Recent events at the European Parliament
MEPs call for decisive action on tax evasion
On 22 May, European Heads of State and Government held a Summit meeting dedicated to energy policies and tackling tax evasion. The summit was opened by EP president Martin Schulz, who argued that by tackling tax evasion, Member States would also be in a better position to fight youth unemployment. "Tax fraud undermines solidarity within states and among peoples," he said. "We must be just as resolute in combating youth unemployment today as European governments were in bailing out the banks."
The Summit conclusions underline that at a time of fiscal consolidation it is even more important to fight tax evasion as it helps to protect revenues. They state that priority should be given to the automatic exchange of information and the fight against VAT fraud.
Tax evasion, which includes companies moving profits where levies are the lowest, is estimated to cost EU Member States €1 trillion euros every year. In May, MEPs voted through a resolution which stated that tax havens need to be dealt with and the exchange of information within the EU and beyond its borders needs to be improved.
MEPs propose changes to European Elections
Last month, the EP approved the date for the 2014 European Elections. In the UK, they will take place on 22 May. Meanwhile, MEPs on the Constitutional Affairs Committee have made a number of proposals to make the elections "more interesting, more European and more political than previous elections," in the words of Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff who drafted the report. It suggests that European parties should name their candidates for European Commission President well in advance, to allow themselves time to run an EU-wide campaign on the issues in their political programme. National parties should also say which European party they belong to and who they back for Commission President, it added.
New European Ombudsman
In July, the European Parliament will choose a new European Ombudsman. The six candidates were announced by EP President Martin Schultz in Strasbourg on 20 May. You can read more about them [HERE]. There will be a hearing with each of them in the EP Petitions Committee on 18 June.
The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the EU. Once a year, an annual report is submitted to the European Parliament on the outcome of the Ombudsman's inquiries. Any EU citizen or anyone who lives in the EU can make a complaint to the European Ombudsman, as can businesses, associations or other bodies with a registered office in the EU. Nikiforos Diamandouros, the incumbent, will step down on 1 October after 10 years in the role, during which time he has dealt with more than 30,000 complaints.
News from Scotland's MEPs
Ian Hudghton MEP has asked the European Commission to consider a more flexible system to allow smaller ports in Scotland to access so-called 'TEN-T' European funding?
George Lyon MEP has warned that the deadline for a deal on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy "remains tight and there is still a long way to go before...a settlement"
David Martin MEP has welcomed the signing into law of legislation he helped to draft which allows poorer countries more time to negotiate trade agreements with the EU.
Alyn Smith MEP has welcomed approval by the EP of a package of rules covering the safety of offshore oil and gas sector workers, which included a number of his amendments.
Struan Stevenson MEP has described as "fantastic news" that a "sensible compromise" on the future reform of the Common Fisheries Policy has been agreed.
Catherine Stihler MEP has stressed her support for a wide-ranging mandate for EU negotiators pursuing a trade and investment agreement with the US.
Recent Events in Scotland
Scottish schools Euroquiz final hosted by Scottish Parliament
Teams from twenty nine primary schools from around Scotland won through local heats to make it through to the grand final of the Scottish European Trust's Euroquiz, held in the Scottish Parliament Debating Chamber the 13th of June. They faced general knowledge questions about Europe and the EU, as well as a test of their knowledge of European languages. After four rounds of questions, pupils from Cradlehall Primary School in Inverness were 2013's Euroquiz winners, winning a head-to-head quick fire final. Deputy Presiding Officer, Elaine Smith MSP acted as Quizmaster and answers were provided by Alyn Smith MEP. The event was streamed live on Holyrood TV.
Europe Day 2013
To mark Europe Day on 9th May this year, the European Commission Office in Edinburgh organized an open air event in St Andrew Square. Over 20 information stands were present, including representatives of the consulates from several EU Member States, as well as the European Parliament, Scottish Government and others. Hundreds of citizens braved the bracing Edinburgh breeze to visit the stands. Afterwards, and keeping up a now-established tradition, the European Parliament Office in Edinburgh and European Movement in Scotland hosted an annual pub quiz at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar at Edinburgh University. The prestigious Murray-Orr trophy was won by a team from the Scottish Government who scored 93 points out of a possible 111.
Upcoming events at the Edinburgh Information Office
Film Showcase of the finalists of Our Europe Competition
The Scottish European Educational Trust will showcase a series of short films created by secondary school pupils from across Scotland for their "Our Europe Competition", which was supported by the European Parliament. The event takes place at Edinburgh Filmhouse the 13th of June at 17.30. For more information please email email@example.com or call 0131 557 7866
Food security or food sovereignty: What direction for Europe?
One of the important issues in the debate over the so-called Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, under consideration in the European Parliament, concerns the regulation of commodity trading and related derivatives, including foodstuffs. Some argue that a tougher approach is required in order to tackle problems of hunger and malnourishment, particularly in the world's poorest countries. This event,t he 5th of July, will debate the principles of food sovereignty and food security and examine some of the policies that the EU, UK and Scotland could adopt. Speakers will include Alyn Smith MEP, Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement, Pete Ritchie, director of Nourish Scotland. This event is free and open to all. To register, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
From the web
"He represents ½ a billion Europeans at global summits" - BBC Newsnight at the end of May featured a short film about the European Parliament's President Martin Schultz http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22739747
On 3 June, Europe House in London hosted a debate on the 2014 European Elections featuring MEPs Guy Verhofstadt and Martin Callanan, as well as Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds. It was reported by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22756558
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