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This Week In The EU Parliament: Israel-Palestine Crisis, COVID-19 Vaccines And EU Bloc’s Enlargement Take The Spotlight

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The European Parliament is in full swing with a busy schedule this week as several key topics are set to be discussed, voted on or adopted.

Some of the most crucial highlights of the week are sure to be the discussions on Turkey and Montenegro’s EU accession negotiations, COVID-19 certificates and the EU’s strategy towards Israel-Palestine.

The latter of which continues to be a key topic of debate as the growing violence in Israel continues to escalate while the public has criticised the seeming complacency to the situation by international governments.

1. The Just Transition Fund for climate neutrality

 

Date: Monday 17th & Tuesday 18th May

Climate neutrality is coming to the European Union sooner rather than later. Transition plans are already being drafted and debated by MEPs in order to adopt a €17.5 billion Just Transition Fund.

This fund aims to help EU countries address the social and economic impact of transitioning to climate neutrality – including a funding focus on less developed regions, outermost territories and islands. Yet, committing to climate neutrality by 2050 will be a condition for this financial support.

Through this, the Just Transition Fund will focus on also financing job-seeking assistance, up-skilling and reskilling for workers in the changing economy so that no one is left behind once the EU moves away from sectors that are detrimental to climate neutrality.

In particular, Malta would stand to benefit greatly from these sorts of initiatives as we will doubtlessly require help in properly achieving our climate commitments and ease the impact that this transition would have in reshaping Malta’s economic structure.

2. Potential conclusion of COVID-19 certificate deal

Date: Tuesday 18th May

Ever since the vaccine rollout began across EU nations, the idea of a vaccine certificate or passport has been floated around numerous times as a way to get the summer tourist season off the ground across Member States.

Tuesday will mark a meeting between the Parliament, Council and Commission to try and conclude a deal aimed at establishing an EU-wide COVID-19 certificate to provide smooth and safe travel within the bloc from the end of June.

The document, which could be available in both digital and paper format, will show whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, had a recent negative result, or had recovered from the infection.

3. EU strategy towards Israel-Palestine crisis

Date: Tuesday 18th May

Tuesday afternoon will highlight the unrest and violence between Israel and Palestine over the last few days that have seen some of the worst clashes between both sides in years.

MEPs are set to discuss the growing crisis which has been condemned by people across the world, including President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen who emphasised that “civilians on all sides must be protected”.

First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, has also called for “calm to be restored and for a new impetus to peace to be launched”.

“History does not have to repeat itself. This inter-generational cycle can be broken and the European Union can be the catalyst for that.”

4. Turkey and Montenegro’s EU accession negotiations

Date: Tuesday 17th & Wednesday 18th May

Over the past few years, both Turkey and Montenegro have started the process of joining the EU. In this regard, MEPs will discuss and vote on Tuesday and Wednesday regarding recent developments in the two nation’s EU accession negotiations.

In particular, it is expected that MEPs will criticise the Turkish government for distancing itself from European values and standards, especially when it comes to democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.

The ‘Sofagate’ fiasco has also surely stoked tensions between the bloc and Turkey, alongside Turkey’s illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean alongside its involvement in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan. Though Turkey is an EU accession candidate to join the bloc, such accession negotiations have been effectively frozen since 2018.

On the other hand, Montenegro is likely to see support from MEPs expressed towards the country’s path to joining the EU as well as calling on the new Montenegrin government to focus further on reforms.

5. Waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines

Date: Wednesday 18th May

When it comes to vaccines, MEPs will debate a proposal by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines in order to mitigate the production bottlenecks in vaccines and further allow investment in global manufacturing and contributions to the COVAX scheme.

Several of the Parliament’s political groups have already called on the Commission to ask for a waiver of the intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines to help support global vaccination efforts, to which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said the EU is “open to discussions” on the matter.

These discussions on the WTO proposals comes after India and South Africa initiated at WTO level a proposal for a temporary exemption from IPR protection to all patents related to COVID-19 prevention, containment and treatment in October 2020.

A resolution will be put to the vote officially during the 7-10th June Plenary session.

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 do you think the EU should do on the Israel-Palestine crisis? Let us know in the comments

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