Parliament week ahead: Brexit tops the agenda

Written by Martin Banks on 1 April 2019 in News
News

Parliament will this week debate the latest state of play on the UK’s protracted withdrawal from the EU with the Council and the Commission.

Photo Credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


The debate will follow the latest in a series of so-called indicative votes taking place in the House of Commons later on Monday.

Eight proposals have been tabled by British MPs. They are a Customs Union; No Deal; “Common Market 2.0”; two separate proposals relating to a second referendum; a Norway-style Brexit; a unilateral exit from the backstop; and a “Parliamentary Supremacy” motion which seeks to prevent No Deal, if necessary by revoking Article 50.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, will select which options will be voted on before the debate begins.


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This comes after MPs voted against the Withdrawal Agreement by 344 votes to 286 on Friday 29 March, the date on which the UK was originally scheduled to leave the EU.

After the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons on Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk called for a European Council summit on 10 April to discuss Brexit.

The outcome of the votes, which many expect to back calls for the UK retaining some form of Customs Union with the EU after it eventually leaves the EU, will be debated  by MEPs on Wednesday.

In a busy week of business for Parliament, MEPs will also debate Europe’s future with Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, the nineteenth in a series of future of Europe debates between EU heads of state or government and MEPs.

Löfven will also hold talks with President Antonio Tajani.

Elsewhere, measures to reconcile career and private life, informally agreed with EU ministers, will be up for a final vote.

The text will allow the introduction of a 10-day paternity leave remunerated at national sick pay level, and four months of parental leave, of which 2 months will be paid and will be non-transferable.

The text also gives the right to request flexible working arrangements and deals with the special situation of carers by creating a 5-day annual carers' leave.

The measures aim to create a better work-life balance for all working parents and improve the lives of families across all Member States.

This week MEPs will also adopt new legislation on the EU gas market. This aims to ensure that the same rules will apply both to gas pipelines inside the EU and to those coming into the EU from non-EU countries.

“Too often, gas supply has been used as a political weapon. We cannot ‘disarm’ the impure intentions of others, but we can arm ourselves with full legal clarity and consistency of existing legislation” Jerzy Buzek MEP

Under the draft law all gas pipelines which arrive in the EU from third countries will have to fully comply, on the entire EU territory, with existing EU rules, primarily the Third Energy Package.

These rules relate to third-party access, transparency requirements, fair tariffs and a proper separation of the supply chain from the production to the distribution of gas.

A commission spokesman said, “this is a precondition for our energy security and independence - all the more important seeing that the EU’s dependence on gas imports is constantly growing.”

The new rules will apply to all gas pipelines in the EU including Nord Stream 2.

Polish centre-right MEP Jerzy Buzek, Parliament's spokesman on the legislation on common rules for the internal market in natural gas, said, “Too often, gas supply has been used as a political weapon. We cannot ‘disarm’ the impure intentions of others, but we can arm ourselves with full legal clarity and consistency of existing legislation.”

“This is what our Energy Union as well as this amended Directive is about,” he added.

MEPs will also vote on proposals aiming to better tackle illegal practices in the road transport sector, define for which transport operations posting of workers rules apply and amend drivers’ rest times, while a new tool to protect the EU budget and uphold EU values will also be up for a vote.

The new system could mean that governments interfering with courts or failing to tackle fraud and corruption risk having their EU funds suspended.

On Monday, the economic and monetary affairs committee will vote on new rules on how non-credit institutions can buy credit agreements from banks.

The aim of the new rules is to reduce existing banks’ stocks of non-performing loans (NPL) and prevent their accumulation in the future.

Under the proposed new rules, banks will be able to better deal with loans that become non-performing thanks to improved conditions for selling the credit to third parties.

On Tuesday, the agriculture committee will vote on establishing rules on support for strategic plans to be drawn up by Member States under the Common Agricultural Policy.

It is one of the three big legislative proposals that draws the line for European farming under the next seven-year budget period starting in 2021.

Elsewhere, members will vote on a proposal to limit Member States’ ability to introduce temporary border controls within the Schengen area to a maximum period of one year, instead of two, while, ahead of the 21st EU-China summit, taking place on 9 April, MEPs will debate the state of trade relations with China, with the Commission and Council.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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