Following Europe Day on 9th May, the European Parliament is back in action to debate and vote on the next slew of topics concerning the lives of all EU citizens and the direction of the Union’s future.
Political groups within the European Parliament will spend the week preparing for the 17-20th May plenary session, which will see MEPs debating and voting on the Just Transition Fund to ensure the social impact of a greening economy is mitigated and energy usage and strategies within the EU, among others.
As such, some of the highlights of the events in the Parliament this week include the debate on the adoption of draft recommendations regarding the Erasmus programme and also a special joint committee between the Parliament, Commission and Council on beating cancer.
1. The impact of COVID-19 on Cancer care
Date: Monday 10th May
COVID-19 has halted and paralysed countless sectors, jobs and services. Healthcare systems across Europe and the world have been overwhelmed in their prioritisation of ensuring that the pandemic is kept in check as best as possible.
We cannot thank all of the brave frontline workers enough, yet it cannot be denied that the pandemic has had severe consequences on numerous medical conditions and treatments – with one of the most notable being cancer care.
According to a recently released report by the EU’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer, “cancer care services have endured significant delays or cancellations leading to backlogs of patients furthering the already existing strains on healthcare systems and HCPs”.
The pandemic has also created a huge dilemma in the field of cancer research, which has been left facing considerable challenges due to facilities being faced with financial and logistical problems.
In light of this, the European Union will be holding a joint committee with the Parliament, Commission and Council to exchange views on the financing of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.
They will also be discussing the results found in the report, where it is possible that we will see hints at what sort of proposals or views MEPs have when it comes to dealing with this sensitive situation.
2. European Union fisheries
Date: Monday 10th May
Fisheries within the EU have been a talking point for years now, they were even a particular pressure point when it came to Brexit negotiations. It is also a crucial point in the delicate balance of preserving the biodiversity of the seas.
As such, MEPs will be discussing and monitoring the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy which aims to conserve fish stocks and reduce overfishing within the EU to provide its citizens with a long-term stable, secure and healthy food supply.
MEPs will also seek to adopt the draft opinion regarding the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, which was implemented in order to try and counter the adverse economic and social consequences of Brexit.
In relation to fishing activities and the fishery sector, the Adjustment Reserve has the ability to support fishery controls and assist communities and regions dependent on fishing in UK waters.
3. Strengthening democracy, media freedom and pluralism in the EU
Date: Tuesday 11th May
Leading MEPs will start Tuesday’s Parliamentary proceedings with a joint discussion on the new Anti-SLAPP report that will seek to protect media and civil society organisations in the EU from attempted silencing.
The exchange of views will see First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, will be present as one of two rapporteurs.
The need for Anti-SLAPP legislation has only grown clearer in recent years as journalists across the European Union are faced with attempted silencing, assaults and even assassination as seen with Daphne Caruana Galizia, Ján Kuciak and Giorgos Karaivaz.
Metsola has previously noted that the introduction and enforcement of proper anti-SLAPP legislation could “become a watershed moment for journalism in Europe”.
It would also allow Europe to maintain its status as the leader in freedom of the press in the world and continue to lead by example, which has become even more clear after the Parliament’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May.
4. Adoption of three important programmes
Date: Tuesday 11th May
A highlight of this weeks’ proceedings in the European Parliament is that MEPs are set to adopt three important programmes that will run from 2021-2027: Erasmus, Creative Europe and the European Solidarity Corps.
The votes will see the results on the adoption of the draft recommendation on the Erasmus Programme, the EU’s programme for education, training, youth and sport. In particular, Erasmus has faced grave pressures during COVID-19 with many students unable to actually attend their Erasmus education experiences.
On the other hand, the Creative Europe programme’s adoption would see the continuation of the programme implemented for safeguarding, developing and promoting European cultural and linguistic diversity alongside promoting Europe’s cultural heritage.
In 2020, the programme saw its budget increased to €2.2 billion. The preservation of Europe’s heritage and culture will also prove vital for tourism-dependent regions in the post-pandemic era, as it will doubtlessly help encourage tourists to visit these sites.
The final programme to be voted on will be the establishment of the European Solidarity Corps, an opportunity-based platform to help provide young European citizens between the age of 18 and 30.
It offers funding and support to help young people take part in projects that benefit communities, either abroad or in their own countries – while also offering the opportunity to develop one’s skills.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
What are you most interested to see adopted?