Parliaments

Week ahead in the European Parliament

Turkey and EU flag Image copyright Reuters

A rather thin legislative agenda awaits MEPs at their monthly plenary sitting in Strasbourg this week.

Among the five legislative votes scheduled, Wednesday's vote on new national emissions caps for five pollutants is most likely to generate attention.

Not for the first time this year, the main political interest may lie in the motion votes - chief among which is a vote on the EU's strained relations with Turkey.

On Thursday, MEPs will vote on a draft resolution calling for the EU to freeze the country's accession talks following a failed coup against the government in July.

It comes as the main centre-left group last week abandoned support for the current talks following crackdowns against journalists and opposition politicians.

Although the vote will not be binding on EU governments, it could serve to further worsen relations between the bloc and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Here's a rundown of the main events this week…

Monday

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi will join MEPs at the start of the day's sitting to debate the Bank's annual report for 2015.

Last year saw the ECB launch a massive bond-buying programme, known as quantitative easing (QE), in a bid to boost borrowing in the eurozone.

It also marked the first full year of the ECB exercising its new responsibilities for supervising the health of the eurozone's largest banks.

Image copyright Reuters

Critics of the QE programme have said it hits savers and widens inequality by boosting asset prices.

However Bank chiefs have said the programme has played an important role in supporting a still-fragile eurozone recovery.

After this, MEPs will debate proposed changes to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision's international banking requirements.

There is some concern the changes could put some European banks at a disadvantage to their US competitors.

In the evening, MEPs will debate three non-binding motions that will be put a vote on Tuesday - the most noteworthy is a motion calling for greater military co-operation between EU states.

Tuesday

In the morning, MEPs will debate how EU debt and deficit rules should be applied next year.

The EU Commission said last week that the draft budgets of eight eurozone countries were "at risk" of not complying with agreed EU limits.

However some MEPs have criticised the EU executive for not taking punitive action against states that break the rules.

They will also debate new EU rules obliging tax authorities to automatically share certain bank account information to tackle money laundering.

After the lunchtime voting session, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini will join MEPs to discuss the situation in Syria.

It comes as the Syrian government last week renewed air strikes and shelling on rebel-held parts of Aleppo, according to activists.

They will then debate relations with Turkey, which have been under strain since a failed coup against the government of President Erdogan in July.

A crackdown against opposition politicians, civil servants and journalists in the wake of the coup attempt has prompted increasing criticism from within the EU.

A topical motion which could call for the country's EU membership bid to be frozen will be voted on during Thursday's session.

After this, MEPs will debate draft motions on the EU's common security and defence policies, and efforts to counter "disinformation and propaganda" from Russia and Islamic State (IS) group.

In the evening they will also discuss plans for an EU "skills guarantee" scheme to boost literacy and numeracy skills among low-skilled adults.

The scheme would target those without a formal secondary education but too old to be eligible for the EU's youth guarantee scheme for under-25s.

Wednesday

The morning sitting will see MEPs debate stricter national emissions caps for five key pollutants, to apply from 2030.

MEPs agreed a compromise position on the new legal limits with member states at the end of June, which will be put to a final vote at lunchtime.

New limits for methane - as originally proposed by the Commission in 2013 - were dropped after opposition from some governments.

Image copyright AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image caption The new limits will apply to nitrogen oxides emitted by cars

The winner of the annual LUX prize for European cinema will be announced at around 11.00 GMT, before lunchtime's voting session.

Among the motions to be put to the vote is one calling for the EU's recently-signed trade deal with Canada to be examined by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The agreement was signed last month after seven years of negotiations - but still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament before it can fully come into force.

Eighty-nine MEPs have backed a motion asking for the Court to rule on whether the investor protection measures in the deal comply with EU law.

Without substantial support from the centre-right parties, it is unlikely to be passed.

After the voting session, MEPs will debate a proposal to grant €200m in EU loans to Jordan to help it cope with economic instability and refugee crisis.

A vote on whether to approve the loans will take place on Thursday.

They will also debate changes to EU rules governing cross-border pensions, also to be put to a vote on Thursday.

The evening will see discussions on non-binding motions to change the EU's VAT rules to clamp down on fraud, and calling for EU-wide sanctions on the traffickers of wildlife products.

Thursday

The day's short sitting starts with a debate with European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly about her department's work during 2015.

At lunchtime MEPs are likely to pass a motion backing her investigations into "revolving doors" cases involving EU ex-commissioners.

Ms O'Reilly recently raised concerns about the appointment of Jose Manuel Barroso as an advisor at US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Last month an EU ethics panel cleared the ex-Commission President of breaching the EU executive's conduct rules.

The Ombudsman has hinted that she may open an inquiry given the "concern that continues to be expressed" about the appointment.

After this MEPs will debate this month's resolutions on human rights cases - this month relating to China, Brazil and Russia.

The motion on Turkey's EU membership bid will be voted on at lunchtime, along with a motion on the situation in Syria following the debate on Tuesday.

A short afternoon session will consist of a single short debate on access to energy targets in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

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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