Members' Research Service By / January 31, 2023

European Parliament plenary session — February I, 2023

Members gather on 1 and 2 February for a plenary session in Brussels.

© European Union 2019 - Source : EP

Written by Clare Ferguson with Sophia Stone.

Members gather on 1 and 2 February for a plenary session in Brussels. Although  short, some major and pressing points are on the agenda nonetheless. On Wednesday, Members are due to hear Council and European Commission statements on the preparation of the special European Council meeting on 9 and 10 February, where the need to develop sustainable solutions on asylum and migration  is expected to be one of the main topics discussed. Members are also due to hear statements on the need for urgent update of the EU list of high-risk third countries for anti-money-laundering and terrorist financing purposes. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, is expected to make a statement on the situation on Afghanistan , where life for Afghans – and women in particular – has worsened since the Taliban takeover in 2021.

The main debate on Thursday morning is set for Members to hear Council and Commission statements on preparations  for the EU-Ukraine Summit, to be held in Kyiv on 3 February. Members are likely to restate their continued support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. Parliament condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and demands that Russia immediately terminates all military activity in Ukraine. In the meantime, following lengthy discussions, EU Member States, Norway, the UK and the US have decided to send Western-made main battle tanks (MBT) to Ukraine. However, the mix of different types of tank promised is not without issues.

With the next European elections on the horizon, measures to bring up to date the rules on political campaigning are increasingly urgent. Advances in digital technologies and social media, which allow political actors to reach large audiences with personalised messages during electoral campaigns, meant that risks such as the spread of false information, polarisation of the political debate, and voter manipulation, have greatly increased in political advertising. Members are due to vote on a Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) report on the proposal to adopt a regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising, on Wednesday. While the report excludes political views expressed as editorials and sets criteria for political advertisements, it adds measures to prevent risks of foreign interference, with labelling and transparency obligations enhanced. The report proposes tighter rules on online targeting and delivery of political advertising, prohibiting the use of sensitive data. Subject to any amendments voted in plenary, the vote on the IMCO report should form the position for trilogue negotiations with the Council.

Members are expected to vote on two files initially scheduled for the January II plenary session and postponed to February. The first, scheduled for vote on Thursday morning, concerns European works councils (EWCs), which represent EU employees of large multinational companies, ensuring that their rights are protected when multinational companies take decisions affecting workers far from their workplace. The European Commission does not plan to revise the current EWC Directive, despite an evident lack of effective consultation. Members are therefore due to vote on a legislative-initiative report from the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), calling on the Commission to take action to ensure European works councils provide meaningful consultation, and an end to exemptions, tougher penalties and access to justice.

The second file concerns a report by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) on the proposal for a directive to improve working conditions in platform work. The report proposes to ensure correct employment status and promote transparency, fairness and accountability in platforms’ algorithmic management. The committee further recommends that the relevant labour, social protection and tax authorities should exchange information when people carry out platform work in a different EU country to that of the digital labour platform. The committee’s mandate to enter into trilogue negotiations with the Council was challenged during the January session, and the plenary will now vote on whether to confirm the mandate.

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Southern bluefin tuna is in high demand, overfished and classified as ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, meaning they face a high risk of extinction in the wild. To counteract this downward trend, Members are due to vote on Thursday on a provisional agreement with the Council to transpose conservation and fisheries management measures adopted by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), of which the EU is a member. The proposal prohibits targeting southern bluefin tuna by EU vessels, with only by-catches allowed, and also brings the legislation into line with EU data protection rules.

Marine environment

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