Parliamentary activity in full swing as EU gears up for 'new normal’

by RPP
Weekly European political updates

Parliamentary activity in full swing as EU gears up for 'new normal’

Europe is a colourful continent in terms of policies and outcomes. It is essential to stay updated on how these policies may impact your work to build better regulatory frameworks, enhance your message and enhance communication with stakeholders. Here you can find a summary of the major European political updates of this week.    

 

United Kingdom 

The Government’s UK Internal Market Bill is passing through the House of Commons this week. With the Committee stage starting on 15 September, the Bill and amendments are being considered line-by-line by the whole House, rather than by a smaller, focused committee. The Bill seeks to give legislative underpinnings to the internal market between the four UK nations, as significant powers are moved from the EU to the devolved governments on areas such as agricultural policy. This would ensure the standards of goods produced in one UK nation are recognized without the imposition of discriminatory measures such as tariffs in other UK nations. The free flow of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland may necessitate border checks within the island of Ireland as the UK and the EU diverge on standards, undermining the Northern Ireland protocol in the EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA) signed off by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The threat to international law and the surrounding hardline rhetoric has spurred a growing rebellion among MPs in the ruling Conservative Party that threatens to derail the Bill. The Government is reportedly now working on a deal to placate rebels by ensuring Parliament has a ‘lock’ on attempts to override the WA to secure a convincing majority before the Bill enters the House of Lords.

Portugal

Following COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, Minister of Social Security and Labour Ana Godinho, and Minister of Health Marta Temido, made interventions in the national parliament on 16 September, after a series of requests made by right-wing CDS People's Party (CDS-PP), Social Democratic Party (PSD), and the People–Animals–Nature (PAN) party. Moreover, in preparation for a predicted spike in cases after reopening in schools and some workplaces, Portugal has re-entered a State of Contingency of as 15 September. Additionally, Portugal’s first recovery and resilience plan will be presented to the European Commission by 15 October and is programmed to raise €45 billion in non-refundable transfers throughout the next seven years.

On a political front, a government reshuffle is expected following the resignation of State Secretary for Fisheries, José Apolinário, and Deputy State Secretary of Infrastructure, Alberto Souto de Miranda. Some news outlets predict that these changes will also involve State Secretary for Housing, Ana Pinho, and Minister of Labour for Social Security and Solidarity, Ana Godinho. However, no official notifications on the matter have been made at this stage.

France

On 15 September, the Parliament convened for an extraordinary working session in order to tackle the bill on the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (a consultative assembly often referred as the "Third Chamber of the Parliament"), the bill on research and education and the bill that promotes acceleration and simplification of public action. Although parliamentary sessions were meant to resume on 1 October, it was imperative that such pieces of legislation were considered beforehand, thus warranting a special session. On a separate note, senate elections will take place in 10 days’ time, wherein changes to nearly half the senate are foreseen. Nonetheless, it seems that this poses minimal risk to the existing political balance.

Germany

The German government announced that it will financially support three German pharmaceutical companies in their research and development processes to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. On 15 September, Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek (CDU), declared that funding negotiations with BioNTech and CureVac have already been successful, while negotiations with IDT Biologika are still ongoing. She additionally announced that her Ministry is investing €20 million in research and development of innovative medical technologies, including ventilators and PCR tests.

In response to the fire outbreak in the Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Social Democratic Party, SPD) announced that Germany will accept 1553 refugees. Amongst them are 408 families with children that have already been classified as “in need of protection” by the Greek government. This is in addition to the 150 unaccompanied youth that the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union, CSU), already approved on 11 September.

You can find more information on European news in our EU national elections heatmap, where we provide an overarching perspective with key political insight for individual countries. Make sure to check it here

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