EU Parliament week ahead: Khashoggi murder, single-use plastics top agenda
The European Parliament is gearing up for a busy week in Plenary, with the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi under the spotlight and a vote on banning single-use plastics a legislative highlight.
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MEPs have added their voices to the growing condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly murdered in the
The European Parliament is expected to press this week for an international investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Several political groups will call for an inquiry into his murder, which was finally confirmed by the Saudi authorities at the weekend. A much-anticipated statement on the murder is due to be made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news briefing in parliament ahead of this week’s Plenary in Strasbourg, an ALDE group spokesman said, “There is strong evidence of direct Saudi involvement [in Khashoggi’s murder]. This was a terrible event and we will push for an international and transparent investigation. Those responsible must be brought to justice, but it is clear we cannot count on President Trump on this because he does not want to jeopardise his business ties with the Saudis.”
Pressure for an inquiry will also come from the Socialists, whose spokesman said, “We must have an international and impartial investigation. If the murder is proven to be linked to the Saudi authorities we will also be calling for sanctions against those implicated.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is expected to give a statement on the case to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday with a possible parliamentary resolution to follow on Thursday.
MEPs face a busy week with 226 legislative files and 95 own initiative reports still to conclude in the 11 sessions left before the European elections in May.
These include a vote on a report calling for a ban on single-use plastics, one of the legislative highlights of the coming week.
"If the murder [of Jamal Khashoggi] is proven to be linked to the Saudi authorities, we will also be calling for sanctions against those implicated"
A parliamentary spokesman said, “There is certainly no let-up in our agenda.”
Parliament will also confirm its position on the 2019 budget with a vote on Wednesday, while there will also be debates on a raft of reports including efforts to halt the spread of animal disease to humans, the Schengen information system, reform of road-charging rules and Neo-fascism in Europe.
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis will take part in the latest in a series of debates on the future of Europe and German chancellor Angela Merkel is due to do the same in November. The debate will take place in the presence of commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. This will be the eleventh in a series of future of Europe debates with EU heads of state or government.
SINGLE-USE PLASTICS VOTE
On the plastics report, parliament will vote on a new law to forbid the sale of single-use plastic products such as cutlery, cotton bud sticks, plates, straws, beverage stirrers and balloon sticks within the EU from 2021.
An EPP spokesman said the group is in favour of new rules to reduce plastic pollution in Europe. The rules will be voted on in the parliament on Wednesday.
Single-use plastic pollution constitutes 70 percent of all maritime litter items, he pointed out, and the European Commission’s legislative proposal, tackling 11 products, aims to reduce single use-plastics by more than half for items such as cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks.
“The EPP believes Europe needs to take the lead in finding innovative models to replace the destructive ones which are polluting our planet,” he added.
On Tuesday, MEPs will vote on plans to improve consumers’ trust in drinking tap water by tightening the maximum limits for certain pollutants. They also propose setting up free water fountains where feasible and providing tap water for free, or for a low service fee, in restaurants and canteens.
ANTIBIOTICS IN FOCUS
MEPs are also due to vote this week on a law limiting the use of antibiotics on farms to keep resistant bacteria out of food and halt the spread of drug resistance from animals to humans. To help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the law would also empower the Commission to select antimicrobials to be reserved only for treating humans.
A parliament spokesman said, “The misuse of antibiotics on animals is a danger to people’s lives in the EU as it causes antibiotic resistance.”
The EPP will call for “strict” laws on the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine.
Its spokesman said, “At the same time, it is also important to invest in innovation and the development of new antibiotics and make sure that red tape is not hindering the production of antibiotics and limiting their supply to the market when needed.”
The plenary is also expected to urge Facebook to allow EU bodies to carry out a full audit assessing data protection and security of users’ personal data. MEPs are also set to call for election manipulation to be curbed on social platforms and for action to update EU competition rules to reflect the digital reality.
The planned reform of EU road charging rules, up for debate on Wednesday, will oblige EU countries imposing time-based road use charges to switch to distance-based charging.
MEPs will also confirm their negotiating position for the 2019 EU budget, before starting talks with the Council of ministers. They will demand that the budget should focus on Erasmus+, tackling youth unemployment and migration, research, infrastructure investments and climate protection.
Other priorities include rescinding cuts proposed by the Council.
The increase in funding from €12m in 2018 to €16m in 2019 for the DiscoverEU initiative for a free Interrail ticket for Europeans turning 18, is one of the priorities MEPs have been campaigning for.
MEPs will also assess the outcome of the 17/18 October summit, in a debate with European Council president Donald Tusk. The main topics of the leaders’ meeting were migration, internal security and Brexit.
AND THE SAKHAROV PRIZE GOES TO...
Parliament president Antonio Tajani and the leaders of the political groups (the Conference of Presidents) will select this year's winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from among the three finalists. The prize will be awarded in a ceremony in Strasbourg on 12 December.
The EPP has nominated Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov who was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by a Russian court on charges of plotting terrorist acts against Russian "de facto" rule in Crimea, in a process deemed unfair by human rights watchdogs.
On 14 May, Sentsov went on hunger strike, lasting over 100 days, to call for the release of around 70 other Ukrainian citizens illegally arrested and convicted to long prison sentences by the Russian occupation forces in the Crimean Peninsula after its annexation.
Later in the week, Tajani will unveil a portrait of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in the press room in Strasbourg to commemorate her one year after her assassination.
Armenia's abrupt political U-turn, clearly imposed by Moscow, has interrupted a number of promising legislative processes in the field of human rights.
European governments must share their experience and create a common agenda against radicalisation, argues Valentina Colombo.
MEPs should stand up for EU manufacturers by adding legal certainty to the EU’s new anti-dumping methodology, writes Inès Van Lierde.