EU US Negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement – TTIP
As Socialists and Democrats we recognise the opportunities of the agreement. These include improved access to US markets for services and public procurement, recognition of technical standards, protection of EU geographical indications and the abolition of US trade restrictions (such as the ‘Buy American Act’ and the ‘Jones Act’). The EU and its industries and services have clear interests under TTIP. At the same time however, the S&D Group has made a number of crucial demands in these negotiations.
The extent to which these demands are met in the final text will be the deciding factor in whether or not our Group can give its consent to the agreement. Our demands focus on the following critical elements: maintaining EU standards; data protection; regulation of financial markets; defending the role of democratic legislative processes; protecting labour rights; dropping proposals for an investor-state dispute settlement; and transparency in negotiations.
Election of the President of the Commission
The election of the new president of the European Commission by the European Parliament is a victory for our institution and the S&D Group is ready to do what is necessary to make this a success. However Mr Juncker must respect our priorities and values. Our support for Mr Juncker requires a clear commitment from him in favour of a new direction to boost growth and employment. Our priorities are: practical solutions to bring down unemployment, serious action on investment and social justice, greater flexibility in the interpretation of the Growth and Stability Pact, and a new European immigration policy based on European solidarity. If Mr Juncker wants to count on our support next week he must show he respects these priorities and come up with real proposals to make a difference in Europe.
Council and Commission statements – Withdrawal of the Maternity Leave Directiv
The European Commission is considering withdrawing the draft Maternity Leave Directive (also known as the Estrela report) which was adopted with a large majority in the European Parliament in 2010 and has been blocked in Council since then. EU member states are still refusing to start the second reading phase. The Maternity Leave Directive would strengthen women’s rights by ensuring women across the EU are entitled to a minimum of 20 weeks of fully paid maternity leave and making sure they are protected when they return to work. The directive also includes provisions on paternity leave. Withdrawing this proposal sends an extremely negative signal to citizens all over Europe and is a massive setback for women’s rights.
Our Group calls on the Commission and the Council to commit to supporting the directive and conclude negotiations in the coming months, under the Italian presidency.
Opening of the Italian Presidency of the EU
On Wednesday 2nd of July Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will address the plenary to mark the opening of the Italian Presidency of the EU (15h00).
Renzi's Partito Democratico is one of the big winners of the recent EU elections. The S&D Group is strongly backing his call on the EU to radically change, get rid of its austerity policy and deliver an ambitious plan for investment to boost growth and employment.
The 8th legislature of the European Parliament kicks off on 1 July 2014 in Strasbourg
Following the European elections held on 25 May 2014, the European Parliament will hold its first plenary session in Strasbourg from 1st to 3rd July. This session will mark the constitution of the new elected European Parliament and the start of its 8th legislature (2014-2019).
On Tuesday, MEPs will elect the president the European Parliament for a period of two and half years. They will then elect 14 vice-presidents and 5 quaesters (responsible for administrative and financial matters concerning the MEPs) for a period of two and half years.
The Socialists and Democrats will back Martin Schulz (Germany) as their candidate for president of the European Parliament. The S&Ds will present their candidates for the posts of vice-presidents and quaesters.
European Parliament's right of inquiry
The report uses the European Parliament’s new right of initiative under the Lisbon Treaty to propose changes to the powers of the Parliament’s temporary committees of inquiry, in line with their political role and importance. If implemented, this report will give the European Parliament substantial new powers in dealing with possible contraventions or maladministration in the implementation of European Union law.
European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is the last structural fund to be concluded, with a budget of €6.3 billion. The S&D Group is in favour of the final compromise reached with the Council and Commission.
The EMFF will ensure the successful implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. It will boost innovation, help communities diversify their economies, finance projects that create new jobs, improve quality of life along Europe's coasts and provide consumers with all the information they need. The fund will also support the European aquaculture sector so that it can fully develop its potential. For the first time, the fund will provide support for the integrated maritime policy.
Conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer
This report reflects the European Parliament's first-reading position on the directive proposed by the Commission on intra-corporate transferees (ICTs), which aims to establish harmonised conditions for non-EU nationals to enter and live in the EU under an intra-corporate transfer (a transfer within the same enterprise or groups of enterprises). It forms part of a package on legal migration alongside the Directive on Seasonal Workers and the revision of the Directive on Students and Researchers.
The results of the negotiations are satisfactory and the text now includes a unique autonomous mobility scheme to allow transferees to move within the EU once they have been admitted. It also includes positive provisions on family reunification and sanctions, while all references to quotas have been removed. However, for the S&D Group, there is a major issue as regards the provisions on equal treatment. The Council insists that the employment rights for transferees should be based on the Directive on Posted Workers, but this is unacceptable to us as we believe they should get the same treatment as nationals of the member state they are transferred to.
Transfer of motor vehicles
This report is the first-reading position of the European Parliament on a Commission proposal concerning the simplification of transferring motor vehicles which are already registered in one member state into another. Currently, every member state has its own system of re-registration for motor vehicles and they are often very bureaucratic and complicated. In the Commission's consultation with citizens, one of the top 20 issues raised as a problem affecting the functioning of the single market was the transfer of motor vehicles to another member state.
Surveillance of external sea borders
The agreement concerns binding rules on search and rescue operations, and on the identification of migrants intercepted at sea in order to enable Frontex to respond more effectively and to prevent deaths at sea. The text defines ‘emergency phases’ for search and rescue operations and places a clear duty upon units participating in Frontex operations to engage and to save lives. The rules on search and rescue operations and the disembarkation of migrants will only cover operations that are co-ordinated by Frontex. This should help to dispel confusion created by EU member states’ differing interpretations of international law and practices.
The ‘operational plan’ governing Frontex-co-ordinated border surveillance operations must now include procedures to ensure that persons needing international protection, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable persons are identified and given appropriate help.