Tag Archives: EP Plenary

Europarl extraordinary April plenary

The EP’s President and political group leaders decided to hold an extraordinary plenary to continue with parliamentary work on the special measures to fight the pandemic.
Parliament’s President and political group leaders (Conference of Presidents) held a remote meeting on Thursday morning and agreed to convene an extraordinary plenary session on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 April in Brussels.
(Image archive: Europarliament Brussels)

On the agenda will be a debate with Council and Commission and a vote on a resolution on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The EP is also ready to vote on any legislative or budgetary proposals prepared in time by the European Commission to further address the current situation.

The Conference of Presidents updated the EP’s calendar of activities to introduce additional dates for remote meetings for EP governing bodies, committees and political groups. You can find it here.

Group leaders also raised concerns about the emergency measures recently adopted in Hungary. A majority of the groups asked President Sassoli to relay their concerns in a letter to the Commission, asking them to evaluate the situation and consider activating the Article 7 procedure of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). This procedure would allow the EU to ensure that European core values are not at risk.

Remote voting system and health measures:

The current precautionary measures adopted by the European Parliament to contain the spread of COVID-19 do not affect work on legislative priorities. Core activities are reduced, but maintained to ensure the institution’s legislative, budgetary, scrutiny functions are maintained.

Parliament has agreed to introduce an alternative remote voting system. Based on public health grounds, it will enable votes to take place, with adequate safeguards to ensure that Members’ votes are individual, personal and free.

EU-Vietnam free trade approved

The EU-Vietnam trade agreement, the “most modern and ambitious agreement ever concluded between the EU and a developing country”, got Parliament’s support on February 12. (Image: illustration)

These state-of-the-art agreements just adopted present a unique opportunity to further the EU’s goal to become a geopolitical player that defends multilateral trade, rejects protectionism, and raises labour, environmental and human rights standards worldwide. The deals will boost prosperity, create new and better paid jobs, cut costs for companies big and small, and give them better access to each other’s markets” rapporteur Geert Bourgeois (ECR, BE) said.

MEPs gave their consent to the free trade agreement by 401 votes, 192 votes against and 40 abstentions. The “most modern, comprehensive and ambitious agreement ever concluded between the EU and a developing country” will contribute to setting high standards in the region, and could lead to a future region-to-region trade and investment agreement, said the Parliament, in an accompanying resolution adopted by 416 votes for, 187 against and 44 abstentions. The agreement is “a strong signal in favour of free, fair and reciprocal trade, in times of growing protectionist tendencies and serious challenges to multilateral rules-based trade”, MEPs stressed.

The agreement will remove virtually all customs duties between the two parties over the next ten years, including on Europe’s main export products to Vietnam: machinery, cars, and chemicals. It extends to services such as banking, maritime transport and postal, where EU companies will have better access. Companies will also be able to bid on public tenders put out by the Vietnamese government and several cities, including Hanoi. The deal also safeguards 169 emblematic European products.

In addition, the agreement is an instrument to protect the environment and to sustain social progress in Vietnam, including labour rights. It commits Vietnam to apply the Paris Agreement. Vietnam committed to ratify two bills as requested by Parliament, one on the abolition of forced labour, the other on freedom of association, by 2020 and 2023, respectively.

The trade deal can be suspended in case of breaches of human rights.

Puigdemont attends Strasbourg Plenary

In spite of the arrest warrant issued in Madrid, on January 13 Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont attended Plenary session in Strasbourg in his right of a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), due to immunity guaranteed by the status.
The former Catalan president has been elected to the European Parliament upon the political programme aiming at independence referendum for Catalonia, legally exiting the Kingdom of Spain.

Upon his arrival to the court of the Europarliament, Puigdemont called for an immediate release from a Spanish jail of Oriol Junqueras, the fellow Catalan MEP

“Mr.Junqueras should be here with us. He has the same rights,” Puigdemont said, backed by the group with posters “Free Junqueras.”

Puigdemont arrived together with the other Catalan MEP, Toni Comín.
Both politicians are wanted in Spain for their role for the 2017 independence referendum, considered ‘illegal” by Madrid. They have narrowly escaped the arrest and persecution in Spain, by fleeing to Belgium, where they continued their activities, struggling for the interests of their electorate.

In a statement made in four languages Catalan, Spanish, French and English, Puigdemont underlined the problem of Catalan protracted argument with Madrid is not a regional, but “European affaire“, because in spite of being the EU member state, Spain does not respect fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. He also mentioned the extraordinary resources behind the attempts of Spain to prevent him to enter his MEP office. Puigdemont added that he feels no fear in France, because his MEP immunity is respected there. He expressed hope that Spanish judiciary will also respect the decision of the European Court of Justice ruling on 19 December 2019, clearly stating that Junqueras had parliamentary immunity as he was an elected MEP and should have been released from prison.

Junqueras is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence after being convicted in Madrid of sedition and misuse of funds by Spain Supreme Court for his engagement in organising the October 2017 referendum, considered “illegal“. Furthermore he was accused for the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence passed in the Catalan parliament. At the time of the events in 2017, Junqueras was deputy regional president, while Puigdemont was president and Toni Comín a minister in the regional government.

MEPs condemn Ankara military intervention in Syria

MEPs strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Ankara to withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory.

In a resolution, adopted on October 24 by show of hands, MEPs warn that Turkey’s intervention in northeast Syria is a grave violation of international law, undermining the stability and security of the region as a whole.

Since Ankara launched its military invasion, alongside a high number of civilian and military casualties, at least 300 000 citizens have been displaced, underline MEPs, quoting United Nations sources. MEPs advocate that a UN-led security zone should be established in northern Syria.

They firmly reject Turkish plans to establish so-called “safe zone” along the border in north-east strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Turkey to withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory.

Parliament expressed its solidarity with the Kurdish people, underlining the important contribution of Kurdish-led forces, particularly that of women, in fighting Daesh. MEPs are extremely concerned over reports that hundreds of ISIS prisoners escaped from camps in northern Syria amid the Turkish offensive, which increases the risk of a resurgence of the terrorist group.

MEPs vote for Brexit deadline extension

The European Parliament continues to support an “orderly Brexit” based on the already negotiated Withdrawal Agreement (WA), MEPs reaffirmed in the resolution adopted on September 18 during Strasbourg Plenary with 544 votes in favour, 126 against and 38 abstentions.

In the resolution the MEPs pledge to reject any Withdrawal Agreement without a backstop; in case of “no deal” consider the UK solely responsible for the consequences of the  a haphazard departure.

The consequences of a are noDSCN9756[1]t theoretical. They are human, social, political, financial, economic and legal. Leaving without a deal will not solve these questions. We will pursue the negotiations with responsibility, honesty and determination” said the EU Brexit top negotiator Michel Barnier, while concluding the debate in Strasbourg Plenary.

The MEPs approve of another conditional Article 50 deadline extension upon the UK request.
According to the Resolution the Withdrawal Agreement is fair, balanced and provides legal certainty, reiterating Parliament’s support for an “orderly Brexit”.

The document also underlines that the existing Withdrawal Agreement takes into account the UK’s red lines and the EU’s principles, providing a fair and balanced solution.

Von der Leyen vows cooperation among EU institutions

Ursul von der Leyen, endorsed by the EU leaders for European Commission president had a meeting with the European People’s Party MEPs in camera at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on July 3. She also made a press statement, explaining that the cooperation among EU insitutuions will be her proportion in case her candidacy is approved by the Europarliament.

Von der Leyen met with the newly elected president of the European Parliament Socialist David Sassoli, however the exchanged of view has not been revealed.

 

Italian Socialist Sassoli new Europarl president

Italian MEP for a decade, former journalist David-Maria Sassoli has been elected as the new president of the European Parliament.

Mr Sassoli, (63) received the support of 345 out of a total of 667 MEPs in the second round of voting in Strasbourg Plenary session.

The centre-left politician was in competition with three other candidates. He has  assumed the respuonsibility of assembly speaker immediately.

In his frist press-conference in his new capacity Sassoli vowed to deliver more democracy to the European citizens, and even open wider doors for NGO, ensuring everyone is heard. He also regretted insufficient democratic tools in EU, and promised to work on improvement on institutional democratic procedures.

The vote took place in one day delay caused by protracted crisis Summit of the EU leaders stuck in disagreement over top jobs nominations. The proposed and agreed among leaders of the member-states list of candidates for top jobs should be endorsed by European Parliament. Sassoli promised to ensure comprehensive debate.

Answering questions Sassoli pointed out that Dublin regulation should be amended because it is not more relevant to the current context. He said that European Council has a “moral obligation” to discuss asylum system to ensure Dublin as amended.

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