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European Parliament Plenary Session, June 2018

Written by Clare Ferguson,

European Parliament Strasbourg seat

European Union, EP

In the latest in a series of discussions on the future of Europe, a highlight of Parliament’s agenda for June is the debate planned for Wednesday morning with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte. A number of important statements are expected; on Tuesday afternoon from the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, on the Iran nuclear agreement; from the Council and Commission on the independence of the judiciary in Poland on Wednesday, and on the preparation for the European Council meeting of 28 and 29 June 2018 on Tuesday morning, where the negotiations on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal are likely to be discussed.

Crucially, for Parliament, the number of Members of the European Parliament is limited to 751 under the Lisbon Treaty. The United Kingdom withdrawal means the seats left vacant by British Members must be redistributed, a situation complicated by the withdrawal date falling just before the next European elections. The composition of the European Parliament will therefore change after ‘Brexit’, providing an opportunity for Parliament to correct the current flawed application of the degressive proportionality principle, (minimum of 6 seats per Member State, maximum 96; with each Member elected in more populous states representing more electors than those elected in less populous states, and vice versa), without reopening the Treaties. Parliament will vote on Wednesday on whether to consent to a European Council decision on a partial redistribution of seats for the next term, involving no loss of seats for any Member State, reserving 46 seats for future enlargements, and reducing the overall number of Members to 705. The decision is based on a proposal made by Parliament following a vote in the February plenary session.

On Tuesday afternoon Parliament will consider whether further macro-financial assistance to Ukraine will continue to be paid, in view of the lack of progress on fighting corruption in the country. Despite the priority accorded to Ukraine under the Eastern Partnership, the EU has already cancelled assistance payments due in the previous programme, due to the country’s failure to meet the conditions regarding governance and economic reforms. Parliament and Council positions to date indicate that any further assistance will be conditional on progress in the fight against corruption, with a proposed Memorandum of Understanding to be signed covering institutional and administrative capacities, including an anti-corruption court. An oral question addressing the issue of corruption closer to home is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Turning to transport, Europe remains the safest air space in the world and the EU intends to ensure it stays that way. On Monday evening, Parliament will discuss a provisional agreement on common rules in the field of civil aviation. Parliament’s focus in the proposals has been on adapting the rules to heavier air traffic and emerging technologies in aviation, such as drones. The new rules have already been approved by the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and are ready for formal adoption during this month’s session, with debate scheduled for Monday evening. Free movement of goods in the EU is also essential to the success of the internal market. However, the large-scale use of heavy-duty vehicles in transport has consequences for our environment, as they emit around a quarter of all road transport CO2. Parliament proposals extend EU targets to reduce these emissions, to encompass new administrative fines on manufacturers who fail to comply, and introduce new on-road verification tests. On Monday evening, Parliament will consider the final agreed text on monitoring and reporting of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of heavy-duty vehicles that seeks to stimulate market uptake of cleaner, fuel-efficient, heavy-duty vehicles.

A proposal to amend and simplify the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), which deals with the regulation of OTC derivatives in the EU, will be debated on Monday evening. The 2017 Commission proposal covers issues with the clearing obligation, reporting requirements, risk-mitigation techniques and trade repositories in the ‘over-the-counter’ (OTC) derivatives market. Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is proposing further amendments that would boost transparency, compliance with reporting requirements, and access to clearing, including the principle that clearing services be provided under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (‘FRAND’) commercial terms.

On Wednesday evening, Parliament will consider a compromise text on a proposed directive introducing a proportionality test for new national regulations for professions, which affect employment in areas such as medicine and architecture. Public concern has been expressed regarding the inconsistent application of proportionality principles and a lack of transparency in the access to such professions, which is decided by Member States individually. Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection obtained a compromise between addressing unnecessary national requirements and allowing a specific status for healthcare services, and Council’s desire to limit obligations regarding the transparency of the national regulatory process.

EU citizens have a huge range of cultural heritage sites, museums, exhibitions, films, and live performances to choose from, and digital access to cultural services makes it even easier to get a ‘culture fix’. However, participation in cultural activities remains low. While the EU offers support for Member States in promoting cultural life, on Wednesday evening, Parliament will discuss a report on the barriers to accessing culture in the EU, which include public funding levels, access, and the role of education.

Tuesday afternoon’s statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy presenting the annual report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2017 and the EU’s policy on the matter is followed on Thursday with debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Russia, Bahrain and on the situation of Rohingya refugees.

A list of all material prepared for this Plenary Session:
Common rules in the field of civil aviation (available in DE – EN – ES – FR – IT – PL)
Monitoring and reporting of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of heavy duty vehicles (available in DE – EN – ES – FR – IT – PL)
Proportionality test for new national regulations for professions (available in DE – EN – ES – FR – IT – PL)
Further macro-financial assistance to Ukraine (available in DE – EN – ES – FR – IT – PL)
Regulation of OTC derivatives in the EU (available in DE – EN – ES – FR – IT – PL)
Barriers to accessing culture (available in DE – EN – ES – FR – IT – PL)
Composition of the European Parliament (available in EN)

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