Tag Archives: Strasbourg plenary

MEPs: nuclear joins “green” energies

Strasbourg 07.07.2022 The European Parliament has rejected a motion to oppose the inclusion of nuclear and gas as environmentally sustainable economic activities. (Image above: illustration).

The European Parliament did not object to the Commission’s Taxonomy Delegated Act to include specific nuclear and gas energy activities, under certain conditions, in the list of environmentally sustainable economic activities covered by the so-called EU Taxonomy.

As the Commission believes there is a role for private investment in gas and nuclear activities in the green transition, it has proposed the classification of certain fossil gas and nuclear energy activities as transitional activities contributing to climate change mitigation.

The inclusion of certain gas and nuclear activities is time-limited and dependent on specific conditions and transparency requirements.

278 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, 328 against and 33 abstained. An absolute majority of 353 MEPs was needed for Parliament to veto the Commission’s proposal. If neither Parliament, nor Council object to the proposal by 11 July 2022, the Taxonomy Delegated Act will enter into force and apply as of 1 January 2023.

The Taxonomy regulation is part of the Commission’s action plan on financing sustainable growth and aims to boost green investments and prevent ‘greenwashing’.

Europarliament: Roberta Metsola elected president

Strasbourg 18.01.2022 Maltese centre-right politician Roberta Metsola succeed the Italian David Sassoli in Strasbourg and Brussels, at the head of the European Parliament. Several candidates have been promoted to replace the Italian Socialist David Sassoli, who died on January 11 from the complications of myeloma cancer at the age of 65 and whose mandate was due to end this month.

The election of the President of the European Parliament has taken place by secret ballot on Tuesday 18 January, in plenary session in Strasbourg. Roberta Metsola MEP from the party assembling European center-right, became, at 42, the youngest president of this European institution. Although it is a huge leap forward for equity agenda, there are also a number of MUST KNOW facts to understand Roberta Metsola vertical ascendance:

As a politician she has spent her entire career in the European institutions.
Roberta Metsola, born in 1979, graduated from the University of Malta and the College of Europe in Bruges (Belgium). A professional lawyer, she is “a pure product of the Brussels bubble”, sums up the Politico site. Speaking fluent Italian and Finnish, the Maltese worked from 2004 to 2012 in the Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union in Brussels. Roberta Metsola headed the Justice and Home Affairs unit there, after having held the position of legal and judicial cooperation attaché.

The Maltese specialist in European law and policy subsequently collaborated with Baroness Catherine Ashton, First ever High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as legal adviser, specifies the European People’s Party in her biography.

Appointed MEP in 2013, replacing Simon Busuttil, Roberta Metsola thus became one of the first Maltese representatives sitting in Strasbourg. A member of the Maltese Nationalist Party, she was re-elected in the 2014 European elections with a “record number of votes for a woman”, underlines the Europoean think tank Bruegel.

As an MEP, Roberta Metsola is a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, where she has been also a coordinator for the EPP, continues Bruegel. The MEP also participated in the special committee of the Parliament devoted to the fight against terrorism, as well as in the delegation for relations with the USA. The MEP also took part in the European Parliament’s commission of inquiry into the Panama Papers.

According to Politico, Roberta Metsola is considered, within the Parliament, as one of the main MEPs focused on migration issues. She was notably the co-author of the Parliament’s report on Europe’s response to the refugee crisis, which effected her native Malta.

The candidacy of Roberta Metsola, mother of four, arouses controversy, because the MEP promotes conservative pro-life policy, fiercely opposing abortion. As French newspaper Liberation underlines, the elected official continues to disapprove of resolutions defending the right to abortion and contraception. Last September, Metsola also abstained during a vote calling on the European Commission to criminalise violence against women, points out French newspaper Le Monde.

In Malta, one of a few societies in Europe where abortion remains illegal in all circumstances. The candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament has however promised not to defend her openly anti-abortion positions at the head of the institution, notes Liberation. And as Euractiv media has underlined that, the EU has no competence in matters of abortion.

Malta is the only EU member state to strictly prohibit abortion entirely while Poland recently tightened the rules further shifting to conservative view by making it illegal to terminate a pregnancy even in cases of severe and irreversible fetal defects. Abortion is also illegal in Andorra and San Marino — although residents in the latter overwhelmingly backed a proposal to make abortion legal in a referendum over the weekend. Residents in Gibraltar similarly voted to ease abortion rules earlier this year. The European list is concluded by Lichtenstein and Monaco also have restrictive abortion rules.

Roberta Metsola “is consensual, except with the subject that makes us talk about her”, indicated a spokesperson for the Renew Europe (Liberals) parliamentary group with Elle magazine. As French newpaper Le Monde notes, the MP has regularly defended the rights of LGBTQ+ people. “As a woman, I know how important it is to have allies in your struggles. (…) Europe is a zone of freedom,” she said in December, Elle reports.

According to the Green MEP Manon Aubry, interviewed by the magazine, the Maltese candidate “has always defended a fairly strict sanitary cordon with the far right”. The elected also had more moderate positions than others, on the right, on the reception of refugees, recalls Le Monde. Metsola also called for the resignation of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the wake of the death of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, murdered in October 2017.

Europarl: Belarus sanctions in view

Strasbourg 26.10.2021 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke to MEPs about the continuing crackdown on dissenting voices in Belarus and called on the EU to take firm action against the regime.

“The Belarusian regime has shown itself willing to seize individuals from international flights, misuse international agencies to punish dissent, to weaponise migrants in a way deliberately designed to undermine the stability and security of Europe,” said Tsikhanouskaya during her speech in the Parliament on 24 November.

The Belarusian opposition leader called on the EU to help address the ongoing crisis with migrants on the EU-Belarus borders: “Both Belarussians and migrants are now hostages of the regime and these two problems cannot be solved separately.”

She said the EU should coordinate sanctions against the regime with the US and the UK to make the sanctions “effective and not only symbolic”.

Ahead of Tsikhanouskaya’s speech, Parliament President David Sassoli condemned the actions of the Belarusian regime and called on other institutions to defend the respect of fundamental rights in the country.

“Belarus continues to violate the rights of its citizens, to silence civil society’s voice, to use repression as a daily weapon,” said Sassoli. “The regime didn’t hesitate to use men, women and children who needed protection, putting their lives in danger without any respect for fundamental human rights, just to destabilise the EU.”

Tsikhanouskaya’s address comes amid a continuing geopolitical crisis on the EU-Belarus border. The Belarusian regime has been funnelling migrants primarily from the Middle East to the country’s border with the EU, and in particular Poland. In response, the EU agreed to expand the bloc’s existing sanctions on Belarus to target, among others, airlines and officials involved in bringing migrants to the border areas.

Europarl: Sakharov Prize 2021

Strasbourg 18.10.2021 The 2021 Sakharov Prize nominees  The 2021 finalists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are Afghan women, Jeanine Áñez and Alexei Navalny. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg)

Meet this year’s finalists of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, who were chosen at a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees on 14 October:

Afghan women, represented by 11 human rights activists

Jeanine Áñez, Bolivian politician

Alexei Navalny, Russian activist and political prisoner

Afghan women

Under the previous Taliban regime, women experienced forced marriage, high maternity mortality, low literacy, forced virginity tests and couldn’t travel without a man. Following the Taliban’s return to power, women are again excluded from government and education and their rights and freedoms are threatened. The women, who are nominated for their brave fight for equality and human rights, are:

Shaharzad Akbar – chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

Mary Akrami – head of the Afghan Women’s Network

Zarifa Ghafari – mayor of Maidan Shar since 2018

Palwasha Hassan – activist and the director of Afghan Women Educational Centre (AWEC)

Freshta Karim – founder of a mobile library and an advocate for education and learning

Sahraa Karimi – first female president of the Afghan state film company

Metra Mehran – women empowerment and education advocate and co-founder of the Feminine Perspectives Movement

Horia Mosadiq – human and women’s rights activist

Sima Samar – human rights advocate, former Minister of Women’s Affairs and former chair of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission

Habiba Sarabi – member of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Anisa Shaheed – political reporter

Jeanine Áñez

Jeanine Áñez is a Bolivian politician who became the interim president of her country in November 2019, after alleged electoral fraud by incumbent Evo Morales. In November 2020, after free and fair elections there was a peaceful transfer of power. However, on 13 March 2021 she was arrested on charges of “terrorism, sedition and conspiracy”. Accused of plotting a coup d’état against Morales, she has been imprisoned ever since.

Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition politician, anti-corruption activist and major political opponent of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Known through his LiveJournal blog, YouTube and Twitter accounts, where he has millions of followers Navalny came to international prominence by organising demonstrations, running for office and advocating reforms against corruption in Russia, Putin and his government. In August 2020, while on a trip to Siberia, he was poisoned. He spent months recovering in Berlin, but returned to Moscow in January 2021 where he was arrested. In February he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison. Now incarcerated in a high-security penal colony, he went on a 23-day hunger strike in April to protest the lack of medical care. In June 2021, a Russian court banned Navalny’s regional offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

MEPs strategy towards Russia

Strasbourg 16.09.2021 Parliament says the EU must push back against aggressive policies while laying the groundwork for cooperation with a future democratic Russia.

Assessing the state of EU-Russia relations, the European Parliament makes clear that it distinguishes between the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The latter is, Parliament says, a “stagnating authoritarian kleptocracy led by a president-for-life surrounded by a circle of oligarchs”.

MEPs stress, however, that a democratic future for Russia is possible and that the Council must adopt an EU strategy for this scenario, encompassing incentives and conditions to strengthen domestic democratic tendencies.

The text was approved by 494 votes in favour, 103 against with 72 abstentions.

“Russia can be a democracy and defending ‘Democracy First’ in EU relations with Russia is our first task. The EU and its institutions have to work on the assumption that change is possible in Russia. It also needs more courage in taking a strong stance vis-a-vis the Kremlin regime when it comes to defending human rights; this is what strategic engagement with the Russian people is all about. It is about ending domestic repression, returning the choice to the people, and freeing all political prisoners”, said rapporteur Andrius Kubilius (EPP, Lithuania) after the vote.

“In addition, if this week’s parliamentary elections in Russia are recognised as fraudulent, the EU should not recognise the Russian Duma and should ask for the country to be suspended from international parliamentary assemblies, including the one of the Council of Europe. The Kremlin’s continuous repression of all opposition candidates, free media and NGOs undermines the legitimacy and fairness of these elections. The Russian people must have the right to choose and their choices must be honoured, as in any other democratic country”, he added.

Parliament proposes the EU establishing an alliance with the U.S. and other like-minded partners to counterbalance the efforts of Russia and China to weaken democracy worldwide and destabilise the European political order. It should foresee sanctions, policies to counter illicit financial flows, and support for human rights activists.

Support to Russia’s’ neighbouring countries

On Russia’s aggression and influence over the EU’s eastern neighbourhood, the EU must continue to support so-called “Eastern Partnership” countries such as Ukraine or Georgia, and to promote European reforms and fundamental freedoms in the region. These efforts should also serve to encourage Russian support for democratic reforms.

Reduce the EU’s energy dependency on Russia, fighting “dirty money” at home

The text further states that the EU needs to cut its dependency on Russian gas, oil and other raw materials, at least while President Putin is in power. The European Green Deal and the boosting of new resources will play a crucial geopolitical role in achieving this.

MEPs want the EU to build its capacity to expose and stop the flows of dirty money from Russia, as well as to expose the resources and financial assets that regime-linked autocrats and oligarchs have hidden in EU member states.

Worries ahead of the 2021 parliamentary elections in Russia

Members conclude by demanding the EU be prepared to withhold recognition of the Russian parliament if the 2021 parliamentary elections in September are conducted in violation of democratic principles and international law.

#SOTEU: Photo reportage Strasbourg Plenary

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 Aleksy Witwicki photo reportage: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her state of the union address #SOTEU at the European Parliament Plenary on Wednesday (15 September), outlining the future perspectives for the Commission policies.

Von der Leyen, a former German defence minister who took the reins of the EU executive two years ago charts some new policy or the 27 bloc, particularly underlining the importance of strategic thinking on the issues of Defence, security, and migration.

Unlike per predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker after the highly enthusiastic speech the president of the Commission preferred to avid the meeting with press, and left Strasbourg without media democratic scrutiny, confirming once again her reputation of “virtual” head of the Insitution.

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Hemicycle European Parliament State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 European Parliament State of the Union Address 2021 Greetings. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 MEPs European Parliament State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Coffee breake European Parliament State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Sanitary COVID19 rules European Parliament State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Vice-president Pedro Silva Pereira, European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Comissioner Didier Reynders interview, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

MEPs debate Hungary EU budget restrictions

Strasbourg 06.07.2021 The budget conditionality regulation does not require any additional clarification to be applied and rule of law breaches must be addressed without delay, say the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

“We are now one step closer to finally applying the Conditionality regulation against those breaking the Rule of Law in the member states. With the Parliament’s contribution to the guidelines, we offer the Commission the means and tools to act without hesitation. The regulation is ready to be used”, said the co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, FI) after the vote.

In a resolution adopted by the Budget and Budgetary Control committees on Thursday with 53 votes 11 against and 2 abstentions, MEPs regret that the Commission has decided to abide by the non-binding December 2020 European Council conclusions and delay application of the budget conditionality regulation.

They stress that the guidelines cannot alter, expand or restrict the scope of the budget conditionality regulation and that, in order to add any value, they must clarify how the legislative provisions will be applied in practice, outlining the procedure, definitions and methodology.
They also call on the Commission to set out a “clear, precise and user-friendly system” for submitting complaints under the regulation.

MEPs call on the Commission to investigate swiftly any potential breaches of the principles of the rule of law “that affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget”, by pointing out that “the situation in some member states already warrants immediate action”. The Commission should report to Parliament on the first cases under investigation by October 2021 the latest, they add.

MEPs finally criticise the Commission for having missed the deadline set by Parliament to apply the regulation and adopt the guidelines by 1 June 2021. They welcome the 23 June letter by the President of Parliament saying that if the Commission does not act, the EP will take action in the Court of Justice.

“We have said from the beginning that the guidelines were not necessary, but the Commission put forward its proposal and asked the EP for its position. So here it is. Parliament is always ready to work with the Commission on the rule of law, and in turn we expect the European Commission not to deceive us. It must act swiftly and strongly”, said the co-rapporteur Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, ES).

French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune said on Wednesday he expected a form of sanctions against Hungary over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law.

Beaune also said he was not in favour of kicking Hungary out of the European Union, reiterating earlier comments to this effect from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I am not in favour of Hungary being kicked out of the European Union”, he told RTL radio.

Brussels hosts Europarl October plenary

The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli issued a communication to attention of the Members of the European, informing them about next Plenary taking place in Brussels instead of Strasbourg as a result of the sanitary situation in Grand Est region of France. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg)
Unfortunately, the health situation prevents us from going to Strasbourg for the first plenary session in October. We hope that everything will change soon and that we can return to our city
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread in Europe and across the world”  Sassoli wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

On September 10, 2020, the Conference of Presidents debated the consequences of the pandemic and came to the conclusion that Parliament will again hold its sessions in Strasbourg as soon as conditions allow. In close collaboration with the French authorities, we continue to closely monitor the evolution of COVID-19″ the text of the communication reads.

“Unfortunately, given the recent increase in the rate of transmission of the virus in France, including in the Bas-Rhin department, and for the sake of public health, we must reconsider the displacement of Members and employees in the European Parliament, a few days of the first parliamentary session in October.

“Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, is very close to our hearts. Beyond the legal obligation to hold the sessions there, it is our most sincere wish to find this city which embodies the reconciliation of European countries better than any other.

“I would like to thank the French authorities and the City of Strasbourg for their support and the close collaboration implemented since the start of the pandemic and I sincerely hope that we will be able to go there again soon”.

“The session of the European Parliament from 5 to 8 October will be held in Brussels”.
Image below: European Parliament, Brussels.

Need for EU legislationon exotic pet trade

Anna van Densky from Strasbourg At monthly hearing of the European Parliament Animal welfare intergroup David van Gennep, CEO AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection foundation (AAP), explained the profound need in regulating exotic animal trade, limiting the list to 42 allowed spices in the European Union, thus creating the ‘positive list’. The exotic animals as pets fashion is a rise, so is the trade in the species, however the overwhelming majority of them can not be adapted to life in captivity, suffering in misery,  being moved from cage to cage, changing owners and caretakers. Many of the exotic pets are tormented by various diseases, related to the unsuitable conditions, lacking space, proper diets and even sunshine. Some of them are transmitting bacteria and viruses, representing danger to humans. Public health and security remain the compromised issues, victim to whims of some individuals, eager to compensate their own mediocrity with the exotic pets colorful identities.

Unfortunately barbaric tradition to keep exotic animals as pets in captivity is booming in Europe nowadays due to the e-commerce, facilitating the purchase. High popularity of pictures with exotic species  is also a lucrative business for their  owners, careless, and often negligent to the particular spices needs,  exploiting the animal to maximum profit along the dramatically shortened lifespan.

‘With the growing popularity of exotic pets we can not help all the suffering and abandoned animals, the only way out is to address the root causes of the problem, and put in place the legislation, establishing the positive list of allowed exotic pets across the EUDavid van Gennep said, calling the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to ensure  the proper legal framework for resolving the issue of exotic pets. Dutch APP foundation, led by Mr.Gennep, aims at long-term solutions for improving the welfare of these exotic, non-domesticated animals, and in this regard the proper European legislation is the relevant solution for the animals and communities in Europe and beyond.

Some of the exotic pet trade is legal, selling spices bred in the EU, but increasingly the animals are captured from the wild illegally (often in Africa) to supply for the European demand for exotic pets, fueling the multi-billion global black market. Some owners discover themselves unable to provide for the pets, when they rapidly grow, and intentional releases of exotic pets are increasingly common in Europe, exposing animal to long agony and painful death. Not less catastrophic  is the other outcome of the irresponsible behavior, when the abandoned animal does not die from starvation or exposure to harsh conditions, but finds a mate to proliferate producing invasive species to detriment of the ecosystems.

Furthermore the exotic pet trade is the contempt to the EU Lisbon Treaty, enshrining animal welfare as “European value“. The Lisbon Treaty, in force from December 1st 2009, includes animal sentience as an Article. It means that recognition of animals as creatures having ability to feel is now in the main body of the Treaty, establishing responsibility of the governments of the EU member-states towards the animals, and requesting the humane treatment of them.

The hearing of the Intergroup chaired by Anja Hazekamp  MEP (GUE/NGL) took place on October 24 in Strasbourg during Plenary week #EPlenary of the European Parliament.

Europarl to support Brexit delay

On September 18 (Wednesday) the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will discuss the current state of play of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

The discussion will focus on the implications of no-deal Brexit and the conditions under which the Parliament would support a third extension of Article 50.

MEPs will vote on a resolution supporting Brexit extention on the same issue later in the afternoon.

The Europarliament Motion for the Resolutionindicates that it would support an extension of the period provided for in Article 50 if there are reasons and a purpose for such an extension (such as to avoid a ‘no-deal exit’, to hold a general election or a referendum, to revoke Article 50, or to approve a withdrawal agreement) and that the work and functioning of the EU institutions are not adversely affected”.

« Older Entries