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, MEPs will debate an Own-initiative Report of the Committee on Industry, Energy and Research (“ITRE”) on a European strategy for energy system integration. The report is the Parliament’s response to the European Commission’s strategy, presented on July 8, 2020. Rapporteur MEP Christophe Grudler (FR, RE) welcomes the strategy of the Commission but considers it “insufficiently assertive.” The report calls on the Commission to further exploit the substantial potential in the optimization of energy infrastructure in the EU. He also noted that the EU’s new approach to energy policy must include more circularity. For example, (waste) products from industrial and agricultural processes and organic waste, as well as heat emitted by industries and data centers, must be treated as energy sources. The Rapporteur also observes the need for methods to quicker decarbonize sectors where energy demand remains high, such as energy efficiency savings in the construction sector, or where low-carbon alternatives are not yet sufficiently attractive, such as transport. The report was already adopted in ITRE on March 18, 2021, with 60 votes against, 11 in favor, and 5 abstentions. The report is available here. The Commission’s European Strategy for Energy Systems Integration is available here.
On Wednesday, there will be a debate on the effects of waivers under the WTO TRIPS agreement for COVID-19 vaccines. On May 5, 2021, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) surprised her EU counterparts by releasing a statement regarding the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines under the WTO TRIPS agreement. The USTR argues that doing so would contribute to the Administration’s aim of expanding vaccine manufacturing and distribution. However, others believe that the IP waiver would provide no immediate relief for vaccine-deficient countries and would not be conducive to increasing mass manufacturing. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, opposed the idea and stated that “production capacities and the high-quality standards, not the patents” were the limiting factors to the low vaccine supply. Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen responded in a speech that the EU was willing to discuss the details of the U.S. proposal, but stressed that the EU was currently the only democratic region that exports vaccines on a large scale. The debate in the European Parliament will start with statements by the European Commission and Council of the EU. The USTR’s Statement is available here. The speech of the European Commission President is available here.
On Thursday, the plenary will debate and vote on a Resolution on the adequate protection of personal data of EU citizens by the United Kingdom. The Resolution, sponsored by the center-right European People’s Party and right-wing European Conservative and Reformists Group, calls on the European Commission to adopt its draft adequacy decisions under certain conditions. The adequacy decisions would recognize the UK’s data protection regime as equivalent in protection and would allow the free flow of data between the EU and UK, which is currently facilitated by the “bridging clause” of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This clause provides for an interim period that will expire at the end of June 2021. On April 14, 2021, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) already issued two generally positive opinions on the draft adequacy decisions. The European Commission’s draft adequacy decisions are available here. The EDPB’s opinions are available here. The draft Resolution is available here.
For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.