Recent events at the European Parliament
The banking and financial crises that came to a head in Cyprus recently resulted in an agreement on a bailout package between the Eurozone and Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades. Among the conditions attached to the €10bn package, Cyprus must raise €5.8bn, including a major restructuring of the biggest bank in the nation, Bank of Cyprus, and the second biggest bank, Laiki, being wound up and split into a "good" bank and "bad" bank. Depositors with less than €100,000 will see their money guaranteed, but larger depositors face significant losses.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz welcomed the deal and the fact that it "takes on board the European Parliament's clear call that deposits of less than €100 000 should be excluded from any levy." However, he pointed out a couple of lessons that should be learned from it: the fact that a banking union for the euro zone is needed, as well as tax coordination. Schulz also questioned how negotiations had been conducted. "The way the Cyprus case was handled is no way to do business in the EU. Negotiations lacked transparency, democratic accountability and were badly communicated." Sharon Bowles MEP, the chair of the EP Economic Committee, welcomed that the agreement was "based on a proper hierarchy of losses and on the acceptance that a bank can fail." However, she also expressed reservations about how the situation had been handled: "Citizens and markets are puzzled by the degree of improvisation that euro zone leaders have shown."
Date of European Elections agreed: 22 May 2014
In March, European Government decided that the next European Elections will take place in the weekend of 22-25 May, 014. In the UK, that means polling day will be Thursday 22nd May. The UK Government has proposed to hold a number of English local authority elections on the same day. There are no planned local elections in Scotland in 2014, but the European elections will be the last test of national political opinion before the Independence Referendum in September. Overall, 751 MEPs will be elected across the EU. There will be 73 MEPs for the UK, and six representing Scotland. UK legislation confirming the date and establishing the legal deadlines for the nomination of candidates and other technical matters is expected later this year.
EP adopts position on EU long-term budget
At its March session, the EP voted on its mandate to negotiate the EU budget for 2014-2020 with the Member States. A majority of MEPs (506 to 161) voted to reject the February European Council agreement in its current form (although did not call for an increase in the overall ceilings). MEPs insisted on the EU's legal obligation to avoid running a deficit, with no payments from 2012 and 2013 being allowed to run into the new budget period. They also called for more flexibility within the budget and for a 'mid-term review'. Liberal Democrat MEPs voted in favour of the EP position, SNP Members abstained, while Labour and Conservative MEPs voted against.
News from Scotland's MEPs
Ian Hudghton MEP has tabled a question to the European Commission asking what steps it is considering to encourage the EU mining industry whilst balancing this with sustainability concerns.
George Lyon MEP has said that the recent EP vote on CAP reform was good for Scotland as it allowed flexibility in moving away from historic payments, but he regretted the loss of flexibility on 'greening'.
David Martin MEP has welcomed the complete ban in the EU on the selling of cosmetic products and ingredients that have been tested on animals.
Alyn Smith MEP has said that EP vote on CAP reform was a "mixed bag" but that he was quite satisfied with the result, welcoming in particular the continuation of coupled support measures, so payments are still linked to production.
Struan Stevenson MEP has said that any EU ban on deep water trawling at depths below 200 metres would seriously harm the Scottish fishing industry.
Catherine Stihler MEP called for EU public procurement directives to become simpler and with greater flexibility, while supporting environmental protection and energy efficiency.
Recent Events in Scotland
Future of European Fisheries: discussion with Struan Stevenson MEP
The European Parliament Office in Scotland and Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban hosted a discussion with Struan Stevenson MEP on the Future of European Fisheries. This event took place shortly after a series of votes on major reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and covered likely next steps. It was followed by a Q&A.
Funding the EU and EU Funding in Scotland
On 22 February, the EP Office hosted a Conference entitled "Funding the EU and EU Funding in Scotland". It comprised two sessions. The first considered the recent European Council agreement on the long term EU budget (the Multi-Annual Financial Framework) and its implications for Scotland, with contributions from George Lyon MEP (LibDem), David Martin MEP (Lab), Struan Stevenson MEP (Con) and Cllr Drew Hendry (SNP). The second, more technical session, considered what changes in EU funding programmes had been proposed, what lessons had been drawn from previous programmes and how organisations in Scotland keen to pursue European funding should approach the issue in future. Materials from the events are available on our website.
Europe's Knowledge Economy: Women in Science
To mark International Women's Day 2013, on 8th March, the EP hosted a careers event for secondary school students, based on the theme of the Knowledge Economy. The event looked at careers that studying science can offer and featured four women who had studied a science subject (or were still studying) talking about different directions in which their careers had led them. The speakers were Prof Jean Beggs (Edinburgh University), Dr. Eleanore Irvine (Strathclyde University) and Kian Raafat (Edinburgh University). Their talks were broadcast via the Education Scotland GLOW intranet, available to all Scottish schools, with a clip by Catherine Stihler MEP, who studied chemistry at St Andrews University, to be added later. These clips will shortly be available on our website.
Upcoming events at the Edinburgh Information Office
2013: European Year of Citizens - It's Our Europe - Let's Get Active
(23rd April, Edinburgh & Strasbourg)
In Strasbourg on 23rd April, the European Ombudsman will host an event to help focus how European citizens can contribute to shaping the EU, either by using the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), by turning to the European Ombudsman, or by mobilising large groups of citizens to carry out grassroots initiatives. He will be joined by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz MEP. The event will be web-streamed at www.ombudsman.europa.eu and broadcast live at the EP Edinburgh Office. Contributions via Twitter (#eyc2013eo) will be invited throughout the event from those participating at all 33 EP Information Offices around Europe. The event runs from 8.30 to 11.30. If you wish to participate, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
(9th May, Edinburgh)
On 9th May, St Andrew's Square in Edinburgh will be the venue for an open-air exhibition to mark Europe Day. The European Parliament Office, the European Commission, various European Members of the Edinburgh Consular Corps, the Scottish Government, Scotland Europa and others will have stands in the square, highlighting their work in Scotland. It will be open to all, and run for most of the day.
Europe Day Quiz
(9th May. Edinburgh)
Also on the 9th of May, the European Parliament office in Edinburgh will host its traditional pub quiz at the Pleasance Bar at Edinburgh University, from 6.00. The quiz will admit teams of up to 4 people and registration is essential. To register a team you can e-mail email@example.com
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