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					   HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS




Recent Developments in the European Parliament
                 and the EU




       Bulletin No. 9 : 6 April - 1 May 2009




   Prepared by the Oireachtas EU Liaison Office, Brussels
        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________




Contents                                                                                           Page


Lisbon Treaty ......... ………………………………………….......................…... 3
      Czech Senate vote………………………………....................................... 3
      Situation in Germany……………………………….................................. 3

European Parliament – Political and Legislative Highlights ..............…..........                      3
      No agreement on working time directive ………………..………………..                                             3
      Legislation to regulate Credit Rating Agencies……...................................                 4
      Improved supervision of the Insurance industry……..................................                  5
      Improvements to maternity leave proposed………….................................                       6
      Intelligent Transport Systems………………………..................................                            6
      Agreement reached on financing of energy projects.................................                  7
      Cross border health care proposal approved by Parliament ......................                     8
      ECB Vice President at the European Parliament…….................................                    9
      Work of Petitions Committee .....................................................................   10
      Fianna Fail to join Liberal Group in European Parliament………………...                                   10

Inter-Parliamentary Activities …………………………………... ..................... 11
       Visit by Joint Administration Committee to Strasbourg .............................. 11
       Inter-Parliamentary Meeting on Consumer Law……................................... 11
       Upcoming inter-parliamentary events .......................................................... 11

European Commission News …………….......................………………………. 12
    Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy……………….......... ..................... 12
    Proposal to combat late payments……………………….......... ..................... 13
    Management of Hedge Funds………..……………….......... ..................... 13
    Recommendation on Directors pay…………………….......... ..................... 14
    Recommendation on pay of risk-taking staff in financial services……........ 15
    Proposal on European Aquaculture…….……………….......... ..................... 16
    Commission approves Irish grant aid scheme for SMEs…….. ..................... 17
    EU Youth Strategy launched…………………….…….......... ..................... 17
    Ireland referred to Court of Justice – Interpretation services contract............ 17
    Commission takes Belgium to court…………………….......... ..................... 18
    EIB supports expansion of TCD Research facility..….......... ..................... 18
    EIB support for ESB project………….……………….......... ..................... 19

European Council / Presidency News …………………………….........………. 19
      Caretaker government to run Czech EU Presidency.................... …..……. 19
      Forthcoming Council meetings.................................................... …..……. 19




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        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
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          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU

                                April 6 - 1 May 2009


1.   LISBON TREATY

     Czech Senate Vote
     Despite the collapse of the government in the Czech Republic, the Czech Senate
     is likely to proceed with a vote on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty during the
     first week of May. A three-fifths majority is required to approve the Treaty and
     the outlook appears to be positive. In order to complete the ratification process,
     Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is opposed to the treaty, would then have to
     sign it into law.


     Situation in Germany
     The German Constitutional Court that is expected to deliver its verdict on the
     compatibility of the Lisbon Treaty with fundamental German law before the end
     of July. Informed speculation points to a favourable decision, but one which will
     request a strengthening of the role of the Bundestag in supervising European
     legislation.


2.   EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT – POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE
      HIGHLIGHTS

     No Agreement on Working Time Directive
     Conciliation discussions between the European Parliament and the Council have
     concluded with no agreement on the Working Time Directive. This is the first
     time that no agreement could be reached at the Conciliation stage since the entry
     into force of the Amsterdam Treaty which significantly extended the scope of
     the co-decision procedure. The main areas of contention were the opt-out, on-
     call time and multiple contracts.

     The European Parliament's position was there must be no exceptions to the 48
     hours-maximum working time calculated over a reference period of 12 months
     and that any opt-out must end three years after adoption of the directive. It also
     wanted any period of on-call time to count as working time. On the Council
     side, any attempt to put an end to the opt-out was not acceptable. In 1993 the
     UK won an opt-out clause allowing it not to apply the maximum 48-hour
     working week if a worker agrees to work longer. The Council position proposed
     that the opt out be subject to more stringent conditions protecting the safety and
     health of such employees, so that the employee would not required to work in
     excess of 60 hours a week averaged over three months, or 65 hours a week
     averaged over three months when the inactive part of on-call time is regarded as
     working time. Additionally, it considered that the inactive part of on-call time
     should not be regarded as working time unless national law, or in accordance
     with national and/or practice, a collective agreement or an agreement between
     the Social Partners provides otherwise. According to rulings by the European


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     Court of Justice, on-call time should be regarded as working time. The
     proposals from the Commission and the Council on the issue of on-call time
     went were not acceptable to the EP delegation. No substantive agreement on the
     issue of multiple contracts could be reached either. For workers covered by
     more than one employment contract, the Parliament considered that working
     time should be calculated per worker and not per contract.

     Ireland did not originally avail of the opt out and does not intend in the future to
     avail of this option. However, Ireland has always recognised, from a pragmatic
     perspective, that a somewhat stricter oversight of a continuing Opt-out had to be
     an acceptable element in any overall compromise finally achieved on this
     sensitive dossier and therefore welcomed the suitable “Cap” proposed by the
     Council on the number of hours worked, which was an essential factor for many
     Member States.

     The EPs final position was that a bad agreement would have worsened the
     situation of workers in general and of doctors in particular. Since there is no
     agreement, the current directive remains into force, though the Commission can
     draft a new proposal from scratch. Such new legislation would need to take
     account the rulings of the European Court of Justice on on-call time.


     Parliament agrees new regulations to regulate Credit Rating Agencies
     Strict rules to improve the transparency and independence of European credit
     rating were agreed by the European Parliament at its recent plenary session in
     Strasbourg. The new Regulation will have a major impact on the activity of
     credit rating agencies, which issue opinions on creditworthiness of companies,
     and governments. As a result Credit Rating Agencies will be expected to
     comply with strict standards of integrity, quality and transparency and will be
     subject to ongoing supervision by public authorities. Users of credit ratings in
     the EU will be in a better position to decide if the opinions of a specific credit
     rating agency are trustworthy and to what extent those opinions should impact
     their investment choices.

     This Regulation puts in place a common regulatory regime for the issuance of
     credit ratings thus responding to the need for restoring market confidence and
     increasing investor protection. As a rule, all credit rating agencies that would
     like their credit ratings to be used in the EU will need to apply for registration.
     The applications will be submitted to the Committee of European Securities
     Regulators (CESR) and decided upon in a consensual manner by the relevant
     securities regulators grouped in a college. The college of regulators will also be
     involved in the day-to-day supervision of credit rating agencies. Registered
     credit rating agencies will have to comply with rigorous rules to make sure (i)
     that ratings are not affected by conflicts of interest, (ii) they remain vigilant on
     the quality of the rating methodology and the ratings, and (iii) they act in a
     transparent manner. The Regulation also includes an effective surveillance
     regime whereby regulators will supervise credit rating agencies.

     New rules include the following:
        Credit rating agencies may not provide advisory services.



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            They will not be allowed to rate financial instruments if they do not have
             sufficient quality information to base their ratings on.
            They must disclose the models, methodologies and key assumptions on
             which they base their ratings.
            They must differentiate the ratings of more complex products by adding
             a specific symbol.
            They will be obliged to publish an annual transparency report.
            They will have to create an internal function to review the quality of
             their ratings.
            They should have at least two independent directors on their boards
             whose remuneration cannot depend on the business performance of the
             rating agency. They will be appointed for a single term of office which
             can be no longer than five years. They can only be dismissed in case of
             professional misconduct. At least one of them should be an expert in
             securitisation and structured finance.

     The Regulation will be directly applicable in the whole EU 20 days following
     its publication in the Official Journal. Member States will have six months to
     take the necessary measures to implement the new provisions. As an exception,
     there will be an 18 month transition period on the provisions on the use of
     ratings from non EU agencies. The Commission will evaluate the effectiveness
     of the regulation, including the reliance on credit ratings in the EU within 3
     years.

     Parliament approves better financial supervision of the insurance industry
     A major overhaul of the supervisory framework to enhance the financial
     stability of the insurance industry was approved by the European Parliament in
     Strasbourg. The aim of the approved legislation, called Solvency II, is to help
     ensure the financial stability of insurance (and reinsurance) companies by
     introducing more sophisticated solvency requirements which will take better
     account of the risks the companies must deal with: insurance risks as at present,
     but also market, credit and operational risks.

     The new legislation shifts the focus of supervisory authorities from merely
     checking compliance with a "tick-the-box" approach based on a set of rules to
     more pro-actively supervising the risk management of individual companies
     based on a set of principles. To improve supervision and risk management,
     supervisory colleges will be created, made up of the various national supervisors
     responsible for a group and its subsidiaries, to facilitate cooperation, exchange
     of information and consultation between the supervisors.

     The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have already reached an
     agreement on a common text. This means the legislative procedure ends with
     Parliament vote and a consequent formal go-ahead by the Council. Member
     States will have to transpose the new directive by at the latest 31 October 2012.
     Two years after entry into force, the Commission is requested to put forward a
     legislative proposal to improve, if necessary, the application some aspects of the
     Directive, including the cooperation of supervisory authorities within the
     colleges.



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     Improvements to maternity leave proposed
     The Women's Rights Committee of the European Parliament is proposing that
     maternity leave be extended to 20 weeks. Additionally, the Committee wants to
     amend the draft EU directive to require that 100% of salary to be paid for six
     weeks after birth, at least 85% of salary is paid for the rest of the leave period
     and the introduction of paternity leave. At present maternity leave varies in the
     EU between 14 and 28 weeks. In some cases it can be as much as 52 weeks, of
     which only part is paid. The European Commission proposed increasing
     maternity leave to 18 weeks, of which six would be taken after the birth. On
     pay, the European Commission has made a similar proposal, but as a
     recommendation which would not be compulsory.

     The Committee also wants paid paternity leave to be introduced, would be a
     compulsory minimum two weeks after the birth. Also proposed is a measure to
     ensure that no-one can be dismissed from their job during maternity leave. Any
     sacking in the following 12 months would have to be justified in writing and not
     linked to maternity. Lastly, the Committee proposed amendments designed to
     enable women to have "equivalent" work on their return from maternity leave
     and to have flexible working arrangements. Employers will have to consider
     seriously any request for changes to working hours and patterns. They also
     voted in favour of time off work for breastfeeding equivalent to two one-hour
     breaks per day unless another arrangement has been agreed with the employer.

     The text adopted by the committee at first reading will be put to a vote at the
     Parliament’s final plenary session in May. In the Council, consensus has not
     been reached on this proposal and the Czech Presidency anticipate that
     agreement will not be easily reached. In particular the amendments proposed by
     the Committee could prove to be problematic, but agreement might be reached
     on an 18 week leave period.


     Intelligent Transport Systems
     The European Pparliament has supported European Commission plans for the
     implementation of "Intelligent Transport Systems" in the EU road transport
     sector but insisted on safety issues for vulnerable road users and guarantees on
     data privacy protection. The Parliament approved with amendments the draft
     directive on the application of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in road
     transport and interfaces with other transport modes at the recent plenary session
     in Strasbourg. Intelligent Transport Systems use information and
     communication technologies to make transport safer and cleaner and to reduce
     traffic congestion. Examples of ITS applications include electronic tolling
     systems on motorways, GPS and traffic supervision systems and real time
     passenger information. ITS can be applied in every transport mode (road, rail, air,
     water), in both passenger and freight transport.

     While noting the benefits of the proposal in terms of road safety, reducing
     traffic jams and better journey planning, the Parliament has called on the
     Commission to make a number of improvements to their proposals:




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            to enhance compatibility between ITS systems and ensuring "backward
             compatibility" with previous applications and systems;
            to increase the focus on vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists,
             motorcyclists, disabled people and people with limited mobility);
            to ensure respect for data protection and privacy - collection, storage and
             processing of personal data must be carried out in accordance with EU
             rules;
            to clarify liability issues by involving experts and stakeholders.

     Ireland along with the other Member States is generally supportive of the
     Commission proposal although Ireland would have preferred greater emphasis
     on developing common standards and specifications with less emphasis on
     deployment. Also Ireland would have preferred greater focus on ITS for both
     public transport (e.g. ticketing, passenger information) and urban traffic
     management (e.g. bus priority) improvements since the Action Plan is mostly
     focused on motorists and cross-border road transport.

     Ireland has concerns that some of the proposed measures, in the absence of a
     Commission initiative on sustainable urban mobility, could discourage modal
     shift towards more sustainable transport alternatives. Ireland emphasised the
     need for participation in the certain initiatives in the Plan to be voluntary.


     Parliament reaches deal with Council Presidency on energy projects
     Unspent funds of the EU economic recovery plan could be used for energy
     efficiency and renewable energy projects, according to a political agreement
     reached between the Parliament and the Czech Presidency. The informal
     compromise negotiated by Industry Committee with the Czech Presidency still
     needs to be confirmed by the whole Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

     The European Energy Programme for Recovery will allocate €3.98 billion to
     energy projects in the following fields:
         gas and electricity infrastructure projects;
         offshore wind energy projects;
         carbon capture and storage projects.

     Parliament representatives and the Council Presidency agreed that the
     Commission will monitor the implementation of the programme and publish a
     report each year together with its proposal for the budget of the following year.
     If this report in March 2010 identifies "serious risks in implementing the
     priority projects", the Commission should propose additional energy projects.
     The Commission will also declare its intention to propose using for energy
     efficiency and renewable energy measures those funds which have not been
     committed by the end of 2010 for gas and electricity infrastructure, offshore
     wind energy or carbon capture and storage projects. Moreover, the Commission
     will give a declaration before Parliament's vote announcing further measures to
     support energy efficiency and renewable energy, such as the revision of the
     Energy Efficiency Action Plan by end of October 2009 and a public-private
     partnership on energy-efficient buildings.



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     If it is to be adopted, the informal compromise will now have to be endorsed by
     Parliament's political groups, as well as representatives of the full Council (in
     COREPER), before being tabled to a first-reading plenary vote in Parliament,
     planned for 4-7 May.

     Cross border health care proposal approved by Parliament
     The European Parliament has approved plans to give Europeans the right to seek
     healthcare abroad more easily and be reimbursed for the costs. The general aim
     of the draft directive on cross-border healthcare is to ensure that there are no
     obstacles to patients who seek treatment in an EU Member State other than their
     own. It also clarifies the right for patients to be reimbursed after treatment in
     another Member State. These rights have been confirmed in European Court of
     Justice judgments but are not yet included in EU legislation. The draft directive
     also aims to ensure high-quality, safe and efficient healthcare and to establish
     healthcare co-operation mechanisms among Member States.

     The Parliament’s position is that the legislation is about patients and their
     mobility within the EU, not about the free movement of service providers.
     Under the draft directive, patients will have the right to seek healthcare abroad
     but Member States may nonetheless introduce a system requiring prior
     authorisation for the reimbursement of hospital costs if the financial balance of
     the Member State's social security system could otherwise be seriously
     undermined. Parliament agrees with this principle. They also stress that the prior
     authorisation requirement must not create an obstacle to the freedom of
     movement of patients. On the reimbursement of medical costs incurred,
     Parliament agrees with the general rule that patients are to be reimbursed up to
     the level they would have received in their home country.

     To improve patients' confidence in cross-border healthcare, they must receive
     appropriate information on all major aspects of such care, such as the level of
     reimbursement or the right of redress in the event of any harm arising from
     healthcare. The Parliament also propose establishing a European Patients
     Ombudsman to deal with patients' complaints regarding prior authorisation,
     refunds or any harm suffered, after all complaint options within the relevant
     Member State have been explored.

     In the Council, while Ireland is very supportive of cooperation between Member
     States in the health area, Ireland is not convinced that there is a need to regulate
     this cooperation in terms of a directive and are unconvinced as to suitability of
     this draft directive for this purpose. Ireland’s view of the proposed Directive as
     drafted by the Commission is that:-

         -   There is merit in codifying the case law in order to provide legal clarity
             for both patient and national authorities. However the Commission text
             does not provide the required legal clarity;
         -   The text as drafted imposes significant additional legal and
             administrative burdens on Member States which are both
             disproportionate and unnecessary;



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         -   The text as drafted impinges on Member State competences and fails to
             recognise that Member States must organise and resource their health
             services for all their citizens and not just the few (approx 1%) who will
             avail of the directive.


       ECB Vice President at the European Parliament
       Economic activity will remain weak in the euro area this year, with a gradual
       recovery in 2010, while inflation may reach negative levels around mid-year
       without this implying a protracted period of deflation, ECB Vice President
       Lucas Papademos said in an address to the European Parliament. Mr
       Papademos warned that uncertainty about growth prospects remains unusually
       high. As for future inflation, while the price index might dip into negative
       territory, this would be a temporary phenomenon, and not an episode of
       deflation or period of protracted decline in prices. Inflation was expected to
       rise in 2010, though staying below 2 per cent.

       Mr Papademos stressed that the ECB has taken forceful action in its liquidity
       management, also through non-conventional measures since the onset of
       financial market tensions. Mr Papademos also said that it was still too early to
       assess the overall impact of government support for the banks.

       The ECB welcomed the proposals in the de Larosière report for the creation of
       a European Systemic Risk Council (ESRC) under ECB auspices tasked with
       macro-prudential supervision: i.e. helping to prevent future economic crisis by
       monitoring risks to financial stability. He stressed it would need to have well
       defined, close links with banking supervisory authorities, especially to ensure
       it had access to information about financial institutions and their “inter-
       connectedness". There would also need to be adequate institutional
       mechanisms to ensure its warnings and recommendations were acted upon.
       This would require the ESRC to have a solid legal basis. The ESRC would
       also include all the EU's central bank governors, and that it would not be
       focused purely on the euro area.

        On what the ECB could do to help non-euro zone countries, Mr Papademos
       stressed that the ECB's liquidity support for euro area banks was already
       helping to prevent greater reductions in credit availability from their branches
       and subsidiaries in non-euro countries. In addition, the ECB was providing
       euro liquidity to some non-eurozone central banks to address pressures in
       money markets

       Regarding the issue of securitisation (when banks make loans to customers
       then sell on the debt as an investment product). Mr Papademos said he
       supported the Commission's proposal for loan originators to be obliged to
       retain 5 per cent of the value of such loans on their own books as a way of
       ensuring they have an interest in the quality of the loan - a higher level of
       retention would probably not bring greater alignment of incentives given the
       limitations he saw in this approach's effectiveness.




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       EP Petitions Committee – report by Mairead McGuinness MEP
       The European Parliament has adopted a report drafted by Mairead
       McGuinness MEP which summarises the work of the Committee on Petitions
       for 2008. Ireland submitted the largest number of petitions per capita. The
       issues covered ranged from landfill sites to the planned route of the M3 in
       Ireland to the Equitable Life affair in the UK. In 2008, the Committee on
       Petitions received 1,886 petitions from across Europe, compared to 1,506 in
       2007, and increasingly these petitions are being submitted electronically rather
       than by letter. The highest number of petitions came from Germany, followed
       by Spain, Romania, Italy and Poland. Petitions concerning the environment
       made up the majority of submissions (309), with fundamental rights being the
       second biggest issue.

        Several groups from Ireland submitted petitions concerning the environment,
       including the Nevitt Lusk Action group who were opposed to a landfill site
       due concerns about impact on the region's horticulture The Committee was
       represented at the planning hearing for this issue. The report also expresses
       concerns with the actions of Ireland's National Roads Authority, which it says
       has ignored EU Directives when planning the route of the M3 motorway,
       which could have damaging effects on some of the nation's most important
       heritage sites. The report comments that this was one of a number of ways in
       which Ireland had not "properly implemented the environmental impact
       assessment Directive." However, despite having received a number of
       petitions on environmental issues in Ireland, the Parliament welcomed the fact
       that the Irish Environment Minister acknowledged and acted on many of the
       points raised by the petitions. In particular, the report mentions positive
       progress on petitions relating to drinking water.

       The report welcomes the involvement and contribution of EU citizens, and
       hopes to encourage them to keep coming forward with issues concerning the
       EU which directly concern them. The Petitions Committee is uniquely
       positioned to assess the reactions of European citizens to the way in which
       Member States apply, or do not apply European law, and calls on the
       Commission to ensure that it puts greater emphasis on the petitions process.
       National parliaments are also encouraged to be vigilant in the way that
       Member States apply treaties and EU legislation as they are the representatives
       of the European citizens.


       Fianna Fail to join Liberal Group in European Parliament
       Fianna Fail, has become a member of the European Liberal, Democrat and
       Reform Party (ELDR). European elected members of Fianna Fail will join the
       ALDE Group at the European Parliament after European elections in June.
       After fruitful bilateral negotiations the European Liberal and Democrat party
       welcomed Fianna Fàil as a new ELDR member party. Fianna Fail Secretary
       General Sean Dorgan was in Brussels on 16 April to finalize the application
       procedure of his party with the ELDR Council, the highest decision-making
       body of the ELDR Party in matters of membership. The ELDR commented
       that “Fianna Fail’s membership will bring to the liberal family a new and
       interesting perspective from a strong party currently in government, an



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       additional strong voice in the European Council and a crucial contribution to
       European liberal politics”.



3.   INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITIES

     Fact-finding visit to Strasbourg by the Joint Administration Committee
     The Joint Administration Committee visited the European Parliament in
     Strasbourg on 21 April for a series of meetings with parliament officials on
     parliamentary television and webcasting. The Committee was represented by
     the Chairman, John McGuinness TD, Sean Cregan TD and Dan Neville TD.
     During their visit the Committee met with officials from the Parliament’s Audio
     Visual Unit for a presentation and discussion on the internet based EuroParl TV.
     The delegation also held a discussion with the Parliament Communications
     Directorate on the parliament’s approach to web-publishing. The visit concluded
     with a presentation and tour of the extensive broadcasting facilities in the
     Strasbourg building. The Committee also took to opportunity to meet with
     Commissioner McCreevey and with Irish MEPs.


     Inter-Parliamentary Meeting on Consumer Law
     The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European
     Parliament held an inter-parliamentary committee meeting with national
     parliaments on the topic "EU consumer law, its transposition and
     implementation" on 2 April 2009 in Brussels. The meeting addressed two issues,
     the current and future developments in EU Consumer Law and the transposition,
     implementation and enforcement of EU Consumer Law . Mrs Arlene McCarthy,
     Chair of the Committee, gave an overview of the work-in-progress of her
     Committee on the Consumer Rights Directive. Mrs Meglena Kuneva, the
     European Commissioner responsible for Consumer Affairs, spoke on current
     and future developments in the EU Consumer Law. Professor Geraint Howells,
     University of Manchester, School of Law, gave a presentation on the
     implementation and enforcement of EU Consumer Law. The presentations were
     followed by a debate between the members of the IMCO Committee and the
     members of national parliaments. The Oireachtas was represented at the
     meeting by Deputy Timmy Dooley, Vice-Chair of the European Affairs
     Committee. In his contribution to the meeting, Deputy Dooley pointed out that
     the current economic crisis has the potential to generate or to engender
     protectionism within some Member States and clearly smaller States with open
     economies need every support possible to ensure that the internal market works
     well and effectively.


     Upcoming Inter-Parliamentary Events
      Thematic Study Visit (Implementation of the Statute for Members of the
        European Parliament), 14-15 May, European Parliament, Brussels.
      XLI COSAC , 10-12 May, Chamber of Deputies, Prague.
      Thematic Study Visit (Committee activities - Freedom, Security and Justice)
        27-28 May, European Parliament, Brussels.


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4.   EUROPEAN COMMISSION DEVELOPMENTS

     Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy
     The European Commission has adopted a Green Paper on the future of the EU's
     Common Fisheries Policy [COM(2009)163 Green Paper on the Reform of the
     Common Fisheries Policy]. The paper analyses the shortcomings of the current
     policy and launches a broad public consultation on how these shortcomings
     should be tackled. The consultation is the first step of the process which should
     bring about a radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. The purpose of
     the Green Paper is to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the sector in
     recent years and elicit a public response which can grow into a new, innovative
     and more consensual approach to fisheries regulation. Among the questions
     posed by the green paper are

            How can the long-term sustainability and the viability of fisheries be
             ensured?
            How can overall fleet capacity be adapted while addressing the social
             concerns faced by coastal communities?
            How can a culture of compliance be further developed?
            How best can the CFP contribute to fisheries sustainability beyond EU
             waters?

     One of the main problems is the depleted state of European fish stocks (88% of
     stocks are over-fished) .This is mostly as a result of fleet overcapacity. Solutions
     need to be found to restore the worst-off stocks and at the same time guarantee
     that fish can continue to be a reliable source of revenue for fishermen. Above
     and beyond overcapacity, the Paper identifies four other structural shortcomings
     of the present approach:

            the lack of precise policy objectives, especially with regard to ecological
             responsibility and integration with general maritime issues;
            a decision-making system that is too centralised and focused on short-
             term solutions which can undermine long-term sustainability;
            a framework that does not give sufficient responsibility to the industry;
            the absence of political will towards compliance with the fishing
             limitations.

     The Commission is concerned that if a better environmental sustainability of
     fishing is not achieved in the coming years, the consequence will be
     impoverished seas and an economically unviable fishing industry. Although the
     Commission is only legally bound to review some parts of the CFP by 2012, the
     prevailing situation, particularly as regards stocks and fleet overcapacity, has
     convinced it of the need to launch the reform process already now. The
     consultation process will close on 31 December 2009 and the Commission will
     sum up its results in the first half of 2010. After further consultation with
     stakeholders, the Commission will then prepare an impact assessment report and
     develop a proposal for a new basic regulation. This could then be presented to



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     the European Parliament and Council early in 2011, with a view for adoption in
     2012.


     Commission publishes legislation to combat late payments
     Based on a commitment in the Small Business Act, the Commission has
     published a draft directive to tackle the situation on late payments and proposes
     substantial changes to the late payment directive of 2000 (Proposal for a
     Directive on combating late payment in commercial transactions [COM
     (2009)126]). Despite some improvements during the past years, late payments
     in commercial transactions between companies or between businesses and
     public authorities still happen in the EU. This hampers the development of
     business and is even responsible for bankruptcies of otherwise viable
     companies, notably if they are Small or Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). The
     Commission suggests that public authorities should lead by example and should
     pay their bills within 30 days. In parallel, the Commission commits itself to
     speed up payment of goods and services so to fully respect the targets for paying
     bills and, in a number of cases, even shortening payment times to under the
     current legal period.

     This proposal aims at improving the cash flow of European business which is
     particularly important in times of economic downturn. It also aims at facilitating
     the smooth functioning of the internal market via the elimination of related
     barriers to cross-border commercial transactions. It will achieve this by
     providing creditors with instruments that enable them to fully and effectively
     exercise their rights when paid late and by confronting public administrations
     with measures that effectively discourage them from paying late.

     The key elements of the draft directive are
         As a rule public authorities should pay within 30 days, otherwise they
            will have to pay interest, a compensation for recovery costs and a flat-
            rate compensation of 5% of the amount due, which kicks in from day 1
            of the delay. In duly justified cases the payment periods can be longer.
         The freedom to contract will be respected in business to business
            relations, however in case of delay businesses will be entitled to claim
            late payment interest and a compensation of recovery costs.
         The rules on grossly unfair contracts are tightened.



       Commission proposes EU framework for managers of hedge funds
       The European Commission has published a Directive on Alternative
       Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) - which include the managers of hedge
       funds and private equity funds [COM(2009) 207 Proposal for a Directive on
       Alternative Investment Fund Managers] The proposed Directive is part of the
       European Commission's response to the financial crisis, as set out in the
       Communication on Driving European Recovery. It aims to create a
       comprehensive and effective regulatory and supervisory framework for AIFM
       in the European Union. AIFM managed around €2 trillion in assets at the end
       of 2008.



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        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________

       This is the first attempt in any jurisdiction to create a comprehensive
       framework for the direct regulation and supervision in the alternative fund
       industry. The proposed Directive will require all AIFM within it’s scope to be
       authorised and to be subject to harmonised regulatory standards on an ongoing
       basis. It will also enhance the transparency of the activities of AIFM and the
       funds they manage towards investors and public authorities. This will enable
       Member States to improve the macro-prudential oversight of the sector and to
       take coordinated action as necessary to ensure the proper functioning of
       financial markets. The proposal will help to overcome gaps and
       inconsistencies in existing regulatory frameworks. A threshold of € 100
       million implies that roughly 30% of hedge fund managers, managing almost
       90% of assets of EU domiciled hedge funds, would be covered by the
       Directive.

       The proposed AIFM Directive will:

          Regulate all major sources of risks in the alternative investment value
           chain by ensuring that AIFM are authorised and subject to ongoing
           regulation and that key service providers, including depositaries and
           administrators, are subject to robust regulatory standards.
          Enhance the transparency of AIFM and the funds they manage towards
           supervisors, investors and other key stakeholders.
          Ensure that all regulated entities are subject to appropriate governance
           standards and have robust systems in place for the management of risks,
           liquidity and conflicts of interest.
          Permit AIFM to market funds to professional investors throughout the EU
           subject to compliance with demanding regulatory standards.
          Grant access to the European market to third country funds after a
           transitional period of three years. This should allow the EU to check
           whether the necessary guarantees are in place in the countries where the
           funds are domiciled (equivalence of regulatory and supervisory standards,
           exchange of information on tax matters).


       Commission recommendations on directors' pay
       The European Commission has adopted a Recommendation on the regime for
       the remuneration of directors of listed companies. This follows concerns that
       incentive systems for executive directors in listed companies have led too
       often to excessively short-term management actions and sometimes 'pay for
       failure'. The new recommendation provides additional guidance on certain key
       aspects of the structure of directors' remuneration and strengthens the
       processes for determining directors' remuneration, including shareholder
       supervision. The aim is to ensure that directors' remuneration is clearly linked
       to performance and should not reward failure.

       On the structure of directors' remuneration, the Recommendation invites
       Member States to:

          set a limit on severance pay (golden parachutes) and to ban severance pay
           in case of failure.


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        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________

          require a balance between fixed and variable pay and link variable pay to
           predetermined and measurable performance criteria to strengthen the link
           between performance and pay.
          promote the long term sustainability of companies through a balance
           between long and short term performance criteria of directors'
           remuneration, deferment of variable pay, a minimum vesting period for
           stock options and shares and retention of part of shares until the end of
           employment.
          allow companies to reclaim variable pay paid on the basis of data, which
           proved to be manifestly misstated.

       On the process of determining Directors' remuneration, the Recommendation
       invites Member States to:
        extend certain disclosure requirements contained in the existing
           Recommendation to improve shareholder oversight of remuneration
           policies;
        ensure that shareholders, in particular institutional investors, attend general
           meetings where appropriate and make considered use of their votes
           regarding directors´ remuneration;
        provide that non-executives should not receive share options as part of
           their remuneration to avoid conflict of interests;
        strengthen the role and operation of the remuneration committee through
           new principles on (i) the composition of remuneration committees; (ii) the
           obligation for the members of the remuneration committee to be present at
           the general meeting where the remuneration policy is discussed in order to
           provide explanations to shareholders; (iii) avoiding conflicts of
           remuneration consultants.

       Since this is a Recommendation, Member States are free to decide whether to
       implement it or not. The Commission will closely monitor the application of
       the recommendation and make its finding public through scoreboards. After
       one year, the Commission will submit an evaluation report on Member States'
       application of the Recommendation.


       Commission sets out principles on pay of risk-taking staff in financial
       institutions
       The European Commission has adopted a Recommendation on remuneration
       in the financial services sector. It recommends that Member States should
       ensure that financial institutions have remuneration policies for risk-taking
       staff that are consistent with and promote sound and effective risk-
       management. The Recommendation sets out guidelines on the structure of pay,
       on the process of design and implementation of remuneration policies and on
       the role of supervisory authorities in the review of remuneration policies of
       financial institutions.

       The Recommendation invites Member States to adopt measures in four areas:
        Structure of pay: remuneration policies for risk-taking staff should be
          consistent with and promote sound and effective risk management. For this
          purpose, financial institutions should strike an appropriate balance between


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        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________

           the level of the core pay and the level of the bonus. The payment of the
           major part of the bonus should be deferred in order to take into account
           risks linked to the underlying performance through the business cycle.
           Financial institutions should also be able to claim back already paid
           bonuses, where data has been proven to be manifestly misstated
          Governance: remuneration policy should be transparent internally, should
           be clear and properly documented and contain measures to avoid conflicts
           of interest. The board should have responsibility for oversight of the
           operation of the remuneration policy for the financial institution as a whole
           with an adequate involvement of internal control functions and human
           resources departments or experts.
          Disclosure: remuneration policy should be adequately disclosed to
           stakeholders. The disclosure should be made in a clear and easily
           understandable way and contain core elements of the remuneration policy,
           its design and operation.
          Supervision: supervisors should ensure that financial institutions apply the
           principles on sound remuneration policies to the largest possible extent and
           have remuneration policies consistent with effective risk management.

       The Recommendation covers all sectors of the financial services industry so as
       to avoid loopholes and prevent distortions of competition between different
       sectors and financial institutions. Since this is a Recommendation, the
       Commission will not be able to open infringement proceedings against those
       Member States that do not implement it. The Commission nevertheless will
       monitor closely the situation within the EU and assess whether greater
       convergence of remuneration practices has been achieved, and report on this
       basis to the Council and to the European Parliament.


       Commission proposal on European Aquaculture

       The European Commission has published a proposal which it hopes will give
       fresh impetus to sustainable growth in the EU's aquaculture sector
       [(COM(2009) 162 - Building a sustainable future for aquaculture – A new
       impetus for the Strategy for the sustainable development of European
       aquaculture].

       In its communication, the Commission examines the root causes of the
       stagnation in EU aquaculture production and looks at ways to improve the
       sector's competitiveness, sustainability and governance -
            the sector can become more competitive through ongoing strong
               support for research and technological development, improved
               planning of space in coastal areas and river basins, and inclusion of its
               specific needs in the EU's market policy for fisheries products.
            it will remain sustainable if it continues to build on environmentally
               friendly production methods, maintains high animal health and welfare
               standards and delivers a high level of consumer protection.
            more can be done to enhance the sector's image and its governance-
               related aspects - Aquaculture's success will depend to a large extend on



                                          16
        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________

              there being a business-friendly environment for the sector at national
              and/or local level.

       The Commission believes that a strong, reinvigorated aquaculture industry
       would serve as a catalyst for growth in related sectors and further contribute to
       the development of rural and coastal areas. Moreover, consumers would
       benefit in the form of healthy, high-quality food products produced in an
       environmentally friendly way.


       Commission authorises Irish temporary scheme to grant aid
       The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, an
       Irish measure to help businesses to deal with the current economic crisis. Irish
       authorities may grant aid of up to €500 000 per firm in 2009 and 2010 to
       businesses facing funding problems because of the current credit crisis. The
       aid will be granted in the form of direct grants, reimbursable grants, interest
       rate subsidies, and subsidised public loans. The scheme meets the conditions
       of the Commission’s Temporary Framework giving Member States additional
       scope to facilitate access to financing in the present economic and financial
       crisis. Consequently the Commission took the view that scheme would help
       businesses affected by the current credit crisis without unduly distorting
       competition. The scheme applies only to businesses which were not in
       difficulty on 1 July 2008, that is before the unfolding of the crisis. The scheme
       is intended to increase possibilities to give timely and well targeted aid to
       SMEs and large companies and will therefore significantly contribute to
       remedying the current financial and economic crisis.


       Commission launches EU Youth strategy
       The Commission has adopted a new EU strategy for youth policy for the
       coming decade [COM(2009) 200 An EU Strategy for Youth – Investing and
       Empowering]. The new strategy acknowledges the fact that young people are
       one of the most vulnerable groups in society, especially in the current
       economic and financial crisis, and in an ageing society, young people are a
       precious resource. The new strategy is cross-sectoral, with both short and
       long-term actions, which involve key policy areas that affect Europe's young
       people, particularly youth education, employment, creativity and
       entrepreneurship, social inclusion, health and sport, civic participation, and
       volunteering. The new strategy also emphasises the importance of youth work
       and defines reinforced measures for a better implementation of youth policies
       at the EU level.



       Commission refers Ireland to Court of Justice - interpretation services
       The European Commission has referred Ireland to the European Court of
       Justice over the award procedure followed by the Department of Justice for a
       public service contract for interpretation services.       The Commission
       considered that by attributing weightings to the award criteria following the
       closing date for the submission of the bids and by modifying them subsequent


                                          17
        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________

       to an initial review of the submitted bids, the Department changed the
       emphasis among the award criteria that were originally advertised and gave
       them a relative importance that was materially different from what a tenderer
       could understand from the contract documents. The Commission has taken the
       view that the award procedure in question was not in conformity with
       Community law on public procurement, and more specifically that the
       Department failed to fulfil its obligations under the principles of equal
       treatment and transparency.


       Commission takes Belgium to Court of Justice
       The European Commission has decided to take Belgium to the Court of Justice
       for its refusal to exempt the European institutions from charges made for
       planning permission granted for their buildings. In Brussels, all construction
       or extension of office buildings with a floor area exceeding 500m² is subject to
       planning permission charges. The Commission considers that these charges
       contravene the tax exemption provided for in the EU Treaties, as it considers
       the charges as direct taxes rather than proportional charges for public utility
       services provided directly to the Institutions. In coordination with all the other
       Institutions based in Brussels, the Commission has contested the legality of
       these charges. Despite numerous attempts to resolve this issue, it has not been
       possible to reach an amicable solution, as the Belgian authorities even contest
       the classification of planning permission charges as direct taxes.

       The strategy is a follow-up to the renewed social agenda announced by the
       European Commission in 2008, has the following goals:

              to create more opportunities for youth in education and employment,
              to improve access and full participation of all young people in society,
               and
              to foster solidarity between youth and society.

       It emphasises the important role of youth work in dealing with unemployment,
       school failure and social exclusion, as well as improving skills and providing
       leisure time. The Commission proposes to employ a cross-sectoral approach to
       address all youth related issues, with the new strategy outlining different
       actions to be pursued by the Commission and the Member States. The strategy
       proposes a better, more flexible and simplified method of coordinating youth
       policy among the Member States, with reinforced links with the Lisbon
       Strategy for more growth and jobs. The adoption of the new strategy on youth
       follows an extensive consultation exercise undertaken in 2008, involving
       national authorities, the European Youth Forum, youth organizations and other
       stakeholders. Young people themselves were consulted on-line and will now
       be invited to react to the Commission's proposals in a new phase of the
       permanent dialogue between the EU and its youth.

       EIB supports expansion of Trinity College research facilities
       The European Investment Bank (EIB) is promoting the construction of a
       leading biomedical sciences research and training facility at Trinity College
       Dublin through €75 million financing for the university. The development will


                                          18
        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________

       accommodate up to 1,000 biomedical science researchers and will build on
       Trinity’s strengths and human capital in the health related areas of
       neuroscience, oncology, infection & immunity and genetics. The EIB loan to
       Trinity College is the first of its kind to an Irish university. The project also
       directly supports the Irish government’s strategy for science, technology and
       innovation. The extended capacity offered by the new biosciences institute
       will allow for increased numbers of researchers and will enable Trinity to form
       closer links with private sector biomedical companies. The planned eleven-
       storey facility will be located close to Trinity College in central Dublin and
       will house both academic and commercial office space. The building is
       aligned to the 2005-2011 Development Plan for the Irish capital and over 1000
       people are expected to be employed during its construction.


       EIB supports for ESB project
       The European Investment Bank is lending €175 million to the ESB towards
       the construction of a 400MW natural gas-fired power plant alongside an
       existing 525MW plant at Aghada in east Cork. The new power generating
       facility will be one of the largest and most efficient in Ireland and will help
       meet the country’s growing electricity demand from the residential and
       business sectors. As well as ensuring energy efficiency and environmental
       benefits, the new plant in Aghada, east Cork will bring economic advantages
       for the region. A total of 500 contractor employees will work on the site
       during construction and after this time the two plants at Aghada will be
       operated to best practice standards by a combined workforce of 80 people. The
       project will serve the all-island Single Electricity Market which was
       established in November 2007. The EIB has been a financing partner for ESB
       electricity generation, transmission and distribution projects since the 1970s.


5.     EUROPEAN COUNCIL / PRESIDENCY

       Caretaker Government to run Czech Presidency
       Following the collapse of the government in the Czech Republic after a lost
       vote of confidence on 24 March, a new interim government composed of
       experts and high ranking civil servants will take up office on 10 May. Mr. Jan
       Fischer, head of the Czech statistical office will become the new Prime
       Minister for the last two months of the Czech Presidency. The European
       Commission commented that it had confidence in the Czech government’s
       handling of the EU Presidency. However, Jo Leinen, Chairman of the EP’s
       Constitutional Affairs Committee was concerned that the uncertainty in the
       Czech Republic was not sending out a positive sign for ratification of the
       Lisbon Treaty. Negotiations on the guarantees granted Ireland should not be
       compromised by these developments.

       Czech Presidency: forthcoming Councils and ministerial meetings

       4 May:         ECOFIN
       11-12 May:     Education, Youth, Culture
       18-19 May:     Gaerc


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        Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 6 April - 1 May2009
___________________________________________________________________________________

       25-26 May:     Agriculture and Fish
       28-29 May:     Competitiveness




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