11/05/2011 European Parliament: What does the plenary session have in store?

As happens every month, MEPs will be in Strasbourg for one week, May 9th to 12th, for the European Parliament’s plenary session. For four days, MEPs are invited to debate and vote on issues as diverse as the Innovation Union, the EU’s trade relations, stress tests for banks and a review of the Small Business Act. Lastly, due to unfolding events, MEPs will also react to the recent Commission proposal for possible changes to the Schengen Agreement.

Innovation Union: Transforming Europe for a post-crisis world

This initiative is one of seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. It involves reinvigorating EU growth by prioritising innovation or in the words of Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, “turning ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress”.

The report being put to vote in Parliament emphasises:

  • better access to credit and financial support
  • more R&D investment
  • clear regulations
  • good cooperation between European, national, regional and local authorities and between public and private partners
  • a simple and cost-effective patent institution
  • a flexible policy for public procurement
Free-trade Agreement with India

During the last EU/India summit in December 2010, political leaders wanted to accelerate the negotiation process in order to conclude it before the end of 2011. MEPs will want more information on how negotiations are progressing, not least because this is the biggest negotiation ever held with a third country.

Lobbyists and interest groups

Will MEPs on Wednesday approve the agreement negotiated by the Parliament and Commission for greater transparency in the European political system? It aims to establish a common register of the different lists of interest groups that revolve around the European Institutions.

Supplementary macro financial assistance for Georgia

The autumn 2008 financial crisis worsened Georgia’s own economic situation. The financial assistance to be voted on Tuesday May 10th aims to support the country’s recovery after their armed conflict with Russia but should also help Georgia deal with the consequences of the global financial and economic crisis.

EU/Canada Trade Relations

MEPs will question the Commission on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Canada is one of the European Union’s oldest and closest partners. During the EU-Canada summit on May 6th 2009 in Prague, Canadian and European leaders announced the launch of negotiations on a general economic and trade agreement.

The aim is to finish these negotiations before the end of 2011 with the liberalisation of trade in services but also with the removal of tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers. MEPs however would like further information on how the negotiations are progressing, their content and the impact of this potential cooperation.

Stress tests in the banking sector

EU/Japan Trade Relations

MEPs will also ask the Commission on Monday May 9th about the conditions in a possible free-trade agreement between the EU and Japan.

According to the European Parliament, the stress test undertaken by the European Institutions in July 2010 have not succeeded in restoring confidence in the financial sector. A new test was created by the European Banking Authority in March 2011. MEPs have several questions to ask on this topic.
These questions include: What are the main changes that have been made to avoid repeating the failure of last year’s tests? What are the reasons for not including the most adverse scenarios in the stress tests? When will the Commission come forward with a strategy to recapitalise and, if necessary, restructure the European banking sector, which deals, among other issues, with possible ailing financial institutions?

Re-examining the Small Business Act

MEPs are once again questioning the Commission, and also the Council, on the Small Business Act (SBA), adopted in 2008, but in the process of being re-examined. The Small Business Act aims to establish a general policy framework for the European Union on the subject of entrepreneurship.
This review of the SBA should provide an overview of progress made and define new actions to respond to the challenges of the economic crisis.

Agricultural and forestry tractors

will also be in the spotlight at this plenary session when no less than five reports will be put to parliamentary vote on the subject. The reports aim to improve and clarify regulations with respect to these vehicles.

How does the Council plan to keep the promises it made in 2009 regarding implementation? Does the Council expect to resolve the deadlock on the European private company statute before the end of 2011? What measures does the Commission intend to take to ensure a better implementation of the SBA principles in Member States? These are just some of the questions that will be asked on May 11th.

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