The European Commission's austerity focus was widely lambasted by centre-left MEPs at an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee meeting with Commissioner Olli Rehn on Thursday, only a week after he last came in for strong criticism in Parliament's plenary chamber. But the centre right's lead MEP urged Mr Rehn to show more bravery and conviction amid growing signs that the Commission may to bow to anti-austerity campaigners.
The EU Council of Ministers should authorize the start of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks with the US in June, say International Trade Committee MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. The negotiating mandate should include public procurement and financial services, but exclude culture, they add.
Obliging companies to switch auditors regularly and prohibiting auditors from supplying certain non-auditing services are among the changes voted by the Legal Affairs Committee on Thursday to a draft law to open up the EU audit services market and improve audit quality and transparency.
EU firms could save billions of euros thanks to draft EU rules that would enable them to re-use public data instead of producing them from scratch. These rules, approved by the Industry Committee today, would apply to public information such as maps, statistics and weather data. MEPs ensured that any fees will be low and that firms will find it cheap and easy to complain if access is denied.
Additional EU funding totalling €70 million to meet humanitarian needs in Syria, Mali, the Sahel region and Chad. was approved by the Budgets Committee on Wednesday.
Political leadership and visibility of the External Action Service could be improved if there were more coordination and synergy between it, the Commission and the Council, as was the intention when the functions of High Representative, Commission Vice-President and Foreign Affairs Council chair were merged, said foreign affairs MEPs on Tuesday in their review of the EU's new diplomatic corps two years after it was set up.
MEPs quizzed European Central Bank Vice-President Vitor Constancio on what more can be done to help credit flow to businesses and households, whether austerity is the right recipe, ECB transparency and possible interest rate cuts at Wednesday's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee meeting on ECB activities in 2012.
To reduce the CO2 emissions of new cars sold in the EU to 95g/km by 2020, from 130g today, clean-car innovation should be encouraged by giving "super-credit" weightings to each maker's cleaner cars and setting more ambitious longer-term reduction targets, said the Environment Committee on Wednesday. Environmental performance testing methods should also be made more realistic, as a matter of urgency, it added.
A European Commission proposal to allow the use of EU air passenger name record (PNR) data in investigating serious crime and terrorist offences was rejected by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs Wednesday, by 30 votes to 25.
The Cuban "Ladies in White" (Damas de Blanco) protest movement was at last able to receive its European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in Brussels on Tuesday, when, over seven years later, Havana finally lifted a travel ban. The prize was presented at a special ceremony during a joint meeting of the foreign affairs, development and human rights committees, attended by European Parliament President, Martin Schulz.