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Briefing : 17-11-97(s)




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Climate change


.    Climate change
    (A4-343/97 - Linkohr)

    Against a background of warnings from groups of international scientists that temperatures could rise in some parts of the world by as much as 3.8°C, the research committee is calling for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to be given priority over other energy policy goals.

    In a draft resolution presented by Rolf Linkohr (D, PES), the committee is calling on the EU and the member states to support binding goals for the reduction of emissions at the forthcoming December Kyoto conference and for the Commission to submit specific proposals to promote public transport and other measures designed to reduce energy use in buildings and industry and improved management of agricultural waste.

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The Commission will also be making a statement


.    The Commission will also be making a statement

    At present the EU's negotiating position envisages a 15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2010 and a 7.5% reduction by the year 2005. The aim, however, should be to achieve a 20% reduction by the year 2005.

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EU-Turkey agreement


.    EU-Turkey agreement
    Consultation procedure
    (A4-276/97 - Kittelmann)

    On behalf of the foreign affairs committee Peter Kittelmann (D, EPP) will be recommending that MEPs vote in favour of the Commission's proposal for a Council Decision on laying down the procedure for adopting the EU's position in the Customs Union Joint Committee set up under the EU-Turkey Association Council on implementation of the final phases of the Customs Union.

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Higher education - quality is the word


.    Higher education - quality is the word
    (Heinisch)

    The Commission is proposing that member states should set up systems of evaluation and assurance that aim to guarantee the quality of teaching in higher education institutions. These proposals are based on the following principles: independence of the agencies undertaking the evaluation; adjustment of the procedures to the nature of the higher education establishment concerned; the involvement of all concerned, and a combination of internal and external evaluation elements.

    It is also proposing to establish a "European Quality Assurance Network" which would link quality assurance with other EU activities, especially under the SOCRATES and LEONARDO programmes. The network would also promote an exchange of information and experience; provide technical assistance to member states wanting to cooperate in quality assurance; and draw up methods for improving the integration of graduates into the labour market.

    Renate Charlotte Heinisch (D, EPP), on behalf of the education committee, is generally in favour of the proposal, however she believes that the guarantee of quality and true collaboration between the higher education institutions can only emerge in a climate of confidence and that a quality assurance system ought not to be imposed on them at either the national or at the EU level. She notes that in particular that evaluation procedures and financial endowments of higher educational establishments can differ widely between member states, a gap that will be widened by the accession of the new member states.

    Mrs Heinisch is calling for the preservation of cultural diversity between the different education systems of member states and for educational establishments to be guaranteed their constitutional and budgetary independence. In addition she wants to see the involvement in the evaluation process of other interested parties outside the world of education. Finally she is arguing for the involvement of foreign experts where possible in the evaluation process, as she feels that they can offer different experiences and promote mutual cultural understanding. She is tabling a series of amendments that aim to address these points.

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Court of Auditors report


.    Court of Auditors report

.    Presentation by Mr Friedmann, President of the Court of Auditors, of the annual report and the statement of assurance relating to activities in connection with the general budget for the financial year 1996.

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BSE committee reports - Commission's positive response means no censure


.    BSE committee reports - Commission's positive response means no censure
    (Böge, plus oral questions)

    Reimer Böge (D, EPP) will be outlining responses made by the Commission to the recommendations made by Parliament's special enquiry committee into BSE last February. On balance the BSE committee takes the view that the Commission has responded positively so as not to merit Parliament going through with a motion of censure, as threatened in February. In particular, it has:

-    reformed the workings of the specialised scientific committees with disclosure of confidential documents to MEPs;

-    beefed up Food Policy administration within the Commission with monitoring separated from legislative functions;

-    agreed that inspection procedures be improved;

-    decided that new legislation to improve food quality controls will be proposed;

-    affirmed that Commission will support Parliament's bid for a greater say over agricultural legislation.

    However, the Commssion has not taken up the committee's desires to see legislation to permit compensation claims arising out of the BSE crisis or taken disciplinary measures against Commission officials responsible, although some officials have been removed from office. Neither has the Commission reacted against the UK, following the failure of former Agriculture Minister Douglas Hogg to appear before the committee or responded to the committee's wish to see the UK pay for some of the funding earmarked to eradicating BSE. The committee would also have liked to see action taken against individual Commissioners.


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The EU company statute and worker participation - flexibility the word


.    The EU company statute and worker participation - flexibility the word
    (A4-354/97 - Menrad)

    Various attempts have been made over the last 25 years to introduce EU legislation applicable to companies operating across borders and thus do away with the need to abide by different pieces of national legislation. All attempts however have foundered on the issue of how to involve the workforce in the decision-making process, in view of the different approaches in the member states.

    In an attempt to break the deadlock the Commission set up a group of experts under the chairmanship of former Commissioner Etienne Davignon. Its recommendations emphasise a flexible approach to the issue based on negotiations between the company concerned and workers' representatives, the idea being to secure agreements between both sides before a company can register under the new piece of legislation.

    Reporting for the social affairs committee, Winfried Menrad (D, EPP) welcomes progress made so far and in particular the emphasis on voluntary negotiations. As an example of what can be achieved through consultation he points to the 1994 European Works Council directive, already accepted on a voluntary basis by some 60 multinationals operating in the EU.

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Reluctant adoption of the part-time work agreement


.    Reluctant adoption of the part-time work agreement
    Cooperation procedure. First reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted.
    (Jöns)

    On behalf of the employment committee, Karin Jöns (D, PES) is reluctantly endorsing the agreement on part-time work that was signed by both sides of industry in June 1997. It seeks to tackle the discrimination faced by part time workers and to improve their working conditions. It also aims to promote part-time work and a flexible approach to working hours.

    Mrs Jöns regrets that the agreement is restricted to part-time work and does not cover all forms of "atypical" work and it also does not cover social security systems. She is also unhappy that member states and the social partners can opt out of the principle of non-discrimination against part time workers - particularly for groups such as casual workers - for "technical" reasons. She considers that the agreement can only be the beginning of a series of legal measures to combat all forms of discrimination at work.

    Mrs Jöns is therefore calling on the Commission to come forward with proposals safeguarding social security rights for part time workers.

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Jobs boost and employment


.    Jobs boost and employment report
    (Hernandez-Mollar)

    Commenting on the Commission's annual employment report in Europe for 1997, Jorge Salvador Hernandez Mollar (E, EPP) notes that after a long period of stagnation there are at last signs of improvements with 600,000 jobs created in 1996. However, with unemployment on average at 10.6% or 18 million of the EU's working population, there is no room for complacency.

    Mr Hernandez Mollar's draft resolution is therefore calling for a more active approach to job creation by switching taxes and social security contributions from labour to other areas and increasing skill levels. Economic growth alone will not be sufficient to create the required number of new jobs and Mr Hernandez Mollar is calling for the encouragement of SMEs which account for 80% of employment in the private sector across Europe. At an EU level, the opportunities of the Amsterdam Treaty with its committment to strengthening a European approach to combating unemployment should be used.

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Towards a ban on unsafe aircraft from third countries


.    Towards a ban on unsafe aircraft from third countries
    Cooperation procedure. First reading simple majority for amendments to be adopted.
    (A4-335/97 - Gonzalez Trivino)

    Antonio Gonzalez Trivino (E, PES) for the Committee on Transport and Tourism warmly welcomes the Commission proposal to promote aircraft safety in planes registered in third countries using EU airports. He notes that it is in line with a resolution adopted by Parliament in July 1997 asking for a system of safety checks similar to state control of ports in the maritime sector and the drawing up of a black list of third-country carriers which fail to have adequate reporting systems and do not meet EU safety standards. Mr Gonzalez Trivino supports the idea that airlines rather than the aviation authorities, should be targeted.

    The proposal also provides for inspections of all aircraft showing signs of poor maintenance. Mr Gonzalez Trivino has put forward an amendment in this area in order to ensure that all aircraft, all operators and all countries of registration whose authorities are suspected of non-compliance with international safety standards, should be inspected.

    Mr Gonzalez Trivino believes that airlines from poorer countries are most at risk. These carriers on tight budgets, tend to concentrate their operations at second-tier EU airports. According to Mr Gonzalez Trivino, the commercial pressure for these airports where business is not so brisk, of turning a blind eye to aircraft that do not quite meet the grade, is obviously higher than at airports where airlines are vying fiercely for slots. He believes that it is important that national inspectors authorised to conduct ramp checks do not neglect these smaller airports where the number of incidents in relation to the total number of movements is often greater.

    Among other amendments Mr Gonzalo Trivinio is proposing that decisions to ground aircraft should be made public, and he is seeking to ensure that more consideration is given to residents of areas near airports.

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Helping poor regions and the Cohesion Fund


.    Helping poor regions and the Cohesion Fund
    (A4-324/97 - Izquierdo Collado)

    Juan de Dios Izquierdo Collado (E, PES) will be reporting for the regional committee on the impact of the Cohesion Fund and other EU policies designed to improve living conditions in the regions. In a wide ranging draft resolution which runs to 83 paragraphs, he expresses concern at the findings of a Commission study showing that there is often little coordination between different EU policies. Even a large part of the funds available from the Ecu 41bn CAP budget finance expenditure in such products as beef, cereals and dairy products to the benefit of larger holdings and richer farmers. The draft resolution therefore supports switching funds from market support to direct income aid geared towards poorer farmers.

    Other EU policies which should be aimed more towards benefiting the outlying regions include fisheries, research and development, transport, telecommunications, energy policy and completing the single market. Mr Izquierdo Collado is anxious to see support measures to counter any adverse effect of EMU on the regions.

    There is support for enlargement to take in Cyprus and countries of Eastern Europe, but with the continuation of the Cohesion Fund, which at present applies to Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece. In future, this should go to countries with a GNP of less than 90% of EU average. Mr Izquierdo Collado believes that there is a need to raise the present 1.27% ceiling of GNP for the EU's budget to accommodate the new countries.

    The draft resolution also contains numerous detailed recommendations for the improvement of present EU regional and social policies.

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MEPs give full backing for International Fund for Ireland


.    MEPs give full backing for International Fund for Ireland
    Consultation procedure
    (A4-317/97 - Gutierrez Diaz)

    On behalf of the Committee on Regional Policy, Antoni Gutierrez Diaz (E, EUL/NGL) will be giving a general welcome to the Commission's proposal for a Council regulation on EU financial contributions to the International Fund for Ireland.

    The Commission wishes to renew the EU's contribution to the Fund for a further two years and to set the level of this contribution at an annual Ecu 17m. The proposal expressly mentions the Community "Peace" initiative programme, which has the same objectives as the Fund. The Commission aims to ensure coordination between projects financed from these two sources.

    In a series of amendments Mr Gutierrez Diaz is calling for the Fund to be made more effective by ensuring that the finance it provides is additional and not a substitute for other public or private expenditure. He also believes that the EU's contribution to the Fund should be adequately publicized. Finally Mr Gutierrez Diaz wishes to ensure coordination between the Fund's activities and those financed by EU structural policies

    The Fund, which was established in 1987 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, receives contributions from a number of countries, including the USA (37%), Canada and Australia. The EU is the largest contributor, having given Ecu 15m per year between 1989 and 1994 and Ecu 20m per year between 1995 and 1997. The Fund aims to promote peace and reconciliation in Ireland by granting financial support to economic and social development measures based on cooperation between the two communities in Northern Ireland and cross-border cooperation between the latter and the Republic of Ireland. According to a 1995 report, the Fund can be directly linked to the creation of 16,645 jobs, with another 7,142 jobs created indirectly. In addition, a 1996 Commission report notes that the number of cross-community or cross-border groups brought together in projects financed by the Fund is 639 with a total of 7600 people regularly taking part.

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Laywers' qualifications and free movement


.    Lawyers' qualifications and free movement
    Codecision procedure second reading. Simple majority required to approve a common position.
    (A4-337/97 - Fontaine)

    Nicole Fontaine (F, EPP), reporting for the legal committee, will be recommending approval of a Council common position laying down the terms under which a lawyer who is qualified in one member state can practice in another. In principle, Council accepted Parliament's point made at first reading that a lawyer qualified in one member state be allowed to work in another without taking an aptitude test. Both sides are now in agreement on the technical arrangements to put this into practise and it is now up to the member states and legal authorities to ensure the objective of ensuring free circulation is achieved. The Commission will be monitoring progress.

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Gender issues in development cooperation


.    Gender issues in development cooperation
    Cooperation procedure. First reading simple majority for amendments to be adopted.
    (A4-318/97 - Junker)

    Karin Junker (D, PES) on behalf of the Committee on Development and Cooperation welcomes the proposal for a Council Regulation on integrating gender issues in development cooperation. However she does not consider that it goes far enough and she will be calling on the EU to incorporate the principle of equal opportunities for men and women into all its development cooperation activities. This, she believes, entails seeking to improve the living conditions of women, especially in the poorest countries; actively involving them in measures for food security, slum clearance, the extension of basic health services, information campaigns and access to primary education and clean water. It also encompasses providing them with vocational skills, while preserving traditional female activities.

    Mrs Junker is calling for support for measures to deal with the main areas of inequality between the sexes, including access to resources, services and participation in the decision-making processes of political and social life. In addition, she is arguing that, when contracts are being awarded, priority should be given - where tenders are of an equal standard - to companies as the recipient countries or to developing countries in the same region. She is tabling a series of amendments to the Commission proposal that reflect these concerns.

    Mrs Junker also stresses that the proposals cannot be treated separately from the Lomé Convention and various cooperation agreements with Asia and Latin America, which she believes can only be effective if they focus on the empowerment of women as the key to sustainable development.

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Beef and veal


.    Beef and veal

    Proposal for amending Regulation (EEC) on the common organisation of the market in beef and veal.

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Staff exchange boost to single market


.    Staff exchange boost to single market
    Cooperation procedure. First reading. Simple majority required for amendment to be adopted.
    (Von Wogau)

    Karl von Wogau (D, EPP) will be recommending approval of a two year extension of the Karolus staff exchange programme between national officials designed to increase understanding and promote the uniform application of EU legislation, especially in the single market. The intention this time is to widen the scope of the scheme to take in EFTA countries, applicant states from Eastern Europe and Cyprus. It will also apply to the private sector.

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Grant aid to Portuguese sugar beet producers



.    Grant aid to Portuguese sugar beet producers
    Consultation procedure
    (A4 330/97 - Colino Salamanca)

    Reporting for the agriculture committee, Juan Luis Colino Salamanca (E, PES) will be recommending approval, subject to one amendment, of a proposal to phase out national state aids to Portuguese sugar beet producers. The intention is to gradually reduce the aid, worth some Ecu 2.5m next year so that it is eventually eliminated by the year 2000.

    The Commission is also proposing to abolish all state aids for sugar to other countries, i.e. the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy.

    Mr Colino Salamanca argues that abolishing the system of state aids will have a negative effect on the Council of Ministers' negotiations for national quotas and aids. He is therefore tabling an amendment calling for the Commission to submit a report to the Parliament and the Council before the end of the marketing year 2000/2001 to assess the operation of the system.

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Yes to the Amsterdam Treaty


.    Yes to the Amsterdam Treaty
    (A4-347/97 - Mendez de Vigo and Tsatsos)

    Reporting for the institutional committee, Inigo Mendez de Vigo (E, EPP) and Dimitris Tsatsos (Gr, PES) will be presenting a thorough analysis of the Amsterdam Treaty, which the committee feels, while containing numerous shortcomings, especially in the area of institutional reform should nevertheless be ratified by the member states. The draft resolution reaffirms Parliament's wish to see these reforms completed before further enlargement.

    In particular it calls for adjustments to be made to the weighting of votes in Council for each member state and a change in the number of Commissioners, based on the principle of one Commissioner per member state. Majority voting in Council should also be the general rule, with unanimity restricted to constitutional matters.

    In addition the draft resolution, while recognising that progress has been made in the EU's ability to act in the areas of social, employment, health, environmental policy and also over security issues, takes the view that there is a need to bring some "third" pillar matters such as border controls under a centralised EU decision-making process. There is a specific call to the UK, Ireland and Denmark to take part in this process. The draft resolution also supports further progress towards a common foreign and defence policy and a more effective approach to tackling international crime.

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EU/US Summit


.    EU/US Summit

    The Council and Commission will make a statement on the forthcoming EU/US Summit to be held on 5 December 1997. The issues to be addressed will include:

-    the implementation of the understanding of the Helms Burton Law and ISLA (Iran Libya Sanctions Act);
-    issues concerning the ban on oil investment in Libya and Iran;
-    Middle East Peace Process;
-    global climate changes;
-    trade issues concerning telecoms;
-    US concerns with BSE and genetically modified organisms;
-    human rights in Burma.



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Action plan for the internal market


.    Action Plan for the Internal Market
    (Von Wogau)

    Economic affairs committee chairman Karl von Wogau (D, EPP) will be endorsing a Commission action plan to speed up the process of completing the internal market by concentrating on simplifying and closer monitoring of legislation, tackling distortions such as tax differences and helping consumers. In particular, the committee wants to see the abolition of passport checks, a reform of VAT to be based on taxing goods in the country of origin, closer alignment of company taxation and a reduction in charges on labour. There is support for EU legislation in the field of company law through the adoption of the European Company Statute and further development of the Trans-European Networks programme.

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Building materials


.    Building materials - still no single market
    (A4-350/97 - Langen)

    With an annual turnover of some Ecu 600m the construction industry is one of the largest sectors of the European economy, directly employing 9 million workers. However nine years after a directive designed to bring into play a single market in building products was introduced, the member states are still dragging their feet over implementing the legislation. One reason for the delay is the multiplicity of national rules and differences in health, safety, quality and testing standards. There are, for example, more than one thousand standards affecting just 70 products.

    Reporting for the economic committee, Werner Langen (D, EPP) points out that this is not only a failure to implement legislation hampering the efficiency of building firms in Europe, but also affects large companies attempting to compete internationally in the face of competition from Japanese and U.S. firms.

    Mr Langen is therefore calling on the member states to take a more positive attitude and cut back on imposing unnecessary burdens on manufacturers. The Commission should issue an up-to-date report on the state of implementation of the legislation.

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Tackling VAT fraud


.    Tackling VAT fraud
    Codecision procedure. First reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted.
    (A4-344/97 - Secchi)

    The introduction of the single market and a Europe without tax frontiers, with VAT due to be paid in the country where the goods are used, has resulted in numerous loopholes and opportunities for fraud and tax evasion. Attempts at reform and to introduce a common VAT system have so far failed. The Commission has now come forward with a new Ecu 45m programme - Fiscalis, designed to improve cooperation between different national tax authorities over the 1998-2002 period. In particular it will concentrate on improving computerised systems for the exchange of information and it will cover the applicant member states and Cyprus.

    Reporting for the economic committee, Carlo Secchi (I, EPP) welcomes the programme, along with the Matthaeus plan for the training and exchange of customs officers, which he feels marks an important step in the fight against tax fraud.

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Data protection and telecommunications - privacy safeguarded


.    Data protection and telecommunications - Privacy safeguarded
    Codecision procedure. Third reading. Simple majority required to approve a joint text.
    (Medina Ortega)

    Agreement has been reached between Parliament and Council at the Conciliation Committee on a Commission proposal that is designed to safeguard privacy and personal information in the context of an open market in telecommunications services. Manuel Medina Ortega (E, PES), on behalf of Parliament's delegation to the Committee is therefore recommending that MEPs approve the agreement that has been reached.

    The agreement covers telephone tapping, where Mr Medina Ortega is now satisfied that there are sufficient legal safeguards to guarantee the confidentiality of communications while ensuring that public order or national security is not endangered. In addition, it was agreed that operators should only charge subscribers wishing to be omitted from a telephone directory for the actual administrative costs that they have incurred in doing so. Finally there was agreement on the degree of protection that all subscribers should have from unsolicited calls as received in direct marketing.

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Action plan to combat crime


Action plan to combat crime
    (A4-333/97 - Cederschiöld; A4-348/97 - Bontempi; A4-351/97 - Bontempi; A4-355/97 - Orlando; A4-349/97 - Orlando; Nassauer)

    Charlotte Cederschiöld (S, EPP) will be reporting for the civil liberties committee on the action plan to combat organised crime agreed by the June Amsterdam Council.

    The plan was drawn up under the "Third pillar" procedure of the Maastricht Treaty, i.e. on the basis of intergovernmental cooperation, but through a 'High Level Group' without consultation either with Council working groups or the European Parliament.

    This in a nutshell is why Mrs Cederschiöld believes the plan contains inherent weaknesses. The need to reach an intergovernmental agreement acceptable to all member states has resulted in Ministers ducking the challenge of whether to proceed by improving cooperation, and at the same time preserving different national criminal law systems or attempting a common approach to the main definitions of international crime and court procedures.

    Instead, the plan merely calls for further studies into the question. Mrs Cederschiöld would like to see a much more robust approach and cites the example of Nordic cooperation, whereby the police, judiciary, customs services and coastguard use the same computer systems, as an example of just what can be achieved at a practical level. In view of limited progres so far in previous attempts to set up a common legal system she does not think there is much prospect of successfully adopting the harmonisation approach, although in the long term the draft resolution recommends the gradual setting of minimum standards on such issues as assessing evidence in court.

    As a first step however, Mrs Cederschiöld's draft resolution does endorse the action plan's recommendations to set up a body at national level responsible for coordination measures to combat organised crime. The applicant member states too should take on board existing conventions and other measures taken by the 15 to combat international crime. A high level study into international crime should look at ways of improving cooperation in such areas as money laundering using the Internet, fraud in electronic transfers, company confidentiality and credit card fraud.

    Other specific proposals include using informers who operate across borders, joint investigation teams composed of officials from different EU countries and a European witness protection programme. Europol should also be strengthened and more preventive measures taken including closer checking against the possibility of fraud against EU funds.

    Several other reports designed to strengthen cooperation in tackling corruption, criminal organisations and other areas of international crime will also be taken. Leoluca Orlando (I,Greens) will be recommending approval of the proposal to make participation in criminal organisations a crime. The Joint Action defines a criminal organisation as consisting of two or more individuals involved in crimes relating to terrorism, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, money laundering and property crime with punishments of at least three years. It is also proposing that the EU adopt common procedures in criminal prosecutions involving international criminal organisations. There should also be a referral rule of the EU Court of Justice.

    Rinaldo Bontempi (I, PES) is also recommending approval, subject to amendment, of another "third pillar" proposal, this time to set up a "European Judicial Network", with a view to improving judicial cooperation between the member states. The idea is to set up a central contact point in each member state, through which cooperation can be channelled. The purpose of the amendments is to add impetus to this cooperation process by putting the network on a sound institutional footing, subject to an evaluation after three years.

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ODYSSEUS programme


ODYSSEUS programme
    Consultation procedure
    (Zimmermann)

    The Committee is due to take a decision on this report in Strasbourg.

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Call for a real EU energy policy


Call for a real EU energy policy
    (A4-308/97 - Scapagnini)

    Reporting for the energy committee Umberto Scapagnini (I,UFE) welcomes the Commission proposals on energy policy, which he believes "lay the foundations for a more detailed study and assessment in the future of the components of energy policy." Currently, he says, the measures for a single framework are uncoordinated, reflecting the need for a single EU energy strategy. He calls in particular for the strengthening of the European Energy Observatory which he believes can promote security of energy supply.

    He also believes that EU policy and measures in the energy sector must serve one of the EU's fundamental tasks; i.e. that of improving the level of employment, standard of living and quality of life in the Union.

    Mr Scapagnini is concerned at the growing external energy dependency of the EU which currently stands at 50% and could increase to 70% by 2020. He believes that this trend could pose a threat to the security of European markets and household budgets. He is calling on the Commission to carry out a detailed analysis of the changes in the energy markets due to globalisation, and to evaluate whether such concepts as that of the security of supply are is still as important as they once were.

    Mr Scapagnini emphasises the importance of environmental considerations and calls in particular for a unified EU position vis-à-vis the forthcoming world-wide carbon emission negotiations. This, he believes, is another argument in favour of a coordination of the member states' energy policies. Mr Scapagnini also supports the effort to develop the use of renewable energy sources, but stresses the importance of research and development. He is calling on the Commission to propose ways to attract private and public funding so that research findings can be transferred to the market.


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Car safety - role for Parliament


Car safety - role for Parliament
    Assent procedure
    (A4-342/97 - Kittelmann)

    In recommending approval of a draft Council decision designed to allow the EU to accept UN internationally agreed standards governing equipment used in motor vehicles, Peter Kittelmann (D, EPP) will be tabling an amendment which would allow MEPs to reexamine such international standards if they were not considered satisfactory, especially in the area of safety and the environment.

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Poor take up of EU funds by Belgium


    Poor take up of EU funds by Belgium
    (A4-321/97 - Decourrière)

    Reporting for the Committee on Regional Policy Francis Decourrière (F, EPP) considers that there is a great need to improve utilisation of the EU's funding policy in Belgium.

    Money allocated under the Structural Funds, for the period 1994-1999, amounts to Ecu 2.1bn. Mr Decourrière however is seriously concerned at the current low rate of actual expenditure.
    He is particularly worried that three years into a five year programme, a region such as Hainault which has Objective 1 status and is seriously in need of funding, has used only 17% of its total allocation of Regional Development Funds.

    He is "astonished" that some Objective 1 regions in other member states have higher job creation targets, although they have fewer resources. He is therefore calling for the Commission to establish clear and harmonized indicators to determine how realistic or stretching such targets are, with particular emphasis on net job creation and the average cost of each job financed from EU funds.

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Patagonian toothfish, conservation and the Falklands factor


Patagonian toothfish, conservation and the Falklands factor
    Consultation procedure
    (A4-315/97 - McKenna)

    Illegal fishing especially of Patagonian toothfish in Antarctic waters is proving difficult to combat at an international level.

    In recommending approval of a Commission proposal for the EU to sign up to a new set of conservation measures and catch limits under the body responsible for managing stocks in these international waters - the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), - Patricia McKenna (Dublin, Greens), reporting for the fisheries committee, is tabling amendments designed to strengthen enforcement and inspection provisions. Mrs McKenna notes that the UK decision to declare and enforce a unilateral 200 mile limit around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands after the Falklands war has pushed illegal fishing to neighbouring areas. She would, therefore, like to see a more coordinated approach to conservation in the area.

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Fisheries agreement with Guinea-Bassau Ivory Coast etc


    Fisheries agreements with Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Equitorial Guinea and Cape Verde
    (A4-300/97 - Josu Imaz San Miguel; Medina Ortega, Kindermann, Novo) - consultation procedure

    Reporting for the Committee on Fisheries, Mr Josu Jon Imaz San Miguel (E, EPP) welcomes the proposal for a Council Regulation on the conclusion of the Protocol establishing a fishing agreement with Guinea Bissau. The cost of the new Protocol is Ecu 34m, payable in four annual instalments of Ecu 8.5m each. Mr Imaz San Miguel welcomes in particular the substantial increase in the funding for maritime conservation, which at Ecu 800,000 is four times that of the previous Protocol. He also welcomes the absence of specific quotas per country, as he believes that in the past this had caused unnecessary rigidity in the use of resources by the fishing fleets of the various member states.

    Among the points in the agreement is a requirement for EU shipowners fishing in Guinea- Bissau waters to ensure that at least one third of their crew are Guinea-Bissau nationals and to pay their salary and social security. The agreement also includes an Ecu 300,000 programme for developing small-scale fishing at the local level which is designed to ensure adequate food supplies for the people of Guinea-Bissau.

    Mr Imaz San Miguel is putting forward four amendments to the proposal covering such items as reporting arrangements and clarification of the expenditure details.

    The Committee will also be recommending approval of fishing agreements with the Ivory Coast, Equitorial Guinea and Cape Verde.


    EPISESS

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The Week 5/6 November 1997


THE WEEK

Brussels, 5-6 November 1997

CONTENTS

Common Fisheries Policy report

1

Enlargement - Commission statement
1

Lorry drivers' dispute - Commissioner promises action
2

EU action to tackle the abuse of children
3

The future of the Common Fisheries Policy under scrutiny
4

Burden of proof in sex discrimination
5

Reforming Social Security
6

Commission report on competition policy
7

Harmonised policy for the security of fishing boats
8    

Euro-coins - Queen's head can stay
8

Passenger ships - safety rules
9

Renewable energy sources
9

Mauritania-EU fisheries agreement
9

PHARE beneficiaries must gradually accept responsibility for financial management
9

Relocation and foreign debt investment in third countries
9

Groups
10

Index
11

Common Fisheries Policy report

Wednesday, 5 November - Allan Macartney (North East Scotland, ERA) and Pat the Cope Gallagher (Connacht/Ulster, UFE) were unhappy that the report by Maria Fraga Estevez (E, EPP) on the post-2002 Common Fisheries Policy contained a number of differences between the different language versions and that the vote in committee was invalid. Consequently, they believed that it should be referred back to committee. They were opposed by other speakers including James Provan (South Downs West, EPP) and Pauline Green (London North, PES) who considered that the linguistic problems were of a minor nature and that the debate on the report should be maintained on the agenda. In a vote, MEPs agreed to keep the report on the agenda for 5 November.

Enlargement - Commission statement

Wednesday, 5 November - On behalf of the Commission, Hans van den Broek updated MEPs on the discussions of the foreign affairs ministers at their informal meeting on enlargement held on 25/26 October 1997. He stressed that member states had agreed unanimously on the importance of confirming to all applicant countries that they would eventually become part of the Community as soon as they had met the relevant political and economic conditions, "Differentiation (between applicant countries) but not discrimination" was Mr van den Broek's message.

He stated that there would be an accession partnership for all candidate countries and that clear "roadmaps"would be drawn up indicating any shortcomings they might have. He emphasised the importance of the "financial envelope" and that funds were available through PHARE. He noted that there would be an annual review of the state of progress of all applicant countries, including those with whom negotiations had not yet started. Mr van den Broek also gave details of a permanent European Conference that would be established as a multilateral forum, to be attended by all countries with a "European vocation". This, he said, would be the only multilateral forum, as other negotiations would take place within a bilateral framework.

Mr van den Broek informed MEPs that Turkey could be considered as a country with aspirations to EU membership. However, no conclusions could yet be drawn and intensive discussions would be taking place, in particular on such issues as Turkey's attitude on Cyprus and human rights. He emphasised that following talks on the ground, the human rights situation in Turkey was far from satisfactory. He was looking very closely at the article on human rights in the EU's agreement with Turkey and expressed the hope that the state of emergency would be lifted in numerous provinces where it was still maintained.

Replying to further questions, Mr van den Broek reaffirmed the Commission's view as set out in Agenda 2000 that the enlargement process could take place within the 1.27% of GNP budget.

Replying to Gary Titley (Greater Manchester West, PES) who was concerned that it might not even be possible to admit Slovenia at the moment when it meets the economic criteria for membership, Mr van den Broek said that there was no doubt accession could take place as soon as it met these targets, but that it had to be remembered that full ratification could be a lengthy process in all the member states. Furthermore, he did not want to rule out the possibility of other applicant states, which were at present someway behind the economic performance of countries like Slovenia, catching up during the negotiations phase. He confirmed that the intention was to provide up to 30% of PHARE funding for Eastern Europe to go towards improving administration and 'institution building'.

Lorry drivers' dispute - Commissioner promises action

Wednesday, 5 November - Commissioner Neil Kinnock told MEPs that the Commission would not hesitate to investigate the possibility of using all the legal powers at its disposal to resolve the matter if France does not take any action to remove blockades created by lorry drivers. The Commissioner emphasised that letters had been written to the respective French ministers responsible for transport policy to express concern at the situation which is impeding free movement. Talks were continuing, he added. The Commissioner also said that representations had been made to Union leaders and workers' representatives in France. He strongly condemned all forms of violence.

Following his statement, Mr Kinnock took questions from MEPs. In response to Florus Wijsenbeek (Nl, ELDR) who called for clear compensation rules to enable the Commission to take speedy action to help those who had suffered financial loss, Mr Kinnock stated that he had appealed to French ministers on this issue and was disappointed that there had been little progress. He considered, however, that the existence of a compensation fund might make a further dispute more likely. Pervenche Berès (F, PES) noted that the French government had undertaken to keep the main routes open, however, there was a European dimension to the issue and it was important to have harmonisation of working conditions. In response Mr Kinnock spoke of the improvements which the Commission was promoting, including the introduction of a new generation of electronic tachographs and the extension of proposals on working time to the road haulage industry. He emphasised however, that these matters did not have direct relevance to the dispute.

Anne MacIntosh (Essex North and Suffolk South, EPP) argued that the Maastricht Treaty gave powers to the Commission to impose fines on member states if they breached provisions of free movement. She noted that there had been similar instances of disruption since 1984. She called for EU funds to be withheld from France. Such an action, she said, was not a change to the law, merely a matter of implementing the relevant provisions of the Maastricht Treaty. Mr Kinnock argued that if a member state strove to maintain freedom of movement there was little power for the Commission to act. He believed that it would be very difficult to claim that the French government was not making a series of attempts to secure freedom of movement.

Friedrich Wolf (D, Greens) expressed his solidarity with the French lorry drivers' action. It was, he said, a strike for Europe, not against Europe. Georg Jarzembowski (D, EPP) asked when the Commission would do something to take the French government to the Court of Justice as he believed it was in breach of its duty to ensure freedom of movement of goods. Mr Kinnock argued that the law would need to be changed to allow the Commission to take action.

Pat the Cope Gallagher (Connacht/Ulster, UFE) considered that the Commission was acting in a more expeditious manner than in previous disputes. However, he spoke of the severe financial losses being suffered by the 400 Irish trucks that were involved and the crippling effects on the Irish economy. He was also unhappy that Irish lorry drivers had not been compensated for losses incurred during the previous dispute. Mr Kinnock reiterated that he was pursuing the matter of compensation as a matter of urgency with the French government. Gisèle Moreau (F, EUL/NGL) believed that the human rights of the French lorry drivers were being trampled upon and they were "slaves of the road". Mr Kinnock replied that the Commission could not offer an opinion on the rights and wrongs of the dispute itself, however, he emphasised the importance of achieving a quick and satisfactory resolution of the issue.


EU action to tackle the abuse of children

(A4-306/97 - Schulz)

Wednesday, 5 November - On behalf of the civil liberties committee Martin Schulz (D, PES) urged the EU to respond vigorously to the growing problem of sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child sex tourism. He wanted member states to use their penal laws to respond to the issue and to pool their experience to work for a European society that respected the rights of children. He welcomed the proposals of the Commission, which he believed to be 'worthy of praise'. Mr Schulz spoke of the "perverted individuals (who were seeking) to satisfy their lower desires regardless of the consequences". Such people, he believed, could destroy children and the victims of their actions needed the help of society through psychological and medical care and also financial support.

He wanted those producing child pornography to be identified and punished. The consumers, he said, were as bad as the producers and should also be penalised. He argued that sex tourism was a "modern form of slavery" and that those indulging in the practice should be pursued extra- territorially and if necessary brought to book within the EU. He called for legislation on kidnapping of women and children for the purpose of prostitution and wanted a European agency for lost children on the American model to be established.

Mr Schulz called for those who had made mistakes in this area to accept the consequences of their actions and to resign. He referred in particular to Georges Wathelet the former Belgian Minister of Justice now in the European Court of Justice.

In the debate, attention focussed on the role of Mr Whatelet in the affair, whether or not the European Parliament had the power to demand his resignation, and whether or not the EU could legislate effectively for offences taking place outside the member states. The general feeling was that while Parliament did not have the legal authority to force Mr Whatelet to resign, MEPs had a moral right and duty to speak out on the issue, as Gerard Collins (Munster, UFE) emphasised. Mr Collins stressed the fundamental role of the family in providing a stable background for children, although he did recognise that much abuse had in fact taken place in families behind closed doors. There should, he said, be "no hiding place" for those guilty of offences against children. While acknowledging the difficulty of harmonising legislation in this field, Mr Collins felt the member states could cooperate in introducing stiffer penalties for offences against children and make it easier for children to give evidence in Court. He also strongly supported help measures, such as the setting up of a European centre and Childline. Referring to the Louise Woodward case, he called for an EU regulation on au-pairs. Monica Baldi (I, UFE) was particularly anxious to crack down on sex tourism, especially where minors were involved. She called for an EU code of practice and support for a new budget line to combat paedophilia, although other speakers in the debate pointed out that Parliament had not actually voted appropriate funds for this in the budget reading.

Roy Perry (Wight and Hampshire South, EPP) agreed with the main thrust of Mr Schulz's report and emphasised that the problem cut across national boundaries. He stressed in particular the need for effective control of the internet. He considered that a Missing Children's Bureau would be a good idea, and also called for regulation on the matter of au-pairs.

Replying to the debate, Commissioner Papoutsis explained the action taken so far by the Commission to combat the problem. There was a special project to combat violence against women and children, moves were being made to tackle the problem of pornography on the internet and that the Commission's Green Paper on telecommunications also addressed the problem of sex lines. In addition, the EU's cross-frontier legislation on broadcasting had been adjusted to take into account the need to tackle pornography. Furthermore, legislation had been introduced to make possession of pornographic material relating to children a criminal offence. The member states had also agreed to legislation to combat the sexual exploitation of minors in third countries. He reminded MEPs that as many as one million children were affected by this trade which was now spreading from Asia across the world. The Commission's policy, he emphasised, was based on dissuasion, cracking down on the availability of sex tourism, addressing the problem in third countries and calling on the member states to cooperate to deal with the problem in the EU. In addition this would involve close cooperation by all those involved in the tourist industry, such as travel agents, hoteliers and airlines.

Martin Schulz's (D, PES) resolution emphasising the importance of EU action to combat the sexual exploitation of children was adopted with slight amendment, 377 to 4 in favour with 9 abstentions. The resolution called for the resignation of Melchior Wathelet, the judge at the European Court of Justice, in view of his role as Belgian Minister of Justice in the Dutroux affair. There was also a call for the possession of pornographic material involving minors to be made a criminal offence.

The future of the Common Fisheries Policy under scrutiny
(A4-298/97 - Fraga Estevez)

Wednesday, 5 November - MEPs looked at the future of the Common Fisheries Policy due to expire in 2002 in debating a report submitted by Maria Fraga Estevez (E, EPP). She explained that the fundamental problem was to create a new Common Fisheries Policy that took account of the needs of the industry and in particular addressed the problem of the size of the fishing fleet across the EU, which she felt was at present too large in view of limitations on stocks. There was, she emphasised, a need to tighten up on controls and inspections, in particular by harmonising penalties in all the member states against those breaking the rules. It was also necessary to improve marketing and processing with a view to making the industry more efficient. She also emphasised the need for flexibility and to allow the exchange of fishing rights between fishermen.

Robin Teverson (Cornwall and West Plymouth, ELDR) however, felt that the proposals did not go far enough to address the problems of the industry and he recommended "regionalisation" or different policies geared towards different fishing regions in which the rights of fishermen in the industry would be preserved. Other speakers, such as Gianni Tamino (I, Greens) emphasised the needs to preserve stocks and protect resources, a point endorsed by Allan Macartney (North East Scotland, ERA) who did not feel it was possible to square the objectives of conservation with what he termed as the obsession of the free market. He warned that there was a danger of a future fisheries policy destabilising the fishing community. Mrs Fraga Estevez's proposals, he felt, undermined conservation, the viability of small coastal communities dependent on fisheries and, perhaps most important of all, support on the ground for an EU fisheries policy. There was, he said, a danger that the approach she was recommending would only help those who were opposed to a common policy and favoured leaving the European Union.

Ian Paisley (Northern Ireland, Ind) spoke of the need to defend the Northern Ireland fishing industry after 2002 and to set up proper safeguards to prevent it being totally eliminated. He condemned the "so-called expert conservationists", arguing that they should not be allowed to cause suffering to fishermen as there was no guarantee that they were right. He spoke of the need to respect regional diversity, to have "fair fishing grounds" and to deal with quota hopping. James Provan (South Downs West, EPP) considered that the CFP was a "bit of a mess" in many areas. He wanted to see a policy that safeguarded the interests of those in the peripheral and poorer parts of the EU. He welcomed in particular, the fact that Mrs Fraga Estevez's report called for a 12 mile exclusion zone. He noted that 80% of fishermen fished close to their own shores, however he wanted to see more EU control of the larger fishing boats which went out further.

Pat the Cope Gallagher (Connacht/Ulster, UFE) argued that the report was treating the fishing industry like any other business, particularly in the way it judged national quotas to be incompatible with the single market. He argued strongly that the single market should not result in unrestricted access to fish resources. He believed that proper management was the key to the future and that a policy similar to set-aside in agriculture should be adopted for the fishing sector. He concluded by stating that adoption of the motion for resolution as policy could lead to national fleets being reduced below a critical mass.

Peter Crampton (Humberside, PES) on the other hand, took the view that most of the important elements had been incorporated into the compromise agreed by the committee. He contended that there were provisions for stability, conservation, regional management and preservation of the 6-12 mile zone. In addition, provisions had been made for monitoring and enforcement, although he did warn that if no action was taken to deal with discards, or taking too many juvenile fish, the industry would be in a state of crisis. He looked forward to a Commission proposal to tighten up inspection rules being published next year. Joe McCartin (Connacht/Ulster, EPP) expressed his disappointment that agreement had not been reached on a wider coastal limit and he did not accept the notion that the proposals would guarantee stability. Neither was he content with the situation whereby local fishermen in Ireland were only allowed access to 20% of coastal resources. This situation would not be tolerated in countries such as Spain and Denmark he contended.

Replying for the Commission, Christos Papoutsis apologized for the absence of the Commissioner responsible for fisheries, Emma Bonino, and welcomed the contributions to the debate. This was, he emphasised, the beginning of a long consultation process in which the intention was to obtain a cross-section of views. Future policy would be based on preserving resources, respect for the environment, the 6-12 mile limit, special arrangements for certain areas and bringing Spain, Portugal and Sweden into a new Common Fisheries Policy.

Maria Fraga Estevez's (E, EPP) resolution on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy was adopted with just one amendment, 268 votes to 73 with 8 abstentions. The resolution stresses the importance of treating fisheries as "simply another sector of economic activity", with special problems relating to the environment, employment and conservation stocks. All the other proposed amendments, including those from Allan Macartney (North East Scotland, ERA) were rejected.


Burden of proof in sex discrimination

Cooperation procedure - second reading. 314 votes required for amendments to be adopted.
(A4-326/97 - Ghilardotti)

Wednesday, 5 November - Fiorella Ghilardotti (I, PES) on behalf of the women's committee, noted that the common position of Council on the issue of the burden of proof in cases of sex discrimination was still someway from that of the Parliament. She was therefore retabling a series of amendments, in particular one that substantially altered the Council's definition of indirect discrimination and one requiring member states to introduce into their national legal systems measures to ensure that the parties concerned in cases of sex discrimination had all the relevant information in the possession of the other party. On behalf of the PES, Lissy Gröner (D) welcomed Mrs Ghilardotti's report as an important foundation for a social Europe. She welcomed particularly the amendment put forward by Mrs Ghilardotti which stated that the plaintive should benefit from any doubt that might remain in cases of sex discrimination.

Replying for the Commission, Commissioner Padraig Flynn said that the common position represented a clear step forward, especially in clarifying legal uncertainty. He hoped that Council could agree to strengthen the present text by incorporating some of Parliament's amendments.

The common position on the burden of proof in cases of sex discrimination was adopted as amended. Among amendments passed was one which clarified the definition of indirect discrimination. However, an amendment which called for the plaintiff to benefit from any remaining doubts in cases of sex discrimination was rejected.

Reforming Social Security
(A4-291/97 - Weiler)

Thursday, 6 November - Opening the debate on Commission proposals for modernising social protection schemes in Europe, and in particular the need to take account of the increasing number of people switching jobs in different countries, Barbara Weiler (D, PES) reporting for the social affairs committee emphasised the need to use a more "active" use of resources. At the same time, Mrs Weiler emphasised there should be no reduction of benefits. As a way of achieving this without increasing the social security burden on labour she called for an alternative form of taxation perhaps through increased VAT charges or environmental taxes. Mrs Weiler did, however, regret the fact that the Amsterdam Treaty did not introduce provisions enabling more decisions in this area to be taken by majority vote. Countries such as the UK and Germany had, she said, used the national veto to block proposals in the past. She is also proposing the introduction of more flexible retirement systems with the possibility of a "top-up" to the basic pension.

The debate focussed on ways of improving the situation of cross-frontier workers, who at present lose out under the different national social security schemes and the extent to which there can be cooperation between national systems.

Bartho Pronk (Nl, EPP) drew attention to the difference between the all-embracing system generally operating in Northern European countries and the "minimum" approach of the South. He considered that it was simply not feasible to set up a European-wide system and that indeed the European People's Party was clearly in favour of retaining national responsibility for social security albeit with some form of cooperation to take account of the needs of cross-frontier workers and those retiring to a different member state. Social Security, he continued, should be based on providing workers with insurance against the five basic risks of death, sickness, disability, old age and unemployment. Within this there was a role for the private sector. Marie- Thérèse Hermange (F, UFE) warned of the demographic challenge in which there will be a 50% increase in the number of pensioners over 60 in the next 25 years. She favoured providing more incentives for the family to take on more of a caring role. This would prove cheaper in the long run, she argued. Other speakers such as Johanna Boogerd-Quaak (Nl, ELDR) looked to job creation as a means of alleviating the social security burden while Outi Ojala (Fin, EUL/NGL) drew attention to the comprehensive public provision, provided in Scandinavian countries which she felt was more efficient and cheaper than the alternative private system that could be found in countries such as the United States. Friedrich Wolf (D, Greens) also believed that it was just not feasible to create a "mega-European system" in view of the different traditions, levels of prosperity and expectation in the member states. Nevertheless, he felt basic provisions should be made to ensure that people should not be forced onto the margins. Henri de Lassus Saint Genies (F, ERA) called for action to prevent companies relocating in countries where social security costs were cheaper, while Kirsten Jensen (Dk, PES) pointed to the restrictions on social spending caused by EMU and the need to meet the criteria for a single currency by reducing public expenditure.

Susan Waddington (Leicester, PES) said there was evidence that Europe's social model was now failing to meet new challenges such as different work patterns, globalisation of trade and demographic change. Adjustments to policy were needed to iron out inequalities and promote such ideas as "life-long learning". People heading towards retirement should not be faced with the prospect of living in poverty and she pointed out that one in three children in the UK were living in families with an income below the poverty line. This situation was worse in areas facing structural change and wholesale redundancies such as mining regions. Reform of the present system, she argued should be based on encouraging more cooperation across the EU.

Welcoming the contributions to the debate, Commissioner Padraig Flynn reminded the House that social protection was just as important today as when it was first introduced and that there was no question of unravelling the welfare state, it was rather a challenge to find ways to modernise the present system. The member states would retain the main responsibility of how to spend social budgets but the Commission would play a key role in promoting cooperation and updating legislation applying to cross-frontier workers. He looked forward to concrete decisions being taken at the forthcoming Luxembourg Jobs Summit and was indeed encouraged by initial discussions at yesterday's meeting of finance ministers. In addition to taking care of a more ageing population, there was also the need to improve rights for part-time workers, especially women.

Barbara Weiler's (D, PES) resolution, setting out principles for the reform of social security systems was adopted with a number of amendments, including one supporting the view that social security provision is primarily a responsibility of the member states.

Commission report on competition policy

(A4-316/97 - Areitio Toledo)

Thursday, 6 November - José García-Margallo y Marfil (E, EPP) standing in for Javier Areitio Toledo (E, EPP) welcomed the Commission's 26th Report on Competition Policy. However, he called for the Commission to have more means to undertake its task of control and urged that coordination be improved between the Commission and the member states to evaluate the consequences of competition on employment and consumers.

Astrid Thors (Fin, ELDR) emphasised the importance of the Commission promoting competition and congratulated it on ensuring that the issue was addressed in the Amsterdam Treaty. She wanted to see greater predictability in competition and also stressed the need to strike a balance between business secrets and the public right to know.

Ludivina García Arias (E, PES) spoke of the need to analyse other types of concentrations and sectors that were being privatised. She was particularly concerned about duopolies and questioned whether they actually improved competition and quality of service. She stressed that state aids could have a distorting effect on the single market and believed there was a need to go further in a real coordination of competition policy.

Pat the Cope Gallagher (Connacht/Ulster, UFE) stressed that it was widely recognised that free play of market forces alone was not sufficient to achieve key EU objectives such as social cohesion, the growth of SMEs and research and development. He emphasised the need to produce quality products in all sectors and the importance of all businesses enjoying equal opportunities in the market. He also argued that the principle of subsidiarity was very important in the field of anti-trust rules.

Other speakers including Heidi Hautala (Fin, Greens) and Christa Randzio-Plath (D, PES) were generally in favour of the Commission proposals but stressed that matters should not be simply left to market forces. Johannes Blokland (Nl, I-EN) spoke of the distorting effects of state aid to businesses.

For the Commission, Karel van Miert was satisfied that, in general, the views of MEPs were in line with the thinking of the Commission. He argued that the Amsterdam Treaty had made no basic changes in the competition rules although it had clarified a number of issues. He believed that national governments were funding too many "lost causes" and lamented that the funding for "worthy causes" such as research and development and the promotion of SMEs was falling. He noted that countries such as France and Italy were giving the most public aid but explicitly excluded the United Kingdom from this grouping. He welcomed the idea of there being a ceiling on state aid to businesses. In addition, Mr van Miert informed MEPs that he was examining the issue of taxation aid which could also distort competition and he promised that the Commission would address the problem.

The resolution welcoming the Commission's 26th Report on Competition Policy was passed with 1 amendment seeking to clarify the legal position with regard to the Commission imposing fines in cartel cases.

Harmonised policy for the security of fishing boats
Cooperation procedure - second reading. 314 votes required for amendments to be adopted.
(A4-336/97 - Le Rachinel)

Thursday, 6 November - The common position was adopted without amendment.


Euro-coins - Queen's head can stay

Cooperation procedure - first reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted.
(A4-334/97 - Soltwedel-Schäfer)

Thursday, 6 November - The proposal for a Council regulation on denominations and technical specifications of Euro-coins was passed with a number of amendments. However, an amendment calling for both sides of the new coins to be the same in all member states was rejected.

On the metal content, several amendments approving the use of nickel were adopted. Externally, the coins will be composed of stainless steel, copper covered steel, Nordic Gold, three layered stainless steel and Gold according to denomination. The gold coin will be for 100 Euros.


Passenger ships - safety rules
Cooperation procedure - second reading. 314 votes required for amendments to be adopted.
((A4-332/97 - Stenmarck)

Thursday, 6 November - The common position was adopted with all seven amendments.

Renewable energy sources
Cooperation procedure - first reading. Simple majority required for amendments to be adopted.
(A4-288/97 - Bloch von Blottnitz)

Thursday, 6 November - The resolution on the proposal for a Council decision on a multi- annual programme for the promotion of renewable energy sources in the EU - ALTENER II - was approved with a number of amendments. These included one establishing an objective of replacing at least the equivalent of 15% of primary energy demand by the year 2010 in the EU and one setting an objective of reducing CO2 emissions by 15% by the year 2010 compared with 1990.

Mauritania-EU fisheries agreement
Consultation procedure
(A4-303/97 - Imaz San Miguel)

Thursday, 6 November - The fisheries agreement with Mauritania was approved with the comment that Parliament takes the view that the conclusion of the agreement is subject to the assent procedure.

PHARE beneficiaries must gradually accept responsibility for financial management
(A4-286/97 - Kjaer Hansen)

Thursday, 6 November - Eva Kjaer Hansen's (Dk, ELDR) resolution criticising the operation of the PHARE programme for Eastern Europe was adopted with a slight technical addition.

Relocation and foreign debt investment in third countries
(A4-294/97 - Sainjon)

Thursday, 6 November - The report was referred back to committee.

POLITICAL GROUPS IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT as at 03.10.97


B DK D GR E F IRL I L NL A P FIN S UK Total
PES 6 4 40 10 21 16 1 18 2 7 6 10 4 7 63 215
EPP 7 3 47 9 30 11 4 15 2 9 7 9 4 5 18 180
UFE 2 18 7 24 2 3 56
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 2 4 1 1 1 4 27
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, three centre party Portuguese MEPs and two Dutch Members who crossed the floor from the PES and EPP Groups.

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 who led the opposition in France to the Maastricht Treaty, 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.


INDEX

November 1997

Agriculture
    Animal testing, AprI, p3, OctII, p25
    Animal welfare, July, p39, OctI p10
    Apple mountain reduction, OctII, p34
    Arable crops AprI, p24
    Bananas (see developing countries)    
    Beef consumption Sept,p27
    Beef and veal export trade controls, Oct II, p33
    Bees JunI, 13
    British beef exports July, p36
    BSE beef labelling veterinary checks FebI, p18
    BSE - President Santer's speech FebI, p12
    BSE update JunI,p26
    BSE inquiry com. report JanI p4,14, FebI, p9, AprI p5
    BSE recommendations FebI, p10
    BSE monitoring committee AprII,p5
    BSE Victim JanI, p13
    CAP reform Sept, p30
    Cheshire Cheese and Cornish pasties JanI, p23
    Cephalopod producers in Canary Islands
    MarI, p22
    Durum wheat JunI,p17
    Farm price proposals 1997-1998 JunI,p15
    Fruit and vegetables, OctII, p25
    Hops July, p33
    Milk, OctII, p25
    Oilseed payments JunI,p17
    Organic farming, MayI, p6
    Pig, sheep and goat statistics, OctII, p25
    Portuguese fruit and vegetables, July, p32
    Production and marketing, MayI, p7
    Rice AprI, p26
    Seeds marketing July, p12
    Set-aside support July p33
    Tobacco, July, p29
    Wine growing areas MarI, p28

Budget
    Management of 1994 and 1995 budgets, AprI, p10
    Budgetary control, July p28
    1997 - Implementation OctI, p3
    Draft budget 1998 Sept, p10
    ECSC budget, OctII, p14
    EIB guarantee MarI, p28
    Estimates AprII, p8
    Extra budget for 1997, OctII, p11
    Guideline 1998 MarI, p26
    Jobs priority-budget 1998, OctII, p11
    Parliament and the other institutions' budget 1998, OctII, p14
    Preliminary draft 1998, MayI, p8; July p14

Consumer/health
    Air Insurance MayII, p8
    Alcopops JunI,
    Banking collapses AprI, p13
    Consumer Credit MarI, p12
    Dangerous substances JanI, p21; July p11
    European Ombudsman, July p5
    Extraction solvents, July p11
    Food additives, OctII, p28
    Genetic Foods JanI p13, MarI, p13, AprI p2
    Non-conventional medicine, MayII, p6
    Protecting investors FebI, p19
Council of Ministers/Summits/Future plans
    Agenda 2000, July, p17
    Amsterdam Summit JunI,p18
    Commission's work programme for 1998, OctII, p23
    Dublin Summit JanI p19,20
    Dutch Presidency JanI, p10
    Enlargement: more talks ahead, OctII, p32; NovI, p1
    Irish Presidency JanI, p8
    Irish Draft Treaty JanI, p19
    Annual Report on the Union JanII, p5
    Noorwijk Summit MayII, p3
    State of the Union, OctII, p19

Cultural policy
    Ariane books programme, July, p26
    Cohesion policy and culture sept, p6
    Future for history book Jan II, p6
    Information Society MarI, p6
    Protecting the role of the written press, OctII, p33
    Protection of minors in audiovisual and information services, OctII, p33
    RAPHAEL Programme Sept, p6
    Sales of works of art AprI, p13
    Socrates, OctII, p29
    Teaching and learning MarI, p6
    
Developing countries
    ACP/EU Joint Assembly FebI, p26
    Aid policy FebI, p27
    Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan - aid programmes, July p34
    Bananas FebI, p9, MayI, p18,JunI, p35, Sept,p13, OctII, p36
    Bulgaria, Macedonia - aid programmes JunI,p8
    Country debt, OctII, p36
    ECHO aid programme FebI, p27
    Lomé JanI, p21, OctI p8
    Partnership agreement with Georgia,
    Azerbaijan, Armenia & Kazakhstan, MarI p12
    Polio vaccines, July, p37
    Regional integration in Third World AprI, p25
    Security assistance in development
    programme, July
Disasters
    Acrylamide - Sweden, OctII, p32
    Brazil rain forests, OctII, p32
    Earthquake in Iran, MarI, p26
    Earthquake in Itay, OctII, p32
    Floods in County Mayo, July p5
    Floods in Spain, OctII, p32
    Flooding in Europe, July p32
    Hurricane Pauline, OctII, p32
    North Korea famine, MayI, p24, OctII, p32
    South-East Asian forest fires, OctII, p32
    
Economic policy
    Economic guidelines AprII, p6, MayII, p6
    Employment policy, OctI p1
    European observatory for SMEs Sept, p26
    Fight against unemployment, OctII, p8
    National budgets and Multilateral surveillance MayII, p5
Education and training
    Eastern European involvment, July p34
    Recognition of diplomas AprI, p24, MayI, p15
    Socrates JunI,p29
    Vocational Training Centre (CEDEFOP) AprII, p14
EMU
    Annual Economic Report AprI, p7
    Balance of payments AprI, p6
    Deficits MayII, p4    
    EMI report JunI, p8
    Euro-coins NovI, p8
    IGC update MarI, p 21
    Stability pact May II, p7
Energy
    Chernobyl Sept, p14
    Duty on mineral oils, JunI, p31
    Energy Charter FebI, p3
    Non-proliferation treaty, MarI, p26
    Nuclear agreement AprII, p11
    Nuclear power, MayI, p20
    Renewable energy MayI, p22; NovI, p9
    Synergy FebI, p5, MarI, p22

Environment
    Animal cruelty Sept p32
    Animal traps JunI,p26
    Baltic problem Sept, p10
    CFCs Sept, p15
    Desertification - UN Convention, OctII, p24
    Environmental Action Plan, July p26
    Environmental self-regulation, July p27
    Forestry Strategy JanI p20, Jan II p10
    Forest protection JanI, p21
    Greenhouse gases Sept, p22
    Legislation, MayI, p9
    Migratory species of wild animals, OctII, p
    Monaco-accession to convention on protection of the Alps, OctII, p24
    New York Earth Summit, July p30
    NGOs Sept, p21
    Noisy aeroplanes, MarI, p7
    Pollution from agricultural vehicles, MayI, p8
    Pollution from motor vehicles AprI, p17
    UN conference, MarI, p27
    Waste exports, July, p27

Finance
    Banking controls AprI, p19
    Capital adequacy AprI, p13
    Post-2002 Common Fisheries Policy report, NovI, p1, 4
Fisheries JanI p19, JanII p10, AprI, p19,AprII, p11, MayI,p 19
    British fishing fleets, July, p36
    Fishing agreement with Angola, Republic of Guinea MarI, p22
    Fishing boat security, NovI, p8
    Fishing in the Baltics AprI, p21
    Law of the sea OctI, p5
    Mauritania-EU fisheries agreement, NovI, p9
    PHARE - financial management, NovI, p9
    Salmon dumpingMayII, p2, JunI,p4
    Senegal, Maritius, Aquaculture, July p6
    Task force on CFP future JunI,p34
Foreign Policy
    Albania AprI, p14, July p25
    Algeria, July p38, Sept p15
    Agreement with Moldova/Ukraine, July p22
    ASEAN OctI p7
    Asia OctI p6
    Baltic states JunI,p27
    Bosnia MayI, p17, Sept p28
    Burma, July, p38
    Cambodia OctI p6
    Canada OctI p3
    Caucasus JanI, p23
    CFSP, MayI, p12    
    Chile AprII p13
    China JunI,p26
    Congo MayII, p2, JunI,p31
    Cyprus Sept p28
    Dayton agreement JunI,p30
    FYROM Sept p10, OctI p6
    Hong Kong AprI, p15
    Israel telecommunications agreement JanI, p22 Worries on construction of settlement MarI,p25
    Japan - trade relations Sept p23
    Kenya Sept p28
    Mediterranean Policy and
    Barcelona,MarI,p20
    Mediterranean policy and the PLO AprI, p12
    Mexico agreement, July p38
    Middle East AprII p15, Sept p15
    Nicaragua concern, OctII, p37
    Sierra Leone JunI,p30
    Serbia JanI, p21
    Turkey and Iraq MayII, p2; July, p24
    USA - Helms-Burton Act Sept p28
    Vietnam OctI p7
    Zaire, MayI, p18

Health/Safety
    Aviation safety, July, p17
    Biocides MayI, p9
    Biotechnology JunI,p33; July, p8
    Cloning MarI, p8
    EU health policy JunI,p6
    Food health and residue limits in veterinary medicines FebI, p19,
    Health and safety at work - Cancer dangers AprI, p4
    Marine biotoxins JunI,p33
    Noise JunI,p7
    Radiation MayI, 10
    Sea pollution AprII 9
    Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents Convention, OctII, p10
    Transport of nuclear materials JunI,p4
Human Rights
    Afghanistan, OctII, p30
    Albania, MarI, p19
    Algeria FebI, p20
    Alois Brunner MarI, p25
    Anti-personnel mines JunI,p35; July, p32, Sept p25
    Argentina boat people MarI, p25
    Asylum - Amsterdam Treaty Sept p31
    Bahrain Sept p29
    Belarus, July, p38
    Bosnia AprI, p23; July, p31
    Bulgaria AprI, p23    
    Burma MarI, p24, JunI,p30
    Cambodia AprI, p23; July, p30
    Chad FebI, p25
    Child labour MayI,p24
    Chile Sept p29
    China MayI, p24, JunI,p26, OctII, p30
    Colombia Sept p29
    Congo, OctII, p31
    Cyprus AprI, p24
    Death penalty JunI,p30    
    Eastern Europe MayI, p23
    Eastern Zaire FebI, p25
    Egypt, July, p31
    Ethiopia Sept p29
    European Parliament Annual Report on Human Rights AprI, p5
    Gulf states executions Sept p29
    Indonesia FebI, p26,MayI p23, JunI,p31, OctII, p32
    Iran FebI, p25, MayI, p23
    Karelia and Murmansk AprI, p23
    Kenya MayI, p24; July, p36
    Kosovo, Mar, p25, OctII, p31
    Laos AprI, p23
    Lomé JunI,p32
    Monitoring Centre for Racism AprI, p6
    Mordecho Vanunu FebI, p25
    Moscow street children JunI, p31    
    Mostar and Brcko FebI, p26
    Murder of Loubna Benaissa MarI, p4
    Peru, July, p31
    Philippines, July p32
    Racism Jan II p2, FebI, p26
    Refugees - help, OctII, p25
    Roisin McAliskey FebI, p23, MarI, p4
    Russia and Belarus AprI, p22
    Russian prisons AprI, p22
    Slovakia, OctII, p31
    Soucha Bechara, OctII, p31
    Sri Lanka, July, p39, Sept p32
    Sudan MayI, p23
    Combating terrorism Jan II p4
    Tibet MarI, p24
    Tunisia, July, p31
    Turkestan AprI, p22
    UN Commission on Human Rights FebI, p25
    Yemen AprI, p23
    Women's rights MarI, p25
Industry
    Arms industry, MayI, p14
    Automobiles MarI, p11
    Competitiveness AprI, p9
    Concern at Renault closure, p9
    Chemicals MarI, p11
    Maritime MarI, p11
    Satellite communications, OctII, p6
    Shipbuilding AprII, p4
Information technology
    Internet AprII, p6
Institutional
    Agreement between Parliament, Council and Commission, July, p22
    Flexibility Jan II, p2
    Subsidiarity MayI, 4
Internal Affairs
    Russian wife extradition Sept p32
    SMEs AprII p7
    Summertime JunI,p13
    Transit fraud FebI, p24 MarI, p16
    Tug of love case FebI, p25
Internal Market
    Advertising Sept p5
    Business AprII, p13
    Banking and cash abroad JanI, p17
    Free movement of goods JunI, p30
    Chocolate, OctII, p26
    Commercial communications, July, p7
    Common rules for buses and coaches, July, p16
    Competition policy - Commission report, NovI, p7
    Completing the Single Market MayII, p8
    Customs cooperation JanI, p22
    Data Protection JanI, p18
    Design legal protection, OctII, p7
    Distance selling JanI, p13
    Duty free, July, p39, OctII, p36
    Equality in staff regulations FebI, p24
    European Driving Licence AprI, p9
    European Information system and Data protection MayII p17
    Financial services FebI, p21
    Financial statistics, OctII, p16
    Free movement of doctors, July, p26
    Free movement of third country citizens, July, p36
    Insurance companies, OctII, p30
    Motor cycles and three-wheelers AprII, p14
    Motor vehicles and trailers AprI, 13
    Postal services Sept p7
    Pressure equipment AprII, p14
    Public contracts MayI, p16, OctII, p16
    Robert Schuman Project, OctII, p33
    Satellite personal communication FebI, p22
    SatelliteTV, MayI, p4    
    Schengen and free movement MarI, p5,AprI, p5
    SLIM AprI, p22
    Sports programmes on TV JunI,p6
    Taxation and VAT May II, p6
    Telecom agreement JunI,p12    
    Telecom licences FebI, p23
    Telecom -ONP FebI, p21
    Telecoms and universal service Sept p23
    Telecommunications and numbering, July, p12
    Telecoms and the WTO, OctII, p25
    Tractor speeds, July, p14
    Recognition of qualifications FebI, p23
    Vertical restraints in competition policy, July, p34
    Work abroad FebI, p6

Legislation
    Copyright in the Information Society, OctII, p29
    EU law OctI p5
    Food health and residue limits in veterinary medicines FebI, p19
    Fraud-Commission Annual Report, OctII, p17
    Legislation to combat fraud JunI,p25
    Luxembourg presidency, July, p22

Parliament
    Age limits for EU officials JunI,p24
    Announcement of new political group JanI, p4
    Double voting JanI, p7
    Dutch television row, OctII, p5
    Election of Vice-Presidents JanI, p6
    Election of Quaestors JanI, p8
    France and the immigration bill MarI, p4
    Labour MEPs' new rules, OctII, p5,8
    Lobbyists MayI, p5
    Local income tax for EU officials JunI, p34
    New committee chairs JanI, p24
    New French Government JunI,p5
    New French MEPs, July, p5
    New MEP for Merseyside West JanI, p4
    New President Election JanI, p4
    New President speech JanI, p7
    New President biography JanI, p5
    New Secretary-General MarI, p5
    New Tory Euro-MP leader Sept p32
    Officials on mission MarI, p22
    Parliamentary immunity, OctII, p6
    Personal privacy and confidential information JunI, p4
    Petitioning Parliament JunI,p5
    Privacy debate Sept p5    
    Relations with national parliaments JunI, p25
    Resignation of Bernard Tapie FebI, p3
    Rules of Procedure MayI, p6
    Seat and sessions OctI p1
    Staff regulations, July, p12
    Strasbourg session in 1998, OctII, p5
    Treaty of Rome -Anniversary sitting MarI,p14

Regional policy
    Austria MayI, p25
    Benbecula, July, p37
    Cohesion Fund and the environment FebI, p5
    Cross-border cooperation MayI, p25
    Demography MarI, p28
    Devolution Sept pp21 and 30
    Finland MayI, p13
    France, aid for region, July, p34
    KONVER programme, July, p37
    Germany FebI, p4
    Italy FebI, p4
    Mediterranean programmes, July, p28
    Structural funds, July, p33
    Sweden MayI, p13
Research
    EU's fourth research programme MarI, p24
    Extra Ecu 115m for research, OctII, p7
    Research and sustainable development JunI, p28

Social policy
    Child abuse, NovI, p3
    Drugs and drug addiction MarI, p24
    Dublin Foundation AprII, p14    
    Employee Rights JanI p21
    Employees rights and redundancies MayI, p11
    Equal opportunities AprII, p5
    Equal opportunities for disabled AprI, p24
    Equal pay for women JunI,p27
    EU help for the homeless MayII, p7
    European Voluntary service JunI, p28
    Free movement and social security May II, p9
    Increased employee consultation JanI, p22
    Sex discrimination cases AprI, p22
    Sex discrimination - burden of proof, NovI, p5
    Social dialogue, July p33
    Social security reform, NovI, p6
    Sport JunI,p28    
    Welfare state FebI, p6, OctI p4

Tourism and the Treaty JunI,p14

Trade
    Relocation and foreign debt investment, NovI, p9
    USA - Helms-Burton Act p28
Transport policy
    Charging HGVs, July, p15
    Combined transport JunI,p14
    Fair and efficient pricing in transport Jan II, p7
    Financial aid for combined transport FebI, p20
    Fraud and safety in transport rules, July, p17
    Freeing Europe's airspace JanI, p18
    FYROM-transport agreements, OctII, p17
    Lorry drivers' dispute, NovI, p2
    Maritime transport AprII, p10
    Open skies negotiations with USA JunI,p35
    Passenger list for ships MayII, p9
    Passenger ships - safety rules, NovI, p9
    Road safety, July, p33
    Sabena-Virgin deal Sept p31
    Slovenia-transport agreements, OctII, p18
    Subsidising Public Transport JanI, p18
    TENs OctII, p25
    Training for sailors MayII, p10

Women
    Annual report Sept p8
    Mainstreaming Sept p8
    Violence Sept p9
    Women in advertising Sept p9    

 
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