Week Ahead: 2 - 6 May 2022

New European Electoral Law; Follow-up on the Conference on the Future of Europe; Social and economic consequences for the EU of the Russian war in Ukraine - reinforcing the EU’s capacity to act; Persecution of minorities on the grounds of belief or religion; EU strategy to promote education for children in the world; Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi; Europe’s Energy Autonomy; EU preparedness against cyber-attacks following Russia’s invasion on Ukraine; Threats to stability, security and democracy in Western and Sahelian Africa; EU-Moldova cooperation.

New European Electoral Law

On Monday, the European Parliament will debate yet another attempt to replace the current European Electoral Act. The own legislative initiative with an accompanying resolution contains proposals to harmonise EU elections and to introduce a lead candidate process to select the next President of the Commission. In addition to the classic national election, each voter would have a second vote to elect 28 additional MEPs from an artificial EU-wide constituency using a complex closed transnational list system. The text also proposes a mandatory electoral threshold of at least 3.5 per cent for large constituencies (with at least 60 seats) and to make gender equality mandatory on all lists. It is clear that this proposal goes against the unique multinational character of the European elections and undermines the specific electoral dynamics of Member States and their constituencies. In the ECR Group’s view, forcing the elections to be centralised around European political entities and transnational lists and candidates would undermine the political cultures of Member States and weaken the link between Members and their electorate. MEPs will vote on the initiative on Tuesday.

Initiated by the European Parliament, the report would need to be adopted unanimously by the Council, obtain Parliament’s consent and receive the approval of all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements (Art. 223 TFEU).

Debate: Monday @ 17:00

Vote: Tuesday @ 14:00

Follow-up on the Conference on the Future of Europe

On Tuesday afternoon, the European Parliament will discuss the outcomes of the last plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe (29 and 30 April) in which the conclusions of the nine working groups will be formalised. It was the ECR Group’s expectation that the Conference on the Future of Europe would allow for having an honest, diverse, and open debate about how to make the EU better. Unfortunately, instead of being a conduit of renewal, it has become a political instrument in the hands of those who are striving for a European State. The Conference has been used to push this federalist agenda at all costs. The organisers have only been listening to those whose views align with their own, and the recommendations seem to have been predetermined and borrowed straight from their own political programmes. The ECR Group plans to hold a press conference on Wednesday with MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Chair of the ECR Working Group on Institutional Reform, who will report on the progress and the prospects of the conference from the ECR Group’s point of view.

Debate: Tuesday @16:00

Press Conference: Wednesday @ 12:00

Key debate on the social and economic consequences for the EU of the Russian war in Ukraine - reinforcing the EU’s capacity to act

On Wednesday morning, the European Parliament will hold a key debate on the social and economic consequences for the EU of the Russian war in Ukraine. The ECR Group believes that the “frontline states” urgently need more political, financial, operational and logistical support from the Union to deal with the growing fallout from the war. Member States must assist each other to cope with the ongoing waves of refugees, trauma, energy shortfalls and other concerns. Working together to enhance EU Member States’ deterrence capabilities is vital to ensure that Ukraine is supported and that the long-term social and economic consequences of the war are dealt with.

Debate: Wednesday @ 8:30

Vote: May II Session in Brussels (18-19 May)

Persecution of minorities on the grounds of belief or religion

On Monday, ECR MEP Karol Karski will present his own initiative report on the persecution of minorities on the grounds of belief or religion. The report broadly addresses the problems faced by representatives of various faiths around the world, as experienced by other religions that are dominant in a given country or area, or by secular authorities in autocratic or totalitarian countries. In the text, the European Parliament supports the protection of the rights of these people and notes that in some regions the scale of violence may amount to crimes against humanity or even genocide. Voting on the report will take place on Tuesday.

Debate: Monday @ 17.00

Vote: Tuesday @ 14.00

EU strategy to promote education for children in the world

On Monday, MEPs will discuss an own initiative report on how to promote children’s worldwide education. Since March 2020, around 194 countries have closed schools nationwide because of the Covid-19 pandemic, affecting more than 1.8 billion school learners globally and cutting off their access to education and to other vital benefits that schools provide. Globally, one third of children do not have access to the internet. And by 2030, an estimated additional 825 million children will not reach adulthood with secondary-level skills. Moreover, millions of children and young people who regularly attend schools are not developing the competences they need to get a job, start a business and contribute to their communities. On Monday, MEPs will debate an own initiative report that outlines those issues and highlights the importance of ensuring the continued access to education for children. It furthermore stresses the importance of the work of teachers, educators and all other actors directly involved.

For the ECR Group, it is of essence that global efforts to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on access to education for children are fostered and education provided. Efficient resource management, skill transmission, continued education and the re-opening of schools are all priorities and concerns shared by the European Conservatives and Reformists. The vote will take place on Tuesday.

Debate: Monday @ 17:00

Vote: Tuesday @ 14:00

Key debate with the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi

On Tuesday morning, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will address the European Parliament. Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto will speak on behalf of the ECR Group.

Debate: Tuesday @ 11:30

Europe’s Energy Autonomy: The strategic importance of renewables and energy interconnections and efficiency

On Tuesday afternoon, MEPs will debate the future of Europe’s energy supply. The recent decision to stop the delivery of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria, unilaterally taken by Gazprom, constitutes a political move aiming to threaten and divide the European Union and, once again, proves that Russia is using gas and Europe’s dependency on this fuel as an instrument of political pressure. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, preceded by significant surges in energy prices caused by Gazprom’s manipulation of the market, has exposed the Union’s dependence on external supplies, especially on gas and oil, and emphasised the urgent need to act in this sector. The ECR Group believes that in order to ensure Europe’s independence and energy security and autonomy, the Union should, on the one hand, promote its own resources and technologies to promptly reduce dependence on imports of energy and raw materials from Russia and cover the needs of European consumers and industry. On the other hand, the Union should continue working in partnership with reliable international partners to secure necessary energy flows. For that reason, Europe should invest and develop additional infrastructure, such as LNG terminals or gas interconnectors between Member States. In order to respond to Gazprom’s decision, the ECR Group calls on the Commission to propose, as soon as possible, adequate countermeasures, including a full embargo on Russian fossil fuels. Moreover, in the spirit of European solidarity, the Union should ensure gas deliveries for affected Member States.

Debate: Tuesday @ 15:00

EU preparedness against cyber-attacks following Russia’s invasion on Ukraine

On Tuesday, Members will debate on how to deal with Russian cyberattacks. Russia’s hybrid warfare strategy uses offensive cyber operations in its war against Ukraine targeting its critical infrastructure. This has had a devastating impact on Ukraine’s energy, finances, logistics and communications networks, playing a significant role in the Kremlin’s military strategy. Reports state that some 237 cyber-attacks have been launched against Ukraine alone since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression. The Kremlin’s hybrid warfare campaign against the democratic West grows every year, with the attacks against Ukraine part of a wider strategy to identify gaps in Member State defences and represent a pressing need for the EU to significantly upgrade its cyber defences and enhance our resilience.

Debate: Tuesday @ 17:00

Threats to stability, security and democracy in Western and Sahelian Africa

On Wednesday, MEPs will debate a resolution pertaining to Western and Sahelian Africa, which has been plagued by instability for years. Terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram have been able to strengthen their foothold in the region, while Russian opportunism has seen the deployment of the Moscow-sponsored Wagner Group, responsible for serious human rights violations. As the human rights situation deteriorates, the ECR Group condemns in the strongest possible terms the Islamist terror organisations operating in the region and Russia’s intervention via its state-allied private military company. The vote will take place on Thursday.

Debate: Wednesday @ 15:00

Vote: Thursday @ 12:00

State of play of EU-Moldova cooperation

On Thursday, the European Parliament will debate the State of play of EU-Moldova cooperation, followed by a vote on a resolution on Thursday. Not only has Moldova taken in many Ukrainian refugees (over 420 000 in a country of 2.6 million), it has also joined the sanctions against Russia, has sent humanitarian aid to Kiev. All of this while having 1500 Russian soldiers in its breakaway territory, Transnistria. Moldova’s new Government has established an excellent political basis for progress in relations with the EU, also showing its solidarity by joining EU sanctions against Russia. The ECR Group has always strongly backed Moldova’s EU aspirations, advocating for tighter relations and supporting its EU candidate status.

Debate: Thursday @ 9:00

Vote: Thursday @ 12:00

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