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Week Ahead: 13 - 16 February 2023

EU response to humanitarian situation following earthquakes in Turkey and Syria; One year of Russia's invasion and war of aggression against Ukraine; Will cars become luxury goods?; Formal sitting with the President of Latvia, Egils Levits; Save former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili; Up to €100 billion of additional private financing by improving European Long-Term Investment Funds (ELTIFs); Making it easier for mobile EU citizens to vote in local elections; A new sub-committee on public health; Prolongation of the Special Committee on foreign interference in all democratic processes, including disinformation (ING2).

EU response to humanitarian situation following earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

On Monday, MEPs will debate the EU’s response so far to the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on 6 February. The death toll in the two countries has exceeded 21,000 by early Friday morning. The World Health Organisation has now warned of a secondary disaster, with tens of thousands of people displaced and in need of basic services such as clean water and shelter in worsening weather conditions. The ECR Group expresses its support for the continued provision of assistance and humanitarian aid to Turkey and Syria through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to support the emergency response in both countries. Our thoughts continue to be with the victims, the injured, and their families.

Debate: Monday @ 17:00

One year of Russia’s invasion and war of aggression against Ukraine

On Wednesday morning, the European Parliament will debate the anniversary of Russia’s invasion and war of aggression against Ukraine. The ECR Group will use this opportunity to reiterate that Russia’s actions against Ukraine amount to genocide, repeating patterns of vicious Russian imperial strategies from the Tsarist Empire or the Soviet Union. Everything possible must therefore be done to ensure that Russia is defeated and can never again threaten its neighbours in a similar way. The ECR Group has expressed its unwavering solidarity with the Ukrainian people and its support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine for as long as necessary and beyond.

Those who planned and enabled this terrible war of aggression, including Vladimir Putin and his entourage, must be brought to justice. The EU must develop a mechanism to seize the assets of this warmongering elite and use Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine, in addition to the reparations Russia must pay. We must also strengthen existing sanctions against Russia and impose new ones until it withdraws all its forces from the internationally recognised territory of Ukraine. Finally, Ukraine should become a member of the European Union as soon as possible. The resolution will be voted on Thursday.

Debate: Wednesday @ 9:00

Vote: Thursday @ 12:00

Will cars become luxury goods?

On Tuesday, Parliament will debate the results of the trilogue negotiations on tightening CO2 emission standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles. Emission limits for eco-innovations will be lowered to further accelerate the switch from combustion engine vehicles to battery or fuel cell electric vehicles by 2035. The phase-out of the internal combustion engine puts 600,000 jobs in Europe at risk. ECR shadow rapporteur Pietro Fiocchi shares concerns about whether this target is achievable and what impact it could have on the competitiveness of the automotive sector. It is not yet clear where the raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and microchips needed for the switch to battery-powered vehicles will come from. This will drive up the price of electric vehicles and make it even more difficult for the average person to buy a car when internal combustion vehicles are eventually banned. Because of the high subsidies, the cost of the luxury good “car” will eventually be passed on to the taxpayer. Finally, the ECR is also very concerned about the jobs that will be lost if the entire industry, on which 13 million people in Europe depend and which has been at the forefront of innovation, is significantly reduced. The vote will take place immediately after the debate.

Debate: Tuesday @ 9:00

Vote: Tuesday @ 12:00

Formal sitting with the President of Latvia, Egils Levits

On Tuesday, the President of the Republic of Latvia, Egils Levits, will make a formal address to MEPs. This will mark his return to Strasbourg, where he has worked since 1995 as a judge at the European Court of Human Rights and later at the EU Court of Justice. European Parliament Vice-President and ECR MEP Robert Zīle is pleased to welcome Mr Levits and underlines his long-standing role in the integration of Latvia and the EU. “This is another important opportunity for Latvia, which has been at the forefront of EU countries in supporting Ukraine, to clearly reiterate the importance of supporting the Ukrainian people in their fight against Russia’s brutal aggressor.”

When: Tuesday @ 11:30

Save former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili

On Wednesday, MEPs will vote on a resolution on the situation of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, initiated by ECR foreign affairs coordinator Anna Fotyga. The resolution follows a debate which took place during the previous plenary session. It calls for Saakashvili’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds. Saakashvili has been held in a Georgian prison since 2020 after returning from exile. There are numerous confirmed reports of his ill-treatment in prison. The ECR Group believes that Saakashvili is being kept in appalling conditions in order to weaken Georgia’s pro-Western orientation.

Vote: Wednesday @ 12:00

Up to €100 billion of additional private financing by improving European Long-Term Investment Funds (ELTIFs)

On Tuesday evening, MEPs will debate an overhaul of the rules governing European Long-Term Investment Funds (ELTIFs). The legal framework for ELTIFs was launched in 2015 to channel private money into long-term investments in areas such as infrastructure projects, real estate and SMEs, but so far only a limited number of funds have been launched under the legislation. ECR Rapporteur Michiel Hoogeveen successfully negotiated to make the framework more flexible and business-friendly. It will be easier for retail investors to invest their savings in a well-diversified asset class, subject to appropriate investor protection safeguards. EU companies will have better access to more stable and diversified long-term funding, benefiting the EU economy as a whole. Industry estimates that the reform could lead to an additional €100 billion of private financing over the next five years. The vote will take place on Wednesday.

Debate: Tuesday @ 20:00

Vote: Wednesday @12:00

Making it easier for mobile EU citizens to vote in local elections

Mobile EU citizens still face difficulties in exercising their right to vote in local elections. Examples include getting the right information on how to exercise their right to vote and burdensome registration procedures. On Monday, the Parliament will debate a report that updates, clarifies and strengthens the rules to ensure that they support the full and inclusive participation of mobile EU citizens, in particular people with disabilities, in local elections. Every citizen has the right to participate in the EU’s democratic life and decisions should be taken as transparently and as close as possible to citizens. According to ECR rapporteur Joachim Brudziński, every citizen has the right to participate in the democratic life of the EU and decisions should be taken as transparently and as close to the citizens as possible. For the ECR Group, however, it is also important that the workload for local authorities remains within a framework that can still be managed. The vote will be held on Tuesday.

Debate: Monday @ 19:00

Vote: Tuesday @ 12:00

A new sub-committee on public health

On Tuesday, MEPs will vote on the Conference of Presidents’ agreement to create a new Subcommittee on Public Health, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent surge in legislation aimed at strengthening the EU’s health emergency response capabilities. The ECR Group supports the idea, which will give Parliament additional opportunities to consider and scrutinise health-related policies. The subcommittee will report to the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and will not have voting rights, which will be retained by its parent committee.

Vote: Tuesday @ 12:00

Prolongation of the Special Committee on foreign interference in all democratic processes, including disinformation (ING2)

On Tuesday, Parliament will also extend the mandate of the Special Committee on Foreign Intervention (ING2) for another 3 months. The ECR Group had some reservations about the extension, simply because there are doubts about what the committee can achieve in such a short period of time, but fully supports any measures that will help to ensure that we do not have other similar Qatargate cases in the future. The committee is well placed to deal with this issue, having dealt with foreign interference in various forms over the past two years. The ECR Group wants to see better implementation of existing rules and supports all initiatives that help to improve transparency and accountability in this House.

Vote: Tuesday @ 12:00

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