Plenary Focus - January 2015
As Latvia takes its turn at the rotating EU Presidency, competitiveness and growth have once again been named as top priorities. The Latvian government must reverse the EU-wide austerity trend of higher unemployment, wage cuts, rising retirement ages, diminished workers’ rights and cuts to health and education spending. The applied neoliberal policies have failed. It is urgent to restart the economy and end austerity policies. The people of Europe need policies that promote sustainable development, social progress, full employment, reducing unemployment and strengthening quality public services.
The Parliament went into negotiations with a very strong document and mandate to offer member states watertight legislation if they wanted to opt out of GM cultivation. The final negotiated text is not only watered-down but has, I believe, created loopholes for biotech companies to take countries to court. It is also disappointing that the liability system has been removed thereby offering no compensation for non GM farmers whose produce is contaminated by GMOs.
Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Tuesday
The conclusion of the protocol between the EU and São Tomé and Príncipe should be approved. However, the Commission should take the necessary steps – including revision and strengthening of the sectorial support component of the agreement – to guarantee a real change of direction by comparison with the approach followed in previous years. The Commission should make greater efforts to ensure that the conditions necessary for the proper take-up of aid have been established, with due respect for São Tomé and Príncipe’s sovereignty and for the country’s policy choices and priorities.
Ukrainian politics needs a different orientation. From the offices of EU political elites and their member states there are increasing sounds of discontent with the new Ukrainian leadership: the expected reforms are not implemented as required. Social cuts and the privatisation of remaining state property are indeed under way but the political and economic corruption is undiminished. This development logic that the population has to pay the bill while the elites get rich must be fundamentally changed.
Debate: Wednesday; Vote: Thursday
The CFSP is the cause and not the solution of many conflicts. The so-called comprehensive approach policy means the use of all economic, security and defence instruments in order to pursue and to push through economic and geostrategic interests – regardless of whether peace is at stake or whether people will suffer. The EU actively supports the military-industrial complex through security and dual-use research and thereby advocates further militarisation of civil structures and sectors. We demand a strictly civilian EU, civil approaches to conflict solutions and the separation of civil and military actions.
Above all, this protocol is formal since it only takes into account the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU. However it shows that the EU and its member states do not take into account the stakes of the democratic transition in this country and the economic and social situation. The EU continues previous policies which worsen debt, attach financial aid to increasing liberalism, and refuse, beyond words, any agreement on freedom of movement.
Something is going wrong in Turkey and we should recognise it. It is not only the recent arrests of people in the media; it’s not only the violation of freedom of speech. It’s the events at Gezi park, it’s Turkey’s attitude towards Kobani, it’s Turkey’s behaviour on the Kurdish issue, it’s the country’s attitude against Cyprus, it’s the attitude against women and minorities, it’s Erdogan’s reactions to European Parliament decisions. We want a democratic Turkey, a country that respects human rights, its neighbours and the principles of international law.