Coming up after summer: climate action, public health, future of Europe

MEPs will be dealing with many important issues after the summer break, including climate action, public health and digital services.

The European Parliament has a packed schedule when it returns after the summer recess

State of the EU

The new political season starts with the State of the European Union debate when MEPs will question Commission President Ursula von der Leyen about the Commission’s work over the past year and the main priorities and challenges for the coming 12 months. The debate takes place in Strasbourg 15 September.

Climate action

In mid-July, the European Commission presented a package of initiatives linked to the European Green Deal, aimed at making it possible for the EU to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Parliament will set out its position on the proposals, ranging from measures to accelerate the development of alternative fuel infrastructure to introducing a new carbon levy on imports.

Preparedness for health crises

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that when a health crisis strikes, countries need to work together to find solutions.

Parliament has established its negotiating position on reinforcing the mandate of the European Medicines Agency and will be ready in September with its position on two more files: the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and improving preparedness for cross-border threats to health. Then MEPs will hold talks with EU governments to negotiate agreements.

Conference on the Future of Europe

MEPs will take active part in the work of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which aims to come up with concrete proposals for change in the EU based on ideas put forward by citizens. A total of 108 MEPs are members of the Conference Plenary, which will next meet on 22-23 October.

Farm policy

MEPs and EU governments reached an agreement at the end of June on the Common Agricultural Policy for 2023-2027. EU funding will promote eco-friendly agriculture, help preserve biodiversity and support small farms and younger farmers. MEPs are expected to vote on the rules towards the end of the year.

Digital services

Parliament’s internal market committee is working on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, which aim to regulate major platforms and create safer digital spaces in which the fundamental rights of users are protected. MEPs are  expected to vote on it in December.

Also on the agenda is an extension of the roaming rules, which ensure that end users in the EU are not charged extra when they make a call or browse on their mobile phones from another EU country, for a further ten years from 2022. In addition, the aim is to lower the cap on the prices that operators charge each other when consumers use their networks.

Minimum wages and pay transparency

The employment committee will vote in the autumn on plans to ensure adequate minimum wages across the EU.

A separate proposal on pay transparency would give workers the right to request anonymised information from their employers on how much other workers earn. This should reduce discrimination in the workplace and help narrow the gender pay gap.

Scrutiny of recovery plans and rule of law

In addition to its legislative role, Parliament will continue to oversee the Commission’s work on the recovery plan, holding regular meetings with executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis and economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni on the progress of national recovery plans.

Parliament is also paying close attention to how the Commission defends EU values and principles. It has called on the Commission to use the new law linking EU budget payments to the respect for the rule of law and has said that if the Commission fails to act against rule of law violations, Parliament will file a case before the European Court of Justice.

Special and inquiry committees

A number of committees set up on a temporary basis in the European Parliament will adopt their recommendations in the second half of the year. These include:

Sakharov Prize

In December, Parliament will award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which distinguishes activists fighting for human rights and democracy across the globe. Last year, the prize was awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus.