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Things we learnt in plenary this week: 21- 24 October

aerial view EP Strasbourg
aerial view EP Strasbourg

In a vote on 23 October Parliament rejected cuts in research, employment and humanitarian aid initiatives in the EU's budget for next year as proposed by the Council.

Myanmar human rights legend Aung San Suu Kyi finally received her Sakharov Prize on 22 October, 23 years after it was awarded. "Freedom of thought begins with the right to ask questions," she told MEPs.

MEPs discussed on Wednesday 23 October how to prevent in future tragedies such as the hundreds lost off the coast of Lampedusa on 3 October and said that human casualties can be prevented only by coordinated efforts inspired by solidarity and responsibility.

Concerns over online surveillance by the NSA led MEPs to call on Wednesday for the suspension of the agreement granting the US access to information on payment transfers of EU citizens via the SWIFT network. Earlier this week, the civil liberties committee adopted its negotiating position on the reform of EU data protection legislation, to give people more control over their data.

Organised crime does not recognise borders and should be tackled with cross-border measures, MEPs said on Wednesday, setting out an action plan that focuses on choking off international crime organisations' sources of income.

MEPs clashed over the benefits and challenges of freedom of movement in the EU on Tuesday, with the Commission and members saying that it benefits the economy of the host countries and others arguing that it places a burden on their welfare system .

In light of the recent breast and hip implant scandals, Parliament tightened up monitoring and certification procedures for medical devices on Tuesday. MEPs also reinforced safety requirements for diagnostic tools used to perform pregnancy, diabetes, HIV or DNA tests.

A blacklist of companies repeatedly convicted for using misleading marketing is among the recommendations for fighting these practices approved by MEPs on Tuesday.

On Wednesday MEPs approved rules for allocating money from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The €6.5 billion EU aid fund will be used to improve safety, working conditions, data collection and port infrastructure and will also be used to help fishermen comply with the discard ban.

In the future EU-registered ships will have to be dismantled in EU-approved ship recycling facilities worldwide, according to plans approved by the Parliament on Tuesday. The new rules plan to put an end to the scrapping of old EU-registered ships on beaches outside the EU.