The Week Ahead 15 – 21 March 2021

Committee meetings, Brussels

COVID-19 variants and vaccines.
The Environment, Public Health and Food Security Committee will hold a debate on COVID-19 variants and how effective vaccines are against them with representatives from the European Medicine Agency (EMA), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). During the same meeting, the Commission will present the HERA Incubator, an EU plan to monitor variants, exchange data and cooperate on adapting vaccines (Monday).

The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will debate with ECB President Christine Lagarde on the state of the Eurozone. MEPs are likely to question Ms Lagarde on how monetary policy should be revised in the face of the economic effects of the pandemic, and the danger posed by not having sufficient recovery plans in place when the exceptional ECB monetary financing winds down (Thursday).

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Civil Liberties Committee will look into possible changes and improvements that could be made, two years after the application of the General Data Protection Regulation. Tabled amendments address concerns over data protection authorities using the rules to curtail the work of journalists and NGOs, a lack of resources for supervisory authorities and potential infringement procedures against EU countries failing to fulfil their obligations (Tuesday).

Impact of Artificial intelligence on culture.
The Culture and Education Committee will look into how A.I. technologies affect culture, education and audio-visual sectors. MEPs are likely to ask for a general framework to regulate algorithms that recommend content, for example to manage their impact on cultural diversity. Fake news and deepfakes as well as the need to help the workforce retrain to be able to cope with an AI-driven labour market will be addressed in the vote (Tuesday).

Media event on disinformation.
The EP’s Press service will hold a seminar on “The disinformation dilemma: How to respond and regulate without undermining democracy?” Lead MEPs and experts will discuss how disinformation is undermining trust in democracies on both sides of the Atlantic. The second panel will focus on how to fight against disinformation by modernising online regulation. Former Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Christopher Krebs will deliver the keynote speech (Wednesday).

President’s diary.
EP President David Sassoli will meet Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, on Wednesday. On Thursday, the President will have a video meeting with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Odile Renaud-Bassot, and meet the President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, Renaud Muselier.