Next week will be a committee and political group week for the Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”) in Brussels.  Several interesting debates are scheduled to take place.

On Monday, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (“LIBE”) will have an exchange of views on the establishment of an EU Mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (“DFR Mechanism”).  The MEPs will first listen to several presentations, including one by the Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.  The debate will be held in preparation of a new legislative initiative on the DRF Mechanism.  The Parliament will update their 2016 position regarding the DRF Mechanism, while taking the Commission’s Communication from July 2019 into account.  In this Communication, the Commission committed itself to exploring by the end of 2020 whether the impact of persistent rule of law deficiencies on the implementation of EU legislation would require new legal mechanisms.  The discussions on the DRF Mechanism occur in parallel to the ongoing legislative negotiations on a Regulation on the protection of the EU’s budget in case of generalized deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States.  In the Commission proposal, the EU could suspend payments to Member States when deficiencies in the rule of law risk to impeded the sound financial management of EU funds.  The Commission proposal is available here.

On the same day, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”) will vote on a resolution that outlines the Parliaments views on a chemicals strategy for sustainability to ensure high standards for the protection of human health and the environment, minimizing the exposure to hazardous chemicals.  The European Commission announced its intent to draft such a strategy in the European Green Deal, which was presented on December 11, 2020.

Also on Monday, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (“ITRE”) will adopt an own-initiative report on a comprehensive European approach to energy storage.  To meet the EU’s commitments to become carbon neutral by 2050, the EU must expands its energy storage capacities to ensure the security of energy supply.  The draft report, prepared by rapporteur Claudia Gamon (AT, RE) concludes, among others, that there are serious regulatory barriers which interfere with a swift exploitation of the EU’s potential.  She also highlights the importance of shifting to the production of green hydrogen and the essential role of batteries for short-term storage.  The European Commission is also expected to come with a green hydrogen strategy soon to bolster the development of a hydrogen economy in the EU.  The draft report is available here.

For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.