EU Weekly Review: Two CoFoE Plenary Sessions in March

18. marca 2022 20:04
Brussels, March 18 (TASR) - Two plenary sessions of the Conference on the Future of Europe have been slated to take place in Strasbourg in March with the aim of drafting a definitive list of recommendations by the public in order to transform Europe into a place offering a better life, with a stronger voice in the world and better preparedness for the challenges of the 21st century. The plenary session last weekend dealt with 88 recommendations on topics "EU in the world/migration", economy, social justice, jobs/education, culture, youth, sports and digital transformation. Another session, due to take place in a week from now, will take into account recommendations of all European and national panel discussions, working groups and previous plenary sessions as well as suggestions collected on the internet platform. Aside from the topics announced in advance, the Conference on the Future of Europe was unexpectedly influenced also by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which will be reflected in the conference's final recommendations as well. The plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg a week ago was also marked by the war in Ukraine, with Ukrainian nationals, MPs and war refugees coming to the meeting to talk directly about Russia's aggression and Ukraine's aspiration to be part of the EU's future. Marya Mezentseva, a national MP for the party of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Sluha narodu for the city of Kharkiv, told the Slovak media before she took the floor in the EP that Ukrainians have witnessed shelling of civil infrastructure, including children's hospitals and schools. She claimed that Ukrainians are closely following the decisions of EU bodies, including on the possibility of Ukraine's accelerated accession to the Union, and expressed the hope that the EU public will be convinced by Ukraine's domestic roadmap for European integration. Appreciating humanitarian assistance provided by the EU, she expressed the hope that EU countries will continue providing arms to Ukraine. She said: "This is not our war, this is unjustified aggression against us and against the whole world." The European Parliament, in cooperation with Verkhovna Rada - the supreme lawmaking body of Ukraine - launched a website last Friday to cover all the EU's initiatives and events to be held in support of Ukraine. The website called "EU stands by Ukraine" was launched on the day when a 30-member Ukrainian delegation provided participants in the Plenary of the Conference of the Future of Europe with testimonies about the consequences of the Russian invasion and Ukraine's EU integration ambitions. The website is available in both English and Ukrainian and provides the latest news, videos and podcasts, relevant legislation and regulations showing how the EU is helping Ukraine. It will also be possible to share content from the Ukrainian Parliament on this website. EU citizens have called for the direct election of European-wide political parties in their recommendations as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, said Italian MEP and head of the Union of European Federalists Sandro Gozi. He was speaking at the conference's plenary in Strasbourg. According to these recommendations, in the first phase, it would be possible to elect half of the MEPs via European political parties, and all MEPs in the second phase. The Italian MEP claims that the introduction of supranational lists is a necessary first step towards creating a European political and civic space and is the first response to citizens' demands from the conference. Slovak Christian Democrat MEP Miriam Lexmann (from the EPP group), speaking about the Conference on the Future of Europe, said that her attention had been drawn particularly to two recommendations in fields she is personally active in. "The first is the emphasis that the green transformation must go hand-in-hand with social protection of workers and small- and mid-sized businesses. The second recommendation deals with digitisation and calls for the protection of workers from illegal monitoring during worktime and discrimination by algorithms. Conversely, she objects to the recommendation supporting the single pan-European election constituency, as she believes that this would silence voices of small countries in the European Parliament. According to European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic of Slovakia, it's important for the European Union to gain strategic autonomy - in pharmaceuticals, critical raw materials and chips. He was speaking at an event held as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe in Bratislava. He noted that the war in Ukraine has drawn attention to the need to shape the future within the EU. European Parliament lawmakers involved in the Conference on the Future of Europe met in Brussels on Wednesday to prepare a joint resolution along with members of national parliaments of 27 EU countries. The resolution is expected to be released in the following weeks. The TASR news agency has released close to 600 stories concerning the Conference on the Future of Europe in its news service since November and has organised five TV debates. Related activities at the European Commission and European Parliament headquarters are covered by a TASR correspondent. These stories are supplemented with photographs and audio recordings, and most of them are being translated into English and Hungarian. According to TASR Foreign Desk head Monika Himpánová, the final recommendations of the conference will have effects on all citizens of the Union. So, TASR is trying to explain complicated issues via experts and analysts, as this is one of the roles of a public-service institution. Media clients can find all this information in TASR's service, but at the same time it's freely accessible to the public on the websites and on TASR TV. bub
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