Plenary topics

Strasbourg Plenary Session

The Parliament meets regularly to vote and debate at its plenary session, in Brussels or Strasbourg. Ahead of each plenary session, the S&D Group announces its priorities and its objectives for the main debates, reports and resolutions.

The S&D Group holds a press conference at 10:10-10:30 CET on Tuesdays during Strasbourg plenary weeks, in room LOW N-1/201. You can also watch it live via our homepage.

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Result: 240

European Semester for economic policy co-ordination: employment and social aspects

26/02/2014

The Annual Growth Survey launched the European Semester by setting out the broad EU economic priorities for the year to come. It is the first step in the annual cycle. The draft Joint Employment Report attached to the Annual Growth Survey assesses the social and employment situation in the EU. This year, for the first time, the Joint Employment Report includes a scoreboard allowing for identification of major employment and social problems.
It is important to strengthen the position of the Parliament in the overall European Semester process in order to emphasise the need to tackle the social consequences of the economic crisis and to provide sustainable and inclusive growth solutions, promoting quality employment and raising social standards. Promoting quality employment and strengthening social consolidation should be the EU’s priority, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy.

European Semester for economic policy co-ordination: annual growth survey 2014

26/02/2014

The report calls for a change in economic strategy to ensure that the focus is not only on fiscal consolidation but also on growth and employment friendly policies. The report calls for the creation of a European funding mechanism that will serve as an incentive for more convergence in the EU, to repair the damage caused by the austerity policies of the past few years.

The Commission finally accepts that growth and jobs should be at the heart of economic policy - rather than a narrow focus on fiscal discipline. It has also recognised that all EU countries have to engage in managing the crisis, not just countries in financial difficulty. Economic growth has not recovered and Europe is in danger of stagnation and deflation, as  outlined in  the recent independent Annual Growth Survey 2014.

Single European railway area

25/02/2014

This proposition, as adopted in committee, sets out the rules for the opening of the market for passenger rail transport services. It preserves the integrated structures and makes it compatible with an open market with several players operating on the network. Access to the market can be limited if the viability of services performed under a public service contract is compromised and so countries shall remain free to choose the how their network is organised and to revert to a more integrated model at any time. The compromise text prioritises the separation of financial flows: revenue from the infrastructure manager should be reinvested into the sector while loans between entities of a holding structure should be under the supervision of the regulatory body. Despite strict separation of accounts it is still possible to co-operate with other entities of the holding, as long as the co-operation is covered by a contract under existing market conditions.

The rapporteur intends to table some amendments in plenary to ensure improved co-operation between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings in the context of integrated structures, provided that strict conditions on non-discrimination and transparency apply, as in the case of separated structures.

Fund for European aid to the most deprived

25/02/2014

The S&D Group took the lead regarding the establishment of the new Fund for European aid to the most deprived (FEAD), a new tool to alleviate the most severe forms of poverty, namely food and material deprivation in all EU countries. The S&D Group ensured that the Fund's budget was increased and can only be used to support the most deprived. Furthermore key stakeholders such as food banks, charities and civil society must be consulted and involved in the design, operation and monitoring of national schemes which implement the programme.

FEAD is a sign of European solidarity with those hit hardest by the crisis, even though the increased budget is still far from being enough. In 2010 nearly one quarter of Europeans (120 million people) were at risk of poverty and social exclusion.  The budget is reserved for the aid to the most deprived and should not be used for other cohesion fund activities. FEAD is only a complement to national policies; the responsibility and obligation to combat and eliminate poverty remains with member states.

Deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system

25/02/2014

On 13 June 2013, the European Commission adopted two proposals to ensure that, by October 2015, all new cars will be equipped with an eCall system which will automatically call emergency services (by dialling 112 - Europe's single emergency number) in the event  of a serious accident. Even if passengers are unable to speak, eCall creates a voice link to the closest Public Safety Answering Point and sends an emergency message. The system allows emergency calls to be made without language difficulties and may significantly contribute to reducing the number of road deaths and injuries in Europe by cutting emergency-service response times. The quicker response could save around 2500 lives a year and the severity of injuries should be considerably reduced in many cases. The eCall system not only improves incident management but reduces traffic congestion resulting from accidents and the possibility of secondary accidents. Private in-vehicle emergency call services do already exist and account for  0.7 % of all vehicles in EU, but none offers full EU-wide coverage.

European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps - EU aid volunteers

24/02/2014

On 19 September 2012, the Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation establishing, for the first time, the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps. Its objective is to express the EU's humanitarian values and solidarity with people in need, through the promotion of an effective and visible EU Aid Corps, which strengthens the EU's capacity to respond to humanitarian crises and to build the capacity and resilience of vulnerable or disaster-affected communities beyond the EU. The Commission’s approach is to make it complementary to existing structures and organisations and avoid duplication of effort. The actions of the Corps are to be guided by humanitarian principles (the European Humanitarian Aid Consensus), although some humanitarian partners have expressed doubts about the initiative, specifically about the genuine added value and financing.

In preparing the report, lessons have been learned from the various pilot projects carried out in the past or still under way which are linked to the proposal. Therefore, EU aid volunteers will be only be deployed in humanitarian aid operations in third countries  in response to man-made crises or natural disasters and never in cases of armed conflicts or internal disturbances. A forum for consultation, bringing together representatives of the Commission, EU countries and the sending/hosting organisations, should be established when the programme is launched.

European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation and Training (Europol)

24/02/2014

The main purpose of this regulation is to establish the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation and Training (Europol),repealing Decision 2009/371/JHA, and aligning it  with the Lisbon treaty by increasing its accountability. The proposal also aims to strengthen democratic governance and parliamentary scrutiny of Europol at both European and national level. The European Parliament and national parliaments will receive annual activity reports and final accounts each year, and receive information such as annual and multiannual work programmes, threat assessments, strategic analyses and general situation reports.

The proposal strengthens and clarifies the data-protection regime including giving the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) overall supervision of Europol's processing of personal data, enhancing access rights to personal data, further specifying the uses of personal data and introducing the necessary safeguards.

Conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training, voluntary service and au pairing

24/02/2014

This report relates to a Commission proposal for a directive covering conditions of entry and residence for third-country national researchers, students, school pupils, trainees, volunteers and au pairs. It forms part of an EU package of legal migration instruments  including the Directive on Seasonal Workers (recently adopted in plenary) and the Directive on Intra-corporate Transferees, in order to develop a rational and positive approach to migration generally. The report enhances the Commission’s proposal on making the EU a more attractive destination for migrants from third countries.

In the absence of a mandate for the Council to negotiate on this proposal, the civil liberties committee proposes that the Parliament clearly establishes its position by adopting this at first reading before the European elections.

Community trade mark

24/02/2014

The trademark reform comes at a moment when EU customs authorities are reporting massive breaches of intellectual property rules, in particular concerning counterfeit goods, and new border-infiltration strategies.  Firm EU action to protect EU citizens from the danger of counterfeit goods is needed. A trademark (or a 'brand') is a 10-year (renewable) intellectual property tool that guarantees the origin of goods and services, thereby limiting risks to consumers' safety and health.

There is a broad consensus amongst political groups on the content of the package. The main elements relate to goods in transit,small consignments, generic medicines, mediation , trademark owners' rights, the genuine use of trademarks and entitlement of individuals to file a case where rules are breached.

2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger cars

24/02/2014

EU legislation, adopted in 2009, set mandatory emission reduction targets for new cars. Its aim is to reduce emissions from new passenger cars to an average of 130 grams of CO2 between 2012 and 2015 and to 95g/km by 2020. The current Commission proposal defines the modalities for reaching the 2020 target reduction in CO2 emissions from new passenger cars.

Reducing CO2 emissions from cars is beneficial for both consumers and the environment. It reduces fuel consumption while maintaining the competitive advantage of the European automotive industry on the global market.