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2014

Jerusalem should be the capital of both states, Palestine and Israël ©BELGA_EYEVINE
The European Parliament supports "in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced", it says in a resolution passed on Wednesday. To support EU diplomatic efforts in the Middle East peace process, it also decided to launch a “Parliamentarians for Peace” initiative to bring together MEPs and MPs from the Israeli and Palestinian parliaments.
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The fees that banks charge retailers to process shoppers’ payments should be capped under uniform rules across in the EU following a deal struck by Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Council negotiators on Wednesday. The cap would apply to both cross-border and domestic card-based payments and should result in lower costs for consumers.
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Parliament approved the draft EU budget for 2015 and a top-up of the 2014 one on Wednesday. The budget foresees €145.32 billion in commitments and €141.21 billion in payments for 2015, and an extra €4.25 billion to settle unpaid bills in 2014.
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Image of map
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiators and experts were quizzed on safeguards for labour standards and public services, and how a TTIP deal could help to create high-quality jobs, at a joint public hearing held by the Employment and International Trade committees on Tuesday.
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Pope Francis was warmly applauded by MEPs after his 40-minute address to the plenary © EP
Safeguarding human dignity was a key theme of the formal address delivered by Pope Francis to Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday. Immigration, protecting the environment, and promoting human rights and democracy were among the topics stressed in a speech that enjoined "Europe to rediscover the best of itself".
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MEPs urge all parties to restart stalled Northern Ireland peace talks ©BELGAIMAGE/ZUMAPRESS/A. Widak
The European Parliament called on all parties to join talks to restart the stalled Northern Ireland peace process in a resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs stressed the need to combat low pay and unemployment, so as to halt violent and criminal efforts to undermine the process. Talks broke down in December 2013 due to disputes over issues such as welfare spending, flags and emblems, and parading.
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EP President Martin Schulz hands over to EC President Jean-Claude Juncker
MEPs approved the new college of 27 Commissioners, as presented by its President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning. The new Commission now needs to be formally appointed by EU heads of state or government, including David Cameron.
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Denis Mukwege: winner of Sakharov Prize 2014 ©BELGA_ANP COMM_SVEN TORFINN
Denis Mukwege is the laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2014, following today's decision by EP President Martin Schulz and the political group leaders. Mukwege will be invited to Strasbourg on 26 November to receive the award during the plenary session.
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Miguel Pajares, who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, being transported to the hospital upon his arrival in Spain. The Roman Catholic priest later died due to the disease. ©BELGA/AFP PHOTO/SPANISH DEFENSE MINISTRY/INAKI GOMEZ
What started as an Ebola outbreak in West Africa has evolved into a world-wide threat, with the first European case having been reported in Spain. Members of the European Parliament labelled the outbreak "a global security challenge" in a resolution adopted on 18 September and said that the international community has underestimated the crisis. According to the World Health Organization, 4,447 people have already died because of Ebola.
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Jean-Claude Juncker and the candidate commissioners.
The vetting of president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker's team by Parliament's committees commenced on Monday 29 September. 21 of the 27 commissioners-designate have now been heard by MEPs who had the opportunity to quiz the candidates on their competence and expertise for the portfolios assigned to them. Read our summary here of what has happened thus far.
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Sakharov Prizew Nominees Announced
They have different backgrounds - rapper, gynaecologist, religious leader, journalist – but they all share a commitment to defending human rights. The nominations for the Parliament’s 2014 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are:
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European Parliament President Martin Schulz signs the EU–Ukraine agreement
The signing of agreements is rarely accompanied by applause, shouting and the flashing of victory signs, but this one was years in the making and responsible for a major change in European affairs.
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The European Parliament is a political institution where different ideas on issues are hotly contested. Political groups play an essential role in this clash of ideas, as they bring together like-minded representatives from across Europe, giving them a voice in the decision-making process.
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Today Jean-Claude Juncker, President elect of the European Commission, announced the names of the proposed Commissioners. There are 28 in total, one from each of the Member States, and each has their own portfolio. The British Commissioner is Lord Hill of Oareford who has the newly created Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union portfolio. The next steps are for the European Parliament to have hearings and then vote on the appointment of the proposed Commissioners.
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Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has made the following reaction to the results of the European Council.
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European Parliament Calendar
The European Parliament's short summer recess is over next week, so it's back to business. The Parliament's calendar is colour coded. The colours of the show what's on MEPs' schedule that day. Here we decode it for you!
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Refugee camp in the north of Iraq ©BELGAIMAGE/ZUMAPRESS/D.Honl
Little attention is paid to volunteers, but their tireless and sometimes dangerous work helps to make a difference to the millions of victims of natural and man-made disasters. Every year World Humanitarian Day is held on 19 August to honour the people who dedicate their lives to making a difference. Read on to find out what the EU, the world´s largest humanitarian aid donor, is doing to support their work.
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Archduke Franz Ferdinand inspecting his troops in Sarajevo on 27 June 1914, the day before his assassination. 
©BELGA_AFP_HISTORICAL ARCHIVES OF SARAJEVO
Exactly 100 years ago Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, triggering a conflict that would soon spread throughout Europe and the world and become known as the Great War. “Remembering this lesson is the best way to honour those who fought and died”, EP president Martin Schulz said ahead of the sad anniversary.
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Jean-Claude Juncker elected as President of the European Commission
With 422 votes in favour, the European Parliament elected Jean-Claude Juncker in a secret ballot on 15 July as President of the new European Commission to take office on 1 November 2014 for a five-year term. The minimum number of votes required was 376.
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Jean-Claude Juncker presents programme
"You are the first Parliament to elect the Commission President", said Jean-Claude Juncker in a final debate with Parliament's political group leaders before its vote on his election on Tuesday. MEPs enthusiastically applauded many of Mr Juncker's aims and reassurances.
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Visual Display of 10 finalists
The European Parliament awards an annual "LUX Prize" for European cinema to help promote cinema, make films accessible to larger audiences and encourage debate about values and social issues across Europe. The three finalists will be announced at the end of July.
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MEPs voting during a committee meeting
The numbers of MEPs to sit in Parliament’s twenty committees and two sub-committees for the new legislative term, reflecting the political balance of the House, were approved in a vote on Wednesday. The committee’s membership lists were approved on Thursday.
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MEPs re-elected Martin Schulz as President of the European Parliament on Tuesday morning for another two and a half year term. The 58-year old German MEP will lead Parliament until January 2017. He won 409 out of 612 valid votes cast in the first ballot.
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Syed Kamall MEP
British MEP Syed Kamall is the new head of the European Conservatives and Reformists, the Parliament's third largest political group. Watch our video to learn more about him and his views on the Parliament and European politics.
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Jean Claude Juncker
Acting President of the European Parliament Gianni Pittella made the following statement on the proposal by the European Council today in Brussels of Jean-Claude Juncker to be the next European Commission President:
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(Left) Gianni Pittella shakes hands with Martin Schulz
Martin Schulz has today been elected as group leader of the Socialists and Democrats and steps down as European Parliament President.
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Philippe Lamberts MEP
Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian member of the Green party, is the new co-chairman of the Greens group in the European Parliament alongside Germany's Rebecca Harms. Elected on 11 June, he succeeds Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Green party member elected in France. Find out more about Lamberts and his political platform in our interview.
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Manfred Weber MEP
Manfred Weber , German member of the CSU party, is the new Chairman of the European People's Party group at the European Parliament. He was elected on 4 June and succeeds French member Joseph Daul (UMP) at the helm of the biggest political group in the EP. Born in 1972 in Lower Bavaria, Manfred Weber is an engineer by training. Watch our video interview.
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Image of Martin Schulz
"Today, we commemorate a remarkable event which was the beginning of the end of a tragic World War. Seventy years ago, the Western Allied armada launched an offensive that helped lead to the defeat of the Third Reich and liberate Europe from horrifying Nazi occupation. This extraordinarily detailed planned military assault went down in history...
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Film holder image
In this short film clip we follow newly elected Members of Parliament as they are walked through their first tasks, reflect on the electoral campaign and think ahead to their work to come.
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Image of winners holding certificates
Our Europe, a Danish travel project, was awarded first prize at the 2014 Charlemagne Youth Prize ceremony in Aachen University on 27 May. The second prize went to the JouwDelft & Co youth congress from The Netherlands and the third to the Employment4U, a training project from Cyprus. The European Charlemagne Youth Prize is awarded annually to projects that foster a shared sense of European identity and integration among young people.
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Europe House, London
In the coming days, millions across the UK will cast their votes in the world's second largest democratic election. With the law-making role of the European Parliament much bigger and turnout traditionally low, engaging with every community and ensuring they can make an informed choice has never been so critical.
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MEP voting
The old European Parliament passed its last laws in April, making a total of over 1,000 in 2009-2014. The new one, elected on 22-25 May, takes office on 1 July. Here is a brief overview of some of Parliament’s work over the past five years and what it will need to do in the next five.
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Jean-Claude Juncker.
Candidates for the presidency of the European Commission went head-to-head in a live TV debate just one week before the European elections.
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© European Union 2014 EP
Quality jobs for European youth, the recognition of informally acquired skills and ending the exploitation of interns and forced mobility were some of the goals the participants at the European Youth Event (EYE) set at the end of three days of discussions in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The around 5000 young people also called for uniform EU election rules, better education about EU affairs and the support of digital innovation.
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The European Youth Event 2014 in Strasbourg on 9-11 May
The moment thousands of young people have waited months for has finally arrived. This weekend the Parliament building in Strasbourg will host the European Youth Event 2014 (EYE 2014), a unique opportunity for the next generation to generate ideas, discuss opinions and set the agenda for tomorrow’s Europe! In addition a mobile app will help participants to get around to the hundreds of performances and workshops being hosted in and out the European Parliament buildings.
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The end of the EP's seventh term will be followed by a presidential debate, election night, the formation of new political groups and the constitution of the new Parliament.
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Draft rules to ensure that harmful psychoactive substances, known as "legal highs", are withdrawn rapidly from the EU market were approved by European Parliament on Thursday. MEPs sought to protect the health and safety of young people from these drugs, whilst ensuring that trade in lower risk substances for industrial and commercial uses is not hindered. Criminals who breach the ban on the most harmful substances could face up to ten years in jail.
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EU countries would have to reduce the use of the most common and most polluting plastic bags by at at least 80% by 2019, under draft rules backed by European Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs recommend using taxes and levies, marketing restrictions or bans. Plastic carrier bag litter is a major environmental problem, known to pollute water bodies and aquatic eco-systems in particular.
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Anyone legally residing in the EU would have the right to open a basic payment account, and no-one could be denied this right on grounds of nationality or place of residence, under a new law passed by European Parliament on Tuesday. This law should also ensure that fees and rules for all payment accounts are transparent and comparable and make it easy to switch to another payment account that offers better terms.
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Capture any aspect where the UK’s membership of the European Union has impacted on the lives of British citizens in a 3-5 minute video. This was the brief we gave to today's journalism students to mark the 40th anniversary of the UK joining the European Community in 1973.
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Some 40,000 cultural objects are illegally removed from EU countries every year and only a handful of them are ever returned. On 10 April, the EP's culture committee votes on an informal deal with governments to update EU legislation to facilitate the return of these objects. Ahead of the vote, we talked to Marie-Christine Vergiat, a French member of the GUE/NGL group who is responsible for steering these plans through Parliament, to ask her how these changes will improve the situation. Since 1993 only 15 return proceeding have been initiated and only seven of them were successful. Why so few and what will change?
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A deal with the EU Council of Ministers on measures to boost sales of EU farm produce within the EU and abroad and to restore consumer confidence in the event of market disruptions was approved by the Agriculture Committee on Monday.
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Beyond the grey bulk of the Isle of Arran, 5,000 kilometres of Atlantic Ocean separate Britain from Northern America. Just a few hundred metres inland in Prestwick, Western Scotland, the Oceanic Area Control Centre (OACC) controls the airspace over the eastern half of the North Atlantic, from the Azores to a boundary with Iceland, getting airline passengers to and from Europe safely. It’s at the forefront of a revolution making flights in Europe shorter, greener and cheaper.
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EU action vis-à-vis Russia in response to recent events in Crimea, its aid to Ukraine and the need to better coordinate EU foreign policy are set to top this Parliament’s last pre-election plenary debate with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday. This debate, starting at 8:30, will be followed by another, with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas, on the EU’s future strategy towards Iran, against the backdrop of ongoing talks on its nuclear programme.
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“EU-China relations are key for the stability and prosperity of the world economy,” EP President Martin Schulz said, welcoming Chinese president Xi Jinping during his official visit to the European Parliament on 31 March.
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© European Union
"Freedom of expression and information are enshrined in our most basic fundamental rights instruments, be it at EU or at the Council of Europe level. The European Parliament strives to firmly uphold freedom of expression, and the freedom and pluralism of the media within the Union and beyond. As a Member of the Council of Europe and as an EU candidate country, Turkey is no exception. The Said President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz after the ban of Twitter in Turkey.
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© European Union 2013 - EP
Draft truck design rule changes, to allow designers to make it easier for drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists and improve bodywork streamlining to cut pollutant emissions, were backed by Transport Committee MEPs on Tuesday. The rules would allow designs to exceed current maximum length and weight limits in order to improve performance in these areas.
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©BELGAIMAGE/AGEFOTOSTOCK/McPHOTO/ODE
A common charger should be developed for all mobile phones sold in the EU, to reduce waste, costs and hassle for users, said MEPs voting on an update to EU radio equipment laws on Thursday. This draft has already been informally agreed with the Council of Ministers.
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©Belga/AFP/V.Drachev
Russia must immediately withdraw all its military forces from Ukrainian territory, say MEPs in a resolution passed on Thursday. They condemn its "act of aggression in invading Crimea" as a breach of international law, declare Crimea’s plans to hold a referendum on its accession to Russia to be illegal and warn that Russia’s actions pose a threat to the security of the EU.
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© European Union 2014 - EP
Parliament's consent to the EU-US trade deal "could be endangered" if blanket mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) does not stop, MEPs said on Wednesday, in a resolution wrapping up their six-month inquiry into US mass surveillance schemes. The text also calls on the EU to suspend its bank data deal with the US and the “Safe Harbour agreement” on data privacy. The fight against terrorism can never justify secret and illegal mass surveillance, it adds.
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©Belga/Easyfotostock/Zoonar/A.Varbenov
Holidaymakers putting together their own package holidays from travel services sold on the internet or elsewhere need extra protection, as they are unlikely to get the same all-in cover as those buying from traditional travel agents, say MEPs. A draft law voted on Wednesday aims to ensure that travellers are not stranded if an airline or tour operator goes bankrupt, protect them against sharp price increases or flight time changes and specify their rights in unforeseen circumstances.
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Bite the Ballot, a UK campaigning organisation for getting the youth vote out at elections, have won the UK Charlemagne Youth Prize with their project Inspired Impressions.
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The EU's poorest citizens will continue to get food, basic material assistance and social welfare from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) from 2014 to 2020, under a deal with Council endorsed by Parliament on Tuesday. MEPs succeeded in maintaining its budget of €3.5 bn. They also secured Council's agreement that the fund will be fully operational immediately.
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Binding rules on search and rescue to clarify how border guards serving in Frontex sea operations should deal with migrants and where they should disembark them were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday. The rules were informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on 11 February.
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The Ukrainian authorities are about to lose all legitimacy. The current authorities in Ukraine need to make space for a transitional government of national unity and early elections in order to bring back the legitimacy of national authorities. Further bloodshed must be avoided at all costs.
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The European Parliament should withhold its consent to an EU-US trade deal unless it fully respects EU citizens’ data privacy, says an inquiry report on US National Security Agency (NSA) and EU member state surveillance of EU citizens, approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. It adds that data protection rules should be excluded from the trade talks and negotiated separately with the US.
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In the second biggest democratic exercise in the world, 400 million people can cast their vote for a new European Parliament. The 751 MEPs taking up their seats in July will not only set the course of European policies for the next five years but also elect the leader of the EU's executive body, the European Commission President.
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Switzerland risks having to renegotiate its agreements with the EU, warned EP President Martin Schulz after voters backed the introduction of quotas for migrants in a referendum.
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The illicit trade in tobacco products costs EU countries €10 billion a year in lost tax revenues, according to estimates by the European Commission. Experts and MEPs met on 22 January to discuss how to tackle the issue and the role played by major tobacco producers. “The idea that we are winning the battle against smuggling is perhaps not quite true,” said Green Belgian MEP Bart Staes, vice-chair of the budgetary control committee, which helped to organise the hearing.
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Plenary Session week 03 2014 Joint debate - Public procurement
Plans for a tool to allow EU countries to prevent non-EU firms from bidding for public procurement contracts worth €5 million or more unless their home countries reciprocate by allowing EU firms to do likewise were approved by Parliament on Wednesday 15th January.
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Tougher penalties, mandatory destruction of illegal ivory and better training of police and prosecutors are needed to combat trophy hunting and the organised criminal killing of rhinos, elephants and other wildlife for profit, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday 15th January 2014.
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Reacting to US President Obama's proposed changes to NSA surveillance practices, British MEP Claude Moraes said on Friday, "We need the US authorities to put an end to current discrimination whereby European citizens have lower levels of privacy rights than US citizens, including less privacy protection in US courts. It would have been good to have a more reassuring message on these issues with more clarity on future reform".
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