Recent events at the European Parliament
Commission Work Programme
During the November Plenary Session, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has presented the Commission's Work Programme (CWP) for 2012 to the European Parliament. It lays out the proposed legislation for the coming year and includes further plans for a financial transaction tax, plans to tackle tax havens, improve integration in the EU energy markets, and tougher rules to tackle human trafficking. A full version of the 2012 CWP is available on the Commission's website. It has received a mixed reaction from MEPs. The plenary debate on the CWP is also available on the European Parliament's website.
European Platform against poverty and social exclusion
On 15 November, the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee presented a report on the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion (part of the 'Europe 2020' Strategy). The report called for an EU-wide minimum income guarantee and better reporting by Member States of statistics on poverty. Its author, Belgian Socialist MEP Frédéric Daerden, kicked off the debate by highlighting that, in 2010, 8% of Europeans were living in extreme material deprivation. He said that the Europe 2020 Strategy set a target of reducing the number of Europeans living in poverty by 20 million by 2020. He added that several categories of vulnerable people at risk of poverty - such as children, women, elderly, disabled, migrant and Roma - require an approach that is specific to them and each is treated separately in the report. The European Parliament Office in Edinburgh organises a conference on this issue. For more information see below.
LUX Film Prize
This year's LUX Prize winner is 'Les neiges du Kilimandjaro' by French director Robert Guédiguian, a film which questions the injustices of today's societies and their political and trade union conflicts, and makes a plea for tolerance. Presenting the prize to the film's producer Marc Bordure, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said "The European Parliament's LUX film prize serves as a reminder that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. It reminds us that the values, freedoms and indeed self-criticisms we share, are worth fighting for." The other two finalists were 'Attenberg' (Greece) and 'Play', (Sweden-France-Denmark). The LUX Prize is awarded annually to films illustrating values that constitute European identity, the diversity of cultures in Europe or debate on the European Union integration process.
New Code of Conduct for MEPs
The EP Constitutional Affairs Committee has unanimously endorsed a new, revised code of conduct for MEPs. For more information see the website of the Constitutional Affairs committee.
News from Scotland's MEPs
Ian Hudghton MEP has welcomed the a recent vote in the European Parliament which confirmed its rejection of an offshore oil drilling moratorium, which would have included North Sea oil fields.
George Lyon MEP has spoken in a European Parliament debate to call for the rules allowing doctors to work anywhere in the EU to toughened up. He said there should be better testing of language and competency and more rigorous enforcement.
David Martin MEP, Vice Chairman of the EP Intergroup on Animal Welfare, has condemned the European Commission's failure to react to continuing calls for a proposal for an eight-hour maximum transport time for live stock.
Alyn Smith MEP has welcomed a European Parliament resolution calling for the European Commission and Member States to make a continuing commitment to the Kyoto Protocol ahead of the UN climate summit in Durban.
Struan Stevenson MEP, who was recently appointed rapporteur on a key legislative part of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, has submitted a series of written questions to the European Commission, seeking clarity on crucial aspects of the reforms.
Catherine Stihler MEP has criticised the European Parliament's preliminary vote for a 5.23% increase in the EU budget and called for savings to be made in a number of areas, such as support for tobacco growers and EU administration.
The latest news and events from the Edinburgh Information Office
Euro Crisis Seminar
Jointly with the Jean Monnet Centre for Excellence at Edinburgh University and the European Movement in Scotland, the EP Office hosted an extremely well-attended seminar which addressed the financial, economic and political implications of the Euro Crisis. The expert speakers were Dr David Howarth, Jean Monnet Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Jacques Melitz, Professor for Economics at Herriot Watt University, Jacques Cailloux, Chief European Economist at RBS, and John Purvis CBE, former Vice Chairman of the European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. They sought to consider how and why the Eurozone has arrived at the current situation, to assess what is at stake and, looking ahead, to consider what economic and political consequences might follow different possible courses of political action.
Sakharov Prize 2011
On the occasion of this year's Sakharov Prize, awarded annually by the European Parliament to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression, the EP Office, organised a discussion event in partnership with the Glasgow Human Rights Network. Postgraduate students from Glasgow University presented the nominees put forward by MEPs for the 2011 Prize and engaged in a discussion about the relative merits of each case, the broader context in which each of the nominees had acted, the politicisation of the Sakharov Prize and more. The concluding vote, which declared the representatives of the 'Arab Spring' movement as winners, mirrored the decision taken by MEPs.
Has the European Parliament come of age?
A roundtable discussion with Richard Corbett, former MEP, Prof John Peterson, Lecturer at Edinburgh University and Michael Shackleton, Head of the UK European Parliament Office in London, addressed several issues in the European Parliament's political development as well as its role as the democratic organ of the European Union and gave an outlook on the most prominent challenges likely to arise in the future. All three speakers engaged with a large and interested audience which vividly voiced its own opinions.
Upcoming events at the Edinburgh Information Office
What Future for Social Europe? (21st November, Edinburgh)
New headlines are currently dominated by the economic crisis leading to austerity measures that are hitting the poorest hard. But there is another side to the EU that is supposed to ensure that all European citizens can live in dignity and free of poverty. In the light of the current economic climate, this conference is looking at how we got into the current crisis and how we can get out of it, and what a 'social Europe' means in this context. It is organised as a mix of plenary sessions and workshops and is hosted in partnership with Poverty Alliance. Speakers include Katherine Duffy, European Anti-Poverty Network, Mike Allen, the Poor Can't Pay Campaign (Ireland) and Professor Laura Cram, University of Strathclyde. This event is free and open to all.
Please register at http://www.povertyalliance.org/home.asp.
Charlemagne Youth Prize (Application deadline: 23rd January 2012)
The Charlemagne Youth Prize, awarded annually by the European Parliament and the Foundation of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen to projects undertaken by young people, aims to encourage the development of European consciousness and to offer practical examples of Europeans living together as one community. The three winners will be awarded €5,000, €3,000, and €2,000 respectively and are invited to a four-day visit to Aachen, Germany. For more information about the prize, previous winners and the application process, please visit the Charlemagne Youth Prize website.
On 7th December, the European Parliament Office in Edinburgh will launch the Scottish Edition of the European Parliament 2012 Calendar. Over forty primary schools submitted entries during this autumn's competition resulting in almost 1,000 entries, of which the best will feature in an exhibition in the Office.
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