Issue 4 / March 2002
High stakes at Barcelona summit : critical for the
social market economy
By Yannis Zografos
The EPP-ED Group has offered (an unquestioned and) unconditional backing to the 10-year strategy
adopted by the European Council, in March 2000 in Lisbon, aimed at modernising the European
economy based on the principles of the social market economy.
Just days before the critical summit in Barcelona the EPP-ED Group issued a statement addressed to
the EU leaders, in which it laid down its priorities. At the same time the heads of the eight national
delegations in the Group wrote a letter to the "Financial Times" calling on the Barcelona summit to
address the issue of Business Impact Assessment. (See insert)
The EPP-ED Group called upon the Summiteers to:
put the Lisbon strategy back on the reforming path laid down in Lisbon - it must not be allowed
simply to become a bureaucratic, target-setting, statistics-gathering exercise
emphasise the role of private enterprise, particularly SMEs and new start-ups, as the main driving
force for innovation and employment, as well as for social and local integration in Europe
focus on social exclusion by
- acting against over-regulation in the labour market
- developing national educational systems in ways which develop "civic" and social skills as well as
give priority to reducing red-tape, both from their own governments' departments, and at a
European level, particularly through the early introduction of regulatory assessments
put consumers' interests first in key areas such as
energy, where ambitious deadlines for liberalisation for consumers, as well as industrial users,
should be set
air transport, through the achievement of a "Single European Sky" by 2004
e-Europe, by putting more emphasis on providing user-friendly services to citizens and less on
review the open method of co-ordination in "non-Community" areas such as pensions, healthcare
and education and to ensure that the European Parliament is fully associated with the work of the
Council and Commission in these areas.
The Group will assess the results of the summit on the basis of the above proposals and will define its
position in the resolution that will be voted upon at the extraordinary session on March 20.
A letter to the Editor
The leaders of eight national delegations in the EPP-ED group wrote to the Financial Times stressing
that the Barcelona Summit must address the issue of Business Impact Assessment - the process of
calculating the costs to business of EU legislative proposals. They pointed out that simply by
improving the quality of European regulation, a staggering £30 billion could be saved each year in the
EU. They acknowledged that while the Council and Commission are taking steps in the right direction,
the European Parliament has the greatest distance to travel to rectify its faults in this area. And they
called for safeguard procedures to ensure that new legislation cannot be adopted unless the benefits
clearly outweigh the costs.
A fine compromise on airport noise
By Rupert Kietemeyer
The EP has found a compromise between the interests of travellers who want to fly and those who live
It is a great success that the European Parliament has adopted Georg Jarzembowski's (D) report on
rules and procedures on noise restrictions at airports in the Community." Now the Transport Council
can adopt this directive, proposed by the Commission, at their next meeting on 25 and 26 March; a
second reading and a tedious conciliation procedure will thus be avoided. This would have
dramatically delayed implementation of the directive," Jarzembowski said.
Jarzembowski referred to the fact that the European Union had adapted an agreement, adopted at the
ICAO Conference last autumn and which applies world-wide. "Naturally I personally have certain
doubts, because we have altered the system agreed at the ICAO conference. Now, it is not just the
noise of an individual aeroplane which is important, but the noise situation at each airport. This type of
the noise reduction, which of course varies between different airports, also gives us the possibility of
waiving the Hushkit regulation and thus of ending this conflict with the USA."
Jarzembowski also highlighted the fact that the European Parliament had succeeded on its main
points, such as the definition of the city airports. Up to now city airports were only airports which had
another airport nearby. Thus there were practically no city airports. "We extended this definition, by
omitting the neighbouring airport as a requirement. With this directive, we have found a compromise
between the interests of travellers who want to fly and those who live near airports."
Postal services set free, but the postman
continues to call
by Rupert Krietemeyer
"In the future, postal services will be of more benefit to Europe's citizens" was the optimistic message
this week from EPP-ED rapporteur Markus Ferber (D), speaking during the European Parliament's
debate on postal services liberalisation.
"With decisions for gradual mail liberalisation set to continue and to progress beyond national borders,
a compromise could be achieved by acceptance of the common position", said Ferber the European
Parliament's Rapporteur on the liberalisation of the postal services. Any compromise will be based on
the European Parliament's demand for a full and strengthened role in the preparation, execution and
follow-up of a study, with a view to complete liberalisation by 2009.
With an acceptance of a common position, the modified directive could come into effect shortly after
approval from Council and, as a result, markets will finally receive the clarification they need. "The
Council has already given signs that it can accept the changes proposed by the European Parliament"
With its proposal for a directive, the Commission is fulfilling the objectives set at the European Council
in Lisbon in 2000 to speed up liberalisation in areas such as postal services, the aim being to achieve
a fully operational market in these services. The Commission aims to establish a more open postal
sector which will better serve the needs of all users and strengthen the Union economically, whilst
ensuring that essential social aims are safeguarded, most importantly the provision of universal
A complete liberalisation is however not yet possible in Europe. In the Council's common position the
possibility is at least kept open that complete liberalisation could happen by 2009. "I believe that
complete liberalisation is necessary before the end of the decade ", concluded Mr Ferber.
Gas and energy markets will be freer, too
by Mario Schwetz
A real and effective Internal Market in the electricity and gas sector became a reality with the adoption
by the European Parliament of the relevant directive. It stipulates that Member States will leave non-
domestic electricity customers (i.e. all industrial and commercial properties) free to choose their
electricity supplier and this will be extended in the future to all customers (100% market opening) . For
the gas sector it stipulates that the non-domestic gas customers will be able to do this one year later
than with electricity and it will be also extended to all customers by 2005.
The EPP-ED Group spokesperson Wim Van Velzen (NL) said that our Group had pursued a
consistent and active approach in favour of the liberalisation and the opening of the energy market to
ensure a level playing-field and transparency in the EU energy and gas sector. The EPP-ED voted in
favour of the report.
Regarding the report on the electricity sector, the position of the Group was that there is a heavy
regulatory approach and over reliance on Member States Authorities and frameworks which would not
allow for a co-ordinated liberalised approach. The EPP-ED Group considers that binding
benchmarking tariffs for enterprises are inflexible as they do not allow any reduction of prices.
Conversely, the result for the gas sector directive reflects a better overall balance: pushing for an open
market, while safeguarding some sectors' interests, such as the long term transit contracts that
guarantee security of supply and increase interconnection capacity.
Food supplements standardised to the benefit of
by Knut Gölz
The European Parliament has adopted, with a large majority EPP-ED rapporteur Emilia Müller's (D)
proposals to improve the availability of vitamin and mineral supplements in all EU Member States.
The directive will facilitate access of consumers to products, such as capsules, tablets and powders
and at the same time help manufacturers with the establishment of minimum standards for ingredients
at a European level. In 1999 European consumers spent more than € 1.6 billion on supplements and
about 20% of the population regularly consumes them. As demand for these products is rising
constantly, the directive tabled by the Commission intends to liberalise the European market for
vitamin and mineral supplements and sets out the conditions under which they can be manufactured
and marketed. For Emilia Müller it was particularly important "to bring together the different rules in the
Member States so that manufacturers as well as consumers can benefit from a united European
Consumers can now rely on the safety of vitamin and mineral preparations and information on
packaging will now be comprehensive and uniform throughout Europe. Since, particularly in a
liberalised market, safety must be guaranteed, the new EU food safety agency will recommend daily
intake levels for each substance to be published on the packaging.
Ms Emilia Müller emphasised that the European Parliament did not give in to any particular interests
and that its decision was an objective one. According to her, there had never been any intention to
prohibit food supplements or vitamin treatments in general, nor to restrict sales of vitamin or mineral
products in pharmacies. However, Parliament wants consumers to be protected from dangerous
doses and unrealistic promises. The directive comes into force immediately and it is also backed by
European Consumer Associations.
Financial Services mark economic reform
By James Temple Smithson
The day before the Barcelona Summit, economic reform was at the top of the agenda in Parliament.
Three key pieces of legislation concerning financial services were approved by the House: directives
on prospectuses, market abuse and financial conglomerates. These form a key part of the Financial
Services Action Plan, launched at the Lisbon Summit in spring 2000, which is designed to bring about
an integrated market in financial services in the EU by 2005.
The Market Abuse Directive is designed to ensure the integrity of European financial markets, to
establish and implement common standards against market abuse throughout Europe, and to
enhance investor confidence in these markets. It provides for a general definition of what constitutes
market abuse and proposes that Member States designate a single regulatory and supervisory
authority with a common minimum set of responsibilities.
The Financial Conglomerates Directive is intended to ensure the stability of European financial
markets, to establish common prudential standards throughout Europe for the supervision of financial
conglomerates (cross-sector groups combining insurance companies, banks and investment firms),
and to introduce level playing fields and legal certainty between financial institutions. It proposes
specific co-ordination arrangements between supervisors.
The Prospectus Directive aims to create a single passport in Europe for prospectuses, the documents
that accompany issues of shares or bonds and which set out the information deemed to be necessary
for retail investors (this proposal excludes professional and institutions investors). This prospectus
would be approved by national authorities and then recognised throughout the Union, making it easier
for firms to raise funds throughout the EU. The EPP-ED Group supported some fundamental
amendments to the proposal to reduce the scope of the Directive and to reject several costly and
unnecessary provisions so as to relieve the regulatory burden on businesses. Specifically, it wanted
to ensure exemptions for smaller companies (those with a market capitalisation of less than € 350
million) that wish to raise funds only in their home country.
MEPs slam US for Protectionism on Steel
By Alex Benjamin
The European Union and the United States were at loggerheads again this week as the European
Parliament debated the current crisis in the steel industry, provoked by the American administration's
protectionist measures on steel imports.
Repeated assertions from Donald Evans, the US Commerce Secretary that America will not budge on
steel saw the EPP-ED rally behind Commissioner Lamy's call for action to be taken against the US.
Jonathan Evans (UK) for the EPP-ED said "We have been pointing to the USA as an example of a
deregulated and liberalised economy. It is a shattering blow to see the way that President Bush, faced
with the difficulties that his steel industry is facing, has gone for protectionism"
The EPP-ED did however re-iterate its support for the United States following the events of September
Stating that such support should remain unlinked to any other agreement in any other policy area, the
EPP-ED's John Cushnahan (IRL) added: " After 11 September, Europe responded with unstinting
support and solidarity, and rightly so. Regrettably the same sort of solidarity and co-operation has not
been reciprocated in US Foreign Policy. It would seem that for the US , the transatlantic relationship is
simply one of convenience, to be used when it suits , but ignored when US policy and interests take
It now looks like the WTO will be the final arbitrator in this acerbic clash.
2003 EU Budget Guidelines
By Philipp M. Schulmeister
The annual budget procedure begins with the discussion about Parliament's Guidelines for the 2003
Commission budget. During the March-Session the political priorities of the EPP-ED Group were
adopted by a large majority.
The preparation of enlargement being the main priority for the Parliament, EPP-ED shadow rapporteur
Markus Ferber (D) underlined the necessity of administrative preparation for enlargement and the
financing of this expenditure before enlargement takes place. Parliament is therefore anxious to see
the Commission's administrative reforms put in place as soon as possible and increase
interinstitutional co-operation with a view to producing savings.
In its resolution, Parliament emphasised the importance of long-term commitment to reconstruction in
Afghanistan. Other foreign policy issues include continued help for the Mediterranean region and help
for Argentina. The resolution expresses concern about the deteriorating situation affecting the
Palestinian people and the destruction by Israel of buildings for the Palestinian Authority which were
constructed with EU financial help. As a result of last year's terrorist attacks, a new priority aims to
strengthen internal security within the Union. At an internal level, Parliament wants to see substantial
reforms to the CAP and an improvement in the implementation of regional and social fund
Concerning Parliament's own budget for 2003, the rapporteur Per Stenmarck (S) called for
rationalising the interpretation and translation services after enlargement on the basis of 'controlled
multi-lingualism'. Parliament also broadly supported our Group's initial proposal to allow
parliamentarians from candidate countries to join Parliament as observers immediately after the
signature of the accession treaties. The Parliament's information policy should be extended to cover
the candidate countries and the 2004 elections.
The Union has a legal "face"
by Jesper Haglund
Ahead of the Laeken summit in December, the EPP-ED Group Bureau had adopted a draft report on
European Union institutional reform, called "A Constitution for a Europe that works". In this report,
EPP-ED party-members called for a full legal personality for the European Union.
Last week in the Strasbourg plenary session, the EPP-ED Group endorsed this decision by voting in
favour of the report on "the legal personality of the European Union". The report was adopted by an
overwhelming majority. The EPP-ED had always argued in favour of a federal Europe with its own
Constitution. For the Group it is natural and important to give the EU the same legal status as had
been given in the past to the European Economic Community, the Coal and Steel Community and the
Atomic Energy Community and to merge the different Treaties into one.
This legal personality will contribute giving the EU a higher international profile. It will allow the Union
to complete international agreements, join international organisations and to conduct diplomatic
relations. Furthermore, it is only with a legal personality that the fundamental rights of individuals can
become enforceable by the EU. Today, the European Court of Justice cannot rule on infringements of
fundamental rights in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, nor can the EU be held
liable within the framework of the justice and home affairs legislation.
A legal personality to the EU would put an end to the current legal void, improve the Union's profile
internationally, improve the protection of fundamental rights and contribute to the increased
transparency and effectiveness of EU actions.
Richard Balfe joins in
One of the most senior Members of the European Parliament, Richard Balfe, 57, became last week
the 233rd Member of the EPP-ED Group. Mr Balfe has been a Euro-MP since 1979 and was recently
elected Quaestor of the EP. He represents London. Hans-Gert Poettering, the Group's Chairman, and
Jonathan Evans, the Head of the Conservative Delegation welcomed Mr Balfe to the Group during
Monday's Group meeting. He promised to be an active Member of the Group and to maintain a
constructive attitude in order to promote EPP-ED Group's positions.
The documentation service of the EPP-ED Group this month presented it's 2001 yearbook to the
Press at a cocktail reception in Brussels.
The full range of the activities of the largest political group in the European Parliament is included in
the publication, in a concise and succinct way. The Yearbook is divided into eleven chapters : the
EPP-ED Group - its Members and its structure; parliamentary work; EPP-ED Group meetings with
leading politicians; newsletters and Session Reports; external meetings; the Fifth Dialogue between
the EPP-ED Group and the Orthodox Churches; the meetings in Genval; the top political issues of the
year 2001; an extensive list of the Group's publications; the activities of the European People's Party;
and a chronology of events in 2001.
The Yearbook is also available in CD-ROM format and exists in three languages : English, French and
Reform of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies
At the end of August 2001, the Bureau of the EPP-ED Group met in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia,
Spain) and discussed in depth the future of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common
Fisheries Policies of the European Union. On the basis of this debate the Group has defined its
The debate saw members of the Bureau and the members of the Group with a particular interest on
the questions involved, as well as Arias Cañete, Minister of Agriculture, Manuel Farga Iribarne,
President of the Regional Government of Galicia, Samuel Juarez, Secretary-General for Sea and
Fishing and Javier Arenas, Secretary-General of the Partido Popular of Spain.
Extensive minutes of the debates were published by the EPP-ED Group documentation service in
English, Spanish, French and German.
Governance: the implications for the final political structure of Europe
In September 2001, the EPP-ED Group decided to organise a forward-looking discussion group on
subjects relating to European integration, society and all the issues that might affect Europe's citizens
and politicians. The meeting took place close to Brussels in the village of Genval with members of the
Group and Commissioner Michel Barnier, Dirk Hudig, former Secretary General of UNICE, Jean-Luc
Dehaene, former Prime Minister of Belgium all participating.
The minutes of the meeting were published by the documentation service of the EPP-ED Group in a
bilingual (English and French) booklet.
The above publications are available on our website: www. epp-ed.org