Parliaments

Week ahead in the European Parliament

UKIP MEP Raymond Finch puts Union Jack flags on desks in the European Parliament Image copyright AFP/GETTY

MEPs return to Strasbourg this week still pondering the potential fallout from last month's dramatic Brexit vote in the UK.

An emergency meeting in Brussels last week was marked by bitter exchanges as MEPs clashed with UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Like leading figures in the EU institutions, they made clear that they want the UK to begin formal exit talks as soon as possible.

But leading contenders to replace Prime Minister David Cameron have yet to indicate they are in any rush to do so.

Much is yet to be worked out over how the exit negotiations will take place and how future trade relations will be determined.

Although leaders have been quick to draw what look like red lines, it remains to be seen if they have been written in indelible ink.

Here are the main points of business in the week ahead...

Monday

The sitting kicks off with a debate on new EU emissions limits for lawn mowers, bulldozers, construction machinery, generators and canal boats.

MEPs have reached a provisional deal on the legislation, which will be put to final vote on Tuesday.

After this, they will discuss a non-binding motion which says that both qualified refugees and asylum seekers should have the right to find paid work.

The draft text, also to be put to a final vote on Tuesday, also calls on member states to offer asylum seekers language courses to help their social integration.

Image caption The Commission has said the previous EU labelling scheme is now too complicated

They will also debate their initial position on a proposed update to EU rules for labelling the energy efficiency of household appliances.

The EU Commission has proposed an A-G scale should be used for all appliances, replacing the current A+, A++, A+++ designations for some products.

In the evening, they will also debate non-binding "own initiative" motions about the EU's trade strategy, tax avoidance rules and human rights priorities.

They will also debate a motion which calls on EU countries to train staff at migrant reception centres to help them identify children at risk of being trafficked.

Tuesday

An early start will see Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte join MEPs to review his country's time in charge of the EU presidency, which officially ended last week.

The Dutch presidency has coincided with one of the most tumultuous periods in the EU's history, ending with the UK's vote to leave the EU last month.

After this, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk will join MEPs to discuss last week's EU leaders' summit.

The meeting saw EU leaders agree that "no negotiations of any kind" should begin with the UK until it activates formal exit talks using Article 50 of the EU's treaties.

MEPs want David Cameron's successor to trigger Article 50 as soon as possible - but leading contenders to replace him, such as Theresa May and Michael Gove, have indicated they want to wait until the end of the year.

In the afternoon, they will debate their initial position on a mid-term review due later this year on the EU's current long-term budget, which runs from 2014 to 2020.

Their non-binding motion - which calls for a permanent EU crisis reserve to be set up within the budget - will be put to a vote on Wednesday.

Also to be debated during the afternoon is an advisory report from Parliament's special tax investigation committee which sets out a number of recommendations for reforming corporate taxation.

The committee was set up in February to continue the work of a previous inquiry committee established after the Luxleaks revelations about favourable corporate tax deals in Luxembourg.

The afternoon's big debate will be on legislation to set up the EU's proposed Border and Coast Guard force, proposed last year as part of a drive to improve management of the external borders of the Schengen area.

MEPs struck a provisional deal on the new force with national ministers at the end of last month, which will also be put to a vote on Wednesday.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Greece has struggled with the number of migrants arriving at its shores

The evening will also see a debate on the EU's first-ever directive on cybersecurity - a deal on that will also be put to a vote at the same time.

Under the new legislation, companies designated as providing critical services will have to report serious security breaches to national authorities.

It would fall to national authorities to determine which firms fall into this category, and to draw up "national strategies" for dealing with cybersecurity threats.

Wednesday

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico will be in town to start the day with a debate on his country's plans for its EU presidency, which gets underway this month.

Mr Fico last week admitted that Brexit negotiations were now likely to exert "considerable influence" over his country's planned agenda for the next six months.

After this, MEPs will debate what they would like to see in the Commission's legislative programme for next year.

During the lunchtime voting session, they will pass a non-binding motion setting out their wish-list, before the Commission unveils its new agenda in the autumn.

After lunch, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini is due to join them to debate her plans to update the EU's common defence and security policies.

The long-awaited document called for "strategic convergence" between the defence policies of EU states, as well as co-operation on defence research.

MEPs will also debate relations with China, the bloc's annual report on respect for human rights and EU priorities at this September's UN General Assembly.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Transparency campaigners protested outside the trails in Luxembourg

In the evening they will also discuss protection for whistle-blowers following the conviction of two men last week for their involvement in the Luxleaks scandal.

The two former PwC employees received 12 and nine-month sentences respectively for leaking documents exposing favourable tax arrangements offered by Luxembourg to some of the world's biggest companies.

MEPs have previously called for changes to EU rights law to protect whistle-blowers who leak information deemed to be in the public interest.

Thursday

The session begins with debate on a motion calling on all EU institutions to "implement fully" the recommendations of an UN disability rights committee.

Among the committee's recommendations was a call for the EU to ratify the optional protocol to the UN's Disabilities Convention.

After this, they will then debate and vote on this month's human rights motions, which focus on Malawi, Bahrain and Myanmar.

Also up for a vote is a motion to veto Commission rules which would allow drinks companies to advertise that their caffeinated drinks increase alertness.

The text says energy drinks have been linked to behavioural problems in children - and calls on the Commission to introduce stricter marketing rules.

In the afternoon, they will debate regulatory discrimination against food suppliers in the single market and legal protection for EU data transfers to China.

The session will end with a debate on how the EU Commission enforces the application of national minimum wage legislation.

It comes after the Commission decided last week to launch legal action against France and Germany for requiring foreign transport drivers to be paid the French or German minimum wage.

Please note: This agenda is subject to modification at the opening of the session on Monday afternoon.

A guide to how the European Parliament's plenary sessions can be found here.

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