Recent events at the European Parliament
Call for low-carbon economy by 2050
The European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution at its March plenary session stating that the EU must harness its energy, transport and agriculture policies to cut CO2 emissions - and improve its Emissions Trading System (ETS) - to make the economy more competitive and dramatically less dependent on fossil fuels by 2050. MEPs broadly supported the European Commission's "Roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy", which sets a policy framework for the European Union to achieve an 80-95% reduction in its CO2 emissions by 2050. The Roadmap sets out "milestones" to reduce CO2 by at least 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050.
Win-win ending to the beef trade war
EU concessions to help put an end to the 20-year hormone beef trade war with the USA and Canada were approved by MEPs at the March plenary session. The deal allows the US to export a specified amount of high-quality beef, which has not been treated with growth-hormones, to the EU. In return the US and Canada will lift their restrictions on EU imports which were imposed in retaliation against the EU's hormone-treated beef ban, on previously "blacklisted" products originating in 26 EU Member States (all except the UK), worth over US $ 250 million at today's prices. Scottish MEPs welcomed these developments.
Backing for 'Books without Borders' Treaty
MEPs have approved by a large majority a call for a change to international copyright law to make more books and other published works available to blind and visually-impaired people. At present, 95% of all published works are never converted to accessible formats and there is no international legal standard for a targeted exception to copyright rules enabling cross-border distribution of works in accessible formats. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is considering an international treaty along these lines, but the EU has consistently opposed a legally-binding text, favouring voluntary recommendations instead. But MEPs want a change in the EU's stance and have called on the European Council and Commission to support a binding WIPO treaty in a resolution following a petition received from the World Blind Union, the European Blind Union and the British National Institute of Blind People. Any European Union citizen or resident may, individually or in association with others, submit a petition to the European Parliament on a subject which comes within the European Union's fields of activity and which affects her or him directly.
New EU Procurement Rules
The European Parliament has begun discussing a proposed overhaul of EU public procurement rules. The aim is to make the system simpler and more efficient, boost economic activity while ensuring transparency and efficiency. EU rules seek to ensure a level playing field for all companies participating in tenders, especially those taking part in a tender in another member state. However, they have been the subject of controversy, for example in relation to the award of contracts for the new Forth crossing, where experts disagreed over whether more could have been done to enable contracts to be awarded to Scottish firms. Parliament is expected to vote on this in December. The EP Office in Scotland will be organising a seminar on this topic later in the year: watch this space!
News from Scotland's MEPs
Ian Hudghton MEP has written to the European Commission calling for an extension of EU-approved tax relief for the computer games industry.
George Lyon MEP has launched a Written Declaration calling for full implementation of the 2013 EU sow stall ban and called on fellow MEPs to sign it to show their support.
David Martin MEP has been appointed EP Rapporteur on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) - which will next be discussed in the International Trade Committee on 26 March.
Alyn Smith MEP called for a number of changes to the proposed EU Offshore Oil and Gas Safety Regulation at the EU Energy Symposium in Brussels.
Struan Stevenson MEP presented his draft report on the Common Organisation of the Market in fisheries product to the Fisheries Committee - a key plank of FCP report - on 20-21st March.
Catherine Stihler MEP issued a joint statement with other MEPs on International Women's Day calling for EU wide quotas to increase the number of women on company boards.
Recent Events in Scotland
First German Career Fair in Scotland- 2nd March 2012
On 2nd March 2012 the European Parliament Office in Scotland participated in the first "Think German" Career Fair which took place in the Forrester High School, Edinburgh. The event was organized by the German Consulate, the City of Edinburgh Council and the German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce Scotland. Almost 500 students from 14 schools and universities from all over Scotland attended and about 20 companies and organisations with links to Germany exhibited.
Women in Scotland 2012: the Big Picture- 8th March 2012
On International Women's Day, 8th March 2012, Catherine Stihler MEP was among the keynote speakers at a conference entitled: "Women in Scotland 2012 - The Big Picture" at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. The day-long conference was sponsored by the European Parliament Office in Scotland and organised by Engender. It attracted 200 delegates from a wide range of organisations including Women in Technology, Values into Action, White Ribbon Scotland, Edinburgh University Students Association. Further details are available on the Engender website.
RNIB European Conference- 16th March 2012
On 16th March, David Martin MEP and James Temple-Smithson, Head of the EP Office in Scotland, were among speakers at a European Conference organised by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) Scotland. Other speakers also included Lord Colin Low, Former President of the European Blind Union and Dr Graham Paterson, Director of Operations at CityBuilding Glasgow. A key theme discussed was how RNIB Scotland should pursue its policy objectives at European Level. One example was a recent EP Resolution calling for support for a so-called 'Books without Borders' treaty, which would allow works made accessible under a copyright exception in one country to be shared with other countries. For more details, please visit Insight radio website.
Upcoming events at the Edinburgh Information Office
Common Fisheries Policy Debates- 30th March 2012
Struan Stevenson MEP (Conservative), Ian Hudghton MEP (SNP), Chris Davies MEP (Liberal Democrat) and Fiona O'Donnell MP will be taking part in a debate on EU Fisheries Policy on 30th March. The public debate will be chaired by Colin Wight of BBC Scotland. This event will take place at the Waterside Inn near Peterhead 18.00-19.30. It is free to attend and open to all, but advance registration is required. To register, or to inquire, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 0131 557 78 66. Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform proposals published by the European Commission last year are currently being discussed by MEPs. The European Parliament Fisheries Committee will vote on key reports and amendments in the coming weeks and months.
European Jobs Day 2012 Glasgow- 29th March 2012
On Thursday 29th March 2012 the European Job Day recruitment fair will be held in Glasgow, at the Thistle Hotel (Cambridge Street, Glasgow, G2 3HN). Experts from 14 different countries, including Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Malta and Scandinavia will be on hand to offer one to one advice about living and working in their countries, and to answer questions. In addition, employers from several EU countries and from sectors including hospitality, leisure and tourism, IT, engineering and many more will be recruiting on the day.
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