President and political group leaders decided to hold an extraordinary plenary session next Thursday, 26 March to allow for implementation of special measures.
Parliament´s President and Group leaders – Conference of Presidents – held an informal exchange of views on March 19 morning. They approved in written procedure the proposal of EP President Sassoli to convene an extraordinary plenary session next Thursday, 26 March in Brussels to debate and vote on the first three legislative proposals of the European Commission to tackle the effects of the COVID19 pandemic in EU Member States. (Image: illustration)
“The European Parliament is doing its duty and will continue to do so. Parliament must remain open, because a virus cannot bring down democracy. We are the only European institution voted in by its citizens and we want to continue representing and defending them”, EP President David Sassoli said.
On the agenda:
The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, which will make available €37 billion of the Cohesion funds to member states to address the consequences of the crisis,
a legislative proposal to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies
a Commission proposal to stop the so-called ghost flights caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
It is key that the European Parliament (pictured) adopts these three proposals swiftly, to provide concrete support to EU citizens and to the Member States in this unprecedented situation.
The Bureau of the European Parliament will adopt specific measures for this session to ensure the votes can be organised remotely.
This plenary will formally replace the session foreseen for 1-2 April.
Today the Civil Liberties Committee Chair, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) issued a statement on the reintroduction of border controls at some Schengen internal borders due to coronavirus.
“In the last days, several EU member states have reintroduced border controls at their internal borders within the Schengen area or even closed them for certain categories of travellers while some further member states are considering such measures.
“As Chair of Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee, while I fully share the need for public policy measures restricting social interaction to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus, I urge member states to take their measures in full respect of the principles of proportionality and, above all, solidarity among EU Member States, non-discrimination and the applicable Schengen rules. It is key that when taking measures no discrimination is made between EU citizens.
“It is only through a coordinated approach, rather than actions taken by individual Member States, that we will be successful in addressing the challenge we are all facing.
“The Civil Liberties committee is closely monitoring the situation and expects the Commission, the Council Presidency and the member states to protect all benefits of the Schengen area.”
Image: border control, source: social media.
“At 18.00 today, I have received an updated report from the European Parliament’s Medical Service on the evolution of COVID-19 which states that the health risks are considered to be significantly higher if Parliament’s plenary session next weektakes place in Strasbourg” reads the statement of the European Parliament president David Sassoli.
“On the basis of this evaluation, due to force majeure, I decided that the necessary security conditions are not in place for the usual transfer of the European Parliament to Strasbourg for the plenary session next week.
“I have informed the French authorities and have thanked them for their collaboration in the past days.
“The plenary session will exceptionally be held in Brussels. Parliament undertakes to reschedule a plenary session in Strasbourg in accordance with the Treaties.”
The European Parliament has repeatedly demonstrated a strong commitment to elimination of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) worldwide. By adopting laws and resolutions, MEPs have advocated common action to eradicate female genital mutilation.
The European Parliament has repeatedly demonstrated a strong commitment to help eliminate the practice of FGM worldwide. By adopting laws and resolutions, MEPs have advocated common action to eradicate female genital mutilation.
On Wednesday, 12 February, members adopted a new resolution calling on the European Commission to include actions to end FGM in the new EU Gender Equality Strategy, to be presented in March, and to provide care for survivors.
They also urged EU countries to ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and reiterated calls to incorporate FGM prevention measures in all policy areas, especially in health, asylum, education and employment.
MEPs also expressed their concerns about the increasingly widespread phenomenon of “medicalisation” of FGM.On Wednesday, 12 February, members adopted a new resolution calling on the European Commission to include actions to end FGM in the new EU Gender Equality Strategy, to be presented in March, and to provide care for survivors.
They also urged EU countries to ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and reiterated calls to incorporate FGM prevention measures in all policy areas, especially in health, asylum, education and employment. MEPs also expressed their concerns about the increasingly widespread phenomenon of “medicalisation” of FGM.
MEPs want action to tackle the illegal trade in pets in order to better protect animals and punish rule breakers.(Image: social media)
Many pets are traded illegally across the EU generating high profit at a low risk, often providing a profitable source of income for criminal networks.
To clamp down on the illegal trade in pets, the environment and public health committee called for an EU-wide action plan, tougher sanctions and mandatory registration in a resolution adopted on 21 January.
Dogs and cats are the most popular companion animals in the EU and many of us consider them as part of the family. Most EU citizens care about the well-being of their furry friends: 74% believe that companion animals should be better protected.
Trafficking can lead to poor breeding conditions, puppies and kittens being separated from their mothers too early and long journeys under stressful conditions, often without food and water.
It can also pose risks to public health as illegally bred pets are often not vaccinated and can spread rabies, parasites and infectious diseases to humans and livestock. Consumers attracted by low prices often buy companion animals online without being aware of the risks associated.
Parliament called for a compatible EU system of pet registration in a resolution adopted in 2016. The resolution adopted on 21 January call on the European Commission to come up with a proposal for an EU-wide mandatory system for the identification and registration of cats and dogs, more controls and tougher sanctions against those supplying false pet passports. It also calls for a common EU definition of puppy and kitten farms , as differences in animal welfare standards lead to price differences that can be exploited by illegal breeders.
In addition EU breeding rules for pets are needed while EU countries should be encouraged to put in place registers of authorised breeders and sellers. People should be encourage to adopt, rather than buy, companion animals.
In Brussels Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have overwhelmingly gave their terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.
MEPs ratified the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by 621 votes to 49 following an debate highly charged with sentiments and vivid human emotions.
After the vote, MEPs marked the UK’s exit by singing Auld Lang Syne, is a Scots-language poem written by poet Robert Burns in 1788, and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.
Several British MEPs said they hoped the UK would return one day although Eurosceptics, including the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage, used their final speeches to phrase the departure from the EU.
The UK is due to leave the bloc at 23:00 GMT on Friday. The Withdrawal agreement (WA) is expected to be signed off in Brussels later.
Some MEPs have marked the occasion with songs – others wore “always united” scarves. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the UK: “We will always love you.”
Ratification of the Withdrawal agreement, agreed by the UK and EU in October, was not in doubt after it easily cleared its committee stage last week.
“This cannot go on,” Prime Minister Orbán said in his regular Friday morning interview on the public Kossuth Rádió on January 17. If the European People’ Party doesn’t stand up for Hungary, then we will have to start a new, Christian-Democratic European movement.”
Besides the European Parliament vote yesterday, the Prime minister talked about Vicegrad Four – V4 relations with Austria, “prison deals” in Hungary and the Roma segregation case in Gyöngyöspata.
In a resolution adopted in the European Parliament Plenary with 446 votes to 178 and 41 abstentions, MEPs note that reports and statements by the Commission, the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe indicate that “the situation in both Poland and Hungary has deteriorated since the triggering of Article 7(1)”.
MEPs point out that the hearings organised by the Council under Article 7 of the Treaty are neither regular nor structured. They call on the Council to address concrete recommendations to the countries concerned, including deadlines, to ensure EU law is respected.
“The failure by the Council to make effective use of Article 7 continues to undermine the integrity of common European values, mutual trust and the credibility of the European Union as a whole”, claims the EP.
The text also urges the Commission to use all tools at its disposal to prevent a serious breach of common values, such as expedited infringement procedures and applications for interim measures before the Court of Justice.