Recent events at the European Parliament
European Parliament Discusses the EU Council Summit
During the July's plenary session MEPs assessed the results of the European Council summit on 28-29th of June. The President of the Council Herman Van Rompuy told the European Parliament that Member States took decisions that will stabilise the markets, enhance growth and stabilise monetary union. He said that it was decided to establish a single banking supervisory mechanism run by the European Central Bank, to provide the European Stability Mechanism with the possibility to inject funds into banks directly and promised more flexibility to use EU funds to buy bonds. States. In the debate, Hannes Swoboda, Leader of the Social Democrat Group (which includes Scottish Labour), said: "We have to change, otherwise Europe will die as a whole. There is light at the end of the tunnel." Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the European Liberal Democrats, urged the Commission to take concrete and immediate action, especially regarding the legislative package for a banking union. Rebecca Harms, Green Group (which includes the SNP), noted that the Euro could work only if there was a common fiscal policy, common banking supervision and a banking union. Martin Callanan, Leader of the Conservatives' ECR Group, said the Euro crisis revealed that the mentality of Member States is still of maximising national interest, adding: "I fully support national governments fighting their corner but the Euro was never a tool aimed at helping countries to defend their national interests". A Resolution was approved by 501 MEPs (including Labour and the Liberal Democrats) to 132 (including Conservatives) with 38 abstentions (including the SNP). In it, MEPs stated that European Council conclusions go in the right direction in tackling the Eurozone crisis but the situation is so urgent that the Commission must initiate legislation by September.
New mandatory emergency system for cars approved
In a vote on 3rd July, the European Parliament called for all new cars to be fitted with an "eCall system" by 2015. This system automatically dials the emergency services in case of an accident and it is estimated that the system would save 2,500 lives every year across Europe. The eCall system is triggered by sensors similar to the ones used to activate airbags in case of the crash. Once activated, the eCall automatically contacts the nearest hospital via the 112 service and establishes a voice connection with the emergency service operators. The device will be fitted by manufacturers in all of the cars made in the EU, at a maximum cost of £80. The EU first introduced this initiative almost a decade ago but it was voluntary and was not widely adopted. Therefore the EP Resolution urged the Commission to propose legislative measures as soon as possible to ensure the eCall system will be mandatory in all EU countries by 2015.
EP Introduces the Newshub
The European Parliament recently launched Newshub - an instant news service which gathers in a single place all web information published by MEPs, political groups, the President of the EP and the Parliament's news service, (including news from the European Parliament Offices in Edinburgh and London). Newshub allows users to follow in real time everything Scottish MEPs are saying, whether through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, or on their websites or blogs. The Newshub will help citizens, journalists and stakeholders find their way through the enormous amount of content published by EP players. You can try the Newshub for yourself.
News from Scotland's MEPs
Ian Hudghton MEP has been appointed by the EP Fisheries Committee to draft their report on legislation which protects the so-called 12-mile zone around Scotland by exempting it from certain provisions of the Common Fisheries Policy.
George Lyon MEP has warned that the Euro crisis could delay agreement on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, with serious repercussions for farm and rural investment in Scotland.
David Martin MEP welcomed the large majority with which MEPs supported his recommendation to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which campaigners had argued would unacceptably limit Internet freedom.
Alyn Smith MEP welcomed reports that the European Commission will review the Single Farm Payment system with a view to improving conditions for new entrants into farming.
Struan Stevenson MEP's report on key aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy (including an increased role for Producer Organisations in fisheries management, new rules for fish labelling and discards of by-catch) was adopted by the EP.
Catherine Stihler MEP has tabled Parliamentary Questions to the European Commission on the amended ePrivacy Directive in response to concern over the implementation of rules on 'cookies', including their impact on small businesses.
Recent Events in Scotland
Edinburgh, City of Languages
On 25th May the European Parliament Office in Scotland participated in the conference 'One city, many voices: Taking Modern Foreign Languages forward in Edinburgh schools' organised by the City of Edinburgh Council. The conference attracted over 100 teachers, who had an opportunity to find out about resources on offer, including those provided by the European Parliament. They also participated in a number of workshops covering various subjects such as developing literacy and business skills through modern languages.
Scotland debates EU Economic Governance
On the 31st May - 1st June, leading European academics and officials got together at Edinburgh University to debate the future of Economic Governance in the EU (proceedings of the conference). The conference marked the first instance when such wide-ranging debates were held in Scotland. During the event, sponsored by the European Commission and Edinburgh University's Europa Institute, a variety of issues ranging from social policies, competition law, Scotland's role in the EU, economic regulation and governance were discussed in the context of the Eurozone crisis. Speakers included Scottish MEP Alyn Smith, who was a member of the European Parliament's Temporary Committee of Inquiry on the Financial Crisis, as well as a large number of other experts from the worlds of academia, government, journalism and banking.
Round Table on Active Citizenship in Later Life
In the context of the 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations, the European Parliament hosted round table event in association with the European Economic and Social Committee and the University of Edinburgh. It is one of a number of activities in Scotland related to the European Year 2012. Leading academics and practitioners from around Europe discussed evidence from Scotland and elsewhere in Europe of positive approaches which promote Active Citizenship in Later Life.
Upcoming events at the Edinburgh Information Office
Big Tent Festival (21st-22nd July, Fife)
On 21st -22nd July one of the biggest green festivals in Scotland will take place in Falkland Estate in the Kingdom of Fife. As well as music, arts and family activities a number of stimulating debates on social and green issues will be held during the Festival. 'Think Global. Act Local' is the main focus of the debatese. The European Parliament will host one of these debates (Oak Yurt, 21st July, 11:00). Scottish MEPs Catherine Stihler and George Lyon will be discussing if politicians are doing enough to protect Scotland's environment, in an event that will include a Q&A session. For more information please visit the Big Tent Festival website.
World Congress on Active Ageing (13th - 17th August, Glasgow)
The 8th World Congress on Active Ageing will be held at the SEEC in Glasgow between 13th -17th August. Held every 4 years, this event will gather scientists and practitioners, experts and enthusiasts from a range of professional interests and disciplines involved in the promotion of Active Ageing. Scottish MEP David Martin will participate at the opening ceremony on Monday 13th August, at lunchtime. Throughout the week, the European Parliament and European Commission Offices in Scotland will jointly host an exhibition stand at the event, providing more information about the European Year. For more information please visit the WCAA website
Festival of Politics: 'Linking Scotland to Europe through the Arts' (18th August, Edinburgh)
The Festival of Politics is an annual event organised by the Scottish Parliament. As part of the Festival, the European Parliament Information Office in Edinburgh and European Movement in Scotland are organising an event entitled 'Linking Scotland to Europe through the Arts'. It will be held on Saturday 18th August, 12:30, Committee Room 1 at the Scottish Parliament. The event will look into the significance of the arts across borders as well as cultural links between Scotland and the continent. Speakers include Professor Richard Demarco and Alexander Moffat OBE RSA. It will be chaired by Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson. For more information please visit the FoP 2012 website.
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