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News report : 18-11-98

Strasbourg, 18th November 1998

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Conciliation: Agreement on fifth framework research programme

The fifth framework programme has been the subject of 4 conciliation procedures. EP/Commission Agreement was reached with the Council just before midnight on November 17th on the implementation of the Fifth Framework Research Programme 1998-2002. After long negotiations, the EP and Council delegations finally could accept an overall amount for EC and Euratom research activities of Ecu 14.960 million, of which Ecu 13.700m for the EC programme and Ecu 1.260m for Euratom. Council finally agreed to an additional Ecu 50 million for the EC programme, Ecu 25m going to the Joint Research Centre and Ecu 25m pro rata for other activities. It was also agreed that 10% of the amount available for the first activity of the programme will be spent on SMEs. The EP will be asked to adopt this conciliation agreement in its plenary session in December in Strasbourg.

A solution was found for the so-called guillotine clause. A compromise was arrived at which will safeguard Parliament's position. Taking into account that a new financial perspective will be negotiated during the course of the programme, it was decided that in case of inconsistency of the maximum overall amount with the amount available for research a new decision should be taken on an amount under the condition provided for under the Treaty. Equivalent arrangements should be made for the specific programmes. In the absence of such arrangements the specific programms could not be implemented. Parliament will be involved through codecision not only in the adaptation of the overall amount and the breakdown between the different activities but also on changes in the content of the framework programme. Originally, the EP Delegation vehemently rejected the guillotine clause as running counter to the Treaty. Now, Parliament's co-decision prerogatives will be ensured.

At its previous meeting last week in Brussels, the Co-Chairmen of the EP and Council Delegations in the Conciliation Committee, Vice President Renzo IMBENI (PES, I) and Austrian research minister Caspar EINEM had agreed on a compromise package, but this was not accepted by the representatives of some member states. Although Vice President IMBENI and rapporteur Godelieve QUISTHOUDT-ROWOHL (EPP, D) said this morning that the compromise fell short of what Parliament had initially wanted, a good result had nevertheless been reached. The EP delegation emphasized that negotiating with Council was difficult where the Council has to agree unanimously: "Unanimity and conciliation are impossible bedfellows". The delegation also felt that negotiations will be less complicated in future, when, under the Treaty of Amsterdam, Council will no longer have to decide by unanimity.

Rapporteur QUISTHOUDT-ROWOHL pointed out that, in view of the aim in the member states to save money, the overall amount of Ecu 13.700m for research and development was the best that could be obtained. Vice President IMBENI added that the greater part of Parliament's amendments had been adopted and Mrs QUISTHOUDT underlined that Council had taken on board the Parliament's proposals as to the structure of the 5th framework programme.

Other amendments accepted during the conciliation procedure concerned the following:

- Mid-term review: It was agreed to introduce a mid-term review: Halfway through the term of the programme, the Commission shall now review progress with the programme and shall submit a proposal to modify the programme as required;

- JRC: The Commission will confirm that it is possible for the EP to request the Joint Research Centre to undertake certain research tasks;

- Biological and chemical disarmament: the EP shall be entitled to request research on this subject to be done by the JRC;

- Ageing population and disabilities: there will now be a specific action on research related to the disabled;

- Human cloning: Any activities involving human cloning will be excluded programme;

- Descartes Prize: The introduction of a European Descartes prize awarded to researchers for outstanding scientific and technological achievements resulting from European collaborative research.

Further information: Ton HUIJSSOON, Tel (00 33) 3 88 17 40 05 or E-mail:

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Statute for MEPs: Standard remuneration for Members plus refund of expenses etc

On Tuesday 17 November, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights (Chair: Willy DE CLERCQ, ELDR, B) adopted the draft Statute for MEPs drawn up by its rapporteur, Willi ROTHLEY (PES, D). The vote was 12 votes in favour, 2 against and 1 abstention. The committee voted on 440 amendments, of which a good hundred had been recast by the rapporteur in the form of 20 compromise amendments. With minor changes, 19 of these 20 were adopted.

This Statute is a piece of Community law which introduces a major institutional reform: the independence of MEPs. It is designed to flesh out the constitutional provisions laid down in the EU Treaties with provisions and general conditions governing the performance of MEPs' duties.

Under the Statute, MEPs - like their counterparts in the EU national parliaments - will all receive the same remuneration and have their social security cover and pension rights guaranteed. They will be entitled to refunds of expenses which are actually incurred and can be duly substantiated, subject to ceilings on the amounts.

Members' remunerations

Article 1 of the annex on MEPs' remunerations states "Members elected to the European Parliament for the first time shall receive a monthly remuneration of EUR [5677.62]. The remuneration shall be equivalent to the average remuneration received by all Members from the national parliaments at the time of adoption of this Decision. It shall be subject only to the tax payable to the European Communities."

MEPs currently receive gross remunerations ranging from the ECU 2827.85 of a Spanish Member to the ECU 9635.39 of an Italian Member.

Under Article 2, MEPs re-elected in June 1999 may, as an exception to the new rule, either opt to receive the remuneration provided for in Article 1 or, for the duration of Parliament's fifth term only (1999-2004), opt within 30 days of the beginning of the latter to continue receiving their national remuneration. After the 2004 elections, all MEPs will receive the same remuneration, which will be paid out of the EU budget.

Under Article 4, the remuneration will be reduced by any amount received by an MEP by way of remuneration for the holding of another parliamentary mandate. Rules may be adopted in the future under which income from a public office shall be offset against the remuneration.

Under Article 5, MEPs will be entitled to severance pay when they cease to hold office. This will be equivalent to one month's remuneration for every year of office served, with a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 12 months. Members will be entitled to draw a pension from the age of 60.

Article 8 says that the voluntary pension fund will continue until the end of the European Parliament's fifth term (2004), but only for Members who opt for the national remuneration. MEPs and the European Parliament will pay equal contributions, which will not be taxable.

Under the new Statute, MEPs' remunerations and severance pay, together with their pensions, will be liable to Community tax only.

Refund of expenses

This question is covered in the body of the resolution.

Under the rules adopted, MEPs will be entitled to a refund of duly substantiated travel expenses incurred in the course of their duties. Travel refunds will be subject to the following ceilings:

-    air: the cost of a business class ticket;
-    train: the cost of a 1st class ticket.

Travel will be deemed to include journeys between the Member's home and the airport or station. A mileage allowance will be granted for travel by car.

As regards general expenses incurred in connection with their duties, MEPs will receive a flat- rate monthly allowance of EUR 3262 and a daily allowance of EUR 231 for each day on which they actually carry out their duties as MEPs by attending official Parliament meetings. The amount of the flat-rate allowance may be adjusted for inflation once per parliamentary term.

Members will also be entitled to an assistants' allowance of EUR 9595 per month. This figure will be indexed to the average cost of living in the EU. Remunerations and contributions will be paid directly to the assistants and the relevant organisations/bodies.

Parliament is due to adopt rules on refunds of medical expenses and expenses arising from the birth of a child for MEPs who are drawing a pension.

The committee rejected amendments seeking to incorporate the rules on parliamentary assistants into an annex to the Statute for MEPs.

The House will debate the draft Statute in Brussels on December 2nd. The vote is scheduled for December 3rd. A simple majority is needed to adopt the Statute.

Further information: Werner de CROMBRUGGHE - tel. 284 46 52

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EP buildings to be named after well-known European figures

At its meeting on Monday, the Bureau of the European Parliament decided to change the current arrangement whereby its buildings in the three places of work are known by a mixture of names and numbers. Each building will now be named after a well-known European historical figure.

The names chosen by the Bureau are as follows:


IPE IV:     Louise Weiss (1893-1983) building. Louise Weiss was a French journalist active on behalf of women's political rights, the director of the weekly Femme nouvelle and founder of the Institut des Sciences de la Paix in Strasbourg.

IPE I:     Winston Churchill (1874-1965) building. Named after the British Prime Minister, who played a crucial role in the fight against the Nazi regime and actively promoted the idea of a United States of Europe and the creation of the Council of Europe.

IPE II:     Salvador de Madariaga (1886-1978) building. Salvador de Madariaga was a liberal Spanish diplomat and intellectual who became a leading figure of the Hague Conference's Culture Committee and of the League of Nations' disarmament section. Exiled following the Spanish Civil War.


D1/D2:     Paul Henri Spaak (1899-1972) building. Named after the Belgian socialist politician, who was Foreign Minister for a considerable period, the first President of the UN Assembly and Secretary-General of Nato.

D3:     Altiero Spinelli (1907-1986) building. Altiero Spinelli was an Italian anti-fascist and an advocate of European unification. He became Chair of the European Parliament's Institutional Affairs Committee and drew up the report on the draft Treaty on European Union.

Montoyer:     Bertha Von Suttner (1843-1914) building. Bertha Von Suttner was a writer and pacifist of Czech origin, the founder of the Austrian Society for Peace, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905 and a keen believer in a united Europe as the only means of keeping the peace.


BAK:     Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) building. Named after the German Federal Chancellor who is regarded as one of the leading supporters of the European Communities.

Tower:     Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954) building. Alcide De Gasperi was Italian Prime Minister after the Second World War and is regarded as one of the founding fathers of European integration together with Schuman and Adenauer.

Schuman:     Robert Schuman (1886-1963) This building will keep its present name.

It was decided not to use "Jean Monnet" as the Commission already has a building in Luxembourg with this name.

In choosing the above names, the Bureau wished to represent the different currents of ideas which marked the initial years of European integration as well some of the women who contributed to the founding of the European Union.

  Legal notice