The social affairs committee voted on Monday to reject the one billion euro cut to the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived proposed by the European Commission, and called for support for the EU's neediest citizens be kept at the 2007-2013 level of. 3.5 billion euros.
More people and regions will benefit from the EU Youth Employment Initiative thanks to amendments voted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday. This initiative is to give effect to the "youth guarantee", whereby any young person in the EU who has been unemployed for more than four months is to be offered a job, training or an apprenticeship.
Safeguarding public pensions to ensure decent living standards for all in old age must remain a priority, MEPs stress in a resolution adopted on Thursday. They also call for the development of supplementary pension schemes and longer working lives to ensure the sustainability of pensions threatened by demographic ageing and strained public finances.
Here is a summary of the priorities of Ireland's Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, as presented by Irish ministers to European Parliament committees. These presentations were all made in the week of 21-25 January, except for agriculture (31 January).
The European Semester was the focus of work for the committees on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Budgets and Employment on Tuesday, as MEPs met their national counterparts to discuss economic coordination work going on at EU level and how parliaments can better hold the various decision makers to account.
Plans for "youth guarantee" schemes to ensure that no young person in the EU is without a job for more than four months won strong support in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday. MEPs voted a resolution calling on EU employment ministers to agree in February 2013 to a Council recommendation that all member states introduce these schemes.
New rules to improve the safty of workers most exposed to electromagnetic fields with protective measures and new maximum exposure limits were approved by a large majority in the social affairs and employment committee on Thursday. Exemptions for the medical imaging sector and for military applications will be allowed, to take account of their specific needs, say MEPs.
The economic policies that the European Commission wants EU member states to apply in 2013 rely too heavily on austerity, many MEPs told Commissioners Rehn and Andor as they presented the Commission's newly-adopted Annual Growth Survey to Parliament on Wednesday Other MEPs doubted the Commission's ability to push through reforms, given the member states' unwillingness to cooperate. The latest developments in Greece were also raised.
There were many distortions in the Greek finance and labour markets that had to be tackled, but Greece has taken all the necessary measures. Now it is up to the EU to come forward with the next aid tranche, Greek finance and labour ministers Giannis Stournaras and Giannis Vroutsis told the Economic Affairs and Employment committees on Tuesday.
EU aid to redundant workers would continue in 2014-2020, and could also go to additional categories of workers, such as the self-employed (including farmers) and those on temporary contracts, under legislative amendments voted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The legislation, which would renew the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, is currently opposed by a blocking minority in the Council of Ministers.