MEPs backed the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area, got tough on the long-term budget, criticised the handling of the E. coli outbreak in Germany, debated the criteria for EU-wide nuclear stress tests and demanded that the EU not conclude trade agreements with third countries that fail to respect human rights and labour standards during the June Strasbourg plenary.
In a debate about the recent outbreak of E. coli in Germany Tuesday morning, MEPs called for better coordination and improved enforcement of rules on food labeling and traceability. After the unjust accusation leveled against Spanish cucumbers and soya beans, members also deplored the harm done to the EU fruit and vegetable industry.
Revising road haulage tax rules, MEPs Tuesday approved charges for air and noise pollution costs in addition to motorway tolls. The new polluter pays rules should mean the revenue raised is used to improve the performance of transport systems.
MEPs voted in favour of full Schengen membership for Bulgaria and Romania Wednesday. "We are in a position to welcome Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area...their citizens should be regarded fully as European citizens," rapporteur Carlos Coelho said. Home Affairs Ministers decided Thursday they would consider the countries' accession in September.
MEPs discussed the Commission's criteria for the EU-wide stress tests of nuclear plants Thursday. They stressed the need to close plants that fail to pass the test and called for the tests to be extended to neighbouring countries, particularly Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine and Armenia. Some MEPs said omitting the terrorist strikes from the stress test criteria diminishes their value significantly.
Multiannual Financial Framework The European Parliament rejected proposals by some member states to freeze the EU's long-term budget for 2014-2020. These countries should spell out which priorities they would drop as a consequence of the freeze, they said. "We have to put an end to this bad habit of entering into a political commitment without having enough funding to back it," rapporteur Salvador Garriga said.
The President of Tajikistan, Emomalii Rahmon, was welcomed to plenary Monday by EP President Jerzy Buzek during his official visit to the European Parliament. Later, he met MEPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee and Human Rights Subcommittee.
The failure to comply with basic international social standards constitutes a form of social and environmental dumping detrimental to European companies and workers MEPs said in a resolution on the external dimension of the EU's social policy. They want the EU to refrain from signing trade agreements with countries that do not respect human rights and core labour standards.
While welcoming deepening economic relations between the EU and Canada, MEPs expressed concern about the continued mining of asbestos in Canada and the grave impact on workers' health and warned that the CO2-intensive extraction of oil sands has a negative impact on the global environment and local biodiversity.
The Parliament adopted a report on the mid-term review of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for research and technology but noted that the evaluation did not give the overall picture of member state and EU action.