Next week will be a 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, the plenary will debate on the report of MEP Wolters (NL, S&D) on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability.  The report was adopted by the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (“JURI”) on January 27, 2021, with an overwhelming majority of 21 votes in favor with only one MEP voting against.  The report provides recommendations to the European Commission, which is drafting a legislative initiative on this matter.  Although the compromise report of JURI bares great resemblance to MEP Wolters’ first draft, it differs in a few key aspects.  For example, the report is softer on liability and enforcement and states that companies that can prove that they have taken all due care in line with the report to avoid harm cannot be held liable for adverse impacts occurring in their supply chains.  Also, the collective responsibility of the management bodies for ensuring compliance with the due diligence process has been struck.  A vote is scheduled for March 10, 2021.  The report tabled in plenary is available here.

On Tuesday, MEPs are set to adopt the novel EU4Health program, which must help EU health systems to prepare for future health threats.  With a budget of EUR 5.1 billion, the program will contribute to the resilience of healthcare in the EU.  Member State projects eligible for funding include those supporting health promotion and disease prevention, improving the accessibility and affordability of medicinal products and medical devices.  It will also strengthen the EU’s health systems by supporting its cross-border integration and coordinated work between Member States, including through advancing digital transformation with the creation of designated European “health data spaces.”  The EU4Health program is available here.

On Thursday, MEPs will have a questions and answers session with officials of the European Commission on the first evaluation of the Geo-Blocking Regulation 2018/302.  The Geo-Blocking Regulation prohibits online goods and services provider to refuse access to customers based on their geographical location in the EU.  The first evaluation report was published on November 30, 2020, and sees positive effects, although many traders continue to be reluctant to offer cross-border delivery options.  The Commission also notes that the effect of the Regulation can be better evaluated once the complete impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can be fully assessed.  MEPs will likely ask the Commission questions regarding the feasibility of extending the scope of the Regulation to include audiovisual content, as copyrighted material is now exempted.  The review clause of the Regulation requires the Commission to assess whether this Regulation should apply to services that offer access to copyright protected works, such as streaming services and other digital services in the EU.  The Geo-Blocking Regulation is available here.

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