French president Francois Hollande spoke of the need for common growth-oriented policies when debating Europe with MEPs in Strasbourg, while the plenary sent a stark warning to governments not to try to impose unreasonable cuts on the EU budget. Parliament also welcomed Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, endorsed a far-reaching reform of the EU's fisheries policy and voted for lower noise limits for cars.
President Hollande took part in an intense, two-hour long debate in plenary Tuesday morning. "I will not condemn Europe to austerity without end," he said, calling on MEPs to influence their governments and parties in favour of Europe and growth.
Unreasonable cuts to the EU's 2014-2020 budget would undermine growth in Europe, MEPs said on Wednesday, warning governments that extreme cutbacks could lead to a Parliament veto. Proposals are currently debated and possibly decided on during the special summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
Just hours after Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaïd was shot dead on Wednesday, the country's president Moncef Marzouki addressed MEPs in a moving and warmly applauded speech on the impact the Arab Spring has had.
The long expected reform of the EU's common fisheries policy reform was approved by MEPs Wednesday. The reform is aimed at ending overfishing and the practice of dumping discards or unwanted fish, as well as providing for long-term quota planning based on science.
Europe's 23 million small firms need bank loans adapted to their needs, access to appropriate venture capital and faster payments from other firms, MEPs said Tuesday.
Traffic noise could become less of a nuisance after MEPs approved on 6 February plans for lower noise restrictions for motor vehicles, while consumers would be better informed on how noisy cars are when they want to buy one. In addition, electric vehicles should be audible to pedestrians, MEPs said.
MEPs approved on Wednesday plans for additional EU funding to help crisis-hit border countries with the cost of taking in refugees.
Elephants, bluefin tuna and polar bears need special protection, Parliament said in a resolution adopted on Wednesday ahead of next month's 16th meeting on international trade in endangered species (CITES) in Bangkok.
Same ingredients, cheaper price: MEPs supported on Wednesday legislation which will make generic medicines more obtainable. The new rules, now to be discussed with member states, impose shorter deadlines for bringing generics to market.
Settling the status of Kurds in Turkey will benefit the whole region, MEPs said while discussing the issue with the Council and Commission on Wednesday. They said the EU has to support the peace negotiations as incidents show that hardliners are still willing to sabotage the process.