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Debriefing of the July plenary session

4 - 7 July 2022


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Not our Taxonomy
  2. Abortion Rights - debate and resolution
  3. Digital Services Act (DSA)
  4. Digital Markets Act (DMA)
  5. National vetoes to undermine Global Tax Deal & Windfall Tax
  6. REFuel: Sustainable flights
  7. The 2021 Commission report on Kosovo
  8. Intersectionality report

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Not our Taxonomy

On Wednesday, Members of the European Parliament voted on an objection to the European Commission's delegated act on the Taxonomy Regulation, which proposed giving gas and nuclear energy a ‘green’ label in the EU’s list of sustainable investments. Unfortunately, the absolute majority required for a rejection was not reached, and the delegated act was adopted (278 members voted in favour of the objection and 328 voted against). The governments of Austria and Luxembourg have announced that they will challenge the Commission’s decision in court.

Bas Eickhout MEP, Vice President of the Environment Committee and European Parliament rapporteur for the taxonomy regulation, comments:

"Today is a dark day for the climate and the energy transition. We are sending a disastrous signal to investors and the rest of the world that the EU now recognizes fossil gas and nuclear as sustainable investments. By clearing the way for this delegated act, the EU will have unreliable and greenwashed conditions for green investments in the energy sector.

“We regret that the Commission did not seize the opportunity to move us more rapidly away from fossil gas, especially in the wake of Russia's war against Ukraine. By labeling fossil gas and nuclear as ‘sustainable’, European money can continue to fuel the Russian war of aggression and unsustainable energy projects. This decision will have negative global ramifications, opening the door for governments around the world to label fossil gas ‘green’.

“This was not the right procedure for this highly controversial decision. This vote shows the EU is in dire need of a democratic discussion on our current and future energy mix and networks. By politicising taxonomy, the Commission has allowed Member States like France to impose the interests of certain industries over the needs of the entire EU. It is clear to many, including investors and citizens, that a common EU solution for phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is desperately needed.”

Vote results EU taxonomy - GreensEFA Vote results EU taxonomy - GreensEFA

 

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Abortion Rights - debate and resolution

On Thursday, the European Parliament debated and voted on a resolution on the "US Supreme Court decision to overturn abortion rights in the United States and the need to safeguard abortion rights and women's health in the EU". The Greens/EFA strongly condemn the attacks on Sexual and Reproductive Healths and Rights (SRHR) and have called for the strong protection of these rights both in the EU and globally.

Criminalising, delaying or restricting access to safe and legal abortion constitutes a form of violence against women and girls. It does not reduce the number of abortions, but instead forces people, notably those lacking resources or information, to travel long distances or to resort to unsafe abortions, and makes them vulnerable to criminal investigation and prosecution.

The overturn of the constitutional right of abortion in the US will have a devastating impact for millions of people in the US. It will also embolden the anti-abortion movement in the world, including in the European Union.

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Digital Services Act (DSA)

Members of the European Parliament have voted through the Digital Services Act (DSA), following the outcome of trilogue negotiations. The DSA will better protect the rights of all internet users, limit surveillance advertising, hold tech giants accountable and provide a better handle on hate, hate speech and disinformation.

Alexandra Geese MEP, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur in the lead Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO): 

"With the Digital Services Act, we are ending the omnipotence of internet giants and introducing the first tools to tackle hate and disinformation that divide our society. The law will not interfere with users' freedom of expression and instead focus on the practices of the big tech platforms themselves.

“YouTube, Instagram and co. must regularly assess the risks that their algorithms pose to fundamental rights, respect for human dignity, protection of minors, freedom of expression, public health or violence against women. Researchers and non-governmental organisations will be given access to the platforms' data in order to research the mechanisms from the outside and make them public.”

Kim van Sparrentak MEP, Greens/EFA Greens/EFA member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, comments:

“The DSA is the first time that the EU is setting standards for the restriction of advertising tracking to protect users. This will protect people from corporations attempting to use their personal data to send them highly personalised, customised and sometimes manipulative ads.

“The EU is going ahead and restricting ad tracking, first for minors and for profiling based on sensitive data such as political opinion or sexual orientation. This is only a first step, but a really important start.”

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Digital Markets Act (DMA)

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Digital Markets Act, which will regulate digital platforms acting as gatekeepers, enable more market fairness for businesses and end-users, and improve data protection.

Marcel Kolaja MEP, Member of the Pirate Party and Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, comments:

“Thanks to our pressure, gatekeepers will need to make their messaging services interoperable for other providers free of charge. In practice, this means that alternative platforms will be able to enable users to send and receive messages to/from dominant platforms such as WhatsApp. Thanks to interoperability, users will finally be able to choose communication platforms based on their real needs and easily move to more privacy-friendly services without fear of losing contact with their loved ones. Users need to have full control over their technology and that is what I have been saying from the very beginning. We now need to go even further: the Commission has the obligation to examine if big tech has to enable interoperability for social networks as well."

Kira Peter-Hansen MEP, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, comments:

“With this proposal, the EU has proudly taken the global lead in regulating tech giants and protecting consumers. We now have the chance to structurally limit the market power of companies like Facebook, Google and Apple, and to improve competition and innovation. This will lead to more choice for consumers in the future. The Commission must now ensure that the DMA is enforced, and that enough staff is allocated to it.”

National vetoes to undermine Global Tax Deal + Windfall Tax

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted on a resolution on the minimum tax rate on the profits of multinationals, following the Hungarian government’s veto on 17 June. The Parliament is demanding, among other things, to pass this deal through enhanced cooperation and move towards qualified majority voting in the tax field in order to avoid more files being blocked.

A debate is also scheduled for the afternoon on the taxation of windfall profits made by corporations, especially in the energy and food sector, following Russia's aggression against Ukraine. This one-off retroactive tax on windfall profits should be redistributed to the most vulnerable populations heavily impacted by the rising cost of living, and be used to transition towards a more sustainable economy where there is no dependence on fossil fuels.

Kira Marie Peter-Hansen MEP, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur on the resolution on the minimum tax rate and Member of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs and Taxation Committees:

"This failure to reach an agreement on the global corporate minimum tax rate has once again proven that the Council’s weakness in tax matters is unanimity. It is crucial to put an end to national vetoes that stand in the way of even the smallest advances in tax files and delay any form of redistributive justice. We must use enhanced cooperation to have this global agreement adopted.

"Tax justice means redistribution and social fairness. Certain corporations and their shareholders have greatly benefited from the Covid crisis and now the armed conflict on Ukrainian soil to enrich themselves further, particularly in the energy and food sectors. Yet, the situation of millions of people who are already in difficulty is deteriorating day by day. It is urgent to remedy this extremely unfair and deeply unequal situation. We call on the Member States to take strong and rapid measures by taxing these exceptional profits and redistributing them to the most vulnerable.”

Ernest Urtasun MEP, Member of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs and Taxation Committees:

"Unanimity in tax matters leads us straight into a dead end. It opens the door to all forms of blackmail by the Member States and to the European Union getting bogged down in national issues. Firstly, Poland, which threatened the negotiations on minimum taxation with its veto for weeks while at the same time negotiating its recovery plan, despite severe failings on the rule of law. And now Hungary, which it appears Orban is playing games again for a national audience. We cannot allow the EU to be held hostage. We must move past unanimity in tax matters.”

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REFuel: Sustainable flights

On Thursday, Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of an expanded definition of Sustainable Aviation Fuels or “SAFs” (under the ReFuel EU Aviation proposal). The expanded definition was opposed by major European airlines, several Member States, and the Greens/EFA Group.

Crucially, the Greens/EFA were able to exclude the burning of palm oil and food crops in EU aeroplane engines. The aviation industry has raised concerns about the reputational impact they would suffer from links to notorious biofuels, and the inherent instability of these biofuels.
Ciarán Cuffe MEP, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur in the Committee on Transport, comments:

"Food does not belong in aeroplane tanks. A broad coalition of environmental organisations and the aviation industry has mobilised for a future with truly sustainable aviation fuels. With the ongoing climate crisis, rising food insecurity in EU third countries and the ongoing war in Ukraine, it would be downright criminal to burn food in our aircrafts and clear more forests for palm oil cultivation, just so we can jet around Europe with a green-washed conscience. Only synthetic fuels can make more sustainable flying possible."

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The 2021 Commission report on Kosovo

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted on the 2021 Commission Report on Kosovo, presented to plenary by Greens/EFA EP rapporteur Viola von Cramon. The report welcomes the increased stability in the country and the continued commitment of Kosovo to advance its European path. The report outlines Kosovo’s progress on the EU reform agenda, in particular on the country’s fight against corruption. It calls for stronger reform implementation in all areas of the EU reform agenda (rule of law, fundamental rights, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration reform, energy, economic development and competitiveness).

Viola von Cramon, Greens/EFA Member and EP rapporteur on the Commission report on Kosovo, comments:

“This year’s Kosovo report comes at a special moment, the one when we see again the horrors of war in Europe. As Kosovo has also recently experienced war, its government demonstrates full solidarity with Ukraine, for which I want to thank them. This year’s report only scratches the surface of the challenges and issues that are ahead for the Kosovo Government. Yet it also clearly underlines the long path Kosovo has made in the reforms and its euro integration. Kosovo keeps proving its democratic capacities by organising free, fair and transparent elections.

Significant results have been achieved in the areas of the fight against corruption and organised crime. The rule of law reforms need to be continued in line with the Venice Commission opinion and EU standards and for the benefit of all Kosovo’s citizens. These reforms, including the judiciary and anti-corruption agency reinforcement, are crucial for the European reform agenda and Kosovo’s advancement on the EU accession path.”

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Intersectionality report

The European Parliament on Wednesday adopted Greens/EFA MEP Alice Bah Kuhnke's report on intersectional discrimination. The adoption of the intersectionality report marks a giant step towards EU policies that truly consider different intersections of discrimination. The report was initiated by the Greens/EFA Group. It underlines how different types of discrimination are interrelated and reinforce each other, and the fact that intersectional discrimination is widespread in the EU today. The report also highlights the situation of vulnerable groups that are often forgotten, such as women of color, transgender, Roma, Muslim women, and undocumented refugees.

MEP Alice Bah Kunhnke, Greens/EFA Member and EP rapporteur on the Commission report on Intersectionality, comments:

“United in diversity. That is the EU's motto. However, those of us sitting here do not reflect the diversity that exists among EU citizens. This is partly because not everyone has the same opportunities to take a seat and raise their voice. Many are discriminated against, and we know that discrimination is intersectional. Several different grounds of discrimination interact and limit people's opportunities to take a seat and raise their voice.”

“With this report, we recognize intersectional discrimination. We say we will do more to combat it, and we put forward a series of suggestions on how to do this.”

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Next issue of Greens/EFA Plenary debriefing: 16 September 2022

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