Get ready for a new wave of migration
“We are sleepwalking into a new migration crisis", warns Manfred Weber MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group, ahead of Wednesday's plenary debate on migration, in preparation of the special EU Summit on 9-10 February. Last year, the number of irregular migrants detected at the EU’s external border was the highest since 2016. We need to finally unblock the European asylum and migration policies with a strong border control including EU financing of border infrastructure, swift and fair procedures to quickly distinguish between refugees and economic migrants, and to ensure an efficient return of all those not legible for protection in the EU. To avoid loss of life at sea and stop cynical human smugglers, we call for a Code of Conduct for NGOs involved in search and rescue activities.
Put industrial competitiveness at the heart of EU policy
The European Union needs to prioritise industrial competitiveness. Next week, the European Parliament will vote on a Resolution aimed at boosting EU industrial competitiveness. The challenges posed by the United States' recent subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act have highlighted the need for increased focus on industrial competitiveness at European level. The EPP Group has long advocated for a stronger emphasis on industrial competitiveness. Christian Ehler MEP, Spokesman on Industry, Research and Energy, is leading negotiations for the Resolution. "We are finally giving industrial competitiveness the attention it deserves. The challenges posed by the American Inflation Reduction Act demonstrate that the regulatory approach of the Green Deal has limitations. We need a plan to support our industry through the regulatory transition of Fit for 55 by finally getting the 'deal' part of the Green Deal. Europe needs to act fast and decisively - not against our transatlantic partners, but with them", said Ehler.
EPP Group meets in Tallinn to push for stronger European defence
The EPP Group wants the EU to step up its efforts for a stronger European defence. Group Members responsible for security and defence will gather for a meeting on 'A Stronger Europe: Security and Defence of the Union' on Monday in Tallinn, Estonia. The keynote speech will be given by the Foreign Minister of Estonia, Urmas Reinsalu. The illegal, unjustified and unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine brought unprecedented geopolitical and security volatility in Europe not experienced since Second World War and led to intensified cooperation within the EU’s defence area. This is illustrated by the increased cooperation between the EU and NATO, by the nearly-completed ratification process of Finland and Sweden to NATO, the Danish referendum on the end of the opt-out on EU defence, and the financing of weapons deliveries through the European Peace Facility. "Security doesn’t come for free. The transatlantic community can only protect its citizens if we live up to commitments and increase defence spending to 3 percent of GDP”, says Riho Terras MEP, Head of the Estonian Delegation of the EPP Group and former Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces. The main speeches of the EPP Group’s Tallinn meeting will be live streamed.
Start accession negotiations with Ukraine now
The upcoming summit between the EU and Ukraine on Friday should set out a clear pathway for the start of accession negotiations with Kyiv as soon as possible this year. “The EU has granted candidate status to Ukraine, but that is not enough. We need to make the next step forward and open accession negotiations as soon as possible in Spring 2023. This will help Ukraine to ultimately defeat Putin, who started a brutal war of aggression in order to steal the European perspective from Ukraine. Sending the message to the struggling Ukrainians that their path to EU membership will take decades is not acceptable”, stresses Rasa Juknevičienė MEP, EPP Group Vice-Chair responsible for Foreign Affairs. For the EPP Group, the ultimate goal is to grant EU membership to Ukraine before the end of this decade - providing all necessary reforms are implemented in Ukraine.
MEPs to discuss EU-Qatar Air Agreement
On Tuesday, MEPs in Parliament's Transport Committee will discuss the air transport agreement between the European Union and the State of Qatar, signed in October 2021. For the EPP Group, it is important to examine that no foreign interference took place during the negotiations of the agreement. The aim of the agreement is to replace a series of bilateral agreements and set new rules and standards for flights between Qatar and the EU. In light of the Qatargate scandal, MEPs are taking a closer look at how the agreement was negotiated by the European Commission and what the positions of Member States were during negotiations. MEPs will also ask for more information on the ongoing ratification process of the agreement.
Drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for the future
Parliament's Special Committee which looks into the lessons to be drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic will hold three hearings next week. On Monday, committee Members will discuss with experts the impact of disinformation and propaganda during the pandemic. On Tuesday, the committee will hold two hearings on the impact of the pandemic on EU democracies and on fundamental rights. Stelios Kympouropoulos MEP, EPP Group Spokesman in the Special Committee, stresses the need to protect fundamental rights and democracy and fight against disinformation. "Our societies and our democracies were put to the test during the pandemic. We must make sure that we emerge from it with our democratic institutions stronger and more resilient", said Kympouropoulos.