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Greens/EFA Round up

Debriefing of the Strasbourg plenary week 9-12 February 2015


Table of contents

EP Plenary session

  • Processed meat and origin labelling
  • Combatting child abduction globally
  • Access to medicines in the EU
  • CIA abuses and the role of EU governments
  • Ukraine, Russia and the EU's role
  • EU counter-terrorism policy and fundamental rights
  • Lux Leaks and tax evasion: EP investigation
  • Detention of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi
  • Greens/EFA motions for resolutions

Outside of the plenary

  • Greece/EU Summit

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Processed meat and origin labelling

Mon. 9 February – EP plenary debate; vote Weds.

The European Parliament adopted Wednesday a resolution, co-drafted by Green MEP Keith Taylor, urging the European Commission to finally propose new legislation to ensure mandatory origin labelling for meat in processed foods, like frozen lasagnes or pies. 

The Greens welcome the adoption of the report, where all negative amendments were rejected. Ensuring mandatory origin labelling for meat in processed foods has been a long-standing demand of the Greens and the European Parliament. The horsemeat scandal shone the spotlight on the lack of transparency in our food supply chain. There is also overwhelming support among consumers for origin labelling, and people have a right to know where the meat in their processed food comes from.

Further information
Corinna Zerger - Advisor on Food Safety and Quality
corinna.zerger@europarl.europa.eu

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Combatting child abduction globally

Tues. 10 February – EP plenary debate; vote Weds.

MEPs adopted a series of reports by Green rapporteur Heidi Hautala on the accession of new countries to the Hague convention on child abduction.

The Greens welcome the adoption of the eight reports (one per country) which shall contribute to tackle and solve this very sensitive issue.

Child abduction remains a massive problem worldwide despite international efforts. The Hague convention on child abduction is an important instrument that aims to bring children's rights into effect.

The list includes a number of countries which have come under the spotlight. The convention provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.

Further information
Francesca Beltrame – Legal Advisor
francesca.beltrame@europarl.europa.eu

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Access to medicines in the EU

Council and Commission statements
Weds. 11 February – EP plenary debate

MEPs debated the issue of access to life-saving medicines and the excessively high pricing in certain member states on Wednesday. The astronomical prices of some life-saving medicines means those suffering from these illnesses are unable to afford their treatment. This is a scandal in itself but it is an even greater scandal that the European Commission is refusing to address the issue, notably by tackling the issue of monopolies and abuse of market position. The Greens want the right to health and access to life-saving medicines to be ensured in Europe. The logic of medicines must change!

Further information
Gaëlle Krikorian - Advisor on Intellectual Property and Access to Knowledge
gaelle.krikorian@europarl.europa.eu  

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CIA abuses and the role of EU governments

Weds. 11 February – EP plenary vote

The European Parliament adopted Wednesday a resolution on the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA, which explicitly dealt with CIA abuses on EU territory. The Greens are satisfied with the vote, meaning that Parliament is seeking to increase pressure on EU governments to finally address their role in CIA abuses on their territory. The civil liberties, foreign affairs committees (including the human rights sub-committee) have been tasked with a follow up report on inquiries conducted by the last Parliament. This includes a delegation to member states that came under the spotlight again for their complicity in the CIA rendition programme.

Extraordinary renditions and other human rights abuses by the CIA on European territory were brought into the spotlight by the European Parliament in 2007. A recent report by the US Senate has brought the focus back on these abuses and the role of EU governments in abetting the CIA in its work.

Without the involvement of these EU governments, the CIA renditions programme would have been impossible.

It is high time those member states faced up to their role and properly investigate and act on findings of complicity in any rights abuses, including the roles of leading government members.

Further information:
Wouter Van Ballegooij - Advisor on Civil Liberties
wouter.vanballegooij@ep.europa.eu

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Ukraine, Russia and the EU's role

Tues. 10 February – EP plenary debate

MEPs debated Wednesday the situation and the EU's role, ahead of a meeting in Minsk between Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia. A ceasefire was agreed in the Belarussian capital, due to start Saturday evening (22h00 GMT). However, shelling has been reported since the deal was struck. At an EU summit in Brussels, EU leaders discussed possible sanctions on Russia if the deal is not respected.

With the situation in eastern Ukraine worsening by the day, the Greens hope the ceasefire will be respected and call on the EU to stand united with a common policy on Russia and Ukraine.

The EU needs to continue to present a strong and united face towards Russia, with a view to ensuring a peaceful resolution to conflict, which respects the democratic and pro-European aspirations of Ukrainians, whilst protecting Ukraine's integrity.

More information
Paolo Bergamaschi - Advisor on Foreign Affairs
paolo.bergamaschi@ep.europa.eu

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EU counter-terrorism policy and fundamental rights

Weds. 11 February – EP plenary debate; EU summit Thurs.

MEPs have given EU governments carte blanche to scale-back personal freedoms. The European Parliament adopted Wednesday a resolution on an EU approach to counter-terrorism, ahead of this week's summit of EU heads of state and government on the issue.

The Parliament is sending the wrong message at the wrong time. The Greens voted against the resolution, which would fail to provide a coherent response to terrorism and instead open the door to a more repressive response.

The focus of the discussion on counter-terrorism policy has been on stepping up mass surveillance and blanket data retention measures, notably reviving the EU air passenger data retention scheme (PNR). This type of measure has been ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice because it breaches EU fundamental rights provisions but it will also not improve security and could prove counter-productive.

Instead, we should be looking to address the causes of radicalisation, while strengthening the capacity of our security services to respond to specific risks and concrete suspicions, to follow any leads immediately, and to efficiently exchange information about dangerous individuals.

Further information:
Wouter Van Ballegooij - Advisor on Civil Liberties
wouter.vanballegooij@ep.europa.eu

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Lux Leaks and tax evasion: EP investigation

Thurs. 12 February – EP plenary vote

The European Parliament voted Thursday to approve the creation of a special committee to investigate tax evasion and dumping.

The Greens had pushed for the creation of an inquiry committee, parliament's most powerful instrument, but the bigger political groups (EPP, S&D, ECR and ALDE), made the regrettable political decision to block this.

The special committee will operate on the mandate proposed by the Greens/EFA group as the basis for an inquiry committee, with a view to investigating cases of breaches or poor application of EU law with regard to corporate taxation.

While the Greens strongly regret the decision to downgrade this investigation, given the seriousness of the issue at hand, it is better than having a simple fast-track initiative report, the option favoured by the large groups.

The Greens/EFA group will have three full members - Sven Giegold, Eva Joly and Philippe Lamberts - and three substitute members - Ernest Maragall, Molly Scott Cato and Ernest Urtasun.

More information
Michael Schmitt - Advisor on Economic and Monetary Affairs
michael.schmitt@ep.europa.eu

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Detention of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

Thurs. 12 February – EP plenary debate and vote

The European Parliament adopted Thursday a resolution on human rights in Saudi Arabia, including a call for the release of blogger Raif Badawi, who has been detained and tortured in Saudi Arabia.

The Greens welcome the resolution, which passed in spite of the opposition of the centre-right and those MEPs, particularly those of the EPP group, should be strongly condemned for their failure to defend basic European values.

Green MEP Barbara Lochbihler has led calls in the European Parliament calling for his release and spearheaded an EP initiative to put pressure on the Saudi authorities.

While we welcome the resolution, we regret that MEPs failed to support a Green proposal to call on EU member states to introduce sanctions against those involved in the sentencing and torture of Badawi.

The EU and its foreign policy high representative needs to engage much more proactively with the Saudi authorities, preparing a list of all political prisoners, systematically pressing for their release and help towards strengthening civil society in Saudi Arabia.

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Greens/EFA motions for resolutions

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Greece/EU Summit

Ahead of the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers and the summit of EU leaders, at which the economic situation in Greece will be in focus, the Greens/EFA group has outlined its proposals for solutions for Greece.  

More information:
Francisco Padilla - Advisor on Economic and Monetary Affairs francisco.padilla@europarl.europa.eu
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Next issue of Greens/EFA Plenary Round-up: 13 March 2015


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