European Parliament

MEPs return to Brussels for a busy two days in committee (10-11th) ahead of the plenary session of Parliament (12-13th). 

Highlights of the week in committee include:

  • Disabled access to aeroplanes (1st reading adoption - Transport Committee)
  • Fluorinated greenhouse gases (2nd reading adoption - Environment Committee)
  • Motor vehicle air-conditioning (2nd reading adoption - Environment Committee)
  • Market in Financial Instruments (so-called MiFID - 1st reading adoption - Economic Committee)
  • Humane trapping standards (1st reading adoption - Environment Committee)
  • Naming and shaming of airlines (1st reading adoption - Transport Committee)

In the "mini" plenary session on Wednesday and Thursday, the European Parliament is set to vote on a range of reports on various policy topics, ranging from women and poverty in the EU to sugar reform and "new challenges for the circus as part of European culture".

On Thursday, public relations commissioner Margot Wallstrom will present her long-awaited "Plan D" (Plan Democracy) which should address the problem of the gap between Brussels and European citizens.  Ms Wallstrom already told the European Parliament last week that she is to propose "EU goodwill ambassadors", greater openness in the council and a special Eurobarometer survey on the future of Europe.

On the same day, UK Minister for Europe Douglas Alexander, will lay out his vision for a rejuvenated European Union at the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies.

European Commission

Commissioners Mandelson and Fischer Boel will on Monday travel to Switzerland to attend preparatory WTO ministerial meetings, two months ahead of a crucial WTO Doha Development Round summit in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy will meet European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet, who has warned of inflation in the eurozone as a result of high oil prices.

Oil prices and inflation are set to be one key issue for the Eurogroup, consisting of finance ministers of countries that have adopted the euro, gathering on Monday evening in Luxembourg.  The meeting will be held amid Commission allegations that countries are 'fixing' their budget figures in order to comply with the EU's stability and growth pact - the rules underpinning the euro.

The stability pact is also on the agenda of the Ecofin council in Luxembourg on Tuesday, which comprises the finance ministers of all members states.

Also in Luxembourg on Tuesday, the so-called Competitiveness council will meet, which is usually attended by member states industry or economics ministers.  One issue on the competitiveness agenda is a major EU chemicals law known as Reach - but ministers will also enter into a benchmark exercise, comparing their countries' competitiveness according to last summer's "Internal market scoreboard" by the Commission.

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