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18-01-2013

What happened in the January plenary session of the EP

Read about this session's highlights and watch the video below.



Economy

The EP approved tougher rules on credit rating agencies to make them more accountable. Sovereign debt ratings will only be published at specific times, conflicts of interest are addressed and private investors can sue agencies for ill-founded ratings.

Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann stressed the importance of solidarity in times of crisis during a debate on the future of the European Union. "Only with social cohesion we can continue our peaceful development," he said.

MEPs urge the Commission to explore all possibilities for pooling sovereign debt and particularly advocate setting up a European Redemption Fund to safeguard the eurozone's stability.

Youth guarantee schemes should ensure that young Europeans receive a job offer, training or apprenticeship within four months of becoming unemployed, said MEPs in a resolution. Average youth unemployment in the EU was 23.7% last November, reaching 50% in some countries.

MEPs contested European Commission plans to withdraw proposed "made in" labelling rules for imports such as clothing or shoes. The rules, strongly supported earlier by the EP, would only allow third countries to sell goods in the EU if their origin was indicated on the label.

The EU must combat biopiracy and stop multinationals exploiting valuable natural resources without sharing the profits with indigenous peoples, said MEPs.

Council presidency

MEPs from all political groups congratulated Cyprus for the work it did during its presidency in the second half of 2012 , but some voiced concerns about its economic plight and the island's division in a debate on the outgoing  presidency.

Creating jobs and tackling the crisis in Europe will be Ireland's top priorities for its six-months at the helm of the EU Council, said Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a debate with MEPs.

Foreign affairs

MEPs stressed that Mali must not fall into the hands of terrorists and supported France's military engagement. On Syria, MEPs said that EU and international strategies are not working and that Bashar al-Assad cannot remain in power.

An EU-Iraq partnership agreement, backed by the EP, can help the Iraqi economy and boost democracy and human rights in the country.

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Watch the video