Plenary highlights: Sakharov Prize, the euro and border controls 


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Ensaf Haidar accepted the 2015 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on Wednesday on behalf of her husband Raif Badawi, a Saudi human rights activist who remains in prison. A day earlier, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem attended plenary for the first time to discuss the euro, while the European Commission presented its plan for reinforcing the EU's external borders.

"Raif Badawi was brave enough to raise his voice and say no to their barbarity. That is why they flogged him," said Haidar, when she accepted the 2015 Sakharov Prize on his behalf in Strasbourg on Wednesday 16 December.


Member states should purchase energy collectively from politically secure, environmentally sustainable and economically affordable sources, while fully interconnecting their electricity grids  to make savings of €40 billion a year by 2030, MEPs said in non-binding resolutions adopted on Tuesday.

It is necessary to bring Europe's monetary union to its logical conclusion by creating a true banking union with depositor protection and a European investment fund, Eurogroup President Dijsselbloem told MEPs, adding that austerity measures needed to continue as debt is holding back growth.


MEPs welcomed a proposal by the Commission to strengthen the EU's border controls by upgrading European border agency Frontex and giving it the means to intervene effectively in cases of great need as well as the legal right to do so without the explicit consent of the country involved.

MEPs voted in favour of creating a special commission to look into the motor vehicle diesel emissions scandal surrounding Volkswagen, following revelations in the US and elsewhere.

Weapon exports need to be better controlled to avoid European arms falling into the hands of terrorists bent on using them against us, according to a report adopted by MEPs, which called for the creation of an independent European arms control authority to monitor if firms abide by commonly agreed minimum rules.

Now that an agreement on tackling climate change has been reached at COP21 in Paris, the EU should work hard on meeting the goals, MEPs said debating the outcome of the conference on Tuesday.

"Schengen is here to stay," said Juncker on Wednesday morning as he debated Thursday's European Council with MEPs, who called for closer cooperation in counter-terrorism and control of the external borders. Certain MEPs also spoke of the need to help keep the UK in the EU.

MEPs adopted a resolution on Wednesday setting out what legal steps are needed to tackle aggressive corporate tax planning and evasion by multinationals.

Ireland will get €400,000 worth of EU aid for 108 redundant aircraft repair workers, while Finland will get €2.6 million to help 1,200 laid-off IT workers find new jobs, following a vote in Parliament on Tuesday. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund aid was approved by the EU Council of Ministers on 14 December.

The three winners of our Facebook Editor for a Day competition edited Parliament's Facebook page on Wednesday. In addition to writing several posts, they met EP President Martin Schulz and interviewed Haidar following the Sakharov Prize ceremony.


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