EU Budget to dominate proceedings during EP’s plenary session

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The European Union’s Budget for 2022 is expected to dominate the European Parliament’s second plenary session of November, taking place in Strasbourg, with MEPs pushing on the agendy further scrutiny of the way in which EU funds are spent.

Last week, legislators from both Parliament and Council managed to reach n agreement after lengthy negotiations, with the EP negotiators managing to roll back budget cuts sought by Member States.

During this week’s plenary, which returns back to the physical-online hybrid after a rise in Covid-19 cases around Europe, will see MEPs voting on Parliament’s position on the provisional agreement reached this week between the co‑legislators. The European Parliament has insisted that funding should be boosted for the top priorities for 2022 spending: funding the coronavirus recovery and the green and digital transitions, including a focus on groups hard-hit by the pandemic such as small businesses and young people. Parliament also sought stronger financing for health measures, including for the COVAX programme, as well as spending on security, migration, asylum and integration, fundamental rights and Union values.

Typically for every budget discussion at a European level, a major bone of contention remains the Common Agricultural Policy, with MEPs expected to vote on major reforms intended to introduce more subsidiarity in this sector. Parliament has been pushing for a more agile agricultural market that responds to consumer and producer needs alike, while reflecting the EU’s priorities in protecting natural resources.

Another important vote concerns digital rules, with MEPs in the internal market committee voting on the proposed EU Digital Markets Act. The proposed legislation lays down harmonised rules aimed at regulating the behaviour of major technological platforms such as Facebook and Google acting as gatekeepers between business users and their customers in the European Union. The Committee is expected indicate if the Commission’s proposal is an appropriate response to the challenges will define its own position on the proposal as a major step in the EU’s interinstitutional legislative process.

On the external relations front, the Commission and Council will deliver their positions to the EP, with important statements expected on the evolving situation in Belarus and the dramatic humanitarian situation with Minsk pushing thousands of on the Poland-Belarus Border. In this context, the exiled Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will address the plenary. MEPs are also expected to discuss the escalating situation in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Finally, Council and Commission statements are expected on Thursday morning on the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women and the state of play on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

On the margins of the plenary session, the centre-right EPP will choose its candidate for the role of European Parliament President, a position for which Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola has already declared her intention to contest.

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