European Parliament plenary session round-up
Stand-up Chris on Hello and welcome to our round-up of the European Parliament's latest plenary session in Strasbourg. The week saw action on the EU budget; financial, farm and consumer reforms, as well as preparations for next year´s parliamentary elections. We begin with the ongoing budget battle.
Chris off With broad support across party lines, the parliament said it would not accept the new 7-year spending plan as it was approved at the last EU summit.
German MEP With such a budget, certain European priorities cannot be financed, and we must say that openly and clearly. It´s not enough, and with it we can´t reach the collective target, spending 3 percent of GDP in Europe for research and development. 1:11 Mit solchem Haushalt bestimmte europaeische Prioritaeten nicht zu finanzieren sind und muss man dann noch offen und klar benennen. Es reicht nicht auss, und das gemeinsame Ziel, 3 Prozent des BNEs auszugeben in Europa fuer Forschung und Entwicklung schaffen wir damit nicht. 01:29
Chris off MEPs say the spending plan for 2014-2020 shortchanges infrastructure projects and other objectives aimed at reaching the 2020 goal of a more competitive and productive European economy. Among their demands - maximum flexibility to transfer unused funds between different categories and years, and the power to fund the EU budget from its own tax revenues.
Chris on The MEPs also took action aimed at averting another financial crisis. The so-called Two Pack measures boost oversight of national budgets, a very sensitive issue to many.
Chris off The Two Pack strengthens the Stability and Growth Pact by adding teeth to enforce budgetary discipline. That includes enhanced surveillance at an early stage, as the EPP rapporteur Jean-Paul Gauzes explains.
Interview Jean-Paul Gauzes, French MEP The provision says the Commission, alerted by some indicators will propose to the Council measures that will restore the balance or restore situations and then a negotiation would ensue between the Commission and the member state or member states considered for specific measures which are likely to allow a recovery. Le dispositif fait que la Commission, alertée par certains indicateurs; va proposer au Conseil des mesures qui permettront de rétablir les équilibres ou de rétablir les situations et ensuite un négociation s´engage entre la Commission et l´etat membre ou les états membres considérés pour mettre au point les dispositifs précis qui sont de nature a permettre le rétablissement de la situation.
Chris off The report by Gauzes says a member state could be asked to seek financial assistance to avert a crisis, though ultimately it is up to that member state to agree.
Chris on Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is also a sensitive issue, as farmers in new member states demand parity in subsidies with the other EU members. The parliament approved a new payment scheme that's to be more equitable and earth-friendlier.
Chris off The plan calls for more equally distributed direct payments from a CAP totalling about 40% of the EU budget, or about 370 billion euros. It also makes ecological measures, or so-called greening of agriculture, obligatory but flexible by exempting younger and small farmers.
Speech Mairead McGinnis, Irish MEP Those of us in the negotiating teams have worked diligently to reflect the issues of concern. So, on direct payments we have attempted to target greening measures to where they will have a real effect. We have decided on a more realistic introduction of ecological focus areas to reflect farming realities. We have worked for results, not news headlines. PPE 00:02:39 16:09:08 16:11:48
Chris off The goal is a less bureaucratic agricultural policy for Europe's 14 million farmers that still ensures food safety, affordable prices and sustainability.
Chris on Next up, a consumer reform that could make it a lot more attractive to shop across borders within Europe. It's called online dispute resolution.
Chris off The reform removes a key barrier to Europe's single market. If consumers dispute a purchase online, how do they get their money back without hiring a lawyer? Roza Thun is the EPP Group's rapporteur of the measure for Online Dispute Resolution or ODR, approved by the parliament.
Interview Roza von Thun und Hohenstein, Polish MEP 01:17
In case of a problem, they have this platform ODR that will translate the documents for us, that will contact the other party for you, and that will quickly solve your problem. But this is also important for the business. Because on the business side they can also use this platform of course in case they were not paid for example.
Chris off The platform, to be set up by the European Commission, will be accessible on the Your Europe portal. That's europa.eu/youreurope.
Chris on The European Parliament elections are just a year away, and in preparation, the parliament had to reallocate the seats. Not an easy task, especially when it's a zero-sum game.
Chris off Thanks to Croatia's accession to the EU coming in July, and because of changes under the Lisbon Treaty, the parliament had to decide where to cut seats to accommodate. The compromise solution is based on the principle "no one gains, no one loses more than one seat." Except for Germany, which loses three seats. Rafal Trzaskowski of the EPP Group is co-rapporteur, and has bigger plans for later.
Speech Rafal Trzaskowski,
Polish MEP My view is that we can only have a radical solution in conjunction with other institutional reforms; most importantly, with the weighting of votes in the Council, which is not now up for discussion. We will however – and I can promise you that – come back to that issue in the near future, when maybe we can have a system which is a little bit more far reaching.
Chris off The parliament has 754 seats and is to swell to 766 temporarily when Croatia joins. In the long run, the Lisbon Treaty limits the number to 751 members including the parliament president.
Chris on More on elections, this time in Venezuela. After the death of Socialist President Hugo Chavez, the government plans snap elections next month. Members of the opposition visiting here wonder just how fair such a vote will be.
Chris off The Venezuelan opposition that met with EPP MEPs gave a sobering account of the situation back home. Dinorah Figuera, head of the Primero de Justicia faction in the Venezuelan parliament, asked for their support to play as watchdogs in the run-up to the vote.
Speech Dinorah Figuera, leader Primero de Justicia faction We ask the EPP group to be observers in this process that is taking place in Venezuela. Be witnesses of an electoral process that risks being manipulated. And that without any doubt, the presence of different parliamentarians from different parties will possibly be the opportunity to have cleaner elections or with more guarantees. Queremos solicitarle a este grupo parlamentario de Partido Popular ser valedores de este proceso que se está librando en Venezuela. Ser testigos de un proceso electoral que se prevee amañado, y que sin duda alguna, la representación de los diferentes diputados de diferentes partidos va a ser posiblemente la oportunidad de tener unas elecciones más limpias o con mayores garantias.
Chris off The EPP is considering the possibility of sending monitors to the election as it had in previous votes in Venezuela
Stand-up Chris on That´s all for now from Strasbourg, see you next week in Brussels. And find out more about the activities of the largest political force in parliament by checking EPPgroup.eu.
Until next time, thanks for watching!
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