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This Week's Top Stories from the European Parliament - 14-18 January 2019

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Promoting rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU
Plenary session | LIBE | Yesterday

The EU should do more to promote democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights across the EU, including through support to civil society organisations.

MEPs endorsed on Thursday the position of the Civil Liberties Committee to triple the funds allocated in the long-term EU budget (2021-2027) for the Rights and Values Programme, up to 1.834 billion euros (the European Commission had proposed €642 million).


EU integration: MEPs want to end permanent opt-outs from EU law
Plenary session | AFCO | Yesterday

Parliament opposed to 'Europe à la carte' and 'second-class' membership, in a resolution put to the vote on Thursday.

MEPs took stock of the differing levels of European integration among member states, commonly referred to as 'Europe à la carte', 'variable geometry', 'multi-speed Europe' or 'first- and second-class membership'. They also made several recommendations, so that differentiation serves the European project, rather than endangering it.


Human rights breaches in Azerbaijan and Sudan
Plenary session | Yesterday

MEPs deplore the crackdown on dissent in Azerbaijan and urge Sudanese authorities to end violence against those protesting President al-Bashir's regime.

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted two resolutions taking stock of the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and Sudan.


EU fundamental rights under threat in several member states
Plenary session | LIBE | Yesterday

The European Parliament denounces gender violence and discrimination, breaches of rule of law and hate speech in its assessment of fundamental rights in the EU in 2017.

In a non-legislative resolution adopted on Wednesday with 390 votes to 153 and 63 abstentions, MEPs call on EU institutions to effectively assess member states' respect for rule of law and condemn limitations imposed on freedom of speech, as well as violations against migrants and asylum seekers' fundamental rights in some EU countries.


MEPs spell out priorities for the European Central Bank and on banking union
Plenary session | ECON | Yesterday

MEPs on Wednesday set out their priorities for the European Central Bank's actions in the coming year and those for moving ahead with completing the banking union.

In two separate resolutions, the first on the work of the European Central Bank (ECB) drafted by Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES) adopted by 500 votes in favour, 115 against and 19 abstentions, and the second drafted by Nils Torvalds (ALDE, FI) on progress made and to be made in the area of banking union, adopted by 497 votes in favour, 125 against and 14 abstentions, MEPs outlined their concerns and which elements needed to be particularly attended to over the coming year.


"InvestEU": MEPs support new programme to boost financing for jobs and growth
Plenary session | BUDG | ECON | Yesterday

Parliament has adopted its position on a new EU programme to support investment and access to finance from 2021 to 2027.

The new InvestEU programme follows and replaces the current EFSI (European Fund for Strategic Investments), set up after the financial crisis.


European Fund for Transition to support more workers made redundant
Plenary session | EMPL | Yesterday

Parliament voted to reform the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund supporting workers dismissed due to globalisation, technological or environmental changes.

MEPs changed the name of the fund from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to the European Fund for Transition (EFT) and want it to remain an emergency and solidarity tool. They broadened its scope so that the fund would address the adverse effects of globalisation and technological transitions, like digitisation and automatisation, as well as the transition towards a resource-efficient economy.


MEPs want to EU to invest more in young people
Plenary session | EMPL | Yesterday

The Employment Committee's decision to increase the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and make youth and children the main beneficiaries was approved by plenary.


Preferential tariffs to help Western Sahara to develop
Plenary session | INTA | Yesterday

On Wednesday, Parliament backed a proposal to lower tariffs in the territory of Western Sahara to the same level as Moroccan tariffs, to benefit local populations.

The Parliament gave the green light by 444 votes to 167 and 68 abstentions, to extend the preferential tariff rates to the territory of Western Sahara after the European Commission and Morocco agreed on a traceability mechanism, which helps define the origin of products exported from the territory. This mechanism was requested by the Committee on International Trade prior to its recommendation for consent.


EU Elections: new rules to prevent breaches of data used to influence elections
AFCO | Yesterday

A proposal introducing penalties on European political parties deliberately breaching data protection to tamper with EU elections was informally agreed on Wednesday.

The new provisions agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators are aimed at protecting the electoral process from online disinformation campaigns based on misuse of voters' personal data. Some recent cases, like the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal, show how the vulnerabilities of data protection systems may undermine democratic debate and free elections.


Brexit: the time has come for the UK to clarify its position
Plenary session | Yesterday

In the debate following the UK House of Commons' meaningful vote, MEPs underlined that Europeans will remain united and that citizens' rights are still the EP's priority.

Following the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration in the UK's House of Commons yesterday evening, it is now up to the UK government and UK Parliament to let the EU know where a positive majority lies and what type of relationship they want with the European Union, MEPs stressed.


Romanian Presidency of the Council: debate with Prime Minister Viorica Dancila
Plenary session | 15-01-2019

Competitiveness, digitization, protection and the safety of citizens will be the focus of the Romanian presidency of the Council, said Prime Minister Dancila.

During the next six months, the Romanian presidency will aim for better political and economic cohesion between member states and will commit to work towards reducing development gaps between regions, supporting economic growth and digitization, especially for European industry.


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