Next week is a 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.
However, this past week, the European Parliament held a plenary session. A number of interesting votes took place.
On Tuesday, MEPs backed a report on the “Initiative on resource efficiency: reducing food waste, improving food safety” (623 votes in favor, 33 votes against, and 20 abstentions), prepared by MEP Biljana Borzan (S&D, Croatia) of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”). The Parliament calls for a reduction of EU food waste by half (approximately 88 million tons a year), by 2030. The report also calls on the Commission to remove existing restrictions on food donations, and to clarify food expiry labels, such as “best before” or “use by”. See the report here.
On Wednesday, the plenary voted in favor of a report on “FinTech: the influence of technology on the future of the financial sector” (544 votes in favor, 107 against, and 14 abstentions), prepared by Rapporteur Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (ALDE, Netherlands) of the Committee on Regional Development (“REGI”). The report highlights the development of FinTech in the recent years, including the opportunities it presents and its benefits. However, the committee also stresses the regulatory and social challenges which need to be addressed to ensure consumer protection and the stability of the financial system. The report seeks to set out the first step towards creating a forward-looking EU FinTech policy. See the report here.
On Thursday, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (“ITRE”) and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (“IMCO”) held an extraordinary meeting, during which MEPs approved the report on Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market (73 votes in favor, 16 against, and 3 abstentions). It follows the Commission Communication “Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market. Opportunities and Challenges for Europe”, published in May 2016. The reports seeks to facilitate the sustainable growth of European online platforms, clarify intermediaries’ liability, enhance consumer information and provide them with additional protection tools, create a level playing field among online platforms, and more broadly, increase online trust and foster innovation. See the draft report here, amendments tabled here and here, and the Commission Communication here.
Also on Thursday, the plenary approved a draft report, prepared by the Committee on International Trade (“INTA”) on the “Implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Korea” (468 votes in favor, 118 against, and 39 abstentions). The report evaluates the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement, almost six years after it came into force. The report finds that the Agreement has promoted deeper commercial partnership and increased bilateral trade, but raises concerns about certain aspects, including barriers in the area of sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property rights, technical barriers to trade (in particular, the direct transport clause) and the wording of the rules of origin and their effect on utilization rate. In particular, MEPs stated that South Korea should improve labor rights, including right of association and collective negotiation, before possible deepening of the trade relations could be contemplated. They also called on South Korea to remove existing trade barriers in relation to the EU exports of pork and beef. See the report here.
On the same day, the plenary adopted the Parliament’s position on the Proposal for a Regulation on Cross-Border Portability for Online Content (586 votes in favor, 34 against, and 8 abstentions). The proposal seeks to allow EU consumers benefit from portability with regard to online content, such as games, movies and music, while they are traveling abroad. See the Parliament’s position here, and the proposal for a Regulation here.
Meetings and Agenda
- No meetings scheduled for this week.