News from Parliaments

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Finnish Grand Committee adopts initial parliamentary position on COVID-19 recovery plan

On Friday, 12 June, the Grand Committee of the Finnish Parliament adopted the Eduskunta’s position ahead of Member State negotiations on the European Commission’s updated draft multiannual financial framework and Covid-19 recovery plan.   The Grand Committee has no objections at this stage to the Government’s position that was submitted in document E 64/2020. The Grand Committee expects to develop its position during negotiations. The Grand Committee’s statement to the Government (SuVL 6/2020) and supporting documents can be read (in Finnish and partly in Swedish) on the Eduskunta’s web site.   In Finnish: In Swedish:   The Grand Committee observes that EU-level recovery measures enjoy wide support in the Member States and business circles and among experts. Disagreement concerns financing and the legal basis.   Referring to the opinions of the Finance and Commerce Committees, the Grand Committee notes that, if adopted, the recovery plan would have a beneficial effect on the Finnish economy, as exports are a large part of our economy.   The opinion of the Constitutional Law Committee states that “this is not about developing a federal state, but about exceptional and temporary recovery measures.” The opinion of the Constitutional Law Committee examines questions that might be constitutionally sensitive. The Grand Committee’s statement instructs the Government to clarify and, if needed, remove these items.   The Grand Committee consider that Finland should be prepared to consider developing the EU’s own resources system. Introducing a plastics charge or tax as a new own resource is seen as helpful to both the Finnish economy and to the environment.   The ratio of loans and grants in the recovery programme calls for reconciling Finland’s long-standing emphasis on national responsibility for economic policy with considerations of debt sustainability in the Member States, and thus the stability of the Euro, and the growth targeted by the recovery plan, say the Grand Committee.   The Grand Committee notes that the difference between today’s situation and the previous decade’s financial crisis has obvious implications for the conditions to be attached to recovery assistance. Care must be, taken, however, not to lose incentives for responsible economic policies and modernisation.   Directing the flow of funds through the multiannual financial framework promotes the transparency, legitimacy and scrutiny of the assistance. The arrangement means that also rule of law considerations, a Finnish priority, can be ensured. The Grand Committee adds that the opportunity should be taken to include measures to combat the grey economy in the assistance criteria.   The Grand Committee underlines that the recovery fund is temporary and linked to the Covid-19 crisis. It is important that the fund’s criteria and practice reflect the pandemic’s impact on the economy and employment in the Member States.   The Grand Committee agrees with the Government that the compatibility of the recovery instrument with European law, specifically articles 310 and 311 TFEU will need to be confirmed as negotiations progress.   The Grand Committee’s statement drew on opinions to the Constitutional Law Committee (PeVL 16/2020), the Finance Committee (VaVL 2/2020) and the Commerce Committee (TaVL 15/2020). 

Source: The Parliament of Finland 

Finnish Parliament supports the goal of strengthening the EU’s climate policy by means of legal measures

On Wednesday, 10 June, the Grand Committee decided on the Parliament’s position on the processing of the European Climate Law. It agrees with the Government’s position and emphasises the considerations presented by the Parliament’s special committees.   The Grand Committee’s position SuVL 5/2020 vp and other documents related to the matter have been published on the Parliament’s website in Finnish and will be later published in Swedish.  

In Finnish: In Swedish: 

  The objective of the European Climate Law is to create a framework for achieving climate neutrality in the EU by, among other things, setting a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and giving regulations about a new EU target for 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reductions as well as measures related to the adaptation to climate change.   The Grand Committee supports the goal of strengthening the EU’s climate policy by means of legal measures. Strengthening the binding nature of measures, even more ambitious emission reduction targets and developing the legislation accordingly also help Finland achieve its national carbon neutrality target by 2035 and carbon negativity soon after that.   Finland is one of the few EU Member States that has a national Climate Change Act with legal requirements. It is therefore in Finland’s interests to promote a development where climate policy is strengthened by means of legislation in the other Member States as well, the Grand Committee states in its position.   The Grand Committee finds that all EU Member States should do their part so that the climate neutrality target can be achieved and that the EU should, as a climate leader, seek to get global actors to commit themselves to even more ambitious targets. The European Climate Law is a part of the execution of the European Green Deal. The Grand Committee has discussed the European Green Deal previously in its position SuVL 3/2020.   The Grand Committee supports the Commission proposal’s principles of regular reviews and measuring of progress and emphasises the need to strengthen the scientific basis for climate law as well as the measures needed in order to adapt to climate change.   The Committee finds that emissions trading is the primary means of reducing emissions in energy production and the industry and supports its strengthening and investigating its expansion (SuVL 3/2020 vp).   Carbon reservoirs and carbon sinks in the land use sector should still be managed nationally in each Member State. The climate actions of countries implementing an ambitious climate policy should not benefit other countries. The emission reduction results in the land use sector should, however, be coordinated and evaluated on the EU level, the Grand Committee states.   Preparation of Climate Law must be open and participatory   The Grand Committee emphasises the significance of transparency and participation in the preparation of the matter. The EU’s climate policy is of great importance for society, and climate change cannot be mitigated or adapted to effectively through measures implemented by Member States solely. An open dialogue of the EU’s policy actions is important.   The construction of a climate neutral society requires major changes that are impossible without the support of citizens in order to ensure social justice and a fair transition, the Grand Committee concludes. 

Source: The Parliament of Finland

EP Weekly agenda 15-19 June 2020

A week of committees’ meetings and plenary session at the European Parliament. Commissioner Jurova meets LIBE members for a structural dialogue in LIBE and ECON holds a public hearing on the economic consequences of the COVID outbreak on Monday afternoon. The plenary will take place on 17-18 June.  

Full list of meetings with agendas and link to webstreaming can be found here:

  Source: The European Parliament

Plenary Debate in the Swedish Riksdag on the Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence

On 3 June 2020, the Swedish Riksdag held a plenary debate on the Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The debate was based on the statement by the Committee on Education.

In the statement, the Committee welcomes the Commission’s White Paper on AI and acknowledges the potential of the AI technology in areas such as welfare and competitiveness. It stresses the importance of a proportional regulatory framework that balances the risks of AI and safeguards the functioning of the internal market in connection with the introduction of new rules. The Committee considers that the White Paper contributes to the ongoing discussion on how the EU can benefit from AI and notes that AI will play an increasingly important role to both the lives of individuals and the economic development. The relevant summary of the Committee’s statement can be found here.

Source: The Swedish Riksdag

European Parliament Weekly Agenda 8-12 June 2020

On Monday 8 June, ECB President, Christine Lagarde will attend the ECON Committee , Commissioners Didier Reynders and Elisa Ferreira will participate respectively to IMCO and REGI meetings on the same day. Always on Monday, AFCO will hold a discussion on the Conference on the Future of Europe.

On 12 June, AFET and INTA will vote the amendments to the draft resolution on the future EU-UK Agreement, that should then be tabled for the plenary meeting of the following week.

The complete list of meetings is available here

Source: European Parliament

EP Study on Better Regulation practices in National Parliaments

The European Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) recently published a Study on Better Regulation practices in National Parliaments. The study, produced by the Ex-Post Evaluation (EVAL) Unit within DG EPRS, maps the capacities and experiences of the national parliaments of all 27 EU Member States and of 11 further Council of Europe countries in the field of ex-ante impact assessment and ex-post evaluation. The study reveals that roughly half of the surveyed parliaments engage in Better Regulation activities beyond classical parliamentary scrutiny mechanisms, in very diverse ways, spanning from passive scrutiny to an active use of impact assessment and evaluation. The present study would not have been possible without the substantial input from national parliaments. It draws on a survey conducted via the ECPRD network.

The study is available on the European Parliament’s webpage

Source: European Parliament

House of Representatives of Cyprus: Meeting on the effect of Covid-19 on agriculture and fisheries sector - Exchange of views with of the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment

On 26th of May 2020, the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the House of Representatives of Cyprus had a meeting in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, on the effect of Covid-19 on the agriculture and fisheries sector and on the government measures for mitigating the impacts incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the meeting, the members of the Committee expressed their concerns on different issues regarding the problems that the agriculture and fisheries sector are called to face due to this unprecedented pandemic.
The members of the Committee discussed the implementation on the EU scheme of direct support to farmers and rural areas [loans or guarantees for operational costs, state aid to farmers and food processing companies (‘de minimis’ aid)], the temporary derogation from EU competition rules in particular on private storage aid and the problems arising from the lack of seasonal workers. The extension of the measure on private storage to other sectors such as pigmeat, poultry & eggs was also discussed. The members of the Committee also welcomed the European Commission measures for the extension of the deadline for CAP payment applications.
They also noted that any relevant measures adopted by the government, should take into consideration the new EU initiation “farm to fork”, the new roadmap for further initiatives on preserving and protecting biodiversity and on designing a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system.
Finally, the Committee noted the measures taken so far and expressed their willingness to support any further government measures and actions that mitigate the impact of this unprecedented pandemic on the agriculture and Fisheries sector.

Source: House of Representatives of Cyprus

EP Weekly Agenda 2-5 June 2020

Another week of Committees meeting at the European Parliament, including an exchange of views in AGRI on 2 June with Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for Budget and Administration, on the new MFF proposal and the recovery plan after the outbreak of COVID-19 with special focus on the future CAP and agricultural matters. Meeting on 4 June, AFET members will have an In camera - Exchange of views with Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues (in compliance with the Declaration on Political Accountability of the HR/VP) and a discussion on Latest developments in EU-China relations: a geostrategic outlook, Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific, EEAS. On 5 June DROI members will have an Exchange of views on The use of digital surveillance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full list of meetings, with their agenda can be found here:

Source: European Parliament

European Affairs Committee of the French Senate adopted on 6 May 2020 a Political Opinion on monitoring respect for the rule of law in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic

The European Affairs Committee of the French Senate adopted on 6 May 2020 a Political Opinion on monitoring respect for the rule of law in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The text of the political opinion can be found here (FR)

Source: French Senate

Remote voting in the EP

A new ‘Plenary-voting’ application, developed in-house by EP services DG
ITEC and PRES, makes a bridge between existing applications to allow
for remote voting by Members during plenary sittings.To use the new
system, Members can connect from anywhere with a hybrid computer
provided by the European Parliament or via a personal device using a
physical or SMS token.
From the technology side, EP
standards (such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript) were used for the
development of the applications. The system is accessible from the most
popular browsers (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and
Opera). As it is accessible from everywhere, there was a focus on the
reactivity, reliability, availability, resilience and security.
Moreover, all Members, including those present in Parliament’s premises,
vote in the same way.

Before deploying the new application in
the plenary, MEPs were invited to try the application in a series of
small test voting sessions. Moreover, a simulation where all MEPs voted
together was executed.

The May plenary session saw the successful
new remote-voting application used by MEPs. More than 350 votes were
processed in a swift and safe manner. This was a seminal moment,
showcasing technology’s contribution to the European Parliament's
democratic mission.

How does it work?

To access the
Plenary-voting application, Members go through a two-step authentication
process using a personal token (either physical or SMS) that was
provided by the MEP IT Support Unit prior to the voting. In addition,
MEP IT Support provides on-site support during the plenary, while
respecting the social distancing measures put in place, as well as
remote support for Members that are attending the plenary from their

When the President opens the vote, Members
receive a link to an online ballot form, which is accessible for the
duration of the voting time. Once Members finalise their vote on the
application, they receive an email with a ballot paper in PDF format,
pre-filled with their votes, which they must print, sign, scan and send
back for their votes to be taken into account.

Staff from DG PRES
who are in charge of preparing the votes, checking and registering the
votes were much involved in the definition of the requirements, working
in a pragmatic way with a collaborative spirit. They are now managing
the votes (preparation, verification, publication of results) with the
new application.

Source: European Parliament
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