The first plenary session after the summer break got off to an excellent start for the Greens with the success of Dutch Green MEP Judith’s Sargentini’s report to set in motion a process to apply disciplinary action against Hungary for not respecting the EU’s fundamental values. It passed with over two-thirds of the vote, including a swathe of the conservative EPP Group where Hungary’s governing Fidesz party currently sits. The decision on whether the action will be applied will now go to the European Council. The vote coincided with the annual State of the Union speech by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that outlines the state of play and future direction of the EU. Below are some of the key developments that defined the week in European Green politics:
1. For the first time ever, the European Parliament voted on a resolution calling for sanctions against one Member State - in this case Hungary. The debate took place in the presence of the Council and of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. In an unprecedented move, Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of starting procedures against the Hungarian government for breaching European values on the rule of law (Article 7 of the TEU). The European Green Party co-chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer released a press release ahead of the vote calling on MEPs to vote in the best interests of the union.
I am so proud that my Hungary report has the support of the European Parliament, but this is foremost about the rights of Hungarian citizens.— Judith Sargentini (@judithineuropa) September 12, 2018
I thank my colleagues that stand for the protection of democracy and the rule of law, above their interest in party politics.
2. European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his State of the Union address ahead of a debate that emphasised the need to successfully implement EU policy for citizens as well as draw up new plans. In a press release the European Green Party said the focus of the EU should now be on empowering its citizens.
3. Before the summer, the European Parliament decided to rethink its position on EU copyright reform plans, including on upload filters and a “link tax”, after massive protests. Consequently, over 200 individual proposals for changes were filed and submitted to a plenary vote. The Parliament adopted the report (438 votes in favour, 226 against and 39 abstentions) and the negotiating mandate on copyright reform. Many Greens believe the changes do not go far enough and were largely cosmetic in nature. In a press release, Julia Reda, shadow rapporteur of the Greens/EFA Group said the “European Parliament has failed to protect copyright interests and freedom on the Internet with fair licences."
4. MEPs adopted by a very large majority a resolution calling for a legally binding international ban of autonomous weapon systems. The technological development of lethal autonomous weapon systems (or so-called killer robots) is advancing extremely fast and it is the responsibility of parliaments and governments to agree on international regulations for these weapons. “The power to decide over life and death should never be taken out of human hands and given to machines,” said Greens/EFA security policy spokesperson, Bodil Valero MEP. European Green Party co-chair Reinhard Bütikofer delivered the following speech ahead of the vote.
Co-chair @bueti urged EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Mogherini for an international ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems, aka #KillerRobots. A majority of MEPs agree and today voted in favour of a ban ✊ Power to decide over life and death should never be given to machines! pic.twitter.com/POaVk1WojE— European Greens (@europeangreens) September 12, 2018
5. MEPs adopted by a large majority a resolution on calling for an end to companies producing different quality products for different parts of Europe without the consumer being clearly informed of such a difference. For the Greens, double standards in product quality in the EU are unacceptable. Igor Šoltes Greens/EFA member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection said in a press release it's “bad for peoples' health and for consumer confidence” and called for the establishment of a public database to inform consumers across the EU of such practices.