Next week will be a committee week in the European Parliament.  Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”) will gather virtually and in person in Brussels.  Several interesting votes and debates are scheduled to take place.

On Monday, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (“ENVI”) will vote to adopt proposed amendments to the draft opinion on critical raw materials (“CRM”).  The amendments can be found here.  The opinion is addressed to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (“ITRE”) and will contribute to a report on a European Strategy for Critical Raw Materials (see here).  The draft opinion, presented by Rapporteur MEP Sara Matthieu (Greens/ALE, BE), highlights the need for conditions regarding the extraction, processing, and use of CRM to be aligned closer with the EU’s sustainability targets.  The language of the proposed amendments aims to balance environmental concerns with industry’s ability to adjust to the new requirements.  It is widely expected to be adopted.  The European Commission brought the issue of CRMs to the forefront last year when it published its “Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials”.  The Action Plan intends to decrease the dependency of Europe’s industry on third-country suppliers, and, instead, develop the circular and sustainable use of resources and diversify mineral sourcing from third countries, thereby ultimately improving supply-chain resilience.  The Commission’s Action Plan can be found here.

On Thursday, the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (“BECA”) will have a debate on a Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe.  The Strategy is largely a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also contributes to the wider ambition of creating a European Health Union.  The Strategy should ensure patient access to affordable medicine, improve crisis preparedness, and promote the competitiveness, innovation, and sustainability of the EU pharmaceutical industry.  Rapporteur MEP Montserrat (EPP, ES) has emphasized that the new Pharmaceutical Strategy, if fully implemented, must strengthen and innovate the pharmaceutical industry and contribute to European strategic autonomy.  The European Health Union was proposed by the European Commission last year and intends to coordinate the EU’s national healthcare systems, in order to provide a more resilient and effective crisis response.  An overview of the Pharmaceutical Strategy can be found here.  As part of the European Health Union, the Pharmaceutical Strategy could provide new opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to expand their research and production efforts within the Internal Market and commit to sustainable production.  The draft report can be found here.

On the same day, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (“ECON”) and the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (“AIDA”) will hold a public hearing on artificial intelligence (“AI”) and financial services.  Representatives from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Supervisory Authorities, and the private sector will come together to share their views on the benefits and potential limits of AI use in financial services.  This exchange of views is likely to complement the findings of a paper on the same topic, published by AIDA last month, which can be found here.  The paper makes policy recommendations for new legislative proposals, largely aimed at mitigating any risks and negative impact that a broader application of AI could have on the financial market.  The hearing will be led by MEP Tudorache (RE, RO), chair of AIDA and MEP Tinagli (S&D, IT), chair of ECON.  The program for the event can be found here.

For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.