The war waged by Russia against Ukraine has already led to momentous policy changes in the European Union and many of its Member States. It will continue to be at the top of MEP minds at this week’s Strasbourg plenary session.
On Monday evening, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) will host Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans to discuss the effects of the war on the EU’s climate policies and on the European Green Deal.
The subject will hardly fail to come up when, at the same time, the Committee on Budgets (BUDG) and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) will hold their regular Recovery and Resilience Dialogue with Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni in a joint meeting.
Dombrovskis retweeted an announcement by the European Investment Bank (EIB) on an initial €668m financial support package to Ukraine on Saturday.
Before the situation in Ukraine is due to be discussed with Vice-President and High Representative Josep Borrell in plenary Tuesday afternoon, the war, and in particular Russia’s disinformation campaigns past and present will feature in the morning’s debate about the final report of the Special Committee on Foreign Interference and Disinformation (INGE).
For some background on this, Rapporteur Sandra Kalniete (LV, EPP) outlined the main thrust of the report’s findings and recommendations for Parliament Magazine after it had been adopted in committee in December.
But the final INGE report is likely not to be its last after all, as Parliament will vote on a second mandate for the special committee on Wednesday, along with deciding whether to set up a special committee looking into the COVID-19 pandemic and a committee of inquiry on the Pegasus spyware affair.
The debate on Tuesday afternoon will focus on the refugee situation, as all political group spokespersons identified dealing with it as a top priority for the Union at Parliament’s pre-session press briefing on Friday.
As was widely reported over the weekend, and confirmed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, over a million and a half people have now fled Ukraine, the vast majority of them into the EU.
For the second debate on the war on Wednesday morning, MEPs will have the opportunity to discuss “the EU's role in a changing world and the security situation of Europe following the Russian aggression and invasion of Ukraine” with the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, an MEP herself from 2014 to 2018 and a former Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee.
In a tweet on Sunday announcing her participation, Kallas revealed a busy agenda ahead of travelling to Strasbourg.
Another report with strong links to what has been raised in connection with the scrutiny of Russia’s activities in Europe is Sophia in ‘t Veld’s (NL, Renew) on “citizenship and residence by investment schemes”, a.k.a. “golden passports”. Several Member States run such schemes, and wealthy Russians, including those with strong links to the Kremlin, have taken advantage of them.
The report suggests a ban of such investment schemes (CBIs), under which third-country nationals can get nationality rights in exchange for an investment.
The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) approved the draft text on 15 February. It also includes EU-wide restrictions for residence by investment schemes, limiting the roles of intermediaries. The text will be debated on Monday after the opening of the session and voted on Wednesday.
Finally, this week, Parliament is also marking International Women’s Day (IWD). On Tuesday, 8 March, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) will discuss the annual report on gender mainstreaming in the European Parliament.
Gender mainstreaming recognises that policy may have different impacts on different genders, which may implicitly perpetuate inequality or discrimination. The European policy on gender mainstreaming in the Parliament aims to incorporating gender equality aspects in policymaking and achieving balanced representation of women within the institution.
Preparations for IWD have also begun in advance. At an interparliamentary meeting hosted by the FEMM committee last Thursday, leading MEPs and Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli discussed gender equality post-covid. In a tweet, Dalli summarised the main areas of action for the EU.
In addition, the EU Gender Action Plan III, which is led by Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (FR, Renew), will be debated on Tuesday, and will also see a vote on Wednesday afternoon. This legislation aims to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the EU.
Linking IWD with the war, Parliament has invited Ukrainian writer Oksana Zaboujko to address MEPs, before the debates on the EU’s Gender Action Plan and gender mainstreaming.