Plenary Focus - January 2014
Greece, the latest country to take over the EU Presidency, is one under strict dictates from the Troika. Criticism of the conditions in the memoranda is growing as these have led to drastic cuts in public budgets which contribute to violations of human rights. The Greek government should put this problem at the core of its presidency programme by strengthening investment in sustainable and socially equitable development and initiating a progressive migration policy that protects people´s lives and does not drive them to death at the EU’s external borders. Unfortunately, so far we have seen little evidence that the Greek government will take this route.
The report initially included some positive elements regarding consumer rights, especially with regards to best practices, transparency in online transactions, vulnerable consumers and redress procedures. Unfortunately the result of the negotiations is far from satisfactory as it fails to acknowledge the role of the economic crisis in the current situation and does not include any proposals to change this, staying thus fully in line with the goals of growth and competiveness and ignoring the consequences on consumer protection.
Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Tuesday
EU HOMELESSNESS STRATEGY
Joao Pimenta Lopes
A homelessness strategy will only get results if it is integrated into an overall plan to combat poverty and unemployment, and to promote economic development and to end the undermining of labour rights and standards, as well as wage levels. This must be combined with a policy of spatial planning and housing geared to meeting people’s needs and rights, and not for financial or speculative interests.
Debate and Vote: Thursday
We must stand up for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Refusing a woman the right to make informed and safe choices about her own body and sexuality is discrimination of the highest order and if we don’t combat the dangerous rhetoric of the far-right more women will be denied access to safe and free abortion services. This is even more pertinent given the shocking proposals from the Spanish government to ban abortion. We must stand up and defend women’s rights!
The Bütikofer report is a missed opportunity for the EU’s industrial policy, for jobs and for workers’ rights. I cannot be satisfied by these types of reports that continue to adhere religiously to the dictates of markets and profits. Enough resignation, the future of European industry is crucial for long-term growth and job creation. It needs more than empty words and shallow promises; it needs concrete and powerful policies directed by public authorities and workers’ representatives.
Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Wednesday
The horrifying case of the horsemeat scandal revealed the incredible extent of food fraud throughout Europe. Consumers have a right to know where their meat is coming from and should be able to purchase food for their families safe in the knowledge that what they are buying is in fact what it says on the label. Long and complex food chains require greater traceability to help avoid such scandals in the future.
Debate: Monday; Vote Tuesday
Two thirds of procuring entities consulted by the Commission have said they are happy with the status quo and do not need a new regulation on dealing with companies from third countries in public procurement tenders. Still, the Commission went ahead, making life more complicated for local and regional authorities. The proposal is part of Commissioner De Gucht’s aggressive external trade agenda .and aims to force third countries into signing bilateral free trade agreements with the EU so that European companies can penetrate foreign public procurement markets. We must reject this proposal.
Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Wednesday