Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Parliament debated waiving vaccine patent rights and outside plenary reached a deal with the Council on an EU Covid certificate to facilitate travelling in Europe during the pandemic.

During the May plenary MEPs dealt with issues such as Covid-19 vaccine patents, Erasmus+ and the environment

Parliament debated waiving vaccine patent rights and outside plenary reached a deal with the Council on an EU Covid certificate to facilitate travelling in Europe during the pandemic.

Covid-19

On Thursday Parliament and the Council negotiators reached a provisional deal for an EU Digital Covid Certificate, which should facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic by attesting that someone has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, has had a recent negative test, or has recovered from the infection. MEPs are set to vote on the deal during the next plenary in June.

MEPs expressed diverging views on whether the EU should support a waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines in a debate on Wednesday. Some said that the idea, recently backed by the US, would help poorer countries get access to vaccines, while others countered that it would not provide a quick solution.

Climate

Parliament approved the €17.5 billion Just Transition Fun to help EU regions adapt to the socioeconomic effects of the green transition.

To help pave the way to a carbon-neutral Europe, MEPs voted on an European Commission proposal for a hydrogen strategy, They said that only green hydrogen resulting from renewable sources can be sustainable in the long run and called for a clear distinction between renewable and low-carbon hydrogen and the phasing-out of fossil-based hydrogen as soon as possible.

MEPs also called for stronger EU rules on companies’ environmental liabilities. In addition they want the EU to strongly support environmental rights campaigners and condemn all attacks against them.

Culture, young people and education

On Tuesday, MEPs adopted Erasmus+, the 2021-2027 edition of the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, young people and sports. The programme’s funding will almost double (more than €28 billion) compared to the previous period (€14.7 billion).

Parliament also adopted the European Solidarity Corps programme, to support volunteering by young people in the EU and beyond. It aims to increase the participation of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In a report adopted on Wednesday, MEPs set out proposals to crack down on the growing phenomenon of illegal broadcasting of live sporting events, including the removal of illegal content no later than 30 minutes after the start of the event.

Also on Wednesday, MEPs adopted the Creative Europe programme, ensuring the biggest ever budget for the EU’s culture and creative sectors: €2.5 billion for 2021-2027 with special attention for the music sector, activities with EU-added value, inclusion and gender equality.

Digital transformation and artificial intelligence

In a resolution on the digital future of Europe, the Parliament called for more support for digital innovation and artificial intelligence applications. In a separate report on the use of artificial intelligence in education, culture and the audiovisual sector, they called for AI technologies to be designed in a way that prevents gender, social or cultural bias and protects diversity.

MEPs also backed a new European cybersecurity centre and network that will increase Europe’s capacity against cyber threats.

External affairs

Following the upsurge in violence between Israel and Palestine, MEPs stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire to avoid further civilian casualties. In the debate on Tuesday, they also underlined the need for dialogue and for negotiations on a two-state solution to resume and condemned recent waves of anti-Semitism in Europe triggered by the renewed conflict.

In recent years, the Turkish government has distanced itself from EU values. As a result, relations have been brought to a historic low point  and need to be profoundly reassessed, MEPs said in a report adopted on Wednesday.

MEPs also criticised the Commission and some EU countries for overusing informal agreements on the return and readmission of irregular migrants, passing a report on the matter on the same day. One day later, they called for an EU framework for legal migration that would encourage more orderly migration, attract much-needed workers, undermine smugglers and traffickers, as well as ease integration.

Source: Plenary highlights: Covid-19, climate and culture

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