How Parliament works during a pandemic

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For its plenary on 26 March, Parliament put in place a procedure to vote from a distance for the first time evef. Voting previously required a physical presence. According to the rules, the right to vote is a personal one and MEPs cast their votes individually and in person. Therefore, Parliament opted for a remote vote by email. Members received ballot forms electronically, then completed and returned them via email. Amendments were voted in a single ballot. This remote voting system is temporary and valid until 31 July, unless extended by a decision by the Parliament’s bureau, which consists of the Parliament President, the 14 Vice-Presidents and the five Quaestors.
In the remote vote on 26 March, MEPs almost unanimously adopted three urgent proposals to help people and businesses tackle the crisis.
Exceptionally, plenary sessions are not currently taking place in Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg. This temporary and extraordinary measure will be lifted as soon as conditions allow, probably after the summer.
The next plenary session took place on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 April in Brussels.
Work in committees has also adapted, with meetings taking place via video-conference. That has not stopped MEPs from discussing urgent topics with commissioners and national authorities, such as the Covid-19 situation in Greek refugee camps. Interpretation and voting in committee has also been maintained under the current remote meetings system.
According to the new calendar of Parliament activities agreed by the Conference of Presidents on 2 April, committee meetings can now take place in yellow weeks, with the focus on measures to fight the coronavirus crisis.
Political groups and governing bodies
Parliaments’ seven political groups and governing bodies such as the Conference of Presidents are also continuing their work remotely.

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