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Parliamentary Highlights

This is for people who want more information on actual reports/legislation going through the Parliament.

Summary of Strasbourg Session (13-16 January 2003)

Role of Regional and Local Authorities - Napolitano Report

The European Parliament supported proposals for local and regional authorities to be made more involved in the European decision-making process "on a full and regular basis". Conservative MEPs voted against the proposals.

Management of External Borders - Pirker Report

The European Parliament supported plans to revise the Common Manual on border protection, basing it on what Member States have found to be best practice.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP said: "Conservative MEPs abstained on this report, as we do on all reports relating to Schengen, of which the UK is not a member."

Annual Accounts of Companies - Thyssen Report

MEPs backed a Commission proposal designed to remove inconsistencies between existing EU accounting legislation and the International Accounting Standards (IAS), which from 1st January 2005 should be applied by all EU-listed companies.

Humanitarian Aid - Carlotti Report

MEPs supported proposals to increase the ECHO's (European Community Humanitarian Aid Office) initial budget in the next financial years to reach a total of €500-550 million.

Furthermore, they insisted that disaster prevention and preparedness should be considered as priorities in promoting a 'culture of prevention', and called on the Commission to include disaster preparedness in all technical co-operation and development programmes

Basic Rights in the EU - Swiebel Report

The European Parliament supported a report on human rights which criticises the UK and other Member States for their handling of prisoners and terrorism legislation. Conservative MEPs voted against the report.

The UK is criticised for the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 which was adopted in December. Under this act it is possible for non-UK nationals to be held in indefinite administrative detention without being charged or prosecuted and without access to an appeal in law. The report also criticises prison facilities in the UK and calls for the adoption of a common asylum policy.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP said: "This report is an outrageous intrusion into the domestic affairs of the UK and other Member States. The unwarranted attacks on valuable public servants such as policemen and prison guards are completely unacceptable and cannot be substantiated. The reality is that we live in a dangerous world in which our liberty is threatened by terrorists, dictators and violent criminals, as highlighted by the appalling killing of a policeman in Manchester this week.

The British public is entitled to expect its elected representatives to defend and protect it, not to leave it vulnerable in these vital areas. It is regrettable that the British Labour and Liberal MEPs could not accept their responsibility to protect the public when they voted in favour of this report.

The report shows the European Union in a very bad light. In it, Mrs Swiebel expresses her own personal views on human rights. British Conservative MEPs urge the Parliamentary Authorities to ensure that future reports of this kind are under the stewardship of someone who has a less personal and more objective approach."

Development of the Community's railways - Jarzembowski Report

The European Parliament supported proposals for the opening up of the rail market across the EU by 1st January 2006.

Safety on the Community's railways - Sterckx Report

The European Parliament supported guidelines for safety rules to be observed by railway companies wishing to run trains on the European network. The proposals also call for the introduction of a European driving licence for train drivers carrying out cross-border services.

European Railway Agency - Savary Report

The European Parliament welcomed the setting-up of the European Railway Agency.

Harmonisation of Road Transport Legislation - Markov Report

The European Parliament supported proposals which will place new restrictions on the amount of time that hauliers and coach drivers can spend on the road. Conservative MEPs voted against the proposals.

The proposals introduce new restrictions including statutory rest days, longer breaks and reduced driving hours. MEPs voted in favour of the proposals which will not only place burdensome and unenforceable restrictions on drivers of most forms of commercial and industrial transport, but will also give foreign authorities the right to confiscate British vehicles if the draconian new laws are not adhered to.

Philip Bradbourn MEP said: "This is bad news for British industry and tourism. These proposals go against the whole ideal of a flexible working week. Conservative MEPs voted against the proposals because they are unworkable, unenforceable and totally unnecessary. We will continue to highlight the damage that these new laws would inflict on our hard-pressed hauliers and coach drivers as they pass through the Parliamentary process."

Health Care and Care for the Elderly - Montovani Report

MEPs called for EU action in drawing up policies in the field of developing and improving health services and care for the elderly and for greater co-ordination of national social security and public health systems and measures to combat discrimination.

Supply of Airline Services from Third Countries - Clegg Report

The European Parliament approved plans to penalise non-EU airlines who receive direct or indirect government subsidies.

EU airlines are subject to strict rules on government aid. The US Government recently decided to grant $25 billion to its air industry while the Swiss Government has opted to pay for a $2.6 billion rescue package to keep its scaled-down services flying.

The European Parliament's justification for applying penalties lies in its claim that non-EU airlines that operate the same routes as EU airlines within Europe are able to engage in unfair pricing practices as a result of subsidies or other government benefits. Under the European Commission-based plans, sanctions, in the form of duties imposed on carriers and slot allocation restrictions, would be applied.

Jacqueline Foster MEP said: "Trying to even out unfair competition is a noble idea but we need to be careful. Slapping extra duties on non-EU carriers and placing restrictions on their slot allocations could precipitate an unnecessary trade war with non-EU carriers applying exactly the same sanctions to UK carriers."

Clearing and Settlement in the EU - Andria Report

MEPs supported proposals designed to encourage recycling of electronic equipment.

The European Parliament supported a Commission aim to cut costs and improve efficiency with regard to the cross-border purchase and sale of shares as part of the move towards a single integrated financial market. Conservative MEPs voted against the proposal.

At present there are some twenty different authorities responsible for supervising the sale and purchase of shares across the EU, as against just one, the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, in the USA

Cosmetics Tests on Animals - Behrendt Report

After years of resistance by some members of the European Council, the European Parliament has achieved its aim of giving the go-ahead to plans to end the testing of cosmetics on animals in the European Union.

The landmark agreement will also see a complete ban of any animal-tested products from being marketed within the EU or imported from other countries.

The new laws, based on proposals from British Conservative MEPs, will mean that animal tests, for which possible alternatives appear in sight, will be phased out in 6 years. This covers 11 out of 14 possible tests. For the remaining 3 tests, a 10-year deadline, with a potential 2-year extension, can be applied.

John Bowis MEP said: "This deal represents the best of both worlds, promising to protect people's health whilst bringing an end to testing on animals.

The challenge now is to the cosmetics industry to accelerate its search for viable alternatives to animal tests. It has already made considerable progress and its co-operation with the Parliament proved decisive in persuading the Council to reach agreement."

EU-Lebanon Agreement - Quecedo Report

The European Parliament gave its assent to the go-ahead of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement negotiated between the EU and Lebanon. Since 1978 relations between the two sides have been governed by a Co-operation Agreement.

However, in a resolution which accompanies its recommendation, the Parliament draws attention to a number of outstanding problems in the Lebanon. It reminds the Lebanese authorities that an Association Agreement of this kind entails respect for human rights and it calls on them to abolish the death penalty, ratify the UN Convention against torture and lay down clear limits to the powers of its military court. The Parliament notes that 17,000 Lebanese citizens are still recorded as missing and their families often receive no response from the authorities on the fate of their relations. MEPs also stress the need to observe freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and express concern at the closure of the TV station MTV last September.

EBRD activities - Markov Report

The European Parliament welcomed the activities of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) over the past ten years and in particular its contribution towards promoting private enterprise and medium and small-sized projects in Eastern Europe.

The EBRD fund was doubled to €20bn in 1997. Its brief is to contribute towards developing a market economy in the former Communist States, is based on sound banking management and 60% of its investments are directed towards the private sector.

Theresa Villiers MEP said: "I congratulate the EBRD on the successes it has had, particularly with regard to micro financing projects. Increasing local participation in EBRD-funded projects will yield greater success, and ensure better long term prospects for some of the world's poorest countries. Encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises and increasing on job training is the key to increasing employment opportunities in these countries. The EBRD must be made to be more transparent and fully accountable if we are to properly evaluate its success. We need radically improved methods of holding the EBRD to account."

European Aquaculture - Martin Report

The European Parliament gave its support for the Commission's strategy for the future of aquaculture - as laid out in a communication published on September 19 as part of the CFP reform package.

Aquaculture is seen as crucial since it is a growth industry, which can therefore make up job losses in traditional fishing likely to result from the reform - especially in peripheral areas where there are few alternative sources of employment.

In the resolution, Members address the concerns often raised about the environmental impact of aquaculture and the effects these have on the sector's image by calling on the Commission "to step up research in all areas of aquaculture without exception". Additional funding should not only be targeted at the improvement of environmental performance, including food safety, but is also needed for the development of new farming techniques, especially for high-quality species. MEPs underline that the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) regulation must be amended to enable the sector to become eligible for new types of financial support.

Fishing in International Waters - Miguélez Ramos Report

MEPs suggested that the EU fisheries interests in world terms do not receive adequate support. They drew attention to the Commission's failure to allocate sufficient resources to its representation in regional fisheries organisations and the lack of a strategic policy.

MEPs insisted that the Commission, and specifically the DG for fisheries, should take on sufficient staff resources to enable it to use its powers correctly. It is feared that a unilateral EU conservation policy which is not shared by the rest of the international community will simply lead to the space freed by the Community fleet being occupied at once by other fleets which are not subject to the CFP's guarantees and requirements.

Plenary Highlights 17-20 December 2002
Plenary Highlights 18-21 November 2002
"Mini" Plenary Highlights 6-7 November 2002
Plenary Highlights 21-24 October 2002
Plenary Highlights 23-26 September 2002
Plenary Highlights 2-7 September 2002