Brussels (Brussels Morning) This week, the European Parliament convenes in Strasbourg, where plenary sessions will feature debates and votes on expanded measures to guarantee road safety, future relations between the EU and the US, plus relations with Belarus. Parliamentarians will also discuss increased action on cybersecurity, the spike in energy prices and, amidst ongoing rule of law concerns, the implications for Hungarian and Polish recovery plans.
On Monday, MEPs will discuss how to achieve the goal of zero deaths on EU roads by 2050. Parliament is set to call for more investment in safer roads, a speed limit of 30km/h in residential areas and on roads heavily used by cyclists and pedestrians, as well as demanding a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving. The voting outcome will be announced on Tuesday.
Future of EU-US relations
On Tuesday morning, Parliament will debate and vote on the state of the transatlantic partnership, the need for more EU autonomy and how to cooperate with the Biden administration. The debate follows a recent trade and technology agreement between the EU and the US, designed to foster collaboration on artificial intelligence, the production of semiconductors and the removal of unnecessary barriers to trade. The draft text to be voted on also calls for a coordinated position vis-à-vis Russia and China.
EU relations with Belarus
Also on Tuesday, MEPs will debate and review with EU Foreign Policy Chief Borrell and Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, the situation in Belarus, more than a year after the discredited presidential elections and the ensuing brutal crackdown on protests, including the bogus forced landing of a Ryanair plane in order to arrest a dissident journalist.
They are also likely to bring up the humanitarian crisis at the EU-Belarus border, where Belarusian authorities have directed substantial numbers of migrants towards Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The Vote and conclusions are scheduled for Thursday.
EU cyber defence
On Tuesday, MEPs will discuss the EU’s cybersecurity defence policy and how to make its military and civilian strands more resilient. The draft text calls for more cooperation on cyber defensive capabilities, operations and joint responses to cyberattacks. MEPs will cast their vote on Wednesday, with the results announced next day.
Rising energy costs
On Wednesday morning, MEPs will discuss the rise in energy costs with both the Council and the European Commission. As energy prices surge, MEPs have been expressing concerns about the consequences for businesses and consumers. The Parliament will look for possible European solutions to stem the crisis that is attributed to high demand and low stocks in member states.
The role of energy efficiency and renewable energy and the importance of tackling energy poverty are expected to be key elements of the discussion.
Hungarian and Polish recovery plans
After months of stalled discussions over the recovery plans for Hungary and Poland, the Parliament is to address how the issue can best be moved forward with Commissioners Dombrovskis and Gentiloni on Wednesday. According to EU officials, the Commission may approve Hungary and Poland’s recovery plans in November, subject to specific conditions linked to respect for the rule of law.