Next week is constituency week for Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”). MEPs will go back to their home countries to handle national issues, or convene in their parliamentary delegations to work on matters related to non-EU Member States.
This week was, however, important as many significant initiatives were adopted by the Parliament.
On Wednesday, the plenary voted in favor of the final EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”). CETA aims to enhance tariff-free trade and investments between Canada and the bloc. Under EU law, the Parliament’s consent was necessary for the treaty to come into force. The landmark trade deal could apply from as early as April 2017. The agreement passed with 408 votes to 254, with 33 abstentions. See the recommendation voted on here.
On the same day, the European Parliament gave its consent to a report on a proposal for a directive regarding enhancing cost-effective emission reductions and low-carbon investments. The vote comes on the heels of the adoption of the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”). The Commission introduced the proposal aiming to achieve and implement the European Union’s climate change and clean energy targets for 2030, including a 40% cut of CO2 emissions. The Commission’s proposal for the directive can be found here, and the report here.
On Thursday, the plenary voted in favor of a resolution on Civil Law Rules on Robotics. The resolution called on the Commission to submit a proposal for a directive on the topic, to cover legal and ethical issues associated with ever more sophisticated robots. In particular, MEPs were concerned with enforcing ethical standards, or formulating civil liability rules for accidents, such as those involving driverless cars. MEPs were also in favor of a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence. Nevertheless, the plenary rejected the notion of a universal basic income as a means of compensation for the possible impact of robots on employment. The draft report can be found here, and the resolution here.
Also on Thursday, the plenary voted on an own-initiative report adopted by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (“ITRE”) on the European Cloud Initiative, with the resolution passing with 444 to 93, with 50 abstentions. The European Cloud Initiative aims to bolster the EU’s potential in the area of cloud computing, through advancing the bloc’s development of high-performance computing (“HPC”). MEPs emphasized that cloud computing standardization should be expedited, and that raising awareness of cloud computing more generally is of vital importance. The draft report can be found here, and the resolution here.
Finally, on the same day, the plenary debated and approved a draft report on the Commission Communication “An Aviation Strategy for Europe”, following its adoption by the Committee on Transport and Tourism (“TRAN”). The report passed with 397 votes in favor, 99 against, and 49 abstentions. The Aviation Strategy for Europe aims to foster the growth of the EU aviation sector by opening new markets and creating additional opportunities for companies through the conclusion of new international agreements with key countries. The strategy also intends to plan the means to manage growth in traffic, as well as ensure that aviation services are dependable notwithstanding a malfunctioning national air traffic system. The Commission aspires for the EU to maintain its leadership on passenger rights and safety, as well as environmental protection, while fostering innovation and proposing a clear framework for drones. See the Communication here, the draft report here, and the resolution here.
Meetings and Agenda
- No official meetings in the European Parliament are planned before February 27, 2017.