Brussels (Brussels Morning) This week, the European Parliament’s agenda features debates and votes on the EU’s response to COVID-19, a summit with Western Balkans’ nations on their use of EU funds for redressing the pandemic and post-COVID 19 EU accession plans, plus proposals to strengthen the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). MEPs are set to vote on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in criminal law, and to debate the status of the the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). They will also hold three public hearings to evaluate the current resilience of the Eurozone and banks.
EU response to COVID-19
On Monday, members of the Environment and Public Health Committee (ENVI) question European Commission Vice-President, Margaritis Schinas, on the recent evaluation of the EU’s response to the pandemic. They will ask about shortcomings identified in pandemic preparedness and planning. The session follows up on a Commission communication published on 15 June that highlighted initial lessons learned from the onset of the pandemic and about how to anticipate and prepare responses to future health emergencies.
EU leaders remain vigilant about the spread of COVID-19 variants across the Union, with various regions applying more restrictive local measures. As of 1 July, the EU will start recognising vaccine certificates issued by member states.
Also on Monday, EP President David Sassoli will meet with representatives from the Western Balkans to review how they are implementing EU funds to tackle the pandemic. Sassoli will receive delegates from the parliaments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia to discuss the role their governments should play in the context of a post-COVID-19 EU enlargement.
Reacting to the pandemic’s impact in the EU, the ENVI Committee is to vote on Tuesday on a proposal to boost the mandate of the ECDC. The aim is to equip the EU agency so that it can better support the Commission and EU member states in areas such as epidemiological surveillance, preparedness and response planning.
The agency will benefit from increased support on the reporting side and in terms of its ability to conduct audits. Its capacity to mobilise and deploy the EU Health Task Force is to be strengthened, one aspect being the proposed development of a network of EU reference laboratories.
AI in criminal law
As AI becomes more prevalent in the field of law enforcement, the Civil Liberties Committee is to vote on a draft resolution on Tuesday that will instruct it to respect principles such as non-discrimination, while making clear that, when it comes to final decision-making, it is people who must be in charge. The draft also calls for a ban on the use of facial recognition technology in law enforcement, and demands that algorithms be transparent and comprehensible to citizens.
On Thursday, the Agriculture Committee will review the status of ongoing negotiations dealing with the CAP. This follows the deal reached between the Parliament and the Council last week to make a total of 270 billion euro available until 2027. The aim is to address farmers’ interests while respecting the EU’s goals for the European Green Deal. EP Greens have been critical of the CAP’s shortcomings in addressing environmental concerns.
Towards the end of the week, MEPs will question representatives of banking institutions to assess the state of Eurozone economy. On Thursday, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will hold three separate public hearings with ECB’s President Christine Lagarde, ECB Supervisory Board Chair, Andrea Enria, and the Chairperson of the Single Resolution Board, Elke König. Issues likely to be raised include the risk of mass insolvencies once capital for pandemic support has been withdrawn. MEPs will also assess the credit risk in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, overall bankng resilience, plus a review of the crisis management and deposit insurance framework.