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Migration pressure remains high [18-21 May EP Plenary Session]

Written by Tessa Tumbrägel

There is plenty of legislative work on the agenda for Parliament’s next plenary session taking place in Strasbourg from 18-21 May. MEPs will address a variety of topics, with a focus on financial matters and external affairs. However, discussions on the European Agenda on Migration, adopted by the Commission on 13 May, against the backdrop of ongoing migrant trafficking across the Mediterranean and the likely launch of EU military action against traffickers, are likely to gain most attention.

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© European Union 2015 – European Parliament

The session starts on Monday with a debate on financial benchmarks, which are critical to the pricing of many financial instruments (such as derivatives) and contracts (such as mortgages). Following cases of manipulation of well-known benchmarks like the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR), the Commission has proposed new rules to increase benchmarks’ robustness and reliability.

A debate on tobacco agreements will allow MEPs to discuss the future of agreements with four major tobacco companies, aimed at reducing illicit trade in and smuggling of cigarettes. Later on Monday’s agenda, a report is tabled on green growth opportunities for SMEs. To help overcome existing obstacles, and enable SMEs to tap into the potential of green growth, the Commission has proposed a Green Action Plan, focusing on resource efficiency, eco-innovation and market access for green SMEs, while also tackling the issue of financing.

Also on Monday, Parliament will quiz the Commission on rules on VAT for digital services, books and papers in the EU, which aim to reduce costs and administrative burdens for businesses when selling across borders. As it happens, this issue is also included in the new strategy to create a deeper Digital Single Market (DSM) in Europe, which will be the subject of debate on Tuesday morning. The strategy is comprised of 16 initiatives to be delivered by the end of 2016. First reactions to the proposal are mixed – what are MEPs’ views?

The plenary will hear from the International Trade Committee on imports of minerals from conflict areas and discuss the establishment of an EU due-diligence system for firms in the mining supply chain.

Turning back to financial matters, a joint debate on Tuesday afternoon will address two legislative proposals to strengthen EU anti-money-laundering (AML) tools, in line with recently reshaped international AML standards. MEPs will discuss how to prevent the (ab)use of the financial system for purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing and how to deal with information accompanying funds transfers. Following this, the plenary will vote on a proposal to modernise EU rules on cross-border insolvency proceedings, which affect some 200 000 European businesses a year, with a quarter of these having a cross-border character.

Also on Tuesday an oral question posed by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, seeks an update on the Commission’s plan to withdraw the proposed revision of the Maternity Leave Directive, after four years’ deadlock in the Council.

On Wednesday morning, MEPs will discuss the Commission’s new European Agenda on migration, before turning to external affairs. Later that day, MEPs will address developments in EU enlargement negotiations and discuss the 2014 Progress Report on Turkey, which acknowledges a number of positive developments but also highlights various political concerns such as corruption, political polarisation and social media bans.

A list of all material prepared for this Plenary Session:
Green growth and SMEs : DEENESFRITPL
Finalising reform of cross-border insolvency rules : DEENESFRITPL
Revision of the Maternity Leave Directive : DEENESFRITPL
New EU tools to fight money laundering : DEENESFRITPL
Imports of minerals from conflict areas : DEENESFRITPL
Turkey 2014: Work in progress : EN
Tobacco agreements: Fighting illicit tobacco trade : EN
Benchmarks in financial instruments : EN
TVA sur les livres numériques et journaux en ligne dans l’Union européenne : FR
Digital Single Market for Europe : EN

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