The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at EU level. Members are directly elected by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically.
On 23 June 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. The decision will take effect on 29 March 2019. The final agreement will require the approval of the European Parliament and MEPs will scrutinise the process carefully. Here we provide some links to help you understand what is going on and who is doing what.
The Charlemagne Youth Prize is organised jointly by the European Parliament and the International Charlemagne Prize Foundation in Aachen and awarded each year for projects run by people aged between 16 and 30.
Information on European Elections in Ireland eg. who can stand for election, who can vote in the European elections plus information on previous European Elections in Ireland. The next European Parliament elections will take place in May or June 2019.
Three films have been selected to compete for the 2017 Lux Film Prize. BPM (Beats per minute) by Robin Campillo (France), Sámi Blood by Amanda Kernell (Sweden, Norway, Denmark) and Western by Valeska Grisebach (Germany, Bulgaria, Austria) are the films that will compete for this years' Lux Film Prize.
The European Parliament will once again be present at this year's National Ploughing Championships, which take place from 19 to 21 September at Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. We will be available to assist you with questions on EU policies, your rights as a European citizen and all topics of EU interest.
On Friday 14 July, Brian Hayes MEP and member of the European Parliament's Economic and Finance Committee will host an event on FinTech which will discuss the oncoming regulatory responses to Fintech services and how a fit-for-purpose Fintech ecosystem can be created in Ireland. This event takes place from 9:00-11:00 am at the European Parliament, 12-14 Lower Mount Street. Reserve your place at email@example.com or phone 01-6057900
Border Communities Against Brexit is among the 50 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2017. The national award ceremony will take place in the Garage Theatre, Monaghan Town on Friday 14th July at 7.00 pm. The public are welcome to attend. MEP Matt Carthy said: “Border Communities Against Brexit was nominated for the European Citizens Prize by the four Sinn Féin MEPs and by independent MEPs Nessa Childers and Marian Harkin."
Information on the European Parliament's role and powers, on the Irish MEPs and their activities and on issues currently being considered by Parliament which are of significance for Ireland and for Europe as a whole.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be the beginning of the Estonian presidency, the European Council and G20 preparations, Turkey, lifetime of products, tackling HIV and much more.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be the beginning of the Estion presidency, the European Council and G20 preparations, Turkey, lifetime of products, tackling HIV and much more.
The European Parliament and European Commission are hosting a discussion on the Future of Europe this Friday 30 June 2017 at the Imperial Hotel, Cork from 4.30 pm - 7:00 pm. Speakers include Deirdre Clune MEP and contributions from Liadh Ní Riada MEP and the newly-appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD. The event is free to attend and open to all. Prior registration is required. Please email your name to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01 6057900.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be the European Council conclusions, addresses by Secretary General of the UN and Head of African Union Commission, portability of online content services, road transport in the EU, the war in Syria, fundamental rights in Hungary, and much more.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be Statements on US President Trump's decision on COP21 Paris Agreement, 30 years of Erasmus, the issue of the gender pension gap, MEPs priorities on the next European Council, and much more.
On 27 June 2017, as part of a series of inter-faith dialogues with religious and philosphical organisations, the European Parliament in Brussels will host a dialogue with faith leaders on the future of Europe. The seminar will be opened by MEP Mairead McGuinness, Vice President of the European Parliament and Commissioner Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the European Commission.
The main aim of the EYE2018 is for young people from all over Europe to come together in Strasbourg and exchange ideas and perspectives with European decision-makers and come up with innovative ideas and solutions how to solve important issues.
The main aim of the EYE2016 is for young people from all over Europe to come together in Strasbourg and exchange ideas and perspectives with European decision-makers and come up with innovative ideas and solutions how to solve important issues.
What impact will Brexit have on the environment on island of Ireland? What do we know about what the EU and UK sides want to achieve on environmental regulation in the negotiations? Is it even possible to have divergent regulation? How would that work? The European Parliament is hosting a free discussion event, open to all, in partnership with leading environmental NGOs on Friday 16 June at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk.
Two Irish organisations have been successfully nominated for the European Citizen’s Prize 2017. The youth organisation, Foróige and the campaigning group, Border Communities Against Brexit, are among the 50 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2017.
A special radio show from the European Parliament in Brussels was broadcast on Newstalk on Saturday morning 3 June 2017. Sarah Carey of Talking Point was speaking to Irish MEPs Matt Carthy, Marian Harkin and Mairead McGuinness, as well as German MEP David McAllister and Patrick Smyth, Europe Editor of The Irish Times.
Following news that U.S. President Donald J. Trump intends to withdraw his country from the Paris Agreement on climate change, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani has asserted that "the Paris Agreement must be respected. It is a matter of trust and leadership. This Agreement is alive and we will take it forward with or without the US administration"
A joint workshop on EU Information Sources was co-organised with the Joint Committee of European Affairs at Leinster House on 1 June 2017. The workshop designed specifically for National Parliaments included presentations from the European Parliamentary Research Service, the European Union Office of Publications as well as the Oireachtas Library and Research Service.
On the agenda in this week's plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, MEPs considered facilitating the deployment of 5G across the EU, reducting VAT on e-books, the recent surge in anti-Semitism in Europe and new proposals to boost the EU transport sector among other issues.
In accordance with the provisions of the Regulation on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the European Union (Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 as amended by Regulation 2015/1929 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 October 2015), and its implementing rules, the European Parliament is required to issue invitations to tender in order to purchase goods, services and works.
Drop by and visit the European Parliament Information Office at this year's BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. We will be at EU stand No. W31 in the Industries Hall. Check out all the fun and interactive science experiments and pick up information on all things EU.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be negotiations with the UK following the Article 50 notification, medical devices, fishing vessels, emissions in the automotive sector, the Brazilian meat sector, EU budget and more.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Among the items on the agenda will be European Council conclusions; shareholders' rights in EU companies; conflict minerals; food inspections; the 'global gag' rule; the Firearms Directive; mistreatment of horses; gender equality; obstacles to free movement, and more.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? CETA; topics on the agenda inlcude combatting terrorism, Emission reductions;EU Reform; Structural & Investment funds; European Semester 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Parliament on Thursday
On Tuesday 9 May, the European Parliament will celebrate Europe Day for the first time in Galway. Come along to the ILAS Building on the NUIG Campus and meet MEPs Mairead McGuinness and Matt Carthy, MEPs of the Midlands-North West constituency. Starts at 11 am. To reserve your place email email@example.com or tel (01) 605.79.00
In his speech on the State of the Union this morning at the European University Institute in Florence, European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani highlighted the results of the latest Eurobarometer survey and spoke about the management of migration flows, security and defence and Brexit.
The April 2017 Eurobarometer survey of public attitudes in Europe shows that the number of people who feel that belonging to the EU is a good thing is increasing. The survey also identifies areas where citizens want the EU to do more and which countries feel that their voice counts most (and least) in EU decision-making. Results for Ireland, which are largely in line with Europe-wide trends, are included throughout.
Are you an SME that wishes to avail of the EU's Investment Fund? Come along to our information session in the Savoy Hotel Limerick on Friday 28 April to learn how. This event will be chaired by Sean Kelly MEP. To reserve your place email firstname.lastname@example.org eu or tel. 01 605 7900.
On 11 April, the European Parliament Office in Ireland hosted a briefing by Richard Ashworth, MEP on the Budget of the European Union in 2018 and Beyond. Mairead McGuinness MEP, First Vice-President of the European Parliament also addressed the meeting.
The European Parliament Office in Ireland is holding a briefing on the budget of the EU entitled "The Budget of the European Union in 2018 and Beyond" on Tuesday 11 April at Europe House, Dublin. British MEP Richard Ashworth will present the current position regarding the preparation of the EU’s 2018 budget as well as possible future implications for funding the EU post Brexit.
Have you visited Europe House in Dublin to look for information or to attend debates? What do you think is the best way to ask or look for information about the EU? Thanks for taking the time to fill in this public consultation. Deadline: 8 May 2017
An overwhelming majority of the house (516 votes in favour, 133 against, with 50 abstentions) adopted a resolution officially laying down the European Parliament’s key principles and conditions for its approval of the UK's withdrawal agreement.
The Conference of Presidents endorsed a motion for a resolution drawn up by the leaders of four political groups and the Constitutional Affairs Committee, which sets out conditions for a final approval by the EP of any withdrawal agreement with the UK.
The European Parliament is planning to award a public contract for The European Parliament Ambassador School Programme (EPAS) for the academic years 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. The maximum duration of the contract will be 24 months.
Information on European Parliament's campaigns to promote human rights (Sakharov Prize) and cultural diversity (LUX Film Prize). The European Citizen’s Prize acknowledges the work of people and organisations who through their day-to-day activities promote European values.
We are pleased to link with the Dingle Film Festival to screen the Lux Film Prize finalist, "My Life as a Courgette". This special showing with dialogue in original French and with Irish sub-titles (Mo shaol mar chúirséad) is an animated feature. MEP Liadh Ní Riada will introduce the film which takes place in the Phoenix Cinema on Sunday 26 March at 12h00.
Sixty years ago the leaders of the six founding member states gathered in Rome to put their signatures under the agreements that would create a European common market, but also pave the way for a union of peace and prosperity that has come to encompass most of our continent. Leading MEPs will join the anniversary celebrations in Rome this weekend, while heads of state and government will use the opportunity to deliberate on the next steps for the EU.
The European Parliament LUX FILM PRIZE casts an annual spotlight on films that go to the heart of European public debate. Films selected for the competition focus on some of the main social and political issues of the day and, as such, contribute to building a stronger European identity.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.
Registration is now open to apply for traineeships with the European Parliament for the Autumn period (October 2017-February 2018). These traineeships are for university graduates (Robert Schuman traineeships). Deadline for application: 15 May 2017
On International Women's Day 2017, we are pleased to bring you these video messages from Irish MEPs Deirdre Clune, Marian Harkin, Mairead McGuinness and Liadh Ní Riada. #IWD2017 #Internationalwomensday
Parliament's calendar is colour coded to indicate activities of a particular week - plenary sittings in Strasbourg, plenary sittings in Brussels; meetings of committees and interparliamentary delegations; political group meetings and weeks where MEPs concentrate exclusively on constituency work.
Information on Freedom of Press, a core European value. Freedom of Press is considered an essential element of democracy by the European Parliament, which strongly supports it within the EU and beyond.
Deirdre Clune MEP hosted and chaired a stakeholder consultation on the proposed revisions to the Posted Workers Directive at EU House Dublin on 2 February. The rapporteur for the legislation, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier also attended. The major stakeholders concerned by the directive participated and included trades unions, employers' representative bodies, recruitment agencies, legal firms, Eurofound and individual members of trade unions.
What will MEPs be working on in the November plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include: Mid-term elections of Parliament’s governing bodies;Malta’s EU Council Presidency priorities; Blacklist of states at risk of money laundering; debate on EU summit outcome and challenges in 2017
The European Parliament will elect a new President, for the second half of this legislature, on 17 January. Outgoing President Martin Schulz will preside over the election of his successor, who will in turn oversee the election of the 14 Vice-Presidents and 5 Quaestors, on 18 January. For more information click on link below
Elections to the European Parliament took place across Europe from 22-25 May 2014 and in Ireland on 23 May 2014. 11 MEPs were elected in three constituencies: Dublin, Midlands-North-West and South. The newly-elected MEPs formally took up their seats on 1 July 2014.
In Ireland there are no by-elections to the European Parliament. If an MEP resigns from office or dies during his or her mandate, the vacancy is filled from a replacement list given by parties or independent candidates to the returning officer in their constituency prior to each European election.
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include award of 2016 Sakharov Prize; Pre-Summit debate on Brexit, migration, Energy Union; New rules to boost rail travel; Review of 2016 Foreign Policy:focus on Russia, Middle East and Africa; Europol data leak
We are holding a joint forum with the National Women's Council of Ireland on combatting violence against women on 9 December at Wood Quay, Dublin. Speakers will include MEPs Lynn Boylan and Deirdre Clune. Register at email@example.com. or tel. 01 605 7900.
The European Parliament is holding a joint meeting with the Cork Education and Training Board on Youth Opportunities at EU level hosted by Deirdre Clune MEP on 25 November at Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org. or tel. 01 605 7900.
The 2015 Sakharov Prize was awarded to Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger, human rights activist and author of the website Free Saudi Liberals. Raif's wife, Ensaf Haidar, accepted the prize on his behalf at the European Parliament in Strasbourg at the December 2015 plenary session.
What will MEPs be working on in the November plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include: Lux Prize Award ceremony; EU-Turkey relations; European Defence Union, Tax evasion, Occupational retirement funds; EU plan against trafficking wildlife; cod stocks, combatting violence against women
LUX Film Prize finalist "As I Open My Eyes" and Lux film prize nominee "Suntan" are being screened at the 2016 Cork Film Festival (11-20 November 2016). They will be screened on 15 and 16 November respectively at Triskel Christchurch, Cork City.
The European Parliament Information Office and SIPTU are jointly organising a Forum on The European Pillar of Social Rights on Friday 28 October from 9.30 am-1.00 pm in Liberty Hall, Dublin. Speakers will include Lynn Boylan MEP and Jack O'Connor, General Secretary, SIPTU. To reserve your place email email@example.com or tel. 01.605.7900.
The Commission has today announced plans to introduce a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) as part of a broader package of corporate tax reforms. Read the reaction of the chairman of Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT).
What will MEPs be working on in next week's plenary session in Strasbourg? Highlights include; debate the outcome of the EU summit outcome with President Juncker and Presifdent Tusk; Commission Work Programme: Vote on EU budget for 2017 ; Industrial trans fats in food; Annual health check on fundamental rights in EU member states; Proposal for Common Consoidated Tax base; Disabled and elderly people to get easier access to online public services.
The European Parliament is organising a special session in Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis on Friday 14 October 2016. All are invited to meet local MEPs Seán Kelly and Liadh Ní Riada from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm in An Díseart Centre. To book a place, ring 01-6057900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Ireland's CoderDojo joined people and organisations from across Europe in the Parliament in Brussels on 12 October for the European Citizens’ Prize award ceremony that highlighted their contributions to Europe.
The European Parliament is delighted to be teaming up with Triskel Christchurch, Cork for the free screening of the 2015 LUX Film Prize winner Mustang by Deniz Gamze Erguven. The film is being show simultaneously across Europe in cinemas of the Europa Cinemas network and will be followed by a streamed Q&A and a Twitter wall allowing audiences from across Europe to interact directly with the film director. Tickets are available from 5pm on the day.
“We have no problem with the 12,5% corporate tax rate in Ireland”, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Irish Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee members in a hearing on competition policy on Monday.
Committees meet in Brussels next week. Among the issues on the table will be: Energy Union/security of gas supply; 2017 EU budget, Countering foreign disinformation; Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Read more.
MEPs voiced startlingly different views on the state of Greece’s economic adjustment programme, its impact and the prospects for future negotiations between Greece and its creditors, in a public debate with Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Tuesday afternoon.
Action to stop massacres in Syria, implement migration policies and border controls, and ensure a balanced approach to trade deals while defending EU industry are the key challenges that EU heads of state or government should tackle at their 20-21 October meeting in Brussels, said Parliament’s political group leaders in a debate with the Slovak Council Presidency and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.
The UNFCCC Paris Agreement on fighting climate change, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, will come into force next month, having met the necessary conditions much earlier than predicted, as Parliament agreed to its ratification by the EU in a historic vote on Tuesday.
Human rights students from UCD, TCD, UCC and NUIG are participating in events this month to publicise the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and to promote debate on the individual human rights issues to which the prize relates.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:Pre-summit debate on migration, Russia and EU trade policy; Climate change; export ban on “torture goods; conflicts of interest; safety requirements for food contact materials; developments in Syria and Colombia; Calais “jungle” camps ; uniform fair treatment for EU fishermen ; debate women’s rights in Poland
The investigative journalists behind the “Panama Papers” revelations were welcomed with applause to the first public hearing of Parliament’s inquiry committee on Tuesday. They explained their findings, which are based on 2.6 terabytes of leaked information compromising banks, heads of state, ministers, criminals and other clients of Mossack Fonseca, a company offering anonymity services and low tax solutions.
Chair Werner Langen (EPP, DE) opened the meeting by saying that the committee’s task is to find out whether - and if so to what extent - member states broke EU law or failed to implement it.
Among the items on the agenda in Brussels this week are The Panana Papers inquiry; Roaming;2017 Budget; car approval system; Counter-terrorism; the future of the Jewish communties in Europe and preparations for the plenary session in Strasbourg. In addition, ECB President Mario Draghi will present the ECB’s perspective on economic and monetary developments, in particular in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Monday.
The European Parliament will once again be present at this year's National Ploughing Championships, which take place from 20 to 22 September at Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. You will find us in Block 3, row 13, stand no 307. We will be available to assist you with questions on EU policies, your rights as a European citizen and all topics of EU interest.
Following a busy plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs work this week in their constituency or take part in parliamentary delegations. Parliament President Martin Schulz travels to London to meet among others UK Prime Minister Theresa May, while some MEPs are in Lebanon to assess the country's response to the refugee crisis.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager won wide support from MEPs, in a Wednesday afternoon debate, for the Commission’s state aid verdict that the tax benefits that Ireland granted to Apple Inc., enabling it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years, were illegal.
Populism, unemployment and social injustice are among the key challenges for the EU, said Commission President Juncker in his annual State of the Union speech in the EP on Wednesday. The refugee crisis, Brexit and counter-terrorism were also debated with political groups’ leaders and other MEPs, who put forward their visions of how to address people’s deepest concerns about the future.
The European Commission's ruling that Apple should pay Ireland €13 billion in taxes has reignited the discussion of how much tax large companies should pay. We talked to Markus Ferber, one of the Parliament's leading members on tax issues, who said the Commission's decision enjoyed the Parliament's full backing.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include: State and future of the European Union debate with jean-Claude Juncker; debate on Commission's illegal state aid verdict on Ireland's tax deal with Apple; car emissions, EU budget 2017, relocation of asylum seekers, SME Competiveness,
Parliament will evaluate Commissioner-designate Sir Julian King for the portfolio of the Security Union during its plenary session in Strasbourg. The Civil Liberties Committee will first hold a public hearing with the candidate on Monday 12 September. The full House will take a vote on Thursday.
Committee and political group meetings, Brussels The future financing of the EU, Car Emissions and refugees/resettlement are among the topics on the agenda for the European Parliament committee meetings this week.
Two days ahead of the informal meeting of the EU heads of state and government (without the United Kingdom) in Bratislava, the European Parliament will hold the annual debate on the State of the European Union with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg.
Parliamentary committees deal with anything from relations with Turkey to migration and car emissions this week. Parliament President Martin Schulz is due to visit Ankara, while MEPs discuss the EU-Canada trade agreement. In addition former commissioner Günter Verheugen answers questions from the Parliament's inquiry committee investigating car emission tests.
The environment is something Europeans care deeply about: 67% of them would like to the EU to do more on environmental protection, according to a Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the European Parliament. Read on to find out more about what the EU is already doing and will be doing to protect your health, safeguard biodiversity and fight climate change.
From Brexit to the migration crisis: 2016 has proved a very eventful year, but Parliament's work is far from finished. Until the end of the year MEPs will be working on a broad range of issues, from tackling the terrorism threat to improving the digital single market. Read on for an overview of the challenges MEPs will be dealing with the coming months.
The 2016 LUX Film Prize has selected the three films in its Official Competition. The 10th-anniversary edition of the award will have Leyla Bouzid’s As I Open My Eyes (France/Tunisia/Belgium/United Arab Emirates), Claude Barras’ My Life as a Courgette (Switzerland/France) and Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann (Germany/Austria/Romania) as the final contenders. Chairwoman of the Committee on Culture and Education Silvia Costa and Vice-President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani announced the titles in contention for the award today, at the Venice Days press conference.
The EPIO Dublin and member of the European Parliament’s Economic Committee, Brian Hayes, held a consultation in Dublin today (Tuesday 19 July) with leaders from a cross section of Irish society to update them on current state-of-play with the Pensions Directive and the implications for pension providers. The consultation took place at 13:00 19 July in the offices of the European Parliament at 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. Participants representing a broad range of stakeholders took part; these included pension scheme trustees, pension fund managers, financial advisors, legal advisors, regulators and civil servants.
Car emissions: Members of the Inquiry Committee on Emission Measurements in the automotive sector (EMIS) will visit the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) facilities in Ispra, Italy. The JRC played a crucial role in developing on-road emission testing. MEPs will visit the laboratory, meet officials and researchers and attend a demonstration of tests using portable emission measurement systems. (Monday and Tuesday)
This morning, I would like to express my deep sorrow following the attack last night in Nice. On behalf of the European Parliament, I would like to extend my condolences to the families and friends of the many victims. I send my wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured. I commend the courage and solidarity of both the emergency services and ordinary citizens of Nice.
EU countries will have to introduce stronger controls on “blank-firing” guns, to prevent them being converted to fire live ammunition, under Internal Market Committee amendments, voted on Wednesday, to a draft update of the EU firearms directive. The changes approved by MEPs ensure that any firearm which has been converted to firing blanks continues to be covered by EU gun control rules. This closes a legal loophole which became evident in the aftermath of last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
Eurozone budget. Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem and finance ministers Luis de Guindos (Spain), Michel Sapin (France) Euclid Tsakalotos (Greece) Pier Carlo Padoan (Italy) Pierre Gramegna (Luxembourg), Peter Kažimír (Slovakia) and Edward Scicluna (Malta) will join the committees on Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs to discuss ideas for a fiscal capacity for the Eurozone. Parliament will vote its position in October. (Monday)
EU Commission plans to allow claims that sugary drinks and energy drinks containing caffeine boost “alertness” or “concentration” were vetoed by the European Parliament on Thursday. Displaying these claims on drinks cans would have led to higher sugar consumption among adolescents, who are the largest group of energy drink consumers, said MEPs in their resolution.
Whistle-blowers leaking information in the public interest play a crucial role in upholding democracies, and must therefore be better protected from prosecution, reprisals and threats. This was the key message voiced by many MEPs in Wednesday evening’s debate with Commissioner Jyrki Katainen and Ivan Korčok from the Slovak Presidency of the Council on how to improve legal safeguards for people revealing illegal or unethical activities in the public or private sectors.
A new, tougher, A to G scale showing the energy efficiency of household appliances should be introduced, to keep pace with technological progress, said MEPs voting on an EU Commission proposal on Wednesday. Most appliances on the market now meet the “class A” requirements first set in 2010, so ever more pluses (A+, A++, A+++) are being added, note MEPs, who argue that setting tougher requirements will create incentives to improve energy efficiency still further.
Parliament’s recommendations for making corporate taxation fairer and clearer were voted on Wednesday. MEPs call for an EU register of beneficial owners of companies, a tax havens blacklist, sanctions against non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, action against abuse of “patent box” regimes, a code of conduct for banks and tax advisors, tax good governance rules in EU trade agreements, a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) and a withholding tax on profits leaving the EU.
Plans to set up an EU border control system, bringing together the EU’s Frontex border agency and national border management authorities, were endorsed by MEPs on Wednesday. Under these plans, national authorities will still manage their borders on a day-to-day basis but, if their EU external borders are under pressure, they will be able to seek help from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG), to rapidly deploy pooled border guard teams to those borders.
Firms supplying essential services, e.g. for energy, transport, banking and health, or digital ones, such as search engines and cloud services, will have to improve their ability to withstand cyber-attacks under the first EU-wide rules on cybersecurity, approved by MEPs on Wednesday.
EU leaders must respond to the UK's vote to leave the EU, by doing more to defend the EU project and to make it more transparent, social and responsive to citizens' concerns. This was a key message that came out of Parliament's Tuesday morning debate with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, on last week's EU summit.
The Lux Film Prize, which the European Parliament awards to the best film produced in Europe, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The nominations for 2016 have tonight been revealed at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic. The three films short-listed for the finals will be announced in the end of July and the prize ceremony will take place in November.
The fight against terrorism should be the EU's number one priority followed by action on unemployment, the fight against tax fraud, migration, the protection of external borders and the environment, according to the vast majority of people surveyed in a special Eurobarometer carried out by the European Parliament. Those participating were asked if more or less common action is required on a range of different issues. Check out our interactive infographic.
Parliament will debate the outcome of the 28 - 29 EU summit with EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Besides the consequences of the UK’s EU membership referendum, the heads of state or government also discussed digital single market and capital markets union proposals, “European Semester” country-specific economic policy recommendations and the EU’s global strategy for a common foreign and security policy. (Debate Tuesday)
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
- Plenary debates on priorities of the incoming Slovak presidency in the Council and review of the outgoing Dutch presidency.
- MEPs to debate EU’s 28-29 June summit conclusions on Brexit vote
- Parliament to vote stance on setting up a common European Border and Coast Guard
The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland is partnering this year's Merriman Summer School which has as its theme "Gallant Allies in Europe", taken from the Easter Proclamation. Speakers, including current and former MEPs, TDs, artists, authors, youth leaders, journalists and noted academics, will endeavour to place the Easter Rising in its international context and consider Ireland's relationship with the United Kingdom and the EU 100 years on from 1916.
Opening the extraordinary session, European Parliament President Martin SCHULZ (S&D, DE) noted that this was the first time that a plenary session had been convened at such short notice, but also pointed out that the UK citizens’ decision to leave the EU was equally unprecedented. He warmly welcomed Lord Hill and thanked him for his work in the European Commission and his decision to step down after having campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU. His statement was followed by standing ovations from both MEPs and fellow Commissioners.
The UK must respect the wish of a majority of its citizens, entirely, fully and as soon as possible, by officially withdrawing from the EU before any new relationship arrangements can be made, says the European Parliament in a resolution voted after an extraordinary plenary debate on Tuesday. MEPs also stress the urgent need for reforms to ensure that the EU lives up to its citizens’ expectations.
In the wake of the UK’s EU membership referendum, MEPs will meet on Tuesday in Brussels for an extraordinary plenary session at 10:00. Parliament's political group leaders will discuss the consequences of the UK vote with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and a representative of the Dutch Presidency of the Council. At noon, they will vote on a non-binding resolution to feed into Wednesday's meeting of 27 EU heads of state and government on the same topic.
Extraordinary PlenarySession relating to the results of the UK referendum: MEPs will meet in Brussels on Tuesday for an extraordinary plenary session at 10.00 to discuss and vote on a resolution assessing the outcome of the UK referendum and its consequences for the European Union.
EP President Martin Schulz, European Council President Donald Tusk and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met Friday morning in Brussels at the invitation of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. They discussed the outcome of the United Kingdom referendum and made the following joint statement: "In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it.
To follow up the UK’s EU membership referendum, Parliament's Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) decided on Friday morning, to convene an extraordinary plenary session for 28 June at 10:00. During this session, MEPs will vote a resolution analysing the outcome and ways forward. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council representatives will take part.
The European Parliament named the 65 members of its “Panama Papers” Committee of Inquiry, into tax evasion and money laundering, on Thursday, after approving its remit on 8 June. The committee’s shorthand label will be “PANA”. The European Parliament agreed to set up an inquiry committee into the “Panama Papers” revelations on 8 June. The committee is to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application by the EU Commission or member states of EU laws on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion. It will have twelve months to present its report.
“The elected Israeli leadership has been and is in support of two states for two peoples solution”, President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin, told MEPs on Wednesday. However “at this time, a permanent agreement for peace between us and Palestinians cannot be achieved”, he added, calling on EU to help build trust between the parties. President Rivlin stressed that the political and regional circumstances which would enable Israelis and Palestinians to reach a permanent agreement “are failing to materialise.”
President Schulz opened the session by calling a minute’s silence for UK MP Jo Cox, who was so seriously injured in a brutal street attack in Birstall (UK) on 16 June that she died the same day. He also dedicated the minute’s silence to victims of the LGBTI nightclub shooting in Orlando (USA) on 13 June, and to two police officers stabbed to death in Magnanville (France), also on 13 June.
The creation of an EU border control system received a first green light from Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday night. The cornerstone of the deal is to upgrade today’s Frontex border agency, which, together with national border management authorities, will form a European Border and Coast Guard. It is now up to member states and Parliament as a whole to endorse the agreement.
The EU's agriculture, a victim of climate change, must also be a part of a solution to mitigate its effects, members of the Agriculture committee told Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete on Tuesday. MEPs called for a fair and well-targeted 2030 emission reduction goals and highlighted the role EU forests play and could play in tackling climate change. Many also stressed EU should focus more on shortening supply chains and avoid imports of products from abroad with high environmental footprint.
What will MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Brussels? Highlights include:
- MEPs to debate EU member states’ progress towards hitting energy efficiency and renewables targets.
- Vote naming inquiry committee to investigate alleged breaches by EU Commission or countries of EU laws on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion
- MEPs to vote on first EU (Baltic) fish stock management plan to focus on interactions between species, e.g. cod eat sprats, sprats eat cod roe.
An EU Commission plan to systematically check all EU citizens entering or leaving the EU was endorsed by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Members amended the proposal to enable member states to run targeted checks, as an exception, in the event of lengthy delays and provided that security is not at risk.
UK referendum. An extraordinary Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) will meet on Friday morning to discuss the outcome of the UK’s EU membership referendum, followed by press point at 9:30 (PHS ground floor). Later in the day, EP President Martin Schulz will meet European Council President Donald Tusk, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Netherlands Prime-Minister Mark Rutte at the Berlaymont Building, also on the referendum outcome.
Plans for stricter monitoring and certification procedures to ensure full compliance and traceability of medical devices, such as breast or hip implants, were backed by Health Committee MEPs on Wednesday. MEPs also approved legislation to tighten up information and ethical requirements for diagnostic medical devices used for example in pregnancy or DNA testing. Both files were informally agreed with the Dutch Presidency of the Council.
Dutch finance minister and ECOFIN Chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem worries that the way in which the EU Commission applies Stability and Growth Pact rules may not be entirely objective, he told Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday. At a meeting reviewing the Dutch Presidency of the Council of Economy and Finance Ministers, he said he hoped that on Friday 17 June they would agree a road map for completing the Banking Union with a European Deposit Guarantee Scheme (EDIS).
If Turkey goes on undermining rule of law principles and stripping Members of the Turkish Parliament of their immunities, then it should not expect to be granted an EU visa-free regime, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday in a debate with Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). They also voiced solidarity with Mr Demirtaş’ efforts to revive the Kurdish peace process talks.
Should energy and sugary drinks be allowed to claim on their labels that the caffeine in them boosts alertness and concentration? Parliament's public health and food safety committee fears this could affect children and teenagers, who are the main consumers of energy drinks. On Wednesday 15 June, committee members discuss whether to vote against a European Commission proposal allowing this. We talked to Christel Schaldemose, in charge of steering the plans through Parliament, why she opposes it.
Legal Affairs MEPs have approved new rules on Tuesday on property regimes for international married couples or registered partnerships. They will bring legal clarity in cases of divorce or death and bring an end to parallel and possibly conflicting proceedings in various member states, for instance on property or bank accounts. The rules would apply in 18 EU countries which were willing to join this initiative through an enhanced cooperation.
Health claims on caffeine. A proposal to veto a Commission draft plan to allow claims that caffeine helps boost alertness and concentration to be made on the labels of sugary drinks, and particularly energy drinks consumed mostly by adolescents, is up for a vote in the Environment and Public Health Committee. (Wednesday)
The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) are jointly hosting a seminar on the upcoming referendum in Britain with regard to membership of the EU. The event takes place on 10 June from 10:00 am-1:00 pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk and is open to the public. To register, please e-mail the IIEA at email@example.com or alternatively phone Lynn Fitzgerald at 01-8746756.
The European Parliament agreed to set up an inquiry committee into the “Panama Papers” revelations, of detailed information on offshore companies and their ultimate beneficiaries, in a vote on Wednesday. The committee is to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application by the EU Commission or member states of EU laws on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion. It will have 65 members and twelve months to present its report.
A majority of MEPs welcomed plans to step up cooperation with third countries, particularly in Africa, by increasing public and private investment there to support economic and social development and curb migration flows. But many MEPs also warned against replicating the EU deal with Turkey in Tuesday’s debate with EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who presented a proposal for a new “partnership framework with third countries”.
The new European Commission proposals for a review of the “blue card” scheme for highly-skilled workers from third countries, which should simplify their admission and improve their living conditions, and for an action plan to promote successful integration of migrants within the EU, were debated on in plenary session on Tuesday with Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
MEPs urge the EU Commission to put forward proposals against unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, so as to ensure fair earnings for farmers and a wide choice for consumers, in a resolution voted on Tuesday. The aim should be to ensure fair and transparent trade relations among food producers, suppliers and distributors. Fair trading should in turn help to prevent overproduction and food waste, they add.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
- Vote on the establishment of an inquiry into the "Panama Papers"
- Debate on progress of EU's multi-million euro investment plan
- Debate and vote on anti-tax avoidance package
- Vote on new rules to ease cross-border acceptance of certificates
- Tackling supermarket trading practices that are unfair to farmers
- Vote on ways to boost European rail supply industry competitiveness
- CIA’s use of torture: MEPs to ask for updates on investigations
- Vote on €500 million in EU financial aid loans to Tunisia
-MEPs to discuss safety concerns on Belarus nuclear power with Commission
Migration compact. A new EU plan to address the root causes of migration will be presented by the EU Commission and debated in plenary on Tuesday afternoon. The “migration compact”, prepared by Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, foresees using EU funds to promote private investment in migrants’ countries of origin, particularly in Africa.
The European Parliament Conference of Presidents, uniting the EP president and political group leaders, agreed on Thursday 2 June on a mandate for an inquiry committee to look into the so-called Panama Papers, which revealed detailed information on off-shore companies and their ultimate beneficiaries. The proposal by the Conference of Presidents will be voted by Parliament as a whole on 8 June during the plenary session in Strasbourg.
CoderDojo is among the 50 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2016 of the European Parliament. Since 2008, the prize has been awarded to citizens or organisations that contributed to promoting better mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens or to facilitating cross-border or transnational cooperation within the EU. The winners will receive a medal of honour at an award ceremony in their country and will be invited to a joint event in Brussels in October.
European Border and Coast Guard: Plans to create a European Border and Coast Guard Agency, bringing together the EU’s Frontex border agency and national border authorities, will be put to a vote in the Civil Liberties Committee. The new agency’s mandate would empower it to intervene at EU external frontiers where urgent action is required, even if the EU countries concerned have not asked for help. (Monday) Press conference by rapporteur Artis Pabriks (EPP, LV) on Tuesday at 09:00.
Consumers should be given more power in the energy market, say MEPs in a resolution on a "new energy deal for energy consumers", voted on Thursday. They recommend collective buying, household power generation, better price comparison tools for all and making it easier to switch energy providers and tariffs. In a non-binding text, intended as an input to Energy Union legislation to be tabled by the EU Commission, MEPs also call for EU funds for energy efficiency to focus on energy poverty.
The EU Commission should set up a taskforce to monitor virtual currencies, like Bitcoin, to prevent their being used to launder money or finance terrorism, said Parliament in a non-binding resolution voted on Thursday. The proposal, set out in a resolution drafted by Jakob von Weizsäcker (S&D, DE) suggests that the taskforce, which would be overseen by the Commission, should build expertise in the underlying technology of virtual currencies
The EU Commission should go on negotiating with the USA to remedy “deficiencies” in proposed “Privacy Shield” protection for EU citizens’ data transferred to the US for commercial purposes, Parliament says in a non-legislative resolution passed on Thursday. In the resolution, passed by 501 votes to 119 with 31 abstentions, MEPs welcome the efforts of the Commission and the US administration to achieve "substantial improvements" in the Privacy Shield compared to the Safe Harbour decision which it is to replace.
The EU must quickly take further measures to stabilize milk prices and bring relief to struggling dairy farmers, urged MEPs in Thursday's plenary debate with Commissioner Phil Hogan and Dutch deputy farm minister Hans Hoogeveen. These measures should include an EU-wide lid on milk production to boost prices, a more efficient intervention system, to enable the EU to react more swiftly, and balancing the supply chain to enable farmers to earn fair returns, they said.
EU must be more active in tackling the agriculture crisis and balancing the food supply chain, many MEPs said on Tuesday during the debate with Commissioner Phil Hogan. EU's executive must protect EU farmers in trade negotiations with the United States and Mercosur countries, simplify the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to cut red tape and resist any attempts to re-nationalise the CAP, they insisted.
What will MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Brussels? Highlights include:
- Address by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands
- Debate: Energy Union to benefit users and alleviate energy poverty
- Debate on new digital single market proposals with Andrus Ansip
- Crisis in the dairy sector
- Debate on run-up to G7 summit in Japan
- Virtual currencies
- Single Market Strategy & non-tariff barriers
- Relocating asylum seekers: vote on extra year for Sweden to take its share
- Vote on job-search and start-up aid for redundant workers in France and Greece
For the first time since his accession to the throne in 2013, King Willem-Alexander will address Parliament in a formal sitting on Wednesday, following the opening of the Brussels plenary session at 15.00. The Dutch sovereign paid a visit to Parliament and met with EP President Martin Schulz on 3 November prior to his country's presidency of the European Council.
Ireland is well represented at the EYE 2016 taking place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg this weekend with participants from the Meath Youth Forum, Foroige, Macra na Feirme, The Galway European Youth Capital and Galway 2020 Capital of Culture. The NYCI are also there with a group of 30 young people and youth workers/leaders from Youth Work Ireland Galway, YMCA Cork, FDYS Wexford, Eco-Unesco, Crosscare, Ronanstown Youth Service, and youth work students from Maynooth. Ian Fahey and Paul Dockery from SpunOut.ie are reporting live from the EYE on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
In a hurry? Twitter is the fastest way to get updates about decisions taken by the European Parliament. With its 140 character messages, the social network has become the platform of choice for politicians, journalists and other news junkies. But how do you find the best account to follow for you among the nearly 100 official Twitter accounts run by the Parliament? Our interactive and newly updated Twitter map shows the way.
EU-Turkey deal/Greece. Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will go on a fact-finding mission to Greece to check on the situation at the EU’s external borders and evaluate the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal on refugees. They will travel to the FYROM border to assess the situation there after the closure of the so-called Balkans route, and to Lesvos, to see how asylum applications are processed and visit both open and closed reception facilities. MEPs will also go to Athens to meet representatives of the Greek government, EU and international bodies, as well as NGOs. They will hold a press conference in Athens, on Friday at 10:00. (Wednesday to Friday)
EU member states should do more to protect victims of human trafficking, especially women, and take gender-specific prevention, assistance and support measures to help them, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. The text points out that EU legislation to protect victims of trafficking is not being properly enforced.
Country of origin labelling should be made mandatory for meat and milk, MEPs reiterate once again in a non-binding resolution voted on Thursday. Mandatory labelling would help improve consumer confidence in food products by making the food supply chain more transparent, they say.
The EU’s common rules on minimum parental leave should be better enforced EU-wide, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Thursday. Member states should guarantee working parents the right to take four months off, unpaid, regardless of where and how they are employed, and fathers in particular should be encouraged to apply for it, says the text.
Harmonised EU entry and residence rules to make it easier and more attractive for people from third countries to study or do research at EU universities were approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The new rules clarify and improve conditions for non-EU interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs.
A strong traceability system for all fishery products sold in EU restaurants and shops would help to prevent cases of mislabelling, said MEPs in a resolution approved on Thursday. A sound EU fish labelling policy would in turn boost consumer confidence and the economic development of the EU fishing industry, they added.
The reimposition of checks at the Schengen area’s internal borders has put one of the greatest and most tangible achievements of the European project at risk, observed most MEPs speaking in a debate with the Commission and the Council on Wednesday. They agreed that, in order to restore the normal functioning of the passport-free zone, the EU’s external borders need to be properly secured.
The EU’s “Dublin” rules, which determine which country is responsible for processing asylum applications, are not working, said MEPs in Wednesday’s debate on an EU Commission proposal to overhaul them. These rules must be replaced with an efficient asylum system, based on solidarity among EU member states, to enable them to manage applications effectively, they urged.
Harmonised EU entry and residence rules to make it easier and more attractive for people from third countries to study or do research at EU universities were approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The new rules clarify and improve conditions for non-EU interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs.
The EU police agency Europol will soon be able to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other criminal offences and respond faster to threats, thanks to new governance rules approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The new powers come with strong data protection safeguards and democratic oversight tools.
In a heated debate about the state of play of the Greek macro-economic adjustment programme, the centre-left parties S&D, GUE, Greens/EFA, but also the conservative ECR, warned Greece's creditors and the IMF not to impose more reforms on the country and advocated debt relief. Some MEPs attacked the IMF for being too tough on reforms whereas the centre-right EPP underlined the need for them.
The EU should make sure that all its requirements are met before granting Turkey visa-free access to the Schengen area, stressed Civil Liberties Committee MEPs in a debate with the EU Commission on Monday. Most MEPs criticised the Commission for proposing a visa waiver for Turkish nationals even though the country has not yet fulfilled all the criteria. Turkey should not be discriminated, but neither should it receive preferential treatment, they agreed.
On Friday 6 May, the European Parliament will celebrate Europe Day for the first time in Cork with an open invitation to meet with MEPs of the South Constituency. Seán Kelly, Deirdre Clune and Liadh Ní Riada will be available to meet with all attending the event which takes place at Cork City Hall from 12h00- 14h00. Try some European fare which will be provided by a number of EU embassies and pick up some information about other European countries. Shay Byrne, host of RTE’s “Rising Time” will be compere for the day.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
- Common European Asylum System reform
- Restoring a fully functioning Schengen System
- Police cooperation: MEPs to strengthen Europol as a shield against terrorism
- Vote on mandatory sharing among EU countries of corporate tax reports
- MEPs to reiterate need to protect EU industry against dumped imports from China
- MEPs to renew call for mandatory country of origin labelling of meat and milk
- Human trafficking: MEPs to call on EU member states to protect victims
- Parental leave: MEPs to call for common rules to be better enforced
- New EU-Mauritania fisheries deal
-MEPs seeking updates on investigations into CIA's use of torture
The fight for fair taxation in the EU is high on Parliament's agenda following the revelations as a result of LuxLeaks and the Panama papers. At a time when EU countries are struggling to recover from the crisis, MEPs are pushing for greater transparency and an end to tax unfair practices. Read on for our overview of Parliament initiatives.
The award ceremony will take place at the Vatican on 6 May at 12:00. It will be introduced by “laudatio” speeches by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk. On the previous day, the three EU Presidents will take part in a panel debate about the state of the EU, preceded by an address by Italian PM Matteo Renzi.
Plenary preparations: Political groups will prepare for the 9-12 May plenary session in Strasbourg, where MEPs are to debate the new migration and asylum reform package to be presented by Commission and preparations for the World Humanitarian Summit. The EP will also vote on draft laws giving Europol new powers to fight terrorism and making residence/entry permits easier to obtain for au pairing and students from third countries. Members will also vote recommendations on how to protect women who are victims of human trafficking, improve existing rules on parental leave and help the development of EU mountain regions.
Domestic workers and carers, most of whom are migrant women, should be given an official status in the EU. Recognizing their work as "real" jobs would discourage exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs recommend establishing easy-to-manage models for legal employer-worker relationships, citing examples in Belgium and France, to end precariousness and undeclared domestic work.
The implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on migration, its legal aspects and democratic control were debated by MEPs, First Vice-President of the Commission Frans Timmermans and Dutch Minister for Immigration Klaas Dijkhoff on Thursday morning. MEPs stressed that there must be no bargaining on visa liberalisation criteria.
It is children who pay the price when EU member states fail to cooperate and protect children’s best interests in legal proceedings such as cross-border parental custody disputes and adoption decisions, Parliament points out in a non-binding resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs want specialised chambers within EU countries' family courts to ensure that transnational cases are processed faster.
What will MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Brussels? Highlights include:
- Migration: debate on roll-out of the EU-Turkey deal
- Removing technical obstacles to creating a single EU railway area
- MEPs to call for parliamentary oversight of the European Investment Bank
- Parliament to give its verdict on EU budget management in 2014
All refugees face great hardship but women and girls are among the most vulnerable of those travelling to the EU in search of protection from war, human rights abuses and deprivation. Because of their gender, they are often the victims of violence and discrimination. On Friday 22 April, European Parliament Vice President Mairead McGuinness (EPP) and Mary Honeyball (UK S & D) hosted a roundtable meeting to discuss the specific needs of women refugees and what more can be done to assist women facing hazardous journeys across the continent. The event was organised jointly with the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
EU-Turkey deal. The agreement to return migrants and asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey, decided at the EU-Turkey summit on 18 March, will be debated on Thursday morning, with the focus on its legal aspects, implementation and democratic control.
On Friday 22 April, MEPs Mairead McGuinness and Mary Honeyball (UK-Labour Party) will host a meeting to discuss the plight of women refugees. Ms Honeyball is the author of the European Parliament’s Report on the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU. The meeting will host representatives of NGOs that are on the front-line in helping women refugees. The event is organised jointly with the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Turkey must fulfil all requirements established by the EU in order to be granted visa-free access to the Schengen area, stressed Civil Liberties MEPs during a debate on Thursday about the progress made by Ankara in its visa liberalisation roadmap. A majority of MEPs opposed the possibility of relaxing the criteria and called on the Commission to verify with care the Turkish compliance.
Turkey visa liberalisation. The European Commission report on Turkey’s progress towards meeting EU visa liberalisation requirements will be debated by the Civil Liberties Committee. Parliament would need to agree with the Council to exempt Turkish nationals from EU visa requirements. (Thursday)
The new directive regulating the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data in the EU for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime was approved by Parliament on Thursday. It will oblige airlines to hand national authorities passengers' data for all flights from third countries to the EU and vice versa.
Many MEPs speaking in Wednesday’s debate were convinced that the proposed EU law on the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) will be a useful tool in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. But others voiced serious concerns about the adequacy of privacy safeguards and the proportionality of massive collection of data.
A large majority of MEPs welcomed the new EU data protection rules in Wednesday’s debate, ahead of the final plenary vote on Thursday. The revised rules aim to give citizens back control of their personal data and to create a high, uniform level of data protection across the EU fit for the digital era. The reform also sets minimum standards on use of data for policing and judicial purposes.
Given concerns about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, used in many farm and garden applications, the EU Commission should renew its marketing approval for just 7 years, instead of 15, and for professional uses only, Parliament says in a resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs call for an independent review and the publication of all the scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate.
MEPs urged the EU Commission and member states to step up their efforts to fight tax evasion and money laundering in a Tuesday afternoon debate prompted by the “Panama Papers” revelations about more than 200,000 offshore companies and their secret owners. The EPP group wants representatives of Mossack Fonseca, the company from which the information leaked, and of the Panamanian government, to appear before Parliament’s Special Committee on Taxation II.
Existing tools and possible new measures to prevent and fight terrorism, protect EU citizens and prosecute perpetrators were discussed on Tuesday with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Dutch Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plaesschaert for the Council presidency, in the presence of EU Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
The EU must come up with more decisive actions to deliver relief fast to farmers in the worst-hit sectors, such as dairy and livestock, MEPs told EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, in Tuesday's debate on the ongoing crisis. They also called for structural reforms to better balance the supply chain, ensure fairer income for farmers and assist them to become more resilient to market shocks.
A centralised asylum system would allow the EU to better manage flows of migrants and asylum seekers, said the European Parliament on Tuesday. It also asked for safe and legal ways to be found for third country nationals to enter the Union without resorting to human smugglers at the risk of their lives. In a non-binding resolution, MEPs acknowledge the failure of the EU asylum system to cope with ever-rising numbers of migrant arrivals and call for a radical overhaul of the so-called Dublin rules.
A traineeship at the European Parliament offers a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience in an international and multicultural environment. If you want to become a part of Parliament's day-to-day business, apply for a traineeship before the deadline of 15 May. As a trainee, you will contribute to the Parliament's everyday work and get an insight into the work of an institution that represents everyone in the EU.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
- EU-Turkey deal up for a debate
- EP to request a centralised EU asylum system and legal ways for migration
- MEPs to approve extra funds for refugee aid and fight against terrorism
- Calls for an EU-wide ban on glyphosate herbicide
- “Panama Papers” tax scandal debate
- Erasmus+ also for travelling apprentices in the EU
- Fighting poverty: help poor families lower heating bills
- Parliament to give its verdict on six nominees to the European Court of Auditors
- International fisheries: stricter rules for fish products and vessels
"The European Parliament confirms that seven and six years ago, one of the perpetrators of the Brussels terrorist attacks worked for a period of one month for a cleaning company which was contracted by the European Parliament at the time. As a student, he held a summer holiday job cleaning at the Parliament for one month in 2009 and one month in 2010. Those were the only instances he worked at the Parliament.
An upcoming proposal to reform the Dublin system must be ambitious and replace the current rules with a common distribution system for all EU member states to ensure fair and smooth processing of asylum claims, Parliament's lead MEP on Dublin and Civil Liberties Committee Chair say.
Marian Harkin MEP and Rapporteur for the Report on the EGF will host a consultation on Friday 1 April with stakeholders from a cross section of Irish society to examine the operation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) 2007-2014 and to look at recommendations to improve it for the future. The event will be held in conjunction with the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland.
The EPIO Dublin and Marian Harkin MEP Rapporteur for the EGF, held a consultation in the offices of the European Parliament at 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2 today (Friday 1 April) with stakeholders from a cross section of Irish society to examine the operation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and to look at recommendations to improve it for the future.
Plenary preparations. Political groups will prepare for the 11-14 April plenary session in Strasbourg. Amongst other topics, MEPs will prepare for debates and votes on a committee proposal for a centralised EU asylum system with national quotas, the progress made by Turkey, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina towards EU membership, the protection of trade secrets, breeding animals and tools to foster mobility in vocational education.
Argentina. A delegation of MEPs of the Foreign Affairs committee led by chair Elmar Brok will go to Buenos Aires to meet with the recently elected Argentinian President, Mauricio Macri (tbc), Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, as well as with other members of the Argentinian government and representatives of Parliament and civil society. The visit aims to support the new government's efforts to strengthen relations with the European Union. (Tuesday-Wednesday)
So long as serious concerns remain about the carcinogenicity and endocrine disruptive properties of the herbicide glyphosate, which is used in hundreds of farm, forestry, urban and garden applications, the EU Commission should not renew its authorisation. Instead, it should commission an independent review and disclose all the scientific evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used to assess glyphosate, said Environment Committee MEPs on Tuesday.
The European Parliament has raised its alert level in Brussels to orange and heightened security in close cooperation with the Belgian authorities, following the terror attacks in Brussels on Tuesday. Staff have been requested to stay inside where they are until further notice. The Parliament remains open, but the visitors' entrance and the Parlamentarium have been closed.
The European Youth Media Days (EYMD) is one of the biggest events in Europe for young journalists. This year it takes place in Strasbourg between 19 and 21 May. Young journalists aged between 18 and 30 who are interested in applying must do so via the European Youth Press website until midnight of Sunday 20 March 2016.
The failure to date of the EU asylum system to cope with ever-rising numbers of migrant arrivals calls for a radical overhaul of the so-called Dublin rules, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Wednesday. They propose establishing a central system for collecting and allocating asylum applications. The scheme, which could include a quota for each EU member state, would work on the basis of “hotspots” from which refugees would be distributed.
Congratulations to Christian Brothers College, Sidney Hill, Wellington Road, Cork who are this year's Irish national winners of the European Charlemagne Youth Prize. Christian Brothers College is among the 28 projects nominated by national juries in the individual EU member states from which three overall winners will be chosen. The three winning projects will be awarded €5,000, €3,000, and €2,000 respectively. The three winning projects will be selected by the European jury by 7 April 2016.
To fight the growing resistance of bacteria to today’s antibiotics, the use of existing antimicrobial drugs should be restricted, and new ones should be developed, said the European Parliament on Thursday. In a vote on draft plans to update an EU law on veterinary medicines, MEPs advocate banning collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals, and back measures to stimulate research into new medicines.
Under the tobacco deals the four largest tobacco firms together agreed to pay the EU and its member states a total of $2.15 billion, over the lifetime of the agreements, to drop legal proceedings against them to recover duties lost to illegal trade in cigarettes. Companies also agreed actively to combat smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products.
MEPs backed new rules on Wednesday to ensure that children who are suspected or accused of a crime get a fair trial. The directive, informally agreed with the Council last December, recognises the right of anyone under 18 to be assisted by a lawyer and to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility (or another appropriate adult) through most of the proceedings.
Members of the Agriculture committee held a minute of silence on Monday evening for all farmers who committed suicide due to their dire situation arising from the ongoing crisis on agriculture markets.
Measures to prevent and halt outbreaks of animal diseases such as avian flu or foot and mouth disease, informally agreed by MEPs and the EU Council of Ministers in June 2015, were endorsed by Parliament on Tuesday.
To mark this year's International Women's Day, the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland is linking up with the National Women's Council of Ireland to jointly host an event with MEP Lynn Boylan evaluating the outcome of the Irish general election and the extent to which the candidate quota has contributed to the presence of women in the National Parliament. We are delighted to announce that Maria Walsh, former Rose of Tralee will be chairing the event which takes place on Monday 7th March at the IFI, Dublin. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 01-6057900.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
-Joint debate on 7 March EU-Turkey summit and upcoming Spring Council meeting
-Debate with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
-Milk, fruit and schooling in healthier eating habits
-MEPs to call for EU measures to protect women refugees
-Cigarettes: MEPs to give a verdict on EU anti-smuggling deals with tobacco firms
-International protection of whistle-blowers
-Overcoming crises, faster recovery: MEPs to set EU budget priorities for 2017
-Thalidomide victims: debate with European Commission
-Syria: will the ceasefire hold?
"Ukraine's needs have not diminished but because of the urgency and weight of other events it has found itself displaced for public attention." So says former EP President Pat Cox in an interview ahead of Ukraine Week, a conference on good parliamentary practice and law-making at the European Parliament on 29 February-2 March. Attended by a 40-strong delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians, the week opens with the presentation of a report on capacity-building by Cox.
On the EP agenda this week in Brussels:
-Border management and European coast guard, Women refugees and asylum seekers, Press seminar on women refugees, Emission inquiry committee constitutive meeting, Ukraine, FYROM, Plenary preparations, President's agenda, Pre-session press briefing.
The European Parliament made the case on Thursday for EU-wide data sharing on the registration of cats and dogs to tackle the illegal trade in pets that are often badly bred and at risk of spreading diseases. Trafficking of pets, including wild and exotic animals, is increasingly linked to organised crime and poses a public health risk, say MEPs.
A law to revamp the European Employment Services (EURES) network with an EU-wide database of job seekers and vacancies was approved by Parliament on Thursday. The aim is to help fight unemployment by better matching labour market supply and demand. Updated rules, already agreed with the Council, will also pay more attention to cross-border regions and young people.
Leaders of the main political groups in Parliament welcomed a fair EU-UK deal as an offer to the British people to remain in the EU. But it's an "in or out" vote some said, not another phase in the negotiations. During the plenary debate on the outcome of the recent EU summit with European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, many UK MEPs voiced arguments for and against EU membership.
On the agenda at the plenary this week:
-EU-UK reform deal up for a debate with Tusk and Juncker
-Better matching job seekers and vacancies across Europe
-Cigarettes: do EU anti-smuggling deals with tobacco firms work?
-Share information to fight pet trafficking
-Parliament's economic, social and single market priorities for 2016
-Votes on EU help for Tunisia: more duty-free olive oil imports, free trade deal
Measures to prevent and halt outbreaks of animal diseases such as avian flu or African swine fever, informally agreed by MEPs and the Council in June 2015, were backed by the Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. The draft EU law, on diseases that are transmissible among animals and potentially to humans too, will put more emphasis on prevention and help keep pace with scientific progress.
Plenary (Wednesday and Thursday);
Summit conclusions/UK referendum/Migration. European Semester. Labour mobility. Trade with Tunisia. Tobacco industry. Registration of pet animals.
Refugees/Mogherini. NATO. Transmissible animal diseases. Gun control. Montenegro and FYROM. President’s diary. Press briefing.
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem will strive to strengthen the EU Banking Union, despite recent calls to loosen regulation in response to bank share volatility in in global markets, he told the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Thursday. "There should be no doubt of the European Union's determination to apply these rules", he said in his capacity as Eurogroup President and chair of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).
The Zika virus has hit the headlines all over the world as people fear it could be linked to microcephaly in babies, which causes them be born with abnormally small heads. On Wednesday Parliament’s public health committee discussed the issue with representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO). After the hearing we talked to Dr Roberto Bertollini, WHO’s chief scientist and EU representative, who assured that Zika was a "mild disease" that we were ready to deal with.
To fight the growing resistance of bacteria to today’s antibiotics, the use of existing antimicrobial drugs should be restricted, and new ones should be developed, said Environment and Public Health Committee MEPs on Wednesday. In a vote on draft plans to update an EU law on veterinary medicines, they advocate banning collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals, and back measures to stimulate research into new medicines.
Budgets Committee MEPs welcomed plans for the 3 billion Euro Refugee Facility for Turkey but voiced serious doubts about the proliferation of ad hoc instruments outside the EU budget and concerns whether the member states deliver on their commitments during a discussion with the Commission on the mid-term review of the EU long term spending plan (MFF) which, they believe, is under serious pressure amid the influx of the refugees and migrants to the EU and the geopolitical situation.
EU recognition of the profession and value of domestic work and care as real work, as well as the introduction of common rules, should eliminate discrimination and tackle precarious and undeclared work, said MEPs from the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee in a non-legislative resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs also called for the protection of migrant women which represent the majority of domestic workers and carers.
Marian Harkin MEP will host an information seminar in Galway on Friday, 12 February 2016 on issues relating to the delivery and accessibility of health services in the region. The seminar will look at the blend of local initiatives and European policies. Developments in European legislation and the case law of the European Court of Justice relating to health services will be outlined. To register, email email@example.com or tel. 01-6057900.
The European Parliament will welcome national MPs from across Europe on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 February for joint debates with MEPs on the European Semester Cycles 2015/2016 (Tuesday) and on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union (Wednesday). Both events are being held as part of the 2016 edition of the European Parliamentary Week (#EPW16).
Official delegation visits to Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are taking place this week. In Parliament's calendar, a certain number of weeks are set aside for external parliamentary activities allowing MEPs to undertake activities away from “base”.
MEPs debated the issue of sexual harassment and violence against women in public spaces on Wednesday evening, with Commissioner Corina Crețu. Everything possible must be done to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice, regardless of their culture or origin, they insisted.
The European Commission must table a communication on a new strategy for gender equality and women’s rights 2016-2020 as soon as possible and deliver on its political commitments, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday. The communication should address gender equality issues which is in line with the international agenda, they add.
A move to veto a plan to temporarily raise NOx emission limits for diesel cars was rejected by MEPs on Wednesday, after the EU Commission promised a review clause and tabled a long-term legislative proposal to revamp the EU car approval regime. This followed pressure from Parliament in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal.
The EU needs to overcome its paralysing fears and divisions and to manage migration and refugee flows effectively, said many MEPs in Tuesday's plenary debate with the Dutch Presidency and the Commission. Protecting the EU's external borders effectively is vital to safeguard the Schengen passport-free area, they observed. Some also called for zero tolerance of racist and violent attacks against migrants and refugees.
What will the UK’s future in Europe be like? The day after European Council President Donald Tusk proposed a settlement in response to UK demands for reforms, MEPs discussed the issue as part of a debate on the EU summit on 18-19 February, which will be dedicated to the talks as well as the migration crisis. Most MEPs stressed that the UK staying in the EU would be better for both the country itself as well as for the other member states, but questioned some of the requested reforms.
The EU Commission should withdraw its authorisations of the use of glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans in food and feed, said Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs note that glyphosate, a herbicide, is classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that GMOs are being authorized in the EU without the support of member states.
Parliament endorsed draft EU legislation establishing a “European platform” to enhance cooperation in combatting undeclared work in a vote on Tuesday. The platform would enhance cooperation among EU member states' labour ministries, trade unions and employers' associations about how best to tackle a problem that is damaging the EU economy and distorting the labour market. The undeclared economy accounts for 18% of EU GDP.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi defended the ECB's monetary policy decisions in a debate with MEPs on Monday evening, saying that the Bank will revise its monetary stance in March and acknowledging that the December 2015 inflation outlook was too rosy.
The protection of fundamental rights is one of the core values of the EU. However, it faces constant challenges, from concerns about data protection to possible failures to respect human dignity in the context of migration. On Monday 25 January, Director of the EU's fundamental rights agency Michael O'Flaherty presents to the LIBE committee a report on mass surveillance and citizen's privacy. We asked him to talk to us about the general situation of fundamental rights in the EU.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
-Refugee crisis, border control and Schengen rules
-ECB annual report
-Financing refugee facilities in Turkey
-Women's rights and gender equality
-EU platform against undeclared work
-Humanitarian situation in Yemen
-Preparation Summit 18-19 February
Here is what's coming up this week at committees: Danish law on asylum and refugees, Trade secrets, Port services, Fight against fraud, Serbia and Kosovo, ECB annual report, Plenary preparations, President's agenda, Pre-session press briefing, Press seminar on terrorism.
Parliament appointed the 45 members of a committee of inquiry into car makers’ breaches of EU rules on car emission tests in a vote on Thursday. The committee will also investigate alleged failures by EU member states and the European Commission to enforce EU standards. It will present an interim report within 6 months, and a final one within 12 months, of starting its work.
As terrorists continue to strike across the globe, MEPs discussed the best way to tackle the increasing threat. During the debate on Thursday morning speakers stressed the importance of exchanging information as well as the need to strengthen border controls and called on member states to step up collaboration.
The mutual defence clause, requiring EU countries to help a member state under attack, was invoked for the first time by France in November in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. This has raised many questions about the procedure to follow and the EU's role in it. MEPs discuss this on 20 January and vote on а resolution the following day. Check out our infographic and learn more about the legal basis and its implications.
Draft EU rules that would allow baby foods to continue to contain up to three times more sugar than is recommended by the World Health Organisation were vetoed by the European Parliament on Wednesday, as they fail to protect infants and young children against obesity, say MEPs. Instead, they advocate reducing the EU sugar content limit to match the WHO recommendations.
"We must achieve concrete results and make sure they are visible to counter growing scepticism throughout Europe. (..) Keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal in Europe. A deal is a deal", said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the kick-off debate of the Dutch Presidency in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
Many MEPs criticised EU leaders for their inability to deal with the migration and refugee crises in Tuesday’s plenary debate reviewing the December EU summit with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk. The upcoming EU referendum in the EU UK was also a hot topic.
MEPs urge EU member states to remove hurdles for women entrepreneurs, and table strategies for making full use of female entrepreneurship potential to boost growth and prosperity, say MEPs in a non-legislative resolution voted on Tuesday.
Members of the Parliament's Agriculture committee called on Monday evening on Commissioner Phil Hogan to do more to tackle ongoing crises in the milk, meat and other agricultural sectors. They welcomed efforts of EU's executive to simplify current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) but some said more substantial initiatives, including legislative ones, should be considered.
If the European Commission decides that an EU member state should recover money from a company due to infringements of tax-related state aid rules, this money should be returned not to the same member state, but to member states that have suffered an erosion of their tax bases or to the EU budget, says the European Parliament in a resolution approved on Tuesday by 500 votes to 137, with 73 abstentions.
Brian Hayes MEP will host a consultation with stakeholders on Friday 15th January to encourage the submission of projects for funding under the EU's Plan for Investment, otherwise known as the "Juncker Plan". The event will be held in conjunction with the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and with the cooperation of the European Commission and takes place at EU House, 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.
The EPIO Dublin and member of the European Parliament’s Economic Committee, Brian Hayes, held a stakeholder consultation in Dublin today (Friday 15th January) with leaders from a cross section of Irish society to update them on the EU investment plan, known as the Juncker Plan.
The consultation in cooperation with the European Commission happened today (Friday), 15th January, at 11 in the offices of the European Parliament at 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.
MEPs on the Committee on Civil Liberties endorsed on Thursday the agreement reached by the Parliament and the Council last December to set in the EU a minimum set of standards to guarantee the right of children to a fair trial.
Are treaty changes needed to meet UK demands, will the four freedoms be safeguarded and could current talks release an avalanche of reform requests from other countries? These questions were put by members of Parliament's constitutional affairs committee to Jonathan Faull, head of the Commission's task force for strategic issues related to the UK referendum, in a debate on Thursday morning.
What will MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg? Highlights include:
- Key debate with Presidents Tusk and Juncker on migration, terrorism and UK referendum
- Debate on Dutch presidency priorities with Prime Minister Mark Rutte
- EU role in mutual defence clause
- MEPs scrutinise the rule of law in Poland
- MEPs to consider vetoing plan to relax diesel car emission limits
- Using culture and education to tackle migration and radicalisation challenges
- Skills policies for fighting youth unemployment
Although 2016 has barely started, it is already proving to be a busy year for the European Parliament. MEPs are resuming work on a broad range of issues, from climate action to the refugee crisis. Also high on the agenda are giving law enforcement agencies more tools to counter the terrorist threat, making corporate taxation more fair and improving data protection rules. Read on for an overview of the main issues in 2016.
2016 should be the year of corporate tax reform and fiscal transparency, tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told MEPs from the Special Committee on Tax Rulings and the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee at a hearing on Monday evening. “We have a serious problem with tax avoidance and lack of transparency. Too many people have looked the other way”, Mr Moscovici said.
New measures to strengthen and boost funding for an EU scheme to provide fruit, vegetables and milk products in schools were backed by the agriculture committee on Monday. They put more emphasis on educating children in healthy eating, increase the budget and merge into one the current separate schemes for milk and fruit in schools.
The European Parliament Office in Ireland will be at this year's BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition from the 7-9 January 2016. The stand will feature demonstrations by scientists from the Junior Einsteins Science Club of exciting experiments and research. Learn about the many industries that studying science can open doors into.
Ensaf Haidar accepted the 2015 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on Wednesday on behalf of her husband Raif Badawi, a Saudi human rights activist who remains in prison. A day earlier, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem attended plenary for the first time to discuss the euro, while the European Commission presented its plan for reinforcing the EU's external borders.
"Raif Badawi was brave enough to raise his voice and say no to their barbarity. That is why they flogged him," said Haidar, when she accepted the 2015 Sakharov Prize on his behalf in Strasbourg on Wednesday 16 December.
Ireland will get EU aid worth €400,000 for 108 redundant aircraft repair workers to help find new jobs, following a vote in Parliament on Wednesday. On 15 December, Parliament agreed to provide similar EU aid worth €2.6 million for 1,200 redundant IT workers in Finland. The two instances of European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid were approved by the EU Council of Ministers on 14 December
Parliament spells out the legal steps needed to improve corporate tax transparency, coordination and EU-wide policy convergence in a resolution voted on Wednesday., Parliament’s drive to persuade EU member states to act to counter aggressive corporate tax planning and evasion by multinationals in Europe was triggered by the November 2014 “Luxleaks” revelations about Luxembourg’s dubious tax deals with them.
"Raif Badawi was brave enough to raise his voice and say no to their barbarity. That is why they flogged him," said Ensaf Haidar, the wife of jailed Saudi human rights activist Raif Badawi, accepting the 2015 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on his behalf in Strasbourg on Wednesday 16 December. Badawi was honoured by the European Parliament for his fight for freedom of speech and thought in Saudi Arabia.
"Raif Badawi is not a criminal. He is a writer and a free thinker"
The EU Commission should withdraw its authorisation of the use of glyphosate-tolerant GM maize NK603xT25 in food and feed, says a resolution voted by Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs note that glyphosate, a herbicide, is classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the WHO. It urges the Commission to suspend any authorisations for GM food and feed as long as the authorisation procedure, currently under review, has not been improved.
Measures to strengthen and fund better EU schemes for the distribution of fruit, vegetables and milk products in schools and promote healthier eating were provisionally agreed by Parliament's negotiators, the Luxembourg presidency and the Commission on Thursday last week and confirmed by the Council on Wednesday. The informal deal, which still needs to be backed by MEPs and EU ministers, would merge today’s separate school milk and fruit schemes and put more emphasis on children's education.
EU leaders meeting on 17 and18 December should support the creation of European border and coast guard and cooperate more closely over counter-terrorism, said MEPs in Wednesday’s debate with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Nicolas Schmit for the Council Presidency. Some MEPs stressed the need to see what could be done to keep the UK in the EU.
The pioneering world climate change deal struck in Paris at the weekend could be “a turning point for the future of our planet”, said Parliament President Martin Schulz at the opening. He hailed the deal as “global, groundbreaking and trendsetting”, but stressed that it must now be put into practice.
A new agreement establishing police cooperation between Europol and the United Arab Emirates to strengthen the mutual fight against organised crime, terrorism and other forms of serious, international crime was passed by Parliament on Tuesday by 490 votes to 159, with 44 abstentions.
Updates to make registering trade marks cheaper, quicker and more reliable for firms were approved by the Parliament on Tuesday. These new rules, informally agreed with the Council of Ministers, will also make it possible to impound counterfeit goods in transit through EU territory.
Tax evasion costs the EU €1 trillion a year in lost tax revenue, according to the European Commission. The Lux leaks scandal showed that EU countries sometimes court multinationals with advantageous tax schemes. These practices were investigated by the Parliament's special committee on tax rulings. MEPs adopted its report last month and on 15 December MEPs will debate another report, demanding that the Commission introduces legislation to restrain tax competition between EU countries.
The issue of differentiating between so-called “developed” and “developing” countries is the key to a Paris agreement and delegations should have the courage to move away from the 1992 “firewall” which is impeding progress, said the European Parliament delegation to COP21 on Friday. The Paris agreement would need Parliament’s consent to be ratified by the European Union.
Ireland and Finland should get EU aid worth €2.6 million to help find new jobs for 1,200 redundant Finnish IT workers and over €400,000 for 108 redundant Irish aircraft repair workers, following a vote by the budgets committee on Thursday. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid still needs to be approved by Parliament as a whole and by the Council of the EU.
The provisional deal reached by Parliament and Council negotiators last week on an EU directive regulating the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime was endorsed by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Thursday by 38 votes to 19, with 2 abstentions. The draft directive will be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole early next year.
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include:
-Sakharov Prize Award Ceremony
-COP21 climate change outcome
-corporate tax transparency
Officials from nearly 200 countries have been meeting in Paris since late November to negotiate a new climate change agreement for after 2020. This week a delegation of 15 MEPs also takes part in the COP21 conference. Members are participating in background talks with NGOs and delegations from across the world, while the EU commissioner for climate action Miguel Arias Cañete will brief them on the progress of the talks on a daily basis. Live updates from Paris are available on our Storify page.
Transport and energy companies will have to ensure that the digital infrastructure that they use to deliver essential services, such as traffic control or electricity grid management, is robust enough to withstand cyber-attacks, under new rules provisionally agreed by internal market MEPs and the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers on Monday. Online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, search engines and clouds will also be required to ensure that their infrastructure is secure.
A delegation of 15 MEPs will take part in the UN climate conference in Paris, France, from Monday to Friday. The European Parliament says that the 2015 Protocol must be legally binding and ambitious from the outset, with five-year commitment periods. In a resolution voted in October, MEPs also proposed that a share of revenues from the EU carbon market allowances should be earmarked for climate finance, and that aviation and shipping sectors should initiate measures to curb their emissions.
Political group and committee meetings, Brussels
-Migration/hotspots in Italy and Greece
-ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
-Globalisation fund for Ireland and Finland
-Pre-session press briefing
-Press seminar on migration
In the wake of the terrorists attacks in Paris on 13 November, the fight against terrorism remains at the top of the European Parliament's agenda. On Monday 30 November and Tuesday 1 December, the civil liberties committee discussed how the EU's strategy could be improved.
The European Parliament has done its work on a draft EU directive to ensure that by 2020 at least 40% of non-executive directors on listed company boards are women. Now it is up to the Council of Ministers to agree a position on the draft and start negotiations with Parliament, reiterated many MEPs in Wednesday’s debate, with a view to a Council meeting on 7 December.
The work of Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings will be continued under a new mandate for six months, starting on 2 December. This was decided unanimously at Wednesday’s Conference of Presidents and endorsed by Parliament as a whole, by 561 votes to 69 with 5 abstentions. The committee's work will focus on harmful corporate tax regimes and practices at European and international level.
A provisional deal on EU rules regulating the use of air passengers' data to fight terrorism and serious crime came within sight at the fifth "trilogue” (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators) on Wednesday afternoon.
All Members of the European Parliament will have access to all categories of confidential documents relating to the EU’s Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) talks with the USA, under a European Parliament/European Commission agreement approved by the College of Commissioners on Wednesday. The accessible documents will include the so-called “consolidated texts”, which reflect the US position.
"I can assure you that Parliament will make its contribution wherever it can to protect Christians," said EP President Martin Schulz, closing Tuesday's conference on inter-faith dialogue and the situation of Christians around the world. The meeting, organised by EP vice-president Antonio Tajani, focused on the persecution of Christians around the globe and specific proposals for tackling it.
Two legislative proposals to tackle the migration and refugee crisis, one on a permanent mechanism for relocating people in need of international protection among EU member states under extreme pressure and another on an EU common list of safe countries of origin, were debated by the Civil Liberties Committee with the EU Commission, Council of Ministers, European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) on Tuesday afternoon.
Civil Liberties Committee MEP Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), who is leading three-way talks with the Council and Commission on the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal on the use of air passengers' data to fight terrorism and serious transnational crime, briefed the committee on their progress on Tuesday. The rapporteur who listed the key issues in the ongoing negotiations, was optimistic that a deal addressing Parliament’s concerns could be struck by the end of this year.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks on agricultural aspects will be tough but should focus on equivalent ways to achieve common goals, rather than pushing for identical standards, U.S. Secretary for Agriculture Tom Vilsack told EP's Agriculture committee on Monday. While many MEPs agreed that TTIP can and must be mutually beneficial they insisted that EU's standards and protection of its geographical indications (GIs) must not be undermined.
From January to September, the Parliament ran another edition of its annual guest photographer contest. Inspired by 2015 being the European Year for Development, a new theme was announced every month, such as education, health and migration. The winners were invited to the November plenary session in Strasbourg. Read on to find out what they thought of the experience.
The EU Commission is asked to table measures to improve corporate tax transparency, coordination and EU-wide policy convergence in legislative recommendations voted by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Tuesday. These recommendations build on the work of Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings, set up in the wake of the “Luxleaks” revelations, whose recommendations were approved at the 26 November plenary session.
More people are generally interested in EU policies (54%, up by 11 points since 2013) and more Europeans feel their countries have benefited from EU membership (60%, up 6% since June 2013), according to the latest Eurobarometer poll, commissioned by the European Parliament and published on Monday. The survey found marked differences among countries on all the issues addressed.
The EU police agency Europol will be able to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other criminal offences and respond faster, thanks to a deal struck by Parliament and Council on new governance rules endorsed by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Monday. The new powers come with strong data protection safeguards and democratic oversight.
The Conference of Presidents of political groups has decided today, with the vote in favour of all political groups, to set up a temporary committee to follow up on the work done by the Special Committee on Tax Rulings, which looked into the tax rulings practised by various EU member states. The new committee will last six months.
On Wednesday 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Parliament asked the Commission what new measures it planned to take to prevent gender-based violence against women in the EU and whether it could propose an EU directive on combating violence against women, as requested by Parliament in 2014.
The terrorist attacks in Paris have highlighted once more the urgent need for coordinated action by the member states and the EU to prevent radicalisation and fight against terrorism, says Parliament in a non-binding resolution passed on Wednesday. The resolution sets out concrete proposals for a comprehensive strategy to tackle extremism, to be applied in particular in prisons, online and through education and social inclusion.
Parliament sets out its ideas on how to make corporate taxes fairer across Europe in a resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs urge EU member states to agree on mandatory country-by-country reporting by multinationals of profits and taxes, a common consolidated corporate tax base, common definitions for tax terms and more transparency and accountability with regard to their – so far secret - national tax “rulings” for companies.
“Political grandstanding” that equates refugees with terrorists only foments the hatred and disillusion that inspires those who join terrorist groups, argued many MEPs in Wednesday’s debate. Rather than allow Europe’s freedoms and tolerance to be eroded, EU countries must strive to strengthen security, by stepping up intelligence cooperation and data-sharing, and investing in the skills and technology needed to fight terrorism, MEPs urged.
President Martin Schulz announced that Mustang had won the 2015 European Parliament LUX Prize for cinema at a ceremony in the Chamber in Strasbourg at noon on Tuesday. Mustang tells the story of five sisters who have been promised to husbands through forced marriages but who, determined to live their own lives, break the yoke of tradition.
More than one in four children in Europe are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, which will have repercussions for them throughout life. On Tuesday 24 November MEPs adopted a resolution urging EU countries to boost their efforts to combat child poverty and social inequalities. The text was adopted with 569 in favour, 77 against and 49 abstentions. Check out our map for the latest statistics on child poverty.
“Those who fail to reconcile freedom and security fail in everything”, said President Schulz, citing the credo of late German statesman Helmut Schmidt, whose funeral he had just attended. “Security has to be organised, but we must not let our freedom be curtailed by those who want to scare us”. The brutal attacks on France ten days ago targeted Parliament’s values too. MEPs held a minute’s silence for terror victims everywhere, including Mali, Syria and Iraq.
In the lead up to the World Climate Conference taking place in Paris in December, MEP Sean Kelly will chair a Forum featuring a variety of expert speakers to debate the issues in the Royal Hotel, Bray, Co Wicklow on Friday 20 November. The Forum also seeks the views of citizens so that these can be transmitted to World Leaders at the December conference. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 01-6057900 to book your free place.
The urgent need to step up information-sharing among EU member states and between them and Europol to fight terrorism, the work on the Passenger Name Records data (EU PNR) proposal and the de-radicalisation of EU citizens joining terrorist organisations were among the topics discussed by MEPs with Europol chief Rob Wainwright and Council and Commission representatives on Thursday.
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include:
-Debate on Paris attacks and anti-terror measures
-Vote on recommendations to end aggressive tax planning and tax evasion
-EU budget 2016: final vote, -Lux Prize Winner
-Aftermath of G20 and Valletta summits
-Refugee crisis funding, State of the Energy Union
-Stop violence against women, -Child poverty
Harmonised EU entry and residence rules that will make it easier and more attractive for students and researchers from third countries to study or do research at EU universities were informally agreed by MEPs and ministers on Tuesday. The deal also has provisions to clarify and improve conditions for non-EU interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs, so as to facilitate cultural exchanges. These rules still need to be approved by Parliament as a whole and the Council of Ministers.
MEPs grilled eleven multinational companies on their corporate tax practices in a five-hour debate with the Special Committee on Tax Rulings on Monday. These companies had declined the committee’s first invitation to appear before it, but later changed their minds and accepted its last chance invitation. Of the 13 original invitees, only Fiat Chrysler and Walmart declined the final invitation. The meeting started with a minute of silence for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks.
Mairead McGuinness, MEP and European Parliament’s Mediator on International Parental Child Abduction is hosting an information morning for people concerned by this issue. This event takes place on Monday, 16 November at 10.30 am at European Union House, 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. To book your free place email: email@example.com or tel. 01-6057900.
The European Union is deeply shocked and in mourning after the terrorist attacks in Paris. It is an attack against us all. We will face this threat together with all necessary means and ruthless determination.
On behalf of the European Parliament, I condemn in the clearest and strongest terms the heinous terrorist attacks which killed and wounded so many people in Paris yesterday. At this terrible moment our thoughts and sympathy are with the families and friends of the victims, together with the French authorities and with all French citizens. I have also expressed my condolences to President Hollande.
Highlights of the agenda for the week ahead include:
-Tax transparency and multinational companies
-Improved conditions for non-EU students and researchers
As of 2016, the European Parliament’s irreducible carbon emissions can be fully offset, making it the first EU institution to become 100% carbon-neutral, Parliament’s Bureau (President, Vice-Presidents and Quaestors), decided some weeks ahead of COP 21 in Paris. At the same time, Parliament is continuing to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and make better use of energy, water and paper, in line with its environmental policy to first and foremost prevent or limit emissions.
EU legislation is essential to tackle unfair trading practices (UTPs) and introduce more balance into the food supply chain, the Agriculture committee said on Thursday. MEPs in a vote on an opinion for the lead Internal Market committee also called for further actions to boost farmers' bargaining power and demanded better coordination at EU level of member states' efforts to tackle UTPs.
Parliament urged member states to fulfil their pledges and pay for the EU migration actions that have been agreed by EU leaders. In Wednesday's debate, MEPs proposed to use an unexpected windfall of €2.3 billion from EU fines and customs duties to finance some of the measures. The Commission earlier said the new trust funds set up for Syria and Africa were short of €2.22 billion in national contributions.
The EU economy is showing resilience in the face of external circumstances, but the European Central Bank’s March inflation forecast was too positive, ECB President Mario Draghi admitted to MEPs on Thursday. This regular “monetary dialogue” meeting with the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee focused on the Eurozone economic outlook and the ECB's role in macro-economic adjustment programmes.
Martin Schulz called on member states to step up their efforts to relocate refugees from EU countries faced with a heavy influx. “European solidarity can work if we all commit to it, but not if we let a small number of countries do all the heavy lifting,” the EP President said at an informal meeting of leaders of EU countries in Malta on 12 November. The meeting took place following the Valletta summit on migration to discuss collaboration with other countries.
European elections should be fought with formally endorsed, EU-wide lead candidates (“Spitzenkandidaten”) for the Commission presidency, Parliament said on Wednesday in a formal proposal for a change to EU electoral law. It says these candidates should stand for election to the EP themselves, and be formally nominated at least 12 weeks before the elections
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Brussels?
-MEPs to push for reform of European electoral law
-Net neutrality: debate on privileged treatment of online content (zero rating)
-Migration: Parliament to urge member states to pay up
-MEPs to call for measures to boost the EU aviation sector
MEPs reacted to the assessments published by World Health Organization (WHO)'s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifying the consumption of processed meat as carcinogenic to humans, and red meat as probably carcinogenic, during a debate on Tuesday with WHO EU representative Roberto Bertollini. The recording of the debate is available from this link (debate started at 11.40)
The Parliament's Development Committee asked to include in the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) outcome document "a five-year roadmap for the development and operationalisation of the concrete political commitments undertaken" and stressed the importance of increasing the complementarity between humanitarian and development aid in order to tackle the humanitarian financing gaps in a resolution adopted on Tuesday.
The Parliament's Development Committee called on member states to support the European Commission's target of increasing the share of humanitarian funds for education of children in emergencies to 4% and asked all hosting countries to help integrate children refugees in their national education systems in a resolution adopted on Tuesday afternoon.
The European Parliament LUX Prize casts an annual spotlight on films that go to the heart of European public debate and cinema is an ideal vehicle for debate and reflection on Europe and its future. The European Parliament and the Cork Film Festival believe that cinema can be used as a medium to discuss and debate topical issues.
Plenary and committees meetings in Brussels Items on the agenda include:-EU funds for Syria and Africa.;
Aviation package.; EU electoral law; Greece: financial assistance.; ECB Draghi in ECON Committee; Energy Union.
The European Parliament and the Southern Regional Assembly are hosting an information and training morning on the Ireland-Wales cross-border programme of the European Union. The event will take place at the Ormonde Hotel Kilkenny on Friday 6 November 2015 at 10.00 am. Places may be reserved at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01-6057900. Admission is free and open to the public.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz urged EU member states and others today to honour their commitments and step up significantly their efforts to provide a safe and permanent shelter in Europe for refugees in a spirit of European solidarity.
A €9.4 billion reduction in member states' contributions to the 2015 European Union budget should be used to help solve the refugee crisis by paying for member state promises made at successive European Councils, said on Thursday MEPs in charge of negotiating next year’s budget.
Raif Badawi is the laureate of this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, following an October 29 decision by EP President Martin Schulz and the political group leaders. Badawi is a blogger from Saudi Arabia currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for insulting Islam on his website promoting social, political and religious debate. The Sakharov award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg on 16 December.
Parliament added extra funds for handling the unprecedented flow of refugees inside and outside the EU in Wednesday’s vote on the EU budget for 2016. It also topped up resources to fund help create jobs for young people, enhance the EU’s competitiveness and settle its unpaid bills. Parliament reversed all the cuts, including those on migration lines, made by EU ministers.
A draft EU law that would enable any EU member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was rejected by the European Parliament on Wednesday. Members are concerned that the law might prove unworkable or that it could lead to the reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GMO countries. They call on the Commission to table a new proposal.
EU Commission plans for more ambitious national caps on emissions of six key pollutants, including NOx, particulates and sulphur dioxide, were endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. Air pollution causes about 400,000 premature deaths in the EU yearly, and the plans could save up to €40bn in air pollution costs by 2030.
The real divide revealed by today’s migration challenges to the EU is between “pros”, who want to use the EU to solve these challenges, and “antis”, who want to use them to dissolve the EU, argued many MEPs in Tuesday’s debate. Most deplored EU member states’ slowness to deliver on their pledges to pay for more help for refugees, and more manpower to process them at EU borders. The €2.3 bn shortfall is the same as it was two months ago, noted Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The EU member states’ deal on plans for them to exchange details of their tax rulings for multinationals automatically was a “missed opportunity” to take a big step forward in fighting aggressive tax planning and unfair tax competition, says Parliament in an opinion voted on Tuesday. MEPs are unhappy that the 6 October deal unduly restricts both the scope of the draft “automatic exchange” directive and the European Commission’s access to this information.
A complete ban on roaming charges for using mobile phones abroad in the EU will take effect in June 2017 and clear rules on the right to internet access will become law following Parliament's final approval of the new telecoms package on Tuesday.
Package holidays, consisting of a flight, hotel or car-hire and purchased online for an all-in price or through linked webpages, will get the same protection as packages bought in travel agencies under rules voted by MEPs on Tuesday. MEPs ensured that travellers will have more options to cancel a contract and get clear advance information on who is ultimately responsible if something goes wrong.
Parliament adopted its stance on a deal with Switzerland to make it harder for EU citizens to hide cash from the tax man in Swiss bank accounts, in a vote on Tuesday. Under the deal, the EU and Switzerland will automatically exchange information on the bank accounts of each other's residents, starting in 2018.
Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings recommended measures to make corporate taxes in the EU fairer and more transparent, after eight months of fact finding, in a vote Monday evening in Strasbourg.
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ?
-Roaming charges final vote
-GMO Foods vote
-Emissions and air quality debate
-Reform of EU electoral law debate
-EU Budget 2016 debate
-VW emissions scandal
-Restrictions on export of torture tools
It has taken eight months of hard work, but the results are finally there: on Monday 26 October the special committee on tax rulings votes on its recommendations for achieving fair and transparent corporate taxation in Europe. MEPs vote on them during November's plenary session, although before that multinationals will still have a chance to share their views on the matter with the committee. Read on for more information and an overview of taxation levels in member states.
Net neutrality is crucial to the future development of the internet. It is the principle that all online traffic should be treated equally, regardless of the type of content or platforms involved. On 27 October MEPs are set to debate and vote on new rules on net neutrality, following an agreement reached with EU governments after two years of negotiations. Ahead of the vote, find out what it is all about.
Following this morning's announcements of the verdicts of Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on the Dutch tax deal with Starbucks and the Luxembourgish tax agreement with Fiat Finance and Trade, key MEPs on taxation issues gave the following statements:
An estimated 5,000 European citizens have joined terrorist organisations fighting in Iraq and Syria. With the issue of foreign fighters posing challenges for governments across the EU, a report on preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations will be put to a vote in the civil liberties committee today. Ahead of the vote, we asked Rachida Dati, the French EPP member who drafted the report, why it is important to address this phenomenon at EU level.
Tackling unemployment and migration are for many Europeans the biggest challenges facing the EU, according to the latest Eurobarometer opinion poll commissioned by Parliament. Nearly two thirds think decisions on migration should be taken at the EU level rather than nationally, while eight out of ten said asylum seekers should be “better distributed among all EU member states”. However, the answers vary considerably from country to country.
The coming week will see a range of topics on the European Parliament agenda to be discussed by political groups and committee meetings in Brussels. These topics include:
1. Radicalisation and jihad recruitment
2. Vetting EU budget spending for 2014
3. EU banking sector stability
5. Plenary preparations
6. President's agenda
7. Youth Media Days
8. Pre-session press briefing
Immigration and terrorism are EU citizens’ fastest-growing concerns, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll, commissioned by the European Parliament and published on Wednesday. An EU average of 66% of respondents said that more decisions on migration should be taken at EU level, rather than by national governments alone, but the survey found marked differences among countries on all the issues addressed.
Organic farmers, processors, traders and importers must meet higher but realistic sustainability criteria and undergo strict food fraud checks to boost trust in the EU organic label, said agriculture MEPs on Tuesday. They introduced measures to avoid contamination of organic food, including on mixed organic and conventional farms, and endorsed plans to help small farmers turn organic.
The budgets committee on Tuesday demanded more funds to handle the migration and refugee crisis, help young people into jobs, and fully offset the cuts to the EU's research and transport networks programs, in a political resolution on the 2016 budget. The committee had earlier reversed all the Council's cuts to the Commission's initial proposal.
A draft EU law that would enable any member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was opposed by Environment Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Members are concerned that the proposal might prove unworkable and lead to the reintroduction of border controls between pro and anti-GMO countries. The recommendation will be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole at the 26-29 October plenary session in Strasbourg.
This week, human rights students from UCD, TCD, NUI Maynooth and UCC are participating in events to publicise the 2015 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and to promote debate on the individual human rights issues to which the prize relates. The Sakharov prize is awarded every year to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.
Updating EU rules on payment services will cut the cost of paying bills, by enabling new market players to use mobile and online tools to make payments on a client’s behalf, said MEPs voting a law to this end on Thursday. These rules, informally agreed by MEPs and ministers last May, also aim to make online payments safer, by laying down data protection and liability rules for all online payment service providers.
Death sentences fail to deter drug trafficking and retentionist countries should introduce alternatives to the death penalty for drug offences, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday two days ahead the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty. The abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences should be made a prerequisite for EU financial and technical assistance to third countries, they added during the debate on an oral question tabled to the Council on Tuesday evening.
MEPs passed four resolutions on Thursday: urging Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and calling for a moratorium on the death penalty; demanding measures to starve Boko Haram in Nigeria of its sources of illegal income; expressing fears of civil war in Central African Republic; and deploring human rights abuses in Thailand following the coup of May 2014.
Spanish King Felipe VI called on the EU to treat the current refugee crisis with "generosity, solidarity and responsibility" in an address to the plenary on Wednesday 7 October. The monarch stressed the suffering of those who come to Europe "fleeing violence and fanaticism". "[There are] hundreds of thousands of refugees who pursue a project of hope, and see the Union as a land area of peace, prosperity and justice," he said. "We cannot let them down."
The current situation in the European Union and challenges to be tackled together, and notably migration, were at the heart of Wednesday afternoon's debate between European Parliament political group leaders, President of the French Republic François Hollande and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel.
More citizens and small firms will be able to use the simplified EU procedure to resolve low-value disputes across borders thanks to changes voted by Parliament on Wednesday. These changes, which still need to be formally approved by EU ministers, would raise the ceiling on debts recoverable using the procedure from €2,000 to €5,000.
EU-wide protection of geographical indication should be extended from agricultural products to include regionally and locally manufactured goods and handicraft products, MEPs say in a non-binding resolution adopted on Tuesday. This would support local economic development, boost tourism, strengthen consumer confidence and help preserve cultural heritage and traditional know-how.
The new scheme to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU member states, dialogue with Turkey on cooperation to stem and manage migration flows, and budget measures to respond to the unprecedented refugee crisis, were among the topics tackled in Tuesday morning’s debate with European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the outcome of the 23 September informal EU summit.
A debate on the 3 October air strikes on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which killed 12 Médecins Sans Frontières staff and 10 patients including three children, has been added to the agenda on Wednesday at 08.30, announced Vice-President Mairead McGuinness at the opening of the plenary session. It will start with a statement by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.
The extra debate was added at the request of Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, DE), seconded by Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE) and approved by MEPs.
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include State of the EU debate with Angela Merkel and François Hollande; Felipe VI of Spain to address Parliament on Wednesday; Debate on the outcome of the EU summit on the refugee crisis; Car industry: manipulation of exhaust emission tests; capital markets union
The nominations for Parliament´s 2015 Sakharov Prize were formally presented this Monday 28 September at a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development committees and the Human Rights subcommittee. The Sakharov prize is awarded every year to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression. The winner will be selected in late October.
This week in Parliament, the Budgets committee members vote their amendments to next year's EU budget. The nominees for the Sakharov Prize are to be officially presented by the members sponsoring them, and Parliament's political groups are set to prepare for the plenary session to be held in Strasbourg this 5-8 October.
The European Parliament will once again be present at this year's National Ploughing Championships, which take place from Tuesday 22 to Thursday 24 September at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co. Laois. We will be available to assist you with questions on EU policies, your rights as a European citizen and all topics of EU interest. Experts in the field of the Common Agricultural Policy will also be on hand. The European Parliament looks forward to seeing you at Stand 429, row 25, block 3.
The current system of corporate tax rules is unfit for purpose and unjust. Some companies are losing out, whereas others win by hiding behind a variety of national rules", Commission President Jean Claude Juncker told MEPs at a joint meeting of the committees for Tax Rulings and for Economic and Monetary Affairs on Thursday. "We need a better insight into how multinational companies behave and how they make use of the differences between countries. Then we should create some order!", he added.
The Commission's €500 million aid package revealed last week is a step in the right direction but it might be not enough to get farmers struggling with falling prices back on their feet, many MEPs told Commissioner Phil Hogan in a debate on Wednesday. Crisis management instruments should be improved, and the position of farmers in the food supply chain strengthened, said MEPs. Some also ask the Commission to immediately increase intervention prices to tackle the current crisis.
An emergency proposal to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy, Greece and Hungary among EU member states was backed by Parliament on Thursday. The first temporary emergency rules for relocating an initial 40,000 over two years from Italy and Greece only were approved by Parliament on 9 September.
Are you working in the tourist industry or intend starting a business connected with tourism? Is your livelihood dependent on tourism? The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland is hosting a public consultation to be chaired by MEP Deirdre Clune on how the EU can help develop tourism. The event takes place at 7.00 pm in the Walter Raleigh Hotel, Youghal, Co. Cork. This is a free event. Registration required. Book your place at email@example.com or tel (01) 605.7900.
"Member states have yet again failed to make tough decisions and provide a compassionate response to the refugee crisis", said the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee responsible for migration and asylum, Claude Moraes. "We are running out of time - the meeting on 8 October is the EU's final chance to agree an organised response to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II in Europe", he added.
Traditional products from Calais lace to Scottish tartans could soon enjoy extra protection in the form of geographical indications, reassuring consumers about their origin and quality. This already exists for food products, but on Tuesday the EP's legal affairs committee votes on a proposal to extend this to non-agricultural products as well. French S&D member Virginie Rozière, who is in charge of steering the plans through Parliament, explains why the new rules are needed.
The Commission's package of measures worth €500 million aimed at helping EU's dairy and meat farmers with the current market crisis is a step in the right direction, but not enough to alleviate impact of falling prices and stabilise the food production in Europe, says the Chair of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL).
"The first priority today is and must be tackling the refugee crisis," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during the 2015 State of the Union debate at the European Parliament on Wednesday 9 September. "The EU is facing migration, the economic crisis and wars in its neighbourhood. We have to contribute to a solution to these challenges," said EP President Martin Schulz, EP's President in his opening remarks.
The challenges facing the EU will be discussed during the State of the Union debate on Wednesday 9 September. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, will first give his address and will then enter into debate with MEPs. Read on to find out how to best follow the debate live online.
The European Commission’s response to the first EU citizens’ initiative (ECI) petition, on the “Right2Water”, lacks ambition and failed to meet the demands of the organizers, said MEPs in a resolution voted on Tuesday. ECIs enable citizens to ask the Commission to propose laws in areas within its competence, if they can muster at least one million signatures from at least a quarter of EU member states.
Parliament beefed up the Commission’s initial proposal to ban animal cloning to include the cloning of all farm animals, their descendants and products derived from them, including imports into the EU, in a vote on Tuesday. "The technique of cloning is not fully mature, and in fact, no further progress has been made with it. The mortality rate remains equally high. Many of the animals which are born alive die in the first few weeks, and they die painfully. Should we allow that?" said the environment committee co-rapporteur, Renate Sommer (EPP, DE).
The fundamental rights of asylum seekers in the EU could be infringed by reception centre conditions, "hot returns", barbed wire and other deterrence measures, say MEPs in a non-binding resolution voted on Tuesday. The text also states concerns about the impact of austerity measures on EU citizens' economic, civil, social and cultural rights and calls on the European Commission to set up a "scoreboard" to monitor democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in EU member states.
The first-ever European Week of Sport kicked off in Brussels today and will be organised every year by the European Commission with the aim of promoting sport and physical activity across Europe. The new initiative was originally suggested in a report by MEP Santiago Fisas, a Spanish member of the EPP group, which was adopted by the European Parliament. As part of the event various activities take place in all member states and are open to anyone regardless of age, background or fitness level.
The agriculture committee on Thursday rejected the Commission's draft law that would give member states the power to restrict or prohibit the use of EU-approved GM food or feed on their territory. It fears that arbitrary national bans could distort competition on the EU's single market and jeopardise the Union's food production sectors which are heavily dependent on imports of GM feed.
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ?
Highlights include: First State of the Union address by EC President Junker; Refugee Crisis debate; vote on a ban on animal cloning, cloned food, feed and imports; Jobs: fostering social entrpreneurship;Right2Water citizen's initiative; Middle East peace process, Iran deal and Belarus; Vote on more robust EU ban on trade in seal products
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will deliver his first State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday 9 September, from 09:00 CET. His assessment and proposals for the future will be followed by a debate with MEPs, who will have their own analyses and proposals to make. They will also say what they expect from the Commission Work Programme for 2016. The migration crisis and Schengen, Greece and the Eurozone are likely to be among issues to be raised.
A Greek government request for EP involvement in the regular review of the country’s third loan programme is to be discussed on Thursday at a meeting of the President and political group chairs. In the committees, members are to discuss migration and vote on the use of genetically modified food and on the next year’s EU budget. Parliament’s political groups also prepare for the plenary, including Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's first State of the European Union speech and debate.
The European Commission and the Council must adopt urgent and targeted measures to help EU dairy and livestock farmers and fruit and vegetable growers with falling prices and drops in global demand for their products and develop, in close cooperation with MEPs, a more responsive safety net to tackle future crises, says the chair of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL).
Countries such as Italy and Greece dealing with an influx of asylum seekers should receive more support from other member states, MEPs said on a delegation visit to the Italian island of Sicily from 22 to 24 July. “Italy spends over €1 billion every year just to take care of those who make it across the Mediterranean. Italy’s borders are the EU's borders and a better management of the migratory flows is our common responsibility,” said French ALDE member Jean Arthuis, co-chair of the delegation.
Today, at the Venice Days (Giornate degli Autori) press conference, the First Vice President of the European Parliament Mr Antonio TAJANI and the President of the Committee on Culture and Education, Mrs Silvia Costa, announced the 3 contending films to run for the 2015 LUX Film Prize. Directors will attend the upcoming Venice Film Festival to present the 3 films:
MEDITERRANEA, by Jonas Carpignano – Italy, United States, Germany, France, Qatar
MUSTANG, by Deniz Gamze Ergüven – France, Germany, Turkey, Qatar
UROK (THE LESSON), by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov – Bulgaria, Greece.
Mr Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR), co-chair of the delegation on part of the Committee on Budgets: "We praise the efforts by the Italian authorities to have put in place such a complex reception system and, more in general, to cope with an exceptional migratory pressure at Italy’s sea borders."
The Week Ahead 20 - 26 July 2015: Migration, Taxation and economic affairs, Ukraine and Georgia.
- Migration. A joint delegation of the Budgets and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committees will go to Sicily to examine how EU budget resources are spent to manage migration and refugee flows, as well as the system for reception, identification and retention of migrants. See what's on the rest of the agenda this week at the European Parliament
The European Parliament Information Office is helping to support a summer school of the Cavan Women's Network which will be held on 16 and 17 July 2015 in the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan. Women in Politics will be a major theme of the summer school and presentations by European Parliament Vice President Mairead McGuinness and MEP Marian Harkin will take place on Friday morning, 17 July. To register for this free event Tel. (01) 6057900 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rescue package for Greece agreed at the 12-13 July Eurozone Summit on Greece was debated in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Thursday. Members gave their views on the deal struck by Greece and its creditors, the functioning of the Eurozone, the role played by the European Parliament and on Parliament’s future involvement in monitoring the implementation of the agreement.
Draft EU rules on sharing and protecting the Passenger Name Record (PNR) data of people flying to or from the EU, and its use by member states and Europol to fight terrorism and serious transnational crime, were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. This data must only be used to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute these crimes, said MEPs, inserting safeguards to ensure "the lawfulness of any storage, analysis, transfer and use of PNR data".
Women face barriers, stereotypes, conscious and unconscious bias during their academic and scientific careers which often lead them to drop out of the career, said Women's rights and gender equality members in the text adopted on Tuesday. They call on Commission and member states to come up with EU strategy in order to tackle different barriers in professional development of women and to make science more inclusive.
The 10 films competing for this year's Lux Prize have been revealed at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, including five by first-time directors, a mix of genres and the selection's first-ever Icelandic film. The European Parliament awards the prize to the best European film every year. At the end of the month it will be announced which three films have been short-listed for the finals, meaning they will also be screened all over the EU as part of the Lux Film Days.
Forthcoming proposals to reform EU copyright law for the digital era must ensure a fair balance between the rights and interests of both creators and consumers, said MEPs on Thursday. They called for ways to improve access to online content across borders, while recognizing the importance of territorial licences, particularly for TV and film productions.
The EU needs to use natural resources more efficiently - a 30% increase in resource productivity by 2030 could boost its GDP by nearly 1% and create an extra 2 million sustainable jobs, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. But to achieve this growth, it needs binding waste-reduction targets, revamped ecodesign laws and measures to uncouple growth from resource use, they add, calling on the European Commission to table legislation by the end of 2015.
Large firms and listed companies should have to disclose information, country by country, on profits made, tax paid on profits and public subsidies received, said MEPs on Wednesday in amendments to draft rules intended to boost transparency and foster shareholders’ long-run commitment to companies. They also want to empower shareholders to vote at least every three years on directors' pay policy.
A reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), informally agreed with the Latvian Presidency of the Council, was endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. The reform is intended to reduce the surplus of carbon credits available for trading in order to support the price of the emission rights. The scheme will start operating in 2019.
An EU-US trade deal must open up US market access for EU firms, but not undermine EU standards, say MEPs in recommendations, voted Wednesday, to EU trade negotiators. To settle trade-related investor-state disputes, a new justice system, run by publicly-appointed judges and subject to scrutiny and transparency rules, should replace private arbitration under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, they add.
The EU must do more to help farmers to earn a fair return from the food supply chain, introduce better tools for dealing with market disturbances and help farmers to find new outlets for produce shut out of the Russian market, MEPs say in two non-binding resolutions voted on Tuesday. Member states should help them join forces in producer organisations to boost their bargaining power, they add.
Three agencies managing migration flows into the EU and two EU funds for migration measures should get a €69.6 million budget boost for extra staff and other expenses for this year, after Parliament backed a European Commission proposal on Tuesday. Parliament has been calling for the bigger budgets in the wake of the April tragedies that cost the lives of around 1,200 migrants.
Greece and the referendum on the bail-out proposals were the focus of the 7 July plenary debate on the outgoing Latvian presidency of the Council. Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma also discussed the challenges and the achievements of the outgoing Council presidency with MEPs and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ?
- Prospects for the EU Dairy Sector
- Green Employment Initiative
- Commission Work Programme 2016
Starting today, the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the EU will be in the hands of one of the smallest, yet most experience member states. Luxembourg will have to deal with many pressing issues, including the Greek debt crisis, an increase in irregular migration and the preparation for the climate change conference in Paris in December. We asked all of the country's six MEPs what they see as the main challenges. Read on to find out what they said.
An informal deal to ban surcharges ("roaming fees") for making mobile phone calls, sending text messages or using the internet while abroad in another EU country from 15 June 2017 was struck by MEPs and EU ministers in the small hours of Tuesday morning. MEPs also inserted guarantees that all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination. To enter into force, this informal deal needs to be formally endorsed by the full Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
The European Commission’s weak response to the first EU citizens’ initiative (ECI) petition, on the “Right2Water”, could discredit the ECI system, warn Environment Committee MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday. It “lacks any real ambition and failed to meet the demands of the organizers”, they add. ECIs enable citizens to ask the Commission to propose laws in areas within its competence, if they can muster at least one million signatures from at least a quarter of EU member states.
The €315-billion “Juncker” investment plan, announced by the European Commission last November to encourage the financing of viable investments in Europe, was backed by the European Parliament in a vote on Wednesday. Parliament modified its financing structure, won a say in selecting its leadership and ensured more democratic oversight in negotiations with the Council.
The three EU agencies managing migration flows and various EU funds dealing with migration should get a €69.6 million budget boost , said the Budgets Committee on Tuesday as it approved proposed changes to this year's European budget. The budget increases still need to be approved by Parliament as a whole and the Council of Ministers.
What's on the agenda during this week's mini Plenary Session in Brussels?
- Migration, security and economics debate with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
- Corporate tax action plan
EP President Martin Schulz discussed British plans to renegotiate EU membership during a meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron today. They also talked about the migration crisis in the Mediterranean and the ongoing talks on trade deals. Afterwards Schulz said: I came to London to listen and to learn and I think we had an excellent and open-minded exchange of views.”
Lydia Foy is among the 47 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2015 of the European Parliament. Since 2008, the prize has been awarded to citizens or organisations having contributed to promoting better mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens or to facilitating cross-border or transnational cooperation within the EU. The winner will receive a medal of honour at an award ceremony in Ireland and will be invited to a joint event with all 47 winners in Brussels in October.
A draft law to ban the cloning of all farm animals, their descendants and products derived from them, including imports, in the EU was voted by the Environment and Agriculture committees on Wednesday. MEPs beefed up the European Commission’s initial proposal, citing high mortality rates at all development stages of cloning and EU citizens’ animal welfare and ethical concerns.
Parliament looks forward to starting talks with ministers soon on reform to give the EU high common standards of data protection fit for the digital era, said its key negotiators on Monday, welcoming the Council's announcement that it had approved its negotiating mandate. The first meeting between the institutions is scheduled for 24 June and will be followed by a joint press conference.
Parliament's International Trade Committee will hold an extraordinary meeting on 29 June in Brussels to decide whether the 116 amendments tabled to Parliament's draft recommendations to Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiators should be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole, the political groups represented in the committee decided on Monday.
The European Central Bank is doing all it can to facilitate a successful outcome of the ongoing talks with Greece, ECB President Mario Draghi assured Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday. But he also made it crystal clear that ultimately, disbursing any further financial assistance to Greece is "a political decision that will have to be taken by elected policymakers, not by central bankers".
Euro area support needed to lift cap on Greek banks’ T-bill holdings
The European Parliament regrets that recent corruption allegations against the international football federation FIFA have seriously damaged the credibility and the integrity of global football. In a resolution voted on Thursday, MEPs call for a zero-tolerance policy on corruption in football, underlining that in-depth structural reforms within the organisation are now urgently needed.
The EU must critically re-assess its relations with Russia, which are profoundly damaged by Russia's deliberate violation of democratic principles, fundamental values and international law with its violent action and destabilisation of its neighbours , MEPs said on Wednesday. The EU must now devise a soft-power contingency plan to counter Russia’s aggressive and divisive policies, they said.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz decided on Tuesday to postpone the plenary vote on the EP recommendations to the negotiators of the Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), scheduled for noon the following day. In line with Rule 175 of the EP Rules of Procedure, he decided to refer the 116 amendments tabled to the report back to the Committee on International Trade, for consideration and a vote on whether they are to be put to a plenary vote.
EU must bring more balance into the supply chain, introduce better tools against market disturbances and help farmers find new outlets for their produce, says the agriculture committee in a draft non-binding resolution adopted Monday night. To ensure viable, sustainable and a competitive dairy sector across the EU for all - including small farmers and producers in disadvantaged areas - member states must also make better use of tools from the so-called Milk Package.
The European Parliament Information Office in cooperation with the HSE is organising a discussion with citizens on health and ageing. Learn about European health initiatives and innovative local solutions and supports as well as voicing your opinion directly to European representatives. A keynote speech will be delivered by MEP Marian Harkin. This is a free event and will take place in The Radisson Blu Hotel, Letterkenny on Friday, 5 June 2015 from 9.30 am to 1:00pm. Prior registration is required. Tel. (01) 6057900 or email: email@example.com
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ?
- TTIP talks: MEPs to table recommendations
- FIFA corruption scandal
- Gender equality strategy: MEPs to call for clearer targets and better monitoring
- Climate change: bridging the gap after Kyoto
- EU intellectual property rights
- EU energy security strategy
Following the publication of the blacklist of European politicians and officials, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, on Tuesday informed the Russian Ambassador to the EU that insofar as the Russian authorities have failed to ensure transparency in their decisions, in line with international law and legal obligations, and allow the targeted individuals the right of defence and of appeal, he considers that it is now justified to take appropriate measures in response.
Development MEPs called on companies in all countries to adopt country-by-country reporting and make all information public in order to fight tax evasion and illicit money flows in developing countries, in a resolution adopted on Monday afternoon. It also called on the EU's financial institutions to ensure that companies receiving EU support do not participate in tax evasion and avoidance.
An EU-US trade deal should deepen EU access to the US market, but must not undermine EU standards or the right to regulate in the public interest, say Trade Committee MEPs in draft recommendations voted on Thursday. Tools for resolving disputes between investors and states should be reformed and improved, they add.
A deal struck by MEPs and Council of Ministers negotiators in the small hours of Thursday morning means the architecture of the Juncker plan to unlock €315 billion public and private investments in the real economy in 2015-2017 can now be put to a European Parliament vote on 24 June and the investment programme can kick off in the summer.
Several major Western news organisations have been hit by politically motivated cyber-attacks over the past few years, mostly in retaliation for their critical coverage of events, countries or movements such as the Syrian regime or Islamic State. MEPs discussed on 27 May how the EU could help to counter such attacks.
Healthy eating habits start young, so the EU and its member states should do and spend more to encourage kids to eat healthy and local foods, Parliament said on Wednesday. To ensure that they get healthy eating lessons, as well as school milk, fruit, and vegetables from EU schemes, Parliament amended draft rules and approved a mandate for MEPs to negotiate their final form with EU member states.
Budgets MEPs welcomed next year's "restricted" but well focused draft budget presented by Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday immediately after it was approved by the Commission.
MEPs approved measures to prevent proceeds from conflict minerals being used to fund armed conflicts and called on governments to break the deadlock on plans to harmonise maternity leave across Europe. They also debated measures to tackle irregular migrants coming to the EU during the plenary in Strasbourg on 18-21 May as well as green-lit tougher rules to prevent money laundering. Read on for an overview of the plenary.
A delegation of members of the Special Committee on Tax Rulings of the European Parliament will visit Ireland on Thursday 28 May where they will meet Minister of Finance Michael Noonan and members of the Finance Committee of the Dail. The delegation will also meet, inter alia, experts representing accountancy firms, business associations, NGO's and companies.
The Committee was established in the wake of what has become known as the luxleaks revelations.
The ultimate owners of companies will have to be listed in central registers in EU countries, open both to the authorities and to people with a "legitimate interest", such as investigative journalists, under new rules already agreed with the Council and endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. The new anti-money laundering directive aims to step up the fight against tax crimes and terrorist financing. New rules to make it easier to trace transfers of funds were also approved.
Suggested ways to improve patient safety, including tackling growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics, using today’s treatments more responsibly and promoting innovation, are set out in a resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs note that 8 - 12% of patients in EU hospitals suffer adverse events, such as healthcare-related infections, which are implicated in 37,000 deaths a year and place a heavy burden on limited health service budgets.
What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ?
- Debate on the European Agenda on Migration for 2015-2020
- Tougher rules on money laundering to fight tax evasion and terrorist financing
- Debate and vote on a law to stem the flow of “conflict minerals”
- Maternity leave: deliver now or start from scratch
- MEPs set out blueprint for safer healthcare
- Counterfeit cigarettes: MEPs to question future of EU deals with tobacco firms
@RealTime WW1, a Twitter project from Luxembourg, was awarded first prize at the 2015 European Charlemagne Youth Prize ceremony in Aachen University on 12 May. Second prize went to the Fronterras-European (border) line project (France) and third prize jointly to Social Soccer Club (Austria), Entrepreneurship, the Solution against Unemployment (Cyprus) and Infoactualidad (Spain). The annual prize goes to projects that foster a shared sense of European identity and integration among young people.
"Whistleblowers should receive protection when they reveal behaviour that goes against the public interest and not only when they reveal illegal activities. There should also be more openness about tax rulings and similar arrangements and countries which defraud other countries should be sanctioned", suggested Richard Brooks of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a hearing with Parliament's Special Tax Rulings Committee on Monday.
Tax rulings, EU-Russia relations, Turkey’s reform progress, boosting free trade with the US, empowering women in Africa and the current situation in Georgia are all on the Parliament's agenda when MEPs gather this week in Brussels. Political groups will also prepare for the plenary session in Strasbourg on 18-21 May. Meanwhile Parliament President Martin Schulz will be awarded the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen on Thursday.
Ahead of Europe Day, 9 May, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz stated: "This year's Europe Day which we will celebrate tomorrow is a special one with 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War."
Following a series of debates and hearings with experts, Commission- and Council representatives and international bodies like the OECD, the Special Committee on Tax Rulings will have another full week ahead:
The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and the European Commission Representation in Ireland in co-operation with several embassies of EU Member States will celebrate Europe Day on Friday 8th May with “A Taste of Europe”. Sample national foods of EU Member States and enjoy music provided by various African traditional groups to mark the European Year for Development 2015. This free event is open to the public. From 12:30 pm -2:30 pm at European Union House, 43 Molesworth Street/18 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
Why did the EU Commission take so long to launch investigations into member states’ tax rulings? Is its strategy to go only after small countries, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland? Will the instruments available to it suffice? And if not, what would it take to do away with unfair tax competition? These questions were raised by MEPs in Tuesday’s Special Tax Rulings Committee debate with competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
People who are suspected or accused of a crime, or are named in a European Arrest Warrant, but cannot afford a lawyer or court proceedings, should have access to EU member state funding and assistance for both “provisional” and "ordinary” legal aid, say Civil Liberties MEPs in amendments, voted on Wednesday, to a proposed EU directive on fair trial rights.
Fresh suggestions on how to best resolve disputes arising between foreign investors and states on the implementation of the Transatlantic Trade and investment partnership deal, currently being negotiated between the EU and the United states, will be debated by Trade MEPs and the EU Trade Commissioner Malmström on Wednesday afternoon starting from 16.30.
This special seminar will reflect on the disaster of World War II and is organised jointly with the Embassies of Latvia and Poland. Speakers will include the Latvian Minister for Justice, Mr Dzintars Rasnačs. The seminar will commence at 10:00 am at the European Parliament Information Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Registration from 9:30 am. For further information please contact the Embassy of Latvia at Tel (01) 4780161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Travellers putting together their own package holidays online will get the same protection as those buying from traditional travel agents under a provisional deal struck by MEPs and Council negotiators on Tuesday. The deal also strengthens holidaymakers’ rights, by enabling them to cancel a package deal contract if its price rises by more than 8%, get help if they encounter difficulties or get transport home if a tour operator goes bust.
Plans for labelling the calorie content of alcoholic beverages should be tabled by the European Commission at the latest in 2016, said MEPs on Wednesday. The resolution calls for a new EU Alcohol Strategy focusing on alcohol consumption by minors and EU-wide labelling to discourage drink driving and drinking while pregnant.
The EU should do everything possible to prevent further loss of life at sea, e.g. by expanding the mandate of “Triton” operation in the Mediterranean to include "search and rescue operations at EU level", says a resolution voted by Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs also call for a binding quota for distributing asylum seekers among all EU countries, bigger contributions to resettlement programmes, better cooperation with third countries and tougher measures against people smugglers.
"Today's resolution on asylum and migration, adopted by an overwhelming majority (449 votes in favour), contains a number of concrete steps urgently expected from the Commission, the Council and the Member States.
One billion euro in EU funding to help member states get up to 650,000 young people into work will be delivered in 2015 thanks to European Social Fund rule changes approved by Parliament on Wednesday. This EU Youth Employment Initiative funding tops up European Social Fund (ESF) money in the 20 member states with regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25%.
Emergency call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes (eCall) will have to be fitted to all new models of cars and light vans by 31 March 2018 under rules voted by European Parliament on Tuesday. Road accidents took 25,700 lives in the EU in 2014 – a death toll that the new devices could cut by an estimated 10% a year.
Fishermen will have two years to “adapt” before sanctions for failing to comply with the new fish “discard” ban take effect, under a law passed by Parliament on Tuesday. The draft law, already informally agreed by MEPs and ministers, amends the “omnibus” regulation on arrangements for enforcing the ban. Obliging fishermen to land unwanted catches, rather than throw them back, is a key aim of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen, at which two survivors now resident in Ireland were imprisoned, the European Parliament Office, in cooperation with the supporting embassies is also screening a series of five films related to this tragic episode in European history. The films will be shown between Tuesday 21 April and Wednesday 13 May from 6:00 pm at the European Parliament Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Attendance free. Registration required. Tel (01) 605.79.00 or email: email@example.com.
The new EU forest strategy must focus on managing forests sustainably, promoting efficient use of the raw materials that they produce, and boosting the competitiveness of forest-related industry so as to create jobs, says a non-legislative resolution voted by Parliament on Tuesday.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland is holding an event organised in cooperation with Holocaust Education Trust Ireland on Friday 24 April from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm during which Holocaust survivors living in Ireland will speak of their experiences. Dr Balazs Apor of Trinity College Dublin will also reflect on the memory of the concentration camps in history. Registration required. The event takes place at the European Parliament Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.
What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ?
- Mediterranean tragedies: MEPs to demand action to save lives
- MEPs to call for stronger EU alcohol strategy
- MEPs to clamp down on wasteful use of plastic carrier bags
- Vote on life-saving emergency call system for cars
- Youth Employment Initiative: vote to make €1 billion available in 2015
- Debate on new "European Agenda on Security"
- Forests: MEPs to demand better management and efficient use of raw materials
- New fisheries policy: MEPs to approve key draft laws on discards and Baltic Sea
Europe should come up with a common asylum and migration policy that is humane and realistic, Martin Schulz warned EU leaders. The EP President was speaking at the start of an extraordinary European summit dedicated to migration after hundreds of people died in one week trying to cross the Mediterranean. Schulz said: “Our immediate priority must be to save lives at sea.”
The demand for organs far outstrips what is available, leading to illegal trafficking in organs all over the world. With Europeans travelling to other countries to receive one of these illegally harvested organs, it also forms a challenge for the EU. The EP's public health committee and human rights subcommittee held a workshop on 21 April dedicated to organ harvesting in China to discuss these issues. However, MEPs warned that the problem was not limited to China.
Ahead of the extraordinary European Council meeting on Thursday, the Chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee with responsibility for migration and related issues such as the EU border agency Frontex and asylum policy, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), said:
A negotiating brief on the “Juncker” plan for a European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) to guarantee growth and job-creating investment was backed by the Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees on Monday evening. But MEPs contested plans to feed the fund from the EU research and transport investment budgets, and called for more parliamentary control over its leadership and goals.
Political groups and committees meet in Brussels. Among the items on the agenda will be the Junker Commission proposal for a European Strategic Investment Fund; how EU development aid shoud be financed; consumer safety; and preparations for the April plenary
The negotiations under way on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could provide an opportunity to set a path towards high global standards for the protection of the environment and public and animal health. However, the objective of enhancing trade should not come at a price of lowering standards in these areas, said committee MEPs in an opinion adopted on Tuesday. MEPs list a number of areas where progress could be made, such as the protection of geographical indications, tackling antimicrobial resistance, pest management and safety of pharmaceutical products and medical devices.
EU must seek ambitious and mutually beneficial deal with the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would preserve the European agriculture model, safeguard the Union's food safety standards and protect EU quality products on the US market, the Agriculture committee said in a vote on Tuesday.
Eight hundred and ninety-eight amendments to a draft resolution on progress in talks with the US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were debated by the International Trade Committee on Monday.
The EU and its member states must invest more effort and money in promoting healthy eating and the consumption of local foodstuffs amongst children, said the agriculture committee said on Tuesday when it amended draft rules on schemes to provide fruit, vegetables and milk in schools.
Suggested measures to improve patient safety, inter alia by tackling growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics by using existing treatments more responsibly and promoting innovation, are set out in a Health Committee resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs note that between 8 and 12% of patients admitted to hospitals in the EU suffer adverse events such as healthcare-related infections, which place a heavy burden on limited health service budgets.
The European Commission’s economic decision-making needs to become more neutral, MEPs said in an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee debate with Commission Vice-President for the euro Valdis Dombrovskis and Economic and Financial affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Tuesday. MEPs also voiced concern about the low implementation of the Commission’s country-specific recommendations and asked what it would do about high current account surpluses in Germany and other exporting countries
EU smelters and refiners importing „conflict” minerals and metals would have to be certified by the EU in order to help stem the flow of revenue to armed groups, under a draft law as amended by the International Trade Committee on Tuesday. Other amendments lay down conditions for EU recognition of industry self-certification schemes, and labelling requirements. All these amendments still need to be approved by Parliament as a whole.
Next week in Brussels the main topics on the agenda in Committee and the plenary include TTIP amendments to a draft resolution; Conflict minerals; Advanced biofuels; Cross-border payment claims; Armenia genocide;Bangladesh textile industry;Hospital patient safety and cross border payment claims.
Draft EU rules to ensure that the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty is fully respected in member states were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. MEPs inserted amendments to prevent statements by public authorities that might suggest a suspect is guilty before a final conviction, ensure that the burden of proof stays with the prosecution and guarantee the rights to remain silent, not to incriminate oneself and to be present at trial.
A draft EU law to make the benchmarks used to price EU citizens’ mortgages, loans and bonds more trustworthy was backed by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The text (lead MEP Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, ALDE, NL) aims to clean up the benchmark-setting process, by curbing conflicts of interest like those that led to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) rigging scandals of recent years.
The EU and its member states must use all available tools to avoid disruptions on the milk market, seize the opportunity to build a more confident dairy sector and take the global lead, said chair of the Agriculture committee Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL) and Parliament's rapporteur on prospects for the EU dairy sector James Nicholson (ECR, UK) on the occasion of the end of milk quotas.
The European Commission should incorporate, as a key priority, an unambiguous horizontal self-standing provision in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), that "fully exempts the existing and future EU legal framework on the protection of personal data from the agreement", says the Civil Liberties Committee in its TTIP opinion adopted on Tuesday.
The negotiators should also keep in mind that Parliament's consent to the final TTIP agreement could be endangered as long as the blanket mass surveillance activities are not completely abandoned and an adequate solution is found for the data privacy rights of EU citizens.
This week in Brussels European Parliament Committees meet. MEPs will vote on controlling financial benchmarks, host a conference on climate change, examine the state of fundamental rights and receive representatives of the OECD and Nato. The Special Tax Rulings and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees will hold a joint hearing with taxation Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Monday
“We will defeat radicalism only if we stay united” said Antonio Tajani, Parliament’s First Vice-President, opening Tuesday’s high-level conference of MEPs and religious community leaders on the rise of religious radicalism and fundamentalism. EP President Martin Schulz, who closed the debate, said “We have to have the courage to take people on board and encourage dialogue between religions”.
The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and the ICA are jointly hosting a symposium on health issues and initiatives that are focussed on promoting good health in older age. The EU dimension will be outlined with contributions from community activists. The event will look at innovative solutions to challenges that rural communities in particular are facing. The event will begin at 2:00 pm and takes place in An Grianan, Termonfeckin, Co Louth on Friday 27 March. Registration required.
€2.5 million in EU aid has been approved for the 450 former workers of the Lufthansa Technik/Airmotive plant in Dublin, to help them find jobs, Parliament decided on Wednesday. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid has already been approved by the EU Council of Ministers.
The session opened with a minute’s silence for victims of the Germanwings air crash in the French Alps on 24 March and the terrorist attack on Tunisia’s Bardo museum on 18 March. President Schulz conveyed Parliament’s deepest sympathy to their families and friends.
"In the name of the European Parliament I wish to convey my sincere condolences to all the families and friends of the victims on the Germanwings 4U9525 flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf which crashed this morning near Digne-les-Bains in Southern France.
We grieve this terrible loss which has struck individual people and families as well as nations. Tomorrow, at the opening of its plenary session, the European Parliament will remember the victims with a minute of silence."
At the beginning of the month, the European Central Bank (ECB) started its controversial quantative easing programme, buying government bonds with the goal of lowering interest rates, increasing inflation and kick-starting economic growth. ECB president Mario Draghi met the EP's economic affairs committee yesterday to discuss the initiative. Read on to find out more about how it works and watch the debate on our website.