Written by Katarzyna Sochacka and Clare Ferguson.
The November I 2021 plenary session in Brussels was the first to be held without the use of remote voting since March 2020. During this mini-session, Parliament debated, in particular, a statement from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell, on the escalating humanitarian crisis on the EU/Belarusian border, in particular in Poland. Members also heard an address by Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Another debate covered the outcome of the first meeting of the new EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC). Several resolutions and legislative acts were adopted, inter alia on strengthening democracy, media freedom and pluralism in the EU, the statute and funding of European political parties and foundations, the European Education Area, disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches, the European Partnership on Metrology, the European Union Agency for Asylum, and on serious cross-border threats to health.
Strengthening democracy, media freedom and pluralism in the EU
Members adopted an own-initiative resolution on strengthening democracy, media freedom and pluralism in the EU. Parliament has always been very active in the defence of freedom of expression and opinion, and this resolution addresses 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 prepared a report that proposes that the Commission bring 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.
Disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches
Responding to citizens’ expectations regarding fairness in taxation, the EU has long aimed to lead the world in promoting financial and corporate transparency. Following protracted negotiations, Members debated and approved a political agreement reached with the Council, which should ensure that multinational corporations publish full information on the taxes they pay and where they pay them. 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.
Statute and funding of European political parties and foundations
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. Members considered and adopted the findings of the latest report by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFET) 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.
Opening of trilogue negotiations
Members confirmed without vote a mandate for negotiations from the ITRE committee on the proposal for a directive on measures for a high common level of cybersecurity across the Union.
Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – November I 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament