jobs.

The Greek economic adjustment programme was debated on Tuesday with Pierre Moscovici, the commissioner responsible for economic and financial affairs. MEPs disagreed on the need of further reforms and on the social and economic consequences of these efforts.

The rejection of the peace deal agreed by Farc and the Columbian government in Sunday's referendum was disappointing, but peace in the country is still inevitable, according to MEPs in a debate on Wednesday, insisting that Farc should be kept off the EU list of terrorist groups.