EPP ED Report EPP ED by malj

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									EPP-ED Report
Issue 10 / September II 2007


EPP-ED wants to close loopholes in toy safety legislation
By Greet Gysen

On Tuesday, MEPs debated with the European Commissioners for Enterprise &
Industry and for Consumer Protection on what measures should be taken to
increase toy safety and product safety in general. A joint parliamentary
Resolution was voted on Wednesday calling for the strict enforcement of product
and toy safety laws in the Member States, increased effectiveness of the rapid
detection system RAPEX, adequate sanctions in the case that the CE marking is
misused, a speedy revision of the Toys Directive and better cooperation with
China and other third countries.

Marianne Thyssen (B), Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP-ED Group, said that the
recent large-scale recalls involving unsafe toys from China show that producers
and policy-makers cannot let their guard down. Marianne Thyssen commented:
"The recent incidents show that even though the EU has one of the best
consumer legislations worldwide, we can never allow ourselves to become
compliant. We need to remain attentive and close any loopholes that might exist
in our legislation and surveillance system."

Malcolm Harbour (UK), EPP-ED Internal Market Spokesman, asked toy
manufacturers and Member States for extra efforts: "A chain is only as strong as
its weakest link. Unsafe toys must be stopped wherever they enter the single
market. It is irresponsible makers and importers whose products have not been
properly tested that present the biggest problem."

Andreas Schwab (D), EPP-ED Vice-Coordinator on the Internal Market
Committee, emphasised the importance of an accurate use of the CE marking:
"The Commission needs to put in place adequate sanctions for the misuse of the
CE marking. In addition, it needs to be assessed - in the framework of the
revision of the Toys Directive - whether an obligatory third party certification is
suitable."

Corien Wortmann-Kool (NL), Vice-Chairwoman of the International Trade
Committee, called on the Commission to put product safety higher on the agenda
of trade negotiations: "To make sure countries such as China implement our
health and safety standards to the letter when they manufacture goods destined
for the European market, we should give them technical assistance and improve
inspection and custom operations."


Rail passengers to benefit from improved rights
By Thomas Bickl

The European Parliament has adopted a final agreement with Council on
improved rights for rail passengers.

EPP-ED Group Spokesperson, Georg Jarzembowski (D), who played a leading
role in the negotiation, said: "The good news is that national railway tracks will be
opened up to cross-border passenger services of companies from all Member
States on the 1st of January 2010, whether they are private or state-owned
companies. This means that, at last, we will see the common market for cross-
border passenger services in place with better services and more choice for the
customers. We expect that railway companies take the chance and provide
competitive services so that rail travel becomes a real alternative to flying."

Better news still for passengers is that as from the autumn of 2009, a
compensation scheme for delayed trains will be put in place. If the delay exceeds
one hour, passengers will be entitled to a refund of 25 per-cent of the ticket price.
If a train is more than two hours behind schedule, passengers will get back half
of the fare. Parliament secured that not only cross-border trains, but also
domestic trains will be included after a transitional period.

It is expected, however, that in most countries, both cross-border and domestic
trains will be subject to the new refund system at the same starting date. This is
going to ensure that delays throughout the EU will be reduced to a minimum, and
railways will become a more popular means of transport.


Strict measures to combat illegal immigration
By Pedro López de Pablo

The fight against illegal immigration should be at the top of the European political
agenda. This was the main political message launched by EPP-ED Group
Chairman, Joseph Daul (F), during the debate on the issue at the Strasbourg
plenary session.

"When we speak of illegal immigration, we support strict measures. Europe
should shoulder its responsibilities and fight against the scourge of mafias who
exploit human misery", Daul said.
The EPP-ED admits that progress has been made since the creation of the
Frontex agency, with rapid intervention teams at the borders and the increase of
funds for external borders management. More than 1,200 illegal immigrants were
rescued by EU teams in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands waters only
during last summer.

"But this is still not enough. We lack human, material and financial resources",
Daul pointed out. The Chairman of the EPP-ED Group demanded a genuine
protocol for the protection of external borders, welcomed the proposal to penalise
employers who employ illegal immigrants and warned against mass
regularisation of illegal immigrants. "Far from providing a solution, it gives the
illusion to illegal immigrants and those hoping to emigrate that they will all be
regularised, sooner or later. These massive regularisations contribute to
perpetuating illegal immigration mafia networks and the trafficking of human
beings", he said.

On behalf of the most important political group of the European Parliament,
Joseph Daul also called on the Member States to act with "effectiveness and
coherence" to organise legal immigration flows in cooperation with third
countries.

The proposal of a European 'blue card' could be a possible solution to deal with
the entry and residence conditions of highly-skilled and seasonal workers that the
European labour market needs. The lack of employees has already appeared in
sectors like agriculture or healthcare, and that will affect most of the EU countries
in 20 years time, when more than a third of the population will be of retirement
age. For Daul, the EU should not close its doors to migrants but it should assure
that those who want to come to work legally will be hosted and integrated with
dignity into European society.


EU Digital Library: Safeguarding European creativity
By György Hölvényi

Internet has become one of the principal means of access to knowledge and
learning. Setting up a digital library in the European Union would enable
researchers, students, teachers, and people with physical disabilities to benefit
from this system.

Marie-Hélène Descamps (F), rapporteur of 'i2010 Towards a Digital Library', set
out these proposals in Strasbourg. She emphasised that this European project
would reinforce the expression of real European identity. It would also show our
cultural and linguistic diversity towards other countries.
"An EU digital library should be set up in order to offer reliable and quality
material to our citizens. It is indispensable to maintain and safeguard European
creativity", said Mrs Descamps. Through a unique, direct and multilingual way,
this system would firstly ensure free access to texts, currently kept in libraries,
and later to other cultural materials.

Piia-Noora Kauppi (FI) welcomed the Descamps Report however she drew
attention to one aspect: "Public-private cooperation and private sponsorship for
the digitalisation of Europe's cultural heritage is an important element of the
system as it stands now. We need to make sure that the new Regulation in this
field will not threaten the benefits of the current system."

Zdzisław Chmielewski (PL) also believes that Mrs Descamps' report is very
persuasive. He emphasised however, that the crucial issue is the protection of
digital sources. He suggested setting up common and coherent requirements in
order to keep digital materials safe.

The rapporteur also stressed the importance of creating a secure, electronic
environment, where the protection of authors' and creators' rights is ensured.

"We should constitute a so-called Director's Committee where cultural institutions
have an important role. Other institutions and sectors, like archives, museums,
cinemas and universities should be involved in the long term too", Descamps
concluded.


EP calls for energy diplomacy
By Katarzyna Klaus

An overwhelming majority of the Parliament adopted a report by Jacek Saryusz-
Wolski (PL) calling for a Common Foreign Policy on Energy. "Europe today faces
the challenge of energy security, therefore a genuine European foreign policy on
energy would bring substantial added value to efforts made at national level",
said Mr Saryusz-Wolski, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the
European Parliament.

The underlying principles of the report are diversification - prioritising strategic
projects such as the Nabucco pipeline, unity in defending the Union's interests by
speaking with 'one voice' and solidarity in crisis situations. Mr Saryusz-Wolski is
calling for a pro-active and broad energy diplomacy aimed at strengthening the
Union's cooperation with all major producer, transit and consumer countries and
for the creation of an energy market based on the principle of reciprocity. In this
respect, the report recommends the inclusion of an 'energy security clause' in all
EU agreements with producer and transit countries.
"Today we have an institutional and decisional gap, therefore I propose setting
up a new post of High Official for Foreign Energy Policy, after the new Treaty
enters into force", said Mr Saryusz-Wolski. This office would allow for the
coordination of all the policies related to external aspects of energy security.

The report also calls for the application of the Energy Charter Treaty, including
the Transit Protocol by the Union's major energy partners. The report appeals to
Russia to ratify the Charter, while recognising that the EU should also negotiate a
formal framework document in the context of the new EU-Russia Partnership and
Cooperation Agreement.


Parliament adopts EU sugar market reform
By Knut Goelz

The European Parliament has adopted a proposal for a reform of the EU sugar
market sector. Albert Deß (D), EPP-ED rapporteur, welcomed the outcome of the
vote while at the same time asking for fair conditions both for producers and the
industry: "Competitive facilities need fair conditions to maintain sugar production
in the European Union", the German MEP said.

Parliament has therefore set a clear signal for the sugar market sector, as the
European sugar production of the European Union must be cut by 6 million tons
until 2010 due to WTO commitments. Consequently, the plenary strongly urges
the Council to follow its proposals for a balanced, substantive and reliable reform.
This should also include improvements with regard to the restructuring funds.

In detail, these measures shall also contain the possibility to receive full
compensation for voluntary return of quotas as well as a higher share of
restructuring aid for farmers. Furthermore, a special focus shall be put on regions
that are affected by the closing-down of factories. Promotional measures for the
income protection of former employees and their redeployment on the labour
market are also envisaged.

According to the rapporteur, this package of measures must be particularly
focused on less-developed regions affected by cuts of production and the closing
of factories so that they can invest in economic alternatives. The rapporteur
underlined the importance of a reliable and functioning EU sugar market. Taking
into account rising prices and a growing shortage of agricultural products, the
European Union must not rely only on supplies from abroad.
Gender equality: Key priority for the EPP-ED Group
By Antti Timonen

Equality between women and men in employment issues, such as gender pay
gap, insecurity in the job market and reconciliation of professional and family
lives, deserved the full attention of the EPP-ED Group when the Parliament voted
on Piia-Noora Kauppi's (FI) report on Equality between Women and Men in the
EU in Strasbourg on Thursday.

In the report, the Parliament urges Member States to adopt reconciliation policies
of professional and family life for both women and men. It has been shown that
those Member States having adopted such policies have higher birth rates, a
higher percentage of women in the labour market and higher employment rates.
Education has been the key for female advancement - the rise in educational
standards has gone hand in hand with increased female employment.

The gender pay gap - on average 15% across the EU and up to 30% in some
European countries - has not decreased. The Directives on the principle of equal
pay for men and women have been there for more than 30 years, and the
problem still exists. The Group's view is that this is totally unacceptable.

In the adopted report, the Parliament urges the Member States to mutualise the
costs of maternity leave allowance to ensure that women no longer represent a
more costly source of labour than men. The report also calls on the Commission
to develop gender analysis on the impact of pension reforms on women's lives in
the EU with the objective of individualising pension rights as well as social
security and tax systems. An increase in female entrepreneurship as well as
women's participation in politics is encouraged.


Effective education systems ensure cohesion
By Marek Hannibal

The European Parliament has approved a report by Tomáš Zatloukal (CZ) on the
Efficiency and Equity in European Education and Training Systems. In various
Member States, the efficiency of education systems is more dependent on the
social and economic situation of families rather than on financial investments.
Member States should prioritise public investment towards education at an
earlier stage as it has been proven that it has the highest effect on the high
quality pre-primary provision on children’s intellectual and social behavioural
development.

Equitable systems ensure that the results of education and training are unrelated
to socio-economic background and to other factors which disadvantage
individuals. The main task is to support individual education systems by involving
pupils, students and adults from all social groups. The current situation is
unsatisfactory. If significant changes are not made in bringing children from
disadvantaged social groups into pre-school education, the number of children
who drop out of school prematurely will not improve. An increased number of
people will be vulnerable to the risk of social exclusion and unemployment.

Education impacts on economic growth by increasing its human capital, its
innovative power and facilitating the diffusion of technology. Each additional year
of average school attainment raises productivity in the average EU country by
6.2% on impact and by a further 3.1% in the long run through its contribution to
faster technological progress. Education makes a strong positive contribution to
employment prospects; the EU unemployment rate ranges from 12.6% for people
with less than upper-secondary education to 5% for people with tertiary
education.

								
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