Written by Conall Devaney
The European Parliament’s final 2014 plenary session takes place between 15 and 18 December in Strasbourg. Although legislative business is not yet in full swing as the new Commission finds its feet, the European Parliamentary Research Service has prepared notes for Members on a number of items on the agenda.
On Monday a motion on whether or not the EU should officially sign up to the Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) will be tabled by the ENVI committee. Although all 28 Member States have individually signed the Convention, the EU as an international body has until now only been an observer. The EP’s approval is required before the EU can ratify the Convention.
On the agenda for Tuesday morning is a discussion of the Commission’s review of the two-pack and six-pack regulations for economic governance. The European Parliament has already played a key role in the implementation of the rules concerning economic governance, ensuring that maximum transparency has been achieved in the process of monitoring Member States’ budgets and deficit targets. As the review is more of an interim report, Members will be keen to ensure their views are heard by the Commission as it considers concrete proposals for changes.
On Tuesday, MEPs are expected to vote to confirm that Emily O’Reilly should continue in her role as the European Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is elected for the duration of the parliamentary term. Mrs O’Reilly, however, has already been in the post since last year following the early retirement of Nikiforos Diamandouros. The Ombudsman is charged with ensuring that the EU institutions adhere to the principle of good administration and respect EU citizens’ rights under the Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
On Tuesday afternoon, Members will return to the vexed topic of the 2015 budget. With no deal in conciliation, the Commission returned with a new proposal, on which Parliament and Council negotiators reached agreement on 8 December, both on the 2015 budget and a set of amendments required to the 2014 budget. With the Budgets Committee expected to approve the compromise deal on Monday night, plenary would then discuss it on Tuesday and vote on Wednesday.
The winner of this year’s LUX Prize – from the three films in competition – will be announced during Wednesday’s plenary session. The LUX Prize has been awarded annually by the Parliament since 2007 and recognises the work of European film producers who continue to struggle in the face of competition from the US, through support to distribution across the EU. EPRS has highlighted the current measures in place to support the European film industry.
Also on Wednesday the Foreign Affairs Committee will ask the EP to reaffirm its commitment to supporting Georgia’s moves for closer ties with the EU and to once again stress the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, part of which continues to be occupied by Russian forces. The resolution accompanies the motion to approve ratification of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement that was signed in June 2014, and has led to increasing pressure on the country from Russia.
The final plenary debate on Wednesday centres on the EU Internal Security Strategy (ISS). The main aim of the ISS is to ensure the security of all EU citizens while not putting at risk some of the fundamental rights on which the Union is based. The most recent of three reports on the implementation of the ISS was published in 2014. It highlights possible challenges that need to be addressed in the new strategy for the 2015-20 period and these will be discussed by MEPs in Strasbourg.