MEPs return to parliamentary business this week

Written by Martin Banks on 27 August 2018 in News

Packed programme signals the start of new parliamentary term.

Photo credit: Press Association

A packed programme of committee meetings, workshops and other events are planned in parliament in the coming week to signal the start of a new parliamentary term.

One of the issues at the top of the agenda this week concerns cross-border payments.

On Wednesday, the parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee will discuss new rules aimed at aligning charges for euro currency cross-border payments within the EU with charges for domestic payments made in the official currency of a member state.

Currently, charges for cross-border payments in euros from non-eurozone area member states are higher than between eurozone countries.

In March, the European Commission unveiled proposals to make euro cross-border payments cheaper across the entire EU. Under current rules, there is no difference for euro area residents or businesses if they carry out euro transactions in their own country or with another eurozone member.

The proposal aims to extend this benefit to people and businesses in non-euro countries.

The commission says this will allow all consumers and businesses to fully reap the benefits of the single market when they send money, withdraw cash or pay abroad.

Under the proposal, all intra-EU cross-border payments in euros outside the euro area will be priced the same – with small or zero fees - as domestic payments in the local official currency.

The Commission also proposes to bring more transparency and competition to currency conversion services when consumers are buying goods or services in a different currency than their own.

At the time it tabled the plans, Valdis Dombrovskis, the Commission vice president responsible for financial services, said the proposal would “grant citizens and businesses in non-euro area countries the same conditions as euro area residents when making cross-border payments in euros.”

The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will also on Wednesday, discuss rules allowing crowdfunding platforms the opportunity to offer their services throughout Europe. The proposal is part of an action plan to modernise financial services using new technology.

"The Foreign Affairs Committee will meet for talks with Nikola Dimitrov, the Foreign Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The country’s 30 September name change referendum is likely to be top of the agenda"

The Parliament’s Budgets Committee meanwhile on the same day will vote on releasing €34m from the EU Solidarity Fund for Greece, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

All four member states were all hit by natural disasters last year and the cash will be spent on supporting reconstruction efforts and on covering some of the emergency services, temporary accommodation and clean-up costs associated with the 2017 natural disasters.

Later on Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs Committee will meet for talks with Nikola Dimitrov, the Foreign Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The country’s 30 September name change referendum is likely to be top of the agenda.

MEPs will also debate the country’s accession progress with a discussion on the European Commission’s 2018 country report. The committee will also scrutinise the 2018 report on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Elsewhere, the Civil Liberties Committee will vote on Thursday on whether to start negotiations with Council and the Commission on granting visa-free access to the EU for Kosovo citizens.

Finally on Friday, a delegation from the parliament’s special committee on financial crime and tax Evasion and Avoidance travels to Latvia to discuss with local policymakers and stakeholders the circumstances surrounding the voluntary liquidation of Latvia’s third largest bank, ABLV.

MEPs will also visit the Freeport of Riga, and will hold meetings with stakeholders in a bid to better understand the country’s financial and customs policies.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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