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: 242

Programme for the environment and climate action (LIFE)

20-24 October 2013 (Strasbourg)
21/10/2013

The rapporteur recommends supporting the compromise package, agreed in the first reading with the Council, which has broad support among the political groups.

The agreement includes positive measures. An indicative allocation of three integrated projects per EU country will be set to ensure geographical balance and create an incentive for using this new project type. For 'traditional projects', indicative national allocations will apply only during the first multi-annual work programme (2014-2017) and only to the environment sub-programme.

To balance distribution across the EU, countries with a low absorption rate will be supported via capacity-building projects – one per country (up to €1 million) in the first multi-annual work programme and up to two in the second multiannual work programme (up to €750 000).

The agreement sets co-financing rates at 60% for integrated projects, 60% for priority area nature and biodiversity, and up to 75% for priority habitats and species. Initially the co-financing rate for environment and resource efficiency, and environmental governance and information, and for the climate action sub-programme will be 60%, decreasing to 55% in 2018-2020. At least 55% of the LIFE budget will be ring-fenced for nature conservation and biodiversity projects.

Local authorities and civil society: Europe’s engagement in support of sustainable development

20-24 October 2013 (Strasbourg)
21/10/2013

Addressing the issue of better EU co-operation with local authorities and civil society, this report looks at the effectiveness of partnerships between all players involved in developing decent work agendas, supporting sustainable and inclusive growth through state budgets, and promoting accountability. We have also strongly encouraged the active involvement of marginalised groups and women's organisations in dialogue on preparing policy and putting it into action. These are important factors in achieving the eradication of poverty and the other seven Millennium Development Goals.

We are very concerned about the Commission's proposal to limit financial support in service delivery just to civil society organisations working in the least developed countries and fragile states. We therefore underline the need to define and enforce the role of civil society organisations and local authorities in situations of crisis and fragility, using a human-rights based and gender-sensitive approach.

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.