09/09/2011 What does the September session have in store for us?

European Parliament activity is heating up again with the first plenary session starting on September 12th. This will be the day after the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, and MEPs will be discussing the report on the European Union’s anti-terrorism policy. Issues of the economy and budgets will also be to the fore with a debate on the Eurozone crisis and presentation of the Council’s position on the 2012 budget. MEPs will also be looking at energy issues.

The Eurozone crisis is still central to the debates

On the morning of Wednesday September 14th, European Commission and Council representatives will come before MEPs to debate developments in the Eurozone crisis. The debate is expected to focus on measures aiming to deal with strengthening the EU’s bailout mechanism and longer term solutions for stabilising the Eurozone – like Eurobonds – as well as the ongoing work on developing an economic governance system.

On the same day, the Council of EU finance ministers will present its position on the EU budget for 2012. The ministers want to limit the budget increase to 2.9% for commitments (long-term estimations) and 2.02% for payments (actual spending in 2012). The Commission proposed increases of 3.7% and 4.9% respectively. MEPs, for their part, want Europe to be much more ambitious and think that Europe should have its own resources. This position is a long way from that held by the Member States. The debate is already proving interesting!

The fight against terrorism

The fight against terrorism will also be on the agenda via Sophia in ‘t Veld’s report on the EU’s anti-terrorist policy. This report highlights the positive contribution made by the Commission’s communication of July 2010 on the EU’s anti-terrorist policy but states that it does not go far enough. The report contains several proposals, particularly the establishment of an independent group of experts to evaluate the last ten years of anti-terrorist policy and to gauge if these were coherent and addressed the necessary points. Furthermore, the Commission is invited to do a study in order to find out if the anti-terrorism policies have been subject to democratic control.

Surveillance and profiling are also touched upon in the report. The report calls on the Commission to strengthen protection of civil liberties and fundamental rights as well as transparency and democratic control. These principles must be closely adhered to when implementing anti-terrorist policies in order to ensure that the controls do not get out of hand.

Energy security

Energy issues will also be looked at by MEPs. The report by Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA) proposes that an effective strategy for raw materials be put in place in Europe. He believes that it is necessary for the European Union to have a coherent approach to this market in order to increase European competitiveness as well as sustainability and security of supply. A purely European approach and an approach that ties in with third countries (for example, United States, Australia, Canada) are also being considered.

A second report in this domain will also be presented, drafted by Vicky Ford (ECR); it is about securing offshore oil and gas activities. This report comes at a time when the international context is ripe for debate with the recent upheaval in North Africa (Egypt and Libya) as well as the recent inauguration by Russia of its North Stream pipeline. MEPs are thus expected to take this new information into account during the debates.

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