Brussels (Brussels Morning) MEPs will start their week with a high-level event focused on how to boost the EU’s recovery efforts. EU -Africa relations and EU enlargement also figure high on the week’s agenda. In the case of the latter, Serbia’s and Kosovo’s EU accession aspirations and progress are up for discussion. The European Parliament will hold a public hearing to look into Poland’s abortion law ruling and it will assess a strategy to revive the tourism sector.
On Monday, national parliamentarians and MEPs are set to discuss EU governance and cooperation between parliaments looking at the economic, budgetary, social and environmental challenges that are hampering the path to a full recovery as a result of the pandemic.
The high-level event is being hosted by the Parliament and the Portuguese Presidency. Participants will include the heads of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations plus others in a joint discussion of EU recovery.
The EU’s relations with East Africa is one of the subjects slated for Tuesday’s session of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). MEPs will discuss cooperation with Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda prior to this year’s EU-African Union Summit, where .their respective member states will determine joint priorities for their common future.
EU enlargement: Serbia and Kosovo
EU enlargement is also to be discussed by the AFET that day. Parliament will assess the reforms undertaken by Serbia and Kosovo on their path to EU membership. The evaluation will be based on criteria including democracy and the rule of law, freedom of expression and media independence, the fight against corruption and organised crime, and normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo, in light of their past history.
On Wednesday, abortion rights and the rule of law in Poland will be discussed during a public hearing called by the Civil Liberties and Women’s Rights committee. The topic has heated up following Poland’s introduction of a near-total ban on abortion on 28 January. MEPs have voiced their concerns about the independence of the judiciary in Poland, claiming that it is no longer guaranteed, as evidenced by the recent ruling on women’s abortion rights.
On the same day, the Health and Environment Committee (ENVI) will present its legislative proposal to reinforce the role for the European Medicines Agency in crisis preparedness and management. ENVI MEPs also plan to debate the serious cross-border threats to health that have emerged as a result of the shortcomings exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, ENVI parliamentarians will discuss the European Climate Law, when they are likely to focus on new measures to help attain the 55% reduction target of greenhouse gas emissions agreed by EU environment ministers. In October, the Parliament called on the Council to increase the 2030 emissions reduction target to 60%, but EU countries have decided to stick to a lower target.
Parliament and the Council have to be in accord with the same text before the 55% can be integrated into the climate law and become a legally binding requirement for the EU and its member states.
On Thursday, the Transport and Tourism Committee will put forward a number of proposals to support the EU’s tourism sector, which employs 22.6 million people (representing 9.5% of EU GDP), with 6 million jobs currently at risk.
On the strategy for tourism, MEPs are likely to call for a pandemic response plan with common national measures, including a single vaccination certificate, criteria for intra-EU travel, tracking forms and testing on departure to avoid quarantine, as well as for the “Re-open EU” portal to be constantly updated.