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A Syrian soldier walks on the roof of the damaged church of Saint Sarkis, in the ancient Christian town of Maalula, 56 kilometers northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus, on December 20, 2014. ©BELGA/AFP/Y.Karwashan  

Religious minorities in the Middle East are increasingly under threat from jihadist groups such as the so-called Islamic State (IS). To call attention to the situation of Christians and other religious minorities in the region, the human rights subcommittee and the EP's Mashreq delegation held a joint hearing on 26 February. "Death has become something banal," warned guest speaker Nawras Sammour, of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria, saying the upsurge in radicalism was worrying Christians. (Read more: Religious minorities at risk in Middle East: "Death has become something banal" )

 
 

Changes to planned European Passenger Name Record (PNR) system discussed by MEPs

LIBE Justice and home affairs26-02-2015 - 18:38
An evaluation of the necessity and proportionality of the proposal in the face of current security threats, its scope (list of offences covered), retention periods, the inclusion or exclusion of intra-EU flights, the connection with the on-going data protection reform, as well as the consequences of the EU Court of Justice judgement annulling the 2006 data retention directive, were among the issues discussed by MEPs.  

A new draft text on an EU system for the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, tabled by lead MEP Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), was discussed in the civil liberties committee on Thursday morning. (Read more: Changes to planned European Passenger Name Record (PNR) system discussed by MEPs )

 
 

ETS reform: everything you need to know in a nutshell

Others Environment26-02-2015 - 16:55
The EP’s environmental committee backs the reform of the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). © BELGA_AGEFOTOSTOCK  

The EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) was set up to reduce gas emissions and fight climate change, but it is not working as efficiently as it could. On 24 February MEPs approved draft legislation to tackle the imbalances of supply and demand of emission allowances, which is holding back investment in green technologies. Read on to find out what the reform is all about. (Read more: ETS reform: everything you need to know in a nutshell )

 
 
2014 European Citizen's Prize laureates  

They are the ones who make Europe a better place: 47 people and organisations from all over the EU received the European Citizen's Prize at a ceremony in Brussels on 25 February as an award for their contributions to European cooperation and the promotion of common values. This included anything from defending the rights of vulnerable groups in society, to working to improve knowledge of EU law and policies, fighting extremism and promoting tolerance and dialogue. (Read more: European Citizen’s Prize: acknowledging people’s contributions to Europe )

 
 

Some 3,000 workers made redundant in Belgium, Germany and Poland in 2013-2014 should receive EU aid worth €6.3million to help them find jobs, the Budgets Committee recommended on Thursday. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid still has to be approved by Parliament as a whole and the Council of Ministers. (Read more: EU job-search aid for redundant workers in Belgium, Germany and Poland )

 
 

Financing development: making every euro count

Others Development and cooperation / Economic and monetary affairs26-02-2015 - 11:20
 

Development plays a crucial role in improving people's lives around the world, but what is the best way to finance it? On 24 February the EP's development committee held a public hearing on how to mobilise all available means and types of financial resources for sustainable global development and poverty eradication over the next 15 years. The hearing, led by committee chair Linda McAvan, was attended by representatives from UN agencies, companies and civil society. (Read more: Financing development: making every euro count )

 
 

Next year’s EU budget priorities should be fostering growth by helping employment, enterprises and entrepreneurship, showing solidarity both within the EU and with countries outside it and putting EU finances in order by tackling the overdue payments backlog and reforming the EU revenue system, say Budgets Committee MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. (Read more: Growth, solidarity and paying the bills: budget MEPs vote 2016 budget priorities )

 
 

Alain Lamassoure elected chair of Special Committee on Tax Rulings

ECON Economic and monetary affairs26-02-2015 - 10:33

Parliament’s newly-established Special Committee on Tax Rulings elected Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR) as its chair at its constituent meeting on Thursday morning. As vice-chairs, the committee elected Bernd Lucke (ECR, DE), Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL, PT) and Eva Joly (Greens/EFA, FR). Rapporteurs will be appointed on 9 March. (Read more: Alain Lamassoure elected chair of Special Committee on Tax Rulings )

 
 

Draghi to Parliament: deeper Monetary Union needed to deal with important shocks

Plenary Session Economic and monetary affairs26-02-2015 - 10:27
ECB President Mario Draghi arrives in Parliament to debate the ECB activities and future EMU governance  

Debating the activities of the ECB with MEPs, ECB President Mario Draghi pledged to work towards a genuine Economic Union. "Economic convergence has not been as sustainable as it was hoped for at the outset. This still puts at risk the long-term success of the monetary union when faced with an important shock", he said. (Read more: Draghi to Parliament: deeper Monetary Union needed to deal with important shocks )

 
 

Ukraine, Greece, terrorism, Libya: highlights of debate with Tusk and Juncker

Plenary Session Institutions25-02-2015 - 19:57
MEPs debate the outcome of the informal summit on 12 February with European Council and Commission presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker  

The violations of the Minsk II Ukraine-Russia ceasefire agreement, the deal reached with Greece, a Passenger Name Record (PNR) system to fight terrorism and the worrying situation in Libya were among the issues addressed in a debate with European Council and Commission presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday. (Read more: Ukraine, Greece, terrorism, Libya: highlights of debate with Tusk and Juncker )