The coronavirus has forced the European Parliament to postpone its full four-day plenary sessions in Strasbourg until at least September, according to a revised calendar seen by EURACTIV.com.
The Parliament will hold mini-plenary sessions in the afternoon and the following morning on 13-14 May, on 17-18 June, and 8-9 July.
All the sessions will be held in Brussels.
A new system will be used for the first time on Thursday (26 March) to allow the remote participation of MEPs, including e-voting. Lawmakers are expected to vote on some of the measures to address the fallout of the virus.
A Parliament official explained that only representatives of the political groups in the chamber will intervene in the debate at this stage. The source added that the idea is to develop the new system to allow remote interventions in the plenary and reduce the number of attendees.
According to Parliament estimates, around 100 MEPs are in Brussels, but not all of them are expected to attend Thursday’s plenary.
Parliament President David Sassoli will chair the session, as he has completed his self-quarantine.
The first ordinary plenary session in Strasbourg will be held on 14-17 September.
The Parliament also reduced substantially committee and political groups meetings over the next months and in April, activity is almost inexistent, with meetings only on 1 and 2 of the month.
Sassoli cancelled the plenary session planned for March as Parliament gradually adapted to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Parliament sources admitted that there will be fewer debates but the priority is to vote on all the measures required to address the pandemic.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]