Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) This week, the European Parliament convenes in plenary and parliamentary committees to discuss the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, artificial intelligence (AI), the recent EU summit in Versailles and this week’s upcoming summit. MEPs will also review roaming charges, energy independence, food security, as well as attending the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Ukraine Solidarity Days
From Monday to Thursday, Parliament is holding “Ukraine Solidarity Days” to show its support for Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, the country’s unicameral parliament. Scheduled events include discussions with the Verkhovna Rada Speaker, Ruslan Stefanchuk, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, and the 2017 Sakharov Prize Laureate, Lorent Saleh.
On Tuesday, Parliament’s Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age winds up 18 months of hearings and discussion to vote on its final recommendations for establishing a 2030 AI Roadmap. Committee sessions and multiple workshops during this time amassed a range of expertise and insights into AI and its applications. These expert consultations helped identify the kind of provisions required to protect the democratic process from AI-driven manipulations.
On Wednesday, MEPs will assess the outcome of the 10-11 March informal Summit held in Versailles, where EU leaders determined additional measures in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, primarily aimed at bolstering defence capabilities and reducing energy dependencies.
MEPs are to outline their priorities concerns for this week’s 24-25 March spring Summit, where, again, the dominant theme will be war in Ukraine. US President Joe Biden is set to participate. The agenda will also feature COVID-19, economic recovery and the European Semester.
On Wednesday, Parliament will debate and vote on the deal reached with EU Council to renew the “Roam like at Home” scheme for a further ten years. This will ensure that consumers can continue using their mobile phones when travelling throughout the EU with no additional fees on top of what they pay at home. The scheme abolishing mobile roaming surcharges was due to expire on 30 June, 2022.
On Thursday, MEPs and the Council and the Commission will discuss the joint European action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy. On 8 March, the Commission presented its strategy designed to make Europe independent of Russian fossil fuels well before 2030, starting with gas. This also includes measures to tackle the surge in energy prices and to replenish gas stocks for next winter.
With the conflict in the East threatening global food supply, on Wednesday, MEPs will examine, along with the Council and the Commission, the impact of the war in Ukraine on food supply. Ukraine supplies almost half the EU’s cereal and vegetable oil needs, and more than a quarter of its poultry meat. Topping Ukraine’s global agri-food exports in 2020 were sunflower seeds, corn, wheat and meslin (a mixture of wheat and rye).
The EU is working on an an urgent EU Action Plan to ensure food security inside and outside the EU. A resolution will be put to the vote on Thursday.
Conference on the Future of Europe
On Friday and Saturday, the fifth Plenary of Conference on the Future of Europe meets in Strasbourg to start work on its final proposals. These will be based on recommendations from both national and European Citizens’ Panels, plus input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform and from debates and discussions in the Conference Plenary and Working Groups.