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EPP ED Report

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					EPP-ED Report
Issue 10 / October 2008


Emission cuts despite financial crisis

By Gunnar Larsson

Not surprisingly, the topic of this week's key debate in Parliament was the
Brussels Summit and its conclusions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy travelled
from Paris to Strasbourg to address the Parliament and answer MEPs' questions
on a wide range of issues, but naturally, foremost, the economy.

Sarkozy, who has played a leading role in tackling the financial crisis, did not
want to play the blame game: "It serves no purpose to appoint blame to
someone. We should simply find ways and means to prevent it from happening
again." He continued: "I would specifically like to point out that Europe should
have a say in global governance of the twenty-first century. We should not be
surprised it does not work. We live in the twenty-first century, but we have the
institutions of the twentieth."

EPP-ED Group Chairman Joseph Daul (F) called for stricter rules and tougher
enforcement of existing rules: "The financial crisis is not behind us, but it is in
situations of crisis that we can adopt rules for the future and we must adopt rules
for the future. I hear now and then that we are now assisting in the collapse of
capitalism, that everything is the fault of the free market. In reality, the free
market has proved it needs to be accompanied by rules. Apparently, existing
rules have not been sufficient or not been applied firmly enough. We must work
together with central banks and with the entire international community."

Following demands from several European countries to ease cuts in carbon
dioxide emissions, Nicolas Sarkozy also addressed the intended pet project of
the French EU Presidency: "Nothing indicates the world is better off from an
environmental point of view just because there has been a financial crisis. When
we decided to launch the Energy and Climate Package, we were aware of our
responsibilities towards our children and the future of the planet." He did,
however, express understanding for those countries concerned about the
economic impact of curbs in emissions: "Certain economies are 95 percent
based on coal. We cannot ask of them measures that would force them to their
knees, with problems which are already immense. We will have to find ways and
flexible means."
Increased choice of jurisdiction for increasing number of
'international' divorces

By Eva Mitsopoulou

The plenary of the European Parliament adopted a report on Tuesday on
applicable law in matrimonial matters. Panayiotis Demetriou (CY), EPP-ED
Spokesman on the issue, supported the proposed Regulation for providing a
clear and comprehensive legal framework, covering both jurisdiction as well as
applicable law rules in matrimonial matters.

"The increasing number of 'international' couples divorcing each year in the EU
should be able to choose the Member State where they wish to divorce, if they
have links with it, such as nationality or the place of marriage. At the same time,
the two parties need to be informed of their rights", said Demetriou after the vote.

"The European Union should give a clear answer to its citizens. The new
proposal gives a clear and comprehensive legal framework in matrimonial
matters in order to ensure adequate solutions for citizens in terms of legal
certainty, predictability, flexibility and access to court in case of divorce and legal
separation", Demetriou continued.

Panayiotis Demetriou regrets the fact that the Council did not agree on the
proposal and only some Member States wish to have an EU Regulation on the
law applicable to matrimonial matters and supports the idea of an enhanced
cooperation as the only available solution which would enable them to go ahead
on their own.

"The report is a strong political signal to the Council in order to push the Member
States to adopt an EU instrument on the matter", Panayiotis Demetriou
concluded.


Safe internet for children: Raise society's awareness, impose
tough sanctions on abusers

By Delia Vlase

As new technologies become more widespread and computer literacy increases,
children are being exposed to the risks of illegal content and harmful behaviour
such as harassment, child pornography, online grooming, bullying, dissemination
of racist ideas, incitement to self-harm, anorexia or suicide. MEPs are calling for
a programme to promote and educate parents and children about the safe use of
the internet and other communication technologies, as well as an effective
response to illegal content and harmful conduct online.
The EPP-ED Group is committed to speeding up the process of the application of
the new programme 'Safer Internet Plus' from January 2009. MEPs are calling for
a safer online environment by combating illegal content and countering internet
abuse.

"The most important part of the programme is to establish a knowledge base by
bringing together researchers engaged in child safety online at European level,
and cooperation between Member States to facilitate information exchange as
illegal content can be uploaded in one country and viewed in another. Raising
awareness is a vital part of the programme, which is why 48% of the budget will
be used for this purpose", said the EPP-ED Group's Shadow Rapporteur on the
report 'Protecting children using the internet and other communication
technologies', Csaba Sógor (HU).

The new programme provides for €55m in funding for the period 2009-2013, to
protect children using the internet and new technologies. It will be based on four
main lines of action, including ensuring public awareness. The second task will
be to fight illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online. In addition,
measures should be taken to protect a safe online environment. Lastly, a
knowledge base should be established to encourage cooperation and exchanges
of good practice at international level.


Medicinal products: quicker access to better medicine for
patients
The plenary of the European Parliament has approved Françoise Grossetête's
(F) report on "variations to the terms of marketing authorisations for medicinal
products".

Those who market medicinal products must report all changes made to those
medicinal products during their life cycle to the relevant authorities. The
regulatory requirements for changing marketing authorisations are currently not
harmonised between the Member States. This poses an administrative burden
for pharmaceutical industries and has negative repercussions for patients
because it can cause delays in improving the effectiveness of medicine.

The new legislation will simplify the regulatory system for marketing
authorisations for medicinal products and harmonise the evaluation, approval
and administrative processing criteria applied when changes are made to
medicinal products. Thus, modifications regarding manufacturing methods, the
introduction of a new therapeutic indication, new safety information or updating of
notices will be subject to rules made simpler and harmonised for all types of
medicine. The improvement in the system will be to the benefit of patients who
will have access to better medicinal products in a shorter period and will reduce
red tape for laboratories.
                                                                    Marion Jeanne


Stability and Association Agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina

By Knut Goelz

The European Parliament has voted in favour of the conclusion of a Stabilisation
and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Union and Bosnia-
Herzegovina. Doris Pack (D), Chairwoman of the European Parliament's South
Eastern Europe Delegation, welcomed the outcome of the vote but reminded
politicians in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the same time of their special responsibility
to the country's unity: "Bosnia-Herzegovina can only exist as a common state if
all responsible politicians recognise reality and accept that changes are only
possible after agreement between all three ethnic groups."

Doris Pack also called for a quick constitutional reform as the current division of
powers between municipalities, districts and the federation government are not
proving manageable. Instead, the different levels of decision-making should be
reorganised under full participation of the country's Parliament and its civil
society. Otherwise it will not be possible to fulfil the preconditions for the SAA as
a preliminary stage to full EU membership. Ongoing rivalry between politicians of
the different entities does not contribute to stabilisation, but provokes fear and
distrust between the ethnic groups.

As a consequence, ethnic separation is deepened further. Instead of tackling, for
example, common energy supply, creating a common market, improving the
general education system and attracting investors by reliable conditions, the
political class in Bosnia-Herzegovina is dominated by distrust and conflict. The
Chairwoman therefore proposed to replace the current High Representative by a
special envoy from the European Union, as this could also lead to a higher
degree of political responsibility in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Budget 2009: Parliament votes for substantial changes at first
reading

By Knut Goelz

Parliament has accepted the priorities suggested by the Budget Committee with
an overwhelming majority and concluded its first reading of the Budget 2009.
Reimer Böge (D), Chairman of the Committee, Janusz Lewandowski (PL),
Rapporteur on the draft general budget, and László Surján (H), Shadow
Rapporteur on the Commission's Budget, agreed that the plenary has put forward
a very concrete proposal for the future. The changes made by the European
Parliament will now have to be negotiated with the Council starting in November.
It is therefore fully in line with the current economic situation that more money
should be spent for programmes of European added value such as growth and
employment. Additional means for research and innovation, small and medium-
sized enterprises, lifelong learning, Transeuropean Networks as well as first
budgetary commitments for climate protection should also be part of the
European Union's contribution.

Furthermore, border protection and internal security shall also be promoted by a
joint European effort. With regard to the lack of sufficient money in category 4
(The European Union as a global partner) a multi-annual approach in this sector
is also needed. Parliament thus wants to focus negotiations on effective aid for
Kosovo, Palestine, Afghanistan and Georgia, Common Foreign and Security
Policy as well as a new food aid programme called for by the Council.

After the first reading, the amended budget now amounts to approximately €136
billion in commitments and €124 billion in payments. This corresponds to 1.048%
and 0.96% of the European Union's gross national income. There is also a broad
consensus that the Council continues to develop and propose additional budget
obligations e.g. in development policy creating international obligations for the
EU but which does not sufficiently provide the necessary financial means.


New Timeshare Directive to ensure tourists are not tripped up by
rogue traders

By Gareth Goldsmith

"The Timeshare Directive passed by MEPs this week will make European
holiday-makers better informed and less exposed to rogue traders", said Malcolm
Harbour (UK), EPP-ED Spokesman on the internal market and consumer
protection.

The new Directive better reflects the market structure of tourism, covering, as
well as timeshare, long-term holiday products (such as discount holiday clubs) as
well as resale and exchange contracts. It has also been extended to include
canal boats, caravans and cruise ships.

Traders will be obliged to provide prospective purchasers with comprehensive
pre-contractual information, in the form of standard forms, ensuring consumers
are fully informed before signing the contract. Honest operators will no longer
have to face unfair competition from fraudsters. Consumers will have a standard
period of 14 days to withdraw free of charge from the contract as well as a total
ban on advance payments to ensure equal consumer protection Europe-wide.
The Parliament's strong support for the Directive means it is likely to be passed
at first reading. Mr Harbour said: "Many people make significant investments in
timeshare or holiday clubs, yet far too often they fall foul of mis-selling or poor
information. This new Directive will give consumers more confidence and better
protection before they sign a contract, and it enables them to withdraw if they
have any concerns. This law will be good for consumers, and for the many
legitimate timeshare and holiday club businesses in Europe."


Collective Agreements - protecting workers' rights and the free
provision of services
The aim of Parliament's report on challenges to collective agreements in the EU
is to ensure the right balance between the protection of workers' rights and the
right of business establishment and the free provision of services. The report
stipulates that the first step to achieving this aim is to correct and fully implement
the Directive for posted workers.

Jacek Protasiewicz (PL), the EPP-ED Group Shadow Rapporteur, emphasised
that every year, around 1 million workers quite successfully provide employment
in the context of so-called posting. Only a few cases of the proper functioning of
the freedom of services in the context of the Posted Workers Directive needed a
ruling or interpretation by the European Court of Justice.

According to the Rapporteur, the current legislation is good and the problem is
not with the content but rather in its implementation in individual countries. The
Directive guarantees the minimum at the same time allowing for more beneficial
conditions for workers resulting, for example, from Collective Agreements. The
Directive is a guarantee of a balance between posted workers' protection and the
freedom of work provision, therefore there is no need for any radical changes in
the current legislation and the report merely suggests that the Commission
should take a closer look at its implementation. No revisions are necessary.

Marzena Rogalska

				
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