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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 (2-7 September 2002)

Packaging and Packaging Waste - Corbey Report

Conservative MEPs voted in favour of a report that tackles the EU's growing mountain of packaging waste.

The Corbey report calls on packaging waste to be cut by 10% from 1998 levels. It aims to make sure that by 2006 new packaging is only placed on the market if manufacturers have taken the necessary measures to minimise its environmental impact.

John Bowis MEP said: "We all want to see a reduction in the amount of packaging waste. However, 2006 is an unrealistic date for many Member States, including the UK. Too much haste will be counterproductive, putting at risk the stability of the UK's waste management sector. While we accept that the UK has lacked urgency in the past, present increased efforts could be ruined by pushing too far, too fast."

Poverty Eradication and Food Security - Deva Report

Conservative MEPs voted in favour of the Deva Report, that calls for a radical rethink on how development aid is distributed.

The Report recognises the need for 'capacity building', that is to enable countries to deal with capital inflow through the establishment of properly functioning judicial systems, small claims courts and the protection of property ownership and rights. The Deva Report favours a move away from the current laissez-faire approach to development aid to a more structured process where money is specifically targeted towards key areas with international business as the motor for beneficial change. Some of the Report's main themes include: calls for an open, rules-based, non-discriminatory and equitable trading system, cancelling the debt of the least developed countries and taking concrete action against EU based firms, brokers and individuals involved in the illegal trading of diamonds, gold and oil.

Nirj Deva MEP "This report will radically change the way that the EU distributes aid and development. Global National corporations who are at present outside the development process can now be brought along with MEPs and Members of National Parliaments so that a triumvirate can instil good governance by consensus. It is a radical new way of developing the world."

Plant proteins - Stevenson report

Conservative MEPS voted in favour of the Stevenson Report that seeks ideas for increasing European production of animal feed and plant proteins.

There is, at the moment, a 35 million tonne animal feed deficit, due to the continuing EU ban on meat and bone meal. Stevenson called for incentives and financial support to stimulate domestic production. Production, he put forward, could be boosted through the use of fallow land, while increased research could identify new crops rich in protein.

The Report also called for extra aid to be made available to support the cropping of proteins such as beans and peas.

Single European Sky - Fava Report, Sanders-Ten Holte Report

Conservative MEPs adopted the following position when voting on the debates on Single European Sky this week in Strasbourg:

Air passengers cannot continue to be subjected to the current intolerable delays across Europe. Doing nothing is not an option and the delays cost the aviation industry 4 Billion a year. But current proposals could result in a duplication of regulatory efforts and measures aimed at either Community Member States or at the full Eurocontrol Membership, which presently covers 31 countries. Even worse, there is still a real danger of damaging or destroying existing pan-European systems, solely because they need to be addressed 'all of a sudden' in the EU context. This relates particularly to the Commission proposal to recreate the Eurocontrol Route charges and Central Flow Management Systems.

The establishment of an Industry Consultation Body also represents an unnecessary duplication of the existing system. It is our duty to look beyond our borders and create meaningful and effective actions and measures to improve the safety, efficiency and economics of Air Traffic Management, which will not lead to a two-tier system.

In addition we cannot ignore the genuine concerns of many Member States regarding the military dimensions of Single Sky nor the sovereignty issue. 44% of delays and 30 bottlenecks were concentrated in sectors straddling North and South including Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain and parts of Germany it is therefore inappropriate to use Eurocontrol as a 'Scapegoat'. A 'Single Sky' will not solve our congestion problems if these Member States and Switzerland do not make a concerted effort to address their specific shortcomings.

Civil Aviation - Simpson Report

Conservative MEPs voted in favour of the simpson Report that maintains that the Commission is failing to provide stricter safety measures in civil aviation.The Report states that the Commission is failing to specify in sufficient detail the minimum standards on flight duty and rest times for pilots and other cabin crew. The Report proposed an amendment to fully cover the issue of duty and rest times for both cockpit and cabin crew, restricting the flight duty period to 13 hours or to 11 hours 45 minutes when the duty period is between 22.00hrs and 04.58hrs. This amendment had the full support of the Association of European Airlines.

Jacqueline Foster MEP (Transport Spokesman): "There are going to be EU-wide flight time limitations, but this will not have an adverse effect in the UK as we already have a very strong Civil Aviation Authority regulator."

Sales Promotions - Beysen Report

Conservative MEPs voted in favour of the Beysen Report to end a multitude of restrictive and outdated laws controlling consumer offers across the 15 Member States.

In Germany for example, a 2 for the price of 1 offer cannot be advertised. In Belgium, stores can only have 4 sales per year. In a number of countries, the maximum discount is capped at a low level. The Commission regulation is simple and effective. It proposes that sales promotion practices allowed in any Member State will be legal across the EU. The regulation will come into force as soon as it is adopted. However, Parliaments strong endorsement of the package has allowed the Commission to push for a compromise. Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein has publicly acclaimed Parliaments role, saying that the Legal Affairs Committee has 'come to the rescue of the Internal Market'.

A key stumbling block has been the issue of bans on 'sales below cost', which are considered to help small business by some countries. This element of the package is deferred pending an extensive study to assess the true consumer and economic impact of such a rule.

Malcolm Harbour MEP said "This regulation removes a huge network of red tape that has for years imposed arbitrary restrictions on consumer offers. The new regulation will prevent Member States from banning sales promotions that are already legal in another Member State. Now, the best deals in one country will be available to everyone. Business can concentrate on product and marketing innovations, and no longer needs to worry about complying with 15 different sets of rules. Consumers will benefit from better offers and better information. Clearer labelling and transparency about 'money-off' deals will help them exercise their shopping rights of free choice in a single European market".

Citizenship of the Union - Coelho Report

Conservative MEPs voted against The Coelho Report on citizenship of the European Union.

This report took the overall view that establishing European citizenship is important in creating a sense of adhering to a set of common democratic values and of being involved in the processes of the European Union. Coelho added that European citizenship isn't a substitute but rather a supplement to national citizenship through recognition of a set of rights common to all European citizens. Under the EU treaties, there already is a title for citizenship of Europe, but only that which confirms the citizenship of a Member State, and not of Europe itself.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP (Citizen's Freedoms Spokesman) said : "We think that this is an ill-timed report which tries to move the discussion forward beyond what the representatives and the people themselves want. We believe that it should come about as a result of one's citizenship of a member state, and not of Europe. We are all of course "Europeans" but most people would not recognise an actual citizenship of Europe as being superior to the citizenship of their own country. We want to make them more caring and interested in the communities in their own nation states rather than create an artificial right, as the Report seems to be suggesting."

Urgency on Zimbabwe

An urgency on Zimbabwe was tabled this week by Geoffrey Van Orden MEP. Mr Van Orden's joint resolution called on:

the G8 Countries to join with those that are EU Member States in imposing financial and other targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe
The EU to immediately take firm and meaningful steps in order to extend its sanctions and insists that the travel ban and other EU measures against the Mugabe regime is rigorously enforced
South African President Mbeki to demand fresh presidential elections in Zimbabwe under international supervision
The European Council to report to the European Parliament at the earliest opportunity on the results of its missions to the Southern African region and on the measures that it proposes to take in order to make international action against the Mugabe Regime

Geoffrey Van Orden "At present the EU's travel ban on the Mugabe regime is being flouted, most notably by Zimbabwean Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, who has recently attended meetings of the Executive Committee of Interpol in Lyon, France. Chihuri's presence in an EU Member State is doubly offensive, firstly as blatant defiance of the EU's sanctions and secondly in that the police force that he commands is an instrument for the oppression of the people of Zimbabwe, while it is alleged that Chihuri himself has corruptly benefited from Mugabe's land seizure policies.

The EU travel ban against the Mugabe regime must be rigorously enforced, and it is now time for South African President Thabo Mbeki to take a lead in southern Africa and bring pressure to bear on Zimbabwe. We want him to impose regional targeted sanctions, and to demand fresh presidential elections in Zimbabwe under international supervision."

Plenary Highlights 8-12 April 2002