Strasbourg Flash Weekly preview of the Greens/EFA group - 10-14 December 2012
EP priorities (full text below):
- EU budget 2012-2013: bad deal for Europe (Mon., Weds.)
- Controversial EU-Latin American free trade agreement (Mon., Tues.)
- Wrongheaded EU patent system (Tues., Weds.)
- Airport noise and working conditions (Tues., Weds.)
- Financial transaction tax: ball rolling (Tues., Weds.)
- Animal transport and welfare (Tues., Weds.)
- Addressing fundamental rights in the EU (Tues. - Thurs.)
- EU summit and the continuing crisis (Weds. - Fri.)
- EU-Russia agreement, rights and democracy (Weds., Thurs.)
- Human rights and EU policy (Weds., Thurs.)
- Israeli settlements: a barrier to peace (Weds., Thurs.)
- Press briefing with Greens/EFA co-presidents (Tues.)
- Opposing the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon (press conference, Tues.)
EU budget 2012-2013: bad deal for Europe
Mon. 10 Dec. - Committee vote; Plenary vote Weds.
A draft agreement on the EU's 2013 budget and provisions to cover shortfalls under the 2012 budget looks set to be endorsed by the European Parliament, following an indicative vote in the budget committee. The vote will have to be confirmed in the committee and in a plenary vote on Wednesday, with the deal having been endorsed by Council. The Greens have criticised the draft agreement. While it has improved on the original Council position, it both fail to bridge the shortfalls under the 2012 budget and continue the trend of under-budgeting for 2013. (see latest press release)
Controversial EU-Latin American free trade agreement
Mon. 10 Dec. - EP plenary debate; vote Tues. (David report)
The EU Parliament will decide whether or not to endorse a controversial draft EU free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru. The agreement has provoked strong opposition due to concerns that it would negatively impact on the development of the two Latin American countries. The FTA would further expand the export of raw materials from Peru and Colombia, without taking into account social and environmental concerns, and place business interests ahead of human rights. The Greens will be urging other groups to reject the agreement. (click for press release)
Wrongheaded EU patent system
Tues. 11 Dec. - EP plenary debate; votes Weds. (various reports)
The long-debated unitary European patent will be voted on by MEPs. With major uncertainty about the legal compatibility of the legislative proposals under the EU Treaty, the Greens believe the EP should wait until an anticipated opinion by the EU Court of Justice's Advocate General before voting. The group has major concerns about EU institutions delegating powers on intellectual property to a non-EU organisation: the European Patent Office. The Greens also believe there is need to clearly prevent the patenting of life forms and respect EU decisions against software patents.
Airport noise and working conditions
Tues. 11 Dec. - EP plenary debate; vote Weds. (various reports)
EU rules dealing with airports, including noise restrictions and working conditions for groundstaff, will be voted on by MEPs. The Greens welcomed the transport committee vote to oppose the liberalisation of groundhandling services due to concerns about employment conditions. However, the group is concerned that the legislative proposals on airport noise would open the door for the EU Commission to overrule noise-related restrictions introduced in local and regional airports in favour of more airport capacity. (see latest press release)
Financial transaction tax: ball rolling
Tues. 11 Dec. - EP plenary debate; vote Weds. (Podimata report)
Proposals launching an enhanced cooperation procedure for introducing a financial transaction tax for an initial group of 11 EU member states will be voted on by MEPs. The Greens have long advocated an FTT both to help curb risky financial speculation and generate much-needed revenue from an under-taxed financial sector for pressured exchequers. This enhanced cooperation is a first step. Ideally, the FTT should apply in the EU as a whole but the task at hand is now to move forward with this coalition of the willing and hopefully convince other member states to join at a later date. (see latest press release)
Animal transport and welfare
Tues. 11 Dec. - EP plenary debate; vote Weds. (Wojciechowski report)
MEPs will vote on a report on the controversial issue of animal transport. Long distance transport of animals, often in poor conditions, leads to distress for the animals involved. The Greens believe current EU legislation needs to be improved and support calls to limit journey times to 8 hours. The report adopted by the agriculture committee was ambiguous on this key issue and the Greens are looking to include clear language on an 8 hour limit. The group also believes there is a need for less crowded transporting conditions and better protection for wounded animals. (see more information)
EU summit and the continuing crisis
Weds. 12 Dec. - EP plenary debate; European Council Thurs. - Fri.
EU leaders will meet to agree on plans for deepening the EU's economic and monetary union, with a plenary debate on the summit the day before. As at every previous step, it seems EU governments - led by Germany - will stay a step behind the game. The Eurozone needs to take urgent steps towards mutualising sovereign debt (such as through a debt redemption) to turn the corner on the crisis. EU leaders will also discuss plans for an EU 'banking union', with the Greens believing banking supervision plans need to be made more democratic and to better reflect the diversity in banking models. (see latest press release on banking legislation)
Addressing fundamental rights in the EU
Tues. - Thurs. 11-13 Dec. - EP plenary debates and votes (Zdanoka, Benova reports)
Two important reports on fundamental rights in the EU will be voted by MEPs. The report by Greens/EFA MEP Tatjana Zdanoka on the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency is overshadowed by the UK government blocking the adoption of a multiannual framework for the agency. The group condemns this populist opportunism. While supporting the annual report on fundamental rights in the EU, the Greens believe the exercise is insufficient. The group is in favour of finally creating a proper monitoring instrument on fundamental rights, including country-by-country reporting.
EU-Russia agreement, rights and democracy
Weds. 12 Dec. - EP plenary debate; vote Thurs. (Swoboda report)
With negotiations on a new EU-Russia agreement ongoing, MEPs will vote on a report setting out the EP position. In its eagerness to reach an agreement with Russia, for economic and strategic reasons, the EU is unfortunately all too ready to ignore major concerns with the Putin regime, which conflict with basic EU values. As the recent parliamentary elections revealed, Russia still fails to respect democratic norms. The rule of law and human rights also remain major problems, with high profile cases like those of Mikhail Khordorkovsky and Pussy Riot underlining this.
Human rights and EU policy
Weds. 12 Dec. - EP plenary debate; vote Thurs. (Tavares report)
MEPs are set to vote on a report by Green MEP Rui Tavares on the EU's human rights action plan and strategic framework. The report makes strategic recommendations for an EU human rights policy which takes into account the effects of the current economic crisis and its influence on the perceived political clout of the EU in the world. The report also critically comments on the lack of cooperation and integration between the services of the main EU institutions in the human rights area, as well as making recommendations on how the EP works on human rights.
Israeli settlements: a barrier to peace
Weds. 12 Dec. - EP plenary debate; vote Thurs.
With the Israeli government having decided to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, MEPs are set to debate the issue and the EU's response with the EU foreign policy high representative and adopt a resolution. Expanding these settlements, as proposed by the Israeli government, is illegal under international law. With a halt to settlement expansion a precondition for resuming peace talks, the decision by the Israeli government is a direct act of provocation, which flies in the face of regional peace. The EU and its member states must unite in opposing this act of aggression.
Co-presidents press briefing
Tues. 11 Dec. – 10.30-10.50, European Parliament press room
Press briefing with Greens/EFA co-presidents Dany Cohn-Bendit and Rebecca Harms on the key issues of the plenary session for the Greens/EFA group. Livestreamed at: http://greenmediabox.eu/live/pressbriefing/
Opposing the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon
Tues. 11 Dec. – 11.30-12.00, European Parliament press room
Press conference on the controversial Belo Monte dam in the Amazon with Green MEPs Catherine Grèze and Eva Joly, and local activist Cacique Raoni.