Strasbourg plenary: Energy, future of EU top of the agenda
MEPs will vote on a raft of energy proposals and debate the future of the EU during the first plenary session of the year, next week in Strasbourg.
European Parliament Strasbourg | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will debate the future of Europe with MEPs in Strasbourg next week.
The debate on Wednesday is the first in a series of debates between EU government leaders and MEPs reflecting on the future of the EU.
A Parliament spokesperson told a news conference on Friday that Varadkar’s address will be one of the key debates in the plenary.
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She said Parliament President Antonio Tajani was “particularly keen” that the assembly is “fully involved” and that its “voice should be heard” in the debate on the EU’s future.
An ALDE group spokesperson said that as they had been “pushing for it for some time”, they welcomed the debate, but there was some criticism from the Greens/EFA group that the debate next week and subsequent discussions will only involve leaders and heads of state.
EPP group leader Manfred Weber is expected to underline that 2018 will be a “decisive year for the European Union,” adding that “the priorities must be to secure our external borders, strengthen the social market economy and make the European monetary union permanently crisis-proof.”
MEPs will also debate the outcome of the 14-15 December meeting of EU leaders with European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday and will share their positions on the Brexit negotiations, migration, defence cooperation and eurozone reform.
Legislation on energy will also be under the spotlight in Strasbourg, with MEPs due to vote on three repots, on energy efficiency, renewable energy and the energy union.
Energy consumption will have to be cut by 40 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 under draft laws on energy efficiency, renewables and the governance of the energy union, to be debated on Monday. The share from renewable, cleaner sources would need to go up from 27 per cent to 35 per cent. A vote on whether or not to start negotiations with ministers will follow on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the S&D group told reporters on Friday that the group would press for the higher target of 35 per cent for renewables.
She said the group’s priorities in the future of Europe debate will include economic growth and fighting tax fraud.
Russia’s alleged propaganda in the EU is another key issue next week for MEPs.
The influence of Russian propaganda on EU countries and its alleged attempts to influence elections in some EU countries through misinformation will be debated by MEPs on Wednesday.
Fisheries will also be on the agenda in plenary with common EU rules on how, where and when one can fish in the EU put to the vote on Tuesday.
The new law would provide for common measures on fishing gear and methods and allowed species for all EU waters. It would also add some bite to Commission proposals to allow innovative methods, such as electric trawl pulse fishing (used to drive fish up out of the seabed and into the net), to be used across the EU.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his Council counterpart Donald Tusk led an EU delegation to Sofia to launch the Bulgarian Council presidency on Thursday.
The formal launch of Bulgaria’s EU Council presidency on Thursday was marked by a large-scale demonstration by thousands of protesters in the country’s capital.
The entire college of Commissioners will travel to Sofia on Thursday for the opening of the Bulgarian EU Council presidency.
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