Plenary update: 9 to 12 April 2016

Tue, 10Review of the assistance programme for Greece (Gianni Pittella)
+ 33 3 88 17 51 59

I cannot believe that in the middle of the refugee crisis – when Schengen and the EU are confronted with the worst crisis since they were established – negotiations on reviewing the assistance programme will be inconclusive. All the conditions are in place for a successful review. The situation in Europe is too serious to allow a rerun of last year’s drama on Grexit. We should not forget that in a month and a half there will be a crucial referendum in the UK. Eurostat has acknowledged that Greece has done better than expected in fiscal terms and the only problem is with the International Monetary Fund – and I call on them to act responsibly. Our group will oppose the attempt by the IMF and some conservative protagonists to request ‘preventative austerity measures’ for Greece. This is not preventative austerity; this is the death of a country. We must thank the Greek people for their extraordinary efforts.

Press contact: Jan Bernas +32 471 64 87 77

Wed, 11Revision of the Dublin regulation (Birgit Sippel)
+ 33 3 88 17 55 59

The S&D Group has long called for a revision of the Dublin regulation. The current system is not fit for the current migration challenges. The European Union must support the member states at the external borders of the EU who still face the main burden of hosting and registering the arriving migrants. In addition, it is shameful that two and a half years after the humanitarian tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa, and many tragedies later, the EU has still no effective European mechanism to distribute asylum seekers evenly amongst the member states. The Commission has now come up with a new proposal, but the current draft is not enough. The European Socialists and Democrats will fight for a truly European solidarity mechanism. Also, it is extremely worrying that asylum seekers who find themselves in different EU country to the one responsible for them are punished with material privations. Minimum standards have to be guaranteed for all migrants.

Press contact: Tim Allan +32 475 635 673

Wed, 11Conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for certain purposes (Tanja Fajon)
+33 3 88 17 54 93

This proposal is the last element of the legal migration package proposed by the Commission back in 2013. Despite initial reluctance from the Council, the S&D Group has managed to secure important improvements on broadening its scope – which now include trainees, volunteers and au pairs – enhanced provisions on mobility, as well as on working hours and the possibility for students and researchers to stay after completing their studies or research. Maintaining the overall positive spirit of the proposal, new rules bring added value protecting young people coming to the EU by making the conditions of entry as simple and as harmonised as possible. Nevertheless the S&D Group will pay close attention to the provisions on grounds for refusal which leave a large degree of discretion in the hands of member states and were not supported by our group.

Press contact: Tim Allan +32 475 635 673

Wed, 11 – Mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation (Emmanuel Maurel)
+33 3 88 17 57 47

It is said that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ and one of the positive consequences of the Panama Papers leak is that country-by-country reporting standards have been placed in the spotlight. This is an essential step to strengthen tax justice. The EU member states will now be able to track the profits of multinational groups and be sure that they are taxed where they are made. The European Parliament will vote on the implementation of the automatic exchange of country-by-country reports between the tax administrations of Europe. A political signal is to be sent, and it must be clear: all large multinationals – not just the 10% of them proposed by the Commission (only including companies with a turnover above €750 million) – must comply with country-by-country reporting. This is why the Socialists and Democrats will support extending the rule to every multinational group considered as a ‘large undertaking’ in EU law (above €40 million and more than 250 employees). Public opinion is clearly in favour of strong measures to tackle tax avoidance, but liberals and conservatives, who still oppose country-by-country transparency for the majority of multinationals, seem to be deaf to their calls.

Press contact: Solange Hélin Villes + 32 476 510

Tue, 10 – China’s market economy status (Alessia Mosca)
+33 3 88 1 75746

The European Union is facing a major challenge related to our trade relations with China. When China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the arrangements for its inclusion allowed for a specific methodology for calculations on dumping, based on a sub-paragraph that expires 15 years after the Protocol of Accession was signed: on the ‪11 December 2016. The EU must now decide how to deal with Chinese imports. The S&D Group pushed strongly for a parliamentary resolution to set out our demands: the EU should continue to use a non-standard methodology for anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations on Chinese imports to determine price comparability. Furthermore, we also ask the Commission to co-ordinate with major trading partners through the WTO and to strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-dumping tools to guarantee a level playing field for EU industry in relation to China while fully respecting WTO rules.

Press contact: Victoria Martin De La Torre + 32 473 234 173

Tue, 10 – Debate on youth unemployment (Maria Joao Rodriguez)
+ 33 3 88 17 58 63

In spite of many efforts, the unemployment rate remains very high in Europe, particularly for youth unemployment. Something is deeply wrong. We have too many economic and social divergences between member states. These divergences are undermining our European ambition, our European project and our European cohesion. There is no future in Europe if there is no future for young people in Europe.  We must tackle this problem more ambitiously.

Press contact: Solange Hélin Villes + 32 476 510 172

Thu, 12Revised framework agreement on parental leave (Maria Arena)
+33 3 88 17 56 90

Despite the EU’s wish to be a leader in ‘the fight against all forms of discrimination including those related to gender’, it is clear that gender equality is still far from achieved. The issue of parental leave and more generally the issues related to work-life balance crystallise the debate. According to the latest Eurostat data, only 2.7% of fathers in the EU took parental leave in recent years. It is therefore crucial to fight against this imbalance which contributes to the economic and social dependence of women and prevents their emancipation. Therefore, I call for the revision of the Parental Leave Directive. I propose to strengthen it through incentive measures such as the right to decent financial compensation throughout the period of leave, keeping a significant part of parental leave as non-transferable, improving access to childcare services at affordable prices, increasing the duration of parental leave and the period during which it can be used. Finally, I also argue for the urgent revision of the Maternity Leave Directive and for an EU directive establishing a minimum of two weeks paternity leave.

Press contact: Solange Hélin Villes + 32 476 510 172

Mon, 9 – Cohesion policy in mountainous regions of the EU (Iliana Iotova)
+33 3 88 17 57 08

Territorial cohesion is included in the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, yet efforts to implement it have been limited. It can never be complete without a specific approach to mountainous regions, which comprise around a third of EU territory and where almost a fifth of its citizens live. This is why we call for a mountainous agenda which focuses on the sustainable and responsible development of the mountains of Europe. This is the only way we can stop the depopulation of mountains and preserve their vital ecosystem services.

Press contact: Tim Allan +32 475 635 673

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