In the run-up to the 2014 European Parliament elections, rules on founding and funding EU political parties should be revised to improve their visibility, transparency and effectiveness and enhance the European character of these elections, said the Consitutional Affairs Committee in a negotiating mandate voted on Monday for talks with the Council.
The 2014 European Parliament elections should be held from 22 to 25 May, instead of 5-8 June, says a draft decision backed with an overwhelming majority by the Constitutional Affairs Committee on Monday. This will give the new Parliament more time to prepare for the election of the European Commission President in July 2014.
The EU member states should open EU accession talks with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia before the end of June 2013, the Foreign Affairs Committee said on Monday. In a vote on the country's 2012 progress report, MEPs called on the EU enlargement Commissioner to assess the cost of non-enlargement, including key risks for the country should the current status quo persist. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was granted EU candidate status in December 2005.
Holding elections in Mali in July "is going to be difficult", given the large number of displaced people and the adverse climate conditions, but "we have to organise what has become a fragmented society", UN special envoy for the Sahel Romano Prodi told Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday. He stressed that the French military intervention was "inevitable" but has not solved future non-military dilemmas.
Reimposing visa requirements on nationals of third countries that fail to remove them for EU citizens would be made easier by visa reciprocity rule changes voted in the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. The EU could also temporarily suspend its visa-free travel rules to halt "substantial and sudden increases" in irregular migrant numbers or unfounded asylum applications, but only as a last resort, MEPs added. But these changes have first to be agreed with EU member states.
The Commission proposal to settle only part of the EU's €16.2 billion debt rolled over from 2012 threatens the EU with insolvency later in 2013, said Budgets Committee chair Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR) on Wednesday. The Commission, Parliament and Council agreed last year to settle all bills left over from 2012.
EU visa applications should be further facilitated to help the EU tourism industry to drive growth and create jobs, said Transport and Tourism Committee MEPs in a discussion with European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday. Tourism accounts for 10% of GDP and 12% of total employment in the EU.
Plans to clean up the scrapping of old ships and ensure the materials are recycled in EU-approved facilities worldwide were revised by the Environment Committee on Tuesday. MEPs propose that the scheme be funded by a recycling levy, in line with the "polluter pays" principle. Owners of EU ships would also face penalties if they sold them for scrapping on a beach in developing countries.
MEP Sharon Bowles, Chair of the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee welcomes the agreement on Cyprus, particularly the recognition that banks can fail and that the deposit guarantee principle must be upheld.
Safeguarding public pensions to ensure decent living standards for all in old age must remain a priority, MEPs stress in a resolution adopted on Thursday. They also call for the development of supplementary pension schemes and longer working lives to ensure the sustainability of pensions threatened by demographic ageing and strained public finances.