18 June 2018

Plenary highlights: migration, drones, Parliament's composition

From stricter drone rules to migration and the new composition of the Parliament: check out our overview of June's plenary session in Strasbourg. On Wednesday MEPs approved a proposal to reduce the number of Parliament seats from 751 to 705 after the UK leaves the EU, leaving room for new countries that may join in the future. Discover more facts about the distribution of seats in our infographicMEPs criticized the new Italian government’s refusal to allow a boat carrying migrants, the MS Aquarius, to dock in the country, during a special debate on Wednesday and during talks about the EU summit on 28-29 June on Tuesday. MEPs called on EU leaders to come up with real solutions to finally end the migration crisis. 

New EU-wide rules adopted by MEPs on Tuesday aim to ensure the safe use of drones. The proposals include a maximum height rule for drones, new registrations and restricting flights near embassies and nuclear sites. The changes also update aviation safety rules to ensure that they are fit to handle the expected increase in air traffic in coming decades.

On Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was the seventh EU leader to debate the future of Europe with MEPs and Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission. "Europe stands at a crossroads. We have to choose between national egoism and making Europe a true global power,” Rutte said.

MEPs debated the impact of US President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal for regional security and business deals with EU companies on Tuesday. Many called on the EU to continue to back the deal, which has helped to reduce the nuclear threat posed by the country.

In response to recent cyber attacks on critical EU infrastructure by Russia, China and North Korea, MEPs adopted a resolution on Wednesday calling for better EU cyber defence. MEPs also urged member states to reinforce cooperation with Nato. Check out our interview with report author Urmas Paet.

Parliament approved Wednesday a proposal to allocate a fourth package of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine, amounting to €1 billion. The package will support economic stabilisation and a programme of structural reforms.

In a debate with MEPs on the ongoing overhaul of the judiciary in Poland on Wednesday, Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans expressed serious concerns about the “risk of irreparable damage” to Poland’s Supreme Court, where about 40% of judges could be forced into early retirement.

MEPs called on the European Commission to explain why an EU anti-corruption report due in 2016 has not been published, during a debate on the EU’s role in helping to fight corruption in member states, on Thursday.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of the Russo-Georgian war, MEPs called on Russia to fulfil the 2008 ceasefire agreement, remove its troops from Georgian territories and stop human rights violations. To learn more about European engagement in Georgia, check out this recent briefing.

On Thursday MEPs didn’t support a recommendation by the transport committee to already start negotiations on the overhaul of rules in the road transport sector and the posting of drivers. The vote on these rules will now take place in July.

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