Written by Clare Ferguson.
Parliament’s defence of European Union (EU) values provides the underlying theme to the agenda for the first plenary session of November, in Brussels. Following an expected address by Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Parliament will hear an account of the outcome of the European Council meeting of 21‑22 October 2021, where a written message from President Sassoli stressed that EU values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law are not negotiable. An important aspect of these values is freedom of expression and opinion. The shocking murders, in Europe, of investigative journalists Ján Kuciak, Martina Kušnírová and Daphne Caruana Galizia, highlighted the need for strong action to strengthen democracy, media freedom and pluralism in the EU. Parliament has always been very active in the defence of freedom of expression and opinion, and on Wednesday afternoon, Members will vote on a resolution addressing the issue of lawsuits taken out against journalists in the interests of silencing their reporting. Known as SLAPPS (strategic lawsuits against public participation), such legal action attempts to avoid public scrutiny of their initiators’ activities, by intimidating journalists and activists. Parliament’s Legal Affairs (JURI) and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committees have produced a report that proposes that the Commission put forward both legislative and non-legislative measures to protect victims of SLAPPs, including training for judges, funding for victims and awareness-raising regarding such abusive legal actions.
Responding to citizens’ expectations regarding fair taxation, the EU has long aimed to lead the world in promoting financial and corporate transparency. Following protracted negotiations, Members will debate a political agreement that should ensure that multinational corporations publish full information on the taxes they pay and where they pay them, on Wednesday evening. Corporations with revenues over €750 million will be obliged to report on their activities in each EU country, and to disclose income tax information in a standard format on the internet. The measure aims to fight corporate tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning.
An important element in raising awareness of EU values and encouraging pan-European political understanding, European political parties are non-profit political alliances of national parties. They must have a presence in at least 25 % of EU countries to be considered truly European and therefore eligible for EU funding. On Thursday morning, Members will consider the findings of the latest in a regular series of reports by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs on the implementation of the regulation that governs the statute and funding of European political parties and foundations. The committee proposes several changes to make it easier to start a European party and to improve transparency regarding their functioning and financing.