Brussels, 14 April 2023
These are the current positions of the ECR Group in the European Parliament regarding the upcoming Plenary debates, next week:
Fit for 55
On Monday, MEPs will debate a package of five trilogue outcomes of the so-called Fit for 55 package, which aims to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
The agreement on the reform of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) increases the ambition for 2030, phases out free allowances for companies and creates a separate new ETS II for road transport fuels and buildings, which will put a price on emissions from these sectors as of 2027. The final agreement is significantly improved compared to the negotiating position adopted in June 2022. It includes several key points for the ECR Group, such as additional free allowances for district heating, the removal of any conditionality clauses for access to the Modernisation Fund, eligibility of gas investments from the increased Modernisation Fund and a slower phase-out of free allowances for industry.
Regarding the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector in the ETS, the ECR Group is of the opinion that with a gradual phase-in until 2026, negotiators found a well-balanced compromise.
On the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which aims to create a level playing field for the sectors covered by introducing a levy corresponding to the price of ETS allowances on imported goods, the ECR Group believes that the more cautious approach found in the provisional agreement, especially in the phase down of free allowances for the concerned sectors, better reflects the fact that the CBAM is a new mechanism and no one knows if it will work in practice. The ECR remains concerned about certain elements in the text, such as the expected higher costs for companies in the covered sectors, which will ultimately be passed on to consumers and may make EU export industries less competitive on the global market.
The ECR Group also welcomes in principle the EU’s social climate fund to help vulnerable households, micro-enterprises and transport users particularly affected by energy and transport poverty, especially the aspect of member states getting support for implementation. However, the Group is against the introduction of further EU own resources to finance the fund.
With regard to the revision of the EU ETS for aviation, the ECR Group believes that the compromise reached is not technologically realistic, as the options for decarbonising the aviation sector are very limited. The proposal, furthermore, does not take into account the need of a functioning aviation sector, and its contributions to the functioning of the internal market. It is to be expected that the regulation will have significant negative effects on consumers and thus also on economic activity that depends on mobility.
The votes will take place on Tuesday.
Debate: Monday @ 18:00
Vote: Tuesday @ 12:00
Combating global deforestation
On Monday, the European Parliament will debate the results of the trilogue on a regulation to help curb global man-made deforestation, which is mainly caused by the conversion of forests into agricultural land. When cattle farms, soya and cocoa fields, and coffee plantations are established on former rainforest land, production there is often very intensive and does not meet environmental standards comparable to European standards, for example in terms of water management or the use of pesticides. It is also often carried out with cheap labour and at the expense of indigenous peoples. Under these conditions, food mass produced in these countries is much cheaper than that produced in the EU and, when it enters the EU market, it violates the principles of fair competition.
The regulation has the potential to significantly reduce these practices and the destruction of rain forests. None of the products within its scope will be allowed to be imported into or exported from the EU unless it has been proven that no deforestation has taken place in their production. For years, the ECR Group has pointed out that raising environmental standards in agricultural and industrial production cannot apply only within the territory of the EU. The deforestation regulation will be a plus for nature conservation and a good step towards a level playing field in trade: it forces third countries to significantly align their agricultural production standards with those of the EU. However, the timber market and the EU timber sector should be closely monitored in the first few years as the new requirements could have an impact on supply chains. The vote will take place on Wednesday.
Debate: Monday @ 17:00
Vote: Wednesday @ 12:00
Making cryptocurrencies crime-proof
On Wednesday, MEPs will hold a debate on the results of the trilogue on new rules to make it harder for criminals and terrorists to misuse cryptoassets. As the use of cryptoassets grows, experts have concluded that it is necessary to extend the existing so-called “Travel Rule” to the transfer of cryptoassets. The Travel Rule is currently in place for banks and requires a set of personal and account information to be sent from the payer to the payee for transfers above a certain threshold, currently €1000 for international transfers. With the new legislation, the Travel Rule will also apply to the “banks” of the crypto world: crypto-asset service providers. These can be providers of hosted crypto wallets and trading platforms.
The new proposal by ECR Rapporteur Assita Kanko and Rapporteur Ernest Urtasun from the Greens supports the removal of the threshold as such a €1000 threshold is rather meaningless in the crypto world. It is extremely easy to split large transfers into multiple smaller transfers using multiple wallet addresses. Many Darknet activities involve small sums of money, such as €10-30 per transfer. Criminals and terrorists also use small sums to evade detection.
So-called ‘unhosted wallets’, which are particularly difficult to trace, will also be covered, when they interact with hosted wallets. The same rules already apply to banks, where cash withdrawals or deposits also require identification.
The ECR Group supports the agreement as an important step forward in treating crypto as a normal sector of our economy. Together with other new legislation on crypto, such as on consumer protection and financial stability, holding and trading crypto must become safer for citizens and more difficult for criminals and terrorists. The vote will take place on Thursday.
Debate: Wednesday @ 14:00
Vote: Thursday @ 12:00
The challenges facing the Republic of Moldova
On Wednesday, European Parliament lawmakers will vote on a resolution on the challenges facing the Republic of Moldova. The resolution follows a debate, which took place during the March Strasbourg plenary session. Since the beginning of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, Moldova has been struggling with the consequences of Russia’s brutal aggression. The country faces an increasing number of challenges, such as rising inflation, airspace violations and staged protests organised by pro-Putin groups. In recent months, Russian attempts to destabilise Moldova through hybrid actions have been increasing. Presently, Moldova holds a pro-European, democratically elected government. However, in a statement on 13 February, Moldovan President Maia Sandu warned of Russia’s plans to overthrow the government and put a halt to any plans for the country to join the European Union. The ECR Group supports the people of Moldova, Moldova’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity in these terrible times.
Vote: Wednesday @12:00
Lock up Putin!
On Wednesday morning, the European Parliament will debate the forced deportations of children from Ukraine and the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Thousands of Ukrainian children have been forcibly removed from their country to Russia. This practice is reminiscent of the barbaric practices of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during the Second World War and violates Article II of the Genocide Convention. As Europeans, we have a duty to get to the bottom of this and to prevent and punish genocide wherever we can. But the list of atrocities committed by the Russian Federation in its war of aggression against Ukraine is much longer: Mass killings of Ukrainian civilians, the shelling of homes and neighbourhoods and, just in the last days, the beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war by Russian soldiers, which was captured in a video posted on social media. These all show Russia’s true face.
On 17 March, the ICC formalised its recognition of Russia’s war crimes by issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. The ECR Group wholeheartedly welcomes the ICC’s decision. The ECR Group has long condemned the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Now, the only way to stop Russia’s heinous atrocities and end the suffering of the Ukrainian people is for Ukraine to win this war. The EU must provide unwavering support to Ukraine, not only through the supply of military equipment, but also through financial assistance and humanitarian aid. The sanctions regime against the Russian Federation must also be reviewed and strengthened.
Debate: Wednesday @ 09:00
In search of a coherent China strategy
In the key debate on Wednesday morning, MEPs will discuss how to deal with an increasingly aggressive and dominant China. China’s belligerent stance in the East and South China Seas, its continued friendship with Russia, massive human rights abuses in China and Hong Kong, and sanctions against EU Member States and MEPs are all of great concern. The unbalanced economic relationship is also an example of the need for the EU to revise its approach to China. In the ECR Group’s point of view, the EU needs a coherent approach that is not distorted by China’s divisive tactics and that should aim at a gradual disengagement from China in close cooperation with our transatlantic partners, US, Canada and the United Kingdom. At the same time, the EU and its Member States should strengthen their close ties with democratic Taiwan. Europe should not weaken transatlantic cooperation in favour of greater so-called strategic autonomy – on the contrary, we will be stronger if we continue to invest in this unity.
Debate: Tuesday @ 9:00
In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
On Wednesday at noon, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, will deliver a statement in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which took place in German-occupied Poland between 19 April and 16 May 1943. It was an act of fierce and desperate resistance to Nazi Germany’s efforts to deport the remaining population of the ghetto to the death camps at Majdanek and Treblinka. The ECR Group is grateful that the President took their proposal for this commemoration on board.
When: Wednesday at 12.00
Source – ECR Group (via email)