Banner page The European Parliament The European Parliament
Banner page

Index 
 
 

Briefing : 07-04-97

Conversion rates:    1 ECU = £ Sterling 0.73) as at 28.2.97
                1 ECU = IR£ (punt) 0.74)

Abbreviations

PES        Party of European Socialists
EPP        European People's Party
UFE        Union for Europe
ELDR        Group of the European Liberal, Democratic and Reformist Party
EUL/NGL    Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left
Greens        Green Group in the European Parliament
ERA        European Radical Alliance
I-EN        Independent Group of the Nations
Ind        Non-attached

A: Austria; B: Belgium; D: Germany; Dk: Denmark; E: Spain; F: France; Fin: Finland;
Gr: Greece; I: Italy; Irl: Ireland; L: Luxembourg; Nl: Netherlands; P: Portugal; S: Sweden;
UK: United Kingdom; EC: European Community, EU: European Union

Mailing list changes

For any deletions, additions or changes of address please contact Penny Bardoni on (2) 284.3461 or write to the address on the front cover, giving label reference number if possible.

EPADES PUBLIC

The Briefing and The Week are available to European Parliament readers on EPADES PUBLIC under Directory BRIEFING.SES\SESSION. The Strasbourg Notebook is also available under Directory BRIEFING.SES\JOURNAL. Document names are as follow:

The Briefing     PREMM.EN        where MM indicates the month - in months with two sessions I or II will be added after MM

The Week    POSTMM.EN         where MM indicates the month - in months with two sessions I or II will be added after MM

Strasbourg    DD-MM-AM.EN        where DD is the date, MM the month, AM the
Notebook    DD-MM-PM.EN        midday edition and PM the evening edition

INTERNET

Please note that details of Parliament's session activities can now be found on the Internet on the European Union EUROPA server: http://www.europarl.europa.eu

C O N T E N T S

Cosmetics
3

Genetically modified maize
3

Health and safety and work - Cancer dangers
3

Human rights in the European Union
5

Jobs, the road to EMU and the 1997 Annual Economic Report
7

EMU and balance of payments problems
7

Competitiveness and improving Europe's industry or benchmarking
8

A common driving licence and a Euro ban
8

Banking collapses and consumer protection
8

Simplifying the single market
9

Investment services and capital adequacy
9

Artists' right and royalties - a concern for salesrooms
9

Motor vehicle dimensions
10

Pressure vessels
10

Motorcycles - agreement on tyres and tampering
10

Clearing accounts. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12

Trade with the new Palestinian authority
12

Hong Kong
13

Motor vehicles and reducing air pollution
13

Sex discrimination, the burden of proof and the UK opt out
13

Free movement, Schengen and computer checks
14

Pornography, customs checks and new technology
15

Banking controls
16

Fisheries conservation again
16

Helping Italian fishermen
16

Fishing in the Baltic
17

Mutual recognition of diplomas
17

Legal and commercial documents
18

The homeless - the EU should help
18

Disability and equality - a role for the EU
18

The Third World and regional integration
19

Rice crisis
19

Tourism
20

Alpine traffic
20


Could readers please note that the agenda is subject to last minute changes. A pre-session press conference given by the president or his press spokesman and spokesmen for the political groups is held in the ESL Building Room 0A50 on the Friday before the session, beginning at 9.30am.





Monday, 7 April 1997, from 5pm to 8pm

.     Order of business

.    Announcement of the list of subjects proposed for the debate on topical and urgent subjects of major importance (Rule 47)

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Cosmetics - Alternatives to animal testing


Cosmetics - Alternatives to animal testing
    (A4-17/97 - Roth-Behrendt)

    On behalf of the committee of environment Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (D, PES) will be presenting a report on the development, validation and legal acceptance of alternative methods to animal experiments in the field of cosmetic products. In June 1993 the Council adopted Directive 93/35/EEC amending for the sixth time Directive 76/768/EEC, concerning cosmetic products. Throughout the co-operation process, the issue of animal testing dominated consideration of this directive. Amendments made by Parliament at first reading effectively prohibited the use of cosmetics containing ingredients or combinations of ingredients tested on animals after 31 January 1995. In the report Mrs Roth-Berendt deeply regrets that the Commission takes the view that it must submit draft measures to postpone the implementation of the ban for two years where no alternative methods are available. The European Parliament supported the view that production of new cosmetics should not cause animal suffering and that, if necessary, the cosmetics industry could rely on the estimated 8,000 ingredients currently in use. MEPs will continue to press for a complete end to animal testing for cosmetics by 1998.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Genetically modified maize


Genetically modified maize
    (Breyer, Lannoye, des Places, Pasty, Gonzalez Alvarez)

    In the light of the Commission's decision of 18 December 1996 authorising the importation of genetically modified maize, which has been challenged by Austria, several questions have been tabled seeking confirmation from the Commission that public health and environmental concerns have been taken into account. Specifically MEPs want to know why labelling will not be required and why the Commission did not wait until the regulation on new foods had been approved. Another point of concern is the impact on European farmers.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Health and safety at work Cancer dangers


Health and safety at work - Cancer dangers
    Cooperation procedure - second reading. 314 votes required for amendments to be adopted or text rejected
    (A4/72-97 - Ojala)

    In reaching a common position on a Commission proposal to improve health and safety provisions for workers exposed to dangers from carcinogens at work through the revision of a 1990 directive, Council took on board five amendments adopted by Parliament at first reading, including two which deleted certain exemptions. It did however delay the entry into force of the new proposed 1ppm limit value to 6 years after the adoption of the directive.

    Reporting for the employment and Social Affairs Committee, Outi Ojala (Fin, EUL/NGL) will be retabling amendments concerning the removal of the transitional period, the reference to biological limit values and the need to draw up a priority list for other limit values including arsenic.


From 7pm

    
-    Parliamentary committee meetings


Tuesday, 8 April 1997, from 9am to 1pm, 3pm to 7pm and 9 pm to midnight

9 - 9.15

.    Announcement of the list of motions for resolutions tabled on topical and urgent subjects of major importance (Rule 47)

.    Vote on any requests for the urgent procedure (Rule 97)

9.15am to 12 noon

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Human rights in the European Union


Human rights in the European Union
    (A4-112/97 - Roth)

    The Annual Report on human rights in the European Union for 1995 will this year be presented by Claudia Roth (D, Greens) on behalf of the civil liberties committee. It runs to some 171 paragraphs and in addition to calling on the IGC to introduce a mechanism to allow the EU as such to accede to the European Human Convention on Human Rights, takes up other human right issues such as the right to live and die in dignity, freedom from torture, fundamental freedom, immigrants' rights, privacy, combatting racism, the right of the child, non-discrimination and the environment.

     .    The right to live and die in dignity - No to Euthanasia

        Here the UK along with Greece and Belgium is called upon to ratify protocol number 6 to the European convention on Human Rights designed for the unconditional abolition of the death penalty. There is also a call to ban euthanasia.

        There should be no discrimination against different religions.

     .    The right to freedom from torture and the rights of people in detention
        
        The use of torture is emphatically condemned and Denmark is praised for introducing new procedures to enable complaints to be made against the police. The other Member States are

requested to introduce similar complaints procedures. The draft resolution regrets the 1995 decision of the British government to extend the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

     .    Freedom of movement

        Once again there is a call for the Schengen intergovernmental arrangements governing free movement to be brought under the auspices of the European Community with jurisdiction for the Court of Justice.

     .    Fundamental rights - Abortion in Ireland an issue

        Here the rights of conscientious objectors are reaffirmed and there is request for Greece to put a halt to persecuting conscientious objectors and to introduce alternative service. There is objection to Ireland's restrictive laws banning publicity for abortion services. The text "condemns the restriction on freedom of opinion in Ireland, where a law prohibits the publication of any material in favour of abortion". There is also support for the EU and Member States ratifying the Council of Europe's Social Charter, which was not signed by the UK. There is also a call on the UK to sign up to the Social Charter of the Maastricht Treaty.

     .    Legal rights

        Here, there is a call for the right of victims in criminal cases to be strengthened in such a way as to provide compensation. The draft resolution draws attention to the growing prison population and the unacceptable conditions, especially as regards health and hygiene faced by many prisoners. There is a call for young people not to be placed in detention and for drug addicts not to be punished but instead given treatment. Proper child care facilities should be available for mothers in prison with small children.

     .    Immigrants' rights

        Here the draft resolution takes the view that a ban on further immigration is not effective but simply encourages illegal immigrants. There is therefore a call on the Member States to review existing immigration policies. The right to reunification of families is also reaffirmed and the Member States are requested to regularise the status of people who have been living for a considerable amount of time in their respective countries.

    .    Combatting racism

        Here there is a call on the Member States to ratify racist propaganda as a criminal offence to take appropriate preventative measures, especially in education and training of those people such as social workers, police officers and teachers.

    .    Social security and poverty

        Here there is support for the EU to support legislation guaranteeing a minimum income and level of social protection, medical health treatment and housing. There is also a call on the Member States to recognise the special situation of travelling people and gypsies. Mention is also made of the right to "work" and a "minimum" pension.

     .    The right to privacy


        Here there is support for the right to privacy and data protection as a fundamental right.

    .    The right to non-discrimination

        Here there is support for including a chapter in EU policies confirming the fundamental right of the disabled to equal opportunities. Member States should ensure that there is no discrimination either against women or homosexuals and lesbians. Special measures should be taken to combat violence and abuse against women.

     .    Children's rights - No to Scandinavian porn

        Here there is a call on the EU to outlaw child labour. Sexual exploitation is strongly condemned. There is a call for the ban on child pornography and paedophile materials in any form, especially in Sweden and Denmark where such publications are still legal.

    .    Right to a healthy environment

        Here the right to a healthy environment is confirmed. This should be guaranteed by the relevant authorities if necessary through "polluter pays" legislation. There is also a call for a ban on the export of foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals which are prohibited in the EU.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Jobs, the Road to EMU and the 1997 Annual Economic Report


Jobs, the Road to EMU and the 1997 Annual Economic Report
    Commission report
    (A4-111/97 - Randzio-Plath)

    With GDP across the EU expected to grow by 2.3% in 1997 and 2.8% in 1998, but not sufficiently to make a meaningful dent in the unemployment figures, Christa Randzio-Plath (D, PES) in a draft resolution tabled on behalf of the economic and monetary affairs committee, will be calling on the Member States to boost demand as a means of creating new jobs. She takes the view that what is holding Europe's economies back is too low investment levels by the private sector, cut backs in public expenditure, inadequate spending on research, poor coordination of tax and monetary policies, high real interest rates, an inflexible labour market, weak demand and

the absence of businessmen prepared to take risks, lack of new initiatives on training, financial speculation and over regulation.

    Once again the high non-wage costs of labour are mentioned as an important factor. There is a call for a reduction in charges on labour such as high taxation and national insurance contributions. There is also support for the new treaty to include a chapter on employment. There is also a call on the Member States to take greater efforts to create jobs. The question of different tax rates across the EU creating an unfair competitive advantage for businesses is also raised.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

EMU and balance of payments problems


EMU and balance of payments problems
    Commission communication
    (A4-015/97 - Metten)

    Alman Metten (NL, PES) reporting for the economic committee will be looking at the EU's special financial assistance programme for countries facing balance of payments problems in the light of EMU due to come into force on 1 January 1999. From that date, countries entering EMU will no longer be able to benefit from existing preferential loan rate facilities. However, there is the problem of those countries aiming to join and adjusting their economies accordingly and other such as the UK, not necessarily in favour of becoming members.

    In a draft resolution Mr Metten therefore takes the view that the present arrangements should be maintained for a transitional period but bearing in mind the fact that countries who want to join should have made it by the year 2002, the present arrangements should then be replaced by a new instrument based on Article 103 (a) (2) of the Maastricht Treaty on EMU which provides for help for a Member State which "is in difficulties or is seriously threatened with severe difficulties caused by exceptional occurrences beyond it's control".

    Mr Metten considers that after the introduction of EMU in a majority of Member States, economic problem are likely to be common to Europe as a whole rather than relating to specific national economies. And the UK, if it doesn't join ?

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Competitiveness and improving Europe's industry or benchmarking


Competitiveness and improving Europe's industry or benchmarking
    Commission communication
    (Garcia-Margallo y Marfil)

    In a move to identify reasons for Europe's gradual loss of market share to Japan and the USA, the Commission had adopted the technique of "benchmarking" or identifying inefficiencies through a system of comparisons. The first problem is the degree of risk facing European businesses operating in the Single Market when compared to Japanese or American businessmen benefiting from a single currency. Although this can be expected to be reduced with the introduction of Economic and Monetary Union, the present constraint in reducing public expenditure to meet the Maastricht treaty criteria can have an adverse effect on public expenditure devoted to infrastructure. A stable economy and legal certainties are other important factors for business. Other points are energy and telecommunications' costs, a skilled workforce and tax treatment of savings and capital. There are also specific issues relevant to each industry.

    Reporting for the economic committee, José Manuel Garica-Margallo y Marfil (E, EPP) has tabled a draft resolution which emphasizes, when using the concept to measure living standards, the need to take account of such factors as environmental standards and low crime levels. Other points such as the level of health and safety in the workplace should also be included. The non- wage costs of labour at 44% in the EU compared to 28% in the USA and 24% in Japan are also relevant. But here the draft resolution emphasises the need to channel more resources to retraining and other measures to promote employment rather than just easing the consequences of unemployment.

    For the future, the draft resolution calls on the Commission to continue with benchmarking through pilot projects with a view to identifying the best practice. A detailed work programme should be produced.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

A common driving licence and a Euro ban


A common driving licence and a Euro ban

    Cooperation procedure - second reading. 314 votes required for amendments to be adopted on text rejected
    (Farassino)
    
    Reporting on Council's common position on a Euro-wide driving licence to be valid throughout the fifteen Member States, Gipo Farassino (I, ELDR) will be retabling an amendment rejected by Council and designed to introduce Euro-wide provisions for licences withdrawn, so that a motorist banned from driving in one country would not be allowed to drive anywhere in the EU.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Banking collapses and consumer protection


Banking collapses and consumer protection
    Co-decision procedure - first reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted.
    (A4/97-97 - Lehne)

    In the wake of the collapse of a number of major banks with knock on effects both for clients and the international banking systems, the Commission is putting forward a directive designed to strengthen international banking rules in the context of Economic and Monetary Union. Specifically the proposal deals with "netting" arrangements and collateral security in the event of an insolvency.

    Welcoming the proposal on behalf of the legal committee, Klaus-Heiner Lehne (D, EPP) will be tabling several technical amendments relating to insolvency laws and settlement procedures.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Simplifying the single market - SLIM


Simplifying the single market - SLIM

    Commission Communication
    (Crowley)

    In a move to reduce the bureaucratic impact of EU single market legislation on SMEs, the Commission has launched a new initiative SLIM - Simpler Legislation for the Internal Market. The initial pilot project applies to statistical gathering, technical regulations affecting building products, mutual recognition of diplomas and plants. It has for example, been found that extra national administrative burdens are place on EU procedures governing the recognition of qualifications.

    Reporting for the legal affairs committee, Brian Crowley (Irl, UFE) welcomes the move, although in view of the fact that most of the unnecessary bureaucracy occurs at a national level he is concerned that it has not been possible to make much of an impact here

    His draft resolution, therefore, calls on the Member States to play ball and show willingness to cooperate by simplifying national rules and for the second phase to concentrate on areas with a more direct impact on business i.e. financial services, public contracts and two specific directives on machinery and the marketing of dangerous substances.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Investment services and capital adequacy - committee power clash


Investment services and capital adequacy - committee power clash
    Co-decision procedure - second reading. 314 votes required for amendments to be adopted
    (A4-97/93 - Oddy)

    In reaching its common position on a Commission proposal to set up a securities committee to assist the Commission to monitor two directives on the capital requirements of investment companies operating in the internal market, Council preferred an approach whereby implementing powers would be retained by itself (111) (b). Further changes were also made with a view to strengthening Council's role.

    Reporting for the legal committee, Christine Oddy (Coventry and North Warwickshire, PES) will be trying to persuade Council to have a change of heart and accept an amendment designed to introduce a committee structure under which Parliament would have a role to play.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Artist' rights and royalties - a concern for salesrooms


Artists' rights and royalties - A concern for salesrooms
    Co-decision procedure - first reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted
    (A4-30/97 - Palacio Vallelersundi)

    The question of how much an artist should gain financially when his or her painting, sculpture or artefact is re-sold on the European market has been taxing members of the legal affairs committee.

    The Commission is proposing to lay down the principle of the artist's inalienable right to a percentage share of any resale of a work of art, except private transactions, according to a sliding scale of charges. This would be 4% of the sale price for works priced between ECU 1000 and ECU 50,000, 3% between ECU 50,000 and ECU 250,000 and 2% on more expensive works above ECU 250,000, with the royalty collected by the seller or the auction house.

    Reporting for the legal affairs committee, Ana Palacio Vallelersundi (E, EPP) will be supporting the proposal in principle but tabling several amendments, for example, designed to allow the Member States to fix the minimum threshold, which should not be below ECU 1,000 and for the Member States to regulate arrangements for payments.

    Mrs Palacio agrees with the Commission rates of 4% on sales between ECU 1,000 and ECU 50,000, 3% on sales between ECU 50,000 and ECU 100,000, but is proposing a reduced rate of 1.5% for sales of more than ECU 100,000.

    However, the plan is bound to run into opposition from the salesrooms, worried about losing custom to galleries located outside the EU.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Motor vehicle dimensions


Motor vehicle dimensions
    
Codecision procedure - second reading. 314 votes required for amendments to be adopted
    
(Barton)

    Roger Barton (Sheffield, PES) will be recommending approval of a Council common position on a directive relating to the dimensions and sizes of motor vehicles and trailers. In response to Parliament's desire to ban trailers without breaks Council agreed a compromise under which those above 750KG would be obliged to be fitted with suitable breaking equipment. Two amendments designed to improve safety and the workings of the internal market are being tabled.



[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Pressure vessels


Pressure vessels
     Co-decision procedure - third reading after conciliation. Simple majority required for joint text to be approved
    (Barton)

    Roger Barton (Sheffield, PES) will be recommending the approval of a conciliation agreement reached with Council on a proposal designed to ensure the free circulation of pressure equipment. Safety is the main concern and the agreement now covers Parliament's wish to allow independent on-the-spot checks of potentially dangerous equipment such as condensers used in air conditioning. Mr Barton will therefore be recommending approval.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Motorcycles - agreement on tyres and tampering


Motorcycles - agreement on tyres and tampering

    Co-decision procedure - third reading after conciliation. Simple majority required for joint text     to be approved
    (Barton)

    The Parliament and Council have reached a compromise agreement to resolve a number of outstanding issues relating to the development of a single market in motorcycles. Council has accepted Parliament's wish to see the manufacturers' exclusive rights on replacement tyres to be removed and for enthusiasts to be allowed to tinker with the engines of larger bikes. Anti- tampering measures will, however, be in place for mopeds and smaller bikes to prevent youngsters from trying to make this category of bike go faster.
    The motorcycling fraternity on the other hand is not happy with the agreement on noise levels     which it sees as discriminatory.

5.30pm to 7pm

- Question time to the Commission
- Parliamentary committee meetings

7pm to 9 pm

- political group meetings


Wednesday, 9 April 1997, from 9am to 1pm and 3pm to 7pm and 9pm to 12 midnight

9am to 9.15am

-    Votes on any objections concerning the debate on topical and urgent subjects of major     importance (Rule 47)

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Clearing the accounts


Clearing the accounts
    (Wynn, Dankert, Blak, Bösch, Kellet-Bowman)

    Terry Wynn (Merseyside East and Wigan, PES) and Pieter Dankert (Nl, PES) are due to report for the budgetary control committee on the ECU77bn budget for 1995, but the committee has not yet decided whether to give the Commission the all clear in respect of its management of the funds. While there have been improvements following on from the Court of Auditors' report, there are a number of points of concern. In the agricultural sector there is still not an adequate registration system for sheep and goats, although the sector accounts for some ECU2bn. There is abuse of the aid system in the cotton sector and there is a question mark over the legality of export refunds on Danish Feta cheese. The ECU40m of EU aid to Scotch Whisky makers is also questioned. There are doubts over the effectiveness of controls in the fisheries sector and some dubious EU investment in new processing plants for the industry.

    The slow take up of regional and social fund investment is another cause for concern, with some ECU1.6bn in social funding not used. There is also a need for stricter controls on implementation of these funds. Contracts for R and D programmes also are not always in order and as far as foreign policy is concerned, there is a need for a clearer analysis of the PHARE programme for Eastern Europe and aid policy in general.

    On the management of the other budgets Herbert Bösch (A, PES) will be recommending approval of the 1995 European Development Fund, although it still remains in national hands and outside the EU budget. Edward Kellet-Bowman (Itchen Test and Avon, EPP) will be recommending approval of the Dublin Foundation accounts and also those of the European Centre for Development and Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), although there is a question mark about the agreement on constructing new buildings in Thessaloniki.

    Freddy Blak (DK, PES) will be clearing the ECU378m operating budget of the European Coal and Steel Community. One point of concern however is the ECU230m loan to Euro Tunnel and ECU95m losses following the rescheduling of the company's debts.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Trade with the new Palestinian authority


Trade with the new Palestinian authority
    Assent procedure - simple majority for approval
    (Alavanos)

    Alexandros Alavanos (Gr, EUL/NGL) reporting for the foreign affairs committee will be recommending approval of an interim trade and cooperation agreement with the PLO and designed to benefit Palestinians living on the West bank and on the Gaza strip. It is set to run for five years and commits both sides to set up a free trade area up to the year 2001.


.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Hong Kong


Hong Kong

    The Council and the Commission will make a statement.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Motor vehicles and reducing air pollution - call for mandatory controls


Motor vehicles and reducing air pollution - call for mandatory controls
    Co-decision procedure - first reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted
    (Mamère, Lange)
    Commission communication
    (Eisma, Gonzalez Alvarez)

    MEPs will debate a package of measures designed to reduce pollution caused by motor vehicles with the feeling in the environment committee that the Commission's approach is too close to that of industry. Reporting on the general strategy, taking account of the so called auto-oil programme, Doeke Eisma (NL, ELDR) takes the view that the overall approach should be based on reducing damage caused to agricultural crops and the environment in general and not just human health as advocated by the Commission. Factors such as noise, soil and water pollution should also be taken into account with the actual cost of the private car passed on to the motorist which if the committee's approach is followed will only add 12 ECU per year to the cost of motoring. He takes the view that emission standards for existing vehicles should be enforced by random testing with future standards set for the year 2000 and upgraded in 2005.

    Reporting on the EU strategy to reduce CO2 emissions, Laura Gonzalez Alverez (E, EUL/NGL) rejects the Commission's approach based on "voluntary" agreement with the automobile industry, instead calling on the Commission to ensure that by the year 2005, the average CO2 emissions of all new motor vehicles including diesel and petrol in the EU is 120G per kilometre. Another suggestion is for consumer incentives to buy cleaner cars through linking purchase and road taxes to emission levels. Fuel economy labelling and the use of speed limiters are also recommended and there is a call to reconsider the concept of out of town shopping centres.

    On the specific technical proposal to amend a 1993 directive on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels, Noël Mamère (F, Greens) notes that the cost of air pollution from air transport was estimated at ECU86b in 1991. He will therefore be recommending adjusting the taxation system in order to promote more advanced cleaner fuels. In particular, low quality diesel should no longer be available as of 1st January 2005 with the sulphur content of diesel progressively reduced from 450ppm today to 30ppm by the year 2005.

    On another proposal to amend a 1970 directive designed to reduce air pollution from motor vehicle emissions, Bernd Lange (D, PES) too will be calling for tax incentives to encourage early compliance with tougher new emission limits and replacing older cars. He also wants to see tougher test procedure covering cold start emissions and the encouragement of alternative fuels. He wants to see the introduction of binding tougher emission limits in two stages from the year 2000 to 2005.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Sex discrimination, the burden of proof and the UK opt out


Sex discrimination, the burden of proof and the UK opt out
    Cooperation procedure - first reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted.
    (Ghilardotti)

    In spite of article 119 of the Treaty and six directives designed to ensure equality, women continue to suffer from discrimination. One of the main difficulties is proving discrimination in the work place, but previous attempts by the Commission to change legislation and make it easier for women to bring a case by placing the onus on employers to prove that discrimination has not occurred have fallen on deaf ears.

    Now the Commission has opted to use the Social Protocol introduced under the Maastricht Treaty and which provides for majority voting but does not cover the UK. The new proposal would define "indirect discrimination" in such a way that it would be assumed if the average pay of a large group of women doing similar jobs to a group of men was found to be less. On shifting the burden of proof, the Commission is proposing that once a woman has established the basis of a case it is then up to the employer to prove that discrimination has not occurred. It would be up to the courts to decide whether there is a case to answer in the first place.

    The other aspect of the proposal is designed to make it easier for women to bring a case by forcing employers to disclose relevant information. In Greece, for example, employers have been withholding vital documentation relating to recruitment, pay and promotion with the result that in one case a woman was turned down for an air steward's post on the basis of interview, despite having excellent qualifications.

    Welcoming the proposal, on behalf of the women's rights committee, Fiorella Ghilardotti (I, PES) will be tabling several amendments, one of which is designed to ensure that the legislation is effectively implemented and monitored.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Free movement, Schengen and computer checks



Free movement, Schengen and computer checks (European Information System          Convention)
    Third pilar consultation
    (A4-62/97 - Terron I Cusi)

    As part of the intergovernmental arrangement designed to remove passport checks on people under the Schengen area, which excludes the UK and Ireland, Council is proposing a convention to be ratified by national parliaments and which will replace the present Schengen Information System (SIS) with a much broader European Information System (EIS). This would contain computerised data on a whole range of people, including suspected criminals, refugees, asylum seekers, potential immigrants and missing persons. There is also the facility of including stolen cars and other objects. The information is to include names and possible alias, distinguishing marks, sex, nationality and whether or not the person is likely to be armed or violent.

    Reporting for the civil liberties committee, Anna Terron I Cusi (E, PES) makes the point that free movement issues should come under Article 7 of the EU Treaty and be subject to proper Parliamentary scrutiny and amendment. Instead, Council has decided to go down another road which virtually denies either the European Parliament or national parliaments the right to amend the proposal. And yet she notes, there are important civil liberties issues at stake and no role for the European Court of Justice. Specifically she objects to the danger of asylum applicants being classified as "undesirable aliens".

    Amendments designed to bring the proposal under the scope of the EC treaties and to take account of privacy concerns have therefore been tabled.


.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Pornography, customs checks and new technology


Pornography, customs checks and new technology
    Third pilar convention - consultation only
    (A4-60/97 - Schulz)

    The Member States have also decided to proceed on an intergovernmental basis through another convention governing customs cooperation. It concerns measures regarding the infringements of national laws restricting the movement of goods subject to special restrictions such as drugs, weapons and pornography. The intention is to improve data exchange arrangements governing these categories of goods.

    Reporting for the civil liberties committee Martin Schulz (D, PES) has tabled a draft resolution which seeks to ensure that where personal data is concerned there is a right to information. While recognising the importance of close cooperation in these sensitive areas, he points out that a considerable amount of data of a personal nature is involved and that bearing in mind that mistakes can be made, there should be a proper procedure to allow individuals to bring an action or complaint before the courts. There is also a considerable amount of overlapping between Europol and the EIS. He would like to see the Court of Justice have a role in settling disputes while the Commission is requested to investigate the possibility of the measures being implemented under EC Treaty arrangements. National Parliaments are requested to ensure a high level of data protection when ratifying the convention. The Annual Report on implementation should also be submitted to the European Parliament and national parliaments.

12 noon

.    Votes on

    -    reports under the cooperation, codecision and assent procedures
    -    motions for resolutions on which the debate is closed

5:30pm to 7pm

-    Question time to the Council

7pm to 9pm

-    political group meetings

Thursday, 10 April 1997, 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 8pm

Until 10am

-    Political group meetings

10am to 12 noon

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Banking controls


Banking controls
    Co-decision procedure - first reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted.
    (Mosiek-Urbahn)

    Marlies Mosiek-Urbahn (D, EPP) will be recommending approval of several technical amendments proposed by the Commission to three earlier banking directives, including solvency and capital adequacy. On solvency, the amendment is designed to allow a lower risk weighting factor and to take account of the tax situation affecting churches in Germany, Finland and Sweden. On banking in general the intention is to improve arrangements for exchanging information between the supervisory authorities in the Member States.

.     

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Fisheries conservation again


Fisheries conservation again
    Consultation procedure
    (Adam)

    With the Commission refusing to accept amendments proposed by MEPs to measures designed fisheries conservation last December, the proposal was referred back to committee.

    This time Gordon Adam (Northumbria, PES) will be trying to break the deadlock by putting forward a number of compromises over for example net sizes.

    In essence the objective of the Commission's proposal is, taking account of the latest scientific evidence to reduce catches of juvenile and undersized fish, thereby increasing the number of larger fish available in the future.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Helping Italian fishermen


Helping Italian fishermen
    Consultation procedure
    (Baldarelli)

    The Commission is putting forward an ECU100m programme spread over three years designed to phase out an Italian fishing fleet of some 680 boats fishing for sword fish in the Adriatic and the Ionian sea with drift nets. Some 2700 jobs are at stake and the intention is to create alternative forms of employment and to provide compensation for those losing their jobs in this conservation move. The money is to come from existing structural fund allocations.

    Welcoming the proposal on behalf of the fisheries committee Francesco Baldarelli (I, PES) will be tabling a number of amendments.

    He is for example concerned that because the plan is voluntary the financial incentives on offer will not be sufficient. He points out that even if the Italian boats are taken out of service other vessels registered in countries such as Korea and Taiwan will step in and continue to use drift nets in Mediterranean waters. Tougher international measures on conservation are therefore needed.

.     

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Fishing in the Baltic


Fishing in the Baltic
    Consultation procedure
    (Kinderman)

    Heinz Kindermann (D, PSE) will be reporting on behalf of the fisheries committee on a Commission proposal to regulate fishing in the Baltic sea and take account of the accession to the EU of Finland and Sweden. At present arrangement are for a transitional period due to end on the 31st of December 2002. The proposal concerns the issue of fishing permits by the Member States to vessels registered under their flag after the transitional period.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Mutual recognition of diplomas


Mutual recognition of diplomas
    Progress report
    (A4-29/97 - Fontaine)

    Since the coming into force of a 1989 EU directive on the mutual recognition of qualifications at least 11,000 people have benefited from the provisions and been able to work in another country. The figure is almost certainly higher although it should be pointed out that some 6,000 were teachers recruited in the UK. One particular problem has been equating the qualifications of professions with different kinds of training such as specialised nurses whilst another has been evaluating the qualifications of Third country nationals. Technically speaking, the directive does not apply to such cases but Nicole Fontaine (F, EPP), reporting for the legal committee, wants consideration of this point taken into account in any review of the legislation.

12 noon

-    Votes on

    .    Reports under the cooperation, codecision and assent procedures
    .    Motions for resolutions on which the debate has closed

3pm to 6pm

Items in the News

-    Topical and urgent subjects of major importance (Rule 47)
    .    3pm to 5.30pm : debates
    .    5.30 pm to 6 pm: votes

    .

    


Friday, 11 April 1997 from 9am

.    Votes on

    -    procedures without report
    -    following reports without debate


Report without Debate

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Legal and commercial documents


Legal and commercial documents
    Consultation procedure
    (Nassauer)
        
    Hartmut Nassauer (D, EPP) will be reporting on behalf of the civil liberties committee on a Council convention concerning the exchange of legal documents.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

The homeless - the EU should help


The homeless - the EU should help
    
Own initiative report
    (A4-88/97- Crowley)

    With some 18 million people in the EU now considered to be living in cramped, overcrowded conditions or substandard housing and homelessness on the increase, Brian Crowley (Irl, UFE) will be putting forward a draft motion resolution on behalf of the employment and social affairs committee which call on the Member States at the IGC to agree to include in the Treaty a right to housing. At present housing or aiding the homeless is a national responsibility, with the exception of the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty which contains a provision to cover financial aid for housing coal and steel workers. The draft resolution also calls on the Member States to develop a high quality housing programme together with minimum levels of social security to help those facing the problem of losing their homes. More should be done to renovate empty buildings.

    European housing policy should concentrate on the exchange of information, copying the best examples of modern housing schemes in the different Member States, the establishment of minimum aims with regard to housing all the population, the setting up of a Commission task force to analyse the impact of other EU policies on housing and to set up a European Housing Forum. This would act as a pressure group bringing together all interested parties in the field. There is support for a new EU pilot programme, wait for it, to be called IGLOO. In addition, special housing needs of the disabled and elderly and women and children at risk should be taken into account.

.
    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Disability and equality - A role for the EU


Disability and equality - A role for the EU
    Commission communication
    (A4-44/97 - Schmidbauer)

    With some 37 million disabled people at present living in the EU, Barbara Schmidbauer (D, PES) reporting for the employment and social affairs committee, will be expressing concern at the failure of Council to agree on a programme of action. The problem relates to EU competence and the need to base policy on an article requiring unanimous agreement.

    She is therefore tabling a draft resolution which calls on the Commission to institute pilot projects to help disabled people, pending the adoption of a new EU programme. She also wants the Commission to take active measures to ensure that disabled people also benefit from other EU programmes. New technology can help and should be made available on a large scale. There is a call on the Commission to launch a Europe-wide project designed for disabled people to benefit from the new information super highway. EU institutions should also set an example by introducing a quota for employing disabled people.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

The Third World and regional integration


The Third World and regional integration
    Commission communication
    A4-86/97 - Needle

    Following the success of the European Community and later the European Union in promoting European economic integration and in the light of the global liberalisation of trade, other parts of the world are exploring the possibility of strengthening economic ties. In Asia for example, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum has been set up while (ASEAN) Association of South East Asian Nations is set to become a free trade area by the year 2003. In Africa COMESA (Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa) with a similar goal brings together countries from Ethiopia and Uganda to Namibia, while in Latin America other grouping such as the Central American Integration System, Mercosur and the Andean Pact have been set up.

    The Commission takes the view that such developments should be encouraged as a means of integrating the developing countries into the world economy and promoting sustainable development. Indeed some ECU1.3b of EU aid under the Lomé Convention for the 1995 - 2000 focuses on regional integration, with the emphasis on transport and communication.

    Clive Needle (Norfolk, PES) reporting for the development committee, however, is anxious to see that this approach will bring about economic benefits to all sections of society. He warns global free trade could have an adverse effect on the most vulnerable groups. His draft resolution, therefore, supports the notion of maintaining selective support measures to help weaker economies and calls on the Commission and the Member States to assist those organisations which can make a contribution to sustainable development. There is a danger that a proliferation of regional organisations could lead to duplication and inefficiency. There is also a need for greater coordination of aid policy.

.     

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Rice crisis


Rice crisis
    (Fraga, Estevez, Colino, Salamanca, Fantuzzy, Filippi, Happart, Ebner, Jove Peres, Lambraki,     Campos, Arias Canete, Redondo Jiminez, Rosado Fernandes, Vallve)

    With an EU rice surplus now on the cards, MEPs from the agriculture committee have tabled a question seeking to know what special measures the Commission will be proposing.


.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Tourism


Tourism
    (Bennasar Tous, Provan, Sarlis)

    Francisco Bennasar Tous (E, EPP), James Provan (South Downs West, EPP) and Pavlos Sarlis (Gr, EPP) have tabled a question seeking what plans the Commission has for promoting tourism under the revised regional and social funds and if it intends taking up proposals adopted by Parliament in its resolution of 25 October 1996. The MEPs also want to know how the Commission intends developing a policy for tourism in the context of the IGC.

.    

[Start of Doc] [Previous] [Next]

Alpine traffic


Alpine traffic
    (Cornelissen)

    Transport committee chairman, Petrus Cornelissen (NL, EPP) has tabled a question to the Commission seeking information on how the negotiations with Switzerland are progressing over alpine traffic and in particular road tolls. He also wants to know what measures have been taken to develop rail and combined transport.


    
    

POLITICAL GROUPS IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT as at 17.2.97

B DK D GR E F IRL I L NL A P FIN S UK Total
PES 6 4 40 10 21 15 1 18 2 7 6 10 4 7 63 214
EPP 7 3 47 9 30 12 4 15 2 9 7 9 4 5 18 181
UFE 2 17 7 24 2 3 55
ELDR 6 5 2 1 1 4 1 10 1 5 3 2 41
EUL/NGL 4 9 7 5 3 2 3 33
GREENS 2 12 1 2 4 1 1 1 4 28
ERA 1 2 12 2 1 2 20
I-EN 4 11 2 1 18
IND 3 11 15 6 1 36
TOTAL 25 16 99 25 64 87 15 87 6 31 21 25 16 22 87 626

PES        The Party of European Socialists comprising members from all EU states including Britain and Ireland. It is the largest group in the Parliament.

EPP        The European People's Party, once again with members from all EU states and comprising mainly Christian Democrat parties but including British Conservatives, who are affiliated but not full members of the party as such, and Fine Gael members from Ireland.

UFE        Union for Europe comprises representatives of Mr Berlusconi's party with the addition of a 'Lega Nord' and a Social Democrat member, all from Italy, plus French MEPs, seven Irish Fianna Fail members, two Greek members from the 'Political spring' party and three centre party Portuguese MEPs.

ELDR        European Liberal, Democratic and Reformist Group, where the largest contingent is from the Netherlands. It includes two British Liberals and one Irish independent, but the 'Lega Nord' members from Italy have now left to sit as independents.

EUL/NGL    Next comes the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left NGL Group made up of representatives of Green/Left parties from Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden as well as of members of Communist parties from France, Greece and Portugal.

Greens            The Greens, with two members from Ireland, now comprise representatives from nine member states.

ERA            The European Radical Alliance, based on the French Radical Party, is joined by two Scottish Nationalists, two Italian radicals and Spanish and Belgian members from regional parties. It considers itself a 'progressive' left party and supports the idea of a Federal Europe. Its latest recruit is a former member of the Greens from Luxembourg.

I-EN            The Independent Europe of the Nations Group is pledged to defend the nation states and is opposed to further integration. It is composed of French members such as Philippe de Villiers, who led the opposition in France to the Maastricht Treaty, Sir James Goldsmith, Danish anti-marketeers and two Dutch members from smaller parties. It is now joined by Jim Nicholson of the Ulster Unionists.

Ind            The rest of the Parliament is made up of independents, including French and Belgian National Front members, Italian 'lega Nord' and Ian Paisley.

- 1 -
PE 256.722

 
  Legal notice