EU Budget - Croatia - Sakharov Prize - US Spying Scandal



The European Ideas Network, an open pan-European think tank, met in Porto Portugal to discuss the transatlantic relations and ideas on how to build a common project for growth and jobs. Prime ministers, ministers, MPs, MEPs, academics, businessmen, representatives of foundation and think tanks contributed to the debates.
Gemma on Hello and thank you for joining us for the EPP TV's rundown of the July plenary session from the European Parliament here in Strasbourg. On Wednesday, Parliament approved the political compromise that was reached last week with the other EU institutions on the Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU's 960 billion euro budget for the next seven years.

Gemma off Tackling youth unemployment and improving lending to Small and Medium sized enterprises are the top priorities.

Van Rompuy on We decided to scale up and speed up the Youth Employment Initiative, so that the money starts flowing as of 1 January 2014. Most of the money will now be spent in 20142015, the years when it is most needed.

Van Rompuy on

Page Peel We made a clear link between this Youth Employment Initiative and the Youth Guarantee – to ensure that within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed, every young person gets a good offer for a job, education or training. We also called for other important actions – for instance promoting crossborder mobility through the EURES and Erasmus+ programmes, including vocational training, as well as high-quality apprenticeships.

Daul on Thanks to the extra ten billion euros Europe granted to the EIB, Europe is also contributing to financing Small and Medium sized enterprises. They are the engines of innovation but don't always have the necessary funding.

Ten billion euros that can generate up to five times the initial amount. This is almost our annual budget and this is only for SMEs Grâce aux dix milliards d'euros supplémentaires accordés à la BEI, l'Europe contribue aussi à financer les petites et moyennes entreprises. Elles sont le creuset d'innovation mais n'ont pas toujours l'argent nécessaire pour se financer.

Dix milliards d'euros qui peuvent générer cinq fois plus, c'est presque notre budget annuel, rien que pour les petites et moyennes entreprises.

Gemma off Parliament also fought hard for flexibility in the new budget. Now, for the first time, unspent money can be re-used from one year to the next. During the negotiations the leaders of the largest political groups refused to sentence the people of Europe to seven years of austerity. They have agreed to a mid-term review in 2016 to take into account the economic situation of the Union at that time.

Gemma off The legally binding vote on the budgetary framework will take place in the Autumn following preparation on 80 other pieces of legislation needed to implement it.

Gemma on The week began with celebrations welcoming Croatia as the 28th Member State of the European Union and with that five MEPs to the European Parliament. And we spoke to one of them, Davor Stier, who took office on 1 July.

Gemma off How does it feel to be the EU's 28th member State? What does it mean for Croatia and the people?

Stier on Well we're certainly very proud and satisfied that we accomplished this strategic goal for Croatia. We wanted to be an independent nation, but also from the very beginning we also said we wanted to be part of unified Europe, we wanted to be free, independent but also free in Europe and we achieved that so finally we are here where we belong.

Gemma off The EPP Group has always supported Croatia's European accession and looks forward to working with it.

Gemma off As the Croatian flag took its place alongside the other 27, it seems the desire to join the EU family continues to increase with Serbia set to begin membership talks in January and Latvia to join the Eurozone as the 18th member next year. The resolution on the adoption of the euro in Latvia was approved by an overwhelming majority in plenary. Members paid tribute to the country's economic, fiscal and financial progress, and its Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis. He brought the country back from the brink of bankruptcy five years ago to 5% economic growth today without any social unrest.

Gemma on Another celebratory moment came during a ceremony in plenary when Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought almost three years after he was awarded it in 2010.

Gemma off He had been unable to collect the prize in Strasbourg following a travel ban that was imposed on him by the Cuban authorities. The laureate has consistently championed the cause of political prisoners through 23 hunger strikes in his fight for freedom in Cuba.

Gemma off Guillermo Fariñas is a psychologist, journalist and former soldier, and the third winner from Cuba to receive the Sakharov. Poignantly he came with his mother who has always been his staunchest supporter. Our reporter, Laura Barrios, asked him what it means to be able to pick up his Sakharov prize in person.

Fariñas on Firstly, I have to say that I never expected to be able to be here so quickly. Sometimes, I thought that my daughter would have to come to collect the prize or another member of my family, because they could kill us at any time, assassinate us, like they did with other Sakharov winners, as I explained in my speech today. I believe it's a commitment to try to be better and to bring democracy to Cuba as quickly as possible without any bloodshed. Lo primero decir que no esperaba en tan poco tiempo poder estar aquí. A veces llegué a pensar que este premio lo iba a recoger mi hija u otro familiar mío porque en cualquier momento nos pueden matar, asesinar, como ha ocurrido con otros premios Sakharov como dije en mi discurso de hoy. Creo que es un compromiso para tratar de ser mejor. y para tratar de llevar la democracia lo más rápido a Cuba sin derramamiento de sangre.

Laura on Are you optimistic about the future of Cuba? ¿Es Optimista respecto al futuro de cuba?

Fariñas on I am optimistic. If I was pessimistic I would have had to become a political refugee and flee from my country. It's important to empower oneself with the feeling that we can oust the government, that even the weakest people can do this. The main thing to be aware of is that we are right, that we are fighting for justice. Yo soy optimista. Ósea, si fuese pesimista hubiese asumido como refugiado político y me hubiese ido de mi país. Aquí lo principal es empoderarse del sentimiento de que nosotros si podemos desbancar al gobierno de su puesto, y sobre todo que eso lo hacen las personas más débiles supuestamente. Porque lo principal es la idea de que tenemos la razón. De que estamos por la justicia.

Gemma on Members were left angry and outraged recently following leaks about the US surveillance system PRISM with which authorities have been accessing and processing personal data of EU citizens via online service providers.
Gemma off The transatlantic partnership, based on respect, and a loyal and equal cooperation, hangs in the balance as Parliament demands answers from the Obama administration.

Voss on We really have to demand very clearly that the United States establish the protection of the rights of our citizens on an equal footing with those of the United States, in the United States, and we should pull out all the stops to ensure that we establish a committee to look into this. Ich erwarte darüber hinaus, dass wir die USA bei dieser Ausgangslage sehr deutlich auffordern, den Rechtsschutz unserer Bürger in den USA mit dem von den US-Bürgern gleichzustellen. Und ich erwarte ferner von uns, dass wir mit unseren Möglichkeiten voranschreiten, dass wir zum einen Untersuchungsausschuss haben.

Gemma off The revelations come just after the EU-US Trade deal was signed to boost growth and create jobs. Now Members have been left reeling with some calling for negotiations on a transatlantic trade agreement to be suspended until they have further clarification.

Gemma off The incident highlights the EPP Group's ongoing plea to speed up work on a new EU data protection legislation. A view shared by Commissioner Viviane Reding.
Reding on Our proposed reform is an important part of the answer to the problems and to the questions because it will guarantee the current high-level of data protection in the EU. It will clarify the territorial application of the law, including all companies operating in the EU. It will have a road definition of personal data and it will clarify the regime of international transfers. It will impose obligations and responsibilities on processors as well as on controllers of data.

Gemma off Coincidentally, new rules to prevent cyber attacks and boost judicial cooperation were due to be approved by Parliament this week. The report, drawn up by Monika Hohlmeier, was adopted and underlines the need for a single framework for penalties and sentences. EU countries are now required to respond to urgent requests for help within eight hours.

Gemma on And as the last plenary session before the Summer break came to an end, the EPP Group commended Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton for a successful Irish Presidency of the EU. During the last six months, it managed to progress 80 legislative measures, and reach a final agreement on the new Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

We'll be back in September with more news on the activities of the largest group in the European Parliament. Until then, take care and thank you for watching.
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  • Ioannis Zografos
    EPP TV Managing Producer
    +32(0) 2 284 18 45