The European Parliament will hold plenary sessions online and canceled almost all in-person meetings until the end of November to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to an internal note issued by David Sassoli, the Parliament’s president, and seen by POLITICO.
“COVID-19 cases continue to rise in many Member States and national authorities are taking further measures to limit the spread of the virus,” the note said. “Meetings of Parliament’s governing bodies, plenary, ordinary and extraordinary committees and political groups shall be held remotely without the physical presence of persons other than the chair, and indispensable staff of the secretariat and technical support.”
The note added that in-person meetings would be allowed only in a small number of cases, such as closed-door three-way talks with the Commission and Council (so-called trilogues) on big issues such as the long-term EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the Parliament has canceled all of its Strasbourg plenary sessions, brought in online voting, banned access to outside visitors, and allowed a large number of its staff to work from home. MEPs were given the choice of whether to attend debates remotely or in person.
The Parliament is also examining the possibility of temporarily stopping use of the attendance register to deter lawmakers from coming to Brussels. MEPs must sign the register to earn a flat-rate allowance of €323, which is for accommodation for each day they work in Brussels or Strasbourg.