Greens/EFA Round-up

Debriefing of the plenary week Strasbourg 19-22 November 2012

Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union

Initiative report (Thyssen report)
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
Plenary debate and vote Tuesday 20th November 2012
MEPs voted on a report Tuesday on the ongoing moves towards economic and monetary union. The Greens welcomed the report which made clear that there is a need for a proper encompassing strategy for investing in the economy to stimulate recovery. This should be accompanied by a 'social pact', including binding measures on social convergence and a binding youth job guarantee. With the social and economic hardship in crisis-hit Eurozone members continuing to worsen, it is clear that moves towards a true economic union need to be stepped up. MEPs also highlighted the need to break the debilitating chord between bank and sovereign debt, and endorsed plans to allow the EU's bail out funds to lend directly to banks. Clearly, this must be accompanied by much stronger EU-level banking supervision and regulation, including the separation of risky financial activities from deposit-taking banks as advocated in the report Further information:
Francisco Padilla, Advisor on Economic and Monetary Affair,

Promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products

Legislative report - Green MEP José Bové
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
Vote Tuesday 20th November 2012
The report by Green MEP José Bové on dealing with the marketing of agricultural exports from the EU, as well as the general marketing of agricultural products, was supported by MEPs Tuesday. The goal of the report was to promote high quality agricultural products and local food chains and to prevent export policy being used to dump excess production onto international markets. The EU should be seeking to promote small scale farmers, with information about production methods and the origin of quality food, and propose legislation to this end. Further information:
Hannes Lorenzen, Greens/EFA Advisor on Agriculture and Rural Development,

Shale gas - two reports

Environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (Sonik Report)
Industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (Tzavela Report)
Plenary debate Tuesday 20th November 2012 - Vote Wednesday 21st November 2012
Shale gas and the controversial practise of its extraction was the subject of two different reports voted on this week. The Greens welcomed the report from the environment committee which called for caution, notably a ban in sensitive areas, and underlined the need for tougher regulation and proper application of existing EU rules, but voted against the Industry committee report which painted a far too rosy picture of the potential of shale gas. There are major concerns about shale gas, notably through the extraction process of fracking, but also the wider negative health, environment and climate impacts. Also worrying for the image of the Parliament and the democratic process was the presence of industry dressed up as civil society outside the hemicycle before votes. Given the mounting evidence on the risks, the group called for a moratorium as the most sensible approach but this was not endorsed by a majority by MEPs. Further information:
Heike Leberle, Greens/EFA Energy Policy Advisor,

Monitoring the application of EU law (2010)

Initiative report - Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger
Committee on Legal Affairs
Plenary debate Tuesday 20th November 2012 - vote Wednesday 21st November 2012
Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger's report on the implementation and enforcement of EU law was adopted by an overwhelming majority Wednesday by MEPs concerned by major problems that still remain. The report highlights some of the problem areas, as well as singling out EU member states that are laggards when it comes to implementing EU laws. It also points to the persisting problems with enforcement by the European Commission and the infringement procedure, outlining possible solutions such as a regulation under article 298 which would regulate the infringement procedure for the benefit of citizens.
  • Plenary speech by Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger (DE/EN)
  • Text adopted

Further information:
Francesca Beltrame, Greens/EFA Legal Advisor,

Preparations for the European Council meeting (22-23 November 2012) with particular reference to the Multiannual Financial Framework

Debate with Commission and Council
Plenary debate Wednesday 21st November 2012 - European Council summit Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd November 2012
MEPs held a debate in advance of a summit of EU leaders at the end of the week, having voted on their red lines last month. For discussion was the EU's multiannual financial framework for 2014-20. For the Greens, the EU budget should be a key tool for stimulating economic recovery, funding research, education, green technologies, and the sustainable transformation of our energy sector. The latest proposals fail to reflect this ambition and must be increased. It is also high time for a real system of own resources for financing the EU budget to end the damaging annual haggling. Further information:
Roccu Garoby, Greens/EFA Advisor on the Multiannual Financial Framework,

Vote on new EU commission candidate

Vote Wednesday 21st November 2012 (secret ballot) MEPs voted in a secret ballot Wednesday to approve Malta's nomination for its vacant EU commission post, Tonio Borg. While the smoke has yet to clear following the controversial dismissal of John Dalli as health commissioner, there were a number of concerns about the candidacy of Tonio Borg, notably his views on minorities, women's rights and reproductive health and rights. The Greens/EFA group, which voted against the candidacy expressed its regret but stressed the need for Mr Borg to promote EU values and principles as commissioner, whilst delivering on the promises made in his hearing. Further information:
Axel Singhofen, Greens/EFA Advisor on Health and Environment Policy,

Conflict in the Gaza strip

Motion for resolution
Plenary debate with Council and Commission Wednesday 21st November 2012
Vote Thursday 22nd November 2012
After the worrying escalation of violence and eventual ceasefire in the Gaza strip, MEPs debated the situation with the Council and Commission.
Four years on from the last Gaza war, and the humanitarian tragedy that resulted, this latest disturbing escalation came at a time when hopes for a peaceful settlement were being raised. The Greens condemned acts of violence on both sides and urged the EU to urgently engage to ensure a peaceful solution in Palestine. The European Parliament adopted a resolution with an overwhelming majority (447 in favour - 113 against) supporting Abbas' application for UN non member observer status for Palestine. It is a real success for the Greens who negotiated for this paragraph to be introduced in the joint motion for resolution. The paragraph says : "[The European Parliament] Supports, in this respect, Palestine's bid to become UN non-member observer and considers this an important step so as to make Palestinian claims more visible, stronger and effective; calls, in this regard, on the EU Member States and the international community to find an agreement in this direction;". The application will be presented at the UN general assembly next week. Further information:
Paolo Bergamaschi, Greens/EFA Advisor on Foreign Affairs,

Climate change conference in Doha (COP 18)

Motion for resolution
Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Plenary debate Wednesday 21st November 2012 - vote Thursday 22nd November 2012
Ahead of this year's UN climate summit in Doha (COP18), MEPs sent a clear message Thursday that the EU needs to take action to address its stalled climate policy both domestically and in the context of international negotiations. MEPs also strongly hit out at the current practice by which unanimity of all governments in Council is required for many decisions on climate policy. The Greens also welcomed that MEPs highlighted that a move to a 30% climate target for 2020 would be in its own interest. The EP also made clear that it believes the inclusion of aviation in the ETS is the right approach. Further information:
Terhi Lehtonen, Greens/EFA Advisor on Environmental Issues,

Removal of fins of sharks on board vessels

Legislative Report
Committee on Fisheries
Plenary debate Wednesday 21st November 2012 - vote Thursday 22nd November 2012
After years of debate, the MEPs adopted legislation banning the odious and wasteful practise of shark finning (catching sharks, removing their fins and sometimes throwing the carcass back into the water). The Greens have long supported an outright ban and welcomed the support of MEPs to remove loopholes that would allow fins to continue to be removed from sharks. Further information:
Michael Earle, Advisor on Fisheries,

 External dimension of the common fisheries policy

Legislative report - Green MEP Isabella Lövin
Committee on Fisheries
Plenary debate Wednesday 21st November 2012 - vote Thursday 22nd November 2012
MEPs adopted a report by Green draftsperson Isabella Lövin on the external dimension of EU fisheries Thursday. 28% of fish caught by the EU fleet are caught outside EU waters, while 60% of fish consumed in the EU is imported. While the Commission has taken tentative steps to address these issues, its proposals so far fall far short of what is needed. The practise of 'flag hopping', whereby ship owners shift the flags of their vessels, needs to be prevented. MEPs supported a Green proposal that a vessel that flags out and then returns to an EU flag will have to wait two years before fishing under the EU's bilateral agreements. Further information:
Michael Earle, Advisor on Fisheries,

Proposed data protection directive

Debate with Council and Commission
Plenary debate Thursday 22nd November 2012-11-23
Almost a year ago, the European Commission proposed EU-wide minimum standards for data protection in law enforcement cooperation. It is unacceptable that Interior Ministers have still not taken a position on this proposal. It is time for Council to deliver. Parliament has been calling for a strengthening of the rules in this area for years, particularly given the ever-closer cooperation between police and judicial authorities and the gaps in protection that are becoming more and more evident. Further information:
Wouter van Ballegooij, Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs , ___________________________________________________________

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Next issue of Greens/EFA Plenary Round-up : 14 December 2012