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Keeping their eye on the ball – Plenary Session July

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Autumn season - the European Parliament in Strasbourg - Ill riverIn the light of the recent political upheaval in Europe, and with the Euro 2016 tournament almost behind us, Members will most likely be happy to get back to – not business as usual, but rather business regardless – this week, as the July Plenary session puts some of the EU’s highest profile policy measures on the agenda: curbing emissions; halting tax avoidance; external diplomacy; and the collective responsibility towards the question of asylum and refugees, including border controls. This Plenary Session is significant in that it will review the outgoing Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the EU, as well as hearing the Conclusions of the recent European Council meeting of 28 and 29 June 2016, and hear Commission and Council statements on the programme for the Slovakian Presidency which began on 1 July 2016.

The EU has taken a tough stance on climate change with its commitment to the Paris Agreement. Despite these efforts, which have led to some improvements in Europe, the cost of air pollution in the EU is estimated to be around €330-940 billion per year. This Plenary session, Members will vote on a first reading of a report proposing a review of emission limits for non-road mobile machinery – that is machines as varied as chainsaws and construction tools – in order to better protect human health and the environment.

Turning to that most pressing issue on the EU agenda, the migration crisis, on Tuesday evening Members will hear about the proposed regulation to establish a European Border and Coast Guard Agency (with a vote on Wednesday). The Agency will provide support to Member States in their management of migration issues, search, rescue, and return operations and assist in the fight against cross-border crimes. Parliament’s role is somewhat enforced in this compromise text, both in terms of the Agency’s accountability and the information it will have to provide to Members. Members will also discuss refugees’ social inclusion and integration into the EU labour market on Monday evening, an important dimension of which is access for refugees to education in their host country.

Listen to podcast: European Border and Coast Guard Agency [Plenary podcast]

Linked to the worldwide refugee and migrant crisis, the Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs has prepared a report calling for full respect and enforcement of all human rights agreed under UN conventions, and requesting support for the UNGA high-level plenary meeting on Refugees and Migrants, as part of the EP’s priorities for the 71st UN General Assembly in September. The EU is strongly committed to multilateral cooperation, and the Parliament’s priorities in relation to the UN demonstrate its particular interest in human rights. Parliament is also keen to provide budgetary contingency for issues such as the migration crisis, and to ensure the EU’s budget and associated payments are more flexible and efficient in future. A debate will be held on Tuesday afternoon on the mid-term review of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for the 2014-2020 period. The review is expected to allow for a better alignment of the Union’s budget with the political cycle, and an update in the light of revised economic projections.

Listen to podcast: Aggressive tax planning – The TAXE 2 report [Plenary podcast]

Domestic politics may be overshadowing the discourse in some Member States, but the Parliament hasn’t forgotten other recent issues, such as the aggressive tax planning carried out by companies established or incorporated in the Member States. The second Special Committee set up by the Parliament to look into the matter has now tabled its report, and Members will vote on Tuesday afternoon on the proposals, which include sanctions, protection for whistle-blowers, and a ban on patent boxes, assumed in most cases to be used by multinational companies for tax avoidance purposes.

A list of all material prepared for this Plenary Session:
EU priorities for the 71st UN General Assembly (available in DE – EN- ES – FR – IT – PL)
Aggressive tax planning – The TAXE 2 report (available in DE – EN- ES – FR – IT – PL)
European Border and Coast Guard Agency (available in DE – EN- ES – FR – IT – PL)
Air pollution from non-road mobile machinery (available in EN)
Mid-term review/revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 (available in EN)

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The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. Copyright © European Union, 2014. All rights reserved

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