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2015

"Raif Badawi was brave enough to raise his voice and say no to their barbarity. That is why they flogged him," said Ensaf Haidar, the wife of jailed Saudi human rights activist Raif Badawi, accepting the 2015 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on his behalf in Strasbourg on Wednesday 16 December. Badawi was honoured by the European Parliament for his fight for freedom of speech and thought in Saudi Arabia.
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A “strong compromise” on how to ensure a high level of data protection across the EU was agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in their last round of talks on the data protection package on Tuesday. It is now up to member states to give a green light to the agreement. The two draft laws in the package - a regulation and a directive - are scheduled for a confirmation vote in the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday morning.
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Parliament decided to set up a 45 member inquiry committee to investigate breaches of EU rules on car emission tests and alleged failures by EU member states and the European Commission to enforce EU standards. The committee will present an interim report within 6 months, and a final report within 12 months, of starting its work.
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EU leaders meeting on 17 and18 December should support the creation of European border and coast guard and cooperate more closely over counter-terrorism, said MEPs in Wednesday’s debate with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Nicolas Schmit for the Council Presidency. Some MEPs stressed the need to see what could be done to keep the UK in the EU.
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New rules to help businesses obtain legal redress against the theft or misuse of their trade secrets were informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday. MEPs ensured that freedom of expression and information will be protected and that the new rules will not restrict the work of journalists.
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The provisional deal reached by Parliament and Council negotiators last week on an EU directive regulating the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime was endorsed by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Thursday by 38 votes to 19, with 2 abstentions. The draft directive will be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole early next year.
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A delegation of 15 MEPs will take part in the UN climate conference in Paris, France, from Monday to Friday. The European Parliament says that the 2015 Protocol must be legally binding and ambitious from the outset, with five-year commitment periods. In a resolution voted in October, MEPs also proposed that a share of revenues from the EU carbon market allowances should be earmarked for climate finance, and that aviation and shipping sectors should initiate measures to curb their emissions.
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The work of Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings will be continued under a new mandate for six months, starting on 2 December. This was decided unanimously at Wednesday’s Conference of Presidents and endorsed by Parliament as a whole, by 561 votes to 69 with 5 abstentions. The committee's work will focus on harmful corporate tax regimes and practices at European and international level.
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A provisional deal on EU rules regulating the use of air passengers' data to fight terrorism and serious crime came within sight at the fifth "trilogue” (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators) on Wednesday afternoon.
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Interest in EU policies increased recently according to the new Eurobarometer commissioned by the European Parliament and published on Monday 30th November.
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Parliament sets out its ideas on how to make corporate taxes fairer across Europe in a resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs urge EU member states to agree on mandatory country-by-country reporting by multinationals of profits and taxes, a common consolidated corporate tax base, common definitions for tax terms and more transparency and accountability with regard to their – so far secret - national tax “rulings” for companies.
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President Martin Schulz announced that Mustang had won the 2015 European Parliament LUX Prize for cinema at a ceremony in the Chamber in Strasbourg at noon on Tuesday. Mustang tells the story of five sisters who have been promised to husbands through forced marriages but who, determined to live their own lives, break the yoke of tradition.
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Photo by Paul Hudson
Members of the European Parliament will gather today at 2pm in the plenary chamber for a brief commemorative ceremony in honour of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris and to express solidarity with French citizens and authorities.
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“What does an MEP do?” “Is Wales dependent on the EU budget?” “Why is Britain disenchanted with the EU politics?” Those were only some of the questions the MEPs had to answer during the breakfast meetings organised by the UK European Parliament Information Office in Cardiff. With BBC Wales journalist Jamie Owen as moderator, the series of events aims at providing a meeting point between the public and Welsh MEPs.
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European elections should be fought with formally endorsed, EU-wide lead candidates (“Spitzenkandidaten”) for the Commission presidency, Parliament said on Wednesday in a formal proposal for a change to EU electoral law. It says these candidates should stand for election to the EP themselves, and be formally nominated at least 12 weeks before the elections.
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Raif Badawi is the laureate of this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, following an October 29 decision by EP President Martin Schulz and the political group leaders. Badawi is a blogger from Saudi Arabia currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for insulting Islam on his website promoting social, political and religious debate. The Sakharov award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg on 16 December.
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EU Commission plans for more ambitious national caps on emissions of six key pollutants, including NOx, particulates and sulphur dioxide, were endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. Air pollution causes about 400,000 premature deaths in the EU yearly, and the plans could save up to €40bn in air pollution costs by 2030.
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A draft EU law that would enable any EU member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was rejected by the European Parliament on Wednesday. Members are concerned that the law might prove unworkable or that it could lead to the reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GMO countries.
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Package holidays, consisting of a flight, hotel or car-hire and purchased online for an all-in price or through linked webpages, will get the same protection as packages bought in travel agencies under rules voted by MEPs on Tuesday. MEPs ensured that travellers will have more options to cancel a contract and get clear advance information on who is ultimately responsible if something goes wrong.
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A complete ban on roaming charges for using mobile phones abroad in the EU will take effect in June 2017 and clear rules on the right to internet access will become law following Parliament's final adoption of the new telecoms package on Tuesday.
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Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings recommended measures to make corporate taxes in the EU fairer and more transparent, after eight months of fact finding, in a vote Monday evening in Strasbourg.
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Following this morning's announcements of the verdicts of Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on the Dutch tax deal with Starbucks and the Luxembourgish tax agreement with Fiat Finance and Trade, key MEPs on taxation issues gave the following statements.
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Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela and the Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov are the three finalists for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. They were chosen in a vote during a meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees and the human rights subcommittee at the European Parliament. The laureate will be decided by Parliament's president and political group leaders on 29 October and the award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg on 16 December.
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The competition for next year's European Charlemagne Youth Prize was launched on Thursday, 15 October. Now in its ninth year, the prize is awarded to young people who have developed projects to foster understanding between people from different European countries. The deadline for submissions is 25 January 2016.
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Three inspiring Brits have been selected as winners of this year's EU Citizens' Prize, alongside 44 laureates from across the European Union. The prize, which has been run by the European Parliament since 2008, recognises the efforts of EU citizens who promote understanding and co-operation across international borders, integration between EU citizens and the EU values of democracy and human rights.
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Immigration and terrorism are EU citizens’ fastest-growing concerns, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll, commissioned by the European Parliament and published on Wednesday.
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A draft EU law that would enable any member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was opposed by Environment Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Members are concerned that the proposal might prove unworkable and lead to the reintroduction of border controls between pro and anti-GMO countries. The recommendation will be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole at the 26-29 October plenary session in Strasbourg.
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Updating EU rules on payment services will cut the cost of paying bills, by enabling new market players to use mobile and online tools to make payments on a client’s behalf, said MEPs voting a law to this end on Thursday. These rules, informally agreed by MEPs and ministers last May, also aim to make online payments safer, by laying down data protection and liability rules for all online payment service providers.
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MEPs debated the unfolding Volkswagen exhaust emissions scandal on Tuesday, on the basis of a parliamentary question. They asked Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska to clarify whether emission test manipulation took place in Europe.
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Goods or substances that may be misused for torture or execution should not be promoted for export, so as to prevent their spread, said the International Trade Committee, voting on Tuesday to strengthen EU “Anti-torture” rules. MEPs want to widen today’s EU ban to include services, e.g. marketing in expos or online catalogues, but also finance, transport and insurance. They also want to ban transit of prohibited goods via the EU and add a “catch-all” clause to allow checks on dubious new ones.
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An emergency proposal to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy, Greece and Hungary among EU member states was backed by Parliament on Thursday. The first temporary emergency rules for relocating an initial 40,000 over two years from Italy and Greece only were approved by Parliament on 9 September.
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The nominations for Parliament´s 2015 Sakharov Prize have been announced on Thursday 10 September. The prize is awarded every year to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.The nominations will be formally presented on Monday 28 September during a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees and the human rights subcommittee. The winner will be announced in October.
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Parliament backed temporary emergency rules to relocate an initial total of 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other EU member states over two years in a vote on Wednesday. In the migration debate on Wednesday, most MEPs welcomed the Commission's new proposals outlined by Juncker in his state of the Union speech, stressing that more contributions to solidarity will be needed.
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Parliament beefed up the Commission’s initial proposal to ban animal cloning to include the cloning of all farm animals, their descendants and products derived from them, including imports into the EU, in a vote on Tuesday.
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Parliament beefed up the Commission’s initial proposal to ban animal cloning to include the cloning of all farm animals, their descendants and products derived from them, including imports into the EU, in a vote on Tuesday.
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Today, at the press conference of the Venice Days (Giornate degli Autori), the First Vice President of the European Parliament Mr Antonio TAJANI and the President of the Committee on Culture and Education, Mrs Silvia Costa, announced the 3 contending films to run for the 2015 LUX Film Prize.
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MEPs will assess how best to spend EU funding for migration measures. The delegation will meet Italian Under-Secretary of State in charge of immigration issues Domenico Manzione, among others, and will also visit migrant reception centres in Pozzallo and Mineo in Sicily.
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Every year the European Parliament together with the European Youth Press co-organise 'European Youth Media Days' - an event for young journalists aged between 18 and 30 from all over Europe.
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A British film maker has the chance to have his work screened in more than 40 cities across Europe after being nominated for the European Parliament's LUX Prize on July 5th.
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An EU-US trade deal must open up US market access for EU firms, but not undermine EU standards, say MEPs in recommendations, voted today, to EU trade negotiators.
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EU-US flag
The European Parliament hosted a two-day seminar on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Brussels on 12-13 May. .
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EurVoice, the outreach scheme of the European Youth Parliament UK, have won the UK national heat of the European Parliament/CYP competition. This youth project will go forward as the UK's entry in the competition held across all 28 Member States of the European Union.
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All new car models sold in the EU are to be equipped with eCall technology from 31 March 2018 under draft EU rules endorsed by Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee MEPs on Tuesday.This technology uses the 112 emergency number to call rescue services automatically, enabling them to reach crash scenes faster and thus save lives and reduce the severity of injuries.
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The fees that banks charge retailers to process shoppers’ payments will be capped, under uniform EU-wide rules, further to a vote in Parliament on Tuesday. The cap, which will apply to both cross-border and domestic card-based payments, should result in lower costs for card users.
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Recent food fraud cases have made consumers suspicious. A growing number want to know from which country meat in processed food comes.© BELGAIMAGE/EASYFOTOSTOCK/Zoonar_V.Gudovskiy
Meat used as an ingredient in processed foods, such as lasagne, should be labelled by country of origin as is already the case with bovine fresh meat, said MEPs on Wednesday. They call on the European Commission, which published a report on the issue in late 2013, to come up with legislative proposals in order to rebuild consumer confidence in the wake of the horsemeat scandal and other food fraud cases.
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Member states may decide to ban GMO crops on their territory. ©BELGAIMAGE/EASYSTOCKFOTO/S.Bouchard
EU-US negotiations on the TTIP free trade agreement are continuing. The deal which is expected to create new jobs and boost economies on both sides of the Atlantic touches upon sensitive issues, not least rules for the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). On 27 January the international trade and legal affairs committees held a joint public hearing to shed light on the issues at play.
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The fees that banks charge retailers for processing shoppers’ payments would be capped under draft EU rules endorsed by Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs in a vote on Tuesday. The vote confirms an informal deal struck with the Council in December. The cap would apply to both cross-border and domestic card-based payments and should cut costs for card users.
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The ultimate owners of companies will have to be listed in central registers in EU countries, open both to the authorities and to people with a "legitimate interest", such as journalists, under a Parliament/Council deal endorsed by the Economic and Monetary Affairs and Civil Liberties committees on Tuesday. The new anti-money laundering directive aims to help to fight money laundering, tax crimes and terrorist financing. New rules to make it easier to trace transfers of funds were also approved.
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MEPs debated plans to use EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to fight terrorism. ©BELGAIMAGE/EASYSTOCKFOTO/J.R:Sancke
A draft law that would oblige airlines to hand EU countries the data of passengers entering or leaving the EU, in order to help the authorities to fight serious crime and terrorism, is currently under discussion in the European Parliament. The committee in charge of the so-called EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal is the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.
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MEPs reiterate their concern over the potential impact of food fraud on food safety, consumer confidence and health. ©BELGAIMAGE/EASYPHOTOSTOCK/Zoonar_Mrivserg
Meat used as an ingredient in processed foods, such as lasagne, should be labelled by country of origin as is already the case for bovine fresh meat, said Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee MEPs on Wednesday. They call on the European Commission, which published a report on the issue in late 2013, to come up with legislative proposals in order to rebuild consumer confidence in the wake of the horsemeat scandal and other food fraud cases.
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Parliament must use its influence on framing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) rules to ensure that they serve all EU citizens
The European Parliament must use its influence on framing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) rules to ensure that they serve all EU citizens, not just a few economic players and must therefore insist that the talks are more democratic and more transparent, said trade committee chair, Bernd Lange (S&D, DE), on Wednesday
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Member states may decide to ban GMO crops on their territory. ©BELGAIMAGE/EASYSTOCKFOTO/S.Bouchard
New legislation to allow EU member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their own territory, even if this is allowed at EU level, was passed by MEPs on Tuesday. The legislation, informally agreed by Parliament and Council in December, was originally tabled in 2010 but was then deadlocked for four years due to disagreement between pro- and anti-GMO member states.
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A minute of silence in the European Parliament hemicycle to pay triubute to the victims of Paris terrorism attacks  #JeSuisCharlie© EU 2015 - European Parliament
“Violence with Kalashnikovs will not make us downgrade our European values”, promised Parliament President Martin Schulz, naming the 17 people killed in last week’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. After a minute’s silence, Parliament’s political groups paid their tributes too. Several saw the outpouring of solidarity demonstrated by millions of citizens across Europe and worldwide as a renaissance and reaffirmation of Europe’s core values.
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