Written by Clare Ferguson.
There is something of a global dimension to the agenda for this second session of the month, with Hakainde Hichilema, President of Zambia, due to address a formal sitting on Thursday. Members will, the previous day, debate the preparation of the 23‑24 June 2022 European Council meeting, which will be preceded by the 23 June meeting between EU and Western Balkans leaders. They will also debate Council and Commission statements on EU candidate status for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. This follows the Commission’s recommendation last Friday to grant candidate status to the first two, and – following a number of priorities being addressed – subsequently to Georgia too. The question of candidate status will also be on the agenda of the European Council this week. As regards existing candidate countries, on Wednesday evening, Members are set to debate the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) report on the Commission’s 2021 report on Montenegro’s EU accession negotiations. Despite recent political upheaval in the country, Parliament is keen to promote stability in its neighbourhood through the accession process. However, while the AFET report welcomes the new government, it also points out that Montenegro must continue to ensure a functioning parliamentary democracy and the necessary EU-related reforms. Any new candidates for EU membership will have to reach the same democratic and economic standards. A debate is also scheduled on Wednesday evening on a Budget Committee report on an amending budget to provide EU funding to finance the continued cost of welcoming refugees from Ukraine. The latest ‘This is Europe’ debate will take place on Wednesday afternoon, with a familiar face to Parliament – the Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenković.
Looking further afield on Wednesday, Parliament is expected to consider a Committee on International Trade (INTA) report that considers how to foster ethical and sustainable trade relations with African countries, in the light of the fast-changing global trade situation. The report calls for EU assistance to integrate the continent into the global economy through robust EU-Africa trade relations, as well as to help African countries to counter the effects of Covid‑19 and the war on Ukraine. The report considers that a full commitment to the EU-AU ‘Joint Vision for 2030’ is key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals – the implementation and delivery of which are also a topic slated for debate on Wednesday evening.
Several files linked to the Russian war on Ukraine and the post-pandemic recovery also feature on the agenda. On Thursday morning, Members will turn to an urgent proposal to boost gas storage in Europe, to reduce dependency on Russian gas. Should Members endorse the provisional agreement reached between Parliament and Council, the measures should already take effect this summer. This means that EU countries should fill 85 % of their storage sites by November 2022, with fair burden-sharing ensured according to national consumption levels, and joint purchases encouraged. While broadly in agreement with the Commission’s proposal to prepare for severing trade with Russian suppliers, Parliament’s negotiators were successful in adding provisions to take account of national variations, such as derogations for isolated gas markets in Ireland, Malta and Cyprus.
The EU has committed to a 55 % cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and climate neutrality by 2050, with the proposals under the ‘fit for 55’ package aimed at turning this ambition into reality. Following Parliament’s rejection of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) report on the Commission’s proposal to align the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) with this target during the June I plenary session, the file returns swiftly to the agenda for a vote on Wednesday afternoon. Members will consider a set of amendments re-tabled by ENVI that include the amendments that were carried by the June I plenary, as well as other compromise amendments related to the linear reduction factor, the timing for phasing out free ETS allowances, and the corresponding phase-in of the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). Because the ENVI report on the revision of the CBAM to place a carbon price on certain imported products and phase out free emissions allowances for European industry is tightly linked to the ETS file, it too was referred back to committee without a vote during the June I session. The report, which proposes significant amendments to the original proposal, will therefore also return to the agenda on Wednesday afternoon. The final vote, following the vote on amendments in June I, on the Social Climate Fund, intended to help those most affected by the green transition, is also due to take place.
Parliament’s role in scrutiny and oversight is key to ensuring that measures intended to support the post-pandemic recovery benefit EU citizens. On Wednesday afternoon, a debate is planned on a Committee on Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee joint report on implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This report aims at providing Parliament’s input to the July review of RRF implementation. It highlights the RRF’s key role in the EU’s economic recovery, and in making the EU more resilient, competitive and strategically autonomous. The report notes that successful implementation is key to ensuring long-term impact and economic growth in the EU, pointing to the RRF’s stabilising effects to date. Urging Member States to provide the Commission with sufficient information to ensure effective reporting, the committees also stress the importance of regular scrutiny and monitoring of RRF expenditure and compliance with the rule of law, where the report warns that reimbursement should be possible in case of non-compliance. Taking stock of EU countries’ use of the funding available to date, the report also highlights the RRF’s potential to boost EU prosperity and urges Member States to take advantage of the loans available.
Finally, a Legal Affairs Committee report which recommends that the Parliament give consent to the EU’s accession to the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters will be voted on Thursday. By requiring its signatories to recognise and enforce judgments given in civil or commercial matters in other signatory countries, the convention is intended to reduce the difficulties experienced in making legal claims by businesses who trade across borders, and particularly for EU citizens and companies doing business in the USA.