Parliaments

Week ahead in the European Parliament

Justin Trudeau in Brussels Image copyright European Parliament
Image caption Justin Trudeau signed the trade deal in Brussels last October

After seven years of talks, MEPs will finally decide whether to ratify the EU's trade deal with Canada during their plenary sitting in Strasbourg this week.

Although ratification in national parliaments will be needed before its total application, approval of the deal would be an important symbolic moment.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to speak to MEPs on Thursday, the day after the ratification vote.

The speech will be the first made to a full meeting of the Parliament by a Canadian PM.

New Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen will also make his first address to MEPs on Tuesday.

As well as that, MEPs are due to vote on new legislation relating to border checks and terrorist offences.

They will also vote on a motion setting out their position on where the EU should go after Brexit.

Here are the main events coming up in the week ahead...

Monday

The sitting will kick off in the afternoon with a debate on ways to promote greater use of natural pesticides in European farming.

In a motion on Wednesday, MEPs are likely to call for current EU authorisation rules for such pesticides to be eased.

The day's main debate is on suggestions for improving the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS), a scheme which aims to reduce carbon emissions.

The scheme works by making large power plants buy "allowances" authorising them to emit greenhouse gases, within an overall agreed limit.

Critics of the system say it is ineffective because the price of permits is too low and the overall cap has become overly generous due to lower economic activity.

The EU Commission has proposed to increase the speed at which emissions permits are withdrawn from the market in the nine years running up to 2030.

MEPs will take a position on the changes on Wednesday, although the necessary agreement from EU governments on where to go from here has not yet been found.

Image copyright Reuters

In the evening, they will debate non-binding reports in a number of areas, including one on the EU's competition policy.

They will also debate a draft motion which calls for whistleblowers to gain greater protection in EU law.

Tuesday

The day begins with a debate on three separate motions on the future of the treaties and powers of the EU.

These non-binding reports will set out the Parliament's position on the bloc's future ahead of next month's events to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

The most notable is the one drafted by the assembly's Brexit observer Guy Verhofstadt, which calls for a "comprehensive" review of the EU's current treaties.

Among the many recommendations endorsed at committee stage was a call for the European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency - both currently based in London - to be moved out of the UK after Brexit.

The three motions - along with amendments - will be put to a vote on Thursday.

At lunchtime, MEPs will decide whether to support an agreement to allow Europol to conclude data-sharing powers with Denmark after it quits the body.

Denmark is due to leave the EU police co-operation agency in May, when it is due to acquire a raft of new powers.

Continued membership would have required Denmark to end opt-outs on certain EU legislation - something Danish voters rejected in a 2015 referendum.

A new agreement would allow for some information-sharing to continue, and give the country observer status in the organisation.

MEPs do not have the power to block an agreement, but have to give their opinion before it can be put into place.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Greece is due to make another round of debt repayments in July

In the afternoon, they will discuss the continued wrangling over the IMF's participation in the latest stage of Greece's EU bailout.

Eurozone ministers are under pressure to break the deadlock next week, the last time they will meet before forthcoming elections in the Netherlands.

MEPs will also debate the recent upsurge in violence in eastern Ukraine and the recent passing of an Israeli law legalising almost 4,000 settler homes.

As well as assessing the EU membership aspirations of Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the evening they will also debate suggestions for changing the process by which the EU monitors the budgets and spending of member states.

Wednesday

The entire morning sitting will be taken up by debate on CETA, the EU-Canada trade deal that faces a ratification vote just after 11.00 GMT.

Ratification would allow the agreement to provisionally come into force from as soon as next month.

Sections of the deal covering investment protection and financial services will come into force once the deal has been ratified by national parliaments.

The deal aims to eliminate 98% of tariffs on goods traded between Canada and the EU, making it the EU's most comprehensive trade deal to date.

The agreement also includes provisions allowing companies greater access to public sector contracts, and sustainable development clauses.

Green, left-wing and Eurosceptic MEPs have vowed to vote against, although it passed fairly comfortably in the lead international trade committee.

Eyes will be on the centre-left Socialist and Democrats group, whose MEPs may split on the issue.

After the lunchtime voting session, the afternoon will begin with a debate on proposals to extend the list of terror-related offenses made illegal in EU law.

New legislation will make travelling for terrorist purposes, terrorist training and funding terrorist activities illegal under EU legislation.

A compromise on the changes has been reached with national ministers and will be put to a final vote on Thursday.

EU states will have 18 months to incorporate the changes into domestic legislation - the UK, Ireland and Denmark will not have to apply them.

After this they will debate proposals to increase checks at the external border of the passport-free Schengen area.

The new law would require travellers to be checked against Interpol's stolen and lost travel documents database (SLTD) and the Schengen Information System.

The new requirements will also be put to a vote on Thursday.

In the evening, MEPs will debate a report from the legal affairs committee which calls for new EU legislation in the field of robotics.

The committee's suggestions are not binding on the EU Commission, which would have to propose any new laws in this area.

Among its many recommendations, the draft report suggests creating a new EU agency to register advanced robots and give advice to national regulators.

Thursday

After a debate on the EU's 2015 strategy for the civil aviation sector, MEPs will debate their usual three motions on human rights cases.

This month's picks relate to Nicaragua, executions in Kuwait and Bahrain and activists in Guatemala.

After the expected ratification of the CETA deal the day before, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to speak from 10.00 GMT.

The reports on robotics and the future direction of the EU, as well as the legislation on border checks and terror offences, will be voted on after that.

The afternoon's only short debate will see MEPs debate the Commission's recent agreement with Germany on its planned road tolls.

In 2015 the German Parliament approved a law that allowed German-registered cars to get a deduction on the charge on their annual vehicle tax bill.

MEPs have tabled an oral question questioning whether the EU executive was right to suspend its anti-discrimination court case given the scale of the amendments to the plan agreed with Berlin.

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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