Recent events at the European Parliament
This time it's different!
The official run-up to the 2014 European elections started on 10 September, when the European Parliament launched its awareness and information campaign. This campaign will continue beyond the elections themselves, until the newly-elected Parliament in turn elects the next European Commission President.
"The only way to legitimise and influence EU decision-making is through the European Parliament," stressed Anni Podimata MEP, one of the two EP Vice-Presidents responsible for communication. "There is a perception that EU political decision-taking in the current economic crisis has lacked proper legitimacy. People, EU voters, have the exclusive possibility to determine the political majorities of the Parliament, which will set the course for forging legislation, challenging bad policies and leading the debate in the five years following the elections."
"The European Parliament is the Chamber of EU citizens – we are the citizens' voice in the EU decision-making process," added Othmar Karas MEP, the other Vice-President responsible for communication. "But this time it’s different. This campaign will lead up to the European elections of 22-25 May 2014, but also beyond, until Parliament elects the President of the European Commission and approves the new Commission's political agenda. Most laws now originate at EU level, which makes the European Parliament at least as powerful as any national one. Voters therefore need to know what decisions are taken in "Brussels" (or Strasbourg) and how they can influence those decisions."
The State of the Union
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso delivered the last state of the union speech to Parliament for this legislature on 10th September. Political group leaders took the floor to set out the priorities which they feel Commission should address in the coming months. They stressed the need to restore trust in the EU, pointing out that the May 2014 European elections offer voters a real chance to choose its future.
New European Ombudsman elected
Emily O’Reilly, from Ireland, has been elected European Ombudsman by MEPs and will take up the role on 1 October. She is the first woman to become European Ombudsman. Ms O'Reilly was appointed Irish National Ombudsman by the Irish President in 2003 and subsequently re-appointed for a second six-year term. She is a former journalist and broadcaster, and holds a graduate diploma in education from Trinity College Dublin. A mother of five, she speaks French, Irish and Spanish. The role of the Ombudsman, established in 1995, is to investigate cases of maladministration by the EU institutions, including lack of transparency and refusal to provide information or documents.
News from Scotland's MEPs
Ian Hudghton MEP has called on the European Commission to consider what action it can take to prevent scam websites offering European Health Insurance Cards from misleading consumers?
George Lyon MEP has tabled proposals to bridge a funding gap for new entrants to farming and crofters that could follow the introduction of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy.
David Martin MEP has been named MEP of the Year for International Trade. He worked on the controversial ACTA Agreement, as well as EU trade deals with Colombia, Burma and other developing countries.
Alyn Smith MEP has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament to limit the use of crop-based biofuels so as to tackle rising prices for food and animal feed.
Struan Stevenson MEP has met European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger to ask him to reconsider the EU ban on incandescent light-bulbs in the light of concerns about the health risks of low-energy bulbs.
Catherine Stihler MEP has welcomed the EP's adoption of a report on online gambling, which calls for strong consumer protection measures as well as improved cooperation to combat fraud, money laundering and match-fixing in sports.
Recent Events in Scotland
European Citizen's Prize awarded to Professor Richard Demarco
A medal to mark the award of the European Citizen's Prize was presented by Struan Stevenson MEP to Professor Richard Demarco at a ceremony at the Office of the European Parliament in Scotland on 19th August. The European Citizen's Prize was launched by the European Parliament in 2008 to recognise exceptional achievements by Europeans. Richard Demarco (born in Edinburgh, 1930), has been one of Scotland’s most influential advocates for contemporary art through his work at the Richard Demarco Gallery and the Demarco European Art Foundation. A ceremony in Brussels will take place in October to honour winners of the Citizens Prize from across Europe.
JUST Festival screens four films from the LUX Prize Selection
This August, we joined forces with the JUST Festival to bring to the screen in Edinburgh four films that were contenders for the European Parliament's LUX Prize in previous years. The films were: Le silence de Lorna (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France/Italy, 2008); Illégal (Olivier Masset-Depasse, Belgium/France/Luxemburg, 2010); R: hit first, hit hardest (Michael Noer & Tobias Lindholm, Denmark, 2010) and Kalinovski Square (Yury Khashchavatski Belarus/Estonia, 2007). See www.luxprize.eu for more information on these films and the 2013 Selection.
Upcoming Events in Scotland
Sakharov Prize 2013
This European Parliament's Sakharov Prize is awarded annually to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression. In partnership with the Glasgow Human Rights Network, we will host a discussion event at Glasgow University looking at the candidates for the 2013 Sakharov Prize. Students on the MSc in Human Rights & International Politics course will prepare presentations on nominees for the Prize, in which they will set out the case for each nominee to receive the award. Following a public debate and Q&A session, a vote will be taken among all those present. The European Parliament's political leadership will be deciding on the same evening to whom the Prize will be awarded, and we hope to be able to announce the result at the end of the event.
European Elections Competition for Young People
Ahead of the European Elections next May, we have teamed up with the Scottish Youth Parliament to present a competition called 'Audio Europa', which designed to give young people across Scotland the chance to share their views on why it is important to vote. The winner will have the chance to spend a day shadowing the work of one of Scotland’s MEPs. For more information, please visit www.syp.org.uk/audio-europa-W21page-468-
Scotland and the EU
This event in October will mark the 40th Anniversary of the UK in the EU and consider what it has meant for Scotland. The following day, we will look ahead to the European Elections and ask what is at stake and what will be different this time. Both events are free to attend but prior registration is required through our Office. Speakers include Alyn Smith MEP, Rt. Hon Michael Moore MP and a range of other experts.
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