Written by Clare Ferguson and Katarzyna Sochacka.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine once more dominated the agenda for the October II 2022 plenary session, with Members participating in a number of debates on the consequences of the war: the social and economic repercussions and the introduction of a windfall tax; the impact on migration flows; recognising the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism; and the Lukashenko regime’s active role in the war against Ukraine. Parliament also debated preparations for the European Council meeting of 20‑21 October 2022 with the Council and the European Commission.
Members also debated the 2023 Commission work programme, on the day of its adoption by the Commission. Further debates were held on EU action on mental health; marking the International Day of Eradication of Poverty; the rule of law in Malta, five years after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia; rising hate crime against LGBTIQ people; continued internal border controls in the Schengen area; and setting up a comprehensive framework for missing children and missing persons at risk. Looking further afield, Members debated EU–Western Balkan relations in the light of the new enlargement package; the political situation in Tunisia, particularly on fighting sexual violence; the outcome of the first meeting of the European Political Community; global food security; and protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems.
Finally, in a formal sitting, Members heard an address by Zuzana Čaputová, President of Slovakia.
‘Fit for 55’: Alternative fuels
Members held a joint debate on ‘fit for 55’ package proposals related to vehicle fuels, focused on encouraging the use of ‘clean’ vehicles and sustainable maritime fuels. The lack of alternative fuel infrastructure (recharging and refilling stations) hampers the wider take-up of electric and other vehicles in EU countries. More outlets at closer ranges (as the vehicles require more frequent recharge) could boost adoption of cleaner vehicles. Members considered a report from Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) proposing, inter alia, to speed up the rollout of higher-power refilling stations, particularly in regions where uptake is slow. As exhaust gases produced by shipping are also a significant source of air pollution, Members debated measures supporting greater use of sustainable maritime fuels. A TRAN committee report proposes higher cuts to emissions and introduces a target for the use of renewable fuels. Recognising that the sector will need support to adapt, the TRAN committee also proposes setting up an Ocean Fund aimed at decarbonising maritime transport. Members adopted both TRAN reports, setting Parliament’s position for interinstitutional negotiations with the Council.
UN Climate Change Conference 2022
Members adopted a resolution setting out Parliament’s position on the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27). The resolution, tabled by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), looks to move the debate forward from promises to real action on global goals for climate adaptation, in advance of COP27. The resolution confirms the ENVI committee’s call urging all parties to show leadership, to align with the Paris Agreement and to ensure support for developing countries.
European Union general budget for 2023
Members considered the Council’s position on the draft EU budget for 2023, and introduced amendments to address the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine. In adopting a Committee on Budgets (BUDG) report on the proposals, Parliament reverses most of the reductions proposed by the Council, proposing to make a considerable increase in spending on Parliament’s priorities instead. These include: addressing the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, defence, research, humanitarian aid, Erasmus+, digitalisation and infrastructure. As the resolution completes Parliament’s reading of the Union budget for 2023, conciliation negotiations between the co-legislators will now begin.
Amending budget 4/2022
The Russian war and the recent pandemic have also led to revised estimates on growth and inflation. Members adopted a pressing amending budget (the fourth of this year), concerning the EU’s own resources, following a BUDG committee recommendation that Parliament agree to the proposed changes. These reflect updated revenue forecasts and were previously endorsed by the Council. The committee notes the €3.6 billion increase in own resources and urges greater speed in introducing new own resources to pay for the COVID‑19 recovery. However, as Parliament has not yet taken a position on the REPowerEU proposal, BUDG underlines that changes proposed in draft amending budget DAB 4/2022 will have no bearing on the legislative outcome on that file. The committee also commends the changes to Eurojust’s mandate in relation to support for Ukraine, but criticises the redeployment of resources as set out in the proposal.
Budget discharge 2020
As the EU institutions run on a budget ultimately provided by European citizens, Parliament is responsible for overseeing their use of this funding. Members considered three files regarding decisions postponed in May 2022 on budgetary discharge for 2020. Due to a persistent lack of cooperation in this scrutiny process, Parliament had again refused to grant budget discharge to the European Council and the Council. Following a re-examination of the situation, Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) notes a continued lack of progress. The CONT committee criticises a lack of transparency that could be improved by splitting the European Council and Council budget sections, and reiterates concern regarding European Council interference in legislative matters where it has no role to play. Parliament therefore decided once again to refuse to grant discharge to the two institutions. Parliament also again refused to grant budget discharge concerning the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), citing the need for more action on fundamental rights. Conversely, while Parliament had also previously withheld a discharge decision for the 2020 budget of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Parliament followed a CONT committee recommendation to grant budget discharge.
Question time: Protecting critical infrastructure in the EU against attacks and countering hybrid attacks
During Tuesday’s question time, Members debated the urgent need to protect key EU infrastructure against physical and digital threats, including hybrid attacks, with European Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life, Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.
Opening of trilogue negotiations
Members confirmed, without voting, several mandates for negotiation: two from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on the proposal for a regulation establishing a collaboration platform to support functioning of joint investigation teams and on the proposal for a directive on information exchange between law enforcement authorities of Member States; one from the Committee on International Trade (INTA) on a proposal for a regulation on the protection of the Union and its Member States from economic coercion by third countries; a joint mandate from the Committees on Foreign Affairs, INTA and Constitutional Affairs (AFET/INTA/AFCO) on the proposal for a regulation on rules for the exercise of the Union’s rights in the implementation and enforcement of the Brexit agreements; and one from the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) on a proposed regulation on a 2023‑2027 connectivity programme.
Read this ‘at a glance’ note on ‘Plenary round-up – October II 2022‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.