During a busy plenary session MEPs marked International Women´s Day, adopted investment and health programmes and paved the way for the Conference on the Future of Europe.
International women´s Day
The plenary session began with a celebration of International Women´s Day, paying tribute to all women fighting on the front line against the Covid-19 pandemic. There was also an Instagram live between Polish top model and women's rights activist Anja Rubik and Evelyn Regner, the chair of Parliament's women's rights committee.
Conference on the Future of Europe
The presidents of the European Parliament, Commission and Council of the EU signed a joint declaration laying the foundation for the Conference on the Future of Europe on Wednesday. The conference aims to give people a greater role in shaping the EU’s future policies and ambitions. People can take part through a multilingual digital platform. A recent EU wide survey found-three-quarters of Europeans consider the conference will have a positive impact and 51% would like to get involved.
On Tuesday MEPs adopted the new EU4Health programme with a budget of €5.1 billion. It will enable the EU to better prepare for major health threats, while making affordable medicines and medical devices more readily available. A fifth of the budget will be dedicated to health promotion and disease prevention.
Also on Tuesday, MEPs adopted the new InvestEU programme, which aims to attract public and private investments of about €400 billion. The new programme will establish an EU guarantee of about €26.2 billion that will allow investment partners to take on higher risks and support projects they might have otherwise ignored. At least 30% of the investments under InvestEU should go towards meeting the EU's climate objectives.
MEPs backed the idea of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which could include a carbon levy on imports of certain goods from non-EU countries with less strict environmental standards than the EU to avoid European companies moving production.
MEPs raised concerns about attacks on media freedom in Poland, Hungary and Slovenia in a debate on Wednesday and called on the Commission to do more to protect journalists in Europe and stop governments acting with impunity.
Rule of law
On Thursday, MEPs urged the Commission to activate the rule of law mechanism without delay. Highlighting an array of long-standing issues and the continuous deterioration of the situation in some countries, they called for immediate action to prevent further damage to the EU’s budget and values.
EU as an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone
In response to the backsliding of LGBTIQ rights in some EU countries, MEPs declared the EU an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone on Thursday.
Right to work for people living with disabilities
In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, MEPs call for more inclusive labour polices to allow people living with disabilities equal access to the job market. Only half of people with disabilities are in employment.
On Wednesday, MEPs recommended changes to a draft law on taxing sales made through online platforms to force platforms to register in the EU and oblige tax authorities to share information.
MEPs also discussed the OpenLux investigations about how Luxembourg’s financial ecosystem is generating tax avoidance across Europe and called for enforcement of existing rules and urgent introduction of new ones like on country-by-country reporting.