This week in the European Parliament

A mini-plenary parliamentary session followed by a summit of EU leaders are highlights for the EU this week.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

22 Jun 2021

The plenary session kicks off on Wednesday with a joint debate previewing the two-day summit.

In the summit debate, EPP leader Manfred Weber will put forward his expectations for the economic recovery of Europe, EU-Russia relations and reform of Europe's migration and asylum policy.

The German member said, “The key issue over the next months is our economic recovery after the pandemic and the recreation of the jobs that were lost during the crisis. This is why we insist that the recovery plans are ambitious and future-oriented and we will make sure they really create better opportunities for next generations.”

On Wednesday, EU commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Margaritis Schinas will present plans for a joint cyber unit.

On this, Dutch EPP member Jeroen Lenaers, group spokesman on the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said, “We must strengthen our European cybersecurity shield.”

Parliament will this week also debate EU-Switzerland relations and the consequences of Switzerland's recent decision to withdraw from the lengthy and intense negotiations of the Institutional Framework Agreement.

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights and must be guaranteed for everyone, without discrimination” Predrag Fred Matić, S&D

The agreement would have created conditions for Swiss participation in the EU’s single market and facilitated access for Swiss companies and products to the EU.

Some MEPs have since accused the Swiss government of applying discriminatory practices for EU companies.

Andreas Schwab, EPP deputy and chairman of Parliament’s delegation for relations with Switzerland, told this site, “We regret the Swiss decision to no longer look for a fair compromise and to agree to an institutional agreement with the EU. It is time that the responsible political actors in Berne recognise that the European project has evolved since 1992; it has brought peace, stability and prosperity, also to Switzerland.”

“As long as the domestic narrative is nurtured that the EU is working against Swiss interests, it will be difficult to collaborate closely.”

On Thursday, Parliament is expected to confirm its agreement on the so-called Climate Law, the centrepiece of the European Green Deal and Europe’s plan to become climate neutral by 2050.

The agreement, reached in April, makes the obligation to become climate neutral legally binding for the European Union.

“As long as the domestic narrative is nurtured that the EU is working against Swiss interests, it will be difficult to collaborate closely” Andreas Schwab, EPP

German EPP member Peter Liese said, “55 percent emission reduction by 2030 is a very ambitious target. To say it is not, overlooks the reality. In the last 30 years, we have reduced 25 percent of greenhouse gases. Now, we have to save an additional 30 percent in the next nine years.”

He added, “This is a huge task that no-one should underestimate.”

ECR shadow rapporteur Anna Zalewska will recommend an abstention on the report “given the inclusion of unnecessary bureaucratic embellishments and the dubious quality of the 2030 impact assessment.”

Meanwhile, the S&D group, Parliament’s second biggest grouping, will lead a campaign this week on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU.

A resolution by Socialist member Predrag Fred Matić will, he said, “make it crystal clear that sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights and must be guaranteed for everyone, without discrimination.”

The report states that possible violations or denial of legal access to abortion constitute a breach of fundamental human rights.

ECR shadow rapporteur Margarita de la Pisa Carrión and Jadwiga Wiśniewska, ECR coordinator in the committee on women’s rights and gender equality, disagree, saying that Parliament, in adopting the resolution would “overstep its competences in many aspects”, such as health and education, and in particular on abortion.

Both said they “do not consider abortion a human right because no international human rights treaty provides such a right.”

The plenary this week will also see debates and votes on the Commission’s 2020 rule of law report.

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