The Week Ahead 13 – 19 September 2021

©European Union, 2021, Source: EP – Multimedia Centre©European Union, 2021, Source: EP – Multimedia Centre

Plenary session, Strasbourg

State of the European Union address and debate. At 9.00 on Wednesday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her State of the European Union address to the European Parliament. She is set to outline the impact of the Commission’s work in the past year, particularly in tackling the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, and to share her vision for responding to the challenges facing the EU. The annual State of the Union debate is a chance for MEPs to present their own ideas, scrutinise the work and plans of the Commission, and help to set the EU’s policy direction. Lead MEPs will brief journalists about their priorities ahead of the debate. Find the programme of the media briefings here, and follow them live here.

. On Tuesday, MEPs will debate with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on the humanitarian and migration crisis in Afghanistan. They will discuss the EU’s reaction to the unfolding situation, as well as how Europe can help vulnerable people and those in need of protection in Afghanistan – particularly women and children – and how to engage with the Taliban. A resolution will be put to the vote on Thursday.

Media Freedom and Rule of Law in Poland. 
MEPs will assess the continued attacks on media freedom and the rule of law. In particular, they will consider new broadcasting legislation which may threaten media pluralism, as well as the latest Polish challenge to the principles of the primacy of EU law and sincere cooperation between the EU and its member states. (debate Wednesday, resolution voted Thursday)

European Health Union
. Parliament will vote on two proposals that are part of a new future-proof EU health security framework, aimed at improving the response to cross-border health crisis, and increase disease prevention and cross-border cooperation. (debate Monday, vote results Wednesday)

EU Blue Card for highly-skilled migrants
. MEPs are set to give their final approval to the reform of the EU’s Blue Card directive, to facilitate the employment of highly qualified third country nationals in Europe. (debate Tuesday, vote and results Wednesday)

LGBTIQ rights
. Parliament will vote on a resolution assessing the problems and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ citizens and families in Europe. The resolution calls for the pan-European recognition of same-sex spouses and registered partners, who should enjoy the same rights across EU member states. MEPs also say that parents of rainbow families should be consistently recognised across the EU as the parents of their children. (vote Monday, results Tuesday)

European Citizens’ Panels/Conference of the Future of Europe.
 The European Citizens’ Panels will kick off their discussions with the first 200-citizen meeting between Friday and Sunday in Strasbourg. It will focus on a stronger economy, social justice, jobs/education, youth, culture, and sport/digital transformation. The Panels will come up with ideas and recommendations that will feed into the overall Conference deliberations, in particular into the Conference Plenaries, and ultimately into the report on its final outcome.

President’s diary
. On Tuesday, President Sassoli will meet Commissioner Johansson and on Wednesday, he will give a speech at the European Parliamentary Association in Strasbourg.

Last-minute briefing
. On Monday at 16.30, Parliament’s Spokesperson will hold a press briefing on the plenary session, which starts at 17:00.