This week in Strasbourg

Written by Brian Johnson on 12 March 2019 in News
News

MEPs will this week discuss their priorities for the 21-22 March EU summit, focussing on jobs, growth, competitiveness, climate change, external relations and ways to fight disinformation.

Photo Credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


MEPs will this week discuss their priorities for the 21-22 March EU summit, focussing on jobs, growth, competitiveness, climate change, external relations and ways to fight disinformation.

Meeting in Strasbourg all week, they will also give their verdict on the outcome of the vote on the Brexit deal in the UK House of Commons on Tuesday and assess its consequences. The vote comes ahead of the UK’s EU planned exit on 29 March.

To ensure what they hope will be the least possible disruption to citizens and businesses, MEPs will also vote on Wednesday on travel, air and road transport, Erasmus, social security and fisheries measures to mitigate the effects of a withdrawal of the UK from the EU without an agreement.

MEPs are also set to introduce financial penalties for pan-European political parties and foundations that deliberately breach data protection laws and regulations. They are also likely to condemn attempts by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea to influence political elections and provide support for extremist movements.

In a busy plenary week, deputies are set to state that the increase of China’s technological presence in the EU poses serious security threats that they say require urgent action to be taken at EU level.

Parliament is also set to adopt on Tuesday the EU Cybersecurity Act, which aims to strengthen Europe’s cybersecurity, by setting up a European Cybersecurity Certificates scheme for products, processes and services and by extending the mandate of the EU Cybersecurity Agency.

"The EPP Group insists that the EU should stand ready to consider adopting further sanctions if Russia's violation of international law continues” vice-chair of Parliament's EPP group and chair of the Foreign Affairs Working Group, Sandra Kalniete

MEPs are also expected to adopt a resolution that says the EU should remain open to imposing further sanctions, especially those targeting individuals, if Russia continues to violate international law.

MEPs will assess the state of EU-Russia political relations in the report authored by Sandra Kalniete, vice-chair of the EPP group and chair of the Foreign Affairs Working Group.

She says that “at a time when Russia is further trying to increase tensions in relations with the EU and its Member States, the EPP Group insists that the EU should stand ready to consider adopting further sanctions if Russia's violation of international law continues.”

The EPP also has called for what it calls more ambitious financial assistance to Russian civil society and supports the principle of selective engagement with Russia.

MEPs suggest in the draft resolution that the EU limit cooperation with Russia to areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism and climate change.

Cross-border crime also comes under the spotlight this week. In order to improve the tracking of non-EU nationals’ criminal records throughout the EU, MEPs will vote on Tuesday on a brand new EU information system and on the upgrade of another that will ensure information on border control and law enforcement is shared more efficiently and quickly.

Parliament later this week is set to adopt the European Accessibility Act, which will make key products and services, like smartphones, ATMs, ticketing machines and banking services more accessible to people with disabilities and elderly persons.

Elsewhere, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini will on Tuesday meet Antonio Tajani and debate with MEPs his vision of the future of the EU.

Heads of state and government from Ireland, Croatia, Portugal, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Greece, Estonia, Romania, Germany, Denmark, Cyprus, Spain, Finland and Italy have already addressed MEPs in plenary.

Prime Ministers Stefan Löfven of Sweden and Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš of Latvia will address the plenary in April.

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