Monday

18th Dec 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

EU ombudsman asks Tusk for more transparency

Emily O'Reilly wants the European Council president to ask the council to join the transparency register, publish information on meetings with lobbyists and publish more notes on the EU leaders' work.

Opinion

EU must help independent media in Ukraine

Some seven journalists have been killed in Ukraine since the pro-EU uprising of 2014 - with elections looming in 2019, next year looks like another dangerous year for reporters covering Kiev.

EU silent on Austria's 'pro-Europe' far-right in cabinet

Thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators protested against the new government in Vienna on Monday, as the EU remained muted on the new far-right party in an EU government, which – unlike similar hard-right parties – wants to portray itself as pro-European.

EU ombudsman asks Tusk for more transparency

Emily O'Reilly wants the European Council president to ask the council to join the transparency register, publish information on meetings with lobbyists and publish more notes on the EU leaders' work.

News in Brief

  1. EU-UK Brexit trade deal by January 2021, official says
  2. Bitcoin is 'deadly', Danish central bank warns
  3. EU Commission wants to ban 'legal weed'
  4. France files €10m complaint against Amazon
  5. EU negotiators reach deal on 'circular economy'
  6. Poll: Tight race in Catalonia days before elections
  7. EU: Israel built 8,000 settler homes in six months
  8. China agrees to promote London as centre for yuan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  3. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  4. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  5. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  6. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  7. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  11. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  12. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?