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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 (12 - 15 January 2004)


Transfer of Cargo and Passenger Ships between Registers - Poignant Report

Following a campaign by Conservative MEPs, the Parliament voted against a controversial amendment which would have seen the EU flag placed in the corner of the Red Ensign that is flown by British-registered ships. The original aim of the proposal was to eliminate technical barriers to the transfer of ships between the registers of the Member States while ensuring a high level of ship safety and environmental protection in accordance with international conventions.

Jacqueline Foster MEP said: "The proposal to replace the Red Ensign with the European flag was yet another attempt to force the EU identity onto Member States. There was no justification for the compulsory display of the EU symbol on the Red Ensign - it would not have enhanced security or ease of identification. Hundreds of years of maritime tradition were under threat, and I am delighted that Britain's merchant fleet can continue to proudly fly the historic Red Ensign."


Illegal Trade in Bushmeat - De Rossa Reports

The Parliament voted in favour of a petition signed by 1.9 million people calling for a ban on the import of bushmeat, mainly of gorilla and chimpanzee origin, into Europe. Hunting of such meat is illegal in most of Africa but there is strong evidence that such hunting is on the increase. Dangerous diseases could be carried in the meat.

Roy Perry MEP said: "The EU must try to remove endangered species from the human food chain and develop alternatives to hunting endangered species for food. European development aid strategies must now take account of this urgent issue. A strategic action plan is needed that involves all concerned, from local populations to governments and the private sector.

There is a strong possibility that diseases that are widespread in parts of Africa could spread to Europe through the illegal smuggling of bushmeat. There is European legislation against such imports, but the British Government needs to be more determined to ensure that these rules are strictly enforced."



Detergents - Nobilia Report

Parliament supported this report which aims to remove obstacles to the trading of detergents in the single market. Plans include shortening and grouping together the list of substances to be labelled in order to make them easier for consumers to recognise. In addition, not just enzymes and disinfectants should be labelled, but also preservatives, perfumes and optical brighteners. A complete list of added substances should be published on the internet and should also be available from the manufacturer.


Irish Presidency - President's statement

Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taisoeach and President of the Council, was in Strasbourg to outline the programme of the Irish Presidency. Mr Ahern emphasised the importance they are attaching to the EU Constitution. The Irish Presidency is determined to make further progress on the Constitution in order to have the proposals ready for the March EU Council. Mr Ahern said that any delay would damage credibility and weaken standing, and maintained that the Constitution is their highest priority.

Jonathan Evans MEP said: "The draft Constitution is moving the EU in the wrong direction. The aspirations of the Laeken Summit two years ago, when Heads of Government expressed the hope that the Constitution would bring the Union closer to its citizens, have singularly failed to materialise.

Grandiose constitutional schemes are no substitute for tackling the real problems facing our peoples. The Irish Presidency should use the coming months to think afresh about the need for this or any Constitution."



Hedge Funds - Purvis Report

The Parliament voted in favour of new proposals to introduce an EU-wide passport for hedge funds. Under the plans, a special EU-wide regulatory regime will be set up to accommodate sophisticated alternative investment vehicles (SAIVs) which will include hedge funds and funds investing in property, currencies and commodities. This will encourage hedge funds to reside in the EU instead of offshore tax and regulatory havens, as is often the case at present.

John Purvis MEP said: "It is vital that we encourage hedge funds into the EU. These new rules will go some way to coaxing investors back onshore and into a more supervised environment. Sophisticated investors will have an alternative way of investing at a reasonable level of regulation.

The current absence of a single regulatory market and the imposition of discriminatory taxes on hedge funds is clearly a deterrent to investors. A new EU-wide passport will give reassurance, whilst ensuring investors fully understand the risks they are taking in pursuit of the returns such funds can offer."



Zimbabwe - Motion for Resolution

The Parliament adopted a tough resolution on Zimbabwe calling on the European Council to renew and extend EU sanctions against the Mugabe regime when they expire on 20th February. The resolution demanded tougher EU action against the ZANU-PF regime as well as concerted African pressure on Mugabe.

Geoffrey Van Orden said: "Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies have systematically pillaged and brutalised the once prosperous country of Zimbabwe, brought lawlessness and starvation on its people, and forced so many of them to live in fear and desperation. Conditions in Zimbabwe are now spiralling out of control.

This House has previously called for more effective action by the Council on six separate occasions. To date, the Council has failed to heed these calls. Now we are insisting yet again - not just on the renewal of EU targeted sanctions when they expire on 20th February, but on the introduction of tough new measures."



  Plenary Highlights 17-20 November 2003
  "Mini" Plenary Highlights 5-6 November 2003
  Plenary Highlights 20-23 October 2003
  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