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 agricultural fund for rural development

20/11/2013

After the political agreement reached under the Irish Presidency on 26 June 2013, the European Parliament negotiating team managed to reopen the negotiations with the Lithuanian Presidency to discuss outstanding issues related to the European Council decision of 8 February 2013. 

During these negotiations, the S&D Group managed to include various important ‘red lines’. The Council finally accepted the European Parliament's principle that environmental measures can only qualify for support via rural development and direct payment measures if they are not already receiving funding from other measures. Important concessions on the annual breakdown of the rural development resources and national distribution, and on co-financing rates were achieved. A 30% minimum mandatory funding rate for agri-environmental related measures was agreed. Agreement was also reached to postpone a new definition of less-favoured areas, based on biophysical criteria, till 2018 and risk management measures will be financed through o-financing by member states on a voluntary basis.

Common organisation of the markets in agricultural products

20/11/2013

On the outcome of the negotiations on this report following political key points need to be highlighted:

  • The Council and the European Parliament agreed on a joint statement on Article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
  • Sugar sector: the quota system will end on 30 September 2017.
  • Wine sector: a new system on wine-planting rights will apply between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2030.
  • Milk sector: the Council refused new measures aimed at addressing severe imbalances in the market for milk and milk products in view of the future abolition of milk quotas, but it accepted a recital emphasising the powers of the Commission to adopt measures in case of market imbalances.
  • Export refunds: exports refunds can only be used in times of crisis and their budget line should be set at zero.

European Social Fund

19/11/2013

The European Social Fund is the EU’s principal instrument for promoting employment and social inclusion, focusing particularly on the most vulnerable. It is based on four main thematic objectives:

(1) promoting employment and labour mobility;
(2) investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and life-long learning;
(3) promoting social inclusion and combating poverty and discrimination; and
(4) enhancing the institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders, and efficient public administration.

The agreement reached with the Council includes the S&D Group’s main points and is very satisfactory. The main achievements of the agreement include an increased ESF budget (minimum 20%) for the fight against poverty and social exclusion; positive criteria for the youth employment initiative, with specific reference to implementing the youth guarantee; more indicators to measure the impact of projects on social inclusion; inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees; five investment priorities instead of four; and clear reference to the involvement of social partners and non-governmental organisations at all levels.

Erasmus for all programme

19/11/2013

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

19/11/2013

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

19/11/2013

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

18/11/2013

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

18/11/2013

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

18/11/2013

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)
23/10/2013

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.