News


Greens/EFA Round-up

Debriefing of the plenary week Strasbourg 1-5 July 2013


Table of contents

  • Export credit agencies
  • EU budget 2014-2020
  • Situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary
  • Implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of financial transaction tax
  • Undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS)
  • Reforming the structure of the banking sector
  • Reforming the EU's anti-fraud body
  • Emissions Trading System
  • Closure of Greek national broadcasting company
  • US and UK government surveillance of EU citizens
  • Situation in Egypt
  • Election of the EU Ombudsman
  • Access to care for vulnerable groups
  • Arms exports
  • Crisis in Syria
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Export credit agencies

Own-initiative report by Green MEP Yannick Jadot
Committee on International Trade
Plenary debate Monday 1st July 2013 - Vote Tuesday 2nd July 2013
ECAs are semi or fully state run agencies providing financial guarantees to private investors for projects in third countries. The new rules introduce mandatory annual reporting by member states to the European Commission on ECA activities. Contracts provided by ECAs vary from dams to power plants and can sometimes contradict the environmental and social policies of their own government. The new rules will help ensure greater transparency and accountability and make it more difficult for ECAs to support projects that are totally in conflict with EU goals and principles on human rights and environmental protection. 
The European Parliament adopted with an overwhelming majority the report by Green MEP Yannick Jadot setting out new EU rules on export credit agencies (ECAs). The Greens/EFA group voted in favour. Further information:
Martin Köhler, Advisor on International Trade,  martin.koehler@europarl.europa.eu
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EU-budget 2014-2020
(Review of the Irish Presidency, including the MFF agreement)

Council and Commission statements
Plenary debate Tuesday 2nd July - vote Wednesday 3rd July
The Greens criticised the deal which took place during last week's Summit as backward-looking, shaped by narrow national interests and leaving the EU with insufficient means to meet future challenges.
The European Parliament adopted the Council's proposal for the EU budget for 2014-2020 (Multiannual Financial Framework or 'MFF'). The Socialist, Liberal and Conservative MEPs agreed by a large majority to support a political resolution which binds the European Parliament to the compromise on the MFF that was agreed last week. The official vote on the legal texts will follow in September.
The Greens regret that Parliament, which initially criticised the Council's MFF proposal, agreed without having obtained much from Council in return. The Greens/EFA group voted against the final proposal. Further information:
Roccu Garoby, Advisor on the Multiannual Financial Framework, roccu.garoby@europarl.europa.eu
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Situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary

Own-initiative report by Green MEP Rui Tavares
Plenary debate Tuesday 2nd July - vote Wednesday 3rd July
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
With its current two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament, Victor Orban's FIDESZ party has made a number of changes to statutory and constitutional laws. Much of the legislation was criticised as going against European values as enshrined in Article 2 of the European Treaty. 
The European Parliament adopted the report by Green MEP Rui Tavares with 370 votes in favour, 249 against, 82 abstentions. The adopted report states that the changes in Hungary are incompatible with the values of the EU as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. MEPs approved recommendations to the Hungarian government and to the European Institutions on how to bring Hungarian legislation in line with European values and how to better monitor the situation of fundamental rights in all member states. Among other recommendations, the European Parliament also proposes to establish a "Copenhagen criteria high-level group", which is responsible for monitoring member states' compliance with common European values.  Further information:
Georgia Tsaklanganos, Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, georgia.tsaklanganos@europarl.europa.eu
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Implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of financial transaction tax

Legislative Report
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
Plenary debate Tuesday 2nd July - vote Wednesday 3rd July
With a core group of 11 EU member states having agreed to set up a financial transaction tax (FTT), the European Commission has set out proposals on implementation. 
The European Parliament adopted by a large majority the report on the financial transaction tax (FTT). This vote confirms the Parliament's support for the decision of 11 Member States to use enhanced cooperation to introduce a FTT and proposes a basic structure that imposes strict limits on the exemptions that the financial industry and some Member States are seeking. The European Parliament's proposal even extends the FTT's scope to include currency transactions (which were initially the subject of the planned 'Tobin Tax'). In addition to this, the general exemption that had been granted to pension funds was rejected in favour of a transitional measure of a tax of 0.05% on pension fund transactions for the first three years, instead of 0.1%. Although the report contains tax exemptions which affect the FTT's effectiveness and simplicity, the tax base remains substantial.  Further information:
Michael Schmitt, Advisor on Economic and Monetary Affairs, michael.schmitt@europarl.europa.eu
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Undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS)

Legislative report by Green MEP Sven Giegold
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
Plenary debate Tuesday 2nd July - vote Wednesday 3rd July
The draft legislation on investment funds (UCITS directive), aimed at rebuilding investor trust in financial markets and reducing national divergences in rules on liabilities, would ensure greater protection for investors and help reduce excessively risky speculation by investment fund managers. The investment fund sector is valued at almost €6.3 trillion and the legislation includes key provisions on remuneration and performance fees which would be an important step towards ending the gambler mentality in the sector.
The European Parliament voted the report by Green draftsperson Sven Giegold but the provisions on remuneration and performance fees were both narrowly defeated. Indeed, Conservative and Liberal MEPs voted down rules reducing excessively risky speculation by investment fund managers and deleted rules proposed by the economic and monetary affairs committee to significantly limit performance fees for management companies. Further information: 
Veronica Herlofsen, Advisor on Economic and Monetary Affairs,  veronica.herlofsen@europarl.europa.eu
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Reforming the structure of the banking sector

Own-initiative report
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
Plenary debate Tuesday 2nd July - vote Wednesday 3rd July
The flawed structure of the banking and financial system was starkly revealed by the current crisis. The whole sector needs to be reformed to deal with the problem of 'too big to fail' banks and with the need to separate banking activities so that retail banks can focus on providing banking services to the real economy and society while investment banks are prevented from endangering the whole banking system by risky speculative deals.  
Ahead of forthcoming proposals from the Commission, the European Parliament adopted a report on structural reform of the EU's banking sector. Although the report contains a number of weaknesses, it decisively calls on the Commission to produce legislation aimed at reforming the structure of the EU banking sector. Unfortunately, the text has been significantly watered down by the right-wing European parties. The wording on the need for a separation between essential day-to-day banking activities relating to households and businesses (saving and lending) and banking activities relating to financial markets (inherently more unstable) remains relatively vague or even ambiguous. Specifically, the text makes no reference to the need to establish separate legal entities.
The Commission will be submitting a legislative proposal on this in October 2013. Further information:
David Kemp, Advisor on Economic and Monetary Affairs, david.kemp@europarl.europa.eu
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Investigations conducted by the European Anti Fraud Office

Second reading
Committee on Budgetary Control
Plenary debate Tuesday 2nd July - vote Wednesday 3rd July
The EU's anti-fraud watchdog (OLAF) is in for a substantial overhaul. OLAF came under fire because of its handling of the so-called Dalligate-affair concerning the dismissal of Maltese EU Commissioner John Dalli.
The Greens support the reform proposals, especially the strengthening of the OLAF Supervisory Committee and improved protection of the rights of people under investigation by OLAF.
The European Parliament voted in second reading.  Even if there was a substantial majority for amendments, they did not get the absolute majority  because the vote took place after a short interruption.
So the second reading was in fact adopted as it was concluded with Council. Further information:
Henk Prummel, Adviser on Budgetary Control, hendrik.prummel@europarl.europa.eu
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EU Emissions Trading System

Legislative reports
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Vote Wednesday 3rd July 2013
The European Parliament voted Wednesday 3rd July to approve a proposal aimed at tackling the oversupply of emissions allowances in the EU's emissions trading scheme through postponement of the auctioning of 900 million allowances (ETS 'backloading'). The Greens/EFA Group welcomed the vote in favour of backloading and the deferral of the final vote which allows for negotiations between Parliament and Council. However, the time out to find agreement on a stop-gap measure should not be used as an excuse to delay a much needed structural ETS reform. Further information:
Terhi Lehtonen, Advisor on Environmental Issues terhi.lehtonen@europarl.europa.eu
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Closure of Greek national broadcasting company

Council and Commission statements
Plenary debate Wednesday 3rd July 2013
MEPs debated Wednesday over the closure of Greek public television. The Greens believe there is a real need for reform of Greek public broadcasting services. Europe must show solidarity with people who are fighting for Greek public broadcasting services, which must be at the service of citizens, who actually pay for them, rather than at the service of the government. ____________________________________________

US and Member States surveillance of EU citizens

Council and Commission statements - with resolution
Plenary debate Wednesday 3rd July 2013, vote Thursday 4th July 2013
The European Parliament voted Thursday, by a large majority, to adopt a resolution on the NSA's and other EU Member States' surveillance programmes. The resolution calls for an inquiry by the European Parliament's civil liberties committee. The inquiry is to report back by the end of the year on the compatibility of US and Member States' surveillance programmes with fundamental rights including data protection. The Greens were in favour of postponing the start of negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement until mandatory data protection standards could be guaranteed. Unfortunately, there was no majority for this call. The Greens' online petition against the opening of negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement, without binding data protection standards, can be found at: http://www.yeswestop.eu Further information:
Wouter Van Ballegooij, Advisor on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, wouter.vanballegooij@europarl.europa.eu  ____________________________________________

Situation in Egypt

Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Resolution
Plenary debate Wednesday 3rd July 2013, vote Thursday 4th July 2013
MEPs adopted a resolution Thursday on the situation in Egypt. The Greens call for a UN peace conference for Egypt to prevent bloodshed and guarantee an inclusive transition process. The Greens/EFA Group remains concerned about the current developments and increased violence in Egypt and believe the international community should do more than stand by and watch. Greens stress that military intervention can never be a solution to political differences and that Egypt should not reverse its democratic achievements by reverting to military dictatorship. Greens call for power to be transferred to democratically elected civilian authorities as soon as possible and that in the meantime a civilian broad-based interim government composed of widely respected independent figures should be appointed to start a genuine and open national dialogue of reconciliation between all the components of the Egyptian society. Further information:
Paolo Bergamaschi, Advisor on Foreign Affairs, paolo.bergamaschi@europarl.europa.eu  ____________________________________________

Election of the EU Ombudsman

Wednesday 3rd July 2013 The European Parliament elected Wednesday a new EU Ombudsman. Independent candidate Emily O'Reilly was clearly endorsed by MEPs in the third ballot. She will take up her duties on 1st October and her mandate will last about a year, until the newly elected Parliament in 2014 will hold new elections for the office. Several MEPs from other political groups were among the candidates and the Greens are pleased that big groups did not manage to turn this office into yet another political position up for grabs in the horse-trading between groups. The Greens/EFA group welcomes this result and is particularly pleased that this position will for the first time be held by a woman. Further information:
Marc Gimenez, Advisor on Petitions, marc.gimenez@europarl.europa.eu
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Access to care for vulnerable groups

Initiative Report by Green MEP Jean Lambert
Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
Debate and vote Thursday 4th July 2013
The European Parliament adopted Thursday a report by Green MEP Jean Lambert on access to care for vulnerable groups. In the context of the crisis, access to healthcare and other social support services are threatened by budget cuts. The report uncovers important findings and proposes measures to improve access to care, support services and healthcare of the most vulnerable in society. The Greens/EFA Group welcome the vote, which sends a message to the European Commission and EU governments on the need to ensure that austerity measures don't undermine EU values and prevent the most vulnerable citizens from being able to access healthcare, care services and basic living support.  Further information:
Philine Scholze, Advisor on Employment and Social Affairs, philine.scholze@europarl.europa.eu ____________________________________________

Arms exports

Statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Resolution
Debate Wednesday 3 July 2013, vote Thursday 4 July 2013
MEPs voted Thursday on a resolution on the European Council's Common Position on arms exports. The Greens deeply regretted that the conservatives and liberals' proposal achieved a majority. The resolution is shamefully weak on human rights and reveals a big divide in the European Parliament between MEPs that prioritise defending human rights and MEPs that are concerned with the interests of the military industry. Further information
Tobias Heider, Advisor on Security and Defence, tobias.heider@europarl.europa.eu ____________________________________________ ALSO:

 Crisis in Syria

The Greens/EFA Group held an open meeting in the European Parliament on Monday on the current humanitarian crisis in Syria. The Greens invited a delegation from Syria, including the mayor of Aleppo, Mr Ahmad Azuz and the province chief of Aleppo, Mr Yaihia Nanah, to assess the current humanitarian crisis and its international implications in Syria.  ____________________________________________

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Next issue of Greens/EFA Plenary Round-up : 13 September 2013