Next week will be plenary week in the European Parliament.  Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”) will gather virtually and in person in Brussels.  Several interesting votes and debates are scheduled to take place.

On Monday, MEPs will debate and vote (Tuesday) on a report on strengthening the EU’s capabilities to enforce its rights under international trade agreements and within WTO context.  The report details the Parliament’s legislative position regarding the revision of Regulation (EU) 654/2014 that was proposed by the European Commission on December 12, 2020, the day after the WTO’s appellate body ceased to function.  Without judicial redress, the EU considers it vital to consolidate its credibility and deterrence by strengthening its capabilities to enforce its trade rights.  In her report, Rapporteur MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (RE, FR) considers that the amendments to the Regulation should allow for trade policy measures in the field of services and intellectual property rights.  Furthermore, the process by which such measures would be adopted would be streamlined.  Also, the review of any revision should be brought forward.  The draft report is available here.

On Tuesday, MEPs will debate and likely adopt a resolution on the global dimension of the EU’s strategy on COVID-19 vaccines.  In the European Commission’s EU Strategy for COVID-19 vaccines, the Commission stated that it is committed to the principle of “universal, equitable and affordable access to vaccines, especially for the most vulnerable countries.”  However, some Member States argue that the EU has not helped as much as it could.  On January 6, 2021, 13 Member States sent a joint letter to the European Commission asking that it step up its assistance to the Eastern Partnership countries to facilitate access to the vaccine.  Vaccine distribution within the EU is not flawless either.  On January 11, 2021, Cyprus requested Israel for additional vaccine shots, who has been making headwinds with large-scale vaccination.  We furthermore expect that MEPs will reiterate their demands for greater clarity and transparency regarding the vaccine contracts and authorization process.

On Wednesday, the MEPs will have a debate in the context of the inauguration of Joe Biden as new President of the United States and the current political situation.  MEPs are expected to welcome the new Biden administration and call for a renewal of the transatlantic relationship.  On December 2, 2020, the European Commission put out a new forward-looking transatlantic agenda for global cooperation based on common values, interests and global influence.  The agenda lists many issues on which the EU and U.S. could work together, ranging from trade, technology, digital governance, and addressing climate change.  However, the recently agreed-in-principle Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (“CAI”) between the EU and China may become a divisive matter between the EU and the U.S.  Yet, the CAI’s political fate is not clear, as it faces an uphill battle in the European Parliament and also needs to be approved by the Member States.  The Commission’s new transatlantic agenda for global change is available here.  A press release regarding the CAI is available here.

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