Next week, Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”) will gather in Brussels for committee and political groups’ meetings.  Several interesting debates are scheduled to take place.

On Monday, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”) will have an exchange of views with Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans on the 2030 Climate Target Plan.  The MEPS from ENVI are proponents of stepping up the EU’s climate ambition and have called for binding targets for emissions to be reduced by 60% in 2030 compared to 1990.  The Commission has proposed an “at least 50% towards 55%” approach by 2030.  The plenary will vote on ENVI’s position on October 6, 2020.  ENVI’s position is available here.

On Thursday, the Legal Affairs Committee (“JURI”) will vote on its recommendations on ethical aspects of artificial intelligence for the upcoming legislative proposal of the Commission.  Among many other things, Rapporteur Ibán García del Blanco (ES, S&D) recommends that the use of personal data to micro-target people or exploit predictive knowledge, should be counterweighted by the principles of data minimization, right to obtain explanations of automated decision-making, and privacy by design.  He also recommends that a new designated European Agency for Artificial Intelligence develop common criteria and an application process for granting a certificate of ethical compliance for AI systems upon request of a developer or user.  The Rapporteur’s draft report is available here.

On Friday, MEPs will examine the qualifications of two Commissioners-designate, following the reshuffle of the Commission after the resignation of Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan in August.  The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (“ECON”) will hear Commissioner-designate Mairead McGuinness as new Commissioner from Ireland.  If confirmed, she would assume responsibility for the financial services and Capital Markets Union portfolio, which was previously held by Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.  Dombrovskis will take over the trade portfolio.  He was already acting Trade Commissioner after Hogan’s resignation.  It is not expected that MEPs will object to the new appointments, given Commissioner Dombrovskis’ reputation as seasoned and capable Commissioner and McGuinness’ current position as Vice-President of the European Parliament.  The candidates also received (renewed) mission letters from Commission-President Von der Leyen, containing their mandate and objectives.  Trade policy will be promoted to the Executive Vice-President level and may become even more important for the EU to support its geostrategic agenda and promote its European values.  Commissioner McGuinness will focus primarily on completing the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union, as well as promoting sustainable finance.  Commissioner Dombrovskis’ and Commissioner-designate McGuiness’ mission letters are available here and here.

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