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NewsPlenary highlights: EU-Russia, rule of law, fighting cancer

Plenary highlights: EU-Russia, rule of law, fighting cancer

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The military threat posed by Russia, respect for the rule of law in the EU and the fight against cancer were key topics during February’s plenary session.

Russia’s military threat against Ukraine

In a plenary debate with European Council president Charles Michel, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, MEPs said the Russian military build-up around Ukraine posed a threat to peace in Europe and called for a united response from the EU. Political group leaders also released a statement in support of Ukraine.

Later on Wednesday, Parliament approved a €1.2 billion macro-financial loan to help Ukraine meet its financial needs.

Rule of law

MEPs welcomed on Wednesday afternoon the ruling of the European Court of Justice, which upheld the validity of EU rules providing that member states in breach of the rule of law can face suspension of EU payments. Now that the legal challenges by Hungary and Poland have been dismissed, MEPs expect the European Commission to act quickly to apply the rules and protect the EU budget.

Fight against cancer

MEPs adopted recommendations on Wednesday, prepared by the special committee on beating cancer, which aim to improve prevention, treatment and research of the disease and strengthen the role of the EU in this field. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the EU.

Euro anniversary

A ceremony on Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of euro notes and coins into circulation. “The euro is about European integration, unity, stability, identity, solidarity,” said Parliament President Roberta Metsola. The ceremony was followed by a discussion with Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank, on the state of the EU economy and the bank’s policy.

New rules for toy safety

MEPs proposed on Wednesday an update of toy safety rules to make sure that toys sold on the EU market, including toys imported from other countries, are safe and sustainable. Parliament wants improvements in market surveillance by member states and stricter requirements for the use of chemical substances in toys.

Pegasus spyware

The reported use of the information-harvesting Pegasus software by EU governments to spy on journalists, politicians and others was discussed in a plenary debate on Tuesday. MEPs argued that Parliament should set up an inquiry committee to look into the matter.


Speaking in front of the Parliament on Tuesday, Colombian President Iván Duque welcomed the EU’s support for the peace process in his country and called for closer cooperation between Europe and Latin America.

Road charges

Under updated rules approved by Parliament on Thursday, member states should phase out vignettes for lorries travelling on Trans-European Network roads by 2030. Countries will have the choice to either apply no charges at all or shift to a distance-based scheme that takes into account the actual road use by vehicles and is therefore more environment-friendly.

Carcinogens at work

MEPs adopted stricter worker protection rules on Thursday that require limiting exposure at the workplace to substances that might cause cancer, mutations or fertility problems.

Offshore renewables

In a report approved on Tuesday, MEPs set out recommendations on how to deploy offshore renewable energy sources more quickly in order to meet EU emission reduction targets. They argued that offshore wind farms could be beneficial to marine biodiversity if built sustainably and called for shorter procedures to get permits.

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