Dealing with that “unfinished business”

The European Parliament plenary session that kicks off on Monday will be one of the last opportunities for MEPs to make progress on critical legislation before the electoral campaign for the June European elections fully engulfs their agendas.

Marking a crucial moment in European democracy, around 370 million citizens across the 27 EU member states will be called to cast their ballots between 6th and 9th June. This vote will decide the composition of the European Parliament’s 10th term, which will comprise 720 representatives.

Pending formal announcements by some national authorities, the vote will begin in the Netherlands on Thursday 6th June, followed by Ireland on Friday 7th June, and Latvia, Malta and Slovakia on Saturday 8th June. In Czechia the ballots will be open Friday and Saturday, while in Italy the vote will take place on Saturday and Sunday. The other 20 EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden) will hold their elections on Sunday 9th June.

As their mandate draws to a close, European legislators are pushing hard to close dossiers in important areas like the climate package, the digital agenda, and the migration pact. MEPs will continue holding committee meetings until April, discussing and voting on legislative proposals. They are under pressure, aware that they have only three more plenary sessions in Strasbourg to go: one next week, starting Monday (26th-29th February), another one on 11th-14th March and, the very last one, on 22nd-25th April. A mini-session will also take place in Brussels on 10th-11th April.

During the current legislature (2019-2024), MEPs have adopted 331 files under the ordinary legislative procedure – also referred to as the co-decision procedure, in which the EP and the Council act jointly as co-legislators. Besides, a provisional agreement over a total of 103 files has been reached in trilogues, informal groups that are set up for each legislative proposal and are made up of three members: one from the Commission, one from the Parliament, and one from the Council Presidency. This paves the way for a vote on these files to be taken in one of the remaining EP plenaries.

Legislative files that have been adopted by Parliament in plenary before the elections – whether at first reading, or second reading, or under the consultation procedure – will remain legally valid for the next Parliament.

Despite the rush, however, several files will not make it before the elections, as Delphine Colard, from the European Parliament Spokespersons’ Service, explains. She points out that there are 144 pieces of legislation that are still open, and MEPs will continue working till the last minute in a bid to conclude the process on those files.

Photo: European Parliament

So what happens with all the “unfinished business”?

The general rule is that legislative files that do not reach the EP plenary before the elections are considered to have lapsed. However, the new Parliament could decide to continue this work.

The new MEPs are scheduled to meet for the first plenary session of the new parliamentary term in Strasbourg between the 16th and 19th July. On that occasion, they will elect the EP President, its 14 Vice Presidents, and five quaestors (the College of Quaestors is the European Parliament body responsible for administrative and financial matters directly concerning MEPs and their working conditions), and also vote on the composition of the parliamentary committees. Following that, Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (the EP President and the political group leaders) will decide, on the basis of input from parliamentary committees, whether to continue working on “unfinished business”. This is stipulated in Rule 240 of the EP’s Rules of Procedure, which states:

“At the end of the last part-session before elections, all Parliament’s unfinished business shall be deemed to have lapsed, subject to the provisions of the second paragraph.

At the beginning of each parliamentary term, the Conference of Presidents shall take a decision on reasoned requests from parliamentary committees and other institutions to resume or continue the consideration of such unfinished business.

These provisions shall not apply to petitions, citizens’ initiatives and communications that do not require a decision.

The Conference of Presidents will take this decision (possibly in October 2024) and it will then be announced in plenary (possibly also in October 2024). If the Conference of Presidents and the plenary decide to take forward this work, the newly elected Parliament will continue with the next stage of the relevant decision-making procedure. If needed, a new rapporteur will be appointed.

Traditionally, the Conference of Presidents decides to resume all unfinished legislative work. Exceptions can be made, for instance for files that have become obsolete and on which a new proposal by the Commission or renewed consultation by the Council is expected.

Photo: Hadrian/Shutterstock

This week’s plenary session: what’s on

Yulia Navalnaya to address the European Parliament

On Wednesday, Parliament will commemorate the life of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, featuring a plenary address by his wife Yulia Navalnaya.

EU nature restoration law: Parliament to vote on deal with EU countries

According to the new law, the EU must put in place restoration measures for at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems by 2050.

Ukraine Facility and STEP: Vote on the revision of EU’s long-term budget

MEPs are set to approve long-term funding for Ukraine, the “Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform” (STEP), and associated major changes to the multi-year EU budget.

New list of environmental crimes and related sanctions: MEPs to take final vote

Parliament is set to approve new rules aiming to protect the environment in the EU through criminal law.

Protection of journalists: MEPs set to approve new law to fight abusive lawsuits

In a final vote on Tuesday, plenary is expected to greenlight new EU rules to protect journalists and activists from abusive lawsuits aimed at silencing them.

Parliament to decide on new EU rules on driving licences

To improve road safety and support the digital transition, MEPs will vote on updating driving licence rules, introducing mobile licences and mandatory health checks.

Ukraine war: MEPs to call for more EU military aid

On the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine, MEPs are expected to call for more ammunition and weapons for Kyiv and tougher Russia sanctions enforcement.

MEPs to demand stronger European security and defence

Amidst significant geopolitical uncertainty and threats, MEPs are set to call for decisive action to strengthen and protect the international rules-based order.

Protecting quality agricultural products: EP to vote on deal with Council

MEPs are set to confirm the revamp of EU rules for geographical indications (GIs) for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products.

MEPs stress need to overcome deadlock to improve platform workers’ conditions

In a debate on Monday evening, MEPs are expected to call on the EU member states to end their current blockage of the Platform Work Directive.

Parliament set to endorse deeper ties with Chile

MEPs will discuss and vote on the EU-Chile Advanced Framework Agreement on political and trade relations with the EU’s third biggest EU trading partner in Latin America.

MEPs to debate latest developments in war in Gaza

On Tuesday, plenary will discuss the latest ruling by the International Court of Justice regarding Israel and the alleged involvement of UNRWA staff in the 7th October attacks.

MEPs to debate soaring food prices

On Monday, MEPs will debate with the European Commission the causes of the rise in food prices and how to tackle the social consequences.

Transparent and secure political advertising

The new rules will enhance the integrity of election campaigns and help fight disinformation and foreign interference.

MEPs to approve new scheme for an EU-wide digital wallet

Plans for a digital identity framework, already agreed between Parliament and Council, will be debated on Wednesday and put to a vote on Thursday.

Short-term rentals: Protecting consumers from fraudulent listings

Parliament is set to adopt a new regulation aimed at creating a more transparent and responsible short-term rental sector.

MEPs set to debate inflation and possible interest rate cuts with ECB President

Inflation, efforts to curb it, and possible interest rate cuts are set to be the focus of a debate with European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde this afternoon.

Parliament to sound the alarm on democratic backsliding in the EU

In assessing the Commission’s 2023 rule of law report, MEPs are set to demand systemic issues be addressed, indicating an erosion of EU values across member states.

EU should seriously prepare for the next enlargement

Institutional and financial reforms are needed to ensure the EU can absorb new countries, MEPs are set to say in a debate on Wednesday and a resolution on Thursday.

Protecting the energy market from manipulation

MEPs are set to approve new rules aiming to tackle energy market manipulation by strengthening transparency and oversight on Thursday.

MEPs to adopt stricter EU rules on waste shipments

A new law to revise EU procedures and control measures for waste shipments will be put to a final vote by MEPs on Tuesday.

Human rights in the world: EU should lead by example

MEPs are set to call on the EU to resolutely protect democracy, the rule of law and human rights around the world.

Main photo: AP/Jean-Francois Badias

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