Migration, terrorism, the priorities of the Dutch EU Presidency and the situation in Poland as regards the state of the rule of law and restrictions to press freedom will be among the issues to be discussed during the European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg, January 18-21.
Moreover, MEPs will discuss, inter alia, France’s decision to invoke the EU treaty’s mutual defence clause, for the first time ever and the Paris climate agreement, and they will vote on the composition of an inquiry committee set up last December, in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, to investigate breaches of EU rules on car emission tests and alleged failures to enforce EU standards.
MEPs will quiz Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the outcome of the 17-18 December meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, in a debate scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. MEPs are likely to comment on key issues debated by the heads of state or government, as dealing with migration pressures, exceptions to Schengen rules and EU member states’ reactions to the recent proposal to establish a European Border and Coast Guard. The fight against terrorism and Britain`s EU reform demands ahead of the UK referendum are also likely to be addressed in the debate.
Moreover, MEPs are set to debate the priorities of the Dutch EU Presidency with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning. A review of the outgoing Luxembourg Presidency with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel is scheduled for Tuesday morning.
The implications of France’s decision to invoke the EU treaty’s mutual defence clause, for first time ever, to ask for EU member states’ help in its “war” against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) will be debated by MEPs on Wednesday afternoon. A resolution will be voted on Thursday.
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, France called on EU member states to provide it with aid and assistance, including intelligence sharing, to fight ISIS. It invoked EU Treaty Article 42 (7), which says that “if a member state is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all means”. All EU member states unanimously promised their full aid and support for France, but are still in the process of defining the substance of their commitments.
As the EU mutual defence clause has yet to be put into practice, MEPs are likely to debate its scope, implementation and the role of the EU institutions as well as making some recommendations for its management. MEPs are also likely to debate the political considerations which prompted France to trigger the mutual defence clause rather than the “solidarity” one (Article 222), which foresees a more prominent role for EU in mobilising all available instruments to help a member state in the event of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Parliament will debate the state of the rule of law and restrictions to press freedom in Poland, following statements by the Council and the Commission and a declaration by the Polish Prime minister Beata Szydło. EP President Martin Schulz and European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans have voiced concern for the freedom and pluralism of Poland’s public-service television and radio and for the status of the Constitutional Court. On 13 January the Commission decided to start the first stage of the “Framework for addressing systemic threats to the Rule of Law” in Poland. The European Parliament will vote on a resolution to wrap up the debate in February.
On Wednesday afternoon, French Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister Laurent Fabius will with MEPs the December 2015 global deal on tackling climate change.
MEPs will also vote on Thursday on the composition of the 45 member inquiry committee set up last December, in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, to investigate breaches of EU rules on car emission tests and alleged failures to enforce EU standards.
A proposal to veto a draft decision to raise diesel car emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) by up to 110% when the long-awaited Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test procedure is introduced will be discussed on Monday and put to a vote at the next plenary session. The Environment Committee argues that Parliament should veto plans to relax the limits because this would undermine the enforcement of existing EU standards.
Moreover, MEPs are set to debate the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement, an important first formal step in Kosovo’s integration into Europe, on Wednesday afternoon and approve it on Thursday. To enter into force, this agreement needs the European Parliament’s consent.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY