Irish Presidency priorities as presented in EP committees all this week
The priorities of Ireland's Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers are being presented to European Parliament committees by Irish ministers this week. This compilation will be updated daily during this week.
Humanitarian aid needs to be better coordinated, and relief more closely linked to long-term development, Development Minister Joe Costello told the Development Committee on Wednesday. The European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps is a "wonderful tool" for broadening perspectives on humanitarian aid, he said. MEPs welcomed his enthusiasm for it.
Justice and home affairs
Data protection, Schengen issues including the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the border-free area, and the asylum package are high on the Irish Presidency agenda. Presenting its priorities to the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter said he would also press for progress on Passenger Name Records (PNR), confiscation of proceeds of crime, seasonal workers, intra-corporate transferees and right of access to a lawyer.
In debate, MEPs raised questions on the Schengen governance package, fundamental rights, the integration of Roma people, trafficking of human beings, smart borders and access to documents.
In the chair: Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES)
"We want to see concrete progress in the accession process for all candidates", Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Eamon Gilmore told the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The Presidency will strive to open new negotiating chapters with Montenegro but also with Turkey and Iceland, despite the latter's decision to slow down the talks. It will also explore the scope for starting accession talks with Serbia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Fresh impetus is needed for a "credible enlargement policy based on the principle of conditionality" said the minister.
In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)
The Presidency's top priority is to reach a political agreement on Common Fisheries Policy reform by the end of June, Fisheries Minister Simon Coveney told the Fisheries Committee on Tuesday. MEPs confirmed that it is vital to have the reform signed and sealed before 2014. They urged Mr Coverney to press his Council colleagues to break the deadlock on multiannual fisheries plans, two of which have been stuck since 2010 due to a legal dispute between the institutions, as member states want to exclude Parliament from decision-making on certain key elements of these plans.
MEPs raised the problem of Iceland and the Faroe Islands fishing growing shares of mackerel, and called for sanctions based on an EU regulation voted last year. Mr Coveney added that he also wants progress on EU fisheries partnership agreements with third countries, especially that being negotiated with Morocco.
In the chair: Gabriel Mato Adrover (EPP, ES)
A "Justice for Growth" agenda will guide the Presidency's justice and home affairs work, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter told the Legal Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The Presidency will give priority to instruments that can improve business and consumers confidence and thus boost growth. Specifically, it will try to make progress on the EU account preservation order (to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters), the new insolvency proposal and EU common sales law. It also hopes that the EU protection order will be finally adopted.
In the chair: Evelyn Regner (S&D, AT)
The statute and funding of European political parties, committees of inquiry and the redistribution of seats in the European Parliament with a view to the 2014 elections are among the priority issues for the Presidency, Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton told the Constitutional Affairs Committee on Tuesday. She assured MEPs that the Presidency will seek both deeper involvement with the European Parliament and dialogue with national parliaments.
In the chair: Carlo Casini (EPP, IT)
"Our top priorities in the transport area will be TEN-T and the 'Connecting Europe Facility' - I will try to protect as much of the budget as possible," Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar told the Transport Committee on Monday.
MEPs welcomed his wish to "show citizens that the EU is working for them", by strengthening air passenger rights and improving cruise-ship safety. The Presidency will also push for deals with Parliament on improved digital tachographs and harmonised technical checks on vehicles.
In the chair: Dominique Riquet (EPP, FR)