Plenary highlights: migration, Panama papers and €315 billion investment plan

MEPs debated plans for investment in Africa to help migrants find work in their home country during June’s plenary session in Strasbourg this week. They looked too at ways to integrate migrants into the EU’s labour market without disadvantaging local workers. MEPs also approved the mandate for an inquiry committee into the Panama papers and reviewed the EU’s €315 billion investment plan. In addition Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev pleaded for more EU integration in a speech to plenary.

MEPs welcomed plans to invest in migrants’ countries of origin, especially in Africa, during Tuesday’s debate with Commissioner Frans Timmermans and the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. The aim is to support countries’ economic and social development and curb migration flows towards the EU. MEPs also debated a proposal for a blue card to enable Europe to attract highly-qualified foreign workers.During a debate on Wednesday morning, MEPs proved split on the results of the EU’s investment plan so far. Jyrki Katainen, the Commissioner responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, told MEPs that the plans was benefitting small and medium-sized enterprises and proposed extending it to countries outside the EU. Also on Wednesday, MEPs debated the state of democracy in Turkey after 138 members of the Turkish parliament had their immunity lifted. On Tuesday MEPs approved a report urging the European Commission to put forward rules for fairer trading between farmers and supermarkets, which should help to prevent food waste and overproduction.
The mandate for an inquiry committee into the Panama papers was approved on Wednesday. Its 65 members will have 12 months to conduct a detailed examination of the millions of documents that were leaked in April and the present its findings on the application of EU laws on money laundering and tax avoidance. In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, MEPs approved the Commission’s proposal for an anti-tax avoidance directive. Based on the principle that tax should be paid where profits are made, the proposal contains legally-binding measures to block the most common methods for companies to avoid paying taxes.
Parliament called for a focus on sustainability in New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition projects in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. The report by the development committee stressed the importance of restricting the use of dangerous pesticides and safeguarding the role of small family farms and women.
MEPs debated  on Tuesday how European companies could benefit from European space programmes such as Copernicus and Galileo and how satellites and navigation systems could create opportunities for security and defence.
MEPs approved on Thursday a plan to improve the mobility of workers in the EU by simplifying the rules concerning personal public documents, such as birth and marriage certificates.
In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, MEPs strongly criticised the Commission for failing to provide scientific criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors, a type of chemical that is harmful to the body’s hormone system. This follows a judgement by the Court of Justice of the EU, which ruled that the Commission is breaching EU law by continuously delaying action. Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev addressed MEPs in plenary on Wednesday, stressing the need for integration and solidarity between member states. He also discussed the tense relations between Russia and the EU.