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Issue 2

Latest News from the European Parliament

Single market: time to act

The European Parliament has set out its recommendations for the proposed EU Single Market Act.  The Act is in fact a wide-ranging initiative to reinvigorate the Single Market and the Parliament's recommendations include a specific report on how to make the Single Market work for European citizens. Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek said: "The Single Market is the lifeblood of Europe's economy. We must fill gaps in services, public procurement and the other 150 bottlenecks which still exist.  The new Single Market Act should help make our economies more competitive and create growth and jobs."

New rules for lobbyists and a stronger code for MEPs

The European Parliament's political group leaders have endorsed an overhaul of the rules governing the access and behaviour of lobbyists.  They will also overhaul the Code of Conduct for MEPs.  These moves follow publication in the Sunday Times of allegations of corruption against four MEPs. Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek said: "I believe that we need to look very closely at the question of what we expect from Members of the European Parliament, both in terms of their own behaviour and their contacts with outside interests of various kinds."

Bill Gates: We have to be smarter about aid spending

Bill Gates visited the European Parliament recently for a series of discussions with MEPs about Development Aid.  During his visit, he presented his Living Proof initiative which is aimed at showing what can really be achieved by development aid.  Mr Gates concentrated on two areas where aid achieves the best results: vaccination and agriculture.  He said that a lot of aid isn't properly targeted, but added that "we are learning to be smarter about aid spending."

Latest News from the Scottish MEPs

Ian Hudghton MEP has expressed concern after the European Commission confirmed it was monitoring possible radioactivity in imported fish, following events at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. He said: "The Commission's increased monitoring regime is reassuring. Nevertheless, the wider impact of the accident is truly frightening."  

David Martin MEP wrote to The Herald newspaper to call for greater focus on foreign language teaching in primary and secondary schools in Scotland.  He wrote: "I have seen first-hand the immeasurable benefit that language tuition has had on the development and careers of Scottish students. The ability to speak foreign languages provides a wealth of opportunity to the young people of Scotland."

Struan Stevenson MEP has criticised the funding of UK wind-farms by the European Investment Bank (EIB). In a debate on the EIB's Annual Report, he said: "The EIB is providing up to €1 billion for the construction of wind turbines and other renewable energy projects in the UK. I am alarmed that the current criteria governing EIB funding lacks transparency and accountability."  

Alyn Smith MEP has called on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to include Gaelic as a user language option.  He said: "Facebook and Twitter are great for connecting people, but it is important they become more accessible internationally, and promote minority languages."

George Lyon MEP has warned that the prospects of an agreement on Common Agricultural Policy reform before 2013 look slim.  The delayed publication of detailed legislative proposals "means that the prospects for final agreement and implementation of a new CAP before 2013 look uncertain unless consensus breaks out on some of the key aspects of the reform, which seems unlikely at present," he said.

Catherine Stihler MEP has condemned Iceland's stance on fishing quotas during a recent debate on the country's EU membership negotiations. She said: "On mackerel, the unilateral increase of quota without discussion and the consequences for neighbouring fleets was short-sighted. The need to resolve issues surrounding fisheries is essential to the success of the accession negotiations."

Recent events

The European Parliament Office in Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde Debating Society hosted a Debate on Turkish membership of the EU on 4 March 2011. Speakers included: Alyn Smith MEP; Patrick Harvie MSP; Zeynep Ersahin, Second Secretary from the Turkish Embassy in London; Sandy Boyle, President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC); and Alan Finnie, Conservative candidate for Falkirk West. Opposing the motion was a team of debaters from Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities as well as from the English Speaking Union.  The debate was chaired by Professor John Curtace of Strathclyde University.

To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day the EP Edinburgh Office and Women Into Public Life organised a seminar entitled 'Having Your Voice in Europe' with Catherine Stihler MEP in Glasgow on 11 March.  Catherine Stihler, who has been a Labour Member of the European Parliament representing Scotland since 1999, spoke about the current EU legislative proposal on parental leave, as well as her personal experience as a young female MEP.

Two S3 pupils from Kings Park secondary school in Glasgow have won the Scottish European Educational Trust (SEET) public speaking competition 'Talk your way to Brussels', in which over 40 Scottish schools competed. The final of the IBM-sponsored competition was held on 29 March and included a three day visit to Brussels to learn about the work of MEPs and a tour of the European Parliament sponsored by David Martin MEP.  He said: "The speaking competition and the Brussels visit were a resounding success and a fantastic opportunity for Scottish school students."

Forthcoming events

To mark Europe Day 2011, the European Parliament Office in Edinburgh will host two screenings of the film "Die Fremde" (When we leave), directed by Feo Aladag, which won the 2010 European Parliament LUX Film Prize. Both screenings will take place on Sunday 8 May.  The first will be at 14.00 at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) and the second at 18.00 at Filmhouse in Edinburgh. The GFT screening will be followed by a short Q&A discussion with a member of the cast or crew from the film and an MEP. Both screenings are free to attend, but are ticketed: tickets will be available from the cinemas concerned.

The European Parliament Office in Edinburgh, in conjunction with the European Movement, will organise its fifth annual Europe Quiz on 19 May at the Pleasance Bar in Edinburgh.  As in previous years, the event will be in a 'pub quiz' format, with five rounds of questions. Teams may be up to four people and the quiz is open to anyone and free to enter, but pre-registration is essential. A magnificent trophy and a prize will be awarded to the winning team. For more information please email:

For events organised by the London Office of the European Parliament click here
the EP Edinburgh Office
The European Parliament Office in Edinburgh
For events organised by the London Office of the European Parliament click here

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