European Parliament News: Plenary highlights – State of the EU, Covid-19, recovery plan

MEPs debated the state of the EU, came up with measures to fight Covid-19 and opened the way for the recovery plan during a busy September plenary.

State of the EU

On Wednesday MEPs debated new EU plans to tackle climate change, racism, health threats and migration with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her first State of the European Union.

State of the EU debate 
   
Von der Leyen tells Parliament she will lead the EU to green recovery

Budget and recovery

On Wednesday Parliament voted to approve the procedure that will allow the EU to borrow €750 billion for the Covid-19 recovery plan. MEPs also called for a legally binding calendar for the introduction of new sources of revenue for the EU budget.

Covid-19

EU countries should harmonise their criteria of what is constitutes a Covid-19 positive case, death as a result of Covid-19 and recovery from the infection to allow for objective assessments of health risks in countries, said MEPs in a resolution adopted on Thursday.

They also adopted a resolution calling for more EU efforts to tackle medicine shortages by boosting local manufacturing and better coordination between countries and approved a €6.2 billion increase in the EU’s budget for this year to tackle the crisis and speed up vaccine deployment.

Civil Protection Mechanism

Parliament voted in favour of revamping the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to help EU countries respond faster and more efficiently to large-scale emergencies, including medical ones such as Covid-19.

Just Transition Fund

The Just Transition Fund, which is being set up to support fossil fuel reliant regions in their transition to a sustainable future, should receive more funds if the EU is to achieve its climate goals, MEPs said on Wednesday. Parliament adopted its position on the functioning of the fund ahead of negotiations with the Council and the Commission.

Just Transition Fund 
   
From coal to clean: Europe’s green transition

Emissions from ships and cars

Parliament voted on Wednesday to include CO2 emissions from maritime transport in the EU Emissions Trading System. Ships must also contribute to climate neutrality, argued MEPs.

They also insisted that cars should respect emission limits under real driving conditions and that provisions allowing for discrepancies between emission results from laboratory tests and real driving should end by September 2022.

Foreign policy

Following reports of electoral fraud in the presidential elections in Belarus in August, Parliament called for new elections and urged EU sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko.

MEPs also called for an international investigation into the assassination attempt of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and for sanctions against the perpetrators.

Turkey must immediately end illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, MEPs said in another resolution.

Roma integration

Romani people in Europe suffer the highest rates of poverty and social exclusion, MEPs pointed out in a resolution on Thursday. They called on EU countries to do more to ensure access to education and early childhood development and end discrimination and segregation.

Roma 
   
MEPs demand action to end Roma exclusion

Support for culture

MEPs demanded that a share of the EU recovery funds is allocated for direct and swift support for the struggling cultural and creative sectors in a resolution approved on Thursday.

Support for the creative sector 
   
Parliament calls for urgent support for the creative sector

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