Two distinguished visits marked the November plenary session. On Tuesday Pope Francis addressed MEPs, followed by the 2014 Sakharov Prize laureate, Dr Denis Mukwege, who did likewise on Wednesday. Mukwege received the award for his work helping victims of sexual violence in conflict. The European Commission’s €315 billion investment plan to boost the EU economy, and UN climate talk preparations were other topics that added to a packed agenda.
This week marked the second papal visit to the European Parliament, the first time being Pope Jean Paul II in 1988. Pope Francis called on the MEPs to keep democracy alive for the peoples of Europe when he visited on Tuesday. Democracy should not “collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal,” he declared.
Dr Denis Mukwege was awarded with the European Parliament´s Sakharov Prize 2014 on Wednesday. The Congolese gynaecologist was honoured for helping thousands of sexual violence victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On Wednesday morning Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced an EU investment plan mobilising €315 billion in private and public funds over the next three years to boost the EU economy, including the creation of a Strategic Investment Fund, a “project pipeline” and a roadmap. EP group leaders voiced support but also demanded swift action.
Next month’s climate talks in Lima between the parties to the UN Climate Convention should prepare the way for an ambitious global agreement in Paris next year, said MEPs in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. They also called for binding 2030 targets for emission reduction, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources, except socially and environmentally harmful biofuels.
Last week the Parliament and the Council failed to strike a deal on the EU budgets for 2014 and 2015. In Tuesday’s plenary, MEPs insisted on the EU paying off part of the €28 billion in outstanding bills before moving on to negotiate the 2015 budget. On Friday the European Commission presents a new proposal after which talks will resume.
Should Palestine be recognised as a state? MEPs debated the issue on Wednesday afternoon. They will vote on a resolution on the issue during the December plenary.
76 MEPs tabled a motion of censure against Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission. In the presence of the full college of commissioners the motion was debated on Monday with a vote taking place on Thursday. A majority of MEPs rejected the motion with 461 votes against, 101 in favour and 88 abstentions.
Members marked the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child with a debate on Wednesday. The Convention has been ratified by every UN member except Somalia, South Sudan and the United States.
During a debate on Tuesday members called for a holistic EU approach to migration based on shared responsibility. MEPs also expressed concerns on the treatment of migrants in Spain.
In order to ensure that internet traffic is treated equally and that search results are unbiased Parliament debated a resolution on Wednesday calling for EU rules separating internet search engines from commercial services. A vote on the issue took place on Thursday.