Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Parliament is set to meet, debate and vote this week on a range of issues, not least the long-awaited action on a future EU funding package and budget as well as clean water, COVID-19 measures, sanctions and the rule of law.
As the end of the year nears, the European Parliament is finally ready to vote on the future EU funding package and budget for 2021.
It follows after the EU summit’s achievement on the long-term budget and recovery package last week. The debate will ensue Monday with votes cast on Wednesday.
Parliament will discuss the outcome of the latest Council meeting, where EU leaders have tackled disagreements on the EU budget, COVID-19 coordination, and emissions targets.
MEPs are also set to discuss and vote on measures to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to deal with the economic crisis on Monday.
One day before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic, the European Commission announced the SME strategy, to which the Parliament will make updated proposals, taking into consideration the dents caused by the public health crisis.
On Tuesday, the Parliament will hold a final vote on measures to ensure high quality of tap water for human consumption and to cut plastic litter. The MEPs’ appeal is twofold: they want EU citizens to have clean and safe tap water and stop buying water in plastic bottles.
Led by MEP Michel Dantin (EPP), the vote on the 1998 drinking water directive will be on Thursday, when MEPs are expected to call on Member States to comply with existing EU water legislation, particularly on reduced use of fertilisers and pesticides.
The Parliament is calling for such goals to be included and implemented in the national Strategic Plans under the EU’s farm policy.
Additional action regarding chemicals and pollutants, water pricing policies, hydropower and urban wastewater treatment also needs proper action and monitoring, said MEPs.
Also on Tuesday, MEPs are expected to approve a 47.5-billion-euro package — REACT-EU — to mitigate the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis across EU regions, supporting jobs and struggling sectors.
On Wednesday, MEPs will debate an EU strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations that addresses challenges inside and outside the EU with Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
Moving along, the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought will be awarded in a Parliament’s ceremony, on Wednesday, to the democratic opposition in Belarus. The Sakharov Prize will be awarded “for the peaceful protests against the fraudulent re-election” of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Trade and sanctions
Wednesday will also see MEPs debate and vote on the trade-related extra-territorial effects of third countries’ sanctions. Essentially, the Parliament will consider how the EU can protect its own trade interests when laws of third countries negatively affect EU traders.
On Thursday, MEPs will vote on the EU adaptation strategy, which seeks to pave the way to building climate-resilient societies. Parliament is expected to quiz the Commission on lessons learnt from the current strategy.
As part of the European Green Deal, a new adaptation strategy is expected from the EU executive in 2021.
Rule of law
Closing the Parliamentary agenda, a discussion on affairs related to the overall rule of law will take place, on Thursday, when MEPs will debate the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) cooperation with the upcoming European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and the effectiveness of its investigations.
MEPs will also exchange views on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
A presentation of the Court of Auditors annual report 2019 is also expected for Thursday.