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25th Jul 2021

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MEPs prepare for another virtual plenary This WEEK

  • Under the current coronavirus circumstances, all parliamentary meetings, including plenary sessions, must be held remotely - until at least the end of November (Photo: European Parliament)

EU lawmakers will this week hold another plenary session remotely, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

European Parliament president David Sassoli previously decided that all parliamentarian meetings, including the plenary sessions, must be held remote until the end of November. But this situation is likely to be prolonged given the current epidemiological situation.

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"It is the intention of the parliament to return to Strasbourg as soon as possible, but it seems unlikely until the end of 2020," EU officials told EUobserver.

Ahead of the next summit of EU leaders in mid-December, MEPs will discuss ongoing sticking points, not least the EU's long-term budget and rule-of-law conditionality, plus climate targets, in a debate with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday (25 November).

MEPs will also vote on Wednesday on an own-initiative report that calls on the commission to grant consumers' the 'right-to-repair' their devices, aiming to tackle the climate-damaging "planned obsolescence".

On the same day, EU lawmakers will address the state of media freedom in the EU, including Hungarian interference in Slovenian and North Macedonian media.

On Monday (23 November), MEPs are expected to call on the EU Commission and member states to end homelessness by 2030.

The decision follows multiple petitions by EU citizens alarmed at the more than four million homeless Europeans, and an apparent 70-percent increase in homeless people in the bloc over the last 10 years.

EU lawmakers will discuss on Tuesday (24 November) the situation in Varosha following illegal actions by Turkey, and how Covid-19 has affected EU's foreign policy.

On the same day, the EU Commission is expected to unveil a long-awaited pharmaceutical strategy, which aims to reduce dependence on non-EU countries, not least in the wake of the shortages during the first outbreaks of the coronavirus pandemic.

EU lawmakers will address this topic later on Thursday (26 November), when they will also debate the EU's industrial strategy, calling for a revision to the commission's proposal to include the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

EU ministers of development will meet virtually on Monday to examine how to promote gender-equality and women's empowerment in all EU external action, ahead of the presentation of a commission's strategy on the same subject expected on Tuesday.

On Friday (27 November), EU ministers in charge of research and innovation will discuss, in a videoconference, the proposal of the commission to invest at least five percent of national public funding in joint research and development programmes and European partnerships by 2030.

Budget and Brexit row

Meanwhile, budget negotiations will continue this week, after Hungary and Poland blocked a key step in unlocking the €1.8 trillion EU budget and coronavirus recovery package over the rule-of-law mechanism.

The German EU presidency will lead bilateral contacts between the key supporters and opponents of the rule-of-law conditionality, until a solution is found.

Additionally, the British and EU teams negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal will resume talks this week, aiming to strike an agreement that would allow time for the parliament to ratify any potential deal before the end of the year.

Hungary and Poland unfazed by EU outcry over budget block

France's EU affairs state secretary Clement Beaune said his country and Germany are looking into "technical clarifications" on rule-of-law conditionality to resolve the issue, but floated the idea of doing the recovery fund without Poland and Hungary.

Recovery and rule of law are back This WEEK

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will continue to travel to member states to "personally hand over the assessment" of the EU executive on national Covid-19 recovery plans.

Mammoth green package out This WEEK

Aside from the green package, Poland will also be the centre of attention. Two decisions by the controversial Constitutional Tribunal could affect the country's EU future. Belarus' border with Lithuania will also be in the spotlight.

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