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: 237

Erasmus for all programme


The new Erasmus+ programme builds upon earlier European Union initiatives promoting exchanges and the development of Europe-wide education and training systems, and youth work. New initiatives include a separate programme for sport and a student loan guarantee facility for those studying for a master’s degree.

Erasmus has grown into one of the EU’s most successful and most well-known initiatives. The overall programme budget is an increase on the current level of EU support for programmes in these areas and is a positive outcome in difficult economic circumstances. Applicants are provided with sufficient detail to make clear which activities are eligible for support and over 4 million people will now have the opportunity to benefit from the EU grants over the next 7 years.

Creative Europe programme


The new Creative Europe programme will bring together the current MEDIA, MEDIA Mundus and Culture programmes whilst maintaining their specific characteristics and identities. It will therefore strengthen EU support for the cultural and creative sectors.  The overall agreement is a good compromise and makes clear and significant improvements on the Commission’s original proposal. However, the greatest concern for the Group is the low level of financial support for the cultural and creative sectors more generally.

Common provisions on European funds


The common provisions regulation (CPR) is a horizontal regulation covering all the European structural and investment funds. The CPR negotiations included numerous crucial issues on which the European Parliament and the S&D Group expressed their determination to regulate more efficiently and effectively.

This regulation encompasses a whole raft of major issues, including a new partnership principle with an enhanced role for local and regional authorities; a European code of conduct; a clear structure for partnership agreements; the possibility for multi-fund/multi-region operational programmes; a reduction of administrative burdens; a common strategic framework establishing an integrated approach; a guide for beneficiaries; increased responsibilities for sound use of funding by  member states; more targeted technical assistance; an agreement on the effective role of innovative financial instruments that can be objectively assessed; a results-oriented use of funds to ensure that investments are effective and have an added value; a regulatory provision for payments to beneficiaries, monitoring procedures and implementation reports; and the promotion of social inclusion and youth employment measures.

Trans-European transport network


On 29 May 2013, an agreement was reached between Parliament and the Irish Presidency on the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) guidelines. Europe needs to build the missing links and remove bottlenecks in our transport infrastructure, as well as ensuring the sustainability of the system. The newly agreed EU infrastructure policy aims at creating a real network and no longer focuses on isolated projects.
A core transport network is to be established by 2030, which will become the backbone for transportation within the single market. A comprehensive network of routes, to be completed by 2050, will feed into the core network at regional and national levels. The new policy focuses on the most critical elements: cross-border projects, interoperability and inter-modality between different means of transport. It also sets standards and technical requirements for each mode of transport which will create a safer, smoother network.

Europe for citizens programme


The aim of this programme is to bring Europe closer to its citizens and to enable them to participate fully in the European project. The programme gives citizens the opportunity to get involved in transnational exchanges and co-operation and develop a sense of belonging through discussing common European ideals and it encourages the process of European integration. However, the S&D Group is disappointed that MEPs - directly elected by European citizens - could not participate fully in the creation of a citizens' programme for the next 7 years and that it has received such a low budget, especially as 2013 is the European Year of Citizens.

Connecting Europe facility


The Connecting Europe facility aims to promote investment for transport, energy and telecommunications from 2014 to 2020, by using funds from the EU budget to help promote selected projects of European interest. However the initial €50 billion budget proposed was reduced to €29 billion at the February 2013 European Council.
A first reading agreement between the Parliament and the Council includes transport financing focused on the core transport network, particularly on cross-border missing links, removing bottlenecks, ensuring interoperability and making the network smarter. In terms of energy, priorities will include ending energy isolation and ensuring that most of the energy budget goes to electricity infrastructure projects. The priorities for telecoms are to be decided in the specific telecoms regulation, given that the massive budget cut from €9 to €1 billion requires a new proposal from the Commission.

The annual report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy

20-24 October 2013 (Strasbourg)

The annual report takes stock of EU external action in different thematic and geographic areas, and outlines the Parliament's position on key foreign policy issues facing the EU. The S&D Group has consistently supported a comprehensive approach to EU foreign policy for the benefit of all EU citizens, anchored in core European values and in constructive co-operation with our strategic partners. Given the uncertain and changing international landscape, the EU needs a foreign policy that is both internally cohesive and strategically coherent. Only by making full use of the institutional tools made available by the Lisbon Treaty – above all the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the post of high representative for foreign affairs and security policy – to fulfil its responsibilities and role as a global actor effectively.

Migratory flows in the Mediterranean, with particular attention to the tragic events of Lampedusa

20-24 October 2013 (Strasbourg)

The recent tragedies off Lampedusa and Malta are unfortunately nothing new. According to the International Organisation for Migration, at least 20,000 people have died at sea since 1993. The latest events must be a turning point for Europe to prevent further tragedies and adopt a co-ordinated approach based on solidarity and responsibility.

Specifically, this must be in the form of:

1) full compliance with international sea-rescue obligations and swift agreement on new interception rules for Frontex-co-ordinated operations;
2) promotion of existing and new legal channels for migration;
3) effective access to asylum procedures;
4) increased co-operation with third countries under clear and pre-defined terms which respect their fundamental rights obligations;
5) reinforced solidarity within the EU to reduce the pressure on the member states most affected.

Short-term solutions are necessary in times of crisis, but until the EU and the member states adopt a comprehensive approach to interlinked migration issues, a growing number of people will resort to smugglers or criminal networks and risk their lives on increasingly dangerous routes. It's about time that everyone shoulders their responsibilities and seeks a comprehensive EU migration policy, to avoid future tragedies such as those we have witnessed in the last few weeks.

European Semester for economic policy

20-24 October 2013 (Strasbourg)

This report is the European Parliament's assessment of the second stage of the 2013 semester cycle on economic co-ordination: the country-specific recommendations (CSR) from the Commission and the Council for 2013. It stresses that there is a need to improve economic co-ordination within the semester cycle; that slowing down fiscal consolidation has yielded good results; and that all member states (not only those with a deficit, but also those with a surplus) have a role to play in correcting the imbalances within the eurozone. The report now stresses the asymmetric impact of common policies and asks for the prudent interpretation of the recent 'slow recovery' in order to avoid past mistakes. It demands a better focus on the EU 2020 strategy and social inclusion in the country-specific recommendations and demands greater investment in job creation.

EU trade policy towards countries of the Eastern Partnership ahead of the Vilnius Summit

20-24 October 2013 (Strasbourg)

The upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 28 and 29 November could be the starting point for a new trade arrangement between the EU and the countries of the Eastern Partnership - namely Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. Aside from the initialling of Association Agreements, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA), with Georgia and Moldova, the signing of an Association Agreement, including an DCFTA, with Ukraine will take place.

The signing will depend on whether Ukraine can demonstrate determined action and tangible progress on the benchmarks set out by the December 2012 Council conclusions, which address inter alia the need for reform of the justice system. The signing of such an agreement would be a positive signal for increased economic and trade relations between the EU and Ukraine, but also for increased cooperation in good governance.