Tribute to President Sassoli
The January plenary session in Strasbourg opened with a memorial ceremony for the late Parliament President David Sassoli, who passed away on 11 January. Former Italian Prime Minister and MEP Enrico Letta recalled his close friend’s “fight for democracy”. European Council President Charles Michel and France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who chairs the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, also took the floor, followed by Parliament’s political groups’ leaders.
EP President and bureau
On Tuesday, MEPs elected Roberta Metsola as the next president of the European Parliament. Metsola, who turned 43 on the day of the election, is the youngest president of the Parliament ever and the third woman, following the steps of Simone Veil (from 1979 to 1982) and Nicole Fontaine (from 1999 to 2002).
French Presidency of the Council
Parliament discussed with French president Emmanuel Macron the country’s priorities for the rotating presidency of the Council. In his speech, Macron called for a commitment to “give new life” to the promises on which the EU was founded, such as democracy, progress and peace. MEPs said issues that need to be tackled include gender imbalance, the revision of the Fiscal Pact and indecision on foreign policy issues.
Parliament endorsed a provisional deal with the Council to increase the powers of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The legislation is part of the European Health Union. In order to tackle future crisis more effectively, the agency will be better equipped to monitor and mitigate shortages of medicinal products and medical devices.
MEPs gave their green light to negotiate measures to counter illegal products, services and content online with the Council. The Digital Services Act (DSA) sets clear responsibilities and accountability for online platforms, such as social media and online marketplaces.
MEPs voted on how to improve animal welfare during transport, control live animal exports more effectively and limit the transport of young animals. They called on the Commission and EU countries to update the EU rules to transition to transporting meat rather than live animals.
MEPs condemned the deterioration of human rights in Hong Kong (China), called for an investigation into the crimes committed against the people of Kazakhstan and demanded a political dialogue in Sudan for a transition to civilian rule in the country.