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The first plenary session of 2015

Written by Nicole Zandi

MEPs will head to Strasbourg for the first plenary session of the year, to be held between 12 and 15 January. There is still little legislative work on the agenda, as the new Commission settles into its new term, yet a variety of topics have been scheduled for discussion. On Monday, the opening session is expected to feature tributes to the victims of the Paris attacks.

On Tuesday morning, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will reflect on the six months of the Italian Presidency of the Council. The programme of activities of the incoming Latvian Presidency will be presented on Wednesday morning by Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma.

The controversial topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) returns with the second reading of the proposed revision to Directive 2001/18/EC also scheduled for Tuesday’s morning session, with plenary voting to confirm a trilogue agreement with the Council. This proposal would allow Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of specific GMOs in their territory based on environmental or agricultural policy objectives, socio-economic objectives or other compelling ground, even if authorisation for their cultivation has been given at EU level. If approved it may go some way to breaking the deadlock on GMO authorisation between Member States in favour and against, but the Juncker Commission has promised to return to the issue in 2015.

The first plenary session of 2015

The first plenary session of 2015

Fisheries topics dominate voting on Tuesday. The Committee have made a number of first-reading amendments to the proposed Regulation 2014/0213(COD) to bring Mediterranean and Black Sea fishing rules into EU law. There will also be votes on the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and São Tomé and Príncipe and the EU-Seychelles Agreement on access for fishing vessels to waters of Mayotte.

In the afternoon, MEPs will review the conclusions of the 18 December European Council Meeting, with Donald Tusk attending his first debate in plenary as European Council President (he has of course already attended the plenary as President of the Council, during the Polish Presidency in the second half of 2011). Members will also have the opportunity to question the Commission on its plans for dealing with migration, following recent incidents in which large numbers of irregular migrants were abandoned on cargo ships in the Mediterranean.

On Wednesday afternoon, Parliament will discuss the main aspects of the common foreign and common security and defence policies with new High Representative Federica Mogherini. Members will be seeking to tighten the working relationship between the European Parliament and the High Representative. They will also discuss the situation in Ukraine and Egypt.

On Thursday, the Ombudsman’s annual report 2013 will be discussed. Among other things, the report seeks to improve the transparency and performance of the Commission. Thursday will conclude with the customary human rights discussions on particular situations elsewhere in the world, this month focusing on Russia, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan.

6 language versions available in PDF format:
Parliament and High Representative: a new partnership? : DEENESFRITPL
Member States’ bans on GMO cultivation : DEENESFRITPL
Bringing Mediterranean and Black Sea fishing rules into EU law : DEENESFRITPL
The European Ombudsman’s activities in 2013 : DEENESFRITPL

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