Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Thursday, 20 December 2012
European Parliament - Key legislation in progress

The European Parliament deals with many pieces of legislation every years, ranging from technical updates to existing laws, to major new pieces of legislation.

Below is a guide to the key pieces of legislation currently being scrutinised by MEPs and expected to come to a plenary session of the parliament in the next six months.

Agriculture & Fisheries

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform

What: Bringing the CAP into line with the post-2013 budget framework.

The Commission is proposing reforms to the way in which the CAP is funded. It has been steadily falling as a proportion of the total EU budget for many years, but currently stands at 47% of the total budget, at around €58bn. The Commission wants to cap the subsidy a large farm can receive at €300,000, although keeping overall CAP spending at the same level until 2020. 30% of direct payments to farmers will be dependent on environmental criteria, such as ensuring biodiversity.

When: The Agriculture Committee voted on the reform package in January with a lengthy plenary vote following in March. Long and detailed negotiations with member states are now underway, and there may be a subsequent vote in the parliament later in the year.

Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform

What: Bringing the CFP into line with the post-2013 budget framework.

The Commission wants to reform fishing policies, and to make fishing in EU waters more sustainable. Proposals include simplified rules, more action against over-fishing, a ban on the controversial process of discards, and more help for small-scale fishing fleets.

When: A marathon committee vote took place in December, and the first plenary vote took place in February with negotiations to find a common position with member states now underway.

Economic and Monetary Affairs

Market abuse laws

What: Tougher penalties for people found guilty of market manipulation.

Following on from the Libor scandal, the Commission is proposing that people found guilty of manipulating the financial markets should face criminal sanctions, including jail sentences. The draft rules are designed to toughen up the existing market abuse rules, and ensure that the EU is not seen as a "soft option".

When: The draft proposals have been overwhelmingly backed by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Negotiations are now ongoing with member states, with a plenary vote not expected to take place until May.

Mortgage credit directive

What: New rules on the selling of mortgages.

This law is designed to increase consumer protection and improve consumer confidence in the mortgage industry. The Commission hopes the directive will increase financial stability by ensuring more responsible lending. The proposals include formal sales standards, better information to consumers, and improved assessment of the consumer's creditworthiness. Critics say the directive does not take account of national differences in the way in which property and mortgage markets operate.

When: The vote by MEPs has already been delayed, to allow for further negotiations, and a final vote is now expected in the April or May plenary sessions.

Multi-annual financial framework (MFF)

What: Aside from the annual budget, much of the thoughts of EU politicians are focusing on the EU's long-term seven-year budget, known as the MFF.

It runs on a seven year cycle, with the next cycle beginning in 2014. The Commission has proposed a €1.025tn budget for the next MFF, although the Council has said the figure should be "revised downwards".

When: Negotiations are underway to reach an inter-institutional agreement, after MEPs voted to reject a deal by EU governments unless further concessions are made.

Banking supervisions

What: As part of a deal agreed by EU leaders, the Commission is giving the European Central Bank powers to supervise all major banks in the eurozone.

When: The parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee gave their approval to the plans in November, and a plenary approval is expected in January.

Employment and Social Affairs

Posted workers directive (revision)

What: An overhaul of the 1996 laws on the treatments of workers from one EU country posted to work in another EU country.

Revisions follow concerns that workers from some countries, such as Poland, were being exploited. The Commission wants to protect their social and employment rights allowing improved handling of workers' complaints in the construction sector, higher standards of information to workers about their rights, and better monitoring of the working conditions of posted workers.

When: The revisions are currently being scrutinised by the Employment and Social Policy Committee, with a committee vote scheduled for February, and a plenary vote later in the year.


Serious cross-border health threats

What: The Commission's proposal is an attempt to improve co-ordination between member states in the event of a crisis, such as the 2011 E. coli outbreak and the swine flu pandemic of 2009.

The proposal includes making it easier for emergency vaccines to be bought on an EU-wide basis, and giving a formal role to the EU Health Security Committee, set up by EU health ministers in 2001, as a way of providing advice and co-ordination.

When: The Parliament's debated the proposals in October, with a plenary vote scheduled for the spring of 2013.

Vehicle noise levels

What: A new directive to toughen the laws regulating the noise levels from cars, vans, buses, and lorries.

The aim is to reduce noise levels by 25% within a decade and to introduce new, more reliable testing methods. The Commission says that harmonising the rules will make it easier to buy, sell and use vehicles across the EU, although concerns have been raised at the potential costs of complying with the new rules.

When: The Environment Committee narrowly backed the proposals in November, and a plenary vote is slated for March.

Home Affairs

Asylum laws

What: An update to the so-called "Dublin regulations", which sets down criteria for which member state is responsible for receiving an application for asylum.

By default, the country deemed responsible is that through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU. Critics say the Dublin system puts undue pressure on countries on the EU's external borders, such as Greece. The new regulation is designed to introduce a crisis-management system to avoid potential pressures before they occur. It is also designed to increase the protection of asylum seekers, such as through better appeal procedures against being transferred to another member state, and giving unaccompanied minors without parents the automatic right to be reunited with grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles already living in the EU.

When: The Civil Liberties Committee approved the proposals in September, with a plenary vote scheduled for January.

Industry and Research

Offshore oil platforms

What: A new set of rules to improve the safety of oil and gas platforms in EU waters, following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The draft directive would require offshore oil and gas firms to submit major hazard reports and emergency response plans before being allowed to have a licence to drill. EU countries would also be required to provide emergency response plans. The Commission had originally proposed that the law should take the form of a regulation, meaning that it would be directly binding on member states. However, following agreement with a majority of MEPs - although not the Green group - it is now a draft directive, giving countries more flexibility in how to implement it.

When: Negotiations are ongoing with member states to try and find a first reading agreement, meaning a plenary vote may not take place until the start of 2013.

Connecting Europe

What: A regulation designed to increase funding for trans-European networks in energy, transport and telecommunications.

The Commission has identified that a lack of joined-up networks is hampering the ability of the single market to function properly. The new regulation will ensure there is easier access to EU financial instruments, such as the European Investment Bank to fund the development of the networks. The regulation is also an attempt to harmonise rules, ensuring better integration of the transport, energy and telecommunications markets.

When: The Transport and Industry Committees jointly approved the plans in December and negotiations on a first reading agreement are now underway with the Council, before a vote in plenary.

Internal Market

Alternative dispute resolution regulations

What: The Commission wants to introduce an EU-wide law on alternative dispute resolutions (ADR) for cross-border purchases.

ADR schemes allow consumers to settle disputes with traders over goods or services they have received without having to go to court. The proposed regulation would give more information to consumers and make it easier for them to settle disputes, although many MEPs want to extend the proposal to cover domestic disputes, as not all EU countries have effective ADR systems.

When: The proposals have passed their committee stage, and now go to a plenary vote, scheduled for "early" 2013.

Legal Affairs

Common European sales law

What: A single set of rules to boost cross-border contracts.

The proposal is designed to eliminate the estimated €26m of costs caused by dealing with 27 different sales laws.

When: The plenary vote is timetabled to take place in December.

Regional Development

Regional policy reform

What: An overhaul of the EU's regional development budget to take account of the post-2013 budget framework.

A range of reforms are being looked at, including: giving regional and local authorities more involvement in discussing regional policies; a possible financial penalty for regions in countries where budgetary discipline is not being followed; and clarifying the role of the European Regional Development Fund

When: Negotiations are ongoing between the Parliament and the Council, with a plenary vote expected in the first few months of 2013.

All dates are indicative only; a complete list of all legislation going through the European Parliament can be found at the parliament's Legislative Observatory.

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