Week Ahead: 12 - 16 December 2022

EU response to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA); Preparation of the European Council meeting of 15 December; Awarding of the Sakharov Prize; Recognising Holodomor as genocide; Humanitarian situation in Ukraine due to Russia’s attacks on critical infrastructure and civilian areas; Protection of strategic infrastructure from China’s influence; EU-ASEAN relations; EU Association Agreement with Georgia; A long-term vision for the EU's rural areas; Prospects for the two-State solution for Israel and Palestine; Press Conference: Deteriorating health condition of former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili; Press Conference: Free Jeanine Áñez; Persecution of Christian communities in the Middle East

EU response to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

On Wednesday morning, MEPs will hold a key debate on the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which may put EU companies in renewable energy technologies at an unfair disadvantage in the US market. The ECR Group believes that a trade war between the US and the EU would be extremely damaging to both sides, and probably more so to the EU due to its greater dependence on global trade. Therefore, all levers must be pulled at the political and technical level to prevent it.

Debate: Wednesday @ 10:30

Preparation of the European Council meeting of 15 December

On Wednesday, MEPs will also debate the upcoming EU summit on Thursday, 15 December, where the Ukraine war, energy and economy, security and defence, the Southern Neighbourhood and external relations are on the agenda. The European Council is also expected to kill off the Spitzenkandidaten, or leading candidates system, for the upcoming European elections in 2024. The Spitzenkandidaten, propagated by the so-called pro-European majority groups in the European Parliament, was never contractual and, in practice, is deceiving towards voters. It was always part of the Parliament’s ambition to take rights away from the European Council, in other words, away from the Member States. In this way, it wanted to gain control over the Commission and make the Commission President a quasi official of the European Parliament. However, voters in most countries were unaware of this fake contest. It was therefore primarily a power struggle within the Brussels bubble. The ECR Group has opposed the idea from the beginning. It comes as positive news that the Council will put its foot down on this issue.

Debate: Wednesday @ 9:00

Awarding of the Sakharov Prize

On Wednesday, the European Parliament will award the 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the brave people of Ukraine, represented by their president, elected leaders and civil society. The ECR Group welcomes this decision as it sends a clear message of support and solidarity from the European Parliament to the people of Ukraine. For the ECR Group, this award serves not only to honour the leadership of President Zelenskyy, but also the bravery of all those Ukrainians who have courageously stood up against Russian aggression, dictatorship and oppression in defence of our common European values.

When: Wednesday @ 12:00

Recognising Holodomor as genocide

On Thursday, the European Parliament will debate whether the mass murder of Ukrainians by starvation under Stalin’s Soviet regime should be classified as genocide. The debate marks the passing of 90 years since the tragedy. For the ECR Group, there is no question. It is absolutely clear that it was a genocide. However, the ECR Group would also like to point out that another Holodomor took place in 2008 in Georgia and the EU merely called it a “crime against humanity”. This did nothing to stop Russia’s brutality. Even today, 90 years after the Holodomor, Ukrainians are still suffering from mass murders committed by Russians. Russia must be militarily defeated. We must do everything possible to ensure that Ukraine succeeds and that Russia can never pose a threat to its neighbouring peoples ever again. The same day, MEPs will vote on the resolution which follows the debate.

Debate: Thursday @ 10:00

Vote: Thursday @ 12:00

Humanitarian situation in Ukraine due to Russia’s attacks on critical infrastructure and civilian areas

On Thursday, MEPs will also discuss the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. Putin, who is losing on the battlefield, has started a war against the civilian population and is using winter as a weapon. It is absolutely clear to the ECR Group that we must do everything we can to provide better support for the Ukrainians so that they do not lose heart. They are fighting this war for us too.

Debate: Thursday @ 11:00

Protection of strategic infrastructure from China’s influence

On Tuesday afternoon, MEPs will grill the Commission on what it intends to do to better protect strategic infrastructure from Chinese influence. We have seen that China’s footprint in terms of foreign strategic investment in infrastructure is growing rapidly, including in the EU. In several Member States, for example, Chinese (state-owned) companies have acquired parts of key infrastructure such as ports. This week, MEPs, including members of the ECR Group, signed a letter calling on the Commission not to use €1 billion from the EU Customs Control Equipment Instrument (CCEI) to further strengthen Nuctech’s presence in Europe. The US, Lithuania, and Canada have already banned the company from participating in their government contracts. The ECR Group believes that the EU and its Member States need to take a tougher stance to protect their strategic infrastructure from Chinese influence.

Debate: Tuesday @ 15:00

EU-ASEAN relations

On Tuesday evening, Parliament will discuss the state of current EU-ASEAN relations ahead of the summit on 14 December. ASEAN is a dynamic and attractive region with 660 million consumers, and has rapidly recovered from the COVID pandemic. It is the EU’s third largest trading partner outside Europe after China and the US, with €216 billion worth of EU-ASEAN trade in goods and €56 billion in services. The EU is also the second largest investor after the US. By 2050, ASEAN will be the world’s fourth largest economy and therefore an imminently important market for European exporters and investors. Also in the context of the Ukraine war, it is important that we strengthen good relations with ASEAN, a middle power in the centre of the Indo-Pacific region. From the EU-ASEAN Summit under the Czech Presidency, the ECR Group expects progress on digital greening and supply chain resilience, as well as a strong political signal and a concrete agenda for the conclusion of the Indonesia Agreement by 2023 and the resumption of negotiations with the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. The vote will be held at a future part-session.

Debate: Tuesday @ 20:00

Vote: future part-session TBC

EU Association Agreement with Georgia

On Wednesday, MEPs will vote on the annual implementing report on the EU association agreement with Georgia. In recent years, Georgia has started to lag behind other Eastern partners, especially in the area of rule of law and democracy, which led the European Commission to withhold candidate status from the country. It is the firm view of the ECR Group that Georgia’s future is in the European Union and in NATO and helping Georgia overcome obstacles to membership is of vital importance. That is why the ECR Group stresses, in particular, the need to address the role of oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili in undermining Georgia’s standing when it comes to EU accession. There is also the issue of former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is still detained despite his seriously deteriorating health condition.

Vote: Wednesday @ 12:30

A long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas

On Monday evening, the European Parliament will debate a long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. Rural areas are being marred by a set of challenges: An aging and declining population; dwindling job opportunities; lack of access to high quality services; climate and environmental pressures; lower connectivity and access to innovation; and a diminished role of women. These issues must all be addressed adequately. The ECR Group has long maintained that a thriving agricultural sector is essential, as farms are the beating heart of rural life in Europe. A vote on the report will take place on Tuesday.

Debate: Monday @ 17:00

Vote: Tuesday @ 12:00

Prospects for the two-State solution for Israel and Palestine

On Tuesday afternoon, the European Parliament will debate the prospects of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. The ECR Group reiterates its continued support for a negotiated two states for two peoples solution, with mutual recognition of Israel and Palestine as homelands of their respective peoples, in order to achieve a lasting peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations. However, the ECR Group is also concerned about the declining support for a two-state solution among Israeli and Palestinian publics and calls on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric. The ECR strongly condemns the ongoing Palestinian terrorism against Israel and recalls Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself against terrorism. Terrorism, incitement and violence are fundamentally incompatible with a peaceful resolution.

Debate: Tuesday @ 16:00

Vote: Wednesday @ 12:30

Press Conference: Deteriorating health condition of former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili

On Monday afternoon, ECR coordinator for foreign affairs Anna Fotyga and a group of cross-party MEPs will hold a press conference on the dire situation faced by former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who was detained by government authorities in October last year. Since his incarceration, Saakashvili’s health has deteriorated considerably. The ECR Group has and will continue to call for the former president’s release. In addition to Monday’s press conference, a press point will be held on Tuesday after the voting session. Both events will be attended in person by members of Saakashvili’s family, who will also attend the ECR Group’s group meeting on Tuesday.

Press conference:

When: Monday @ 17:45

Where: Daphné Caruana Galizia Press Room – Strasbourg (WEISS N-1/201)

Live video link is available here.

Press point:

When: Tuesday, after the midday voting session

Where: Media area outside the hemicycle in Strasbourg

Press Conference: Free Jeanine Áñez

On Tuesday, ECR MEP Hermann Tertsch, President of the ECR Eurolat Working Group, will hold a press conference on the current situation of Jeanine Áñez, the former interim president of Bolivia sentenced to 10 years in prison by the communist regime of Luis Arce. Áñez’s imprisonment represents a clear violation of democratic values, a breaking of the rule of law and disrespect for human rights. The ECR Group wholeheartedly denounces the undemocratic practices that extreme left regimes in Latin America use against opposition forces and calls for Ms Áñez’s immediate release. The daughter of Jeanine Áñez, Carolina Ribera Áñez, will also take part in the press conference.

When: Tuesday @ 17:30

Where: Daphné Caruana Galizia Press Room – Strasbourg (WEISS N-1/201)

Live video link is available here.

Persecution of Christian communities in the Middle East

On Tuesday, the Co-Chairs of the Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance Carlo Fidanza (ECR) and Peter Van Dalen (EPP) will host an event on “Persecution of Christian Communities in the Middle East”. The keynote speaker will be Father Zuhair Afaas, priest of the Syriac Catholic Church of Mar Tuma, a church in Mosul that was devastated by ISIS and later used by them as a prison and court.

When: Tuesday @ 17:00

Where: LOW N1.3

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