The Week Ahead in the European Parliament – February 3, 2017

Summary

Next week is a committee and political group week.  Political groups will meet to prepare the plenary session, scheduled for February 13 to 16, 2017.  A few interesting committee meetings will take place.

On Monday, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (“ECON”), will organize a workshop on EU energy independence, security of supply and diversification of sources.  The workshop is aimed at assessing the current situation with regard to security of supply, and its possible evolution.  Challenges will be presented, as well as policy proposals aimed at resolving them.  See the program of the workshop here.

On the same day, the ECON committee will hold a presentation on the Review of the Framework for Electronic Communications by Director Anthony Whelan, from the European Commission DG CONNECT; and discussions with Commission representatives on the proposed revision of the European Electronic Communications Code (see here).  This session will also address the promotion of internet connectivity in local communities; and the European gigabit society and 5G.

On Thursday, the Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector (“EMIS”) will consider amendments to be made to its draft report on the inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector.  The report will provide the findings of the inquiry undertaken by the Committee.  See the current draft report here.

On the same day, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (“IMCO”) will vote on the adoption of a draft report on approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles.  The report constitutes the Parliament’s views on the proposal for a Regulation introduced by the Commission, which seeks to enhance the independence of environmental and safety testing of new cars, and improve supervision of cars already in circulation across the EU.  See the proposal for a Regulation here, and the draft report here.

On Thursday, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, EU Commissioner responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, will also attend the IMCO meeting to discuss the Services Package: “A services economy that works for Europeans”.  The Services Package includes a proposal for a Services e-card (see here); a proposal for a Services Notification Procedure (see here); and a proposal for a Proportionality Test (see here).  See more information on the Services Package here.

Finally, on Thursday, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (“LIBE”) will vote on its own initiative resolution on the “Fundamental rights implications of Big Data: privacy, data protection, non-discrimination, security and law-enforcement.”

Meetings and Agenda

Monday, February 6, 2017 

Subcommittee on Human Rights

15:00 – 18:30 

  • Updating on the mid-term evaluation of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights
  • Discussion on the current human rights situation in Belarus

Committee on Development

15:00 – 18:30

  • Discussion on Impact of international trade and the EU’s trade policies on global value chains – 2016/2301(INI)
    • Rapporteur: Ignazio Corrao (EFDD, IT)
  • Humanitarian situation in Myanmar – discussion on the Rohingyas and other Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), with Androulla Kaminara, Director for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, DG ECHO, European Commission

Subcommittee on Security and Defence

15:00 – 18:30, With the Council, the Commission and EEAS

  • Deterioration of the security situation in the East of Ukraine, in particular around Avdiivka – discussion with Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration
  • The increasing Russian influence in the South Caucasus – new developments – discussion with: Herbert Salber, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, EEAS; Natalie Sabanadze, Ambassador of Georgia to the EU; Amanda Paul, Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre, Brussels

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

15:00 – 18:30

  • Monetary Dialogue with Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (15.00-17.00)
  • Vote on a report on European Semester for economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2017 (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Gunnar Hökmark (PPE,SE)
  • Vote on a report on Annual Report on the Financial Activities of the European Investment Bank (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Georgios Kyrtos (EPP, EL)

Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

17:00 – 18:30

  • Adoption of a draft report on European Semester for economic policy coordination: Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2017
    • Rapporteur: Yana Toom (ALDE, ET)

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

15:00 – 18:30

  • Workshop on EU energy independence, security of supply and diversification of sources
  • The Review of the Framework for Electronic Communications, Presentation by Director Anthony Whelan, European Commission – Discussion with Commission representative: European Electronic Communications Code, Rapporteur: Pilar Del Castillo Vera (EPP, ES), Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), Rapporteur: Evžen Tošenovský (ECR, CZ), Promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities (WiFi4EU), Rapporteur: Carlos Zorrinho (S&D, PT), European gigabit society and 5G, Rapporteur: Michał Boni (EPP, PL)

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

15:00 – 18:30

  • Legislative Scrutiny – Regulated Professions in the EU

Committee on Regional Development

15:00 – 18:30

  • Workshop on “Technical Assistance in Cohesion Policy” (15.15-17.00)

Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

15:00 – 18:30

  • Vote on a draft resolution on Equality between women and men in the EU in 2014/2015 (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, ES)
  • Vote on a draft resolution on Report on the application of Council Directive 2004/113/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz (EPP, PL)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 

  • No committee meetings scheduled

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 

  • No committee meetings scheduled

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Committee on Foreign Affairs

9:00 – 12:00 

  • Discussion on EU-India relations with Gunnar Wiegand, EEAS Managing Director Asia and Pacific, and Manjeev Singh Puri, Ambassador of India to the EU

Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector

9:00 – 12:30

  • Consideration of amendments on Report on the inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector
    • Co-rapporteurs: Jens Gieseke (EPP, DE), Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL)

Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion

9:00 – 12:30

  • Public hearing: The role of lawyers, accountants and bankers in Panama Papers (Part II)

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

9:00 – 18:30

  • Adoption of a draft report on Approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles
    • Rapporteur: Daniel Dalton (ECR, UK)
  • Discussion with Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, on the Services Package: “A services economy that works for Europeans”

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

9:00 – 18:30

  • Vote on a draft report on Europol agreements: cooperation with Denmark (CNS)
    • Rapporteur: Díaz De Mera García Consuegra (EPP, ES)
  • Vote on a draft resolution on Fundamental rights implications of Big Data: privacy, data protection, non-discrimination, security and law-enforcement (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Ana Gomes (S&D, PT)
  • Public hearing: Prisons’ systems and conditions in the EU (15.00-17.00)

Committee on Constitutional Affairs

9:00 – 18:30

Joint meeting with the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Security and Defence (09.00-09.45)

  • Vote on draft resolution on Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a common security and defence policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty (INI)
    • Co-rapporteurs: Michael Gahler (EPP, DE) and Esteban González Pons (EPP, ES)

Votes

  • Vote on a draft resolution on e-Democracy in the European Union: potential and challenges (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Ramón Jáuregui Atondo (S&D, ES)
  • Hearing of representatives of the Alliance for Peace and Freedom (European Political Party) on implementation of Rule 225, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Procedure (16.00-17.30)

FEC Increases Contribution Limits to Party Committees, Leaves Candidate Limits the Same

The Federal Election Commission has announced contribution limits for the 2017-2018 election cycle.  The new limits are effective January 1, 2017.

The FEC did not change the limit on the amount an individual can contribution to a candidate, leaving the limit at $2700 per election.  Because the primary and general count as separate elections, individuals may give $5,400 per candidate per cycle.

The limit on contributions from individuals to national party committees has increased from $33,400 to $33,900.  This increase also affects the limit on contributions to additional specialized accounts of the party committees, which were first allowed through legislation passed at the beginning of the last election cycle.  Each of these accounts can receive contributions that are triple the amount that can be given to the main party account, or $101,700 per account per year.  These accounts can be used to pay for expenses related to presidential nominating conventions, headquarters buildings of the party, and election recounts, contests, and other legal proceedings.

The following chart shows more details on the limits for individuals in 2017 and 2018:

An individual may contribute to …
Federal Candidates $2,700 per election
National party committees — main account $33,900 per year
National party committees — convention account (RNC and DNC only) $101,700 per year
National party committees — party building account $101,700 per year
National party committees — legal fund account $101,700 per year
State or local party committees’ federal accounts $10,000 per year
Federal PACs $5,000 per year

 

ECOWAS forces Gambian president’s hand

The end of the 22-year reign of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, ushered in by the December election of opposition candidate Adama Barrow, is widely seen as a win for democracy in Africa. More so than anything else, this is a win for the Economic Community of West African States (“ECOWAS”) and regional self-policing in Africa.

President Jammeh was well known for his harsh views on issues such as homosexuality and his eccentricity, such as his claimed ability to cure AIDs. He came to power in The Gambia in 1994 following a coup, and his rule in the West African country stood out in the region for its brutal treatment of opposition groups and its reliance on a powerful intelligence agency to root out dissent. There have been several attempted coups in The Gambia since Jammeh took the helm, but it was democracy and regional pressure that finally led to his demise, aided by a stagnant economy that fueled popular discontent. Corruption, protectionism, the lack of an independent judiciary, and a weak private sector all hindered The Gambia’s growth during Jammeh’s presidency, adding to the tension and dissatisfaction of the population.

While The Gambia has had several elections, these have been seen as one-sided and have even been criticized by ECOWAS for “an unacceptable level of control of the electronic media by the party in power and an opposition and electorate cowed by repression and intimidation.” The election on December 1, 2016 proved to be a turning point for the country, with a resounding victory for the opposition despite external monitors’ concerns over the transparency of the polls. An independent election commission helped to administer the historic vote. According to the electoral commission’s official election results, Barrow won 45.5 percent of the vote while Jammeh won 36.7 percent. President Jammeh quickly accepted this defeat, to the surprise of critics at home and abroad. However, the following week, on December 9, President Jammeh made a speech in which he announced his “total rejection of the election results,” a move which he claimed “annull[ed] the elections in its entirety.”

As President Jammeh indicated his unwillingness to leave the country, division and turmoil spread further and deeper, with the Presidency closing three radio stations, arresting opposition supporters, and even causing the head of the electoral commission to flee to Senegal. By January 18, combat troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana and more countries had amassed at the Gambian border, prepared to intervene if the democratically-defeated leader did not step down. The Nigerian Air Force further indicated that it had already dispatched an aviation fleet to provide support to any military intervention in The Gambia. Military intervention ultimately was not necessary, as President Jammeh negotiated with the opposition and the government of Senegal, which led the ECOWAS effort, and ultimately accepted the results and left the country in mid-January.

It is unlikely that The Gambia’s experience will be the blueprint for democratic transition in all of Africa. West African political dynamics are vastly different from those of central and southern Africa, and the regional backchannelling, negotiations, and military pressure effectuated by ECOWAS are nearly impossible to reproduce right now in other areas of the continent. Yet this result is important for the confidence of investors and businesses operating or looking to operate in West Africa. Although there is significant uncertainty about the path that The Gambia will take under its new leadership, outsiders can have confidence that the regional political structure and external pressure from democratic neighbors will help maintain democratic norms in West Africa. Of course, The Gambia is much smaller than all of its West African neighbors; it is unclear if ECOWAS or other neighbors could exert the same level of regional pressure on a larger country in a similar situation. However, it is noteworthy that the larger surrounding countries prioritize democracy in the region highly enough to orchestrate a coordinated intervention in the first place.

Even more encouraging is that preliminary signs from The Gambia suggest, tentatively, that the new administration is following a more democratic path than its predecessor. President Barrow, who returned to The Gambia last week, has indicated that he is that “President of all Gambians,” and has made a point to be diplomatic in his dealings with Jammeh and his loyalists. Though there is evidence that Jammeh may have taken state money prior to his departure, Barrow is attempting to build confidence in the judicial processes of the country by relying on an independent investigation into the matter. This is a departure from the tendency of new African regimes to assume the role of policing the opposition.

It will be difficult to replicate the ultimately peaceful—if initially tenuous—transition of power that took place in The Gambia over the last few weeks. However, the transition marks a win for emerging democracies in Africa and all other actors interested in the peace and stability of West Africa.

This post can also be found on CovAfrica, the firm’s blog on legal, regulatory, political and economic developments in Africa.

Trump Administration Executive Order on Ethics Breaks New Ground

President Trump signed an executive order on ethics this weekend that is similar in key respects to the Obama Administration’s executive order governing ethical conduct by presidential appointees. But in one key respect it is significantly broader in scope than the previous Obama executive order. The Trump executive order incorporates the concept of “lobbying activities,” a defined term that it imports from the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Presidential appointees are required to agree that they will not engage in “lobbying activities” with respect to their agency for five years after the end of their term of office. Lobbying activities is a broad and amorphous term that covers not just actual lobbying contacts that may trigger lobbyist registration but also behind-the-scenes strategic advice and other work related to the lobbying contacts of others. In other words, whereas the restrictions in the Obama executive order applied to individuals who engaged in activities requiring lobbyist registration, the Trump executive order reaches even activity by non-registered lobbyists. This closes one of the major loopholes that President Obama had included in his administration’s executive order on ethics.

The Trump executive order also bars appointees from engaging in “lobbying activities” with respect to any covered executive branch official or non-career Senior Executive Service appointee for the remainder of the Administration. This provision applies not just to the appointee’s former agency but to the entire executive branch. And again, because it applies to “lobbying activities,” as that term is defined in the LDA, it applies to behind-the-scenes strategic advice that supports someone else’s lobbying contacts.

Incorporating the term “lobbying activities” will have very significant consequences for Trump administration appointees, subjecting them to much broader post-employment restrictions than was so for Obama administration appointees. It would be difficult for Trump appointees who sign the pledge to pursue employment as strategic advisors, much less lobbyists, for a period of time after leaving the administration.

The change in language is quite subtle, probably understood only by Lobbying Disclosure Act aficionados at this point. But it is likely to draw considerable attention as appointees begin to focus on the consequences of signing the pledge.

This Week in Congress – January 30, 2017

Following last week’s session shortened by the congressional Republican retreat to strategize for the 115th Congress, this week leadership in both chambers and congressional committees will begin to pursue some of the major Republican legislative priorities for the year ahead and put in place more of the President’s Cabinet nominees. Congressional activity this week is likely to be overshadowed by the President’s expected announcement of a Supreme Court nominee on Thursday, initiating a confirmation process that will consume a great deal of Senate time in the weeks ahead.

In terms of floor activity, the House is scheduled to return on Monday when it will take up seven bills under suspension of the rules within the jurisdiction of the Natural Resources Committee.

On Tuesday, members will take up an additional 19 bills under suspension of the rules; 17 of the bills are under the jurisdiction of the Homeland Security Committee. As with the other suspensions that have been considered thus far this year under suspension of the rules, this week’s suspension bills were passed by the House during the 114th Congress.

Beginning on Wednesday, the House will initiate the process of repealing regulations issued by federal agencies in the final months of the Obama Administration. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate are allowed 60 legislative days, starting from the date a final rule is submitted to Congress, to overturn federal regulations with a joint resolution of disapproval. If such a resolution is signed into law by the President, the rule in question cannot take effect and a “substantially similar” rule cannot be re-issued unless Congress reauthorizes it through new legislation. The joint resolution is subject to at least 10 hours of Senate debate, but is not subject to a filibuster. With Republicans controlling majorities in both chambers, the election of President Trump provides them a ripe opportunity to overturn a number of controversial regulations issued by the Obama Administration since June 13, 2016. This week, the House will start a process that is likely to result in the undoing of many regulations issues by the prior administration when it considers five disapproval resolutions this week.

Two resolutions of disapproval will be up for consideration on Wednesday. The first would undo the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule, a rule aimed at preventing coal-mining companies from polluting streams. The second would disapprove a rule issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission requiring the disclosure of payments made by publicly traded companies to foreign governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals. Consideration of each of these resolutions will be subject to a rule.

Two additional disapproval resolutions will be considered on Thursday. The first measure would overturn a Social Security Administration rule requiring federal agencies to provide relevant records for the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. The second would overturn a rule relating to the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Consideration of both measures will be subject to a rule

On Friday, members will consider a resolution of disapproval regarding a final rule issued by the Bureau of Land Management regarding flaring and venting of natural gas during oil and gas production activities on tribal lands. Consideration of the resolution will be subject to a rule.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate is scheduled to resume legislative business on Monday, with an afternoon cloture vote scheduled on the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as the Secretary of State under President Trump. On Tuesday, the Senate will take up the nomination of Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to serve as the Secretary of Transportation.

Votes on several other Cabinet nominees can be expected throughout the week as the nominations are reported by their respective Senate committees. On Monday, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Linda McMahon to serve as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and the Finance Committee is scheduled to consider the nomination of Steven Mnuchin to be Treasury Secretary. The nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to serve as Attorney General is expected to be considered by the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. That same day the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is scheduled to vote on the nominations of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) to serve as Interior Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry to serve as the Secretary of Energy. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee plans to meet on Wednesday to consider the nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Also on Wednesday, David Shulkin is scheduled to appear before the Veterans’ Affairs Committee regarding his nomination to head the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Several events on the hearing schedule this week pertain to the Republican priority of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and, relatedly, the future of the Medicaid program. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will meet on Tuesday to review the Medicaid program. That same day, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules has scheduled a hearing on waste, fraud and abuse under the ACA. On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will review discussion drafts of three Medicaid reform bills. Similar legislation was introduced by committee members last Congress. These bills include: ending Medicaid benefits for lottery jackpot winners, closing a loophole that lets married couples shelter assets to qualify for Medicaid, and addressing Medicaid coverage for individuals who are unlawfully present in the country. On Wednesday, the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will also review the individual health insurance marketplace, and the House Education and Workforce Committee will discuss methods of advancing “patient-centered solutions” in health care. On Thursday, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee is scheduled to meet again for a hearing on the ACA’s health-insurance marketplace.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday regarding policy options to confront North Korea.

Former General David Patreus is scheduled to provide testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday regarding national security threats and challenges around the world.

The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade will host a Wednesday hearing on the impact of a post-Brexit U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement. The hearing comes on the heels of last week’s official visit by British Prime Minister Theresa May, the first foreign leader to visit President Trump, and following the President’s public comments on his intent to pursue a bilateral trade agreement with the U.K. in the wake of Brexit.

And following the news of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelling his planned visit to Washington amid a very public dispute with President Trump over the border wall between the two countries, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a Wednesday hearing on the wall. Several former Homeland Security officials will provide testimony to the committee.

Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall, will provide Congress with the agency’s budget and 10-year economic outlook this week. He is scheduled to appear before the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday and the House Budget Committee on Thursday.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure plans to meet on Wednesday morning to consider the challenges facing our current transportation infrastructure, its future needs, and visions for a modern, 21st century transportation infrastructure. The Committee will hear testimony from the leaders of FedEx Corporation, Cargill, BMW North America, Vermeer Corporation, and the AFL-CIO.

The full details for these events and other congressional hearings scheduled throughout the week are included below:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Senate Committees

Mnuchin nomination
Senate Finance
Full Committee Markup
6 p.m.

Committee Organization
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Business Meeting
5 p.m.

Committee Organization/Administrator of the Small Business Administration Nomination
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Full Committee Markup
TBA, S-216

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

House Committees

Medicaid Oversight: Existing Problems and Ways to Strengthen the Program
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2123 RHOB

Committee Organization
House Transportation and Infrastructure
Full Committee Business Meeting
10 a.m.

Committee Organization
House Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Business Meeting
10 a.m.

Fraud, Waste and Abuse under the Affordable Care Act
House Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules
Subcommittee Hearing
2 p.m., 2154 RHOB

Senate Committees

Committee Organization/Interior Secretary and Energy Secretary Nominations
Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Full Committee Markup
9:30 a.m.

Confronting the North Korea Threat: Reassessing Policy Options
Senate Foreign Relations
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-419

Committee Organization
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Full Committee Business Meeting
10 a.m., SD-430

Attorney General Nomination/Committee Organization/Elder Abuse Prevention Legislation
Senate Judiciary
Full Committee Markup and Hearing
9:30 a.m., SD-226

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

House Committees

The State of the World: National Security Threats and Challenges
House Armed Services
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2118 RHOB

Rescuing Americans from the Failed Health Care Law and Advancing Patient-Centered Solutions
House Education and the Workforce
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m.

Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable in Medicaid
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m.

The Electricity Sector’s Efforts to Respond to Cybersecurity Threats
House Energy and Commerce
Full Committee Hearing
10:15 a.m., 2322 RHOB

Next Steps in the “Special Relationship” Impact of a U.S.-U.K. Free Trade Agreement
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2172 RHOB

Empowering the Inspectors General
House Oversight and Government Reform
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2154 RHOB

Committee Organization
House Small Business
Full Committee Business Meeting
11 a.m.

Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America
House Transportation and Infrastructure
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 2167 RHOB

Five Years Later: A Review of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
House Oversight and Government Reform
Full Committee Hearing
2 p.m., 2154 RHOB

Senate Committees

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) Budget and Economic Outlook for FY2017- 2027
Senate Budget
Full Committee Hearing
10:30 a.m., SD-608

Obamacare Emergency: Stabilizing the Individual Health Insurance Market
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-430

Committee Organization/Director of the Office of Management and Budget Nomination
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Business Meeting
9:40 a.m., SD-342

Fencing Along the Southwest Border
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., SD-342

Committee Organization/Financial Fraud Affecting Seniors
Senate Special Aging
Full Committee Business Meeting and Hearing
2:30 p.m., SD-562

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Nomination
Senate Veterans’ Affairs
Full Committee Hearing
2:30 p.m., SD-106

Thursday, February 2, 2017

House Committees

Committee Oversight Plan
House Armed Services
Full Committee Business Meeting
10 a.m., 2118 RHOB

The Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook
House Budget
Full Committee Hearing
10 a.m., 1334 LHOB

Helping Students Succeed Through the Power of School Choice
House Education and the Workforce – Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education
Subcommittee Hearing
10 a.m., 2175 RHOB

Patient Relief from Collapsing Health Markets
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Health
Subcommittee Hearing
10:30 a.m., 2123 RHOB

NTIA Reauthorization
House Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Subcommittee Hearing
10:45 a.m., 2322 RHOB

Israel the Palestinians and the United Nations: Challenges for the New Administration
House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa; House Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Subcommittees Joint Hearing
10 a.m., 2172 RHOB

Improving Security and Efficiency at OPM and the National Background Investigations Bureau
House Oversight and Government Reform
Full Committee Hearing
9 a.m., 2154 RHOB

Gibraltar May Lose Its Status As An Online Gaming Hub

On January 19, 2017, Advocate General (“AG”) Szpunar delivered his Opinion in case C-591/15, The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association Ltd.  In this case, the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) must decide whether Gibraltar and the UK are to be treated as if they were part of a single Member State for the purposes of EU law.  Alternatively, the UK High Court asked the CJEU whether Gibraltar should be considered a separate territory to the UK within the EU, or simply a non-EU Member State.   Depending on the answer to this question, free movement of services does, or does not apply between the UK and Gibraltar (Article 56 TFEU).

The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (“GBGA”) initiated the case against the recent UK remote gambling point of consumption tax. The new  tax requires all online gambling operators that provide services to UK residents to pay a 15% tax on the so-called gross gaming revenue (“GGR”).  This would significantly impact online gaming companies.

This post analyzes the Opinion of AG Szpunar on the questions posed by the UK Court. Should the Court follow the AG, and as a consequence of Brexit, the impact for the online gaming industry in the UK and Gibraltar will be significant.

AG Opinion: Single Member State

In his Opinion, the AG argues that EU law applies to Gibraltar, as a territory for whose external relations are managed by another Member State, based on a combined reading of Articles 52 and 355(3) TFEU. This has several consequences: (i) should Gibraltar commit a breach of EU law, legal proceedings must not be initiated against Gibraltar, but against the UK; (ii) Gibraltar is not entitled to initiate proceedings against a deficient Member State since only the UK holds this right (see § 38).

In light of this, the AG argues that free movement of services does not apply to the relationship between the UK and Gibraltar. In his opinion, the 15% tax should be considered a “purely internal situation” to the United Kingdom as a single entity, so that Article 56 TFEU does not apply to trade between Gibraltar and the UK (see § 22).  Note, of course, that an AG Opinion is not binding on the Court, although they are often followed by the CJEU.

Possible Consequences for the Online Gaming Industry 

Should the CJEU follow the AG Opinion, in the light of Brexit, consequences for the Gibraltar-based online gaming operators may be significant.

First, for the purposes of EU law, the assimilation between Gibraltar and the UK as a single Member State would mean that Brexit would impact Gibraltar identically as it does the UK. If the United Kingdom leaves, so does Gibraltar.  If the Gibraltar-based online gaming industry wishes to retain access to the EU internal market, a special arrangement will need to be negotiated.

Second, in light of the ‘hard Brexit’ announced by Theresa May on January 17, 2017, the UK (and thus Gibraltar) will likely be treated as a third country. Since the UK Prime Minister wishes to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) with the EU, this does not bode well for the Gibraltar-based online gaming industry.  In the past, the EU has consistently refused to make market access commitments on gambling services in FTAs with third countries.  Concretely, an analysis of the FTAs with Peru and Colombia, and South Korea, shows that the European Union has consistently excluded gambling commitments in its agreements with those countries, even if its counterparts have undertaken commitments in this service sector.

Conclusion

In summary, if the CJEU follows its AG, and decides that the UK and Gibraltar are a single Member State for the purposes of EU law, the online gaming sector in the UK will need to ensure that Gibraltar is not forgotten in the agreement to be negotiated between the EU and the UK following Brexit. If not, Gibraltar-based online gaming providers will be deprived from offering their services into the EU internal market, unless they relocate to an EU Member State.

The Week Ahead in the European Parliament – January 27, 2017

Summary

Next week will be an interesting week in the European Parliament, with a mixture of committee meetings, and plenary sessions. The Parliament will address energy, chemicals, food and drugs, and the constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom and Scotland and Gibraltar respectively.

On Monday, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (“AFCO”) will invite representatives of the government of Gibraltar and Scotland to discuss the impact of the Brexit referendum held on June 23, 2016, and its possible consequences on constitutional relationship between the EU and the UK.

Tuesday will be a very busy day for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”), as votes are expected on various reports.

First, the ENVI Committee is expected to vote on a draft Report on draft recommendation for second reading on the proposal for a new Official Controls Regulation. The objective of the proposal is to enhance existing enforcement mechanisms and official controls by simplifying the legislative framework. The proposal also aims to increase transparency of official controls, as well as the availability of appropriate and stable resources specifically dedicated to these controls. Effective controls contribute to profitable EU imports and exports in the agri-food field, as they ensure high quality standards. The Committee is likely to approve the position of the Council. See the proposal for Regulation here, the position of the Council here, and the draft Report here.

Secondly, the ENVI Committee will vote on a draft non-legislative Resolution on EU options for improving access to medicines. The Resolution aims to support the Commission’s follow-up of the health ministers’ Council Conclusions  on “strengthening the balance in the pharmaceutical systems in the EU and its Member States”, from June 17, 2016, which called for a revision of some intellectual property rights incentives the EU grants to drug makers. The draft Resolution includes many recommendations, including the establishment of an EU public R&D platform funded by some of the profits made by pharmaceutical companies; the promotion of data in private research; the revision of the regulatory framework governing orphan medicines; the definition of what constitutes “unmet needs”; the assessment of the impact of incentives on the development of innovative drugs; the promotion of the reasonable use of pharmaceuticals across the EU; and the development, by the Commission, of means to enhance and foster the availability of generic drugs. See the draft Report here.

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Trump Order Relating to Affordable Care Act

On January 20, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to work to “minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), and to increase the flexibility provided to States to run healthcare programs. While the Executive Order itself does not change any regulation or specific ACA-implementing policy, it sends a signal that the Trump Administration intends to use executive authority to roll back parts of the ACA and increase State flexibility.

Provisions Regarding the ACA

The key provisions of the Executive Order read:

Section 1. It is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148), as amended (the “Act”).  In the meantime, pending such repeal, it is imperative for the executive branch to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.

Sec. 2. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies (agencies) with authorities and responsibilities under the Act shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.

The Order itself does not change the ACA or its implementing regulations. To the contrary, the Order recognizes that “carrying out the directives in this order” may require agencies to go through the rulemaking process, and it instructs all federal agencies to “comply with the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable statutes in considering or promulgating such regulatory revisions.”

However, the Order sends a signal that the Trump Administration intends to use executive authority to roll back parts of the ACA, “[t]o the maximum extent permitted by law,” regardless of when and whether Congress enacts legislation to repeal and replace the ACA.

The Trump Administration has the authority to make significant changes to the regulations implementing the ACA through notice-and-comment rulemaking. CMS can change anything in current regulations that is not expressly set out in the statute (e.g., the definition of Essential Health Benefits).

But the scope of President Trump’s authority to delay or decline to enforce requirements expressly included in the statute is an open question. President Obama chose not to enforce the employer mandate and chose to allow individuals to remain enrolled in non-grandfathered, non-compliant individual market plans, even though both actions were inconsistent with the statutory text. Similarly, President Trump may choose not to enforce any number of provisions of the ACA.  For example, in any interview on Sunday, January 22, White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway stated that the Trump Administration “may” stop enforcing the individual mandate.  In addition, the Executive Order expressly mentions “makers of medical devices,” which has led to some speculation in the press about whether the Trump Administration intends to not enforce the ACA’s medical device tax.  Like the individual mandate, the medical device tax is required by the statutory text of the ACA, and thus cannot be repealed through executive action.  It is possible, however, that the Trump Administration may look to find a way to ease the burden of tax through executive action. In December 2015, Congress imposed a two-year moratorium on collection of the medical device tax, but that moratorium expires at the end of this year (December 31, 2017).  Just as President Obama’s decision to decline to enforce the employer mandate and other statutory requirements was legally questionable, any move by President Trump to decline to enforce the individual mandate or the medical device tax (or anything else expressly required by statute) is vulnerable to legal challenge.

Another important question is whether the Trump Administration will cease making cost sharing subsidy payments to insurers. In U.S. House of Representatives v. Burwell, 14-1967 (D.D.C.), the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed with House Republicans that President Obama lacked the authority to pay cost sharing subsidies because there was no specific appropriation to do so. The court stayed its ruling while the government appeals to the D.C. Circuit, where the case is now pending. The Trump Administration could agree with the House of Representatives and the court that the cost sharing subsidies are illegal and decline to continue to make those payments.

Finally, it is also important to note that the Trump Administration could use Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (“CMMI”) demonstrations – authorized by ACA § 3021, Social Security Act § 1115A – or Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers to “waive” or “grant exemptions from” any number of provisions of the ACA.

All that said, it is not clear exactly what the Trump Administration actually intends to do with respect to the ACA. As Senator Susan Collins (R-ME said earlier today, “the executive order [is] very confusing . . . Until there’s a secretary in place who can interpret the regulations or do the rulemaking to rescind regulations, it’s very difficult to say what the impact of the executive order is going to be.”  Further, making major changes to the ACA – such as declining to make cost sharing subsidy payments or declining to enforce the individual mandate – could create significant disruption in the state insurance markets, cause premiums to rise, and/or lead to litigation. Given this reality, is not clear the extent to which the Trump Administration will roll back provisions of the ACA before the statute itself is repealed and replaced, and it is not clear how much political capital the Trump Administration is willing to spend on this effort.

Provision Regarding State Flexibility

The Executive Order also includes another important provision regarding state flexibility, which did not receive as much press attention. Specifically, President Trump ordered the following:

Sec. 3. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Secretary and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the [ACA], shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs.

This state flexibility provision does not change any regulations or policies.  Further, it is not clear what it means by “healthcare programs,” i.e., it is not clear whether this term cover Medicaid; the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”); Section 1115 demonstrations; Section 1332 waivers; and/or state regulation of health insurance markets.

 

 

 

 

President Trump Acts on Several Trade-Related Campaign Promises

During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump made clear his plans to chart a new course on U.S. trade policy. The first few days of his presidency indicate his commitment to follow through on these plans.

In his Inaugural Address, President Trump included trade among the policy areas that would be guided by an “America First” agenda, and stated:

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

On January 21, President Trump’s first full day in office, the White House website added a policy statement called “Trade Deals Working for All Americans.” This statement sets forth the new administration’s stance on existing trade agreements, negotiating priorities for future agreements, and its stance on trade enforcement.

According to this policy statement, prior trade deals “put the interests of insiders and the Washington elite over the hard-working men and women of this country.” The statement touted President Trump’s “lifetime of negotiating experience” and his understanding of the “critical” need to “put American workers and businesses first when it comes to trade.” As concrete steps, the policy statement suggests that the United States will withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), renegotiate NAFTA, and ensure that any new trade deals are in the interests of American workers. Today, the President issued an Executive Order officially withdrawing the United States from the TPP Agreement.

As for negotiating priorities of the new administration, the January 21 policy statement emphasized the importance of “fighting for fair but tough trade deals” which would “bring jobs back to America’s shores, increase wages, and support U.S. manufacturing.” The policy statement also noted the qualifications of President Trump’s team to perform these functions: “the President is appointing the toughest and smartest to his trade team, ensuring that Americans have the best negotiators possible.”

Finally, the January 21 policy statement suggested that the new administration will take a strong stance on trade enforcement. As the statement provides, the new administration will “crack down on those nations that violate trade agreements and harm American workers in the process.” President Trump appears to envision a strong role for the U.S. Department of Commerce in trade enforcement. This January 21 statement indicates that, to give effect to planned trade enforcement actions, “[t]he President will direct the Commerce Secretary to identify all trade violations and to use every tool at the federal government’s disposal to end these abuses.”

This January 21 policy statement largely reflects statements made in then-candidate Trump’s remarks on October 22, 2016 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, called the “Contract for the American Voter.” In these October 22 remarks, Mr. Trump pledged to “begin taking the following . . . actions to protect American workers” on his first day in office:

  • FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
  • SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
  • FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately

The January 21 policy statement does not mention China’s currency policies. President Trump has reportedly indicated that he would take no action regarding these policies pending bilateral discussions to address his concerns. In written statements following his confirmation hearing last week, President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has left open the possibility of taking action to label China a currency manipulator.

The Week Ahead in the European Parliament

Summary

On Tuesday, January 17, EU MEPs elected the European Christian Democrat Antonio Tajani (EPP, Italy), as new President of the European Parliament. Mr. Tajani will remain in office for two and a half years. See all new nominations (including Vice-Presidents and Quaestors) here.

This week will be very busy in the European Parliament as it is a committee week.

On Monday, the Committee on International Trade (“INTA”) will discuss whether the European Parliament should approve the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”) concluded between the EU and Canada. The Parliament’s consent is required for the Treaty to come into force. The vote in the INTA Committee will take place on Tuesday. The plenary is expected to vote on its approval in the course of February.

On Tuesday, the Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector (“EMIS”) will continue its hearings, taking evidence from Mr. Florian Heuberger, Head of Technical Service and Mr. Oliver Hoffman, Head of Development Powertrain, both of Audi AG.

On the same day, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”) will vote on its report on the proposal for a Directive amending the current Directives on waste. The proposal aims to set new EU targets to foster the recycling of waste, including of vehicles, e-waste and batteries, in an effort to reduce landfilling. See the proposal for Directive amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste here, and the draft Report here; the proposal for a Directive amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste here, and the draft Report here; the proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment here, and the draft Report here; and, finally, the proposal for a Directive amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste here, and the draft Report here.

The ENVI Committee will also consider a draft Report on its Initiative on resource efficiency: reducing food waste and improving food safety. This calls on the Commission and EU Member States to: promote consumer understanding of food safety, food waste and good practices on food management and consumption; promote successful practices of food waste reduction, and resource conservation methods. It further calls on the Commission to allow tax exemptions on food donations, and on the Member States to establish incentives for limiting food waste. See the draft Report here.

On Wednesday, the Maltese Presidency of the Council will also present its priorities to various Parliamentary committees. Mr. Emmanuel Mallia, Maltese Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, and Mr. Chris Agius, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport, will introduce the priorities of the Presidency, respectively, on Telecom policy and the Digital Single Market, and on Research, Innovation and Space, both before the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (“ITRE”). Christian Cardona, Maltese Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, will introduce the Presidency’s broader program to the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (“IMCO”). Discussions will also take place on the Maltese Presidency’s priorities in the Transport and Tourism Committee (“TRAN”) with Joe Mizzi, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister for Tourism. Finally, the Presidency’s maritime and fisheries policy priorities will also be presented to the Committee on Fisheries (“PECH”) by Roderick Galdes, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights.

On the same day, the ITRE Committee (“ITRE”) will vote on its opinion on the proposal for a Regulation introduced by the European Commission on geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination on the basis of customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment. See the proposal for Regulation here, and the draft Report here.

Finally, the Committee on Transport and Tourism (“TRAN”) is also expected to vote on a draft Resolution on the Commission Communication “An Aviation Strategy for Europe” that aims to foster the growth of the EU aviation sector by opening new markets and creating additional opportunities for companies, through the conclusion of new international agreements with key countries, and also to plan the means to manage the growth in traffic. The Commission also wants the EU to maintain its leadership on passenger rights and safety, and environmental protection, while fostering innovation and proposing a clear framework for drones. See the Communication here, and the draft report here.

Meetings and Agenda

Monday, January 23, 2017 

Committee on International Trade

15:00 – 18:30 

  • Discussion on the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada of the one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part
    • Rapporteur: Artis Pabriks (EPP, LV)

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

15:00 – 18:30

  • Consideration of draft report on Binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 for a resilient Energy Union and to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change
    • Rapporteur: Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL)

Committee on Regional Development

15:00 – 18:30

  • Discussion with Ian Borg, Minister for European Funding and Cohesion Policy on Priorities of the Maltese presidency of the Council

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

15:00 – 18:30

  • Discussion with Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality (17.00 – 18.30)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 

Committee on Foreign Affairs

09:00 – 18:30

  • Exchange of views with Stefano Severe, UNHCR Representative in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on the state of play and prospects for refugees including resettlement
  • Exchange of views with Ahmed Said, Chair of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Parliament of the Arab republic of Egypt
  • Exchange of views with George Vella, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, on the priorities of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU on enlargement policy
  • Exchange of views with Daniel J. Costello, Ambassador of Canada to the European Union, and Christian Leffler, Deputy Secretary General and EU chief negotiator for the EU-Canada SPA, on the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Canada

Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector

15:00 – 17:00

  • Hearing of Mr Florian Heuberger, Head of Technical Service and Mr Oliver Hoffman, Head of Development Powertrain, Audi AG

Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion

09:00 – 12:30

  • Public Hearing – The role of lawyers, accountants and bankers in Panama Papers” (Part I)

Committee on International Trade

09:00 – 18:30 

  • Consideration of draft opinion on EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union (COD)
    • Rapporteur: Salvatore Cicu (EPP, IT)
  • Vote on the text agreed during interinstitutional negotiations – Bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Trade Agreement between the EU and its Member States and Colombia and Peru, of the other part (COD)
    • Rapporteur: Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE, FR)
  • Adoption of draft recommendation (consent) on Conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada of the one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part (NLE)
    • Rapporteur: Artis Pabriks (EPP, LV)
  • Discussion on Protection against dumped and subsidized imports from countries not members of the EU (COD)
    • Rapporteur: Salvatore Cicu (EPP, IT)
  • Presentation by Christian Cardona, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, representing the President-in-Office of the Council, on the priorities of the Maltese Presidency in the area of International Trade Policy (15.00 – 16.30)

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

09:00 – 18:30 

  • Adoption of draft report on Directive amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste
    • Rapporteur: Simona Bonafè (S&D, IT)
  • Discussion with Mr José Herrera, Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, Maltese Presidency
  • Discussion with Mr Chris Fearne, Minister for Health, Maltese Presidency
  • Adoption of draft report on Directive amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste
    • Rapporteur: Simona Bonafè (S&D, IT)
  • Adoption of draft report on Directive amending Directives 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment
    • Rapporteur: Simona Bonafè (S&D, IT)
  • Adoption of draft report on Directive amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste
    • Rapporteur: Simona Bonafè (S&D, IT)
  • Adoption of draft opinion on European Semester for economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2017
    • Rapporteur: Nuno Melo (EPP, PT)
  • Consideration of draft report on Initiative on resource efficiency: reducing food waste, improving food safety
    • Rapporteur: Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR)

Committee on Regional Development

09:00 – 18:30

  • Discussion with Iliana Ivanova, Member of the European Court of Auditors, on ECA report on Financial Instruments
  • Workshop on Building blocks of a future EU cohesion policy – first reflections (10.30 -12.15)
  • Vote on a draft resolution on Delayed implementation of ESI Funds operational programs – impact on cohesion policy and the way forward (RSP)
    • Rapporteur: Iskra Mihaylova (ALDE, BG)
  • Discussion with Marc Lemaître, European Commission, Director-General for Regional and Urban Policy

Committee on Culture and Education

09:00 – 18:30

  • Vote on a draft resolution on Implementation report on Creative Europe (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Silvia Costa (S&D, IT)
  • Vote on a draft resolution on Implementation report on Europe for Citizens(INI)
    • Rapporteur: Silvia Costa (S&D, IT)
  • Priorities of the Maltese presidency of the Council – discussion with Hon. Evarist Bartolo, Minister of Education and Employment,  and Hon. Owen Bonnici, Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government
  • Public hearing on “Academic further and distance education as part of the European lifelong learning strategy” (15.00-18.30)

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

09:00 – 18:30

  • Discussion with Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship (15.00-17.00)Wednesday, January 25, 2017 

Committee on Development

9:00 – 18:30

  • Adoption of a draft report on Revision of the European Consensus on Development (INI)
    • Co-rapporteurs:  Bogdan Brunon Wenta (EPP, PL) and Norbert Neuser (S&D, DE)
  • Discussion with George Vella, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta on the Priorities of the Maltese Presidency in humanitarian aid 

Subcommittee on Security and Defence

9:00 – 18:30

  • Preparatory Action for EU Defence Research – Discussion with: Philippe Brunet, Director, Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence, DG GROW, European Commission, and Denis Roger, Director, European Synergies and Innovation, European Defence Agency
  • Military cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe – Discussion with Lieutenant General Andrzej Falkowski, Polish Military Representative to NATO, and Colonel Serhii Rechych, Defence Adviser, Mission of Ukraine to the EU, and with the Representatives from Lithuania and Slovakia (tbc)
  • The future of EU Battlegroups – Discussion with Brigadier General Daniel Grammatico, Director Operations, EU Military Staff, and Niklas Novaky, University of Aberdeen, visiting researcher at VUB Brussels

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

  • Economic Dialogue and discussion with Edward SCUCKYBA, ECOFIN President and Minister for Finance of Malta (09.15-10.30)
  • Vote on the text agreed during interinstitutional negotiations – Prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading (COD)
    • Rapporteur: Petr Ježek (ALDE, CZ)
  • Vote on a report Establishing a Union program to support specific activities enhancing the involvement of consumers and other financial services end-users in Union policy making in the field of financial services for the period of 2017-2020 – (COD)
    • Rapporteur: Philippe Lamberts (Greens/EFA, BE)
  • Vote on Banking Union – Annual Report 2016 (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Danuta Maria Hubner (EPP, PL)
  • Joint ECON-BUDGET Meeting  (12.00-12.30)
  • Discussion with Hans Hoogervorst, Chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and Michel Prada, Chairman of the IFRS Foundation Trustees (15.00-16.00)

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

9:00 – 18:30

  • Discussion with Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on the Clean Energy Package and preparations for the annual State of the Energy Union Report, as part of the Structured Dialogue
  • Presentation of STOA study “Language equality in a digital age – towards a Human Language project” (together with CULT committee)
  • Priorities for Telecom policy and the Digital Single Market, Mr. Emmanuel Mallia, Maltese Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy and priorities for Research, Innovation and Space, Mr. Chris Agius, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport
  • Priorities for Industrial and SME policy, Mr. Chris Cardona, Maltese Minister for the Economy, Investment and priorities for the Energy policy, Mr. Konrad Mizzi, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

9:00 – 18:30

  • Presentation of the Council Presidency’s program with Maltese Minister Christian Cardona, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business

Committee on Transport and Tourism

9:00 – 18:30

  • Priorities of the Maltese presidency of the Council – discussion with Joe Mizzi, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure  and Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister for Tourism
  • Presentation by Markku Mylly, EMSA Executive Director

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

9:00 – 18:30

  • Discussion with Blairo Maggi, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply of Brazil
  • Vote on a draft resolution – Minimum Standards for the Protection of Farm Rabbits (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE)
  • Vote on a draft resolution – Responsible ownership and care of equidae (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Julie Girling (ECR, UK)

Committee on Fisheries

15:00 – 18:30

  • Priorities of the Maltese Presidency of the Council – discussion with Roderick Galdes, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights

Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

9:00 – 12:30

  • Vote on draft resolution – Equality between women and men in the European Union in 2014/2015 (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, ES)
  • Vote on draft resolution – EU funds for gender equality (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Clare Moody (S&D, UK)
  • Vote on draft report – Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) – recommendation to Council
    • Co-rapporteurs: Constance Le Grip (EPP, FR) and Maria Arena (S&D, BE)
  • Priorities of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union – discussion with Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties (11.00-12.30)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion

10:30 – 12:30

  • Joint exchange of views PANA/ECON with presidency of Malta and the incoming presidency of Estonia to discuss their priorities in the area of tax evasion and anti-money laundering 

Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion

14:00 – 16:00

  • Joint exchange of views PANA/ECON with presidency of Malta and the incoming presidendy of Estonia to discuss their priorities in the area of tax evasion and anti-money laundering

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

9:00 – 12:00

  • Presentation of the Council Presidency’s program – Discussion with Evarist Bartolo (Minister for Education and Employment), Helena Dalli (Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs, and Civil Liberties) and Michael Farrugia (Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity)
  • Discussion with James Calleja (Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP))
  • Discussion with Juan Menéndez-Valdés (Director of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFOUND))
  • Discussion with Madlen Serban (Director of the European Training Foundation (ETF))

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

9:00 – 18:30

  • Joint meeting of ITRE and IMCO on “Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market: Opportunities and Challenges for Europe”
  • Vote on the text agreed during interinstitutional negotiations – Use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band in the Union
    • Rapporteur: Patrizia Toia (S&D, IT)
  • Public Hearing – “The Review of the Framework for Electronic Communications”

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

9:00 – 18:30

  • Adoption of draft opinion – Annual Report on the Single Market Governance within the European Semester 2017
  • Rapporteur: Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP, ES)
  • Vote on the text agreed during interinstitutional negotiations – Control of the acquisition and possession of weapons
    • Rapporteur: Vicky Ford (ECR, UK)

Committee on Transport and Tourism

9:00 – 12:30

  • Vote on a draft resolution – An Aviation Strategy for Europe (INI)
    • Rapporteur: Pavel Telička (ALDE, CZ)
  • Presentation by M Herics, Rapporteur of the Court of Auditors’ Special Report 23/2016 on Maritime transport in the EU: in troubled waters – much ineffective and unsustainable

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

9:00 – 12:30

  • Priorities of the Maltese presidency of the Council – discussion with Roderick Galdes, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights

Committee on Fisheries

9:00 – 12:30

  • Vote on the draft corrigendum relating to the EMFF (Regulation (EU) No 508/2014)
  • Vote on the text agreed during interinstitutional negotiations – Union framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and support for scientific advice regarding the Common Fisheries Policy (recast) (COD)
  • Vote on a draft interim report – Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Government of the Cook Islands (INI)
    • Rapporteur: João Ferreira (GUE/NGL, PT)
  • Vote on draft recommendation – Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Government of the Cook Islands (NLE)
    • Rapporteur: João Ferreira (GUE/NGL, PT)
  • Discussion with Pascal Savouret, Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), on the 2017 work programme
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