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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S and D Group s news on the European parliament Plenary session in Strasbourg - 20 to 23 May 2013

Establishing a framework for managing financial responsibility linked to investor-state dispute settlement tribunals established by international agreements to which the EU is party

May 2013 (Strasbourg)
20/05/2013

The EU is negotiating investment protection agreements with third countries, including with Canada, the US, Japan, India and China. These investment agreements will most likely have an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism which allows companies to launch claims against the EU in the event of a violation of some key provisions of the agreement. This regulation is aimed at establishing a framework for the situation in which an investor sues the EU.

Who has to defend itself - the EU or the member state? Who has to pay?

Essentially, this dossier represents a conflict battle between member states and the Commission over competence in terms of investment policy. Several member states, particularly Germany, Finland and the Netherlands would like to keep as much power as possible in the hands of the member states. Our Group has clearly taken the "community line", in expressing support for a strong role for the Commission in the defending the Union in investment-arbitration cases.

S and D Group s news on the European parliament Plenary session in Strasbourg - 20 to 23 May 2013

Bilateral Investment Treaties and EU law

May 2013 (Strasbourg)
20/05/2013

This oral question (OQ) was tabled at the initiative of our Group and it has received the support of the EPP, ALDE, Greens and GUE.

Three years after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, a legislative framework for the EU's new exclusive competence on foreign direct investment (which is now an integral part of the EU's trade policy) is slowly being established.

However, there are a number of potential incompatibilities between EU law and international investment treaties which still need to be addressed.

This OQ deals with three issues:

1. the existence of 190 bilateral investment treaties between EU member states

2. the inclusion of clauses in bilateral investment treaties which do not restrict the movement of capital

3. the fact that investment treaties might grant greater rights to foreign investors than to European investors.

Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

European statistics on demography

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
18/04/2013
This report on the proposed regulation on European demographic statistics is a technical but highly controversial issue due to its link to qualified majority voting in the Council. This is a technical proposal, which harmonises the collection of population data. If there is an issue with regard to the method of qualified majority voting, the Treaty should be amended. The S&D Group believes we should not jeopardise the collection of statistical data by changing definitions and international practices in the context of this regulation so we support the approach of Commission and Council. Our goal is to create a sound basis for the harmonised collection of reliable and comparable population data.
Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

Amendment of the EC-Ukraine Agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of visas

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
17/04/2013
The Parliament gives its consent to the amended Visa Facilitation Agreement with Ukraine, signed by the Commission, allowing people to move more easily and strengthening ties between the citizens of Ukraine and the European Union.
 
These changes will enable easier freedom of movement for, amongst others, representatives of civil society, non-governmental organisations and journalists.
 
It is a positive signal to the people of Ukraine that the EU is firmly committed to strengthening relations between the citizens of EU and Ukraine. 
Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

2012 progress report on Turkey

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
17/04/2013
This report reflects the S&Ds’ support for the Commission's positive approach to relations with Turkey – as a complementary context for the accession negotiations. It also welcomes peace talks between the government and the leader of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan. The report also makes clear that an inclusive process for drafting the new constitution is vital – it should consolidate Turkish democracy and reflect the pluralism and diversity of Turkish society.
Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

2012 progress report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
17/04/2013
Both the S&D Group and the rapporteur reiterated their call for the Council to set a date to start accession negotiations, without further delay.
 
In view of the recent political stalemate, the S&D Group supports a political agreement which is capable of ending the deadlock reflected in current domestic political developments. The S&D Group calls on all parties to continue political dialogue and stresses the need for broad cross-party support and engagement with the EU agenda.
Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

2012 comprehensive monitoring report on Croatia

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
17/04/2013
The S&D’s rapporteur was very satisfied with result of the vote on the Croatia report in the foreign affairs committee. The vote in the plenary session follows the publication of the European Commission’s March 2013 Report, which gives the green light for Croatia to join the EU in July.
 
The Socialists and Democrats are looking forward to welcoming Croatia as the 28th member of the EU on July 1, 2013. As the Croatian government has fulfilled the 10 specific tasks identified in the Commission's comprehensive monitoring report of October 2012, the S&D rapporteur is confident in the strength and maturity of Croatia's democracy and social market, its adherence to European values, and its ability to meet the obligations of membership.
Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

Groundhandling services at European Union airports

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
16/04/2013
The core of the Commission's proposal aims to raise the minimum number of groundhandling service providers from two to three for those airports with a minimum of 5 million passengers per year.
 
The adopted text includes important steps forward for our Group as it contains a: 
representative collective agreement, including a definition in Article 8 (qualification procedure) and Article 9 (award procedure) which entails that all suppliers, self-handlers and subcontractors comply with the agreement; and a
limitation on subcontracting by defining a subcontractor as an approved handler (according to Articles 16 & 17). This requires them to apply the collective agreement and ensure decent working conditions in order to obtain the approval. Article 40 gives member states the right to withdraw or suspend approvals if the standards are not met.
Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

European Central Bank annual report (2011)

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
16/04/2013
This annual report assesses the European Central Bank (ECB) actions in 2011 in the context of the economic and social crisis, in which it plays a crucial role. The report specifically analyses the ECB’s action on monetary policy; the exceptional measures taken in response to the financial crisis; the central role of ECB within the banking union; and the institutional issues related to the Bank in the context of the current discussion on the future of European Monetary Union (EMU).
 
Our Group supports the measures taken by the ECB to lower the cost of borrowing for member states and to stabilise the financial market. However, we are concerned about the lack of impact these policies have had on the real economy and the ability of the banking system to lend to small and medium enterprises and households. Monetary policy should be complemented by additional fiscal instruments – including a fiscal capacity – at EMU level to create an adequate policy mix for growth and jobs. The increasing role of European Central Bank within the Troika and the banking union calls for new governance rules to increase both the transparency and accountability of the European Monetary Union.  
Socialist and Democrat priorities on the agenda in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April 2013

EU/ACP countries' Economic Partnership Agreements: exclusion of certain countries from trade preferences

April 2013 (Strasbourg)
16/04/2013
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have been underway for over a decade. The current system for ACP countries’ preferential access to the EU market was due to expire in 2007. However, for numerous reasons, many ACP states have still not signed up to such agreements.
               
This regulation governs the EU import regime for the 36 ACP countries that initialled EPAs in 2007. It is a bridging solution for those countries which were not in a position to apply EPAs, but were awaiting their ratification.
 
The European Commission therefore proposed that, as of 1 January 2014, those countries which have not signed or ratified the agreements should be removed from the list of beneficiaries to the EU market.
 
Our group is of the belief that a cut-off date of 1 January 2014 is too short a deadline and puts too much pressure on ACP countries to conclude such deals. We therefore believe that 1 Jan 2016 is a more suitable date.