Tag Archives: European Parliament

Metsola:”Europe is future”

Strasbourg 09.05.2022 The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola addressed the opening speech of The State of the Union 2022 at the European University Institute in Florence.
In her speech ‘Is Europe fit for the next generation?’, she encouraged European citizens and leaders to believe, to be confident and to use this difficult moment in time as an opportunity for change.

“…In my first address as President of the European Parliament I described myself as part of the generation that sees no old and no new Europe. We are the first of the Erasmus generation, the last of the Wałęsa, Kohl and Havel generation.

“What I meant was that I am part of the Europe generation. 18 years ago on the 1st May, I was standing in Valletta with what felt like the entire country, at midnight staring across the sea in our Grand Harbour as we counted the minutes and the seconds until Malta, together with nine other countries, joined the European Union as Member States.
I still recall the feeling of unbridled possibility, hope and belief in the future. A sort of sense of homecoming, of victory in the potential of our people, of relief, of joy – feelings shared by millions across Europe.

“With war in Europe, today, it is that spirit, that sense of purpose, of enthusiasm, of a clear direction, that I want our European project to re-capture.
People in Ukraine, in Moldova and Georgia, and still in the Western Balkans, are now looking to Europe, with the same sense of belonging and hope.

“And I want people to believe as we did. And to do that we need to understand that we are not just an economic bloc, we are not just about free movement, or about abolishing roaming charges. For my generation, Europe is – as cliché as this might sound – about a shared dream. About shared values. About a shared future, about coming together.

“To us, Europe is the future. It has always been the future.
However, we cannot deny that over the last years polarisation in our societies has increased. There are still too many people who feel lost, let down and left out. At the same time many will now look to Europe and to our institutions for leadership. And we need to be able to respond, we need to be able to lead. We must counter the anti-EU narrative that takes hold so easily and so quickly: mis- and dis-information, enhanced by bots and fabricated in Russian troll factories.

“Europe is about the defence of multilateralism. The understanding that we can only face the future together…”

Future of Europe conference conclusions

Strasbourg 08.05.2022 The Conference on the Future of Europe is going to conclude its work on May 9, Monday, in Strasbourg, presenting the reports to the heads of the institutions for further consideration.

The conference was established last year with the aim of bringing citizens and politicians from across the EU together to come up with ideas to overhaul the bloc.

At a session in Strasbourg on Saturday, the conference plenary — composed of representatives of EU institutions, national parliaments and citizens’ panels — approved more than 300 proposals. They include the abolition of national vetos, granting the European Parliament the right to propose legislation, more investment in climate change mitigation, the launch of “joint armed forces” and transnational voting lists.

MEPs from the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups of the European Parliament refused to support the proposals, arguing that they don’t reflect public opinion in the EU, but are achieved through the deliberate selections of the participants, promoting the EU Federalists point of view.

“The selection of citizens participating in the Conference was itself very flawed,” the ECR group said in a statement. “Research shows that citizens who are in favour of a more centralised Union were much more likely to accept an invitation to participate in the citizens’ panels of the Conference than those more sceptical.”

The group said it rejects “the idea the conclusions being reached represent an expression of the will of the Europeans and … hereby [withdraws] from the Conference on the Future of Europe.“

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.

The Conference is the first of its kind: as a major pan-European democratic exercise, with citizen-led debates enabling people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.

This is done via an innovative Multilingual Digital Platformwhere any European can share ideas, and both national and European Citizens’ Panels. These contributions feed into the Conference Plenaries. The Conference offers a new public forum for an open, inclusive, and transparent debate with citizens around a number of key priorities and challenges.

It is part of President von der Leyen’s pledge to give Europeans a possibility to be more eloquent on what the EU does and how it works for them. All Europeans – whoever they are and wherever they are – can take part.

The Conference aims to reflect our diversity, and to bring Europe beyond its capital cities, reaching every corner of the EU, strengthening the link between Europeans and the institutions that serve them. It does so through a multitude of Conference-events and debates organised across the EU, as well as through an interactive multilingual digital platform. Young people in particular are encouraged to take part and share their ideas. European, national, regional and local authorities, as well as civil society and other organisations can also organise events to involve as many people as possible.

MEPs protect Ukraine women

Strasbourg 05.05.2022 The European Parliament (pictured) debated and will vote on how to protect women fleeing Ukraine from violence and trafficking, and on granting them access to essential health services.

On Thursday, MEPs are set to strongly condemn the use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war and to express their deep concern about the growing number of reports of human trafficking, sexual violence, exploitation, rape and abuse faced by women and children fleeing Ukraine. They are expected to call for trafficking networks that profit from sexual exploitation of women refugees to be identified and prosecuted.

MEPs are also set to urge the EU and all host and transit countries to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), particularly emergency contraception and abortion care, including for victims of rape, as well as obstetric care.

According to the UNHCR, more than five million refugees – 90% of whom are women and children – have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on 24 February. A further 7.1 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, including women and children in need of medical care.

AMENDMENT: The European Parliament adopted a resolution (462-19-89) calling on the EU to protect Ukraine women refugees from violence and sexual exploitation.

Future of Europe conference report

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 A report on the final outcome of the Conference will be presented to the Presidents of the EU institutions during a closing event on 9 May in Strasbourg.

On Europe Day, three Co-Chairs of the Executive Board will present a final report of the Conference to the Presidents of the EU institutions. During the event, President Metsola, President von der Leyen and President Macron will deliver their speeches alongside speeches by citizens from the National and European Panels and by the Conference Co-Chairs. Cultural performances by Danse l’Europe and youth orchestra DEMOS are also planned.

Apart from 449 Plenary Members, including 108 citizens, 120 European Citizen Panellists and 200 citizens from local schools and Erasmus students will be invited to the event.

Ministers for European affairs and other VIP guests will also participate in the ceremony.

When: Monday 9 May, 12:00 – 14:00 Where: European Parliament in Strasbourg

During a final meeting, that took place from 29 April to 30 April at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Conference Plenary reached a consensus on its final draft proposals.

The 49 proposals, on nine themes, include more than 300 measures on how to achieve them. They are based on recommendations from the European Citizens’ Panels, the National Citizens’ Panels and events, ideas recorded on the Multilingual Digital Platform as well as discussions held during the Conference Plenary and Working Group sessions.

The three institutions will examine swiftly how to follow up effectively to this report, each within their own sphere of competences.

MEPs discuss aid to Ukraine

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 In a debate with French Minister Delegate Klinkert and President von der Leyen, MEPs said internal EU unity and solidarity is crucial now and for the future reconstruction of Ukraine.

On May 5, Wednesday, MEPs discussed the social and economic consequences for the EU of Russia’s war in Ukraine. They applauded the sixth packet of sanctions against Russia and the Ukraine recovery package, both outlined by Commission President von der Leyen. MEPs underlined the need to also support EU citizens and businesses affected by the war, calling for unity among member states. They also demanded support for countries facing the brunt of the effects of the war, whether as a consequence of their dependence on Russian gas and oil, or because of their hosting of a large number of Ukrainian refugees.

French Delegate Minister for Integration Brigitte Klinkert and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the debate.

Most MEPs have underlined the need to defeat Putin but also suggested that the best way to do this was to minimise the costs faced by the EU itself.

This would allow unity to be kept among member states, cushion the effects on households and businesses, and allow the EU to better help Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction. MEPs underlined the plight of those in the EU having to choose between buying food or heating their houses and also asked the Commission to consider on a case-by-case basis whether to go ahead with new legislation that could add additional burdens on already-struggling businesses.

Future of Europe concludes cycle

The Conference Plenary concluded its work, with MEPs expressing their approval of the outcome and announcing that Parliament intends to kick-start EU reforms.

At its final meeting, that took place on Friday and Saturday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Conference Plenary reached a consensus on its final draft proposals. It has now adopted 325 proposals to achieve 49 objectives identified across 9 themes, based on 178 recommendations from the European Citizens’ Panels, input from the National Panels and events, and 43 734 contributions on 16 274 ideas recorded on the multilingual digital platform.

On Friday, Parliament’s delegation decided to support the Plenary’s draft proposals. MEPs highlighted the important role that Parliament played in the run-up to this moment, for example by guaranteeing that citizens’ input would remain at the centre of the deliberations throughout the process.

Speakers from five political groups representing a broad majority (EPP, S&D, Renew, Greens/EFA, and The Left) agreed that the draft proposals are a major political achievement. They also pointed to Parliament’s concrete achievements in ensuring an effective and democratic process – for example through the establishment of the Working Groups, which delivered the draft Plenary proposals. MEPs representing the ID and ECR groups argued that the proposals do not reflect public opinion in the EU, and stated that their groups would not support them.

The session on Friday started with the proposals being presented by the Chairs of the Working Groups and the citizen Spokespersons, during which virtually all speakers agreed that the proposals comprise important reforms based on citizens’ recommendations.

Following the presentations, representatives of the four institutional components of the Conference (Parliament, Council, Commission, and national parliaments) approved the proposals by consensus. During his speech on behalf of Parliament’s delegation, the Co-Chair of the Conference Guy Verhofstadt confirmed that the political groups will table a resolution during Parliament’s 2-5 May plenary session to call for a revision of the Treaties. Commenting that this Conference has made him realise the importance of participatory mechanisms complementary to representative democracy, he stated that MEPs must fight hard to ensure that the Conference’s proposals will be turned into the reforms that the EU needs.

Catch up with Guy Verhofstadt’s speech on behalf of the Parliament’s delegation or watch a recording of MEPs’ speeches in Plenary.

On Saturday morning, citizens took the floor to comment on the final proposals and the process that led to them, strongly approving of both. They highlighted that they are now expecting the EU institutions and member states to ensure the appropriate follow-up, and the importance of not letting citizens down in the aftermath of this historic moment. They also commented on how their ideas evolved through the Conference’s debates and the impact that Russia’s war in Ukraine had on them, as well as on how they realised the importance of standing up for their ideas while preparing the proposals.

On Europe Day (9 May), the three Co-Chairs of the Executive Board will present the final report of the Conference to the Presidents of the EU institutions at a ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Stoltenberg visits Europarliament

Brussels 29.04.2022 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited the European Parliament in Brussels to meet President Roberta Metsola and the conference of presidents of the seven political groups in the Parliament. This is the first time that a NATO Secretary General has met with the group of European Parliament party leaders on Thursday, April 28.

The Secretary General praised the European Parliament for its strong support to Ukraine, and stressed that the NATO-EU partnership is vital at this critical moment for our shared security. He mentioned the unprecedented level of cooperation between the two organisations on a wide range of issues, including in the Western Balkans, on cyber, resilience and maritime security.

In a joint press point with President Metsola, the Secretary General emphasised that NATO and the EU “stand together in solidarity with Ukraine”. He welcomed the EU’s strong economic sanctions on Russia. He stated that to date, NATO Allies have pledged and provided at least US $8 billion in military support to Ukraine, and continue to step up.

Asked by reporters how quickly the process of NATO accession could go if Finland and Sweden decide to apply, the Secretary General said: “It is of course for Finland and Sweden to decide whether they would like to apply for membership in NATO or not. But if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be welcomed with open arms to NATO. Finland and Sweden are our closest partners, they are strong, mature democracies, EU members, and we have worked with Finland and Sweden for many, many years. We know that their armed forces meet NATO standards, are interoperable with NATO forces, we train together, we exercise together, and we have also worked with Finland and Sweden in many different missions and operations. So if they apply, they will be welcomed, and I also expect the process to be quick. And that they can then join NATO after the formal process has been finalised.”

MEPs support ongoing Digital Certificate

Brussels 29.04.2022 The Civil Liberties Committee endorsed proposals to keep the EU Digital COVID Certificate framework in place for another year.

To ensure that EU citizens can benefit from their right to free movement regardless of the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs approved two reports to prolong the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) scheme -set to expire on 30 June- for another 12 months. The reports were adopted with 48 in favour, 16 against and 0 abstaining.

Along with extending the validity of the EUDCC scheme until 30 June 2023, the changes also enable member states to grant test certificates based on new types of antigen assay tests.

MEPs amended the proposals to stress that member states should avoid additional restrictions on the freedom of movement for EUDCC holders, unless absolutely necessary. If restrictions are needed, they should be limited and proportionate, based on the latest scientific advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the EU Health Security Committee.

They also ask the Commission to assess if the EUDCC scheme is necessary and proportionate six months after its extension. MEPs want to shorten the period of application of the Regulation as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

The creation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) was adopted In June 2021 to facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic, for a limited period of 12 months.
Rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “A year ago, we put in place the EU Digital COVID certificate so that unilateral national restrictions would not endanger the right to free movement and equality. We wanted to prevent discrimination between countries of origin, and we wanted this regulation to be time-limited. However, we can only get rid of it once the pandemic is over.

Since it is not over yet, we are extending the validity of the scheme, and asking experts to evaluate the situation in six months’ time. Now, people are again travelling across borders in Europe, which shows that the regulation is working.”
The decision of the Civil Liberties Committee to open negotiations with the Council on the legislative proposal will be announced at the opening of next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg. If there is an objection, the decision will be put to the vote on Thursday, 5 May.

Ukraine: Michel announces Solidarity Trust Fund

Brussels 21.04.2022 “…We are determined to do everything we can to support Ukraine because we want victory for Ukraine” the EU Council president Charles Michel said. “And that is why we will use all the possible tools in our hands. Of course, financial support is very important. We had the opportunity to go into more detail with the President, and that is why we decided a few weeks ago, after a phone call, to launch this trust fund in solidarity with Ukraine. In the coming days, on May 5th, will be the starting point of this trust fund, with an international donors conference. We will organise this together with Poland, with Sweden and with the support of the European Commission, all the member states, and with the support of many international actors”.

“We are also working closely with international organisations like the IMF, the World Bank and others to make sure that we can mobilise funds in support, so Ukraine can pay the social expenditures that are needed in the short term, in the mid-term, and in the long term. It is also very important to start as soon as possible the programme of rebuilding the country. I can assure you that the EU will be on your side to rebuild your country…” Michel said at the press conference following his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

Europarliament: €3.4bn for Ukraine refugees

Strasbourg 07.04.2022 The EU countries sheltering people fleeing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will immediately receive €3.4 billion, MEPs decided on Thursday, April 7.

Following Parliament’s green light to redirect EU regional and asylum funding to EU countries sheltering people fleeing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during the last plenary session, MEPs adopted additional urgent support measures.

With 549 votes to one and eight abstentions, Parliament agreed to immediately release around €3.4 billion (out of €10 billion available) from the “REACT-EU” funds and speed up EU governments’ access to funds to pay for infrastructure, housing, equipment, employment, education, social inclusion, healthcare and childcare for Ukraine refugees.

The new rules will increase the initial pre-financing of REACT-EU resources from 11% to 15% to all EU countries. EU countries bordering Ukraine – Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – and those that have received a significant number of refugees from Ukraine equivalent to more than 1% of their national population – Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia and Estonia – can immediately get 45% (rather than 11%) of their recovery funds without any invoices to be presented at this time.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 4 million people have left the country since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, most of them heading to neighbouring countries.

REACT-EU is a €50 billion package set up in 2020 to help mitigate the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis across the EU.

The draft rules will now also have to be formally approved by Council. The regulation will enter into force one day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

« Older Entries