Next week will be a committee 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 Tuesday, MEPs of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (“LIBE”) will have their first debate with the European Commission on its proposal for ‘vaccinations passports’ to enable easier cross-border travel within the EU. Under the Commission proposal, national authorities would be able to issue a digital certificate as proof that its holder would either be vaccinated against COVID-19; received a negative test result; or has recovered from COVID-19. A uniform certificate will help other Member States’ authorities recognize its validity and lift their travel restrictions accordingly. The proposal is on a fast track and will likely be completed before the summer to save the tourism season. The Commission’s proposal is available here.
On Wednesday, the Committee on International Trade (“INTA”) will have an exchange of views with the EU’s new Chief Trade Enforcement Officer (“CTEO”), Denis Redonnet. MEPs will likely discuss the implementation of the EU’s Trade Policy Review (“TPR”). The TPR commits the EU to a more “open, sustainable and assertive” approach to trade. The EU’s emphasis on assertiveness is made credible by a series of reforms that give the EU and Member States new legal enforcement powers and institutions, such as the introduction of the CTEO. In particular, the MEPs are set to question CTEO Redonnet on his plans for an anti-coercion mechanism that must deter and counteract coercive action by non-EU countries. On March 3, 2021, the Commission’s Director-General for Trade, Sabine Weyand, announced on that this could entail a framework Regulation that would allow the Commission to adopt trade-related countermeasures with only a qualified majority of Member States at a technical level. Specifically, when “a third country tries to force or coerce the EU”, the Commission wants to become faster and more flexible in its response. CTEO Redonnet is expected to share more details on what this means in practice. Covington published an alert on the implications of enforcement actions for businesses in the new TPR here.
On Thursday, MEPs of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”) will consider a Commission Delegated Act with a new procedure to facilitate and accelerate the European Medical Agency’s approval of adapted vaccines against COVID-19 variants. The Delegated Act would amend Commission Regulation (EC) No 1234/2008 on the examination of variations to the terms of marketing authorizations. It would apply the procedures that have been established for human influenza vaccines to the context of COVID-19 vaccines. The Commission Delegated Act has been adopted by the European Commission, but is subject to scrutiny by the European Parliament and Council of the EU. On April 7, 2021, the Council of the EU already issued an early non-objection. The adopted Delegated Act under consideration is available here.
For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.