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European Parliament

Migration situation on the Canary Islands: Committee debate

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Today (1 March), MEPs will assess the situation on the Canary Islands, following the surge in migrants’ arrivals in the last months and the limited reception capacity.

The Civil Liberties Committee will discuss the latest developments with Commissioner Ylva Johansson, President of the Canary Islands Ángel Víctor Torres and a representative of the NGO Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR).

According to the Spanish Government, 23 023 migrants and asylum-seekers landed on the archipelago last year irregularly from Africa by boat (compared with 2 687 in 2019). Most of them arrived in the last few months of 2020, leaving reception centres overwhelmed. Combined with the public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this led to the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation and sparked some protests among the local population.

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When: Monday, 1 March, from 16h50 to 18h20

Where: European Parliament in Brussels, József Antall building, room 4Q2 & via remote participation.

You can follow the meeting live.

Background

According to UNHCR data, up to 81% of migrants arriving by boat on the Canary Islands are men, mostly from Morocco, Mali, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. The sea crossing from the African coast can be as short as around 100 km, but the strong currents make it a perilous journey. According to Missing Migrants, in November 2020 alone, the month with most arrivals, over 500 people lost their lives trying to make it to the Canary Islands.

National and regional authorities are speeding up the construction of emergency accommodation, but in the meantime, people are being housed between makeshift camps and tourism resorts, mostly empty because of the pandemic.

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European Parliament

First half of 2021: COVID-19, future of Europe, climate law

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During the first half of 2021, Parliament tackled the COVID-19 pandemic, launched the Conference on the Future of Europe and approved the EU Climate Law, EU affairs.

COVID-19

In June, Parliament approved the EU Digital Covid Certificate, urging EU countries to implement it by 1 July. While the certificate is widely seen as a tool to restore freedom of movement, MEPs underlined the importance of its compliance with people’s rights.

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Parliament also backed a temporary waiver of patents for COVID-19 vaccines and in February said that the EU must continue a concerted effort to fight the pandemic and take urgent measures to ramp up vaccines production.

In March, MEPs adopted the new EU4Health programme, which will enable the EU to better prepare for major health threats, while making affordable medicines and medical devices more readily available.

Check out how the EU is tackling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.

The Conference on the Future of Europe was officially launched on 9 May in a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Conference allows Europeans to share their ideas of Europe and formulate proposals for future EU policies.

The inaugural event followed the launch of the Conference's  multilingual digital platform in April to collect contributions and facilitate debate. In June, Parliament hosted the first plenary session with representatives of the EU institutions, national parliaments, civil society and social partners as well as regular people.

Climate and environment

Parliament approved in June the new EU Climate Law, which increases the EU’s 2030 emissions reductions target from 40% to at least 55%. Parliament also adopted its position on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to tackle the current biodiversity crisis. MEPs want at least 30% of EU land and sea to be protected by 2030.

In May, Parliament approved the €5.4 billion Life programme for 2021-27. It’s the only EU programme solely dedicated to the environment and climate, but one of many programmes approved during the first six months of 2021.

The Circular Economy Action Plan, adopted in February, aims to achieve a sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050 at the latest.

Belarus

In June, Parliament called on the EU to punish those involved in forcing a plane to land in Minsk in May and holding Belarussian journalist Roman Protasevich in detention. MEPs also urged EU countries to continue sanctions against human rights violations in the country.

Rule of law

In a resolution adopted in June, MEPs instructed Parliament President David Sassoli to call on the European Commission to fulfil its obligations and take action under the new Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation, designed to protect EU funds from possible misuse by EU governments.

In response to backsliding on LGBTIQ rights in some EU countries, MEPs in March declared the EU an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone. They also raised concerns about attacks on media freedom and called on the Commission to do more to protect journalists in Europe.

EU-UK relations

Parliament approved the EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement in April, setting the rules for the future partnership. MEPs argued the deal was the best option to minimize the worst effects of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

EU-US relations

MEPs welcomed in January the inauguration of the new US president Joe Biden as an opportunity for Europe to strengthen EU-US ties and tackle common challenges and threats to the democratic system. In June, the first EU-US summit since 2014 was held in Brussels.

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European Parliament

Conference on the Future of Europe: Time for your ideas

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The Conference on the Future of Europe is looking for your ideas on how the EU should change and what it should focus on. Now is the time to get involved, EU affairs.

After its official launch in spring, the Conference is entering a crucial stage: it needs to get as much input from citizens as possible on how the EU should face the challenges of a changing world.

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More than 5,000 ideas have been submitted to the online platform, on topics ranging from the climate emergency to European democracy. It’s a good start, but much more is needed. Browse through the topics, share your views on other people’s suggestions and come up with your own ideas.

Maybe you want to discuss your thoughts with other people? Join an upcoming event or organize your own. Just make sure the outcome of the discussions makes its way onto the platform.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is not just a way to make your voice heard. Your ideas can have a real impact on important decisions: the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have pledged to act on people’s recommendations and on the conclusions of the Conference.

What will happen to your ideas?

The contributions submitted on the platform will form the basis for the entire work of the Conference through four European citizens’ panels. These will each consist of 200 Europeans, selected randomly, but in a way that ensures they are representative of the EU as a whole.

Based on your contributions, each panel will formulate proposals for change. These proposals will then be submitted to the Conference Plenary, which brings together citizens and representatives of the European Parliament, national parliaments, EU governments, the European Commission, civil society and social partners.

Each European citizens’ panel will select 20 members to represent it at the Conference Plenary. In total, counting the citizens from national panels and events, and the President of the European Youth Forum, 108 citizens will take part in the Plenary - a quarter of all members.

The European citizens’ panels will meet at least three times. The first meetings are scheduled for September and early October, before the next Plenary on 22-23 October. The second meetings will be held in November and panels will finalise their work in December and January 2022.

The Plenary will meet in late October and every month between December 2021 and March 2022 to discuss people's proposals and make recommendations for concrete EU action.

The final report will be prepared in the spring of 2022 by the executive board of the Conference. The board comprises representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission - the institutions that will have to follow up on the conclusions - as well as observers from all Conference stakeholders. The report will be drawn up in full collaboration with the Conference Plenary and will have to receive its approval.

Find out in more detail how the Conference will work.

Why does Europe need new ideas?

The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed the world. Now Europe is looking for ways to recover from the crisis and find sustainable solutions to the challenges of the future that include climate change, the progress of digital technologies and increased global competition.

“If we want to be fit for purpose for the next decades, it will be necessary to reform the European Union and not to be a union that only reacts too little and too late to what is happening in the world and in our own societies,” said Guy Verhofstadt, Parliament’s co-chairman of the executive board. “That is the main question: how to make the European Union fit for purpose, ready to act and react in the world of tomorrow.”

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Environment

Splish, splash! Swimming safely in European waters this summer

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At home or abroad, Europeans can safely enjoy a swim this summer as 93% of bathing sites meet minimum quality requirements set out under EU rules.

Some 83% of bathing sites monitored across the EU in 2020 are judged as excellent in the European Environment Agency's annual report, meaning they were mostly free from pollutants harmful to human health and the environment.

The countries with the highest number of bathing sites with excellent water quality - 95% or more - are Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Greece and Austria.

Read this overview explaining how the EU improves public health.

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