Brussels (Brussels Morning) As business gets up to speed in Brussels, this week the European Parliament’s agenda features the situation in Afghanistan, with the spotlight on women’s rights in the country, a debate on EU digital rules and the Pegasus Project revelations. The State of the EU (SOTEU) speech will be discussed by the Parliament’s political groups and a vote on the Farm to Fork strategy is also expected.
Women’s rights in Afghanistan
On Monday, MEPs from the Women’s Rights Committee and Human Rights Subcommittee discuss the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, in light of the Taliban’s takeover. Last Saturday, during a women’s rights march, the Taliban arrested four men who hit protesters and held journalists at gunpoint to break up the march, according to spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Joining the Parliament’s meeting are Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission Chairperson Shaharzad Akbar, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Vice President Guissou Jahangiri and Sahraa Karimi, Afghan film director and president of the Afghan Film Organisation.
EU digital rules
On Monday, the Parliament’s special Committee on Foreign Interference and Disinformation (INGE) will debate the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Services Act, and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy with Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s Vice-President.
MEPs are likely to quiz the Commissioner on the quasi-monopoly of a few companies in the digital market, how AI can be used to counter disinformation, and on how to protect personal data from abuse by internet companies.
Pegasus Project revelations
On Thursday, the INGE Committee will debate the most recently-discovered cases of spying on European politicians and institutions, including Operation Dunhammer, Pegasus and APT 31.
In particular, data analysis from the Pegasus project suggests that the United Arab Emirates government has used the Israeli NSO group spyware to monitor a huge number of people, from Emirati and foreign officials, journalists, religious figures, academics and many others.
The debate will feature Forbidden Stories’ Executive Director Laurent Richard and Editor-in-Chief Sandrine Rigaud. From the academia side, Professor Robert Dover from the University of Hull, and Professor Margerita Robles Carrillo, from the University of Granada will join the debate.
Conference of Presidents/SOTEU
On Thursday, the Parliament’s President David Sassoli, together with political group leaders, will hold a debate with the Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen ahead of her State of the EU speech, taking place in Strasbourg, next week.
Farm to Fork
On Friday, the Environment, Public Health & Food Safety and Agriculture Committees will vote on their position on the Commission-proposed Farm to Fork strategy, which aims to revamp the EU food system, making it even healthier and environmentally friendly.
MEPs are expected to put forward several proposals on the strategy and to call for a strengthening of the position of primary producers in the food supply chain.