Plenary Focus - April 2014 (Brussels mini-session)
Apart from the fact that the mid-term review comes at the very last moment of its implementation, it shies away from condemning current EU policies, particularly in the field of migration and internal security. Neither does it properly address the impact economic policies have had on fundamental rights. It also fails to ask key questions concerning the usefulness and continued necessity of key policies in the area of justice, freedom and security, and it makes no strong statement on the NSA scandal.
Debate: Wednesday; Vote Wednesday
Rina Ronja Kari
When the Barosso II Commission took up office, it promised to significantly improve management of the EU budget. Yet for the third year in a row the error rate has gone up. The problems affect in particular the Commission's management of agricultural, regional, social, and cohesion funds, which is more than half the budget. This is simply unacceptable so I cannot support granting discharge to the Commission.
Debate: Wednesday; Vote: Thursday
MOTOR VEHICLES’ SOUND LEVELS
We will vote against this new Regulation on sound levels of motor vehicles as it is a significantly watered-down version of the original proposal made by the Commission: limit values are lower, and time scales to reduce the sound of motor vehicles are longer than necessary. The car industry-friendly European Council and a majority of MEPs made sure that the Regulation allows manufacturers to measure the noise of their cars with silent tyres (with very low tread depth) and does not make the provision of consumer information about the sound level compulsory.
When it comes to clinical trials we need more ethics, more transparency and more respect for human rights. We succeeded in our efforts to make the initial Commission proposal respect the rights of people involved in clinical trials, especially those belonging to vulnerable populations. The role of national ethics committees was restored, as a clinical trial cannot go ahead if the responsible ethics committee objects to it. In order to ensure transparency of results from clinical trials the outcome must be published on an EU portal, even if it is inconclusive.
The proposal on electronic identification of bovine animals fails to provide consumers with adequate information about the meat they buy and eat. Unfortunately, the interests of the meat industry are considered more important than the interests of the consumer. Meat from cloned animals and their offspring should be labelled as such. Furthermore, electronic identification of bovine animals should not be voluntary, given the importance of safe meat from a reliable source.
EUROPEAN YEAR FOR DEVELOPMENT
This report calls for 2015 to be named the European Year for Development. While I agree with the principle behind this call to establish such a year, I remain critical of the fact that social programmes are being cut all across Europe and our trade policies remain favourable to multinationals' exploitation of new 'markets' in developing countries. This is completely contrary to sustainable development! The proposal also contains scant mention of the disproportionate impact poverty has on the lives of women and girls in developing countries. Gender equality and ending discrimination must be central to any development cooperation strategy.
While the Commission wants to foster innovative and efficient means of payment, the Parliament insists that this cannot work without enhanced consumer rights and proper data protection. The GUE/NGL insisted that Parliament campaigns for an EU-wide unconditional refund right for direct debit users. The regulation on interchange fees intends to stop abusive practices by card schemes and banks and would be of particular benefit to small retailers and consumers. Parliament wants the capping of fees sped up. Strict control of private providers of modern means of payments is essential.
Debate Wednesday; Vote: Thursday