Week ahead in the European Parliament

Guy Verhofstadt and David Davis walk up Downing Street Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The assembly's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt (L) was in London for talks last week

The European Parliament is back in Strasbourg this week, when MEPs will discuss their most detailed intervention yet on Brexit.

On Wednesday they will approve their fourth Brexit resolution, a lengthy screed setting out advisory recommendations for the future UK-EU relationship. In many areas, it takes a similar line to Brexit draft guidelines drawn up by EU governments last week.

There are offers to continue co-operation on sharing security data, research programmes and aviation - subject to certain conditions. There are similar warnings that leaving the single market and customs union will inevitably create some "frictions" in trade. But the document drawn up by MEPs goes into greater detail in certain areas, particularly on possible routes for co-operation with specific EU agencies.

At its heart, the resolution argues for the various parts of a deal to be ensconced into an overarching 'association agreement'. Doing this, it says, will prevent the constitutionally messy proliferation of accords that defines the EU's relations with Switzerland.

MEPs have to sign off the final deal - so will their ideas make it through to the negotiators?

Here's what else is coming up this week...


The day kicks off with a debate on the controversial appointment of Martin Selmayr as secretary-general of the European Commission.

The rapid promotion of Jean-Claude Juncker's cabinet chief last month has raised more than a few eyebrows among MEPs. The European Commission has said the appointment was done "by the book" - but some have questions about the procedures followed.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Martin Selmayr's speedy elevation has sparked a backlash in Brussels

After this, MEPs will debate the impact of EU trade agreements on women around the world. A report drafted by two committees says the deals can have a greater impact in sectors where women make up a higher proportion of the work force.

Following that they will be back on familiar territory with another debate about ratification of the Istanbul Convention. So far only 17 of the 28 EU states have ratified the treaty, which aims to reduce violence against women and girls. In some countries the ratification process has been caught in the crosshairs of heated debates about the implications of its description of "gender".

MEPs will also discuss a proposed revision of the rules governing the cost of cross-border parcel delivery within the EU, to be put to a vote on Tuesday. Under the changes, delivery providers will have to provide national regulatory authorities with information about their prices. The prices will be published on a dedicated EU website, with the aim of making it easier for firms to shop around for the best deals.

The EU Commission has argued greater competition brought about by more transparency can lead to lower prices, without the need to introduce a cap.


The assembly's Brexit resolution will be debated from 08.00 GMT and will be put to the vote on Wednesday.

Like December's resolution it has the approval of the five groups that make up the body's Brexit "steering group", meaning its passage is all but assured.

After the day's voting session, they will debate two reports from the budgets committee about the EU's next long-term budget.

The current seven-year budget will run out at the end of 2019, and a substantial Brexit-shaped hole will need to be plugged.

The committee reports are meant to provide a contribution to the debate before the EU Commission outlines its ideas in May.

One report says the EU should "progressively" acquire more of its own revenue-raising powers to reduce the dependence on national contributions.

This could include a new tax on digital firms or money from the proposed tax on financial transactions, it says.

There will also be an update from a commissioner on the failure of a UN ceasefire demanded in the Syrian region of Eastern Ghouta.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Eastern Ghouta is home to about 393,000 people

In the evening they will discuss the EU's latest health check on the national budgets of EU states.

The latest report, issued last week, said Croatia, Cyprus, and Italy all had "excessive imbalances" in their spending.


It's an early 07.30 GMT start, and the day's first debate will be on new US import duties on steel and aluminium.

The tariffs are means meant to come into effect soon, with Canada and Mexico granted exemptions.

Image copyright EPA

EU figures have condemned the measures and drawn up a list of possible tariffs that could be enacted in retaliation. The EU's trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has warned the UK against trying to negotiate its own exemption from the levies. Instead the EU has called for all 28 member countries, including the UK, to be exempted.

After this Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa will become the latest leader to make a speech to MEPs on the "future of Europe".

At the voting session that follows, MEPs will decide whether to give their backing to the appointment of Spanish former finance minister Luis De Guindos as vice-president of the European Central Bank. The European Parliament has the right to express its opinion but cannot block the decision, which is ultimately made by EU finance ministers.

The afternoon's main debate will be on press freedom in Europe following the murder of murder of a reporter and his fiancée in Slovakia last month. Investigative reporter Jan Kuciak had been investigating alleged political corruption linked to Italian organised crime.

They will also debate EU plans to re-launch the introduction of a Common Consolidated Corporation Tax Base (CCCTB).

An EU-wide CCCTB would eventually set up a common system for calculating where in the EU multinational firms should have to pay tax on their profits. The system was originally proposed in 2011 but was abandoned after failing to get the required level of agreement among national governments.

In the evening US tariffs will return to the agenda - this time, it's the provisional levies introduced on Spanish olives.

US authorities have argued that EU payments to olive farmers under the common agricultural scheme (CAP) constitute an unfair trading subsidy. However MEPs on the agriculture committee say the payments in question are allowed under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.


The last day of the sitting will begin with preparations made by firms for the coming into force of the EU's new conflict minerals regulation.

The law, which comes into effect in 2021, will require all but the smallest EU companies to sign up to international monitoring standards for imports of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold.

The new transparency rules aim to prevent money from the sale of so-called 'conflict minerals' falling into the hands of armed groups.

After a debate on alternative fuels, MEPs will discuss this month's crop of three human rights motions on the Maldives, Sudan and Uganda.

At the voting session, MEPs will potentially give their backing to the legislation allowing the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to move from London to Amsterdam after Brexit.

The Dutch capital was chosen as the next host city for the medicines regulator after a secret ballot among EU states last November. They could however also approve an annex to the law criticising EU governments for not involving them in the decision-making process.

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

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

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