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Greens/EFA Round-up

Debriefing der Straßburgwoche vom 12.-15. Dezember 2011


EU-Morocco fisheries partnership agreement

Joint debate - Non legislative report and oral question with resolution
Committee on Fisheries
Plenary debate Monday 12 December - vote Wednesday 14 December 2011

The EU Commission was seeking to renew the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement which has allowed EU registered boats to continue fishing in Western Saharan waters, even though this territory has been under illegal occupation by Morocco since the 1970s. The government of Morocco has no right to sell the resources of Western Sahara under international law without consulting the local population and proving that it would be to their benefit.  Thus far, Morocco has failed to do either. 

The Greens/EFA group had previously tried to refer the agreement to the European Court of Justice but was unsuccessful. With the previous agreement having expired in February, the Commission had proposed a temporary extension. However, this shameful renewal was rejected by the European Parliament on Wednesday and the Commission will now have to come forward with a fresh proposal.

Further information: 
Michael Earle, Greens/EFA adviser on Fisheries, michael.earle@europarl.europa.eu

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Revision of the multiannual financial framework to address additional financing needs of the ITER project

Report - Interinstitutional agreement procedure
Committee on Budgets
Plenary debate Monday 12 December - vote Tuesday 13 December 2011

The European Parliament voted to approve an agreement between the EP and Council, under which €1.3 billion of the budget overrun for the ITER nuclear fusion project will be funded from the EU budget in 2012-13.

Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, a qualified majority of the EP voted in favour of the ITER surplus (581 votes in favour, 102 against and 16 abstentions). The Greens strongly criticised the deal and voted against.

The Greens think that public funds should be instead used to develop safe and sustainable energy technologies - like renewables and energy efficiency - that can deliver now. Nuclear fusion is a technology that will not be commercially-viable before 2050, if ever.

Further information:
Roccu Garoby, Greens/EFA advisor on Multiannual Financial Framework, roccu.garoby@europarl.europa.eu
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 Single application procedure for residence and work

Legislative report - 2nd reading
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Plenary debate Monday 12 December - vote Tuesday 13 December 2011

The proposed Single European Work Permit directive introduces a procedure to facilitate nationals from outside the EU applying for work and residency permits in the EU state that they have already been admitted to.  At the moment, this process is overly complicated, with two separate procedures in some member states causing confusion for those applying.  The proposals were adopted by the Parliament on its second reading on Monday and the Greens/EFA group welcomed the positive step forward that removes a layer of administrative confusion. They also welcomed the important equality aspects of the proposal that will grant the same rights to all workers in relation to pay and training.

Further information:
Christine Sidenius, Greens/EFA Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, christine.sidenius@europarl.europa.eu

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Right to information in criminal proceedings

Legislative report
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Plenary debate Monday 12 December - vote Tuesday 13 December 2011

MEPs endorsed a legislative agreement on the directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings. The directive is the so called 'B measure' of the 'roadmap for strengthening procedural rights of suspected or accused persons in criminal proceedings', which the Council presented in November 2009. The right to interpretation and translation, the right to communication with relatives and the right to access to a lawyer also belong to the roadmap, which is aimed at setting common minimum standards for criminal proceedings.
The Greens voted in favour and welcomed the new rules, which will ensure suspects and accused persons are given information on their rights in a language they understand prior to any interview, as well as access to materials relating to the case.  

Further information:
Wouter van Ballegooij, Greens/EFA Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, wouter.vanballegooij@europarl.europa.eu

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 Conclusions of the European Council meeting (8-9 December 2011)

European Council and Commission statements
Plenary debate Tuesday 13 December 2011

For the Greens, the stopgap outcome has prevented a complete failure but the proposed intergovernmental treaty raises as many new questions as it answers. In terms of responding to the immediate sovereign debt and credit crisis, the summit was a fiasco, with EU leaders totally failing to deliver the necessary emergency financial backstop to extinguish the fire facing Eurozone countries.  The Greens have long been calling on EU leaders to do what is necessary but also have concerns about the roll-back of the democratic process in the crisis response. EU leaders need to support immediate ECB action on the sovereign debt and credit crises, as well as providing a roadmap for ensuring the Euro's future is based on stability and solidarity.
Addressing the Council and the Commission in the plenary, Greens/EFA Co-President Rebecca Harms qualified the Summit as denying democracy and reality.  "A denial of reality, at the centre of which is an irresponsible view of the crisis. Angela Merkel claims that indebted nations are the sole central problem and the sole solution is austerity. This is not enough! And we can see the results! We expected a signal of solidarity, and this was not mentioned! The simplest solutions were denied!" she said.

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EU-Russia summit

Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Plenary debate Tuesday 13 December - vote Wednesday 14 December 2011

With serious questions hanging over election results last week and the EU-Russia summit taking place on Wednesday, the Greens/EFA group demanded that the EU support the calls of opposition demonstrators for a re-run of the disputed Duma elections. 

The resolution passed on Wednesday with the key Green demand for new free and fair elections to be held after registration of all opposition parties. A Human Rights clause must also be an integral part of the new agreement with Russia and no partnership for modernisation can be possible without democratic institutions and a reliable legal system.

Further information:
Paolo Bergamaschi, Greens/EFA Advisor on Foreign Affairs,  paolo.bergamaschi@europarl.europa.eu

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 Situation in Syria

Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Plenary debate Tuesday 13 December - vote Thursday 15 December 2011

In their motion for resolution, the Greens/EFA deplores the military escalation as the sole answer to the non-violent demonstration and legitimate aspiration of the Syrian population towards freedom and democracy and thus call for the stepping down of Bashar al Assad whose regime has lost any legitimacy after the ongoing persistent ruthless crack-down on the Syrian population. It welcomes the intensification of sanctions and is of the opinion in the light of the failure by the Syrian regime to comply with its international obligations to protect its population, to adopt further appropriate measures such as the setting-up of humanitarian corridors in the framework of the UNSC.
The Parliament adopted unanimously a joint motion for resolution on Syria. No amendments were tabled. 

Further information:
Mychelle Rieu, Greens/EFA Advisor on Human Rights, Middle East and Euromed, mychelle.rieu@europarl.europa.eu   ___________________________________________  

Fruit juices and certain similar products intended for human consumption

Legislative report
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Plenary debate Tuesday 13 December - vote Wednesday 14 December 2011

New rules intended to prevent consumers being misled on fruit drinks were passed on Wednesday. Greens/EFA MEPs cautiously welcomed the result which could have had a stronger outcome.  It will no longer be permissible to add sugars to fruit juices and names will have to be more accurate: a drink with a much larger proportion of apple juice than raspberry juice for example will not be allowed to be labelled as raspberry juice.  Unfortunately, the mandatory labelling of fruit nectars as "sweetened" was not included in the final legislation.

Further information:
Corinna Zerger, Greens/EFA Advisor on Food Safety and Quality, corinna.zerger@europarl.europa.eu

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Use of phosphates and other phosphorous compounds in household laundry detergents

Legislative report
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Plenary debate Tuesday 13 December - vote Wednesday 14 December 2011

The release of phosphates into surface water can have a devastating impact on freshwater sources and ecosystems. The Commission proposed long-overdue legislation to ban the use of phosphates in household laundry detergents to help tackle this problem, but the Greens pushed for this ban to be extended to consumer automatic dishwashing detergents, as alternatives are readily available. Council has finally accepted including consumer automatic dishwashing detergents (from 2017).

The European Parliament today adopted new EU legislation under which the use of phosphates in consumer detergents will be phased-out. Under the terms of the final agreement, phosphates will no longer be permitted in consumer laundry detergents from July 2013 and in consumer automatic dishwashing detergents from January 2017. The Greens welcomed the outcome, notably the extension of the ban from laundry detergents to automatic dishwashing detergents.

Further information:
Axel Singhofen, Greens/EFA Advisor on Health and Environment Policy, axel.singhofen@europarl.europa.eu

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EU counter-terrorism policy

Non legislative report (own initiative procedure)
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Plenary debate Monday 12 September - vote Wednesday 14 December 2011

After long negotiations, the European Parliament today has adopted a resolution on the EU counter-terror policies of the last ten years with a clear majority. It calls on the Commission to do a comprehensive evaluation of all measures with regard to their effectiveness, their costs, their fundamental rights impacts, and their democratic control.

Greens/EFA have supported this decision from the beginning, though we would have liked to see even more thorough research on some aspects. Unfortunately, the conservative EPP group has fought against the evaluation for months, and has watered down the resolution in the course of the negotiations. In spite of many tough compromises, it was impossible to find an agreement with them in the end. The resolution today was supported by all other groups with the euro-sceptic conservative ECR group abstaining. Conservative EPP home affairs politicians are now isolated in the European Parliament.

Further information:
Wouter van Ballegooij, Greens/EFA Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, wouter.vanballegooij@europarl.europa.eu

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  Single European transport area

Legislative report
Committee on Transport and Tourism
Plenary debate Wednesday 14 December - vote Thursday 15 December 2011

At the initiative of the Greens, MEPs called for a stronger and swifter CO2 reduction target. They consider the Commission's proposal of a 20% reduction by 2030 compared to 2008 levels as insufficient and demand a 20% reduction already by 2020 - and, what is more, propose 1990 levels as the reference, lying 30% below the 2008 levels. 

Such a reduction would not only benefit the climate, but also taxpayers and companies.  The Parliament's report also indicates possible measures to achieve the proposed reduction targets: It asks the Commission to submit by 2014 a proposal to provide for the internalisation of the external costs of all modes of transport. This would be a major breakthrough for a more sustainable transport sector as it would finally put an end to the distortions of competition to the detriment of the environmentally-friendly modes of transport.

Further information: 
Hana Rihovsky, Greens/EFA adviser on transport issues, hana.rihovsky@europarl.europa.eu
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Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents

Non legislative report (own initiative procedure)
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Plenary debate Monday 12 September - vote Thursday 15 December 2011

The Greens have long argued for the need to increase the transparency of the EU institutions and believe improving public access to official documents is an essential part of this. The group supports moves to broaden the scope of 'documents' to which the public should have access, as well as proposals to make documents easier to access. The proposals are strongly resisted in the Council however, as well as by the EPP group.
The European Parliament today voted to revise EU rules governing access to public documents in the EU. The Greens welcomed the vote of the EP to push for more documents to be made available to the public, and called on the Council not to block this.

Further information:
Christine Sidenius, Greens/EFA Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, christine.sidenius@europarl.europa.eu

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 Detentions conditions in the EU

Oral questions to Council and Commission
Plenary debate Wednesday 14 December - vote Thursday 15 December 2011

Today the resolution on Detention conditions in the EU was adopted with the support of all major political groups. The European Commission has issued a Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of Detention on which it is currently consulting stakeholders. It highlights the connections between detention conditions and various EU instruments, such as the European Arrest Warrant and the European Supervision Order and illustrates how pre-trial detention, the situation of children and detention conditions are issues upon which the EU could take initiatives on.
Greens/EFA supported the joint resolution as negotiated, but voted against the European Arrest Warrant in 2002 because it felt procedural rights of suspects would need to be enhanced before being able to agree to an expedited system of surrender between Member States.

Further information:
Wouter van Ballegooij, Greens/EFA Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, wouter.vanballegooij@europarl.europa.eu

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 EU strategy for Central Asia

Non legislative report by Green MEP Nicole Kiil-Nielsen
Committee on Foreign Affairs
Plenary debate Wednesday 14 December - vote Thursday 15 December 2011

MEPs adopted a report by Green draftsperson Nicole Kiil-Nielsen on the EU's strategy towards Central Asia. While the EU's relations with the region have improved, there are clearly limitations with progress towards achieving EU objectives in the region, notably as regards human rights, the rule of law and regional security. Addressing this means re-evaluating the strategy, strengthening engagement and improving cooperation with the region in order to achieve the EU's objectives. Furthermore the EU approach towards the 5 Central Asia Republics requires a clear and effective conditionality linking aid and cooperation to democratic reforms. The report points out that the EU Strategy for Central Asia identifies seven priorities but provides only a low level of resources. It notes that the EU assistance funds are too limited to allow the EU to have an impact in all policy areas. This is why the EU is urged to develop a collective vision and to define and articulate its priorities better. The resolution identifies the management of water resources as one of the key issues for the stability and the sustainable development of the region. The EU, in this respect, must make all efforts in order to facilitate the dialogue between upstream and downstream countries. 

Further information:
Paolo Bergamaschi, Greens/EFA Advisor on Foreign Affairs,  paolo.bergamaschi@europarl.europa.eu

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Health and safety at work

Non legislative report by Green MEP Karima Delli
Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
Plenary debate Wednesday 14 December - vote Thursday 15 December 2011

The European Parliament adopted by a large majority (371 votes in favour, 47 against and 15 abstentions) the report by Green draftsperson Karima Delli. This report assesses the progress on the EU strategy on health and safety at work 2007-12. Workplace health and safety is in the interests of both employers and employees and this report makes a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening this. The report calls for EU legislation to protect whistleblowers who draw attention to risks, as well as for a common definition of moral harassment. Among other issues, it highlights the need to improve social dialogue, strengthen prevention policies and implement existing legislation. The report also asks the Commission to act promptly when it notes infringements to EU legislation in a Member State and recalls that men and women are not impacted in the same way by occupational diseases and accidents and therefore asks the Commission to take into account those differences in all these proposals.

Further information:
Berta Halmos, Greens/EFA Advisor on Employment and Social Affairs, berta.halmos@europarl.europa.eu

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AND ALSO

Sakharov Prize

Official ceremony - Plenary - Wednesday 14 December 2011 
Five activists from the Arab Spring were awarded the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.

New Greens/EFA MEPs

The Lisbon Treaty increased the number of seats given to the European Parliament.
Now that the 27 national ratification procedures have been concluded, the European Parliament welcomed 18 new Members in Strasbourg.
Two new Members for the Greens/EFA : Amelia Andersdotter (Sweden) and Yves Cochet (France)

New Bureau

Continuity has been the key word of this mid-term election. The Copresidents and Vice-Presidents have been reelected.
Only one new Member enters the Greens/EFA executive body : Michèle Rivasi (France).