Brussels (Brussels Morning) This week, the European Parliament gathers in committee meetings, in discussions about the misuse of EU agriculture funds in Slovakia, asylum and migration and the financial impact of organised crime. MEPs will also debate legal migration, EU digital rules and EU-level cybersecurity developments.
Misuse of EU agriculture funds in Slovakia
On Monday, members of the Budget Control Committee discuss the follow-up to the investigation of possible misuse of EU agriculture funds in Slovakia, when they meet with Slovakia’s Agriculture Minister Samuel Vlčan, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the European Commission.
An OLAF investigation uncovered several weaknesses in the control and management system for direct payments in Slovakia. OLAF found the controls to be very limited when it came to determining the legality of the disposal of land by an applicant. Minister Vlčan, a former banker, worked briefly as a state secretary at the ministry last year, later becoming the PM’s adviser.
Asylum and Migration
On Tuesday, the Civil Liberties Committee opens discussions about the reform of the EU asylum system with a presentation and debate on proposed amendments dealing with asylum and migration management and asylum procedures. The discussion revolves around the role of the new European Union Agency of Asylum (EUAA), the result of a transformation of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). According to the Commission, the new agency is intended to make a “tangible difference to asylum procedures” by improving protection for migrants and facilitating bridges between EU countries.
Also on Tuesday, the Budget Control Committee is set to adopt a report on the impact of organised crime on the EU’s own resources, the main sources of revenue for the EU budget, and on the misuse of funds. Estimates reveal that organised crime affects between 2.7% and 3.6% of total EU public procurement spending, while, according to Europol, 40 to 60 billion euro is lost each year through VAT fraud.
On Wednesday, the Civil Liberties Committee will vote on a series of proposals for new legislation in the field of legal migration. Draft recommendations include setting up an admissions scheme enabling low-and medium-skilled workers from non-EU countries to enter and live in the EU, and an EU talent pool to allow third-country nationals to apply for work and employers to search for potential employees.
EU digital rules
On Wednesday, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee will further discuss the future of internet regulation, in particular how the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) proposals should be amended and improved. Since the last debate on digital rules, a total of 2,297 amendments have been tabled in the committee to the DSA proposal and 1199 amendments to the DMA proposal.
On Thursday, proposals to revise existing cybersecurity rules and strengthen EU security provisions will be voted on by the Industry and Energy Committee. The updated law would introduce more stringent supervisory measures and stricter enforcement requirements, including harmonised sanctions regimes across EU countries. It also includes proposals for national and EU levels to cooperate with each other on cyber crisis management.
European Gender Equality Week
This week, from 25 to 28 October, the Parliament will hold the second European Gender Equality Week, featuring a series of public hearings organised by several committees on topics related to gender equality. On Thursday, the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee is to adopt recommendations to achieve women’s equal access to work, including measures to close the gender pay gap and to increase maternity and paternity leave.