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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 (20 - 23 October 2003)


Prevention of trafficking in human organs - Evans Report

Trafficking in human organs should be made illegal across the EU following a vote in the European Parliament on Thursday. Conservative MEPs launched a campaign ahead of the vote to raise awareness of the UK Organ Donation scheme.

The underlying cause of organ trafficking is a lack of available organs. 5,700 people in the UK are waiting for a transplant, but less than 3,000 transplants are carried out each year. Last year, nearly 400 people died waiting for a transplant.

Whilst organ trafficking must be made illegal across the EU, information campaigns on organ, tissue and cell donation should be promoted at European and national level. The objective should be to encourage European citizens to decide to join national donor schemes and to make their wishes known to their family or legal representatives.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP said: "This measure is absolutely necessary if we are to rid Europe of the despicable and illegal trade in human organs. Whilst we are all in favour of voluntary organ donation when it is safe to do so, organised criminals should not take advantage of either naive or opportunistic people in order to create a market of unsafe and unregulated organs.

It is far preferable to encourage legal and legitimate organ donation on a voluntary basis where safe and appropriate. I have carried a donor card for many years, and my colleagues and I encourage others to sign up and support the NHS organ donor campaign."



Erasmus mundus - De Sarnez Report

The Erasmus Mundus programme will create opportunities in the field of higher education based on promoting high quality courses, language learning and intercultural understanding for students. Much like the United State's 'Fulbright Programme' it will offer high profile assistance in the form of 250 European Masters courses and thousands of study grants for European and third country students.

Christopher Beazley said: "It is important that we continue to provide opportunities for graduates to develop their academic careers. This is an important initiative that we have actively supported".


Bathing water - Maaten Report

New EU rules on bathing water, supported by the European Parliament on Tuesday, could remove the coveted 'blue flag' from many of Britain's beaches.

Socialist MEPs supported measures to impose new standards by which beaches are classified as 'good' or 'excellent' without providing any perceptible evidence of benefits to public health.

Water sports enthusiasts including canoeists and windsurfers believe that they could be banned from inland waters because land owners and public authorities will now have to meet standards designed for swimming and not sporting activities.

John Bowis MEP said: "Many British beaches could lose their blue flags as a result of this proposal. MEPs have missed an opportunity to bring old legislation up to date, simplify it and make it more flexible and improve information to the public about the quality of bathing waters across Europe. Instead, they have imposed rules for no discernible health reason and threatened blue flag status on many British beaches."


Insurance against civil liability for cars - Rothley Report

British drivers who have accidents in Europe will have access to an efficient system of compensation with information provided in their own language, following a vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Students and other travellers planning European stays of up to one year will also find insurance cover easier to obtain, as, if they want to take their cars with them, insurers will be obliged to provide them with cover.

Car buyers will also gain. If you travel abroad to buy a new or second hand car, your existing insurer will be allowed to provide you with cover for up to 30 days while you bring your purchase home.

Malcolm Harbour said: "This will give British drivers a greater peace of mind when travelling in Europe. This is a good example of the real practical benefits of the Internal Market. The EU should be concentrating on improving the market and helping European consumers instead of pursuing grand plans for further integration."


European Council meeting - Commission and Council Statements

Jonathan Evans MEP renewed calls for the British Prime Minister to hold a referendum on the outcome of the IGC. He said "of course, in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland, the electorate will have their say on the constitution in a referendum. I was also pleased to note that the French Prime Minister, Monsieur Raffarin, said in a statement last week that in France he believed 'it will be necessary to have a referendum to ratify the European Constitution'.

80% of the British people want a say in a referendum on this constitution and yesterday my Party launched a national petition to Parliament demanding this. The fundamental changes in the relationship between the Union and the citizens of Europe proposed in the draft Treaty will not have legitimacy without the consent of the people."



Budget - Pittella, Mulder, Gill Reports

Below is a summary of the main amendments tabled by Conservative MEPs to the 2004 budget:

Tobacco
Commitments and Payments for this budget line in 2003 were both 930 000 000. Conservative MEPs tabled an amendment to the 2004 Budget calling for this to be removed from the budget. The amendment was not supported by the Parliament.

Committee of the Regions
Conservative MEPs tabled an amendment to reduce the travel expenses for Members of the Committee of the Regions.

In the past, there have been inconsistencies with regard to Committee of the Regions Members' travel expenses. These incidents are currently under investigation by OLAF. Until those investigations have been wound up, and any appropriate countermeasures taken the amendment calls for 25% of the proposed appropriations to be placed in reserve. This amendment was accepted.

Reconstruction of Iraq
Conservative MEPs tabled an amendment to increase the amount sets aside for any possible future agreement on humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of Iraq to 500 million. The amendment was rejected by the Parliament.


Plenary Highlights 22-25 September 2003
Plenary Highlights 1-4 September 2003
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