Return to parliamentary work in Strasbourg, a step closer to normality

© European Union 2021 - Source : EP© European Union 2021 - Source : EP

Parliament convenes in Strasbourg after a 15-month absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half of the MEPs (356) are in Strasbourg for this much-awaited return.

All other MEPs continue to work remotely. Since last October, the Parliament has made remote participation possible for MEPs during debates from the liaison offices in the member states.

Support services have successfully developed new ways to vote remotely, to work at a distance, and to hold hybrid press conferences. The interpretation system was developed to limit risky travel for staff. This plenary session is interpreted in 23 languages from Brussels – a world first.

Continued activity

The institution adapted to function under complex circumstances, and MEPs continued debating and voting to ensure a European response commensurate with the health crisis and future challenges. Over the past few months, MEPs adopted urgent measures on aid, an unprecedented European recovery plan, a clear mechanism making European funds conditional on respect for the rule of law, a multi-annual budget geared towards future priorities, and a climate law. They are continuing their work on climate, digital files and artificial intelligence, as well as the post-Brexit cooperation agreement with the UK.

To allow work to continue, the working methods have been adapted and remain hybrid – as they have been in the last few months, so that the Parliament can function and MEPs can be heard.

As the institution directly representing European citizens, the European Parliament is actively committed to continuing to exercise its democratic duties. In solidarity, it has also developed local support measures in Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Brussels. The Parliament has remained open, including to journalists.

As President Sassoli said during the opening of the session “Strasbourg is a symbol of European unity, peace and diversity. This is where the absolute need for Europe was born. Today, Strasbourg is once again a symbol of renewal.”