Written by Clare Ferguson and Katarzyna Sochacka.
The highlight of the June II 2022 plenary session was the vote to overwhelmingly endorse the granting of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, and – once it meets the conditions set out by the Commission – Georgia. On the evening of 23 June, EU leaders did indeed follow suit. Members debated preparations for that European Council meeting taking place on 23-24 June 2022, including the meeting with Western Balkan leaders on 23 June. The Parliament also debated with the Commission and Council the use of national vetoes undermining the global tax deal, and held debates, inter alia, on implementation and delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the future of EU international investment policy. Parliament adopted its position, following the urgent procedure, on exceptional temporary support under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development in response to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A ‘This is Europe’ debate was held with the Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenković. Finally, in a formal sitting, Members heard an address by Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia.
Members debated an urgent proposal to boost gas storage in Europe, to reduce dependency on Russian gas. As Members endorsed the provisional agreement reached between the Parliament and Council, the measures should already take effect this summer. 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.
Fit for 55
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, Members adopted 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). Members also adopted their position on the revision of the CBAM to place a carbon price on certain imported products and phase out free emissions allowances for European industry. Because CBAM is tightly linked to the ETS file, it too was referred back to committee without a vote during the June I session. Members adopted the significant amendments to the original proposal included in the ENVI report. Members also completed the adoption of the Parliament’s position on the Social Climate Fund, intended to help those most affected by the green transition, following the vote on amendments in the June I session. The Parliament is thus ready to negotiate with the Council on all three files, along with the other fit for 55 package proposals adopted earlier in the month.
Recovery and Resilience Facility
Parliament’s role in scrutiny and oversight is key to ensuring that measures intended to support the post-pandemic recovery benefit EU citizens. Members debated and adopted a joint report of the Committees on Budgets and on Economic and Monetary Affairs 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 stressed 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.
Amending budget No 3 – Financing reception costs of people fleeing Ukraine
Members debated and adopted an amending budget to provide EU funding to finance the continued cost of welcoming refugees from Ukraine. It strengthens the financing of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Border Management and Visa Instrument (BMVI). The additional €99.8 million in commitment appropriations and €76 million in payment appropriations for AMIF and €100 million in payment appropriations for BMVI will help to ensure that people fleeing Ukraine benefit from adequate initial reception conditions in Member States.
2021 Report on Montenegro
Continuing the annual assessment of progress by candidate countries, Members debated 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
Future of EU-Africa trade relations
Parliament adopted a resolution based on 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.
Accession to the Hague Convention
Members followed the Legal Affairs Committee recommendation and gave consent to the EU’s accession to the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters. 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.
Opening of trilogue negotiations
The Fisheries (PECH) Committee’s decision to enter into interinstitutional negotiations on the proposal for a regulation as regards specific measures to alleviate the consequences of the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine on fishing activities and to mitigate the effects of the market disruption was endorsed without a vote.
Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – June II 2022‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.