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 Tuesday, MEPs will have an exchange of views with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on the EU’s response to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight and arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich by Belarusian authorities. After the incident on May 23, 2021, the European Council quickly responded with calls for, among other measures, additional targeted economic sanctions and banning Belarusian airlines from access to EU airports. This ban was formally adopted by the Council of the EU on June 4, 2021, and will enter into force the day after. The MEPs are set to adopt a resolution on this matter on Thursday. The Council Decision is available here.
On Wednesday, MEPs will debate the upcoming G7 and EU-U.S. summits that are scheduled for June 11-13 and June 15, 2021. As the EU is a supranational organization and not a sovereign Member State, the EU is a “non-enumerated” member of the G7, but representatives of the European Commission do participate in its meetings. MEPs will debate the priorities that the EU should represent at the summit, likely ranging from global (corporate) taxation to international cooperation on health matters and climate change. The MEPs will also share their ideas about transatlantic cooperation ahead of the EU-U.S. summit. Specific attention could be given to the ongoing trade disputes regarding Airbus-Boeing and the digital services tax. On June 2, 2021, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) imposed 25% tariffs on over USD 2 billion worth of imports on, among others, three EU Member States after the USTR’s investigation concluded that their digital services taxes discriminated against U.S. tech companies. However, the USTR simultaneously suspended the tariffs, pending international negotiations.
On Wednesday, the plenary will vote on whether to instruct the European Commission to ask the WTO to waive the intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. Following a plenary debate on May 19, 2021, the Committee on International Trade (“INTA”) adopted the draft resolution, in which the European Parliament would call for a temporary TRIPS waiver for vaccines and health-related technologies. This call clashes with the position of EU Member States representatives, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has stated that a TRIPS waiver would not solve the global vaccine shortages. On June 4, 2021, the EU already submitted a proposal to the WTO for an action plan to expand vaccine production with the sharing of expertise, but not a (temporary) IP waiver. What the European Commission will do with a potential resolution calling for an IP waiver from the European Parliament remains to be seen. The draft report was adopted by INTA with a very comfortable majority. The draft report is available here.
For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.