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 Monday, the Committee on Foreign Affairs (“AFET”) will hold several debates on a series of draft reports on the EU’s international relations, including with the U.S., China and India.
MEPS will first have an exchange of views with the EU’s External Action Service’s Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific, Gunnar Wiegand, on the EU-India summit of May 8, 2021. The EU leaders are expected to reaffirm their solidarity with India amidst its fight against an extreme surge in COVID-19 infections. The EU Member States have provided India with medial assets and the leaders are set to discuss further cooperation to build a more resilient global health system. The agenda also extends to sustainability issues and trade, technology and connectivity. According to leaked draft statements, the leaders will commit to relaunching negotiations for an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement and developing joint infrastructure projects around the world.
After the exchange of views, MEPs are scheduled to debate on a draft report regarding the future of transatlantic relations. In general, Rapporteur MEP Tonino Picula (HR, S&D) welcomes the opportunity for a “reset” of the transatlantic relationship under the new Biden Administration and observes that the U.S. remains the EU’s closest strategic partner. He calls for enhanced engagement and coordinated efforts in several different areas, including restoring multilateralism, health diplomacy and climate change. Interestingly, the Rapporteur also supports a comprehensive EU-U.S. dialogue on China to address divergences. Here, the rapporteur refers to the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investments (“CAI”) that was agreed in principle late last year. Soon before, incoming National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan tweeted that the new administration would “welcome early consultations with our European partners on our common concerns about China’s economic practices.” The draft report is available here.
Finally, the MEPs will discuss a draft report on the EU-China relations. Rapporteur MEP Hilde Vautmans (BE, RE) underlines on the one hand the importance of an open and constructive dialogue with China, while on the other hand, she stresses that the EU should foster its open strategic autonomy. This includes increased efforts to mitigate the distorting effects of Chinese subsidies for state-owned companies and a Bilateral Investment Agreement with Taiwan, in parallel to the CAI. The ratification of the CAI was suspended on May 5, 2021, after China imposed sanctions on several MEPs and other European entities. While the report is an important political signal, it does not create legal obligations for the European Commission or External Action Service. The draft report is available here.
For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.