EU Policy. Packed mini-plenary edition, Newsletter

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Power station Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Robert HodgsonEuronews
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Packed mini-plenary edition This week's key events presented by senior energy and environment correspondent Robert Hodgson

Key diary dates


Tuesday 9 April:Aviation Conference in Brussels: 'Europe's Flight Plan to a Sustainable Future'.

Wednesday 10 -Thursday 12 April: 'Mini-plenary' session of European Parliament in Brussels featuring votes on emissions limits for vehicles, soil monitoring, transport carbon footprints and energy measures.

Thursday 11 April:Avaaz, WeMove Europe and Oxfam and climate activists will land a private jet in front of the European Parliament during the plenary session, in a campaign targeting Europe’s wealthiest and biggest polluters. 

In spotlight

Next week should see a chunk of Green Deal legislation clear the penultimate hurdle, with the European Parliament due to tie up numerous loose ends by adopting a raft of legislative texts hammered out during back-room talks with government delegates – the infamous trilogue process.

On Wednesday (10 April), the first day of a ‘mini plenary’ in Brussels, MEPs are expected to vote through provisionally agreed laws on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector, CO2 emissions limits for trucks and buses, an EU certification framework for carbon removals, and new penalties for pollution from ships. The European People’s Party rapporteur on the vehicle emissions file, Jens Gieseke, is recommending his group oppose the deal – though he has previously acknowledged to Euronews that it is unlikely to be blocked.

Also not quite certain, perhaps are the fates of two files on which the parliament has yet to adopt its position: the proposed Soil Monitoring Directive, and rules on the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions from transport services. The latter law is intended to make it easier to compare the carbon footprint of different forms of transport by using standardised measures (CO2 per tonne/passenger per kilometre). The EPP’s co-rapporteur has said her group could not support the law if the “elephant in the room” (not counting life-cycle emissions for electric vehicles) is not addressed – although that didn’t stop a quarter of them backing the draft report at the committee stage.

The soil monitoring law is potentially less of a sure thing, with the potential demands it might place on farmers, particularly through articles on sustainable soil management and minimising the impact of ‘land take’ on ecosystems. While proposals from the right-wing ECR and far-right ID to reject the proposal outright are thought unlikely to pass, agriculture committee members have proposed numerous amendments that would weaken the environmental goals of the law. The environment committee vote was close (42 for, 26 against and 14 abstentions). The role of the Renew group will be decisive, a source in the Green camp told us, forecasting a ‘slight majority’ in favour of the new law. Trilogue talks on the two files will likely proceed after the elections, when Hungary will take over the presidency of the EU Council.

On Thursday morning, MEPs will debate four key pieces of energy market legislation, all the subject of recent trilogue agreements, before proceeding directly to a vote: two covering internal markets for renewable gas, natural gas and hydrogen, and two on electricity market reform. As we reported last week, the potentially contentious rules on clean fuels – particularly what qualifies as ‘low-carbon’ hydrogen production – will be tackled in subsequent legislative acts delegated to the European Commission.

Perhaps the loosest of the loose ends, at least as far as energy and environment policy goes, is the Energy Taxation Directive. The Belgian presidency has tried to revive a proposed reform, intended to bring EU policy in line with its Green Deal objectives – by ending the current free ride enjoyed by the aviation and maritime sectors, for example – but a watered down compromise leaked in February appears not to have found sufficient support. Tax matters require unanimity between all 27 member states, so agreement was always going to be a tall order. The European Parliament’s role is consultative, but deadlock is the order of the day there, too.

The economic and monetary affairs committee was supposed to adopt its position on the reform on 9 April – coincidentally, on the same day as the Belgian presidency will be hosting sundry EU top brass at a conference on aviation dubbed Europe’s Flight Plan to a Sustainable Future. The vote has been postponed, with a new meeting slated for the 18 April.

Meanwhile, we have received word that NGOs plan to “land a private jet in front of the European Parliament” on 11 April and demand broader action against tax avoidance by the super-rich.

Policy newsmakers


@Pieper                                                                                                                        @Dlabajova

SME envoy appointment scandal

Last week Euronews exclusively reported that four fellow Commissioners - Josep Borrell, Thierry Breton, Paolo Gentiloni, Nicolas Schmit – wrote to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying that the executive’s decision to hire German MEP Markus Pieper (European People’s Party) to a lucrative official post as SME envoy needs a further look, following an earlier Euronews exclusive that MEPs from multiple major political parties will also call this week for the Commission to rethink the hire. Other candidates included MEP Martina Dlabajová (Czechia, Renew Europe), who has filed a complaint to the Commission in relation to the appointment.

Policy Poll

As exclusively reported last week by Euronews, four Commissioners want to debate, and political parties and NGOs want the EU executive to rethink hiring German MEP Markus Pieper as SME envoy.

Should Markus Pieper’s appointment as SME envoy:

Stand as it is

Be reopened



Subscribe here to see the results of last week's poll and stay informed on the latest EU policy developments with our weekly newsletter, “The Policy Briefing”. Your weekly insight on European rulemaking, policy issues, key events, and data trends.

Data brief

Did Commission's Green Deal fulfil expectations?

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