Thursday

24th Sep 2020

Agenda

EU gets ready for sanctions and plenary This WEEK

  • The parliament plans to hold its next plenary in Strasbourg, despite the coronavirus concerns of some MEPs about travelling to France (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament plans to hold its September plenary in Strasbourg - despite travel restrictions and fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

Several MEPs, including the leader of the Socialists & Democrats group, have voiced their concern and argued for keeping the plenary in Brussels in September.

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The leaders of the parliament will meet on Thursday (10 September) and may decide not to let thousands of people (some 751 MEPs in total, plus staff) commute to the French border city for the assembly's meeting.

Meanwhile, Ireland put forward its new commissioner candidates on Friday (4 September) to replace trade commissioner Phil Hogan who resigned last month over the 'golfgate' scandal.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen asked for both a female and male candidate, one of whom she will choose for her team, and who will then be grilled by the parliament.

The commission has so far not revealed if the new Irish commissioner will retain the trade portfolio.

Sanctions call

While the EU commission is still working on drawling up a list of people to sanction over the fraudulent Belarus presidential elections and the police crackdown on subsequent protests, MEPs have called for EU sanctions against strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko himself.

MEPs have also called for an investigation and sanctions over the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

In a letter addressed to EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell and EU council presidency, now held by Germany, more than 100 MEPs called for the EU to "work towards an international investigation" into the attack.

"We remain extremely sceptical that Russian authorities are fit and willing to investigate the real background of this crime," the MEPs added.

They also call for a EU Human Rights Violations Sanction Mechanism so that people who are behind attacking against opposition figures and journalists can be held accountable.

On Monday (7 September), European lawmakers on the subcommittee on human rights will debate the situation in Belarus.

Political groups will also focus their preparations on the commission president's annual State of the European Union speech on 16 September.

Tough talks

Negotiations will continue on the EU long-term budget and recovery plan, between parliament, commission and council of member states on Monday and Friday (11 September).

The parliament and member states have some crucial disagreements but senior EU politicians are putting MEPs under pressure to adopt the budget and move the recovery fund forwards as soon as possible.

The eighth round of negotiations on a post-Brexit agreement between the EU and UK also continue on Monday, with little hope for a breakthrough before the transition period ends in December.

Covid and climate

On Thursday (10 September), MEPs on the environment committee will vote on their position regarding the so-called Climate Law, which legislates the EU's 2050 climate-neutrality goal and sets binding interim targets for 2030.

The environment committee on Monday, meanwhile, will debate how to ensure equal access to affordable and safe Covid-19 vaccines everywhere.

The civil liberties committee will debate on Thursday the commission's security union strategy with commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas and internal affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson.

The pandemic highlighted the need to improve cooperation between member states on security and organised crime.

MEPs warn of 'significant gaps' in budget talks

The budget committee chair said the European Parliament expects tangible improvements to the package in its talks with member states - while the German minister argued that the EU leaders' deal was difficult enough.

Searching for a commissioner This WEEK

Ireland's deputy prime minster Simon Coveney is reported to be the frontrunner for the post. MEPs will also discuss where negotiations on the EU's long-term budget with member states are heading.

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