EP reconvenes for first plenary of 2023 as Qatargate dominates proceedings

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The European Parliament resumes plenary sessions in Strasbourg this week, where it will be voting for a new Vice President of the European Parliament, deciding its position on a new law on waste shipments before starting negotiations with Council, and discussing the programme of Sweden’s current six-month Presidency of the Council.

However, the key chatter in the corridors of the majestic Parliament building in the French city as well as the media rooms of the international press remains centered around the revelations made after the institution’s Vice President Eva Kaili was arrested in December in connection with an investigation into suspected corruption involving Qatar.

MEPs will vote for a new Parliament Vice-President tomorrow. Based on the EP Rules of Procedure, in the event of a vacancy, a new Vice-President is elected to take the place of his or her predecessor in the order of precedence – so the MEP to be elected as VP this Wednesday will become Parliament’s fifth VP. Nominations may be made by one-twentieth of Parliament’s component Members or a political group. To be elected, a candidate needs an absolute majority of votes cast by secret ballot.

The President delegates specific duties to the 14 Vice-Presidents, who can replace her when necessary, including to chair plenary sittings. These Vice-Presidents are also members of the European Parliament’s Bureau, which lays down the rules ensuring Parliament’s effective functioning. Among its other duties, the Bureau draws up Parliament’s preliminary draft budget and decides on administrative, staff and organisational matters. In electing the members of the Bureau, MEPs aim to ensure that the Vice-Presidents and Quaestors broadly reflect the numerical strength of the political groups in Parliament.

During this session, legislators will discuss its negotiating position for talks with EU governments on a new law to reform EU procedures and control measures for waste shipments. Maltese MEP Cyrus Engerer is shadow rapporteur for the S&D on this file, led by EP Rapporteur Pernille Weiss (EPP, Denmark). The report adopted by Environment Committee MEPs in December 2022, proposes more efficient information exchange and transparency measures on waste shipments within the EU. It also introduces stricter rules for waste exports outside the EU, as well as increased prevention and detection of illegal shipments. The revised legislation should improve the protection of the environment and human health, while taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by waste for achieving the EU’s goals of a circular and zero-pollution economy.In 2020, EU exports of waste to non-EU countries reached 32.7 million tonnes, representing about 16% of global trade in waste. In addition, around 67 million tonnes of waste are shipped between EU countries every year.

Parliament’s negotiating mandate on a draft directive to improve conditions for workers on digital labour platforms is set to be announced today. MEPs will decide whether a draft negotiating mandate on new rules to improve the working conditions in platform work adopted by the Employment Committee on 12 December 2022 should become the Parliament’s position in upcoming negotiations with the member states. The new rules would regulate how to correctly determine the employment status of platform workers and how digital labour platforms should use algorithms and artificial intelligence to monitor and evaluate workers. Member States have not yet decided on their own position regarding the new rules. These new rules are subject to a co-decision legislative between Council and Parliament

Legislators will quiz Commission representatives on the prospects of establishing a tribunal for the prosecution of Russian war criminals on the crime of aggression against Ukraine. The debate will be wound up by a resolution on Thursday. MEPs are set to echo the demands of a Parliament resolution adopted in May 2022, in which they called on the EU to take all necessary action in international proceedings and courts to support the prosecution of the Russian and Belarussian regimes for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. All Russian armed forces personnel and government officials involved in war crimes should be subject to investigation and prosecution, the text said. Read more here.
In a resolution adopted on 23 November, Parliament also recognised Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state that “uses means of terrorism”.

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