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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 (4th - 7th July 2005)

Main Events of the Session:

Euro comunication strategy

Parliament adopted the Maaten report which says that those who oppose the euro do so because they haven't been sufficiently well informed about it.

The report, dealing with the communication strategy for the single currency, makes this claim despite the EU having already spent some €280 million of taxpayers' money on the strategy from 1996 to 2002 alone, with national governments spending more on top of this. The report calls for an increase of funding for the strategy.

Timothy Kirkhope, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, said: "The idea that people are against the euro because they aren't well enough informed is simply fatuous.

"That kind of condescending attitude is what turns people off the EU. If the public are unhappy with the euro, it's because it doesn't work for them.

"Instead of ploughing yet more money into a communications strategy, the EU should be trying to get the basics right - structural reform, competitiveness and an effective Stability and Growth Pact.

"British businesses have a competitive edge because we are outside the eurozone. They don't want to be won over. They know what they want, and they want to keep the pound."

Software Patents

MEPs rejected the controversial draft directive on software patents after the three largest political groups in the Parliament all came out against the proposal.

The vote means that software companies and developers will still be able to register patents but will have no assurance that patents will be granted on the same basis across the European Union.

Malcolm Harbour, who has followed the vigorous debate on the issue as a member of the Legal Affairs committee, said: "It is clear that the Parliament and the Council will not be able to reach a balanced solution on such a controversial issue.

"Certainty and clarity is essential in the area of patent law. The directive as presented to Parliament offered neither. "The fact that the Commission will not come back to Parliament with a new proposal suggests that the rejected directive is not considered to be indispensable. Throwing it out now is much better than ending up with flawed and damaging legislation."

European Fisheries fund

EU money earmarked for regions hit by fishing restrictions may now be used by Mediterranean countries to expand their fleets, putting yet more pressure on Europe's dwindling fish stocks, Struan Stevenson MEP said today.

Mr Stevenson's warning came as the European Parliament adopted amendments tabled by MEPs from some southern European countries calling for the fund's resources to be channelled into new vessels, refits and better equipment. The idea behind the new European Fisheries Fund (EFF) is to support communities in regions under threat from stock recovery restrictions.

Mr Stevenson, formerly the chairman of the Parliament's fisheries committee, said: "What began as a sensible set of proposals which would have allocated CFP funding to struggling fishing communities has become an opportunity for some EU countries to boost their fleets with new vessels.

"Fisheries funding should be used to allow fishermen to adjust in areas where the EU is imposing restrictions on fishermen in an effort to allow the levels of fish stocks to recover.

"When I was Chairman of the Fisheries Committee in the last parliamentary term, the Council and the Commission agreed that there would be no fleet expansion. Just six months into the reformed CFP, some southern EU states are trying to unpick the deal.

"This vote will mean British taxpayers forking out for Mediterranean fishermen to upgrade their fleets so that they catch even more fish and deplete fish stocks even more. It is sadly symbolic of the absurdity of the CFP.

"Britain has cut back its whitefish fleet by 50 per cent. The government has paid British fishermen to scrap state-of-the-art trawlers. It's outrageous that some countries think they're immune from common rules."

Making Poverty History

Parliament adopted the Joint Resolution on 'Making poverty History' on Wednesday. However, Nirj Deva, Conservative Development Spokesman in the European parliament said that increasing development aid to Africa would do little to make poverty history unless Africans themselves take the lead in meeting the challenges facing their continent.

Mr Deva, the Parliament's rapporteur for the EU's €7 billion development budget - which the Parliament has total control over - said he supported the British Government's focus on tackling poverty during the presidencies of the EU and G8.

Mr Deva said: "For years the developed world has been pouring money into Africa but it has done little good. Instead it has encouraged corrupt and authoritarian regimes which have entrenched poverty and abused human rights.

"Africa will never make poverty history unless its leaders take primary responsibility for the task. That means linking development aid to better governance. For too long the developed world has assumed a unique responsibility for solving Africa's problems. That, to me, smacks too much of neo-colonialism.

"I welcome the British Government's commitment to this issue but I question the wisdom of simply throwing more money at Africa without a working partnership for eliminating corruption, theft and waste.

"Why have Mr Blair and Mr Brown not sat at a table with all the leaders of Africa to discuss the way forward before committing more money? A quid pro quo is now necessary before the cheques arrive."

"I salute Sir Bob Geldof and those behind 'Live 8'. They have set the world alight and created a climate for positive change. That change must embrace the leaders of Africa in partnership."


Geoffrey Van Orden, Conservative Human Rights Spokesman in the European Parliament, called on British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to use Britain's presidency of the EU to take tougher measures against the tyranny and wanton abuses of human rights of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.

Mr Van Orden's comments, made in a letter to the Foreign Secretary, came as MEPs supported a resolution on the issue on Thursday.

Mr Van Orden, who leads the Parliament's campaign against the Mugabe regime, said:

"The situation in Zimbabwe is desperate and deteriorating. Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless by Mugabe's latest act of brutality and there is now a serious risk of the spread of disease. Africa is at the top of the EU and G8 political agenda. 'Live 8' has drawn further attention to the need, not just for aid, debt relief and fair trade, but also good governance. The attitude of African governments to Zimbabwe is the litmus test of their commitment to good governance.

"I urged the Foreign Secretary to get South African President Thabo Mbeki to intervene to bring about change in Zimbabwe.

"The British Government has a particular responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe and the UK Presidency of the EU is an opportunity to exercise leadership on this issue."

Security of Electricity Supply

Power blackouts across the European Union could be a thing of the past following Parliament's adoption of a directive aimed at long-term security of electricity supply across Europe.

Giles Chichester, Chairman of the Industry Committee, is the author of Parliament's report on the directive. The report sets out the roles and responsibilities of all sectors of the energy industry, including electricity supply companies, transmission systems and consumers.

Member States would be responsible for clearly defining roles and responsibilities in the industry to ensure a dependable long-term electricity supply.

Member States would also be required to submit reports to the Commission setting out their existing supply capacity and accounting for anticipated demand.

Mr Chichester said: "This is all about keeping the lights on in the future. If we are to avoid blackouts, rationing and other disruptions to supply, we must clearly establish who does what and where the responsibilities lie for creating, transmitting and supplying electricity. My report establishes that framework.

"The fact that we have got the agreement of the Council and the Commission so early on means that this directive should come into force immediately.

"The argument that a liberalised electricity market leads to less security of supply is wrong. Britain pioneered a privatised and open energy market under a Conservative Government in the late 1980s. Other countries would do well to take a leaf out of our book. Even the Greens acknowledge that the UK has one of the world's most competitive energy markets and secure supply structures.

"It is now for EU leaders to consider the ways in which Europe should meet future electricity demand. This is an urgent matter which should not continually be postponed. Nuclear energy has a significant part to play in meeting the challenges of the future and I look to Tony Blair to provide leadership in the UK on this issue instead of vacillating."

Votes this week

Daul - Potato Cyst Nemotodes
Adopted - Conservatives against

Costa - Protocol to Agreement on Maritime Transport with China
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Florenz - African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Wallis - Request for the defence of the immunity and privileges of Mr. Bossi (I)
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Lehne - Request for waiver of the immunity of Mr. Mote
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Trakatellis - Phthalates in toys and childcare articles
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Chichester - Security of electricity supply and infrastructure investment
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Wallis - Request for the defence of the immunity and privileges of Mr. Bossi (II)
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Speroni - Request for the defence of the immunity and privileges of Mr. Marchiani
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Lauk - 2004 Annual Report - ECB
Rejected - Conservatives abstained

Maaten - Communication strategy on the euro
Adopted - Conservatives against

Myller - EU technologies action plan
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Mavrommatis - Exploitation and child labour in developing countries
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Barσn Crespo - UN: approval of vehicles with regard to the protection of occupants in the event of collisions
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - Hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Rocard - Patentability of computer-implemented inventions
Rejected - Conservatives rejected common position

Blokland - European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Hatzidakis - ERDF, ESF and Cohesion Fund
Adopted - Conservatives abstained

Fava - European Regional Development Fund
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Olbrycht - European grouping of cross-border cooperation
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Andria - Cohesion Fund
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Silva Peneda - European Social Fund
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Casa - European Fisheries Fund
Adopted - Conservatives against

Niebler - Equal opportunities in employment and work
Adopted - Conservatives against

Blokland - Conclusion of UN-ECE Protocol
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Wallis - The law applicable to non-contractual obligations ('ROME II')
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Pitella - Conciliation procedure (2006 budget)
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Bozkurt - The role of women in Turkey
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Dimitrakopoulos - EU/Iraq - a framework for engagement
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - Global call to action against poverty
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Duarte Freitas - Agriculture in the outermost regions of the Union
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Moraes - Basic salaries and allowances for Europol staff
Referred back to committee - Conservatives supported committee motion

Isler Bιguin - Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+)
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Kirkhope - EU and EC-Switzerland Agreement (asylum request and Schengen}
Both parts referred back to committee - Conservatives supported committee motion

In t' Veld - Agreement between the EC and Canada on Advance Passenger Information (API)
Referred back to committee - Conservatives against committee motion

Resolution - Belarus
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - The Balkans
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - Relation between the EU, China Taiwan
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - A world without landmines
Adopted - Conservatives abstained

Zimmer - Impact of lending by the EC in developing countries
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - Forest Law Enforcement
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Kauppi - Clearing settlement in the EU
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - Bulgaria and Romania
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Rule 115 - Resolution - Zimbabwe
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - Guatemala
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Resolution - Ethiopia
Adopted - Conservatives in favour

Saοfi - Textiles and clothing after 2005
Vote postponed until September 2005

Party Watch - where different from Conservatives

(+) Maaten - Communication strategy on the euro (A6-0197/2005)
(+) Hatzidakis - ERDF, ESF and Cohesion Fund (A6-0177/2005)

Liberal Democrats
(+) Maaten - Communication strategy on the euro (A6-0197/2005)
(+) Hatzidakis - ERDF, ESF and Cohesion Fund (A6-0177/2005)
(+) Casa - European Fisheries Fund (A6-0217/2005)

(-) Florenz - EC-Switzerland Agreement (A6-0088/2005)
(-) Daul - International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (A6-0052/2005)
(0) Resolution - McCartney Family (RC-B6-0281/2005)
(-) Gargani - Foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses (A6-0110/2005)
(-) Wojciechowski - Potato starch quotas (A6-0096/2005)
(-) Resolution - 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War (B6-0290/2005)
(-) Moreno Sαnchez - Doha Development Agenda (A6-0095/2005)
(-) Herrero-Tejedor - EU information and communication strategy (A6-0111/2005)
(-) Rule 115 - Resolution - Togo (RC - B6-0282/2005)
(0) Rule 115 - Resolution - Burma/Myanmar (RC - B6-0284/2005)

•  Plenary Highlights 9 - 12 May 2005
•  "Mini" Plenary Highlights 25th & 26th April 2005
•  Plenary Highlights 7 - 10 March 2005
•  Plenary Highlights 10 - 13 January 2005
•  Plenary Highlights 15 - 18 November 2004
•  "Mini" Plenary Highlights 13 - 14 October 2004
•  Plenary Highlights 13-16 September 2004
•  Plenary Highlights 29 March - 1 April 2004
•  "Mini" Plenary Highlights 25-26 February 2004
•  Plenary Highlights 9-12 February 2004
•  "Mini" Plenary Highlights 28-29 January 2004
•  Plenary Highlights 12-15 January 2004
•  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