Written by Clare Ferguson
Members of the European Parliament will gather in Strasbourg from 23 to 26 November 2015 for the penultimate full plenary session of the year, against the sombre background of the security situation and the ongoing crises affecting Europe, Europeans, and those fleeing to European territories. The key debate, scheduled for Wednesday morning, will begin with Council and Commission statements on the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
In the wake of the recent events, foreign policy is one route through which EU leaders are trying to tackle the problems caused in part by the escalating violence in the Middle East. On Monday, Members will discuss the EU’s role within the UN, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of EU foreign policy goals. The EU’s participation rights at the UN are currently limited by its status as an observer, rather than a full member. However, considering the EU’s increasingly active participation in pursuing UN goals, in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, as well as against ISIL/Da’esh terrorists, an EU seat on an enlarged Security Council (UNSC) remains a long-term goal.
The outcomes of two major high-level meetings: the EU-Africa Summit on migration in Valletta and the G20 Summit in Antalya, have considerably advanced the debate on migration and security. Members are scheduled to hear statements on the conclusions reached at the meetings from the Council and the Commission on Wednesday.
Earlier that day, Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic will address the plenary. However, migration and security issues remain the leitmotif of the week: on 24 November, the plenary will vote on a non-binding resolution on preventing radicalisation in the EU. Given the now pressing need to deal with what Rachida Dati (EPP, France) has referred to as ‘hotbeds’ of free-roaming European extremists – and the role of the internet in facilitating hate speech in particular – the focus of pan-European law enforcement and judicial cooperation will be on prevention as well as cure.
Combatting radicalisation [Plenary podcast]
The recent G20 Summit also addressed economic matters, in particular boosting growth, investment and employment, and economic issues are the focus in Plenary on Tuesday afternoon. Members are due to adopt the EU’s budget for 2016, based on a joint text agreed with the Council on 14 November. The plenary will also discuss the report of the Special Committee on Tax, on tackling aggressive tax planning by corporations, and a Commission statement on the gender pension gap later in the day (and for those not yet ready to retire, the EU’s strategic framework on health and safety at work will also be discussed). MEPs then turn their attention to citizens’ finances, to vote on a compromise text on the revised Insurance Distribution Directive, which aims to harmonise the insurance market to boost both consumer choice and consumer protection. To end the week, the Court of Auditors’ annual report, which signs off the EU budget for 2014, is scheduled for debate on Thursday.
As this is the last full session before the COP21 conference on climate change, Tuesday morning kicks off with the presentation of the State of the Energy Union by the Commission’s Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič. While climate action, energy security are key areas for action, we might also expect transport CO2 emissions to figure during the debate.
Finally, MEPs will award the 2015 LUX Prize for film. This year’s finalists, Mediterranea, Mustang and The Lesson, are in contention for access to financial assistance with subtitling and distribution, an area where European films struggle to compete with well-heeled US networks. Did you catch one of the films, already shown in 40 cities and at 18 festivals? Which film did you vote for in the ‘audience mention‘ category?
European Cinema and the Lux Prize [Plenary podcast]
Source Article from http://epthinktank.eu/2015/11/20/a-sombre-plenary-session/