Parliament wants a timely remedy for the 2013 budget shortfalls and is ready to intensify negotiations on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF). These were the key conclusions of this morning's European Parliament Budgets Committee meeting.
MEPs welcomed the results of the Mali donors conference but insisted on respect for the rule of law and human rights during their discussion on Thursday with the acting president, Dioncounda Traoré. Members of the security and defence, foreign affairs and development committees also stressed the need to establish genuine democracy and decentralisation.
Specifications for a new generation of digital tachographs for trucks and buses were agreed informally by Irish presidency and Parliament negotiators on Tuesday. Innovations include devices that can read on-board recording devices from a distance, will make it easier to enforce driving and rest times.
A provisional deal on updated watercraft rules to make them safer and greener was struck by MEPs and Irish EU presidency negotiators on Wednesday. It also scraps the misleading names of boat design categories in order to give consumers clearer information.
"It is a bit simplistic to speak about an Islamic winter after the Arab Spring. The ongoing constitutional processes show that we are on the right path but we cannot yet take the victory of democracy for granted," said foreign affairs committee chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) on Tuesday at a conference on democratic transition in the EU's southern neighbourhood.
The confusion and delay that surrounded decisions on the Cyprus assistance plan were not only due to Cypriot intransigence. Rather, they reveal a need to radically rethink Eurogroup and Troika working methods, argued Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs in Wednesday's debate with Commissioner Olli Rehn and ECB Executive Board member Jorg Asmussen.
The need to agree on how to separate track from train operators and to balance growth, quality of service and working conditions were the main points raised by transport and tourism MEPs and experts at a hearing on the 4th railway package on Tuesday. Uniform rules on safety certification and interoperability will be key to creating a single EU rail area, MEPs agreed.
Draft rules to make it easier for national authorities to freeze and confiscate criminals' assets across the EU were beefed up by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. However, MEPs also sought to safeguard the right to a fair trial. They also called upon member states to use confiscated assets to fight crime and for social projects. The draft law, which must still be negotiated with national governments, is part of a broader EU strategy to fight fraud and corruption.
The EU should take the lead in ensuring the protection of journalists, said foreign affairs MEPs in a vote on Tuesday. The independent press, a watchdog for democracy, is suffering increasing harassment, with journalists being persecuted and imprisoned, they warn, stressing the need to combat impunity for threats and attacks against journalists.
Parliament's Budgets Committee gave its support on Tuesday to the two-track negotiations on the EU long-term budget (MFF) and an amending budget for 2013, which was agreed Monday evening in a meeting of the Presidents of the European Parliament, Council and Commission.