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: 230

European single market for electronic communications

03/04/2014

On 11 September 2013, the Commission proposed a legislative package for a ‘connected continent: building a telecoms single market’. It aims to incentivise the sector to invest in new technologies, and adopt new business models, and to remove the obstacles to a single telecoms market. The proposal seeks to reduce the administrative burden of seeking authorisation to operate, co-ordinating radio-spectrum assignment at EU level and increasing network capacity. It will also lead to the elimination of retail roaming charges. But the proposal provoked very mixed reactions from stakeholders, who only supported some of its elements and strongly criticised the proposal's complexity, the lack of official consultation process and the rushed attempt to have it adopted in the current legislature before the next review of the framework for electronic communications.
 
Despite the many flaws in the proposal, the topic was too important for the Parliament to remain silent and a broad compromise was found among all the political groups on most points. The main outcomes are that all roaming charges for calls, text messages and data within the EU will disappear in December 2015; a review of wholesale charges will now happen in July 2015; improved management of radio frequencies for new mobile applications will now be possible and will allow for innovative uses of wireless broadband, protect broadcasting and stop interference when several devices are used in close proximity. However, no agreement has been found at committee level on one core issue of the proposal: net neutrality. This is the principle that all electronic communications through the internet access service are treated equally, independent of content, application, service, device, source or target.

Mid-term review of the Stockholm Programme

02/04/2014

The Stockholm Programme is a multi-annual (2009-2014) strategy which aims to create a Europe of freedom, security and justice. The European Council adopted the Stockholm Programme in 2009 and asked that a mid-term review of its implementation be made during 2012. The most relevant point was the follow up of the Stockholm Programme and the fact that it should no longer be drawn up by Council alone, but, in the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty, in a joint exercise by the Parliament, Council and Commission. Other key points included the evaluation of criminal justice with a justice scoreboard and reference was also made to the ‘Copenhagen criteria’, whereby both candidate countries and existing member states must comply with common values.

The S&D Group collected over 77 signatures, along with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) and the Greens, for an amendment on the need to regularly assess member states’ compliance with the fundamental values of the EU. The aim of the Group is to remain firm and not to water down important references or achievements of the current legislature.

Greenhouse gas emission trading (international aviation emissions)

Greenhouse gas emission trading (international aviation emissions)

02/04/2014

The international aviation emissions (ETS) ‘stop the clock’ legislation was a temporary derogation from the provisions of the Emissions Trading Standards Directive 2003/87/EC in order to facilitate progress at international level towards a global market-based measure (MBM) for aviation emissions. A new Commission proposal takes an airspace approach to the issue, under which only a specific proportion of emissions (no more than 12nM outside the European Economic Area) from flights to and from non-EU countries are covered, starting in 2014, while ‘stop the clock’ legislation is extended for another year. Flights within the EEA are fully covered.

Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations

02/04/2014

In the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, the Commission, together with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators' Group (ENSREG), have carried out stress tests, which resulted in a number of recommendations and a suggestion to change the Nuclear Safety Directive. This proposal aims at amending, strengthening and supplementing the directive by combining technical improvements with wider safety issues such as governance, transparency and on-site preparedness and response.
 
The S&D Group (and the report) supported the provisions on periodic self-assessments with peer reviews as well as six-year topical peer reviews, including the provision that the subject of the first topical peer review should be decided upon within three years of the directive entering into force.

69th session of the United Nations General Assembly

02/04/2014

The 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) begins in September 2014. This draft to the Council is the European Parliament’s annual recommendation for the UNGA. We have introduced several amendments, notably on: the participation of NGOs in the universal periodic review process (UPR) and in all major human rights sessions in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the International Criminal Court (ICC); the ratification (including all EU member states) of the Kampala amendments on the crime of aggression; the fight against torture and other forms of ill-treatment, especially against children; and the request for a definition of ‘climate refugee’.
 
Moreover, the S&D Group’s amendments also focus on priorities such as the fight against the death penalty;  LGBTI rights; the ratification by all UN members of the UN convention against corruption and the UN convention against transnational organised crime; as well as the establishment of a UN special rapporteur on financial crime, corruption and human rights.

Statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts

01/04/2014

The financial crisis has highlighted weaknesses in the statutory audit process, especially for public-interest entities (PIE), such as banks, insurance companies and listed companies. Given that many banks suffered huge losses from 2007 to 2009, it is difficult to understand how auditors could have given clean audit reports to their clients. Against this background, the Commission proposed both an ambitious regulation and directive in the area of statutory financial auditing of companies. The proposals lay down conditions for carrying out such audits, rules on the organisation and selection of auditors, risks of conflicts of interest which impair the independence of auditors and rules on the (European) supervision of compliance by auditors with those requirements, as well as addressing the barriers to entry into the audit market.
 
However, the S&D Group intends to table amendments, stressing that we want more fundamental reform. The S&D Group, the Greens and GUE-NGL will vote against the report as this reform will not improve the reliability of audit reports and will not prevent the next crisis. Today's reporting is costly, but does not provide sufficient insight into the annual accounts of listed companies. We want independent auditors to provide independent reports.

Medical devices

01/04/2014

Medical devices are instruments, software or implants which are used for diagnosis, monitoring, treatment or replacement due to injury or disability. They cover a vast spectrum of products ranging from low-risk products such as corrective glasses, sticking plasters, etc. to high-risk products such as pacemakers and hip implants.

The existing regulatory framework for medical devices dates back to 1990 and 1993 and needs to be updated substantially to keep pace with technological and scientific progress, and to harmonise the way the rules are applied. Recent scandals such as fraudulent silicone breast implants and problems with certain metal-on-metal hip-joint replacements have shown that the approval system in place is not appropriate for high-risk devices. Under the current regime, notified bodies assess the performance and safety of medical devices, but this process is not sufficiently transparent and neither are the fees they charge to manufacturers. The S&D Group is pressing for improved patient safety and better protection of EU citizens from defective medical devices through a more effective and efficient system for granting market access.

Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the production and making available on the market of plant reproductive material (plant reproductive material law)

13/03/2014

Plant reproduction is a very important issue for both farmers and citizens, and must be carefully regulated. The agricultural committee voted in favour of rejecting the Commission's proposal and decided to table an oral question to the Commission. MEPs took this decision for several reasons: due to concerns about replacing 12 existing directives with one; because it fails to address major issues surrounding plant genetic resources and agricultural biodiversity; and due to concerns about rushing through a complex legislative issue before the imminent 2014 European elections.

Role and operations of the Troika with regard to the euro area programme countries

12/03/2014

The S&D Group deplores the authoritarian and austerity-driven policies of the Troika, which we feel acts outside EU law. We take the view that technocrats cannot continue to give instructions to democratically elected representatives of the people. Europe needs a genuine European Monetary Fund based on EU law in order to support counties in difficulties and to involve the European Parliament in the decision-making process.

The report concludes that the Troika's decisions are unsound and undemocratic, and it must be phased out. It goes on to recommend that a European Monetary Fund should be set up under community law, with European Commission staff and a community-based European Stability Mechanism (leaving the International Monetary Fund as an optional participant and the European Central Bank as a silent observer). Moreover, in addition to medium-term reform at European level, country-specific solutions are needed more rapidly.

Mid-term review of the Stockholm Programme

12/03/2014

The Stockholm Programme is a multi-annual (2009-2014) strategic document which aims to provide a roadmap for EU work in the area of freedom, security and justice in Europe. The European Parliament's own initiative report has now been adopted, assessing the achievements made so far and detailing the actions still to be undertaken.
 
The most relevant point was that follow up of the Stockholm programme should no longer be undertaken by the Council alone, but ‘in the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty, in a joint exercise of Parliament, the Council and the Commission’. Other crucial points were the inclusion of the evaluation of criminal justice in the justice scoreboard.