Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) met in Strasbourg between 2 - 5 July to debate and vote on a host of issues. It also included a speech by Austrain Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to mark the beginning of Austria's presidency of the Council of the European Union and a 'Future of Europe' speech by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as part of a series of debates by national leaders. Here are 5 key takeaways for the Greens at a European level:
- The reform of the copyrigt law. In a hotly contested vote, MEPs voted narrowly against a proposal to reform Europe’s copyright laws that were slated to protect people in the creative industries. However, the proposal came under heavy criticism over fears that it could effectively censor and vastly restrict content on the internet. Greens/EFA MEP Julia Reda took the lead on the topic by engaging citizens through her #AMA (Ask Me Anything) online debates on Reddit and convincing politicians from across the political spectrum to vote against it. The proposal was eventually rejected in a vote with 318 votes against, 278 in favour and 31 abstentions. It will now undergo amendments before being put to the vote again after the summer recess in September.
- MEPs voted to reform the European electoral law. Among other things, the new rules will put in place a minimum threshold, of between 2 % and 5 %, for constituencies comprising more than 35 seats. The stated aim is to prevent the fragmentation of parliament although there are big concerns that this new rule could lock some people out of politics. Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur Josep-Maria Terricabras said it could do "real damage to European democracy" and "deprive the parliament of the variety that has helped improve legislation and made sure it does not ignore the needs of minorities.” The reform also means that national parties will be required to feature their European affiliations more prominently, which we think is a welcome move.
- MEPs voted a resolution to prevent the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance. This responds specifically to the rescuing of migrants in the Mediterranean and provides for a reinforced exchange of knowledge and good practices between prosecutors, law enforcement and civil society to contribute to improving the current situation.
- The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki gave his 'Future of Europe' speech focusing on a stricter tax system, the need for stronger EU security, and a more ambitious cohesion policy. The Greens/EFA co-president Ska Keller responded that the current government was "taking Poland away from the path of democracy and civil rights" with its controversial judicial reforms. European Green Party co-chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni said the speech was "disappointing on a number levels" and was a missed opportunity "to bandage over old wounds and make a fresh start with the European institutions"
- The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gave a speech to mark the beginning of Austria's presidency of the Council of the European Union in which he called for a called for a “paradigm shift in migration". Greens/EFA co-president Phillipe Lamberts criticised Austria's failure to address tax loopholes, and its inaction against money laundering. He also said that Austria and failed to call out dangerous far-right rhetoric and expressed concern that these "ideas contaminate those political families that once were the pillars of a democratic Europe", namely the EPP Group.