The dramatic high-point of the meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg next week (1-4 July) is most likely to be a vote on the European Union’s budget for 2014-20. But whether that will feature on the agenda depends on discussions this week, particularly at the European Council (27-28 June).
However, the Parliament’s business managers have kept the schedule for Wednesday thin, in the expectation that there will be a vote on the 2014-20 budget.
Otherwise, the most contentious vote on the Parliament’s agenda is another vote on the European Commission’s proposal to delay the release of allowances for the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).
Analysts warn that the ETS will be doomed to irrelevance unless the EU finds ways to lift the price of carbon, which has fallen to all-time lows of less than €4. Delaying the release of carbon allowances, which are effectively permits to pollute, is meant to raise the price.
Since it was first rejected by the Parliament in April, the proposal has been amended in the environment committee, with compromises designed to win over wavering centre-right MEPs.
The revised text would restrict the Commission’s capacity to delay. The Commission would be required to reintroduce the allow-ances within a year, rather than within six years as initially envisaged. Revenues from the allowances would be earmarked for aid to Europe’s energy-intensive industries. The delay would be allowed only if the Commission can provide assurances that it will not cause industries to leave Europe.
The centre-right EPP group is split on the issue, and a group meeting on Tuesday (25 June) was unable to resolve the differences. Austrian centre-right MEP Richard Seeber, who helped craft the compromise, says he can convince enough EPP lawmakers who voted against the proposal in April to switch sides.
British MEPs in the European Conservatives and Reformists groups are also maintaining their opposition, defying their party leader David Cameron, the UK’s prime minister, who supports a restriction on allowances. That the vote is being held on Thursday morning may help it win approval, some observers of Parliament say, because more British EU MEPs are absent on Thursdays.
MEPs will vote to choose the next European Ombudsman next week (see page 16). They will also vote on Commission proposals on water pollution, response to pandemics, cyber-attacks and roadworthiness tests.
MEPs will vote on a report by Andrew Duff on the 2014 European elections and a report by Rui Tavares on democracy in Hungary. They will also hold debates on three controversial issues – the recent closure of the Greek public broadcaster, the US internet monitoring programme PRISM and the investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud agency OLAF into former European commissioner John Dalli.
The Lithuanian government, whose presidency of the Council of Ministers begins on 1 July, will brief MEPs on its plans for the next six months.