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19-04-2013

Round-up of what happened in the April plenary session of the European Parliament

The Cyprus bailout package and changes to Hungarian constitution were in the spotlight at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 15 to 18 April. MEPs also took important decisions concerning the trading of CO2 emissions and adopted a comprehensive reform package of banking regulations to ensure the stability of the European financial system.

Members of the constitutional affair committee called on Monday for a revision of funding for EU political parties to improve their visibility and said that any donation above €1,000 would have to be publicly disclosed. In addition elections to the European Parliament should take place on 22-25 May 2014.

MEPs voted against postponing auctions for CO2 emission quotas, citing fears that interfering with the supply of credits could undermine market confidence. However, they did agree to temporarily exclude intercontinental flights from the EU's emissions trading scheme.

MEPs adopted a ban on discarding unwanted fish of 35 species caught in the Skagerrak, an area between the North Sea and the Baltic. The ban will take effect gradually between 2014 and 2016 and is the first of its kind.

The European Central Bank should do more to ensure that its cheap loans to banks are passed on to the real economy and it should become more transparent itself, according to a resolution adopted Wednesday.

All EU institutions and agencies, apart from the Council, were granted a discharge for their for 2011 budget. Members postponed the vote on the Council budget due to a lack of cooperation.

Many MEPs raised concerns over whether recent changes to the Hungarian constitution were compatible with EU law. However, others called this a "sterile" debate, adding that other EU countries' laws should be scrutinised too.

MEPs criticised the handling of the Cyprus bailout programme, hitting out at the Eurogroup for its "appalling" communication, the Commission for not defending insured depositors and some politicians for double standards.

A comprehensive EU banking reform will come into force on 1 January 2014. Changes approved by Parliament will cap banker's bonuses to curb speculative risk-taking, step up capital provisions to help banks cope better with crises and reinforce supervision.

Irish president Michael D. Higgins warned against blindly following inadequate economic solutions and called for more democratic accountability in economic policy in a speech to MEPs.

Parliament backed plans to open ground-handling services at major EU airports up to more competition by increasing the minimum number of service providers.