Tag Archives: European Parliament

MEPs debate energy price

Strasbourg 14.09.2022 Measures against the dramatic rise in energy prices were up for a debate with the Czech Council Presidency and the Commission on Tuesday, September 13. (Image above: illustration).

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is set to present emergency proposals on energy during her State of the European Union speech in plenary September 14.

During the debate, the Czech Council Presidency announced that Council will seek to approve the European Commission’s upcoming proposals during an emergency meeting at the end of September.

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said that the Commission will propose measures to reduce electricity demand during peak price hours in order to bring more balance to the market. It will also introduce an EU-wide limit on the remuneration of low-carbon energy, so that revenues above that cap will be used to help member states support vulnerable consumers. She also said that the Commission will work with electricity market regulators to address the liquidity problems on the market.

During the debate, MEPs emphasized the need to ensure that the EU response is built on solidarity, and that profits made by energy companies must be used to protect consumers.

Many urged for a further boost for renewables and developing cross-border energy interconnections – in particular between France and Spain. Germany should not close its remaining nuclear plants in the current circumstances, several said. Other MEPs demanded measures against speculation on the gas market and to cut peak electricity demand, while some considered electricity to be a public good that should not be traded on a stock market.

EU: Sanna Marin Europe debate

Strasbourg 13.09.2022 Following the “This is Europe” debate with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, EP President Metsola and PM Marin will hold a joint press conference today at 12.00.

WHEN: Tuesday 13 September at 12.00

WHERE: Anna Politkovskaya press conference room

At 10.30 today, MEPs will discuss the European Union and its future prospects with the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, followed by a round of interventions by political group leaders.

EP President Roberta Metsola and Prime Minister Marin will have a bilateral meeting before the latter’s plenary address.

This will be the sixth “This is Europe” debate to take place at the European Parliament; previous iterations have featured Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (in March), Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (in May), Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin (in the first June plenary), Croatian PM Andrej Plenković (in the second June plenary) and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (in July).

Interpretation will be available in English, French, German, Finnish, Italian and Swedish.

You can follow the press conference in person or via the streaming on Parliament’s multimedia centre or on EbS.

EU: Ukraine €1 bn macro-financial loan

Strasbourg 07.07.2022 On Thursday, MEPs gave the green light to a €1 billion macro-financial loan to help Ukraine cover its external financing needs that have ballooned due to the war. (Image above: illustration).

Parliament agreed to a Commission proposal to provide Kyiv with an additional loan on highly favourable terms, on top of €1.2 billion disbursed already in March and May 2022. The current amount is the first tranche of upcoming exceptional macro-financial assistance worth €9 billion.

Ukraine’s external financing needs ballooned due to the Russian invasion: besides the tremendous damage to roads, bridges, factories, houses, hospitals and other physical infrastructure, the country has also lost its access to the international financial markets. As a result, Ukraine is short $39 billion (€37.3 billion) to meet its financing needs for 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The loan serves as “swift financial support in a situation of acute funding needs and to ensure the continued functioning of the most critical functions of the Ukrainian state”, the proposal states. It will be disbursed in one instalment conditional on fulfilling various criteria including enhanced transparency and reporting on its use. The EU budget will exceptionally finance the interest costs.

A precondition for granting the assistance should be that Ukraine respects effective democratic mechanisms despite the concentration of power in the executive branch during the war, the proposal states.

The resolution, adopted under the urgent procedure, passed with 522 votes for, 17 against and 25 abstentions.

Macro-financial assistance is an emergency resource, provided on highly favourable terms, for EU neighbourhood countries struggling to pay their bills. The total amount of such favourable loans from the EU to Ukraine since the start of the war will reach €2.2 billion in 2022, and could reach up to €10 billion if the whole exceptional package is agreed upon.

Ukraine corruption index in 2021 indicated 23% public services users paid a bribe in last 12 months, overall Ukraine scores 122 place from 180 countries, where the research took place.

The measure will apply on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU

EU: ban on trophy hunting imports call

Strasbourg 06.07.2022 137 NGOs around the world call for a ban on hunting trophy imports

BRUSSELS (July 6, 2022)—In a joint position paper, 137 conservation and animal protection organizations from all around the world, including 45 NGOs from African countries, speak out against trophy hunting and urge policymakers to ban imports.

Mona Schweizer, Ph.D., from Pro Wildlife says: “Trophy hunting stands out among the worst forms of wildlife exploitation and is neither ethical nor sustainable. In the face of the man-made global biodiversity crisis, it is unacceptable that exploitation of wildlife simply for acquiring a hunting trophy is still permitted and that trophies can still be legally imported. It is high time that governments end this detrimental practice.”

Between 2014 and 2018 almost 125,000 trophies of species protected under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) were imported globally, with the US and the EU featuring as the biggest importers.

Trophy hunting can adversely affect the survival of species and undermine conservation efforts. Trophy hunters often target rare and imperilled species or animals with impressive physical traits and remove individuals who are essential for reproduction and stabilizing social groups. By targeting such animals, trophy hunters, directly and indirectly, contribute to population declines, disrupted social structure, and reduced resilience. The industry drives demand for parts and products of endangered species and incentivizes and prioritizes their killing through award schemes and other promotions.

Furthermore, shooting animals of protected and endangered species is often a privilege of foreign hunters, while access to wildlife and land is often restricted for locals. This disenfranchisement of local communities coupled with the social destabilising effects of trophy hunting on many species can fuel human-animal conflict rather than mitigate it. Such situations are further exacerbated by the fact that the trophy hunting industry fails to deliver meaningful economic benefits to local communities, contrary to what is claimed by the pro-trophy hunting narrative. In fact, as most hunts are conducted on private land and the hunting sector is plagued with corruption, trophy hunting revenues usually end up in the pockets of hunting operators, private farm owners and local elites.

Mark Jones, Ph.D., head of policy at Born Free, commented: “At Born Free, we have long campaigned for an end to trophy hunting on moral and ethical grounds. In this time of crisis for wildlife and biodiversity, it cannot be right for European hunters to be able to pay to kill threatened wild animals, either within the EU or overseas, and ship the trophies home. Trophy hunting causes immense animal suffering while doing little or nothing for wildlife conservation or local communities. Indeed, in many cases trophy hunters remove key individual animals from fragile populations, damaging their social and genetic integrity. It’s time for the European Union’s policymakers to listen to the overwhelming majority of their citizens, and bring trophy hunting within the EU and the import of trophies to a permanent end, while seeking alternative, more effective ways of resourcing wildlife protection and local community development.”

Trophy hunting not only hampers conservation efforts and generates minimal economic benefits, but also raises ethical and animal welfare concerns. Shooting animals for fun simply to obtain a trophy as a status symbol is ethically unjustifiable, disregards their intrinsic value by reducing them to commodities, and puts a price tag on death reflecting the amount foreign hunters are willing to pay for
the kill. Moreover, trophy hunters frequently employ and incentivize hunting methods that increase the suffering of the animal, such as the use of bows and arrows, muzzleloaders, handguns or dogs chasing animals for hours to exhaustion.

Joanna Swabe, Ph.D., senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe, said: “Economic benefit – which is minimal at best in the trophy hunting industry – is no excuse to allow the inhumane killing of animals for entertainment or to make up for the often irreversible biological and ecological damages it causes to protected species when there are alternative, more lucrative revenue streams available for development and conservation efforts. As the largest importers of hunting trophies in the world, the US and EU have a moral obligation to stop contributing to this harmful industry through hunting trophy imports and to institute policies that support ethical forms of foreign aid, tourism and industry.”

In many countries around the world, citizens oppose trophy hunting and the import of hunting trophies. Surveys in the EU, Switzerland and the US confirm that between 75% and 96% of respondents oppose trophy hunting and support import bans for trophies. In South Africa, the major African exporter of hunting trophies of protected species, a majority of 64% respondents disapproves of trophy hunting.
Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals, concluded: “With the unethical practice of trophy hunting harming species conservation and the economy for decades, a policy shift is long overdue. Together, with a united voice of 137 NGOs from all around the world, we call on governments to take responsibility for the protection of species and biodiversity–and to ban the import of hunting trophies.”

Croatia enters Eurozone

Strasbourg 05.07.2022 MEPs on Tuesday gave a favorable opinion to Croatia’s bid to become the newest member of the eurozone from the 1st January 2023.

Parliament, by 539 votes in favour, 45 votes against and 48 abstentions, adopted the report of Siegfried Mureșan (EPP, RO) stating Croatia fulfils all the criteria for adopting the euro on 1st January 2023.

The report notes that, despite the evaluation of Croatia’s readiness taking place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation, and Russia’s war against Ukraine, Croatia continues to be ready to adopt the euro.

MEPs also state that Croatia already has a higher level of price convergence with the eurozone compared to other member states on their adoption of the euro. Nonetheless, Parliament expects sustained efforts from the Croatian government to ensure further price convergence and that the introduction of the euro does not lead to artificial price increases.

The rapporteur Siegfried Mureșan (EPP, RO), said: “The reforms undertaken by the Croatian Government in the last years have strengthened the economy and paved the way for Croatia joining the common currency. It is clear that becoming a member of the euro is the right decision for the country, its businesses and citizens, as well as various sectors of its economy, such as tourism.

Croatia becoming the 20th member of the euro area is good for the European Union as well: it shows the viability and trust in our common currency”.

The Chair of the EP’s euro working group, Margarida Marques (S&D, PT), said:

Croatia’s accession to the single currency in 2023 is the first significant European integration process since Brexit and marks a further enlargement of the euro in the Balkans. When European values are being challenged at our borders, this is a clear sign of unity, further integration and a contribution to the strength of the euro as a global currency.

The adoption of the euro by Croatia shows that the single currency is a stimulating and solid project that guarantees greater security and stability for citizens.

Parliament’s opinion will be forwarded to Eurozone member states who are responsible for giving the final clearance for Croatia to adopt the euro.

MEPs welcome Israel Immigration Minister

Brusssels 14.06.2022 Today the Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi addressed the European Parliament Conference on “Ukrainian humanitarian crisis: Current EU efforts and the Israeli experience” welcoming Israel’s Minister for Immigration and Absorption, Pnina Tamano Shata, who visited Brussels for a conference and series of meetings with the Members of the Parliament (MEPs).

“Let me start by warmly welcoming Minister Tamano-Shata to Brussels. I would also like to express my appreciation for MEPs Antonio Lopez-Isturiz and Bert-Jan Ruissen and also the President of the European Parliament, for not only hosting this event, but for your dedication to EU-Israel partnership. And many thanks also for Rabbi Margolin for not only organising this event, but for your commitment to foster and protect Jewish life in Europe and beyond” Olivér Várhelyi underlined.

“It is my pleasure to address you today on this timely topic “How the EU and Israel align in their support to Ukraine. We are living in turbulent times. In addition to the socio-economic challenges of the COVID pandemic, we are now facing the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

“The war is back on our continent, with immense suffering to the Ukrainian people and massive destruction of the country. We do not yet know how this conflict will be resolved. We do not yet know what the casualties and the damage are going to be. But we do know that the human suffering it has caused is enormous…” Commissioner said.

“The State of Israel, from its very founding, has always been a nation of immigrants and refugees.the State of Israel was established as the State of the Jewish People, many of whom arrived as refugees in the last century after war world tow ,many of them survived the Holocaust. In fact, it was these immigrants and refugees who built the state” Minister Tamano-Shata said.

“Therefore, a cornerstone of every Israeli government is our duty to help immigrants and refugees who are eligible to become citizens under the Law of Return. And I am thankful that over the past months, I have been able to continue to carry out this national mission’ the Minister continued.

“In the personal level, These days, more than ever, I feel deeply that it is a great privilege to be one of the decision-makers in the government working to provide extensive humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees escaping the war zone”.

Meeting with Commissioner Varheyli, the European Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer, cross-party MEPs and Ambassadors from the EU, Israel and Ukraine, the Minister underlined the role played by Israel in helping refugees from Ukraine feel at home.

The co-organiser of the event the Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA), representing hundreds of communities and thousands of Jews across the European continent has played a prominent role in enhancing the visit of the Israel Minister. The EJA efforts were highly appreciated by the Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi and the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

MEPs support EU Treaty modification

Strasbourg 09.06.2022 On Thursday, Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Council to agree to start the process to revise the EU Treaties. (Image: illustration)

In light of the array of ongoing and recent crises, MEPs used their prerogative to call for the Treaties to be changed by:

– reforming voting procedures in the Council to enhance the European Union’s capacity to act, including switching from unanimity to qualified majority voting, in areas such as sanctions, the so-called passerelle clauses, and in emergencies;

– adapting the EU’s powers, especially in the areas of health and cross-border health threats, in the completion of the energy union based on efficiency and renewables in line with international agreements on climate change, in defence, and in social and economic policies;
-ensuring that the European Pillar of Social Rights is fully implemented and incorporating social progress, linked to a Social Progress Protocol, into the Treaties;
– making the EU economy more resilient, with special attention paid to small and medium-sized enterprises and competitiveness checks, and promoting investments focused on the just, green and digital transitions;
providing Parliament with the right to initiate, amend or revoke legislation, and with full rights as a co-legislator on the EU budget; and
-strengthening the procedure to protect the EU’s founding values and clarifying the determination and consequences of breaches (7 TEU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights).

The resolution was adopted with 355 votes in favour, 154 against, and 48 abstentions, following a debate earlier on the same day.

It will be up to the 27 member states’ heads of state or government at the European Council to decide to set up a Convention, by simple majority. Many MEPs have called for this to happen at the earliest opportunity, which would be the EU summit on 23-24 June, to ensure that citizens’ expectations are met and that the outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe is put to good use as soon as possible. The Convention should comprise MEPs, Commissioners, MPs from the member states, and EU leaders.

The Commission is expected to announce how it intends to follow up on the Conference in mid-June. Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs will continue to work on the changes that Parliament would seek to make to the Treaties, in anticipation of a Convention.

Metsola:”Europe is future”

Strasbourg 09.05.2022 The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola addressed the opening speech of The State of the Union 2022 at the European University Institute in Florence.
In her speech ‘Is Europe fit for the next generation?’, she encouraged European citizens and leaders to believe, to be confident and to use this difficult moment in time as an opportunity for change.

“…In my first address as President of the European Parliament I described myself as part of the generation that sees no old and no new Europe. We are the first of the Erasmus generation, the last of the Wałęsa, Kohl and Havel generation.

“What I meant was that I am part of the Europe generation. 18 years ago on the 1st May, I was standing in Valletta with what felt like the entire country, at midnight staring across the sea in our Grand Harbour as we counted the minutes and the seconds until Malta, together with nine other countries, joined the European Union as Member States.
I still recall the feeling of unbridled possibility, hope and belief in the future. A sort of sense of homecoming, of victory in the potential of our people, of relief, of joy – feelings shared by millions across Europe.

“With war in Europe, today, it is that spirit, that sense of purpose, of enthusiasm, of a clear direction, that I want our European project to re-capture.
People in Ukraine, in Moldova and Georgia, and still in the Western Balkans, are now looking to Europe, with the same sense of belonging and hope.

“And I want people to believe as we did. And to do that we need to understand that we are not just an economic bloc, we are not just about free movement, or about abolishing roaming charges. For my generation, Europe is – as cliché as this might sound – about a shared dream. About shared values. About a shared future, about coming together.

“To us, Europe is the future. It has always been the future.
However, we cannot deny that over the last years polarisation in our societies has increased. There are still too many people who feel lost, let down and left out. At the same time many will now look to Europe and to our institutions for leadership. And we need to be able to respond, we need to be able to lead. We must counter the anti-EU narrative that takes hold so easily and so quickly: mis- and dis-information, enhanced by bots and fabricated in Russian troll factories.

“Europe is about the defence of multilateralism. The understanding that we can only face the future together…”

Future of Europe conference conclusions

Strasbourg 08.05.2022 The Conference on the Future of Europe is going to conclude its work on May 9, Monday, in Strasbourg, presenting the reports to the heads of the institutions for further consideration.

The conference was established last year with the aim of bringing citizens and politicians from across the EU together to come up with ideas to overhaul the bloc.

At a session in Strasbourg on Saturday, the conference plenary — composed of representatives of EU institutions, national parliaments and citizens’ panels — approved more than 300 proposals. They include the abolition of national vetos, granting the European Parliament the right to propose legislation, more investment in climate change mitigation, the launch of “joint armed forces” and transnational voting lists.

MEPs from the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups of the European Parliament refused to support the proposals, arguing that they don’t reflect public opinion in the EU, but are achieved through the deliberate selections of the participants, promoting the EU Federalists point of view.

“The selection of citizens participating in the Conference was itself very flawed,” the ECR group said in a statement. “Research shows that citizens who are in favour of a more centralised Union were much more likely to accept an invitation to participate in the citizens’ panels of the Conference than those more sceptical.”

The group said it rejects “the idea the conclusions being reached represent an expression of the will of the Europeans and … hereby [withdraws] from the Conference on the Future of Europe.“

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.

The Conference is the first of its kind: as a major pan-European democratic exercise, with citizen-led debates enabling people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.

This is done via an innovative Multilingual Digital Platformwhere any European can share ideas, and both national and European Citizens’ Panels. These contributions feed into the Conference Plenaries. The Conference offers a new public forum for an open, inclusive, and transparent debate with citizens around a number of key priorities and challenges.

It is part of President von der Leyen’s pledge to give Europeans a possibility to be more eloquent on what the EU does and how it works for them. All Europeans – whoever they are and wherever they are – can take part.

The Conference aims to reflect our diversity, and to bring Europe beyond its capital cities, reaching every corner of the EU, strengthening the link between Europeans and the institutions that serve them. It does so through a multitude of Conference-events and debates organised across the EU, as well as through an interactive multilingual digital platform. Young people in particular are encouraged to take part and share their ideas. European, national, regional and local authorities, as well as civil society and other organisations can also organise events to involve as many people as possible.

MEPs protect Ukraine women

Strasbourg 05.05.2022 The European Parliament (pictured) debated and will vote on how to protect women fleeing Ukraine from violence and trafficking, and on granting them access to essential health services.

On Thursday, MEPs are set to strongly condemn the use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war and to express their deep concern about the growing number of reports of human trafficking, sexual violence, exploitation, rape and abuse faced by women and children fleeing Ukraine. They are expected to call for trafficking networks that profit from sexual exploitation of women refugees to be identified and prosecuted.

MEPs are also set to urge the EU and all host and transit countries to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), particularly emergency contraception and abortion care, including for victims of rape, as well as obstetric care.

According to the UNHCR, more than five million refugees – 90% of whom are women and children – have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on 24 February. A further 7.1 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, including women and children in need of medical care.

AMENDMENT: The European Parliament adopted a resolution (462-19-89) calling on the EU to protect Ukraine women refugees from violence and sexual exploitation.

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