Members' Research Service By / June 9, 2023

European Parliament Plenary Session – June 2023

With only a year to go before the 2024 European elections, Members of the European Parliament meet in Strasbourg from 12 to 15 June 2023 with a very full agenda, and a focus on security.

European Parliament (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Written by Clare Ferguson with Rebecca Frederick.

With only a year to go before the 2024 European elections, Members of the European Parliament meet in Strasbourg from 12 to 15 June 2023 with a very full agenda, and a focus on security. The key political debates scheduled for Wednesday morning, are expected to be on the preparation of the European Council meeting of 29‑30 June 2023 and the rule of law in Poland in the context of recent changes to the electoral law and the new investigative committee on Russian interference in Poland’s internal security. The session will open with a statement marking the World Day against Child Labour.

The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, is expected to address a formal sitting on Wednesday morning. A ‘This is Europe’ debate with the President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, is scheduled for Tuesday morning. Following the recent deterioration on the ground, Members are due to hold a debate on Ukraine on Tuesday morning, on the humanitarian and environmental consequences of the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, and the sustainable reconstruction and integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community.

Russia’s war on Ukraine, the pandemic and the effects of climate change pose enormous challenges to food security. Although there is no shortage of food in Europe today, it is clear that food security and a resilient agricultural sector are strategic matters both for developing countries and for the EU. Parliament has long pushed for stronger strategic autonomy in food and agricultural supplies such as fertiliser. Parliament also supports measures to shield consumers from food inflation. On Tuesday afternoon, Members are due to debate a Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) report on ensuring food security and the long-term resilience of EU agriculture. The report recommends taking measures to ensure food safety both at home and globally, including reducing dependence on imports and supporting farmers in the search for innovative means to produce food. The AGRI report nevertheless opposes a blanket ban on the use of pesticides and fertilisers, which it states could threaten farmers’ livelihoods.

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Following the discovery that government bodies from both EU and non-EU states have used Pegasus spyware and equivalents against journalists, politicians, diplomats, civil society actors and others, the European Parliament established a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA) in March 2022. In a joint debate scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, Members are due to debate the committee’s findings, with a view to making a recommendation to the Commission and the Council. The draft recommendation condemns governments’ illegitimate use of spyware. It underlines failures to implement EU law, not just by those Member States that have used spyware, but also criticises European Commission and European External Action Service support for non-EU countries to develop surveillance capacities. Parliament calls for common EU standards to regulate Member State use of spyware, better enforcement of related EU law (including data protection law and the Dual-use Regulation) and for new legislation placing due diligence requirements on producers and exporters of surveillance technologies.

The EU is keen to ensure a ‘human-centric’ approach to regulating artificial intelligence (AI), to ensure an optimum balance between the benefits and risks of these new technologies. To set Parliament’s position for trilogue negotiations with the Council, Parliament is expected to debate a joint Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee report on Tuesday afternoon, which proposes to greatly amend the proposed artificial intelligence act. The changes proposed touch upon the definition, set a larger number of prohibited practices, and stricter categorisation of high-risk systems, such as those that risk harming people’s health, safety, fundamental rights or the environment – and social media platforms and systems used to influence political processes. The report also proposes boosting protection of fundamental rights, health, safety, the environment, democracy and the rule of law in general-purpose AI systems like ChatGPT and increasing their transparency. National governance and enforcement should be stronger, and Parliament proposes to establish a new EU AI body to ensure the rules are applied.

New technology offers the opportunity to revolutionise the exchange of evidence in criminal investigations, including across borders. Members are expected to vote on a compromise reached with the co-legislators in a joint debate on Monday afternoon. To make evidence easier for law enforcement authorities to access, two pieces of legislation would introduce a European production order and a European preservation order. The compromise text on the proposals includes a mandatory 10-day response deadline for production orders (8 hours in emergencies) and a notification system for some categories of data, among other things. Should Members adopt the agreed texts on cross-border access to electronic evidence, they then go to the Council for its adoption.

A Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) report sought to shift the focus away from law enforcement and control-related issues and towards harm reduction and health during interinstitutional negotiations on a proposal to strengthen the EU Drugs Agency’s mandate. The illicit drugs landscape in Europe has changed greatly since the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was set up to provide scientific analysis in 2006, with drugs such as amphetamines and ecstasy increasingly produced in the EU. Members also demand greater transparency in the EMCDDA, and more focus on the human rights, age and gender dimensions of drug use and addiction. Members will vote on the adoption of the provisional text agreed in trilogue negotiations.

Batteries are found in countless everyday devices and are an important means of storing intermittent renewable energy. In its push for climate neutrality, the EU is modernising its legislative framework on batteries. A proposal on batteries and waste batteries seeks to address all steps of a battery’s life cycle, setting rules for sustainability (minimum recycled content, performance criteria, etc.), safety, labelling, and disposal. It also introduces due diligence obligations for businesses sourcing raw materials. With the goal of zero-emission mobility in mind, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) seeks to widen the proposed scope to include batteries used in light transport (e.g. e-scooters). This addition, as well as tougher due diligence requirements recommended by ENVI, was included in the provisional agreement on the proposal for a new regulatory framework for batteries, concluded in interinstitutional negotiations in December 2022, on which Members are due to vote on final adoption on Wednesday.

Remoteness, insularity or small in size, with a challenging geography or climate, and a lack of economic opportunity often disadvantages those living in the EU’s outermost regions. On Monday, Parliament is expected to consider an own-initiative report from the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) on the assessment of the European Commission’s 2022 strategy to improve living conditions in the EU’s outermost regions. The REGI committee would like to see greater ambition for these regions, particularly to provide more opportunities for young people. One demand is to reproduce the compensation scheme mitigating higher prices in agriculture in the fisheries, transport, energy and other sectors. The committee underlines the importance of sustainable tourism in these regions, and highlights the need for better digital infrastructure and connectivity.

Fisheries agreements between the EU and non-EU countries generally focus on the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The EU/Mauritius Fisheries Partnership Agreement is part of a set of EU tuna agreements aimed at sustainable fishing in the western Indian Ocean. Signed on 21 December 2022, a new four-year protocol implementing the agreement currently applies provisionally. During the votes scheduled for Wednesday lunchtime, Members are set to decide on giving Parliament’s consent to concluding the protocol, allowing fishing opportunities for up to 40 EU vessels.

Members have an opportunity to question the High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell on Tuesday afternoon on relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the Lachin Corridor. He will also make statements on the situations in Lebanon and in Nicaragua, as well as on the state of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba.

On Thursday, Members are set to vote on the composition of the European Parliament for the coming term. They are expected to propose slight adjustments in the number of Members to be elected in each Member State, to take account of population changes since the 2019 elections. The final decision will then be taken by the European Council, which must first obtain formal consent from the Parliament. The Council and Commission will earlier in the week make statements on the negotiations on the European electoral law, with little progress shown since the Parliament formally submitted its proposal to revamp the 1976 Electoral Act in May 2022.

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