Written by Clare Ferguson and Katarzyna Sochacka.
The highlight of the November II 2022 plenary session was the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the European Parliament, with the participation of the Prime Ministers of France, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Russia’s war against Ukraine again featured high on the agenda, not least with the adoption of a resolution recognising the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism, and a joint debate with a vote on regulations governing EU financial assistance to Ukraine.
Political debates were held on Hungary’s compliance with the rule of law conditions under the Conditionality Regulation and the state of play of the Hungarian recovery and resilience plan; on diabetes in the EU on the occasion of World Diabetes Day; and on the human rights situation in the context of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Other debates included: the need for a European solution on asylum and migration including search and rescue; eliminating violence against women; the human rights situation in Egypt; and the legacy of the European Year of Youth 2022. Members also debated a post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the COP15 conference under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and protection of livestock farming and large carnivores. The EU response to the protests in Iran and EU-China relations were debated with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission (HR/VP), Josep Borrell.
Recognising Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism
Parliament adopted a resolution recognising the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism, tabled following a debate on 18 October. The move could facilitate the introduction of a legal framework to officially designate states as sponsors of terrorism, allowing for more significant restrictive measures against Moscow, including the confiscation of Russian assets.
Resilience of critical entities
With recent gas pipeline sabotage and the damage done by the pandemic fresh in mind, Members debated and adopted the political agreement reached with the Council on boosting the resilience of critical entities in the EU. Parliament’s negotiators from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) ensured that systems safeguarding the rule of law will be prepared to face disruption, along with key infrastructure and networks throughout the EU.
Digital decade policy programme
The rise in cyber-attacks also demonstrates the need to set out a strong digital policy direction for Europe. Members debated and adopted a provisional agreement on the proposed ‘Path to the digital decade‘ programme, setting out action to pursue the EU digital strategy to 2030. Negotiators from the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) secured a strong role for Parliament in scrutinising progress on these digital targets. Measured with a ‘digital compass’, they will strengthen broadband infrastructure, digitalise public and private sectors, narrow the digital divide and progress adoption of new technologies.
Gender balance on corporate boards
While gender-diverse company boards provide undeniable benefits, only 34.1 % of the largest EU companies’ board members are women. Members adopted at second reading the proposal, blocked in the Council for many years, on improving gender balance on company boards in the EU. Parliament has long pushed for progress, finally reaching agreement with the Council on the text earlier this year. Parliament negotiators have ensured a 2026 deadline for companies to hit the target of minimum 33 % women directors, and specific penalties for companies that do not comply.
The European Union’s 2023 budget
Parliament debated and adopted the EU’s general budget for 2023, with Members voting by a large majority to endorse the provisional agreement reached on 14 November 2022 in conciliation between Parliament and the Council, and subsequently adopted by the Council. Parliament succeeded in ensuring funding for its priorities: support for Ukraine, the post-pandemic recovery, and the climate, energy and humanitarian crises. Commitment appropriations for 2023 will amount to €186.6 billion and payments to €168.6 billion, including special instruments.
Borrowing strategy to finance Next Generation EU
Members debated a Committee on Budgets (BUDG) report on the borrowing strategy to finance Next Generation EU (the EU’s temporary post-coronavirus pandemic recovery instrument). The report welcomes the smooth implementation of the strategy, allowing payment of a combination of loans and grants to Member States through EU programmes. The BUDG committee also underlines the need for transparency, urging the Commission to present systematic accounts of the spending to Parliament for proper scrutiny.
System of own resources of the European Union
Members also voted overwhelmingly in favour of another BUDG report, calling for rapid adoption of a decision on three new own resources. The resources proposed would gather contributions to the EU budget from an extended emissions trading scheme (ETS), a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), and a share of reallocated very large multinational company profits. The report also highlights the need for ambitious, balanced and transparent own resources that do not depend on taxing citizens, and that move away from gross national income-dependent resources towards financing tailored to objectives.
Common fisheries policy – Access restrictions to Union waters
The common fisheries policy (CFP) gives EU countries equal access to fisheries resources in each other’s waters, but with a long-standing temporary provision enabling countries to reserve waters up to 12 miles from their coastlines for local and neighbouring fishing vessels. As the current agreement allowing Member States to limit access to the 12‑mile zone expires at the end of the year, Members adopted a provisional agreement to extend the rules on access to coastal waters for another 10 years.
New EU strategy for enlargement
Ukraine’s recent request to join the EU has put enlargement firmly back on the agenda. However, European integration prospects for the Western Balkans and Türkiye have seen little progress. Aimed at re-energising EU enlargement policy, Members debated and adopted an own-initiative report from Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on a new EU enlargement strategy. The AFET committee proposes to overhaul the process and provide candidates with roadmaps setting specific milestones to reach on their path to EU membership. The report further suggests formal suspension of negotiations with Türkiye.
Situation in Libya
Members debated and adopted another AFET own-initiative report, on the deteriorating political and security situation in Libya. The report proposes to nominate an EU special representative for Libya, redoubling EU diplomatic efforts to promote peace. The AFET committee also recommends strong support for United Nations-led reconciliation efforts seeking a peaceful and democratic transition, in a country where weak governance and a proxy war have strengthened violent groups at the cost of democracy.
Members questioned Executive Vice-President of the Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, regarding the possible new direction for the EU’s economic governance framework. Members then questioned Josep Borrell on the impact of Russia’s war of aggression on non-EU countries, in relation to the ‘Black Sea Grain Initiative’ agreement. While the agreement helped to prevent widespread food global crisis, countries dependent on food imports and aid remain vulnerable.
Opening of trilogue negotiations
Members confirmed, without vote, two mandates for negotiations from the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and one from the LIBE committee.
This ‘at a glance’ note is intended to review some of the highlights of the plenary part-session, and notably to follow up on key dossiers identified by EPRS. It does not aim to be exhaustive. For more detailed information on specific files, please see other EPRS products, notably our ‘EU legislation in progress’ briefings, and the plenary minutes.
Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – November II 2022‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.