Things we learnt in plenary: migration, plastic bags, road safety, alcohol 


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MEPs called for more measures to prevent the loss of migrant lives in the Mediterranean, including more funding for search and rescue missions, during the plenary session on 27-30 April. They also voted in favour of phasing out plastic bags in the EU and installing emergency call devices in new car models, while calling for an alcohol strategy to tackle the negative effects of alcohol consumption. Read on for our summary of the plenary session in Strasbourg.

After hundreds of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean earlier this month, MEPs proposed a string of measures, including more funding for search and rescue missions, resettlement programmes and quotas to distribute migrants in the EU.

EU countries will have to reduce the use of plastic bags to 90 per person per year by 2019 or make costumers pay for them, says a directive approved by MEPs. Europeans currently use 200 plastic bags per year.

Biofuel production should shift from crops to alternative sources, such as seaweed or waste, to cut greenhouse gas emissions caused by growing land use for biofuel crops, under plans adopted by MEPs.

Parliament approved a proposal to have all new car models and light vans fitted with eCall emergency calling devices by 2018. The devices, that can automatically alert emergency service in case of an accident, are believed to be capable of  cutting traffic deaths by 10%.

MEPs decided to postpone granting discharge for the 2013 EU budget to some EU projects and bodies, including - for the fifth year in a row - the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council.

MEPs said the European Commission should table plans for labelling the calorific content of alcoholic beverages as well as a strategy to reduce alcohol consumption by minors and discourage drink driving by next year at the latest.

A new EU forest strategy to deal with cross-border challenges such as forest fires, climate change or invasive alien species is needed, according to a resolution adopted by MEPs.

Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania need to advance with their democratic processes, tackle corruption and put in place a professional and depoliticised public administration, said MEPs in a report.

MEPs marked the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. To improve work conditions they proposed to tackle anti-union discrimination and fight the corruption of health and safety inspectors.

The EU pavilion at the "Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life" Milan 2015 World Expo, must raise awareness about sustainable food production, food waste and malnutrition, MEPs said.

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