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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 (1 - 4 September 2003)

Convention on the Future of Europe - Presentation of the draft treaty

On Wednesday, the Parliament held a debate on the European Convention. Valéry Giscard D'Estaing, President of the Convention opened the debate. The European Convention completed its work on 10 July 2003.

Jonathan Evans MEP said: "Conservative MEPs officially launched their postcard campaign after the debate, calling for a referendum on the constitution in the UK."

Investment Services Directive - Committee meeting

Crucial amendments to ensure that the cost of buying and selling shares does not rise by up to 20 times were made by the European Parliament on Tuesday. The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee voted on the Investment Services Directive (ISD), which threatened low-cost, 'execution-only' share dealing.

Theresa Villiers MEP, Conservative Finance Spokesman and author of the Parliament ISD report, tabled amendments to the ISD to lift the threat to execution-only business and confine suitability tests to advice services. Different political groups and nationalities supported the amendments, which have been extensively lobbied for by UK shareholders.

Theresa Villiers MEP said: "It is a huge relief that my amendments have been accepted by MEPs. The European Commission's proposals for new red tape on execution-only services could have been a fatal blow to these low margin, 'no frills' services.

Investors would have been forced to buy advice they neither need nor want. This could cost them as much as 20 times the price of an execution-only sale.

This unnecessary red tape has been rejected by MEPs in committee. Now we have to ensure that the full plenary session of parliament votes the same way. It is vital that my amendments go through to remove the threat to execution-only services and preserve investor choice."

EU Structural Funds - Mastorakis Report

The British Government's proposals to reform the flawed EU structural funding programme were thrown into chaos on Tuesday by its own MEPs. Labour Members supported a report in the European Parliament endorsing Commission proposals to resist the repatriation of regional and cohesion policy, a proposal put forward in the British Government's White Paper 'A modern regional policy for the UK'.

The European Union's Structural Funds programmes have become too large, too complex and too unwieldy, to the point where the President of the Court of Auditors concluded in 2001 that the system of structural funds was so complicated that it was almost impossible to execute.

Philip Bradbourn MEP said: "The European Commission and the Member States have failed to ensure that our monies have been spent properly. There are still billions of euros sitting in the Commission's coffers. The European Parliament has sent a message to the Commission today that 'business as usual' is fine.

Even the British Government has come round to our way of thinking - that the system needs to be radically reformed. It is a shame that it forgot to tell its own MEPs.

What we need is a thorough review of all the relevant programmes. We need to be more focused and concentrate on priority areas. The rest of the money should be sent back to the Member States."

Rights and Dignity of the Disabled - Lynne Report

The 'Medical Model' of disability, the traditional way of looking at disabled people as needing to be 'looked after' or helped to 'fit in' wherever possible, should be abandoned according to MEPs.

A report, passed by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, calls on the UN to recognise instead that disabled people have rights that should be enforced when it prepares its seventh Treaty on Human Rights following a future Convention on the Disabled.

Philip Bushill Matthews MEP said: "This report by fellow West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne sets out some key principles which we trust will be taken on board in the process of developing a new UN Treaty. She has assembled a powerful case on behalf of all MEPs: the rights of the disabled are above party politics.

However, this is only half the story. This vote should be seen as a commitment to drive for real change at the UN, in the EU, and in our own Member States. The rights of the disabled must not just be recognised, but also secured."

Fundamental Rights in the EU - Sylla Report

This report focused on conditions of arrest and detention, protection of personal data, the right of asylum and media concentration. It argues that the situation in 2002 gave cause for concern in many respects and even seems to have deteriorated in some ways. This own-initiative resolution is based, like the two previous annual reports, on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Conservative MEPs opposed the report.

Health in the Developing World - Bowis Report

The poaching of doctors and other medical staff by the developed world must be controlled to protect the health of those in developing countries, according to a report passed by the European Parliament on Thursday.

According to the World Health Organisation, developing countries lose 63,000 doctors annually and receive back only 1,300.

The report also focuses on the fight against disease in developing countries and calls on the European Commission to recognise that the focus on three diseases (HIV, TB and Malaria) is too limited and that there is a need to extend attention and support to other areas of healthcare such as action to combat diarrhoeal diseases, and also to the problems linked to areas such as mental and physical disorders.

John Bowis MEP said: "The gap between the developed and the developing world will continue to grow if the former continues to poach the best doctors and nurses from the latter. A country cannot function successfully without a healthy workforce and a workforce cannot remain healthy without adequate sanitary conditions, clean water and access to well trained medical staff.

The EU must take a lead and end all dealings with agencies who trade in doctors and nurses from the developing world."

Television Without Frontiers - Perry Report

People who live or retire abroad and want to watch UK television channels should be able to do so without any legal problems, according to a report passed by the European Parliament on Thursday.

Current EU laws mean that viewers watching television programmes by satellite from other countries are sometimes technically breaking the law. Satellite companies deal with copyright holders, such as football leagues or film distributors, on the basis of broadcasting in national or linguistic markets only.

The report also calls on the Commission to address access to television for the disabled by promoting more subtitling, sign language presentation and interpretation and audio description and calls for a study on best practice across Europe.

Roy Perry MEP said: "A small but important point in the proposal is that Europe should make it easier for people with either hearing or visual disabilities to watch TV in Europe. I have called for a study to identify best practice and hope in this way we can improve the TV enjoyment of people with sensory impairments.

Just like manufactured goods, television programmes can be exported, so it is important for British television producers that there is a free and open market for television. Legal pitfalls over satellite TV subscriptions need to be tackled if we really are to have television without frontiers."

Plenary Highlights 30 June - 3 July 2003
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