Written by Clare Ferguson and Katarzyna Sochacka,
Highlights of the October I plenary session included statements and debates on the preparation of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 October 2019, on greening the European Investment Bank (EIB), in the presence of the Bank’s president, and on how to prevent conflicts of interest in the EU. Parliament also debated statements made by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) on the situation in northern Syria and Ukraine. Debates took place on Council and Commission statements on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and own resources. Finally, Members discussed Commission statements on United States tariffs on European goods following the World Trade Organization’s Airbus dispute decision, on authorisation of genetically modified organisms, and on the fight against cancer.
Statements by the High Representative
Federica Mogherini, as HR/VP, made statements on northern Syria and on the situation in Ukraine. With the election in Ukraine this year for both a new President and Parliament, increased efforts have been made to relaunch talks on settling the Donbass conflict, under the Normandy format. President Volodomyr Zelenskiy’s room for manoeuvre remains limited, however, with little sign of follow-up on the Minsk Agreements commitments and the conflict in the country’s east continuing.
Post-2020 EU budget
Council and Commission outlined the progress made on narrowing the gaps between Member States’ positions on the post-2020 EU budget; nevertheless it is clear that the European Council is not yet close to finalising its position and thus the subject will remain on the agenda in the months ahead. In advance of EU leaders’ discussions next week, the Parliament adopted its position on both the MFF and the own resources system. The resolution adopted, on a motion tabled by four political groups (EPP, S&D, Renew and Greens/EFA), largely seeks to reiterate the positions adopted by Parliament during the last term.
Euro area employment and social policies
Members debated and adopted a report from the Employment & Social Affairs (EMPL) Committee on the employment and social policies of the euro area, a contribution to the annual European Semester process. Parliament’s position should feed into Council recommendations on euro-area policies, due to be adopted in November 2019. The committee’s report emphasises the need to strengthen social rights, ensure universal coverage, and to develop labour market and education policies to ensure adequate social protection and address skills mismatches more effectively.
Amending the EU budget for 2019
Parliament voted on a report on draft amending budget No 4 (DAB 4/2019), which amends the Council’s position, seeking to redeploy savings to other major EU programmes that currently lack funding. Parliament therefore calls on the Commission to present a new proposal along these lines.
Negotiations ahead of Council’s first reading
The President announced 43 decisions by the ECON, ITRE, TRAN, ENVI, LIBE, REGI, EMPL, CONT, IMCO, AFET and DEVE committees to enter into interinstitutional negotiations, in accordance with Rule 72. Parliament’s positions adopted earlier at first reading will provide the mandates for these negotiations.
Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – Brussels, October I 2019‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.