After the fall of the Berlin wall the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was created to help countries from the former Soviet bloc transit to market economies. MEPs have now approved plans for the bank to extend its activities to Southern and Eastern Mediterranean in the wake of last year's Arab spring. We spoke to Bulgarian MEP Slavi Binev, responsible for steering the plans through Parliament, about how the EBRD can make a difference.
MEPs questioned the lack of results from the EU's strategy for Afghanistan in a debate with Catherine Ashton, the high representative for foreign affairs, on Tuesday 12 June. NATO troops are due to leave Afghanistan in 2014, but MEPs wonder if the country is ready to take over. They pointed to problems with corruption, poverty and the Taliban. Ms Ashton called Afghanistan a "long-term commitment" and said there had already been significant improvements.
Ollanta Humala, the president of Peru, addressed MEPs in Strasbourg on 13 June, highlighting his country's pro-democracy direction and stressing its improvement of social inclusion and fight against poverty .
Energy not only fuels anything from cars to fridges, but it is also what keeps our economy moving. However, if the EU is to have reliable energy supplies at affordable prices, member states must agree on a common approach with external energy suppliers, warns Hungarian Social-Democrat Edit Herczog. She spoke to us ahead of a plenary vote on 12 June that approved her report setting out a strategy for EU energy cooperation with third countries.
The controversial ACTA agreement has entered the critical final stage after three parliamentary committees voted on their recommendation on 31 May. The legal affairs committee voted against a draft opinion recommending approval, while the industry committee and the civil liberties committees approved reports recommending rejection. On 4 June the development committee also voted in favour of rejecting ACTA. We take a look at the last remaining steps.
Europe and the 78 developing countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific making up the ACP have more in common than just the dark cloud of the colonial past. Security, especially in Africa, development and climate change are all challenges that unite, as MEPs and national MPs from these countries repeatedly acknowledged during the 23rd Plenary session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Denmark on 28-30 May.
The EU faces the challenge of how to best help neighbouring countries transform into modern democracies capable of competing at a global level. In the case of Moldova, the EU is now negotiating visa liberalisation and a free trade agreement to incite it to carry out the necessary reforms. On 29 May all this will be discussed at the 15th meeting of the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee (PCC). We spoke to Romanian Christian-Democrat Monica Macovei, head of the delegation to the PCC.
China's meteoric economic rise and the barriers EU companies face when trying to enter the Chinese market have over the past decade led to a tripling of the EU trade deficit with the Asian giant. It is time for a new EU-China partnership based on the reciprocity of rules and transparency in trade relations in order to defend the interests of European industry, argues a report by French Liberal-Democrat Marielle de Sarnez, which was adopted by the European Parliament on 23 May 2012.
Ukraine should stand by the principles of the rule of law and democracy if it wants to join the EU at some point, MEPs said in a debate on the treatment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. However, views differed on whether it was a good idea for leading EU politicians to boycott the Euro 2012 football games in Ukraine over this. The parliamentary debate was also attended by Ms Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevgenia.
Centuries after Blackbeard and his ilk passed into legend, piracy has once again become a major problem with a global impact. Operating off the Somali coast, modern day pirates have become a threat to regional stability, world trade and all forms of maritime transport. As long as the political situation in Somalia remains unstable, it is unlikely that the situation will improve. The EP adopted a resolution on how to tackle the challenge during the Brussels plenary on 10 May.