Written by Clare Ferguson and Katarzyna Sochacka.
Highlights of the February I 2023 plenary session included debates with the Council and the European Commission on preparation of the 3 February EU-Ukraine Summit, and a vote on a resolution addressing Ukraine’s EU accession perspective, calling for increased military, economic and humanitarian support for Ukraine, and stressing the importance of preparing a comprehensive recovery package for the country. Members also heard about preparations for the special European Council meeting on 9 and 10 February, in particular the need to reform migration and asylum rules to develop sustainable solutions to migratory issues. Members also held debates on the need for an urgent update of the EU list of high-risk third countries for money laundering and terrorist financing, on Afghanistan, and on the situation of the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Transparency and targeting of political advertising
With the next European elections on the horizon, updating the rules on political advertising is increasingly urgent. Digital technologies and social media, which allow political actors to reach large audiences with personalised messages during electoral campaigns, have greatly increased risks in political advertising (such as the spread of false information, polarisation of the political debate, and voter manipulation). Members debated and adopted a Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) report on a proposal to adopt a regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising. The report proposes tighter rules on online targeting and delivery of political advertising, prohibiting the use of sensitive data. The vote sets the Parliament’s position for interinstitutional negotiations with the Council.
Conservation of southern bluefin tuna
Southern bluefin tuna is overfished, classified as ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of threatened species, and faces a high risk of extinction in the wild. To counteract this downward trend, Members adopted 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 EU vessels from targeting southern bluefin tuna, with only by-catches allowed, and brings the legislation into line with EU data protection rules.
European Works Councils Directive
Debated during the January II plenary session, Members voted in favour of a legislative-initiative report on European works councils (EWCs). EWCs represent EU employees of large multinational companies, ensuring their rights are protected when multinational companies take decisions affecting workers in workplaces remote from the decision-makers. However, despite an evident lack of effective consultation, the European Commission has no plans to revise the current EWC Directive. The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) report calls on the Commission to ensure European works councils provide meaningful consultation, end exemptions, introduce tougher penalties and improve access to justice.
Opening of trilogue negotiations
Members voted to confirm the mandate for negotiations from the EMPL committee, tabled in January, on the proposal for a directive on improving working conditions in platform work.
Members also confirmed, without a vote, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee’s decision to enter into interinstitutional negotiations on the proposal for a directive amending Directive (EU) 2019/1153 on access of competent authorities to centralised bank account registries through the single access point.
Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘Plenary round-up – February I 2023‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.