Parliaments

The week ahead in the European Parliament

Theresa May shakes hands with European Council President Donald Tusk Image copyright AFP

MEPs are back in Strasbourg again this week for their second plenary sitting this month.

On Tuesday, it will be their turn to chew over the outcome of last week's EU leaders' summit in Brussels.

Leaders declared "insufficient progress" has been made in Brexit talks so far to move discussions onto the issue of trade.

However they agreed to start preparing for talks with the UK, raising hopes that discussions on a future trade deal can start in December.

Interestingly, the yuletide month is also when the EU could formally open trade talks with two other English-speaking countries - Australia and New Zealand.

MEPs will vote later this week on what they want to see included in the EU's negotiating mandate for talks with the two countries.

On Wednesday the European Parliament will vote on legislation to set up a new border system for the passport-free Schengen zone.

The final day of the session, Thursday, will begin with a debate on a report from the legal affairs committee into how well member states implemented EU law in 2015.

Over 3,400 complaints reporting potential breaches of EU law were reported during the year - with Italy, Spain and Germany topping the list of offenders.

Monday

The day begins with a debate on new EU rules for selling fertilisers made from recycled products.

The new regime will see stricter limits on the amount of the chemical cadmium allowed in phosphate fertilisers.

MEPs will take an initial position on the new rules on Tuesday before talks with member states.

The internal market committee has proposed to further tighten the cadmium limits initially put forward by the European Commission.

After this they will discuss changes to the EU regime for monitoring new psychoactive substances - known as "legal highs" - entering the market.

The process for assessing new substances will be streamlined and the time needed for states to implement EU decisions will be halved.

MEPs have reached a final deal on the law, which faces a final vote on Tuesday.

The evening will see short presentations of three advisory committee reports.

The most noteworthy is one from the legal affairs committee which repeats the European Parliament's calls for greater protections for whistle-blowers.

Tuesday

The sitting will kick off with a debate on last week's EU leaders' summit.

European Council President Donald Tusk will join MEPs for the debate, which is likely to be dominated by the latest on Brexit talks and the situation in Catalonia.

Last week he ruled out EU action over the crisis in the Spanish region, where the central government has announced plans to curtail some of the freedoms of its parliament.

Image copyright Getty Images

At lunchtime MEPs will vote on a controversial motion calling on the EU Commission not to renew the licence of the weedkiller glyphosate.

The EU chemical and food safety regulators have concluded that a renewal of the market authorisation is safe, but some MEPs have questioned the evidence used.

Some MEPs have said documents released during a US trial involving American agrochemical firm Monsanto shed doubt on the credibility of studies sponsored by the company.

The MEPs' motion will not be binding on EU governments, who are due to vote on whether to re-license the chemical this week.

They will also vote on another advisory motion calling for the EU's long-term budget to be fixed at 1.23% of the bloc's gross national income instead of the current 1%.

The draft says the next budget should be increased due to current budgetary "shortcomings" and the impact of the UK leaving the EU.

In the afternoon EU Commission deputy chief Frans Timmermans will join MEPs to debate the body's legislative programme for next year.

After this MEPs will discuss next year's EU budget ahead of formal negotiations with the EU Commission and member states.

In a vote on Wednesday, they are likely to say that cuts suggested by national governments should be reversed.

Next they will discuss whether to sign off spending by the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council during the 2015 financial year.

The budgetary control committee has recommended, for the second time, that spending should not be signed off due to inadequate auditing information.

Their report calls for a detailed breakdown of costs incurred by the delayed completion of the new Europa building in Brussels.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Europa building - nicknamed the Space Egg - took over a decade to build

They will also discuss the safety of journalists following the death of an investigative reporter in Malta last week.

Maltese officials say they believe Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a bomb under her car that was triggered remotely.

In the wake of allegations against the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, they will also debate the issue of sexual harassment and abuse.

The issue is rather closer to home following a Sunday Times story detailing a number of allegations against MEPs themselves.

Wednesday

First up MEPs will debate plans for a new border regime for those entering and leaving the passport-free Schengen area.

From 2020, registration requirements will apply to non-EU nationals crossing the border of a Schengen country, irrespective of whether they need a visa.

Personal information will be registered in databases in order to replace the manual stamping of passports and make it easier to keep track of arrivals.

It is in some respects a pared-down version of a 2013 scheme that was abandoned after cost and privacy concerns.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The new scheme is aiming to reduce queues at Schengen borders

After this, they will debate plans to further reduce the existing legal exposure limits to workers for hardwood dust and vinyl chloride monomer, which is mainly used to produce PVC.

After the lunchtime voting, they will debate how to clamp down on people smuggling in the Mediterranean and euro area economic policy.

They will also discuss new rules governing the sale of "securitised" loans by banks and other financial institutions.

Under the new legislation, banks selling these repackaged loan bundles would have to keep a minimum 5% "risk retention" stake in them.

After this, they will discuss what should go into the EU's negotiating mandate for future trade talks with Australia and New Zealand.

There's also an oral question about the €16 surcharge introduced by Lufthansa Group for those booking its flights through third-party websites.

The group does not charge the fee on flights booked through its own website.

A group of MEPs has tabled an oral question stating that this practice undermines passengers' rights and makes price comparison harder.

Thursday

The final day of the session will begin with the debate on the report from the legal affairs committee report into EU law application in 2015.

Infringements were most likely to occur with transport, energy and environmental law.

They will then discuss how well member states have implemented EU rules designed to prevent damage to the environment by polluting firms.

The environmental liability directive defines what environmental damage companies should be liable for and how compensation is to be paid.

A report from the legal affairs committee says the law has only been implemented in a patchy way because "key concepts" have only been vaguely defined.

There will be no human rights motions at this week's sitting because they were voted on at the first plenary session earlier this month.

However at 11.00 BST European Parliament President Antonio Tajani will announce the winner of the assembly's Sakharov human rights prize for this year.

The contenders include imprisoned Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, Guatemalan rights activist Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic and the democratic opposition in Venezuela.

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

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

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