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Week Ahead 11 - 15 March 2024

Pragmatic Euro 7 rules; New EU buildings directive too burdensome; A landmark set of rules for Artificial Intelligence; European Council meeting of 21-22 March; New EU rules to reduce textiles and food waste; EU must prevent forcible deportations of Ukrainian children; Minimum breaks and rest periods in transport; Problematic common procedures and rights for third-country workers; Free-flowing data between the EU and Japan; EU-Albania agreement on Frontex activities; Romania wants its national treasure back from Russia!; #EPStandsBYyou

Pragmatic Euro 7 rules

On Wednesday, lawmakers will debate and vote on the trilogue agreement on Euro 7 emission standards - a file led by ECR Rapporteur Alexandr Vondra. Positioned as the final step in tightening pollution controls for petrol and diesel cars prior to the anticipated 2035 shift to zero-emission vehicles, Euro 7 introduces a set of harmonised rules aimed at reducing emissions from a comprehensive range of road vehicles, including passenger cars, vans, buses, trucks, and trailers. As Euro 7 covers pollutant emissions from brakes and tyres, as well as battery durability standards, it also imposes requirements on electric vehicles. Importantly, the regulation refrains from altering current testing conditions, thereby averting a costly and disproportionate regulatory change burdening the automotive sector. Mr Vondra considers the provisional agreement a fair compromise, skilfully balancing environmental goals with manufacturers’ interests, thus safeguarding Europe’s automotive industry and the well-being of its citizens.

Debate: Wednesday @ 15:00

Vote: Wednesday @ 17:00


New EU buildings directive too burdensome

On Monday, MEPs will debate and vote on the provisional agreement from inter-institutional negotiations on the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), part of the EU’s ‘fit for 55’ package to meet a minimum 55 per cent EU reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. The primary goal of the EPBD is to achieve full decarbonisation of the EU building stock by 2050; all new buildings must be zero-emission as of 2030; all existing buildings must be zero-emission by 2050. The new revision contains overly ambitious and unrealistic goals for the energy improvements and renovation of buildings, both residential and non-residential. It comes at great a cost, as renovations, especially deep renovations are expensive and often require large up-front investments, and this Directive creates no EU funds. In the opinion of the ECR Group, the proposal also contains too many elements and additions that are not relevant to the directive and go beyond the original scope of energy savings, which will turn out to be costly add-ons for consumers if implemented. That vote will take place on Tuesday midday.

Debate: Monday @ 18:00

Vote: Tuesday @ 12:30


A landmark set of rules for Artificial Intelligence

On Tuesday, lawmakers will debate the trilogue agreement on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act, which is the first holistic legislative framework regulating AI based on its potential to cause harm. The regulation provides a legal framework for the development, market introduction and risk management of AI-based products and services. The compromise text incorporates ECR proposals, including targeted measures to assist SMEs in deploying AI technologies, as well as the implementation of regulatory sandboxes—an approach that allows suppliers to conduct comprehensive testing of their AI systems within a defined timeframe before market placement. The ECR Group acknowledges the need to create a legal framework for the development of AI that ensures consumer safety and a high level of protection of human rights. Nevertheless, the ECR maintains a sceptical stance regarding the feasibility of employing artificial intelligence for real-time identification by enforcement authorities in public spaces, citing concerns over potential intrusions into the privacy of innocent citizens. The vote is scheduled for Wednesday noon.

Debate: Tuesday @ 13:00

Vote: Wednesday @ 12:00


European Council meeting of 21-22 March

On Tuesday, the European Parliament will discuss the priorities for the next Council meeting on 21-22 March with the Belgian Presidency and Commission President von der Leyen. For the ECR Group, the focus remains on the need to do everything possible to ensure that Ukraine can win the war started by Russia. In order to improve the defence capabilities of European states, we need interoperability of military systems and a rapid increase in the production and procurement of equipment and devices. On Gaza, we reiterate our call for the unconditional release of all Israeli hostages and deplore the fact that the Red Cross has still not been granted access to them, despite the entry of aid. We regret the toll on innocent civilians of the ongoing war and reiterate that terrorism is incompatible with a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Debate: Wednesday @ 9:00


New EU rules to reduce textiles and food waste

On Wednesday, MEPs will vote on ECR Rapporteur Anna Zalewska’s report revising the Waste Framework Directive (WFD). This targeted revision seeks to expand the directive’s scope to encompass provisions related to both food and textile waste. The revision will set initial targets to reduce food waste in processing, manufacturing, retail, restaurants, and households. In addition, from January 2025 Member States will have to ensure the separate collection of textile waste. The ECR Group sees the WFD as a step in the right direction to limiting food and textile waste across Member States.

Vote: Wednesday @ 12:00


EU must prevent forcible deportations of Ukrainian children

On Wednesday morning, in the presence of the Council and the Commission, MEPs will discuss the urgent need to address concerns surrounding Ukrainian children forcibly deported to Russia. Since the beginning of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian children have been forcibly removed from their country to Russia. This practice is reminiscent of the barbaric practices of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during the Second World War and violates Article II of the Genocide Convention. On 17 March 2023, the International Criminal Court formalised its recognition of Russia’s war crimes by issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. The ECR Group has long condemned the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. The only way to stop Russia’s heinous atrocities and end the suffering of the Ukrainian people is for Ukraine to win this war. The EU must provide unwavering support to Ukraine, not only through the supply of military equipment, but also through financial assistance and humanitarian aid.

Debate: Wednesday @ 9:00


Minimum breaks and rest periods in transport

On Wednesday evening, MEPs will vote on revising EU rules governing driving and resting times for operators of occasional bus and coach services, primarily tailored for tourist activities. Drivers in the occasional passenger transport sector grapple with unique challenges, marked by pronounced seasonality, extended distances covered during the tour’s commencement and conclusion, and a higher incidence of accommodating unforeseen passenger requests for additional stops. The revised rules make breaks more flexible for drivers by allowing them to split their 45-minute breaks into two breaks spread over the 4.5 hours driving period and postpone their daily rest period by one hour if the total daily driving period is no longer than seven hours. According to the ECR Group, the new rules will enhance working conditions for bus drivers, affording them the flexibility to align with their distinct work rhythms.

Vote: Wednesday @ 17:00


Problematic common procedures and rights for third-country workers

On Tuesday afternoon, the European Parliament will discuss the trilogue agreement on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State. For the ECR Group, there are a range of problematic issues with the directive. Specifically, additional administrative burdens on Member States and the undermining of the stability of employment of third-country nationals. For example, the period of three months during which a single permit cannot be withdrawn due to the unemployment of the holder is too long. This could lead to the emergence of a large group of third country nationals who are fictitiously unemployed and work outside the official fiscal system. MEPs will vote on the text on Wednesday noon.

Debate: Tuesday @ 15:00

Vote: Wednesday @ 12:00


Free-flowing data between the EU and Japan

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a protocol agreement between the EU and Japan regarding free flow of data. The Protocol will promote data flow between Japan and the EU and serve as a foundation for business facilitation within the digital market, contributing to strengthening economic ties between Japan and the EU. The ECR Group sees this agreement as a sign of continued commitment to the rules-based international trading system and a joint determination to shape global data flow rules that respect shared values and respective regulatory approaches.

Vote: Thursday @ 12:00


EU-Albania agreement on Frontex activities

On Thursday, MEPs will cast their consent votes on an agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Albania on operational activities carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in the Republic of Albania. The new Frontex Regulation will allow the deployment of officers with executive powers also to non-EU borders, which can help with achieving a more comprehensive control of migration flows. Given that the Western Balkan migratory route is one of the most transited migration routes into the EU, with almost 100,000 irregular crossings registered by Frontex only in 2023, the ECR Group deems it fundamental to have the tools to control migration flows and to fight against irregular arrivals. The vote will take place during Thursday’s midday voting session.

Vote: Thursday @ 12:00


Romania wants its national treasure back from Russia!

On Thursday morning, MEPs will debate a resolution that calls for the restitution of Romanian national treasure and historical archives from Russia. The Romanian national treasure and the historical archives of Romania are unlawfully in the possession of the Russian Federation for more than 100 years, after being sent there during WW1 to be protected. However, the Bolshevik regime of Lenin seized the treasure and only small parts of it and the archives were ever returned to Romania. Despite diplomatic efforts, the Russian Federation has refused the restitution of the Romanian national treasure. Recognising the historical and cultural significance of the Romanian national treasures, the ECR Group supports any effort to secure their return. The debate will be followed by a vote in the afternoon.

Debate: Thursday @ 10:30

Vote: Thursday @12:00


#EPStandsBYyou

From 11 March to 14 March, the second edition of the project #EPStandsBYyou will take place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It is an inter-party initiative of Members of the European Parliament, including ECR MEP Anna Fotyga, under the auspices of President Roberta Metsola. The initiative is about bringing attention to the human rights situation in Belarus, in particular the situation of political prisoners that are being kept by Lukashenka’s regime unlawfully in prisons, under constant terror and in unhuman conditions. A booth will be set up next to the entrance of the hemicycle in Strasbourg where MEPs are invited to sign and send an individual postcard to one of Belarus’ 1,500 political prisoners, offering them messages of hope and support from the EU.

When: Monday - Thursday

Where: Outside the Strasbourg Hemicycle

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