This Week in the European Parliament

While all committees elect their chairs and vice-chairs, some will hear from French government ministers about the Council Presidency priorities, and others pursue their legislative agenda, the week ends with Parliament remembering the victims of the Holocaust in plenary.
DAINA LE LARDIC | © European Union 2020 - Source : EP

By Andreas Rogal

Andreas Rogal is a senior journalist at the Parliament Magazine

24 Jan 2022

The European Parliament’s internal mid-term elections will conclude this week, when all twenty standing committees and the three subcommittees will elect their chair and up to four vice-chairs for the remainder of the legislature.

Swedish centre-right MEP Tomas Tobé (EPP) who is standing for reelection as chair of the Committee on Development (DEVE) told the Parliament Magazine in an interview in November about this unique practice:

“This mid-term reshuffle, where everything is up in the air again, is quite interesting and something perhaps for national parliaments to also think about. It’s good because it keeps people on their toes.”

The DEVE committee will take its turn on Wednesday morning, as will the committees on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), Legal (JURI) and Constitutional (AFCO) affairs, Culture and Education (CULT) and the two subcommittees on Security and Defense (SEDE) and Human Rights (DROI).

Their ‘parent’ committee, on Foreign Affairs (AFET) will have opened the procedures on Monday lunchtime, with the others following suit that day and on Tuesday.

“This mid-term reshuffle, where everything is up in the air again, is quite interesting and something perhaps for national parliaments to also think about. It’s good because it keeps people on their toes.”

Tomas Tobé, MEP

 

Apart from the elections, many committees are also pursuing their work agendas. The Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) is continuing its 2020 EU budget discharge procedure with a joint debate on no less than 18 reports on different aspects of the budget on Tuesday morning.

At least six committees will host French government ministers in charge of their area to be informed about the priorities of their Council Presidency, starting with the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) and the Committee on International Trade (INTA) on Monday afternoon.

The most important legislative work will arguably be done in a joint session of the Internal Market (IMCO) and Civil Liberties (LIBE) committees who will hold a first debate on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act on Tuesday, with Parliament’s rapporteurs Brando Benifei, head of the Italian S&D Group delegation for IMCO, and Renew Group’s Vice-Chair Dragoş Tudorache (RO) for LIBE in the lead, and the European Commission participating.

When he was appointed rapporteur in early December, Tudorache sketched out his overall goals on Twitter:

In another joint meeting, the committees on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) are hoping to illuminate one of the EU’s current flagship projects, the Farm to Fork Strategy, in particular its “impact on agriculture and food systems” on Tuesday late afternoon. Four experts who have recently published studies on the matter will share the results of their research in a public hearing.

And yet another special committee of this legislature’s first term, this time the one on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE) is nearing its conclusion with the final committee vote on its report, drafted by the EPP Group’s Vice Chair Sandra Kalniete.

Writing for the Parliament Magazine in November, the veteran Latvian legislator called for a strengthening of a wide range of defense mechanisms, from monitoring and analysing disinformation to creating more transparency on non-EU investment to avoid ‘elite capture’ and ensuring “durable and transparent” funding of independent investigative journalism.

Regulation alone will not do, Kalniete argued:

“It is a pipe dream to expect legislation to keep pace with the development of disruptive technologies, which is why our focus must lie on building an overall resilience base.”

After its elections, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) will prepare a critical view for Parliament on itself for the next plenary session by adopting its 2020 annual report on “Gender Mainstreaming in the European Parliament” on Tuesday, drafted by two French MEPs, Irène Tolleret (Renew) and Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (Greens/EFA).

And the AFET committee will hold the final vote on an own-initiative report on another subject close to Parliament’s heart at the end of its Tuesday morning sitting, Renew Group’s Vice Chair Katalin Czeh’s (HU) report on “corruption and human rights”.

Parliament will end the week with a special plenary session on Thursday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 77 years to the day after the liberation of Auschwitz.

President Roberta Metsola is to open the event and centenarian Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer to address the house.

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