EP president Martin Schulz has called on member states to come up with concrete measures to create jobs and growth in the coming weeks to avoid Europe sinking deeper into economic and social turmoil. Mr Schulz made the appeal in a bold speech at the informal EU summit dedicated to growth in Brussels on 23 May. He said: "In the current situation, half-hearted statements of intent are simply not enough."
Ukraine should stand by the principles of the rule of law and democracy if it wants to join the EU at some point, MEPs said in a debate on the treatment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. However, views differed on whether it was a good idea for leading EU politicians to boycott the Euro 2012 football games in Ukraine over this. The parliamentary debate was also attended by Ms Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevgenia.
"How is it possible that after having legislation on equal pay for over 50 years it doesn't work and we still have a 16%-17% gender pay gap in the EU?" asks Slovakian Christian Democrat Edit Bauer. Mrs Bauer is the author of a report on equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value, which the EP debates and votes on Thursday 24 May.
The need to combine current austerity with growth oriented measures without abandoning the overriding need for fiscal consolidation was underlined by most speakers in a debate in the EP plenary on May 22, one day before the informal EU summit in Brussels dedicated to growth and job creation. Most speakers also stressed Greece's plight, the causes for this and possible consequences.
Stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna have dropped dramatically since the 1990s. This week MEPs voted in favour of measures that include further reducing fishing quotas and strengthening controls over bluefin tuna fishing in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Spanish Green MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda says tuna sanctuaries could be the answer in his report that was adopted by MEPs on 23 May 2012.
How can the financial sector be made to contribute to the cost of the crisis it helped to create? Greek socialist Anni Podimata argues in her report that introducing a financial transaction tax would go a long way towards stamping out banks' risky behaviour while at the same time replenishing government coffers with much needed funds.
Consumers in the EU still lack sufficient protection, which is why more needs to be done to strengthen their rights. That is the view of Spanish Social-Democrat María Irigoyen Pérez, who has written a report on the rights of vulnerable consumers. In it she suggest solutions for tackling common problems in sectors such as transport, finance and the internet. The report was adopted by Parliament on 22 May 2012
The crisis and how we deal with it will once more be debated by the EP during the May plenary session in Strasbourg. MEPs will discuss the upcoming EU summit with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso as well as the proposal for a tax on financial transactions and the general strengthening of the EU economy. As always, the summit on Wednesday will open with a debate between EU leaders and Parliament president Martin Schulz.
MEPs had much to discuss during the Strasbourg plenary session on 21-24 May, ranging from ways to reform the economy to measures to plug the gender pay gap. Parliament voted on a proposed financial transaction tax on Wednesday as well as on a proposal to maximise the efficient use and recovery of natural resources, while also debating measures to support SMEs. On Thursday MEPs voted on a resolution addressing the gender pay gap, as women still earn 16.4% less than men on average.
May 17 is the International day against homophobia, an area in which the European Parliament is very active. This year's theme is "fighting homophobia and transphobia in and through education". So where do EU countries stand? Which countries protect their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens against hate crimes and afford them the same rights as other citizens? Find out in our infographic.