Brussels Daily
15 Sep 2016


Brussels Daily

Plenary highlights: State of the EU, car emissions, Poland

The debate on the state of the European Union with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker dominated the plenary session in Strasbourg taking place on 12-15 September. MEPs also exchanged views with Tibetan leader Dalai Lama and supported the Commission’s decision to order Ireland to recover €13 billion in illegal tax benefits from Apple.


Populism, unemployment and social injustice are among the EU’s key challenges, said Juncker in his annual State of the Union speech in Parliament on Wednesday. In the debate that followed, political group leaders and other MEPs focused on issues such as the refugee crisis, Brexit and terrorism threats. Some of them called for more investment to boost growth and employment.  Find out more about what they had to say in our Storify coverage.

MEPs debated on Tuesday controversial reforms affecting the Polish constitutional tribunal and the following day adopted a resolution calling on the Polish government  to solve the country’s constitutional crisis and find a compromise in line with Commission recommendations.

During a debate on Wednesday Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager won wide support from MEPs for the Commission’s decision to order Ireland to recover €13 billion in illegal tax benefits from Apple.

Although half-way through its mandate, Parliament’s inquiry committee investigating how car emissions are measured has yet to receive all the documents necessary to complete its work, warned MEPs. The committee’s final report is due to be published in spring 2017.

MEPs approved an agreement granting duty-free access to the EU for products from Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, and improved market access for South Africa on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday MEPs rejected a proposal designed to protect retail investors as they considered it so “flawed and misleading” that it could lead to retail investors actually losing money. The Commission will now have to revise the plans.

MEPs backed Sir Julian King’s candidature as commissioner for the security union. He was nominated by the UK government after Lord Jonathan Hill resigned in the wake of June’s Brexit vote.

The threatened closure of the Caterpillar and Alstom factories in Belgium and France are a symptom of Europe’s industrial malaise, said MEPs in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. They deplored the absence of a long-term vision for European industry.

Parliament president Martin Schulz took part in an live interview on Parliament’s Facebook page on Tuesday. He said the EU’s priorities should be fairer taxation of multinationals and the fight against youth unemployment.

The Dalai Lama visited the Parliament on Thursday to meet Schulz and discuss with members of the foreign affairs committee.

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