12/01/2016 – Although 2016 has barely started, it is already proving to be a busy year for the European Parliament. MEPs are resuming work on a broad range of issues, from climate action to the refugee crisis. Also high on the agenda are giving law enforcement agencies more tools to counter the terrorist threat, making corporate taxation more fair and improving data protection rules. Read on for an overview of the main issues in 2016.
The arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants has created challenges for the EU. Parliament will have its say on European Commission proposals for setting up a new EU agency with increased border management powers as well as plans for introducing a permanent scheme for the relocation of asylum seekers, which should help to reduce the pressure on countries overwhelmed by the migration wave.
In addition, MEPs will vote on compiling a common EU list of safe countries of origin that should speed up decisions about migrants’ asylum applications.
Security and privacy
The terrorist attackslast year gave a new impetus to the practice of using data on air passengers to help apprehend suspects. MEPs and EU governments reached a provisional agreement on the issue in December 2015 and it will soon go to a plenary vote.
Measures to boost Europol’s powers to fight terrorism, already agreed upon in principle between Parliament and EU governments, will be brought to the plenary for a final vote in the spring.
Parliament has been working hard on data protection for years and following a provisional agreement with the Council in December, it is now close to finalising legislation that should give internet users more control over their personal information online.
Corporate taxation needs to change to ensure multinationals pay their fair share of taxes in the countries where they generate their profits, MEPs argued in recent reports. The special committee on tax rulings continues work on it this year.
A Parliament committee will look into the car emissions scandal and the failures that allowed carmakers to manipulate car emissions tests.
2016 should also be the year when the EU starts delivering on climate action following the Paris climate agreement in December 2015, which set up goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions world-wide after 2020. Parliament is scheduled to vote on the reform of the EU emissions trading scheme and on new rules on emissions from road vehicles.
MEPs will keep on pushing for a digital single market in Europe, with an own-initiative report to be voted on already in January. Future international agreements, including the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and the EU-US free trade and investment partnership (TTIP), will also be scrutinised by MEPs. Parliament will also be involved in a drive to promote the circular economy, which involves the reuse and recycling of products, and in creating an energy union with reliable energy supplies.