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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 (30 June - 3 July 2003)

Securities Prospectuses - Huhne Report

The European Parliament voted in favour of the re-written prospectus directive. The directive is a radical departure from the original Commission proposals, which would have imposed costly new rules on small businesses.

Theresa Villiers MEP said: "This is a big victory for Europe's small businesses and for the European Parliament. Today's adoption of the re-written prospectus directive is the result of hard work, both by industry and MEPs. I am very pleased that we were successful in defeating the Commission's original proposals, which would have piled millions in costs onto small business.

The original proposals from the Commission would have devastated AIM and done serious damage to Europe's bond markets. Making shelf registration voluntary instead of mandatory will relieve business of a huge regulatory burden. This is a good lesson for the Commission - it must properly consult with business and consumer groups if it wants to get financial legislation right."

Procurement Procedures for Water, Energy - Zappalà Report

Parliament approved, along with a few 'technical' amendments, the two European Council common positions on new public procurement rules, based on two Commission proposals for a general and a sectoral directive. The former on co-ordinating procedures for the award of public works, public supply and public service contracts and the latter to cover entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors.

Indirect Vision Systems of Vehicles - Gargani Report

Parliament adopted a legislative resolution on the type-approval of devices for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices, amending Directive 70/156/EEC and repealing Directive 71/127/EEC.

Thessaloniki Council - Commission Statement

Jonathan Evans MEP, speaking on behalf of the British Conservatives in the debate on the Thessaloniki Council meeting, drew attention to the historic landmark agreement on enlargement, before pointing to weaknesses in the past six months such as the meeting on defence questions, in the context of the Iraq war, between Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg which have undermined NATO.

He described also aspects of the Convention on, for example, dismantling the pillar structure, introducing a common asylum system and European public prosecutor, as going far beyond a mere "tidying up" exercise as described by the British Prime Minister. The results, he maintained, should be put to a national referendum in the UK.

Ingredients in Foodstuffs - Klass Report

The European Parliament adopted a legislative resolution on indicating the ingredients in food, thus broadly approving the Council's common position, which had incorporated many of the changes demanded by Parliament at first reading.

However, thanks to pressure from Conservative MEPs, the legislation was amended to remove aspects of it that would have threatened the use of isinglass, a fish product used in wine and beer production, despite centuries of use with not a single known case of an allergic reaction. The European Parliament accepted a compromise amendment which will exempt isinglass from the list of allergic products.

John Bowis MEP said: "We are delighted that common sense has prevailed. Labelling a product as allergenic when there is no scientific evidence to support this claim would mislead consumers and unnecessarily reduce the choice of allergy sufferers.

It would be a misuse of labelling to condemn wine and beer because of an agent used in the production process, but not in the final product, which has never harmed anyone."

Genetically Modified Food and Feed - Scheele and Trakatellis reports

The European Parliament agreed to lift the ban on Genetically Modified Foods, a move that allows an open process of debate and involvement in which the UK Government must take the lead.

Dr Caroline Jackson MEP said: "MEPs have given GMOs the green light and it is now up to the UK Government to make sure that the labelling system works so that consumers can make an informed choice.

We will have a clearer idea of the real extent of consumer concern about GM foods, and it will be up to the companies that want to market GM food and feed to prove to us that they have benefits. Such companies have a lot of public opposition to overcome, so the ball is in their court. However, the Government must also make freely available all scientific information on GM crops so that people can make up their own minds.

We believe that we have found a way of lifting the ban whilst still protecting consumers and preserving their free choice."

Beta-Agonists - Olsson Report

The European Parliament adopted this recommendation for second reading. In amendments tabled by the ELDR, EPP-ED, PES and Greens/EFA groups, Parliament took the view that it was appropriate to phase out the use of oestradiol 17 for oestrus induction over a given period. In view of the dangerousness of the substance, the use should also be strictly limited. There were a number of alternative drugs within the Community to achieve the same effects and they only should be used.

Packaging and Packaging Waste - Corbey Report

Conservative MEPs and their allies blocked Socialist proposals which would have made the directive more expensive to implement in Britain by imposing unrealistic targets and deadlines. 42% of packaging waste in Britain is currently recycled, although packaging waste as a whole makes up only a small part of the waste going to landfill - 6% on current figures. Nevertheless we have welcomed this further effort to reduce waste and we are happy to see a more realistic timetable adopted. Britain will be under an obligation, once the directive is finally agreed (which we expect in the autumn) to recycle 55% of packaging waste, and to recover (most probably through incineration with energy recovery) a further 5%. The compliance date remains at 2008. The Socialists had wanted to bring it forward to 2006. The UK estimated cost of this was over £1 billion which would have been passed on to local councils, and taxpayers.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowance Trading - Da Silva Report

A European-wide scheme of greenhouse gas emissions trading, agreed in the European Parliament, will help the EU to meet its obligations to the Kyoto Agreement on climate change.

Businesses will be allocated tradeable licenses to emit greenhouse gases, and the number of licenses will be gradually reduced over time to ensure emissions are lowered. The system will affect 10,000 installations across the EU.

Robert Goodwill MEP: "This agreement shows that Europe is taking its commitment to Kyoto seriously with practical action towards the world's first international emissions trading market.

This new agreement will enable UK businesses to trade emission allowances to their advantage. Allocating licenses based on emissions levels in 1990 has put the UK in the best possible position to participate in this scheme."

2004 Budget - Mulder Report

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the 2004 budget in view of the conciliation procedure before the Council's first reading.

Implementation of 2003 Budget - Färm Report

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the review of the 2003 EU budget.

This report updated the European Parliament on the latest situation with regard to the implementation of the 2003 budget. The position as at 30 April 2003 shows outstanding commitments covering the Structural Funds, internal and foreign policy, including preparation for accession standing at €126bn on 30 April 2003 as against a figure of €110bn on the same date last year.

Single European Sky - Sanders-ten Holte , Claudio Fava Report

In adopting these legislative resolutions the European Parliament made it clear that MEPs and the governments of the Member States have totally different views on how "European" this integrated airspace should be by the time it becomes operational - the deadline being 31 December 2004.

One of the sensitive aspects is the co-operation between civil and military co-operation or sovereignty over Member States' own airspace. The Greek Presidency had already announced that some governments would not countenance any changes. MEPs did not accept this: they adopted amendments aiming at changing both common positions considerably. Parliament will now be on course for a confrontation with the Council of Transport Ministers, probably leading to a conciliation procedure.

Euro-zone - Gasòliba i Böhm Report

The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the selection of a representative for the euro in international meetings.

Compensation to Air Passengers - Lisi Report

The more than 1,1 million people affected by denied boarding each year will be pleased to hear that the European Parliament has adopted long-expected proposals fixing financial compensations for overbooking and assistance in the case of long delays. Members are in favour of a system of three distance sanctions. The financial compensations for overbooking will be €250 for flights less than 1.500 km, €400 for flights between 1.500 and 3.000 km and €600 for flights of more than 3.500 km.

It was also agreed that passengers be offered free meals, refreshments or - if needed - hotel accommodation when an air carrier expects a flight to be delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure: for two hours in the case of flights of 1500 kilometres or less, for three hours in the case of all-intra Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres and for four hours in the case of other flights. Air carriers should also pay the transport costs to and from the place of accommodation.

Jacqueline Foster MEP said: "Compensation should be paid to passengers who have been denied boarding or have been delayed, but if that level of compensation is set too high it could threaten the viability of all carriers, including the low cost airlines.

Airlines have highlighted the proposals as anti-consumer, as prohibitive fines many times the value of the ticket would lead to higher fares for customers in the long-run and could also be anti-competitive as it could put many low cost airlines out of business.

The level should correspond to the price of the ticket to ensure that budget airlines can continue to operate."

Marco Polo programme - Bradbourn report

The European Parliament supported the Council's common position on the environmental performance of the Marco Polo freight transport system. Members welcomed the principle aim of the programme which is to help shift the increase in international road freight traffic to other transport modes.

Philip Bradbourn MEP said: "This programme is a significant step in helping the freight transport sector to develop a more environmentally friendly approach. We have managed to reach agreement on the threshold levels at which projects designed to develop cleaner systems of moving goods will qualify for EU aid. This is good news for UK small and medium sized freight operators who will now be able to qualify for this aid. For once, the Commission is taking a market orientated approach to the distribution, logistics and haulage industry rather than using a stick to beat it with and I hope that UK companies will take advantage by coming forward with innovative ideas."

ECB 2002 Annual Report - Blokland Report

The European Parliament adopted a resolution congratulating the ECB for its achievements and management of monetary policy. However, Parliament regrets the inflationary effects of the otherwise successful introduction of euronotes and coins. MEPs are pleased at the rise in the euro's value, but warn that further strengthening could put exports at risk.

Plenary Highlights 2-5 June 2003
Plenary Highlights 12-15 May 2003
Plenary Highlights 7-10 April 2003
"Mini" Plenary Highlights 26-27 March 2003
Plenary Highlights 10-13 March 2003
Plenary Highlights 10-13 February 2003
Plenary Highlights 13-16 January 2003
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