Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Race to get end-of-term legislation through EU parliament

  • Strasbourg hemicycle: The last plenary meeting of the current parliament will take place at the beginning of May (Photo: European Parliament)

With just three plenary meetings left before the European Parliament finishes its current term, MEPs still have some major legislation to clear before they hit the campaign trail ahead of the June elections.

Among the most important are the energy and telecoms bills - flagship liberalisation projects of the current commission. Both are only inching their way through the legislative pipelines.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The telecoms package, which aims to create an EU-level supervisor for telecoms regulators and overhauls the rules for management of radio spectrum, is stalling on the issue of how much power should be given to the European Commission.

Three-way talks - between MEPs, member states and the commission - are aiming to finalise a compromise so that the vote can be taken before May, the last session of the current European Parliament.

Meanwhile, the energy package, aimed at deregulating the gas and electricity sectors, is in difficulty over the scope of "unbundling" - the separation of electricity generation from its transmission, breaking the control of large national providers' over both production and supply.

Other big chunks of legislation include the working time directive, a controversial law restricting the working week to 48 hours. Late last year, MEPs upset the apple cart by rejecting a recommendation from the member states and voting to end opt-outs from the 48-hour-week within three years. If a joint text can be agreed with member states, the final vote could be held in May.

MEPs are also due for first-round votes on an EU bill to make it easier for patients to receive paid medical treatment in other member states (with a first vote in April), one on extending the protection of authors' copyright by 20 years up to 95 years (March), and another law on making buildings more energy efficient.

Meanwhile, a bill on the nutritional labelling of food may be postponed until the next legislature because of the sheer number of amendments it has received.

Draft EU laws that have already begun the legislative process in the European Parliament, meaning that they have been voted on in committee, are automatically carried over to the next term.

After the final May plenary session, parliament will reconvene in July for its constitutive session following the June elections. Its first legislative meeting will be in September.

Meanwhile, the new parliament (2009-2014) will see a major increase in its powers if the Lisbon Treaty is passed in Ireland, which is to hold a second referendum on the pact later this year.

The Lisbon question

The new EU rulebook would give MEPs co-legislative rights in a series of new areas, including agricultural and fisheries policies, judicial co-operation in criminal matters, police co-operation, services of general economic interest, space policy and tourism.

Mindful of the upgrade in their powers, the euro-deputies in the constitutional affairs committee earlier this week asked the European Commission to tell them of "pending proposals" that will be affected by moving from one treaty to another.

It also left open the option of changing its opinion on a piece of legislation if it moves from a consultative basis to full co-legislation.

"Parliament will decide which position it takes regarding opinions that have already been adopted in consultation procedures on matters which have been changed to the ordinary legislative procedure," said a report by German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Opinion

Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?

There can be no more excuses for business. They will be held for responsible for their failure to take action to prevent the risk of human and labour rights through their supply chains.

Agenda

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Agenda

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us