Parliaments

What's on this week at the European Parliament?

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It's back to business for MEPs this week as they return to Strasbourg for the first of their two plenary weeks this month.

Plans to strengthen the EU's trade control regime for tools that could be used in torture and standardise means tests for legal aid top the legislative agenda.

Following agreement last week between environment ministers, MEPs could also give their approval to the UN's Paris climate deal on Tuesday lunchtime.

It would give the green light to ministers to ratify the deal on behalf of the EU this week and meet a self-imposed deadline set by Slovakia's presidency of the bloc.

Tuesday will also see a debate on the "Jungle" migrant camp near Calais, which Francois Hollande has vowed to dismantle before the end of the year.

And discussions over the future of EU migration and trade policy will dominate a debate on Wednesday on this month's European Council summit.

Here are the main events coming up this week...

Monday

The sitting will kick off with a debate on the future of the Cotonou Agreement, which is due to expire in early 2020.

The treaty sets out the human rights provisions for trade and aid agreements between the EU and 78 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

On Tuesday, MEPs will vote on a motion calling for any new agreement to give a greater role to NGOs in monitoring respect for rights clauses.

The EU's position on a new agreement is expected before May next year. MEPs will have to ratify any new deal before it can come into effect.

MEPs will also discuss funding for an EU programme which aims to help reduce levels of malnutrition and growth stunting in developing countries.

The €3.5bn nutrition action plan, launched last year, aims to reduce stunting by 7 million children by 2025.

They will also debate funding for an EU scheme which aims to tackle the trade in illegal logging.

Last October, the European Court of Auditors criticised the Commission's support for the scheme, which it said was "not sufficiently well managed".

Tuesday

The morning sitting begins with a debate on legislation to establish EU-wide standards on claiming legal aid during court proceedings.

It would set common conditions for financial means tests and "merit tests" used to determine whether applicants for legal aid are eligible.

Negotiators from the Parliament reached a provisional deal on the new law at the end of June, to be put to a final vote at lunchtime.

The new standards will not apply to the UK, which has chosen to use its treaty right to opt out.

They will also discuss and vote on new proposals aiming to strengthen EU trade controls on products that could be used for torture.

Such products have been subject to trade controls at an EU level since 2006, but rights groups claim they contain a number of loopholes.

The voting session will also see MEPs vote to ratify the UN's Paris climate agreement negotiated last year.

It follows agreement last week from national ministers to fast-track the ratification procedure at EU level instead of waiting for lengthy national ratifications.

It means the deal could now legally enter into force from early next month.

In the afternoon, MEPs will debate conflicts of interest for former commissioners after recent scandals.

It follows criticism of the recent appointment of former Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso as an advisor at US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

After that, MEPs will debate President Hollande's plan to dismantle the "Jungle" migrant camp outside Calais by the end of the year.

Half the camp was dismantled earlier this year and it has become a major issue ahead of France's presidential elections next spring.

Mr Hollande has called on the UK to "play its part" in the humanitarian effort in dismantling the camp.

Following this, they will discuss whether EU teenagers should be given free continent-wide inter-rail passes on their 18th birthday.

The idea was recently suggested by leading German MEP Manfred Weber as a means of promoting support for the EU amongst youngsters.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Would free rail passes make teenagers fall in love with the EU?

In the evening they will also debate the Commission's latest proposals for implementing a promised ban on mobile roaming charges due next year.

The initial proposal was withdrawn following criticism of plans to limit an outright ban to just 90 days a year.

The EU executive's latest proposal replaces the time limits with a tool allowing telecoms operators to ask for higher fees for users who "abuse" the system.

Wednesday

The morning sitting will see MEPs debate the forthcoming summit of EU leaders taking place in Brussels later this month.

The draft agenda so far includes discussions on migration, relations with Russia and the future direction of EU trade policy.

It comes after opposition to the ratification of an EU trade deal with Canada, and stalling of trade talks with the US.

The future of the EU's migration policy is also up in the air again following rejection of binding refugee quotas by voters in Hungary in a referendum on Sunday.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker effectively admitted the failure of the contentious EU policy during his state of the union speech last month, when he told MEPs that "solidarity must be given voluntarily…it cannot be forced".

After the lunchtime voting session, MEPs will debate the situation in Syria following the recent collapse of a US and Russia-negotiated ceasefire in the country.

The latest truce was broken last month after only a few days and attacks on eastern Aleppo have since intensified.

They will also debate a peace deal between the Colombian government and left-wing Farc rebels signed last month.

The future of the deal is now in doubt following its rejection by voters in a referendum over the weekend.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The draft law has led to protests from both pro and anti-abortion groups

MEPs will also debate women's rights in Poland following a parliamentary vote to give preliminary approval to a draft law banning abortion outright.

Abortion in the country is only allowed if the pregnancy poses a serious threat to a mother's life or if the pregnancy is the result of rape.

The draft bill would impose a total ban and bring in jail sentences for women who terminate pregnancies.

In the evening, they will also discuss the Commission's latest lobbying transparency rules, which were announced last week.

The plans would extend the scope of the EU's voluntary transparency register to cover all three of the EU's main institutions, as well as making it mandatory.

The updated scheme would mean all lobby groups would have to register on a list before being able to hold meetings with commissioners, MEPs or ministers.

Thursday

A short sitting will see MEPs debate a report on how well member states implemented EU law during 2014.

It showed the Commission received 3,715 complaints reporting potential breaches of EU legislation, and launched 893 new infringement procedures.

Spain (553), Italy (475) and Germany (276) were the EU states against whom the most complaints were filed.

They will also debate and vote on three human rights cases, including that of British human rights activist Andy Hall in Thailand.

Mr Hall, who campaigned for the rights of migrant workers in the country's fruit industry, was recently found guilty of defamation and computer crimes.

Hall had contributed to a report by a Finnish watchdog, Finnwatch, in 2013 alleging the Natural Fruit Company mistreated its workers.

The watchdog's executive director has used the Thai authorities of trying to "stifle" campaigners speaking in support of migrant worker rights.

Please note: This agenda is subject to modification at the opening of the session on Monday afternoon.

A guide to how the European Parliament's plenary sessions can be found here.

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