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

Suspension of the SWIFT agreement as a result of NSA surveillance

October (Strasbourg)
09/10/2013

There have been reports in several newspapers that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had access to SWIFT banking data outside the framework of the EU-US terrorist finance tracking programme (TFTP) agreement. The Commission and Council were called to respond to the allegations and explain what action they have taken. The debate will explore the issue of a possible breach of the agreement and its consequences.

Recognition of professional qualifications and administrative co-operation through the internal market information system

October (Strasbourg)
09/10/2013

This report deals with the revision of Directive 2005/36/EC and aims at simplifying and clarifying the recognition of professional qualifications throughout Europe. Professional mobility is fundamental to competitiveness and employment in Europe. Despite the fact that a European legal framework has existed since the 1970s, the level of professional mobility remains low, partly due to the lack of clear and simple rules. The Commission’s initial proposal was therefore identified as one of the 12 key instruments to stimulate growth and strengthen confidence amongst EU citizens.

The S&D rapporteur's key achievement is the introduction of the European professional card, which she has been calling for since 2007. This card is based on the internal market information system (IMI) and will take its place alongside the standard system. Furthermore, the procedures for recognition under the general system will be more effective and have been speeded up. Access to reliable and useful information for professionals has also been improved.

Follow-up to Parliament's resolution on 'alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA'

October (Strasbourg)
09/10/2013

This oral question is a follow-up from the own-initiative report on CIA renditions last year. This question relates to new information on the alleged rendition flights and deplores the inactivity of certain member states, the Commission and the Council.

It reiterates the policy recommendations and urges that they are followed fully and immediately. The question was passed in the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee with a large majority and we are now in the process of trying to draft a text for a joint motion with the main groups and hope for a positive result.

EU and member state measures to tackle the flow of refugees as a result of the conflict in Syria

October (Strasbourg)
09/10/2013

The crisis in Syria, which started in March 2011, continues to worsen daily and more than two million Syrians have fled and are now registered as refugees. Women and children make up 75% of the refugee population and a large number require medical attention. It is estimated that 760,000 refugees are in Lebanon, 525,000 are living in Jordan, 492,000 are in Turkey, 190,000 are now in Iraq and Egypt is hosting around 126,000 Syrians  The real figures are expected to be higher since many refugees are still awaiting registration. The situation places unprecedented strain on communities, infrastructure and services in host countries.

The European Commission and EU member states are providing funds to support the immediate needs of refugees and host communities, and the situation needs to be discussed in a comprehensive manner that encompasses the short, medium and long term. The debate and the resolution will focus on Europe's responsibility to keep on supporting Syrian refugees in the region neighbouring Syria, as well as proactively reinforcing the EU's protection response. As far as humanitarian assistance is concerned, the S&D Group is in favour of promoting continued funding and other types of assistance to Syria's neighbouring countries.

Manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products

October (Strasbourg)
08/10/2013

The current Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was adopted almost twelve years ago. It introduced a range of tobacco control measures including a ban on misleading terms such as 'mild' or 'light' and introduced minimum sizes for health warnings. It also provides for optional pictorial warnings. The current directive was the subject of legal challenges by tobacco companies, but the courts upheld its validity.

Twelve years later, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the EU and kills around 700,000 people each year. While tobacco control measures have reduced the number of smokers in the EU, prevalence rates among young people (15-25) at 29% are higher than for the population as a whole.  Evidence shows that 70% of smokers begin before their 18th birthday and in some countries, there is an upward trend for young smokers. The European Commission is therefore focussing much of its attention on measures which deter young people from smoking, such as tougher health warnings and bans on packages and flavourings which can be particularly attractive to young people. Despite opposition and numerous amendments to derail the reforms, the S&Ds' top priority is to prevent a new generation of smokers from being recruited.

EU-China negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement

October (Strasbourg)
08/10/2013

This is the first ever proposal for a stand-alone investment agreement since foreign direct investment became the exclusive competence of the EU under the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. An EU-China investment agreement would streamline the existing bilateral investment protection agreements between China and most EU member states into a single, coherent text.

The international trade committee's resolution calls for an agreement that covers investment protection as well as market access. The agreement should address the main obstacles such as tariffs and non-tariff barriers, discrimination against foreign companies, better access to justice and improved protection of intellectual property rights etc. It should also include an effective corporate social responsibility clause and binding social and environmental clauses as part of a fully-fledged sustainable development agenda, and any agreement should include a dispute settlement mechanism.

EU trade policy towards countries of the eastern partnership ahead of the Vilnius summit

October (Strasbourg)
08/10/2013

This oral question tabled by the international trade committee to the Commission concerns some issues relating to trade policy and EU relations with the Eastern Partnership countries: Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. More specifically, it deals with the issue of the planned implementation and provisional application of the deep and comprehensive trade agreements that may be signed at the upcoming Vilnius summit between the EU and these countries.

The S&D group is calling for the Commission to work on practical measures which can facilitate trade between the EU and its eastern partners and bring benefits to both sides, particularly in light of increased Russian pressure.

Assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment

October (Strasbourg)
08/10/2013

This report aims to update the current directive on environmental impact assessments (2011/92/EU), setting out procedures and criteria to ensure the environmental sustainability of projects that fall within its scope. This revision is necessary in order to tighten up the rules, taking into account political, legal and technical developments in recent years and to bring the legislation into line with current EU environmental priorities such as biodiversity, the use of natural resources, climate change, as well as natural and man-made disaster risks.

The overall aim is to set in place a more harmonised and effective environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure with less administrative burdens and with overriding benefits for the environment and human health. A strengthened EIA directive will deliver these benefits through more efficient, simplified procedures and will provide a level playing field for projects and for economic activities.

Oral question European carbon market in 2012

Oral question European carbon market in 2012

October (Strasbourg)
07/10/2013

The 2012 Commission report on the state of the carbon market presents options as regards structural measures to strengthen the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) and to make it more effective.

This oral question focuses on the steps the Commission is planning to take to ensure that the structural measures will correct the shortcomings of the emissions trading scheme and enable it to work as originally envisaged, while strengthening its stability and predictability, and promoting links with other trading schemes. A resolution proposing a number of potential measures was defeated in ENVI by a centre-right majority because it included a provision calling for one of the potential measures to be considered to be an increase of the GHG emissions from -20% to -25% by 2020.

Improving private international law: jurisdiction rules applicable to employment

October (Strasbourg)
07/10/2013

This report summarises the primary issues identified by the rapporteur to date. The 'recast technique' used by the Commission limits the possibilities for the legislator to amend parts of the regulation relevant to employment issues. The S&D rapporteur reminds the Commission that the use of the recast technique should be limited to frequently amended texts and that better implementation guidelines should be introduced.

On points of substance, the S&D rapporteur noted trade union concerns and legal arguments about amendments to Article 22 of the Brussels I regulation in legal proceedings concerning industrial action. In light of the Viking, Laval and Torline cases at the European Court of Justice,, concerns are expressed that employees may be prevented from participating in collective action. The rapporteur also asks for alignment with Article 9 of the Rome II regulation on the applicable law, namely the general principle that the law of the country where industrial action was taken should apply in such cases to prevent 'forum shopping'. Furthermore, the rapporteur addresses both the fact that trade unions undertaking industrial action may be sued in the country where the employer is domiciled, and the current lack of security for those workers who do not have a fixed place of work.