The EU agreed last week on sanctions on oil imported from Iran to force the country back to the negotiating table and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. As MEPs prepared to discuss the issue, we spoke to Tarja Cronberg, chair of the EP delegation for relations with Iran. The Finnish Green stressed the need for negotiations: "The problem is that the EU mistrusts the Iranians and the Iranians mistrust the Europeans, but it is necessary because the alternative is war."
EP President Martin Schulz welcomed the news that preliminary results show around 67% of Croatian voters voted in favour of EU membership on Sunday. "The positive result of the referendum is a clear indicator of the continuing attractiveness of the EU. Membership is the right reward for the remarkable progress achieved by Croatia in its path to reforms in the recent years."
Removing obstacles to trade between nations is not only important for exporters who can thus better penetrate foreign markets and make more money, but also for consumers who can enjoy a wider choice at better prices. Trade liberalisation in the last couple of decades has pushed tariffs down across the world, but other barriers to trade still present problems.
Co-operation between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries took a step forward with the Cotonou Agreement in 2000. Since then, MEPs and MPs from the ACP meet twice a year to debate development issues. Co-chair of this week's joint assembly meeting in Togo, Assarid Ag Imbarcaouane from Mali, agreed to answer some questions about development, the financial crisis and the Arab Spring.
Twice a year MEPs meet elected representatives from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to discuss development-related issues. During the next session in Togo from 19-23 November they will look at the impact of public debt on development, the Arab Spring, the food crisis in the Horn of Africa and democratic governance.
The European Union is currently negotiating a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada. If approved, it will be the EU's first free trade agreement with a G8 country. At the beginning of November, a delegation from the Committee on International trade visited Canada and met representatives from federal and provincial governments as well as various stakeholders. Slovak Christian democrat Peter Šťastný, who will prepare a report on the accord told us more.
Democracy came a step closer for Tunisia as a massive number of its citizens headed to the ballot box Sunday. According to early indications, Islamic party El-Nahda is the frontrunner in the constituent assembly elections, the first to take place in the Arab Spring countries. We spoke to the head of the EP's electoral observation mission, Gabriele Albertini, who gave us his views on Tunisia, the elections and the EU's role in the country.
Just nine months after toppling President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia will take its first steps towards democracy when it holds elections Sunday for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. The EP is sending 15 MEPs to help assess the process.
The US trade deficit with China was one of the causes of the financial crisis, but Europe also runs a trade deficit with China. MEPs on the International Trade Committee organised a public hearing to assess the situation before drafting a report on how to avoid such global trade imbalances.
Jimmy Carter, the former President of the United States, stressed the importance of international election observers during a discussion for the High Level Panel on Election Observation Principles, hosted by EP President Jerzy Buzek, Tuesday.