Companies making money from extracting valuable commodities underground will be forced to shed light on their dealings with governments, under new rules agreed by Parliament and the Council. Oil, gas and mineral firms will have to disclose full information on payments to governments for any project worth more than €100,000. Parliament successfully negotiated that there would be no exemption for big companies.
Fireworks could soon become safer to use thanks to new rules requiring clearer labels and instructions in the official languages of each member state where the products are for sale. On 11 April the EP's consumer protection committee will vote on the proposal, which also aims to reduce red tape for companies involved in the production and distribution of fireworks as well as make it easier for authorities to keep an eye on sales and imports.
With the current economic crisis, it is more important than ever to pursue growth, jobs and social justice. The challenge of how to achieve this was debated at a meeting on 8-10 April of the International Labour Organization, a UN agency dedicated to promoting social justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights. MEP Pervenche Berès, who headed the EP delegation, discussed the agency's role and pleaded in favour of a youth guarantee, entitling under 25s to work or education.
The EU could soon be able to reintroduce visa requirements for countries that do not allow European citizens vis-free travel, under new rules approved by the EP's civil liberties committee on 8 April. Under the proposal the EU would also be able to suspend visa-free travel in the case of a drastic or sudden increase in the number of migrants or unfounded asylum applications, but only as a last resort. The new rules will still have to be agreed by member states before they can enter into force.
Military action in Mali was necessary according to Romano Prodi. "I always looked towards peace, but the French intervention has proved to be absolutely crucial since [Mali] was on the verge of collapse," the UN special envoy for the Sahel told the EP's foreign affairs and development committees and security and defence sub-committee on Monday 8 April. Mr Prodi was at the Parliament to discuss the situation in the Sahel, an African region blighted by poverty, food scarcity and terrorism.
Parliaments should have more of a say on international treaties affecting citizens, according to EP vice-president Othmar Karas. The Austrian member of the EPP group made the plea at the fourth annual G20 parliamentary speakers meeting in Mexico on 3-5 April which he attended on behalf of EP president Martin Schulz. The meeting was dedicated to issues such as economic recovery, the reform of the financial system and the fight against corruption.
MEPs will this week welcome parliamentarians from the countries of the Union for the Mediterranean to discuss the region's hopes and challenges in the wake of the Arab Spring. The internal market committee will vote on updated rules for selling fireworks, while the foreign affairs committee will discuss the situation in Sahel and the progress made by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia towards achieving EU membership.
EP president Martin Schulz will plead for parliaments to play a greater role in facilitating Arab Spring countries' transition to democracy during a meeting of the Union of the Mediterranean in Marseille on 6-7 April. Mr Schulz will meet the parliament presidents of all the countries that belong to this partnership that unites both shores of the Mediterranean to discuss how they can help further the Union's goals. This will be the Union's first-ever meeting of Parliament speakers.
Dozens of languages in Europe are not much lost for words as short of speakers with some 120 believed to be dying out. The EP's culture committee discussed the problem with experts on 20 March. However, MEP François Alfonsi believes the final word on these languages has yet to be said. The French member of the Green group is drafting a report on what can be done to support them. Is there still time to save languages such as Lombard, Polesian and Saterlandic?
A year ago today a ground-breaking initiative was launched to enable ordinary people to directly ask the European Commission to come up with new European legislation on topics that are important to them. Since then the citizens' initiative has been used to raise issues ranging from protecting the environment to mobile phones rates and stopping experiments on animals. We talked to MEPs Zita Gurmai and Alain Lamassoure, who are in charge of this at the EP, to assess the first year.