European Parliament

MEPs meet in Strasbourg this week for a plenary session of the European Parliament.

Highlights of the agenda include:

  • Data retention rules
  • Preparing the EU summit 
  • Energy efficiency
  • Financial instruments (MiFID)

Data retention - telecommunications (debate Tuesday; vote Wednesday)
Home Secretary Charles Clarke will appear before MEPs on Tuesday to debate the proposed new EU rules on retention of telecommunications data, as part of the efforts to combat terrorism. The aim is to help national authorities track down possible terrorists via telephone calls, text messages or internet connections they have made.

Preparing the EU summit
On Wednesday morning, MEPs will give their views on the upcoming EU Summit. José Manuel Barroso will speak for the European Commission and Europe Minister Douglas Alexander for the UK's Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers.  Any deal reached on the EU budget for 2007-2013 must meet with the approval of all three EU institutions: Parliament, Commission and Council.
Energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is on MEPs' agenda on Monday when they debate a 2nd reading of the proposed directive aimed at cutting energy usage in both private households and the public sector. A compromise has been reached with the Council of Ministers which looks likely to ensure that the directive can be adopted following this 2nd reading.

The directive will set targets of 9% reduction in energy usage over 9 years. Member States will have until 30 June 2007 to send their action plans to the European Commission on how they intend to meet the targets but will have two years to put the directive into domestic law. The public sector is intended to become a role model for energy efficiency, which can in future be used as a criterion in determining the outcome of public procurement contracts.

Financial Instruments (MiFID)
The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) is currently due for implementation in Member States by April 2006. This deadline has led to widespread concerns in the financial services industries in the UK and elsewhere. The proposal from the European Parliament's Economic Committee is that the deadline be put back by 18 months, which would make 1 November 2007 the date for implementation. MEPs are due to debate on Monday with a vote on Tuesday.

European Commission

A ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will be taking place from Tuesday to Sunday in Hong Kong.  The meeting is intended as a significant step forward in the WTO's Doha round of trade liberalisation, but in the run-up to the meeting EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has played down hopes for a far-reaching deal.

The commissioner, who will represent the 25-nation bloc in Hong Kong, has expressed scepticism over the latest offers by key upcoming players Brazil and India to open their markets to European companies.  Meanwhile, the Brazilians, Indians and Americans have repeatedly slammed a "final" offer by Mr Mandelson to cut farm subsidies as insufficient.

The European commission will at its weekly meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday present a communication on criteria for the implementation of Nice treaty article 228 - the article which deals with sanctions against member states who have been convicted by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of having breached the EC treaty.

The commission will also adopt a revised strategy on sustainable development, as well as a fresh proposal for a "without frontiers" TV directive.
Member states' economics ministers in the competitiveness council will on Tuesday vote on the REACH chemicals law, which has been dubbed the most complex piece of legislation in EU history.  The European Parliament in November adopted its version of the law, which constitutes a compromise between business-friendly and pro-green stances.

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