22 Jan 2016
DISCUSSED AT THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PLENARY THIS WEEK – 22 JANUARYBrussels
Highlights from the European Parliament Plenary Session 18-21 January : Poland, terrorism, baby food, geo-blocking
The rule of law and media independence in Poland was discussed during January’s plenary session in Strasbourg this week. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło rejected criticism of her government’s policies during the heated debate. Meanwhile Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte vowed to tackle the refugee crisis during a presentation of his country’s programme for the EU presidency, while MEPs also called for the sugar content of baby foods to be reduced.
MEPs debated the rule of law in Poland on Tuesday. The country’s Prime Minister Beata Szydło said: “Polish citizens have chosen our programme in a democratic election and we are implementing it, respecting our constitution and the European treaties.” During the debate some MEPs criticised her government, saying it was disregarding democratic checks and balances.
On the same day many MEPs also hit out at EU leaders for failing to tackle Europe’s migration crisis during a debate with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk. MEPs also discussed the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership.
The priorities of the Dutch Council presidency were discussed on Wednesday. “Keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal in Europe,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, presenting his country’s programme. The previous day MEPs had already discussed the Luxembourg presidency, which had been in charge over the last six months, with the country’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
EU member states should cooperate more to help tackle the growing terrorist threat, MEPs said in a debate on Thursday. In a separate debate the day before, they said France’s decision to invoke the EU’s mutual defence clause should serve as an incentive to strengthen European security and defence.
MEPs discussed the Paris climate change agreement with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday, stressing that despite the positive outcome much still needed to be done in tackling emissions from aviation and shipping.
The day before MEPs approved new safety rules to prevent fake and dangerous personal protective equipment, such as helmets or lifejackets, entering the EU.
In order to boost e-commerce, the EU should put an end to geo-blocking, MEPs said in a resolution adopted on Tuesday.
The EU should help the peace process in Columbia by setting up a trust fund prosecute war criminals and for their victims to seek justice and reparations, MEPs said on Wednesday.
Draft EU rules that would still allow baby food to contain up to three times more sugar than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) were rejected by MEPs on Wednesday. Instead MEPs called for a reduction to the EU sugar content limit to match the WHO recommendations to help protect infants and young children from obesity.
MEPs discussed on Monday whether diesel car emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) should be raised by up to 110% with Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the commissioner responsible for the internal market. MEPs will vote on the proposal during the next plenary session.