Press kit: European elections 4-7 June 2009 The European elections press kit contains five main sections: 1. Background information on the European Parlia ment and the European elections 2. Overview of the legislature June 2004-June 2009 3 The Review of the Legislature in detail including European Parliament hitting the UK headlines 4. Looking Ahead to the rest of the legislature and a factsheet examining the impact of the Treaty of Lisbon 5. Top Stories from the European Parliament. 1. "Background information" on the European Parliament and elections. This section contains information on the EP's powers, MEPs and elections, the history of European Parliament elections, multilingualism and electoral law. 2-3. "The Review of the Legi slature", introduced by an "Overview" (2), puts emphasis on key legislation adopted by the European P arliament over the five -year mandate divided int o thematic topics ranging from employment and social affairs, security and civil liberties to health, industry and transp ort to name just a few. There is also a section called the 3. European Parliament hitting the UK headlines – People, policies and petitions which highlights the biggest stories taken up by British media over the last five years. 4. "Looking Ahead" takes a look at some of the key dossiers to be tackled by MEPs before the European elections in June. From liberalising EU gas and electricity markets, to facilitating patients' access to healthcare anywhere in the EU, the last few months of the legislature promise to be extremely packed for MEPs. Other highlights for the Parliament include legislation on cheaper roaming costs for SMS and dat a messages, a conciliation on the working time directive, and a series of reports to combat t he economic crisis: Parliament will deal with rules on credit rating agencies, supervision of the banking sector and the way in which capital requirements are calculated. 5. "Top Storie s" are the highest-profile debates and votes of 2004 -2009. Each item traces a decision taken in Parliament and explains its implications. Where appropriate, the articles set out some of the political views expressed on the different sides of each argument. 1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION − EP AND ELECTIONS An introduction to the European elections The political groups Some facts on previous European elections Electoral Law The European Parliament: a wide range of powers at the service of the European citizen Multilingualism at the European Parliament Women in the European Parliament Press Service Directorate for the Media EN Director - Spokesperson -: Jaume DUCH GUILLOT Press sw itchboard number: (32-2) 28 33000 www.elections2009.eu 2. GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE LEGISLATURE Summary of the legislature June 2004-June 2009 3. REVIEW OF THE LEGISLATURE EP acting for the environment EP seals climate change package Trans port policy in the European Parliament Products and servic es markets Stability in financial services with safeguards for customers European Parliament and the prot ection of consumers EP working for a healthier Europe Employment and social affairs a key concern for the European Parliament Immigration and free movement Security, terrorism and civil liberties MEPs active on culture, education and sport Money for policies: political priorities backed up by financial means The EP active on the world stage Institutional decisions and enlargement The European Parliament hitting the UK headlines − people, policies and petitions 4. LOOKING AHEAD This factsheet takes a look at some of the key dossiers to be tackled by MEPs before the European elections in June. Lisbon Treaty: more powers for the European Parliament 5. TOP STORIES FROM THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT REACH: reducing chemical risks without penalising industry CIA activities in Europe: European Parliament denounces secretiveness of some Member States Liberalising services wit hout touching the European social model: mission accompl ished for the EP EU-wide rail services: more choice and clearer rights for passengers When European Parliament rejects... Roaming: Parliament cuts cost of using mobile phones abroad All inclusive air fares Illegal immigration: European Parliament lays down common standards on expulsion Towards more transparency: a reformed Parliament from 2009 Climate change: wide-ranging E U measures to fight global warming Working time: 48 hours a week maximum Further information: Richard FREEDMAN, Press Officer - European Parliament : press-EN@europarl.europa.eu : (+32-2) 28 41448 (B russels) : (+33-3) 881 73785 (Strasbourg) : (+32) 498 98 32 39 Simon DUFFIN, Head of Press - European Parliament Information Office in the UK : firstname.lastname@example.org : (+44) 207 227 4335 : (+44) 7786 060 531 EN Press Service 2 www.elections2009.eu An introduction to the European elections The 2009 European elections will take place on 4-7 June, 2009, in each of the 27 Member State s of the European Union. More than 375 million EU citizens will be able to vote for their chosen representative for a five-year period: 736 MEP s from 27 Member States. The European Parliament represents the citizens of the Member States at EU level. It is the only European institution to be directly elected - a procedure established in June 1979 - and the only multinational parliament in the world to be voted in through universal suffrage. From 1958 to 1979, MEPs were appointed by their national governments, and all had dual mandates. The elections are held every five years. This seventh round of European elections coincides with the 30t h anniversary of the first European elections held by universal suffrage. Since 1958, the European Parliament has changed considerably, in part due to the progressive expansion of the EU. The number of Member States has climbed from six to 27; the number of MEPs has jumped from 142 to 736, and the official languages of the E U have risen from four to 23. Furthermore, s uccessive revisions of the Treaties have given the EP increased power, and it has moved from a mere consultative role in 1958, to co-decision with representatives of national governments on the majority of EU legislation. When will Europeans go to the polling stations? The 2009 elections will take place between 4 and 7 June, 2009. The actual polling days will vary from country to country according to local custom, and the results from each of the 27 Member States will not be made known until the evening of 7 June. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden will hold the elections on S unday, 7 June. The Lat vians, Cypriots, Maltese and Slovakians will go to the polling stations on 6 June. The UK and Netherlands will vote on 4 June. Ireland will vote on 5 June. In certain Member States, the voting period will be spread over two days: 5 and 6 June for the Czech Republic, 6 and 7 June for Italy. Bulgaria and Hungary do not have official dates yet. However, elections are normally held on Sundays in both countries. How many MEP s are there? The number of MEPs has increased in line with the successive enlargements of the EU. Currently there are 736 MEPs from 27 Member States. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Since 2007, the EP has had 785 MEPs originating from 27 countries. However, the Treaty of Nice, which was modified after the admission of Bulgaria and Romania, states that the total number of MEPs will decrease to 736 aft er the 2009 elections. SE: 18 FI: 13 EE: 6 LV: 8 DK: 13 LT: 12 IE: 12 NL: 25 UK: 72 PL: 50 DE: 99 BE: 22 CZ : 22 LU: 6 SK: 13 FR: 72 AT: 17 HU: 22 RO: 33 IT: 72 SI: 7 BG: 17 PT: 22 ES: 50 EL : 22 MT: 5 CY: 6 www.elections2009.eu MEPs by country indicating number of seats allocated to each Member State after 2009 elections and after Treaty of Lisbon Member State Current number Number of MEP s Number of MEP s of MEP s after the 2009 elections after the Treaty of Lisbon Germany 99 99 96 Franc e 78 72 74 United Kingdom 78 72 73 Italy 78 72 73 Spain 54 50 54 Poland 54 50 51 Romania 35 33 33 Netherlands 27 25 26 Belgium 24 22 22 Greece 24 22 22 Hungary 24 22 22 Czech Republic 24 22 22 Portugal 24 22 22 Sweden 19 18 20 Bulgaria 18 17 18 Austria 18 17 19 Denmark 14 13 13 Slovakia 14 13 13 Finland 14 13 13 Lithuania 13 12 12 Ireland 13 12 12 Lat via 9 8 9 Slovenia 7 7 8 Estonia 6 6 6 Cyprus 6 6 6 Luxembourg 6 6 6 Malta 5 5 6 Total 785 736 751 If the Treaty of Lisbon ent ers into force after the 2009 elections, the total number of MEPs will temporarily rise to 754, as decided by the European Council in December 2008. Germany would be the only country to "lose" MEPs under the Lisbon Treaty, although it would be allowed to keep its 99 MEPs until the next round of European elections. This accounts for the 754 MEPs voted in for a transitory 5-year period. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu www.elections2009.eu The political groups MEP s are grouped according to their political alliance and not their nationality. Each political group is currently composed of a minimum of 20 elected members from at least six Member States (a fifth of all EU countrie s). However, after the 2009 elections all thi s will change. The European Parliament recently decided to raise the minimum to 25 MEP s repre senting at least seven Member States. There are currently seven political groups in the European Parliament. None of them has an overall majority: Breakdown of MEPs by political group (February 2009) GUE/NGL IND/DEM Non-attached 5,2% 2,8% 3,8% EPP-ED Greens/EFA 36,7% 5,5% UEN 5,6% ALDE PES 12,7% 27,6% February 2009 EPP-ED: European People's Party and European Democrats (288) PES: Party of European Socialists (217) ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democ rats (100) UEN: Union for Europe of Nations (44) Greens/EFA: Greens/European Free Alliance (43) GUE/NGL: European United Left/Nordic Green Left (41) INDEM: Independence/Democracy (22) Non-attached: MEPs not belonging to any political group (30) EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Distribution of seats by political group and Member State, under the sixth parliamentary term (2004-2009) GREENS/ GUE/ IND/ EPP-ED PES ALDE UEN EFA NGL DEM NA Total Austria 6 7 1 2 2 18 Belgium 6 7 6 2 3 24 Bulgaria 5 5 5 3 18 Cyprus 3 1 2 6 Czech Rep 14 2 6 1 1 24 Denmark 1 5 4 1 1 1 1 14 Estonia 1 3 2 6 Finland 4 3 5 1 1 14 France 18 31 10 6 3 3 7 78 Germany 49 23 7 13 7 99 Greece 11 8 4 1 24 Hungary 13 9 2 24 Ireland 5 1 1 4 1 1 13 Italy 24 17 12 13 2 7 3 78 Latvia 3 1 4 1 9 Lithuania 2 2 7 2 13 Luxembourg 3 1 1 1 6 Malta 2 3 5 Netherlands 7 7 5 4 2 2 27 Poland 15 9 6 20 3 1 54 Portugal 9 12 3 24 Romania 18 10 6 1 35 Spain 24 24 2 3 1 54 Sweden 6 5 3 1 2 2 19 Slovenia 4 1 2 7 Slovakia 8 3 3 14 UK 27 19 11 5 1 8 7 78 Total 288 217 100 44 43 41 22 30 785 Statute for Members of the European Parliament After the European elections in 2009, a new single Statute for Members of the European Parliament will be applicable, covering salaries, health insurance, pensions, allowances etc. The new statute does away with differences in remuneration bet ween MEPs, meaning that all MEPs will earn around €7,665 gross a month and this will be covered by the EU budget. Currently there is no common remuneration: MEPs salaries are paid for by national budgets and in most cases they earn t he same as national MPs (Hungary, Slovakia and The Netherlands being exceptions). During the transitory period, each Member State may decide to apply the current system. Re-elected MEPs may also opt for the current system. www.elections2009.eu Some facts on previous European elections The first direct elections for the European parliament were held exactly 30 years ago - in 1979, and since then another five European elections have taken place. Before that, from 1958 to 1979, MEP s were appointed by the national parliaments of the Member States, all Members having a dual mandate. Turnout in 2004 was 45.5%. The Decision and Act on European elections by direct universal suffrage were signed in Brussels on 20 September 1976. A fter ratification by all the Member States, the first elections took place on 7 and 10 June 1979. 410 Members were elected. Since then, another five European elections have taken plac e - in 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2004. Elections were always organised in new member states after each enlargement in order to allow them to elect their own representatives to t he E uropean P arliament. This was the case for Greece in 1981, for Portugal and Spain in 1987, S weden in 1995, A ustria and Finland in 1996, and Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. Turnout The turnout in the European elections since 1979 has varied signific antly from one Member St ate to another (s ee Table 1 and 2). Any downward tendency in turnout reflects the general downward trend in local and general elections in most Member States. At the last elections, in 2004, there was an increase in turnout in five c ount ries which do not have compulsory voting - Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom and Finland. In 2004, turnout was very low in most of the countries that had just acceded to the European Union. EP Elections Turnout 100,00% 80,00% 60,00% 61,99% 58,98% 58,41% 56,67% 40,00% 49,51% 45,47% 20,00% 0,00% 1979 1984 1989 1994 1999 2004 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Evolution of turnout rat es in the Member States, 1979-2007: Member State 1979 1981 1984 1987 1989 1994 1995 1996 1999 2004 2007 Germany 65.73 56.76 62.28 60.02 45.19 43 France 60.71 56.72 48.8 52.71 46.76 42.76 Belgium* 91.36 92.09 90.73 90.66 91.05 90.81 Italy** 85.65 82.47 81.07 73.6 69.76 71.72 Luxembourg* 88.91 88.79 87.39 88.55 87.27 91.35 Netherlands 58.12 50.88 47.48 35.69 30.02 39.26 United Kingdom 32.35 32.57 36.37 36.43 24 38.52 Ireland 63.61 47.56 68.28 43.98 50.21 58.58 Denmark 47.82 52.38 46.17 52.92 50.46 47.89 Greece* 81.48 80.59 80.03 73.18 70.25 63.22 Spain 68.52 54.71 59.14 63.05 45.14 Portugal 72.42 51.1 35.54 39.93 38.6 Sweden 41.63 38.84 37.85 Austria 67.73 49.4 42.43 Finland 57.6 30.14 39.43 Czech Republic 28.3 Estonia 26.83 Cyprus* 72.5 Latvia 41.34 Lithuania 48.38 Hungary 38.5 Malta 82.39 Poland 20.87 Slovenia 28.35 Slovakia 16.97 Romania 29.47 Bulgaria 29.22 Total EU 61.99 - 58.98 - 58.41 56.67 - - 49.51 45.47 - * In Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Cyprus voting is compulsory. ** In Italy voting was compulsory until 1992. www.elections2009.eu Electoral law The elections to the European Parliament are still, to a la rge extent, organised according to national legislations and traditions. There are common EU rule s which lay down that the elections must be by direct universal suffrage as well as free and confidential. Members of the European Parliament must be elected in the Member States on the basi s of proportional representation. But it is up to each Member State whether they use an open or closed list system. When voting is based on an open list system, the voters can indicate a preference for one or more candidates on the list. This is done for instance in A ustria, Belgium, B ulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. When voting with a closed list system, the political parties establish the or der of candidates and the voters only cast their vote on the party. This is done for instance in Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Spain and UK . Each Member State may establish constituencies for elections to the European P arliament or subdivide its electoral area in a different manner. Most Member States choose to consider the whole country as one constituency. Belgium, Ireland, Italy, France, P oland and the UK have several constituencies or electoral areas. The election period is determined at EU level but the exact polling date and opening hours for polling stations vary according to the national electoral laws. Voting is compulsory in Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and Luxemburg. There are differences among the Member States as to the minimum age for voting and the minimum age for standing in elections. In several Member States you can both vote and stand for elections at the age of 18 (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden). But in Austria you can vot e at the age of 16 and stand in elections at 18 while in Italy, you must be 18 and 25 respectively. In some countries, for instance in France and the UK, pre-registration on an electoral roll is required. In many countries this is done automatically. EU-citizens living in another EU-count ry than their country of origin are entitled to vote and stand in European elections in the country of residence but national electoral law may lay down s pecific procedures for how to do this. Commonwealth citizens, for instance Canadi ans and Australians, whose names appear on the electoral roll in the UK are also entitled to vote. As for standing for elections in a country other than your country of origin, there are several examples of elected Members in the current Parliament who have done. EU-citizens living abroad, wishing to take part in t he elections in their country of origin, are subject to national electoral law. Some Member States, but far from all, allow postal voting and/or provide for polling stations in their embassies or cons ulates. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu According to EU electoral law, there are several positions that are incompatible with being a Mem ber of the European Parliament - MEP. An MEP can neither be a member of a Member State government or national parliament, nor an active official of t he E uropean institutions. Some c ount ries lay down further incompatibilities to being an MEP, for instance being a bank director in A ustria, a career member of the police in Hungary, an agent paid by the national railway society in Ireland or a televisi on director in Spain. www.elections2009.eu The European Parliament: A wide range of powers at the service of the European citizen In a wide range of policy areas, the European Parliament has equal decision -making power with the Council of Mini sters from the 27 EU governments. Even in areas such a s agriculture or foreign policy, where the Parliament is only consulted or informed, its debates and resolutions often lead the agenda at EU level and can influence the decisions of the Council. Parliament also has wide budgetary powers and exercise s democratic control over all the European insti tutions. 1. Legislative powers Codeci sion The European Parliament shares power equally with the Council of Ministers over about two-thirds of proposals for EU legislation. In the areas of environment policy, transport, consumer protection, illegal immigration and all matters regulating the internal market, the European P arliament has the power to accept, amend or reject proposals from the European Commission for E uropean directives or regu lations. During this legislat ure, t he P arliament rejected outright proposed directives on liberalising port services and on c omput er patents. On major legislation such as the S ervices Directive and the REA CH chemicals rules, on the other hand, EP amendments significantly changed the final text of the legislation. Consul tation On some questions (e.g. taxation, industrial policy, agric ultural policy, new eurozone members) the European Parliament gives only an advisory opinion (the „consultation procedure‟). However, even here, the Parliament's amendments often influence the final outcome of discussions in Council, for example on issues such as sheep-tagging or voluntary modulation for farmers. Assent Some agreements require the green light of Parliament, who cannot modify the text, but can reject it. This is called assent procedure and it applies to the accession of new Member States and the conclusion of association agreements with non-E U countries. Thus, enlargement of the Union can only happen if Parliament agrees. 2. Political influence Outside the legislative arena, Parliament makes its voice heard in European decisions. For instance, although Member States take t he ultimate decisions on foreign, security and defence issues, the Commission and Council must inform the European Parliament beforehand and MEPs push for action by taking part in political and public debate. In their reports, recommendations and questions addressed to the E U's various actors, they exert influenc e, for example by pressing t he Commission and Council to take measures on human rights. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Parliament also adopts "own-initiative" reports which may c all on the Commission to bring forward legislation in a specific area, or indicate, ahead of a concrete proposal, how legislation should be draft ed. 3. Budgetary powers The E uropean Parliament is, together with Council, responsible for establishing the annual budget of the Union. It has the last word on more than half of the E U budget and decides on spending in the fields of social and regional funds, energy, research, transport, development aid, the environment, education and culture. In the case of agriculture expenditure, the Council has the last word. The E U also aims to set out longer-term financial budgeting, which indicates t he maximum levels of expenditure over a seven y ear period. No deal on t hese so -called financial perspectives can be reached without Parliament's approval. 4. Democratic control and supervi sory powers Nomination powers Parliament plays a key role in the investiture of the E uropean Commission. Parliament must approve the appointment of the Commission President. Then the other 26 Member States ' Commissioners -designate must face a hearing in front of MEPs before the EP 's final vote on the whole Commission. P arliament also holds hearings of the President and members of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank and of nominations for the Court of Auditors. Democratic accountability in monetary policy The European Central Bank President presents its annual report to the European P arliament in plenary session and reports to the responsible committee in Parliament every three months. Budgetary control Parliament is responsible for monitoring the Union‟s expenditure on a permanent basis, and decides whet her t o grant discharge to (or clear the accounts of) all EU institutions for t he implementation of the budget. Committees of inquiry and temporary committees Parliament has the power t o set up a temporary committee either to investigate alleged contravention s or maladministration in the implementation of Community law (c ommittee of inquiry) or to deal with a specific matter on a temporary basis. Parliamentary questions, written or oral, are another form of supervising and checking the other EU institutions. The questions may be t abled in plenary for a debate with representatives of the Commission and Council who are required to reply. 5. Petitions E very European citizen has the right to petition Parliament to ask for problems to be remedied in areas within the sphere of activity of the European Union. 6. Looking ahead With the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament would see its powers enhanced. Co-decision would be extended to include such areas as agriculture, fisheries, legal migration, space and sport. The Parliament's budgetary powers would be extended to all Union expenditure, thus including agriculture. Parliament would have more powers over the appointment of President of the Commission. www.elections2009.eu Multilingualism at the European Parliament Principle of multilingualism The European Parliament respects the principle of multilingualism regarding official languages. Root ed in the European treaties, multilingualism is a reflection of the cultural and linguistic d iversity of the European Union: The Treaties state that all E uropean citizens should be able t o follow Parliament's work, to ask questions and to rec eive replies in their own language; MEPs are elected to represent their political constituencies, not on the basis of their language skills. MEPs have the right to read parliamentary documents, to follow debates and to speak in their own language, and this is expressly recognised in Parliament's Rules of Procedure; As legislator, the E uropean P arliament is obliged to guarantee t he linguistic quality of all the laws it adopts in all the official languages. 23 official languages The E U has 23 official languages - Bulgarian, Czech, Danis h, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Iris h, Lat vian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish. Decisions on official languages are taken by unanimity of Member States. The EU uses three alphabets - Latin, Greek and Cyrillic. There are 506 possible bilateral language combinations (23x22), but as it is not always possible to have staff for all possible combinations, a relay system is often used both for translation and int erpretation (thus documents are translated into a few languages, the so-called " relay" languages, and from the relay languages to the others; the same applies to speeches). Plenary session debates are int erpreted in all languages. All official documents adopted by the EP are translat ed into all official languages. On a day-to-day level, translation and interpret ation is governed by an internal code of conduct, the lat est version of which was adopted in 2008. It guarantees "controlled full multilingualism" and requests users to communicate in advance their needs; it also establishes a priority order for types of users with a view to keeping costs within budgetary limits. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Staff The EP is - with the Commission - the world's largest employer of interpret ers and translators. In Parliament, around 1,500 people (about one t hird of total staff) are dedicated t o t ranslation, int erpretation and linguistic verification of texts. For t ranslation the E uropean P arliament maint ains an in-house translation service of around 700 translators. It also has recourse to freelance professional translators for non -priority texts. For interpretation, Parliament has 400 interpreters on a permanent basis. During plenary sittings in particular, when the number of interpreters needed ranges between 800 and 1,000, freelancers are hired. Costs Translation and interpretation at all EU institutions costs around 1% of the E U budget, which is approximately € 2.3 per citizen per year. As for the E uropean Parliament, multilingualism expendit ure represents around one third of its total expenditure, i.e. some € 484 million for 2008. www.elections2009.eu Women in the European Parliament More than half of European voters are female but women are still under-represented in positions of power throughout the European Union. The European Parliament has called in its re solutions for more women in political life and decision-making, most recently in September 2008. The first President of the directly elected EP was a woman: Simone Veil from France. Over t he years t he percentage of female MEPs has increased steadily - while in 1979 only 16.3% of the MEPs were women, this percentage rose to 26.1% in 1994, 30.19% in 1999 and 30.3% in 2004 (31.4% by October 2008 due to individuals leaving or taking up seats mid-term). In the run-up to the 2004 elections, MEPs called on political parties to put more women candidates on 1 their lists . More recently, the European Parliament has called for quot as, noting the "positive effects of 2 the use of electoral quotas on the represent ation of women ". Some countries use legislation to ensure more women are elected: in France, the Parity Law has led to the use of the so -called "zipper system", where every other candidate on the European elections list is a woman. In ot her countries, it is internal party rules which are leading to change, e.g. Sweden, parties have used the zipper method volunt arily. As a result, some countries have reac hed parity (Estonia and Luxembourg) or near parity (France, Netherlands, Slovenia and S weden) when it comes to the percent age of female MEPs. Yet, in some cases, the share of women is much lower (P oland); in two countries (Cyprus , Malta) there are no women MEPs. Women as % of MEP in EU countries (12. March 2009) 60,0% 50,0% 50,0% 48,1% 46,2% 47,4% 50,0% 44,4% 42,9% 42,9% 42,9% 41,7% 38,5% 38,5% 40,0% 35,7% 32,3% 31,1% 27,8%29,2% 29,2% 28,6% 30,0% 25,0% 25,9% 24,4% 20,8% 21,8%22,2% 20,0% 14,8% 10,0% 0,0% 0,0% 0,0% Es k Bu m Fi a om l he ta ia nd nd x e ni a li c d ly ia g G y ia s Sw n Av K ia ia H ce s ry Be a ce e ga en ar ni an an nd ai ur ch p ru ri an ag U ak Ita ar al iu en tv ub ga la la an e to st m rtu Lu ua Sp ed bo lg M rl a lg La nl m re Ire Po ov er ov ze Cy Au en un ep Fr th Po er m Sl Sl D R R Li G et N C 1 EP resolution "On Election 2004: How to ensure balanced representation of women and men" of 6 November 2003. 2 EP resolution "Equality betw een women and men - 2008" of 3 September 2008. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu The representation of women in the European Parliament also varies by political groups. Women as % of MEPs in EP political groups (12. March 2009) 50,0% 46,5% 45,0% 40,6% 40,0% 40,0% 35,0% 31,1% 29,3% 30,0% 24,7% 25,0% 18,2% 20,0% 13,3% 15,0% 11,4% 10,0% 5,0% 0,0% EPP-ED PSE ALDE Greens/EFA UEN GUE/NGL IND/DEM NI Average Three out of the seven political groups have female co -presidents (Greens/EFA, UE N and IND/ DEM); no political group has a woman as their only president. Since 1979, when the Members of the EP were elected by universal suffrage for the first time, 2 out of 26 (7.7%) P residents have been women - Simone Veil in 1979-1982 and Nicole Fontaine in 1999-2002. 5 out of 14 current vic e-presidents are women. 6 out of the 22 chairpersons of t he parliamentary committees are currently women (27.3%) and 29 out of the 86 vic e-chairpersons are women (33.7%). The representation of women in parliamentary committees varies. The Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality and t he Committee on Int ernal Market and Consumer P rotection have the highest percentage of women, while in the Subcommittee on Security and Defence and the Committee on Trans port and Tourism it is the lowest. Women as % of MEPs in parliamentary committees (12. March 2009) 100,0% 92,5% 90,0% 80,0% 70,0% 60,0% 54,5% 48,5% 50,0% 43,2% 42,9% 42,6% 42,4% 41,7% 36,5% 40,0% 33,3% 32,4% 28,9% 28,1% 27,3% 30,0% 24,1% 24,0% 23,5% 23,4% 21,4% 21,1% 20,0% 19,8% 20,0% 14,3% 10,0% 0,0% E H M N E PL O E I TI I NT M E I LT G AN I I TA O ET R EG O R V R C D O B M C EV D PE LI JU C EN R AG EM U IT O LI PE SE IN AF IM EC TR FE BU AF C R D C D C The proportion of women in national parliaments averages around 23% across the E U. The figures are highest in the Nordic countries, where equality policies (binding or voluntary) have been in place for longer and are more proactive - in 2008 women made up 47% of the S wedish Parliament, 41.5% of the Finnish Parliament and 38% of the Danish Parliament. At the opposite end of t he scale, they made up only 8.7% of the Maltese Parliament and 9.4% of the Romanian Parliament. Of the Cypriot MPs, 14.3% are women. www.elections2009.eu General overview of the legislature This overview sets out − in brief bullet-point format − some of the main issues dealt with by the European Parliament in this legislature. It focuse s in particular on decisions affecting the daily lives of citizens and the day-to-day activitie s of busine sse s and public sector bodies. Consumers' rights o Cheaper mobile phone roaming charges across the EU o Advertisements and web booking systems must always indic ate the final price of plane tickets, all charges included o New rules on TV advertising: 12 minutes maximum per hour of advertising remains, but with more flexibility on breaks and product placement o Ban on carcinogenic substances and limits to dangerous chemic als in toys, to make them safer Environment o Reac h: obligation to register all chemicals and replac e most hazardous ones o 50% of paper, metal and glass from households and 70% of construction waste will have to be recycled by 2020 o 45% of batteries to be collected by 2016 o Criminal sanctions to punish severe offences against the environment Climate change o Car companies to improve vehicle mot or technology so CO 2 emissions of new passenger cars fall to 130 g/km by 2012. Other technical improvements should make this target go down to 120 g/km. By 2020, the binding objective is 95 g/km o Renewables must represent 20% of the energy mix and 10% of fuel consumption in transport by 2020 o Revision of the emission trading system: from 2013 polluting rights will be auctioned with some exceptions for new Member States dependent on coal. Free alloc ation to end by 2020. Sectors covered are, among ot hers, power stations, refineries, coke, ceramics, cement, glass, steel, paper. o A viation to be included in the emission tra ding system from January 2012 Press Service EN www.elections2009.eu Health o More facilities for doctors and nurses to work in all EU countries, thanks to a new system for recognition of qualifications o Incentives for drugs firms to invest in child medicines o Cleaner bat hing wat ers on beaches, rivers and lakes with less risk of bacterial infection and more information to users o Prohibition to market new mercury thermometers and barometers o Cities to install measurement systems to control levels of small particles in the air whic h are hazardous to human health o Binding objectives for maximum level of pollutants in air Services markets o Services Directive: by end of 2009, Member States to remove obstacles to the free movement of services and to the establishment of service providers from other count ries o Full market opening of postal services bet ween 2011 and 2013 Passengers' rights o New rights for rail passengers, including compensation for delays. Trains must be adapted for disabled people o Disabled persons may not be refused air transport and have to be assisted at airports without additional charges Transport o Rail international passengers ' servic es will be open to competition from 2010 o Railways networks to be interoperable o Single driving licence for train drivers o Common standards to guarant ee a hi gher level of aviation security o One single EU-wide driving licence in credit card format from 2013 o A common blacklist for airlines that don't meet safety requirements o Port services: EP rejected proposed common rules on self -handling and piloting services Employment and social affairs o Temporary agency workers to get the same pay and conditions as equivalent permanent staff o Professionals such as doctors, nurses or architects should find it easier t o practise abroad, as qualifications obtained in one Member State must be recognised in others o Labour law and social security legislation not affected by new services directive o Helping people back to work: 500 million Euros for EU Globalisation Fund www.elections2009.eu Fight against terrori sm and financing of illegal activities o Financial institutions will have to check customers' identity when they open an account or tran sfer sums above €15,000 o Casinos will have to check the identity of any cus tomer gambling more than €2,000 o Telecommunications companies will be obliged to retain call data, but not the c ontent, to facilit ate the fight against terrorism o Airports have adopt ed stricter measures of passenger screening and staff control access and selection, but rejection by MEPs of body scanners. Financial services o Auditing firms to prove their independence from the companies they audit o Banks to guarantee deposits of up to €100,000 from 2010 Civil liberties o CIA activities in Europe: MEPs criticised Member States for "turning a blind ey e" to flights used for extraordinary rendition or illegal transportation of detainees o MEPs warned that the fight against terrorism should not be at the expense of civil liberties Immigration and free movement o Free movement area Schengen enlarged to new Member States. UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria are the only EU members still outside o Common rules and minimum standards for the return of illegal immigrants o Sanctions against employers of illegally staying third -count ry nationals EP on the world stage o Call for a universal moratorium on the death penalty o Sakharov Prize, EP's human rights award for freedom of thought o Conc erns about human rights situation in China and Russia o EP calls on the US to close down Guantánamo detention facility o Israel-Palestine: MEPs pushed for a two-state solution Institutional decisions and enlargement o Parliament approved an amended list for t he new European Commission after Barroso took on board MEPs' concerns about some of the original nominations o Support for the Lisbon Treaty after the rejection of the draft Constitution o Green light for Bulgaria and Romania to join E U o Yes to accession negotiations with Turkey, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but EU's absorption capacity must be respected o Yes to the introduction of the euro in Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia More money for EP priorities o Financial Framework 2007-2013 − €4bn more for EP priorities: foreign policy, innovation, structural development and the environment o €53 billion for the 7th Research Framework Programme, €309 million for the E uropean Institute of Technology Press Service EN www.elections2009.eu o €3.4 billion for Galileo, the European satellite navigation system o €7 billion for EU learning programmes like Erasmus Still in the pipeline Major legislative vot es of Parliament during this mandate for which final adoption is still pending or there are still disagreements with Council: Working time: EP voted to end all opt-outs to the 48 hours week, averaged over 12 months, within three years o Energy markets: separation of ownership of generation and transmission infrastructure in the gas and electricity markets to improve efficiency o Telecoms industry: measures to facilitate access to networks, while maintaining consumer protection o Lower prices for SMS sent or received in another Member State o New legislation on ship inspections, obligations of flag states, plac es of refuge, classification societies, to fight maritime pollution and prevent accidents o Family life and work: EP to vote on a proposal to increase maternity leave to 18 weeks o New non-discrimination directive: proposal to fill gaps on access to employment, services and facilities on grounds of religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation o New rules on capital requirements of banks to discourage reckless lending o Rules to tackle conflict of interest in credit agencies o Stricter limits for polluting industrial emissions o Cross-border healt hcare: patient mobility − new rules to facilitate access to healthcare in other countries www.elections2009.eu The Review of the Legislature MEPs are elected for five years – that‟s a parliamentary term or a legislature. The EP press service explains all the major decisions, debates and issues t hat have taken place during the June 2004-June 2009 term. In this section, you will find everything you want to know about parliamentary activity over the last five years in a detailed and accurate form. "The Review of the Legislature" puts emphasis on key legislation adopt ed by the European Parliament over the five-year mandate divided into thematic topics ranging from employment and social affairs, security and civil liberties to health, industry and transport to name just a few: EP acting for the environment EP seals climate change package Trans port policy in the European Parliament Products and servic es markets Stability in financial services with safeguards for customers European Parliament and the prot ection of consumers EP working for a healthier Europe Employment and social affairs a key concern for the European Parliament Immigration and free movement Security, terrorism and civil liberties MEPs active on culture, education and sport Money for policies: political priorities backed up by financial means The EP active on the world stage Institutional decisions and enlargement The European Parliament hitting the UK headlines − people, policies and petitions EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu www.elections2009.eu EP acting for the environment Strict rule s on hazardous chemical substance s, targets for re-use and recycling of waste, protecting groundwater, collection rates for batteries and accumulators are some of the environmental topics on which the European Parliament adopted EU legi slation in thi s legislature. MEP s al so pushed for tighter control of pesticide s. REACH: New EU chemicals legislation The chemicals regulation, known as REACH, is meant to protect public health and the environment without threatening European competitiveness. It obliges producers to register all chemical s ubstances produced or imported above 1 tonne per year. Registration affects about 30,000 substances. For more hazardous substances, producers have to submit a plan to replace them with safer alternatives or, if no alternative exists, a research plan aimed at finding one. Promotion of alternatives to animal testing of chemicals was an issue of prime concern to MEPs. Regulation adopted by EP: 13.12.2006 Applicable progressively from: 1/06/2007 Safety first for pe sticides A new regulation on pesticides adopted by the European Parliament bans the use of certain highly toxic chemicals in the manufacture of pesticides and requires other risky substances to be replaced with safer alternatives. A directive adopted at the same time will reduce the amount of pestic ides used, by prohibiting most aerial c rop spraying with pesticides as well as the use of pesticides near parks and playgrounds and in buffer zones around rivers and lakes. Directive and regulation adopt ed by EP: 13.1.2009 (2nd reading agreement wit h Counc il) Date of directive transposition: about beginning 2011 (24 months following entry into force, not yet published) Regulation fully applicable: 18 months following entry into force New EU waste legislation with binding 2020 targets The E U will have new waste legislation which includes t argets for re-us e and recycling of waste to be attained by 2020. The directive sets out rules on recycling and waste prevention. Recycling targets by 2020 are 50% for paper, metal and glass from households and 70% for non -haz ardous construction and demolition waste. Only the most energy efficient incinerators can be classified as „rec overy‟ operations. Directive adopted by EP: 17.06.2008 Deadline for transposition: end Dec 2010 (24 months from entry into force) EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu New schemes for recycling batteries The E uropean P arliament approved a directive setting up schemes for collecting spent portable batteries and accumulators throughout Europe by 2008. Minimum collection rates to be reached by all Member States are 25% by 2012 and 45 % by 2016. Collected batteries will be recycled. Strict limits to the content of cadmium and mercury in batteries have also been fixed. The UK recycles about 2% of domestic batteries at the moment. Directive adopted by EP: 4.07.2006 EU criminal law to protect the environment Criminal sanctions will be employed to punis h all severe offences committed against EU environmental legislation. Member States can apply criminal measures to punish any illegal behaviour seriously likely to injure people or pollute air, soil, water, plants or harm animals, when c ommitted intentionally or with serious negligence. Directive adopted by EP: 21.05.2008 Deadline for transposition: end Dec 2010 (24 months after entry into force) Improved standards to protect groundwater a gainst pollution and deterioration Rules to protect groundwater from pollution have been in place at European level since 1980. A new directive sets out criteria for assessing chemical levels in groundwater and lays down measures to prevent hazardous s ubstances including cyanide, arsenic, biocides and phytopharmaceutical s ubstances from entering groundwater. Directive adopted by EP: 12.12.2006 Deadline for transposition: 16. 01.2009 Water pollutants to be more strictly controlled MEPs adopted a new directive aimed at reducing or ending use of 33 pollutants − mainly pesticides and heavy metals − likely to be found in rivers, lakes and coastal waters, depending on t he level of risk involved. By 2018 Member States will have to cease or phase out emissions, discharges and losses of hazardous substances. This is the final piece in the jigsaw of legislation under the Water Framework Directive. Directive adopted by EP: 17.06.2008 Date of transposition: 18 months following entry into force (2nd reading agreement reached, not yet published, Council formally adopted 18 Sept 2008) Industrial emissions MEPs backed a Commission proposal to strengthen rules on industrial emissions in certain sectors and introduce minimum standards for inspections. Companies have to use best available techniques to reduce emissions of poll utants such as nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide. Parliament also wants EU - wide emission limits, exclusion of hospital incinerators and better informing of the public. Amendments to directive adopted by EP (codecision, first reading): 10.03.2009 www.elections2009.eu EP seals climate change package The climate package adopted by the EP in December 2008 will facilitate reaching the overall objective of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gase s, 20% improvement in energy efficiency, and a 20% share for renewables in the EU energy mix by 2020. MEP s al so set ambitious goals for CO2 emissions from cars and required fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissi ons caused by extraction or cultivation, transport and distribution, proce ssing and combustion of transport fuels. Revi sion of the Emi ssion Trading System: further reductions The EP adopted a directive reforming the system that allows for trading of polluting rights. The directive aims to reduce emissions of sectors included in the scheme by 21% from 2005 levels. The revised directive establishes auctioning from 2013 in principle but includes several exceptions for example to take into account some new Member States' dependence on coal. Free allocation will end in 2020. Sectors covered include, among others, power stations, refin eries, coke ovens, ceramics, cement, glass, metal ore, iron, steel, pulp, paper. Directive adopted by EP: 17.12.2008 Applicable progressively from: 1 January 2013 Reducing emissions from road transport and other sectors The " effort sharing" decision sets binding national targets for each EU Member State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from non -E TS sources (e.g. road and sea transport, buildings, servic es, agriculture and smaller industrial installations), bet ween 2013 and 2020. These sources currently account for about 60% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions. The decision aims to reduce these emissions by 10% overall between 2013 and 2020. The effort sharing decision is the first of its kind worldwide. Decision adopted by EP: 17.12.2008 Equipping power plants to store CO2 underground Parliament also approved a proposed directive providing the legal framework for t he new carbon dioxide capture and storage tec hnology (CCS). To cut their CO 2 emissions, industrial installations and power plants could in future use this new technology to capture CO 2 and store it "permanently and safely underground" in geological formations. MEPs secured the funding for demonstration projects by ensuring that 300 million ETS allowances will be awarded to large scale CCS projec ts in the EU. Directive adopted by EP: 17.12.2008 Applicable from: 24 months from entry int o force EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu 20% renewable energy in the EU's energy mix by 2020 A new directive will lay down mandatory national targets to be achieved by the Member States through promoting the use of renewable energy in the electricity, heating and cooling, and transport sectors in order to ensure that by 2020 renewable energy makes up at least 20% of the E U's total energy consumption. Under the agreement, by 2020, renewable energy − biofuels, electricity and hydrogen produced from renewable sources − should account for at least 10% of the E U's total fuel cons umption in all forms of transport. Directive adopted by EP: 17.12.2008 Applicable from: 18 months from entry int o force Reducing CO2 emissions from new cars A new regulation sets emission performance standards for new passenger c ars registered in the E U. It sets a target of an average of 120 g CO2/km for the whole car industry by 2012, compared to the current levels of 160 g/km. An average target of 130 g CO2/km for new passenger cars should be reached by improvements in vehicle motor technology. This will be s upplemented by additional meas ures t o achieve a further 10 g/km reduction, so as to reach the 120 g/km target through ot her technical improvements. There is also a longer-term target for 2020 of an average 95 g CO2/km emissions for the new car fleet. Regulation adopted by EP: 17.12.2008 Applicable from: third day after publication Less greenhouse gas emi ssions from fuel s The revised fuel quality directive requires fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by farming, mining, transport and distribution, processing and combustion of transport fuels (i.e. fossil fuels like petrol, diesel and gas -oil and also biofuels, blends, electricity and hydrogen) by 6% by 2020 as compared to 2010. Directive adopted by EP: 17.12.2008 Applicable from: 1 January 2011 2 CO caps on airlines MEPs included the aviation sector in the EU Emissions Trading System (E TS). All flights starting or landing in Europe will be included in the E TS from 1 January 2012. By 2012 airline emissions have to be cut to 97% of historic levels and to 95% by 2013. Military and police flights, as well as fire -fighting, humanitarian and emergency medical service flights are not included. Directive adopted by EP: 8.07.2008. Date of transposition: 12 months following entry into forc e www.elections2009.eu Transport policy in the European Parliament Safety, passengers and competitivene ss at the core of the EP s transport policy. S trengthening passengers' rights, increa sing safety both in the air and on the ground and fair competition were the pivotal concerns of MEP s in the field of transport. Parliament also adopted measure s to promote the railway sector. Impulse to transport of pa ssengers by train The so-called 3rd railways package aims to increase competition among transport services providers and to guarantee int eroperability of networks. The new legislation adopted by the E uropean Parliament to revit alise this type of t ransport opens provision of international servic es of passengers to companies of other Member States from 1 January 2010, and establishes minimum requirements for train drivers and basic rights of passengers. Freight transport was already opened to competiti on from 2007. (See also factsheet on consumer rights). Regulation and directives, adopted: 25.9.2007. Applicable from: 31.12.2009 Passengers´ rights strengthened Air travellers will benefit from clear ticket prices when booking a plane t rip, as all extra charges will be clearly indicated. Disabled pers ons must get assistance to access airplane. Rail passengers will be compens ated for delays or cancellations. These are some examples of the impact on passengers' rights of legislation adopted by P arliament du ring this mandate in t he field of transport. (S ee also factsheet on consumers' rights). Regulation on tick et prices adopted by EP: 9.7.2008. Fully applicable from: 1.11.2008 Regulation on passengers with disabilities adopted in EP: 15.12.2005. Fully applicable from: 26.7.2008 All-inclusive air fares As of 1 November 2008, air travellers benefit from clear ticket prices when booking a plane trip. Following new rules adopted by the European P arliament, passengers are able to see at a glance exactly what t hey have to pay for their tickets: fares have to include all taxes, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price. Regulation adopted by EP: 9.7.2008. Fully applicable from: 1.11. 2008 More rights for air passengers with disabilities The European Parliament passed legislation that improves the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when t ravelling by air. They c an not be refused transportation on the grounds of their disabilities. Also, they have to be given − without additional charge − assistance to meet their particular needs at airports. Regulation, adopted in EP: 15.12. 2005. Fully applicable from: 26.7.2008 Aviation security MEPs passed a law that lays down common rules and standards, such as screening of passengers and cabin baggage, access control and aircraft security checks. Weapons on board are only allowed if cert ain security requirements are met. If sky marshals are deployed, they must be specially selected and trained. Regulation, adopted in EP: 11.3.2008. Applicable from: 29.4.2010 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu A common blackli st for unsafe airlines As of 16 July 2006, airlines that fail to meet safety requirements appear on an E U-wide blacklist and are subject to an operating ban throughout the E U. According to the regulation adopted by the EP, passengers are also informed of the identity of the operating carrier and will have a right to compensation should the carrier be included on the blacklist after the reservation has been made. Regulation, adopted in EP: 17.11.2005. Applicable from: 16.7.2006 A new charge system for 69 EU airports The European Parliament adopted new rules that lay down common principles for levying charges at Community airports and aim to prevent individual airports abusing a dominant position on the market. The rules apply to airports with an annual throughput of over five million passengers per year (or at least the biggest airport in each Member State) and provides for mec hanisms for resolving disputes between users and airports. The Briti sh and Iri sh airports affected are: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London Gat wick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle. Directive, adopted by EP 22.10.2008. Applicable from: end of 2010 Parliament sinks port service s proposal s The European Parliament for a s econd time torpedoed proposals on market access to port servic es. Many MEPs demanded in its place legislation on fair competition between ports. A number of MEPs were against opening pilot services to competition and were concerned with the social implications of self- handling proposals. Rejection by EP: 18.1.2006 Better protection for pedestrians and cycli sts The E uropean Parliament endorsed plans to reduc e the number o f pedestrians and cyclists injured on Europe's roads by introducing tougher standards on the safety of motor vehicles, for example through compulsory introduction of brake -assist systems and frontal protection systems. Each year 8,000 pedestrians and cyclists are killed and 300,000 injured ac ross the EU. Regulation adopted by EP 18.6.2008; Applicable 9 months after publication (around November 2009) Higher safety standards for road infra structure MEPs endorsed a directive promoting EU-wide standards on road infrastructure management. Member States must ensure that signs are in place to warn road users of repair work. The Directive also covers safe parking areas, crash barriers, road safety impact assessments and safety inspections. Currently, safety standards for roads and road design maintenance differ greatly bet ween the Member States. Directive adopted by EP: 19. June 2008 (1st reading) Newly issued driving licences in credit-card format from 2013 As from 2013, all newly issued or replacement driving licences will be in a single EU-wide credit card format. The new format will replac e the more than 110 existing differe nt models in the Member States. Directive, adopted by EP: 14.12.2006 Applicable from: 19.1.2013 Better accident compensation for ship pa ssengers under third maritime package Compensation for passengers in the event of shipping accidents and an EU blacklist of substandard ships are among highlights of the third maritime package, a long-awaited raft of legislation that was adopted by the European Parliament. The seven pieces of legislation in the package - also known as "Erika III" after the 1999 Erika oil spill - will improve both the safety of ships and the action taken in the event of an accident. The package covers not just compensation for passengers but also ship inspections, port state control, shipping accident investigations and the choice of the authority that decides where a ship in distress should go. All the legislation was approved by Parliament following a deal reached with Coun cil in conciliation negotiations. Adopted by EP: 11.03.2009 www.elections2009.eu Eurovignette: "polluter pays" principle for lorry charges Charges on heavy-goods vehicles should be based in part on the air and noise pollution they produce. Charging lorries for congestion at peak periods on congested roads will also be possible, although the rules are not binding but seek to set a common standard for Member States who choose to apply the charges. Amendments to directive adopted by EP (codecision, first reading): 11.03.2009 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu www.elections2009.eu Products and services markets Further opening up of the single market has been one of the key themes of thi s legislature. MEP s have adopted legislation affecting the energy, telecoms, intellectual property, financial and postal sectors, a s well as the overarching directive covering the market in service s. At each vote, the European Parliament has sought to balance industry needs for easier acce ss to markets with consumers' rights to adequate protection. Removing obstacle s to the free movement of service s The Services Directive removes obstacles to the free movement of servic es and to the establishment of service providers in other Member States. Restrictions will only be acceptable on specific grounds (public policy and security, environmental prot ection, public health). Member States will have to reduce red tape, for instance by t he creation of a single "point of contact" (one-stop shop), so service providers will not have to deal with several different aut horities at national, regional and local level. Co uncil followed Parliament's position so the final text reflects a balance between com petition and social protection. Directive adopted by EP: 15/11/2006 Trans position: 28/12/2009 Postal service s fully open to competition The remaining postal service monopolies in the E U should expire by 1 January 2011, although 11 Member States have the possibility to postpone mark et opening until 2013, either because they joined the EU after 2004 and had difficulty in adapting their postal markets, or because they have a difficult topography (huge number of islands, small population, limited size). To avoid unfair competition, those Member States having already opened their markets can refus e authorisation to operators still protected by a national monopoly. A universal service is still guaranteed: letters should go on being both delivered and collected at least once a day, at least five days a week, for every EU citizen, in remote areas as well as cities. Member States will be able to include employment and social conside rations when opening up the postal market. Directive adopted by EP: 31/01/2008 Trans position: 31/12/2010 (or 31/12/2012: MS concerned are Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Lat via, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malt a, Poland, Romania, and Slovak ia) EP rejects proposal s on port service s and software patents The EP used its power t o reject proposals when MEPs considered that "no directive is better t han a bad directive". That was for a proposed directive opening up port services to competition. Members were against the propos ed rules on self-handling and pilot servic es, arguing that they would endanger jobs and security and lead to unfair competition. MEPs demanded in its place legislation on fair competition between ports. MEPs also voted against legislation on the patentability of computer -implemented inventions, which some believed would have led to soft ware being patented. EP vote on Port services: 17/01/2006, rejected by 532 votes to 120 with 25 abstentions EP vote on Soft ware patents: 6/07/2005, rejected by 648 votes to 14 with 1 abstention EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Capital requirements for banks As far as financial services are concerned, the EP adopted the Capital Requirements Directive, updating EU rules on capital requirements for banks and credit institutions, in line with the Basel II agreement. The overall aim is to create a more sophisticated, risk -based approach to the requirements on financial institutions to hold capit al to prevent crises. The new rules set more precise own funds requirements (i.e. the amount of 'internal' capital which banks and investment institutions must hold in order to cover their risks and protect their depositors). The rules came into effect during 2007 and 2008 – some observers believe the current banking crisis would have been less likely if the new system had already been in place. The European Commission has now proposed an update of the rules to deal with issues arising from the crisis, such as the role of securitisation. Directive adopted by EP: 28/09/2005 Independence of auditors MEPs also adopted new rules intended to help improve quality audits wit hin the EU and underpin confidenc e in the functioning of E U capital markets. European auditors and audit firms are required to prove their independenc e from the management of the audited com pany. Directive adopted by EP: 28/09/2005 Trans position: 29/06/2008 Calls for legislation in financial service s MEPs have also taken a broader view of what is needed in the future and have formally requested the Commission to make proposals on a wide range of subjects, some in light of the financial crisis. Parliament was behind calls for regulation of credit rating agencies to address potential conflicts of interest. Also, it requested changes to ensure that a system of capital requirements applies to al l financial institutions regardless of their precise legal form – this would include hedge funds and private equity vehicles − and to ensure the supervision of cross-border financial institutions is put on a firmer footing. Looking ahead Energy package In the months to come, proposals further to liberalise the EU electricity and gas markets wil l come back to Parliament. A key issue is the ownership structure of production and distribution assets, with the controversial "unbundling" clause to separate ownership of generation/supply and transmission infrastructure. The new rules will also cover the role of regulators and restrictions on the purchase of assets by non-EU operators. Adoption by EP expected by May 2009 Telecom package Proposed reforms of existing legislation on electronic communications (such as mobile and fixed telephony, broadcasting, internet, etc.) are also due to return to the EP. The telecom package aims to improve competition, to eliminate barriers that remain in the already liberalised market and t o promote investment in next-generation networks, while guaranteeing consumer protection. The reform als o covers the management of radio spectrum. Adoption by EP expected by May 2009 www.elections2009.eu Stability in financial services with safeguards for customers MEP s have adopted legislation aiming to give Europe a stable and competitive financial services industry which gives priority to the interests of consumers. Parliament has been pressing the Commi ssion for a more rapid response to the financial crisi s and a better overall system of supervi sion for Europe‟s still fragmented financial services markets. Capital requirements for banks In 2005, Parliament adopted the Capital Requirements Directive, updating EU rules on capital requirements for banks and c redit institutions, in line with the Basel II agreement. The overall aim was to create a more sophisticated, risk-based approach to the requirements to hold capital imposed on financial institutions to prevent crisis. The rules came into effect during 2007 and 2008 – some observers believe the banking crisis would have been less likely if the new system had already been in place. This package left some issues aside, and the Commission has now proposed an update to take account of these and also to deal with issues arising from the crisis, such as the role of securitisation – see below. Directive adopted by EP: 28/09/2005 Independence of auditors MEPs adopted new rules intended to help improve quality audits within the EU and underpin confidence in the functioning of E U capital markets. European audit ors and audit firms are required to prove their independence from the management of the audited company. Directive adopted by EP: 28/09/2005 Bank deposits guaranteed up to €100, 000 If a European bank fails, citizens' savings will be guaranteed up to €100,000, after Parliament backed legislation raising the guarantee level. The ex isting minimum guarantee of €20,000 will first rise to €50,000 by 30 June 2009, and then €100,000 by the end of 2010. MEPs also decided t hat bank customers should be given faster access to their deposits in emergencies and that a mechanism be established for cross-border cooperation in the event of another economic crisis. Calls for legislation in financial service s MEPs have also taken a broader view of what is needed in the future and have formally requested thatthe Commission makes proposals on a wide range of subjects, some in light of the financial crisis. MEPs requested changes to ensure that a system of capital requirements applies to all financial institutions, regardless of their precise legal form – this would include hedge funds and privat e equity vehicles – and to ensure the supervision of cross-border financial institutions is put on a firmer footing. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Simpler, cheaper cross-border payments on the way MEPs adopted a legal framework designed to make cashless payments – such as card transactions, bank transfers and direct debits – simpler and cheaper, paving the way for the creation the single Euro payments area. Adopt ed in April 2007, the legislation opened the door for the banking industry to meet its 2010 target for introducing new systems and procedures to make cross -border payments move as quickly and cheaply as national ones. Looking ahead Banking and securiti sation In t he light of t he financial c risis, the European Parliament will be considering legislation to alter the supervision of the banking sector and the way in whic h capital requirements ar e calculated. A key issue is securitisation – lenders making loans to individuals t hen selling on t he debt as an investment product. The aim is to find a way to ensure the originator of the loan continues to have an interest in seeing it repaid, thereby discouraging reckless lending. Rules governing the insurance industry A major reform to the rules governing the insurance industry is also currently making its way through Parliament. This project, known as Solvency II, aims to ensure supervisors have a much more sophisticated set of tools to assess the risks taken by insurance companies and thus the capital requirements that should be imposed upon them. Rules on credit rating agencies New rules on credit rating agencies, to address perceived conflicts of interest have now started their passage through the EP. Parliament had called for a review in this area on several occasions. www.elections2009.eu European Parliament and the protection of consumers Cheaper mobile phone roaming charges across the EU, a clear indication of charges for flight tickets, reinforcement of rail passenger rights and easier cross-border consumer credit are some of the most signifi cant achievements of the European Parliament in the last 5 years. New rights for air passengers with disabilities and new TV advertising rules have also featured. Cheaper roaming rates across the EU A new regulation adopted by the European Parliament introduced a Eurotariff, capping roaming charges at maximum €0.46 per minut e for making calls and €0.22 per minute for receiving calls (excluding VA T). Before, a roaming call cost the user an average of €1.15 per minute. The caps will be furt her reduced during the summer of 2009 to €0.43 and €0.19 respectively. Regulation adopted by EP: 23.5.2007 Operators have had to offer the Eurotariff since 30.7.2007 The regulation expires: 30.6.2010 (but proposals have been tabled for new tariffs after that date) Air fares must include all charges Passengers can now see at a glance what they have to pay for a flight ticket thanks to a Regulation adopted by the E uropean Parliament. Advertisements must indicate the final price of plane tickets, including all tax es, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price. This applies also to internet bookings. Any optional price supplements mus t be communicated in a clear way at the start of the booking process. Regulation adopted by EP: 9.7.2008 Fully applicable from 1 November 2008 Rail passengers' rights strengthened Reinforced rights of rail passengers, including compensation for delays and ease of access for disabled people, were the focus of a Regulation adopted by the EP. Compensation in the event of delays on international services will be 25% of the fare for a delay of at least 60 minutes and 50% for a delay of 120 minutes or more. MEPs insisted that the Regulation cover domestic journeys as well as international ones, though Member States can delay introducing this for up to 15 years. Regulation adopted by EP: 25.9.2007 Fully applicable from 3. 12.2009 Rights of air passengers with disabilities New rules adopted by the European Parliament state that disabled persons may not be refused transport on the grounds of their disability or lack of mobility. They also have to be given − without additional charge − assistance to board the airc raft and reach the exit. Regulation adopted by EP: 15.12.2005 Fully applicable from 26.7.2008 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu New TV advertising rule s The EP updated existing legislation on TV advertising which introduc es new st rict rules for commercials addressed to c hildren and for product placement. The maximum amount of advertising will not exceed 12 minutes an hour. Films and news programmes can only be interrupted once in a schedule of at least 30 minutes. Children's programmes can only be int errupted once in a schedule of at least 30 minutes if they last more than half an hour. Product placement will only be allowed in films, series, sports programmes and entertainment programmes and is prohibite d in all children's programmes. Regulation adopted by EP: 29.11.2007 Fully applicable from 19.12. 2009 Improving toy safety in Europe European children will have safer toys to play with after the EP adopted a new EU directive which beefs up safety regulations. It bans carcinogenic substances and those toxic for reproduction; it also restricts the use of heavy metals and fragrances. It will reduce the risk of choking on toys contained in food such as chocolate eggs by prohibiting these practices in most cases. Warnings must be in lan guage understandable to consumers and be visible at the point of sale, including for on line sales. Directive adopted by EP: 18.12.2008 / Transposition date: beginning 2011 (2 years after entry int o force) Cross-border consumer credit simpler A new directive approved by the EP aims to facilitate access to consumer credit in other Member Stat es. For loans between €200 and €75 000, banks will have to provide standard information which can be compared with other offers, including on t he right to pay off early. Although two out of three E uropeans buy furniture or a car on credit, most use banks in their own countries. The idea is to create cross-border choice. Mortgage loans are excluded. Regulation adopted by EP: 16.1.2008 / Fully applicable from 12.5.2010 New definition and labelling of spirit drinks Traditional vodka can be made of any agricultural product if it is clearly indicat ed on the label, according to a regulation adopted by the EP. The new rules maintain existing geographical designations and do not allow flavouring of spirits. Regulation adopted by the EP: 19.6.2007 Fully applicable from 20.5.2008 Tougher EU rules on gun ownership The European Parliament updated current E U rules on gun ownership to reduce illegal traffic, including over the internet, and to ens ure that persons under 18 are prohibited from possessing firearms. Directive adopted by the EP: 29.11.2007 Fully applicable from 28.07. 2010 More choice of package sizes for shoppers Parliament gave the green light to deregulation of packaging sizes for products like milk, sugar, butter, coffee, pasta or rice. This will make it possible to sell thes e and other products in a wider range of sizes. The pint of milk is not banned, and producers will be free to determine which sizes should be sold. Directive adopted by EP: 10.05.2007 Fully applicable from 11.04. 2009 www.elections2009.eu New rules on fireworks The EP adopted a directive to reduce the number of accidents due to the misuse of fireworks. The new rules introduce a system of minimum age restrictions for potential buyers and set up basic safety requirements. Directive adopted by EP: 30.11.2006 / Fully applicable from 04.07.2010 Looking ahead − Cheaper roaming rates, also for SMS Parliament is discussing a proposal to cut the charges for mobile data services and text messages sent from other Member States. The proposal also aims to reduce further the price of calls and fixing new roaming caps for the period 2010-2013. Vote Industry Committee expected by 9 March 2009 Adoption by EP expected by April 2009 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu www.elections2009.eu EP working for a healthier Europe Rules on recogni tion of health professionals' qualifications, on cleaner air, better quality bathing water, safer medicines for children and on use of mercury are some examples of legislation adopted by the European Parliament in the last five years. MEP s al so made funding available for health projects under the EU's overall Research Programme 2007-2013. Extending patients' rights to seek treatment in another EU Member State is a major piece of legislation to be voted soon . Health professi onals − recognition of qualifications GPs, nurses, dentists, midwives and physiotherapists are among the health professionals covered by new rules on recognition of professional qualifications. The aim of the legislation adopted by the European Parliament was to make it easier for professionals to provide services in anoth er EU Member State, while at the same time giving host countries greater powers to c heck qualifications before allowing individuals to practise. Directive adopted by EP: 11/05/2005 Deadline for transposition into national law: 20 October 2007 Incentives for drug firm s to develop child medicine The European Parliament adopted new rules extending patent protection for paediatric medicines by six months. The aim is to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest more in developing paediatric medicines and to ensure that only those firms meeting strict standards will be allowed to enter the market. Regulation adopted by EP: 01/06/2006 Fully applicable from 26/01/ 2009 Bathing waters − cleaner beaches and rivers Parliament revised E uropean legislation dating from 1976 and tightened up water quality standards of beaches, rivers and lakes. The aim is to reduc e the likelihood of infections from bacteria. There will be new standards of water quality (excellent, good, sufficient and poor) and, by 2015, all bat hing waters will have to have achieved the 'sufficient ' standard. Bathers will also have access to information on the safety of EU bathing sites both at the beach and on the internet. Directive adopted by EP: 18/01/2006 Deadline for transposition into national law: 24/03/ 2008 Cleaner air The European Parliament updated E U legislation to prevent and reduce air pollution. For the first time, MEPs defined maximum concentration levels for small particles or dust (known as PM2.5) which are the most hazardous to human health and can cause cancer and respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. The objective is t o reduce concentration of these particles to 20 micrograms per cubic meter, but these indicative levels will be reviewed in 2013, with the possibility of making them obligatory. Sampling points must be established in cities of over 250,000 inhabitants and in rural areas. Adopted by EP: 11/12/2007 Deadline for transposition: 11/ 06/2010 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu EU funding for health research – €6.1 billion over seven years The E U's overall res earc h programme, adopted by the EP, includes a funding stream for health research projects. €6.1 billion has been set aside for health res earch between 2007 and 2013. At MEPs' insistence, stem cell research can be financed but only if this is in line with the law of the Member State concerned. EU research funds cannot be used for human cloning or genetics. Adopted by EP: 30/11/2006. Implementation: 2007-2013 Mercury bans MEPs adopted legislation to reduce the use of mercury, which carries a high risk to human cardiovascular and immune systems and to the development of embryos. From March 2011, the export of mercury from the EU will be prohibited. The sale of new mercury thermometers for both professional and private use is banned from 3 April 2009, with a six-mont h extension for barometers. Existing instruments can still be repaired or bought and sold second-hand. Export ban adopted by EP: 21/05/2008. Applicable from: 15/ 03/2011 Ban on mercury instruments adopted by EP: 10/07/2007; Applicable from: 03/04/2009. MEPs al so adopted resolutions calling for immediate actions in several heal th -related fields: Fight against smoking – smoke-free workplaces The E uropean Parliament called on member states to introduce, by the end of 2009, smoking bans in all enclosed workplaces, including catering establishments, public buildings and trans port, and also in children's play grounds. Report adopt ed in EP: 24/10/2007 Step up against cancer MEPs called for more research into cancer prevention and for nationwide breast screenings every 2 years for women aged 50 to 69. Resolution on cancer adopted by EP: 10/04/2008 Resolution on breast cancer adopt ed by EP: 25/10/2006 Combating obe sity a s early as possible MEPs called for measures to combat obesity early in life. Their rec ommendations included clearer food labelling, better food in schools and more school sports, restrictions on advertising unhealthy food, and VAT reductions for fruit & vegetables. Report adopt ed in EP: 25/09/2008 Organ donation MEPs proposed a wide range of measures, including a E uropean donor card, to tackle t he problem of organ shortage and organ trafficking. Report adopt ed in EP: 22/04/2008 Looking ahead Patient mobility – healthcare without borders The E uropean Parliament is due to vote in A pril 2009 on a proposal to facilitate patients' access to healthcare anywhere in the EU. The aim is to clarify the conditions under which patients will have the right to treatment in ot her Member States, and how the costs of such treatment should be met. Proposal adopted by the European Commission: 03/ 07/2008 Date of vote in EP: April 2009 www.elections2009.eu Employment and social affairs a key concern for the European Parliament The Working Time Directive, employment rights for temporary agency workers, cross-border recognition of profe ssional qualifications to facilitate working in another Member State, and labour law aspects of the service s directive are some examples of legi slation in the social affairs field. Proposals to improve reconciliation of family and work will be in the parliamentary agenda in the months to come. Equal rights for temporary agency workers Temporary agency work ers will have the same rights as those employed directly by the company to which they are assigned. Equal treatment will apply from day one unless the social partners agree otherwise, as in the UK, where it only applies after 12 weeks. Basic conditions such as pay, training, maternity leave, holidays, are included, as well as access to facilities such as canteens, childcare or transport. Adopted by EP: 22. 10. 2008 (co-decision, 2nd reading) Fully applicable from: three years after ent ry into force (end of 2011) Recognition of qualifications to facilitate working abroad With the aim of helping professionals such as doctors, nurses and arc hitects to work in another Member State, a new directive provides for the recognition of diplomas obtained in any country of the European Union. Notaries public were excluded. Member St ates have the power to check qualifications before allowing individuals to practise. Adopted by EP: 11. 5. 2005 (co-decision) Fully applicable from: 20. 10. 2007 Services directive − no change of labour law The services directive, which removes obstacles to the establishment and provision of cross-border services, was amended by Parliament to make clear that national labour law, working conditions and social security legislation were not affected and remain unchanged. Adopted by EP: 15. 11. 2006 (co-decision, 2nd reading) Fully applicable from: 28. 12. 2009 New Fund to help people back to work The EP agreed the establishment of a European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which will provide up to €500 million each year to help reintegrate, into the labour market, workers made redundant due t o a major economic crisis in the sector. Seven Member States successfully applied for funding from this Fund in 2007 and 2008, including Lithuania for its textile sector and Portugal for its automobile sector. Adopted by EP: 30. 12. 2006 Operational from: 1. 1. 2007 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Non-legi slative reports Ageing population and the future of the social model Parliament has several times highlight ed the impact of an increasing ageing population, which will affect social security systems and may put E uropean social models at risk. Parliament suggests encouraging older people to work longer, a balanced immigration policy and better measures to conciliate family life and work. Adopted by EP: 23.3.2006 Adopted by EP: 21.2.2008 Adopted by EP: 20.11.2008 Looking ahead Working time Directive In the months to come, Parliament and Council will be negotiating to reach an agreement on the working time directive, after Parliament rejected key proposals from Member States. Parliament voted t o end all opt outs to the 48-hour week within three years and to ens ure that all on-call time is considered working time. MEPs agreed that the average 48-hour week should be calculat ed over 12 mont hs and introduced exceptions for senior management positions. Probable vote in plenary: May 2009 (co-decision, conciliation) Application: after 3 years of adoption, according to EP amendments Measure s to improve conciliation of family life and work In t he next few months, Parliament will be scrutinizing proposed changes in legislation which aim to improve work-life balanc e. All Member States would have to guarantee a minimum maternity leave of 18 weeks, instead of the current 14 weeks. Self-employ ed women will also get access to maternity leave. Estimated vote in EP: May 2009 (co-decision, first reading) Towards a comprehensive non-di scrimination EU directive Parliament will be examining a broad non-discrimination directive, recently presented by the European Commission following requests by the EP. The idea is to fill the gaps in the existing legal framework so that there is protection against discrimination − not just in access to employment, but also in goods, facilities and services − on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Probable vote in LIBE Committee: January 2009 www.elections2009.eu Immigration and free movement In this mandate, Parliament adopted legislation establishing key principle s for an effective policy to return illegal immigrants, with safeguards for their rights. MEP s al so called for the development of legal channels for immigrants to enter the EU, including a blue card for highly skilled workers. Parliament also gave the green light, in 2007, to nine new Members States joining the EU's Schengen area for free movement. Legislation introducing sanctions against employers of non- EU nationals working illegally in the Member States will be adopted soon. Return of illegal immigrants: towards common rule s and minimum standards A directive establishing common rules and minimum conditions for the return and expulsion of illegal immigrants was adopted by the European Parliament f ollowing a long debate. The text encourages voluntary departure of illegal non-E U nationals (giving them at least 7 days to leave voluntarily and up to 30 days, after which the Member State has the right to detain them), while at the same time fixing minimum standards for custody and deportation, including for children and health-related issues. The maximum period of custody is fixed at 6 months, which under certain circumstances can be extended by a further 12 months. Prohibition of re-entry is in principl e for a maximum of five years, unless the deported person is a threat to public safety. Member States retain the right to suspend such a prohibition. Directive adopted by EP: 18.06.08 (first reading) by 369 in favour, 197 against and 106 abstentions Trans position: 24 months from publication in OJ; 36 months for providing free legal assistance. Green light to expansion of the free movement space − Schengen The Schengen Area has no border controls between its participating countries. The European Parliamen t supported the enlargement of the Schengen area to nine of the ten Member States that joined the EU in 2004. Thus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia have removed all land, sea and air border cont rols between t hem and the rest of the Schengen countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland and S weden, as well as Iceland and Norway – count ries associated with Schengen). The UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria are now t he only EU Member States outside Schengen. Adoption: 15.11. 07 (consultation) Implementation: 30 March 2008 for air controls, earlier for land and sea EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Other votes Opening up labour market to third country workers − blue card In a resolution establishing priorities for an EU migration policy, the European Parliament underlined the need for well-managed legal immigration, as legal channels were needed to counter illegal immigration. MEPs had called, already in 2007, for a blue card to facilitate the ent ry of highly qualified migrants to take jobs in sectors suffering skills shortages. Subsequently, Parliament supported the scheme developed by the European Commission, but urged Member States to avoid a brain-drain from third countries. Resolution adopt ed by EP: 26.09.07 by 557 in favour, 101 against and 22 abstentions EP vote: 20.11.2008 (consultation) Call for free access to labour markets for new Member States Parliament called on "old" Member States to open their labour markets to workers from t he new Member States, putting an end to the transitional measures restricting access to workers from eight new Member States until 2011. Most countries have subsequently opened their labour markets to workers from all the EU, but at the end of 2008 restrictions remained in Belgium, Denmark, Austria and Germany . EP vote: 05.04.2006 Sanctions against employers who illegally employ third-country nationals Parliament adopt ed a Directive which establishes minimum penalties against employers of third-country nationals residing illegally in the EU, including payment of fines and repatriation costs, wages and taxes in arrears and a five-year prohibition from bidding for public sector contracts or from rec eiving state aid. The Directive also provides for criminal penalties for serious cases, such as repeated offenc es, exploitative working conditions, and when the employee is a minor. Lower financial penalties will be established for people using illegal immigrants as domestic staff. Illegal immigrants will be able to lodge complaints and to get a temporary residence permit if they cooperate with legal action against their employer. Adoption of proposal as amended: 04.02.2009 Adoption of legislative resolution: 19.02.2009 Trans position: 24 months from the date of publication in the Official Journal www.elections2009.eu Security, terrorism and civil liberties Parliament has supported measure s to fight terrori sm and to improve security, to react to new challenges the European Union was facing, while at the same time making sure legislation guaranteed core democratic values. MEP s were critical of CIA anti-terrori st activitie s in Europe and of agreements on data sharing with US authoritie s. During thi s legislature, Parliament has also revi sed existing legislation on civil aviation security, gun ownership and money laundering. Countering air terrorism To protect passengers and goods from terrorist attacks, the European P arliament adopted new measures on security at airports and planes. The law lays down common standards for screening of passengers and cabin baggage, security checks of cargo and mail, access control and staff selection and t raining. Should Member States choose to us e them, in -flight security officers ('sky marshals') must be specially selected and trained. Regulation adopted by EP: 11/03/2008 Fully applicable: 29/04/2010 Measure s to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism Financial institutions have t o check customers' identity when they open an ac count or t rans fer sums above €15,000. Anonymous accounts and those opened under false names are banned. Casinos should also check the identity of any customers gambling more than €2 000. Thes e new measures are part of the legislation on money laundering, r evised to improve the fight against organised crime and terrorism. Parliament amended the proposed legislation to ensure it included financing of terrorism within the scope. Directive adopted by EP: 26/05/2005 Trans position deadline: 15/ 12/2007 Biometric passports All EU countries will be issuing biomet ric passports from the end of June this year. Following the vote of Parliament, no fingerprints will be taken of children under 12: experience shows that such data is of insufficient quality and changes as children grow older. Instead, to prevent child trafficking, minors will have their own passports containing parents' names. However, already issued documents will continue to be valid. The UK has not opted into t his legislation but has said it will introduce rules to mirror the E U Regulation. Regulation adopted by EP: 14.01.2009 (Council's formal decision pending) Deadline for introduction of one person, one passport: 36 months after entry into force Deadline for introduction of biometric passports (including fingerprinting provisions ): 28.06.2009 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Tougher EU rules on gun ownership The European Parliament updated current E U rules on gun ownership to reduce illegal traffic, including over the internet. The legislation s ets up computerised data systems so that all firearms can be traceable to owners, and prohibits people under 18 from possessing firearms. Directive adopted by EP: 29/11/2007 Deadline for transposition: 28/ 07/2010. For computerized databases : 31/12/2014 Telecommunication companies to retain call data, but no content To help national authorities to combat terrorism and organised crime, a new directive requires telecommunication companies t o retain certain call dat a. They must keep the information nec essary to identify the source, destination an d location of communications made by phone and on the internet, but this does not include the content. Data must be kept for between 6 and 24 months, and it is up to each Member State to decide how long. The law also s ets data protection standards. Directive adopted by EP: 24/11/2005 Trans position deadline: 15/ 09/2009 Political positions and consultations In addition to legislation, the EP has been questioning the actions of Member States where t hese were not consistent with t he core values of the EU. It has also aimed to reinforce civil liberties in legislation on which it was consulted, but did not have the final say. CIA activitie s in Europe According to Parliament's final report, adopted after a year of work by its temporary committee, "at least 1,245 flights operat ed by the CIA flew into E uropean airspac e or stopped over at European airports" from 2001 to 2005. MEPs regret that European countries had been "turning a blind eye" to such flights, "which, on some occasions, were being used for extraordi nary rendition or the illegal trans port ation of det ainees". Report adopt ed by EP: 14/02/2007 Concerns over air passenger data exchanges MEPs were concerned that agreements to provide non -EU countries with data on air passengers contravened data protection legislation. On several occasions, Parliament requested more democratic control of t hese so-called Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreements. Due t o privacy concerns, Parliament also criticised a European plan to collect air passenger records for law enforcement purposes. Body scanners raise concerns MEPs expressed c oncerns over the proposal to generalise the introduction of 'body scanners ' at European airports, which would produc e images of people as if they were naked. Subsequently the Commission withdrew the proposal so that it could be reconsidered. New antiterrorist measure s Parliament supported the inclusion of incitement to terrorism, recruitment and terrorism training in the list of offences covered by European anti-terrorism legislation. However, MEPs called for changes so that any risks to freedom of expression should be minimised. EP vote (consult ation): 23.9.2008 Deadline for transposition: (estimated, publication pending) www.elections2009.eu MEPs active on culture, education and sport In the field of culture, education and sport, the European Parliament has fought for more money to go to education programmes, emphasi sed the important role of sport in society, and shown its support for European cinema. The new directive on audiovisual service s was al so adopted. When celebrating the Year of Intercultural dialogue in 2008 Parliament hosted a number of leading cultural figures and religious leaders. Ea sier to compare qualifications To ease mobility of students and workers, Parliament adopted legislation whic h will facilitate, as of 2012, the comparison of qualifications from school-leavers´ diplomas, vocational training c ertificat es and academic degrees. Another directive already applicable provides for the recognition of diplomas obtained in any count ry of the European Union regarding certain professions such as doctors, nurses and architects. Member States will retain powers to check qualifications before al lowing individuals to practise. Recognition of higher education diplomas Adopted by EP: 11. 5. 2005 (co-decision) Fully applicable from: 20. 10. 2007 More money for Era smus students MEPs have ensured more EU money to facilitate studying in another Member State: On 1 January 2007, grants to Erasmus students went up from €150 to €200 a mont h. Erasmus is one of t he programmes financed by the European Union. Other strands of the E U's Lifelong Learning Programme, running from 2007-2013 are the Leonardo training programme and the Comenius school exchange programme. The funding for all of these got the green light from the European Parliament in October 2006. Lifelong Learning programmes including Erasmus adopted 25.10.2006 New rules for TV content The new rules on audiovisual services adopted by the E uropean Parliament established that not only television broadcasters, but also on-demand services like web-TV, should promote European programmes. The new legislation updates the TV without Frontiers Directive which allowed Member States to guarantee free access to events of major national importance (these are usually s ports events, but can also mean c ulture in its broadest sense, including music festivals or royal weddings). The legislation also updates rules on advertising and product placement, and does not allow the sponsoring of news and current affairs programmes. Adopted in EP 29.11.2007 Implementation in Member states by 19.12. 2009 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Non-legi slative Proposals for university reform In a report on the Bologna P rocess, which aims to create a E uropean Higher Educ ation Area by 2010, MEPs argued for a more flexible university system in three stages: bachelor/master/doctorate. They suggested a "4+1" year system for the first 2 stages could facilitate employability. Parliament also proposed the introduction of a European Student Identity Card to facilitate mobility and enable students to get discounts in other count ries. Bologna-process, Initiative report adopted 23. 09.2008 Early learning of foreign languages Proficiency in at least two foreign languages should be a basic skill for every European, stressed the European Parliament. MEPs argued in a non binding resolution that pupils should learn at least two foreign languages at an early age. Language studies also receive financing from the E U Lifelong learning programmes (Erasmus. Leonardo, Comenius) Common indicator for language learning. Report adopted in EP: 27.04.2006 Call for more sports in school s Parliament highlighted t he import ance of sports in society and called for at least three hours a week of compulsory physical education in schools. A key aim is to combat children obesity. Football in the spotlight Several parliamentary resolutions addressed professional football in the EU and emphasised that EU competition rules should not impede recruitment of locally trained players. Following racist remarks in football stadiums, MEPs called on UEFA and other competition organisers in Europe to ensure that referees stop or abandon matches in the event of serious racist abuse. Parliament also alerted on possible corruption in football. LUX Prize: commitment to cinema MEPs have repeatedly voiced their strong support for t he E uropean film industry. In 2006, they adopted the €755 million E U Media programme (2007-2013), supporting audiovisual production in Europe. In 2007, the LUX P rize for cinema was first awarded. The objective of the European Parliament cinema prize is to facilitate the distribution of E uropean films in the member states by subtitling the winning film in the 23 official EU languages. 2008: Year of Intercultural Dialogue To celebrate the Year of Intercultural dialogue in 2008 the P arliament hosted, in formal plenary sitting, the Dalai Lama, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad B ader Hassoun, the Ecumenical Pat riarch of the Orthodox Church, B artholomew I, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jilani Jahangir and Jorge Sampaio, high representative of the UN -initiative Alliance of Civilisations. Looking ahead Protection of authors' rights Parliament is currently scrutinising a proposal to extend the term of protection for sound rec ordings and performers beyond the currently applicable 50 year term, up to 70 years after their birth. The extension, according to the Commission, will bring additional income to authors, performers and record companies, offsetting losses due to internet piracy.. Probably vot e in EP: April 2009 (codecision, first reading)) www.elections2009.eu Money for policies: political priorities backed up by financial means The European Parliament used the power it share s with the Council of Mini sters on budgetary matters to make its mark on the overall EU budget planning for 2007-2013 a s well on each annual EU budget. The European Parliament's political priorities are reflected in the allocation of funding across different programmes. Some examples of money allocated by Parliament during this mandate: Financial Framework 2007-2013: €864,316 million − 1.048% of EU Gross National Income In 2006, aft er two year of negotiations with the representatives of national governments in the E U Council of Ministers, the European Parliament adopt ed the overall financial framework for 2007-2013. Agriculture and structural/cohesion funds represent the bulk of the budget namely 42.9% and 35.6% respectively . Parliament managed to obtain €4 billion more than the E U Member States had initially envisaged for 2007-2013. MEP priority areas were: foreign policy (+1 billion), research and innovation (+700 million), Trans -European Networks (+500 million), consumer protection (+500 million), structural funds (+300 million) and the environment (+100 million). Vote: 17 May 2006, 440 vot es in favour, 180 against and 14 abstentions Implementation peri od: January 2007-December 2013 Structural and Cohesion Funds, €308 billion The structural and cohesion funds, representing 35.6% of the overall EU budget, aim to increase solidarity and reduce disparities between regions of the EU. The main funds are: European Regional Development Fund (E RDF), Cohesion Fund, European Social Fund, and European Grouping for Territ orial Cooperation (EGTC). Vote: 4 July 2006, Implementation period: January 2007-December 2013 7th Re search Framework Programme: €53,200 million for innovation The research programmes are intended to increase the potential for ec onomic growth by investing in key areas such as: health, food, agriculture, fisheries, biotec hnology, information and communication technologies, nanosciences, energy, environment, social sciences, security and space. The total budget for the seven-year period is €53,200 million, which represents an increase of 41% at 2004 prices (63% at current prices). Vote: 30 November 2006, Implementation period: January 2007-December 2013 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Galileo− the European satellite navigation system By 2013 the European satellite radio navigation system Galileo will be operational and, in contrast to the American GPS and the Russian GLONASS systems, will be the first such system specifically designed for civilian applications. MEPs managed to ensure a budget of €3.4 billion until 2013. Regulation adopted by EP 23.04.2008 Learning programmes The E U learning programme package will rec eive €6,970 million for t he period 2007 -2013. 40% of the total will go to the Erasmus programme which finances approximately 20 0,000 students a year who study abroad. Vote: 24 October 2006, Implementation perio d: January 2007-December 2013 European Institute of Technology (EIT) The EP gave the green light to the European Institute of Technology (E IT). The estimated overall budge t of the E IT for the first six years is €2,400 million which will be funded from a combination of private and public sources. The European Institute of Technology, the EU's flagship initiative for boosting innovation in Europe, will receive €308.7 million from the Community budget. Vote: 11 March 2008, Entry int o force: 29 April 2008 Daphne III programme − Combating violence against children, young people and women Daphne is a Community programme originally set up in 1997 on the initiative of the European Parliament. It funds measures aimed at preventing and combating all forms of violence against children, young people and women. The Daphne III programme for t he period 2007 -2013 will now have a budget of €116.85 million. Vote: 22 May 2007, Implementation period: 1 January 2007-31 December 2013 Frontex The European Parliament decided t o double, up to €70 million, the amount earmarked in 2008 for Front ex, which is an independent body tasked with coordinating the operational cooperation bet ween member states in the field of border security. EP Vote: 25 October 2007 Looking ahead Reform of the financing system MEPs will be involved in assessing how to reform the Union's financing system. In this mandate, the European Parliament said that funding the E U by direct contributions from the Member States was "unfair to the general public and anti-democratic". The EP called for an ex amination of the possibility of using an existing tax to finance the European budget, thereby establishing a direct link bet ween t he tax payer and the spending of the European Union. Vote: 29 March 2007 www.elections2009.eu The EP active on the world stage The EP involvement in foreign policy has been very focused on human rights abuse s around the world, also illustrated by the annual award of the Sa kharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Parliament has also sought to increase funding for the external actions of the EU. The Middle Ea st, China, Russia and Guantánamo were also the subject of parliam entary debates and resolutions. Death penalty: EP called for a universal moratorium The European Parliament asked the Council to submit a resolution calling for a univers al morat orium on the death penalty to the UN General Assembly. E ventually, the UN General Assembly adopted such a resolution on 18 December 2007. Adopted: 18.12. 2007 Sakharov Prize: Honouring those fighting for the Freedom of Thought Sakharov Prize winners during this legislature were Hu Jia, Salih, Mahmoud Osman, Aliaksandr Milinkevich, the Ladies in White, Hauwa Ibrahim, the Report ers without Borders and the Belarus Association of Journalists. In awarding the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament honours outstanding achievements in the fight to protect freedom of thought and expression against intolerance, fanaticism and hatred. Relations with Russia MEPs called on the E U to review its policy towards Russia in the light of the Russian -Georgian conflict in 2008. Moreover, on several occasions they expressed their serious concerns as regards the respect for human rights in Russia. Despite better EU-China relations, critics of human rights abuse s Despite its cautious optimism over the improvement of E U-China relations, the EP remained critical of China's human rights record as well as its repression of demonstrations in Tibet. Parliament awa rded the 2008 Sakharov P rize to Chinese dissident an d human rights activist Hu Jia. Middle East conflict: MEP s in favour of the two-State solution The EP repeatedly argued that the two -State solution, with an Israeli and a Palestinian state living side - by-side in peace and security, is a key condition for a peaceful and lasting settlement in the Middle East . EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Guantánamo Bay: EP called on the US to close its detention facility MEPs welcomed the decision by President Barack Obama to close the detention centre at Guant ánamo Bay in Cuba. During this legislative period, the EP called repeatedly on the US Administration t o close this facility. MEPs also called on the Member States to be prepared to accept Guantánamo inmates in the EU in case the US ask so. Co-operation with the Mediterranean partners Parliament supported the launching of the Union for the Mediterranean, to improve cooperation with the EU's southern neighbours. MEPs expressed concern for human rights and the si tuation of women in the region. EP's support to Ukraine's path towards democracy Shortly aft er the rigged presidential elections, in 2004, the EP supported the so-called Orange Revolution. In 2007 it supported the EU's association agreement with Ukraine, which could open the possibilit y of Ukraine eventually becoming a Member State of the European Union. EP re sponse to natural disa sters around the world In response to various natural disasters such as the cyclone in Burma, the earthquake in China and the tsunami in South East Asia, the EP provided financial support to reconstruction and expressed solidarity to the victims. Money for external actions With the adoption of the framework budget for the period 2007-2013, Parliament assigned €49.46bn to external actions, including development policy. Parliament managed to raise the amount by €1bn in comparis on to the Council's proposal. Election observation teams The European Parliament has sent election observation teams to elections in 42 different countries around the world bet ween 2004 and 2008. UK MEPs often took part and led the delegations to: Indonesia (2004); Mozambique (2004); Palestine (2005 & 2006); Egypt (2005); Kazakhstan (2005); Haiti (2006); Aceh (Indonesia − 2006); Sierra Leone (2007); Guat emala (2007); Togo (2007); P akistan (2008), Cambodia (2008); Angola (2008); Rwanda (2008); and Bangladesh (2008) www.elections2009.eu Institutional decisions and enlargement During thi s mandate, Parliament approved the new European Commission and the enlar gement of the Union to Romania and Bulgaria. It also gave the green light to starting membership negotiations with Turkey and Croatia. In the first half of the legislature, institutional reform dominated the agenda. MEPs gave broad support to the proposed Constitution and, later, to the Treaty of Lisbon. Parliament approves the European Commi ssion Parliament approved the appointment of José Manuel Barroso as t he new P resident of the Commission. Because MEPs raised objections to some of the candidates for the other 26 commissioner posts, both before and after EP c ommittee hearings, President Barroso had to propose alternative candidat es and a reshuffle of portfolios to make sure the EP approved the whole Commission. Vote on president of the Commission: 22 July 2004 (413 votes in favour and 251 against) Vote on new Commission: 18 November 2004 (449 votes in favour to 149 against with 82 abstentions) Bulgaria and Romania, new Members of the Union In April 2005 a large majority in Parliament gave t he green light to EU-accession for Bulgaria and Romania. MEPs stressed, however, that both countries still needed to consolidate the reform of their judicial systems and to continue the fight against corruption. On 1 January 2007, Parliament welcomed 18 Bulgarian and 35 Romanian MEPs, temporarily raising the number of MEPs to 785 until the European elections of 2009. EP vote: 13 April 2005 − Accession of Bulgaria: 522 votes in favour, 70 against, 69 abstentions. Accession of Romania: 497 votes in favour, 93 against, 71 abstentions Debates on enlargement and negotiations with candidates MEPs debated candidate count ries' preparedness to join the EU on several occasions. In 2005, they gave the green light to starting membership negotiations with Turkey and with Cro atia. MEPs also supported the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia bec oming a candidate for EU accession, though negotiations have not yet started. In a July 2008 resolution on the enlargement process, MEPs called for the preparedness of candidates and the capacity of absorption of t he Union to be taken into account. EP resolutions also stressed that no further enlargement was possible under the Treaty of Nice New eurozone countries Parliament gave also the green light to enlarging t he eurozone to include Slovenia, from 1 January 2007, Cyprus and Malta, from 1 January 2008, and Slovakia, from 1 January 2009. Now, 16 member states of the EU have adopted the euro as their currency. EP vote on euro adoption b y Slovenia: 15 June 2006 (490 votes in favour to 13 against with 63 abstentions) EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu EP vote on euro adoption by Cyprus: 20 June 2007 (585 votes in favour to 14 against with 90 abstentions) EP vote on euro adoption by Malta: 20 June 2007 (610 votes in favour to 12 against with 74 abstentions) EP vote on euro adoption by Slovak ia: 17 June 2008 (579 vot es in favour to 17 against with 86 abstentions) Support for a Constitution for Europe Parliament endorsed the proposed EU Constitution as a good compromise and improvement on the existing treaties. A majority of MEPs believed it would be beneficial for citizens because it would bring them more rights and improve the clarity, effectiveness and democ ratic accountability of the EU. EP vote: 12 January 2005 (500 votes in favour to 1 37 against with 40 abstentions) Lisbon Treaty backed up by Parliament A majority in Parliament also approved the draft Treaty signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The resolution adopted argued that the Treaty would raise the E U's democratic profile, improve the decision making efficiency and increase the European Parliament's powers. It also asserted that the Treaty would bring greater accountability and more rights and clarity for citizens. But it deplored t he abandonment of the constitutional approach and the EU symbols, as well as the derogations brought in to the Charter of Fundamental rights. The Irish "no" to the Treaty after a referendum reopened the EU institutional debate. EP vote 20 February 2008 (525 votes in favour to 115 against with 29 abstentions) UK Pre sidency of the EU From July-December 2005, the UK held the six-month rotating presidency of the E U. This meant Tony Blair, as Prime Minister, addressed the E uropean P arliament to present the UK's plans at the start of the Presidency and to review the six months at Parliament's session in December. Throughout the six months of the Presidency, UK government ministers appeared before parliamentary committees and the full P arliament, from the Home Secretary on count er-t errorism, to the S ecretary of State for Transport on aviation safety. www.elections2009.eu The European Parliament hitting the UK headlines – People, policies & petitions Here we look at some of the storie s that made the headlines in the UK since the la st European Parliament elections in 2004. We look at people (Tony Blair, Prince Charles, the McCanns); at policy-ba sed storie s (mobile roaming; working time; whisky labelling; cat and dog fur; mercury ban; driving licence s; the „pinta‟); and at petitions dealt with in the European Parliame nt (Spanish land law; Equitable Life). PEOPLE Tony Blair When Tony Blair presented the UK E U Presidency programme to MEPs in June 2005, the UK press pack was there in force: House of Commons sketch writers sat alongside UK political editors in the Europ ean Parliament press gallery. Mr Blair's lively debates with MEPs at the start and end of the UK Presidency gave the European P arliament the visibility normally only afforded to Westminster. Throughout the six months of the Presidency, from July-December 2005, UK government ministers appeared before parliamentary committees and the full Parliament, from the Home Secretary on counter-t errorism, to the Secretary of State for Transport on aviation safety. Prince Charles Prince Charles visited the European Parliament in February 2008 to help raise the profile of climate change in the EU. He sat alongside representatives of various organisations campaigning on climate change in the UK and the rest of E urope. His visit meant a rare appearance in the European Parliament for the UK media‟s royal watchers. Gerry and Kate McCann As part of their campaign for a child -alert system to be set up across the EU, the parents of Madeleine McCann visited the E uropean P arliament in May 2008. Their objective was to urge ME Ps to sign up to a Written Declaration which was ultimately supported by more than half the 785 MEPs and called for an E U amber alert system for missing children. Media interest in their visit was not just restricted to the UK, but involved corres pondents the world over who had followed the McCanns‟ story since the abduction of Madeleine in May 2007. POLICIES Cheaper mobile calls abroad Cheaper mobile roaming rates became a reality in S eptember 2007 as new EU rules capped the price mobile phone companies can charge for calls within the E U. The European Parliament‟s vote on the Regulation in May 2007 made it to the main TV news bulletins and the front page of the Daily Mail. As a follow-up, the P arliament will be voting on new legislation aimed at capping the cost of sending a mobile text message abroad. Vote due before April 2009. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Working Time MEPs voted in December 2008 to end individual opt -outs from the average 48-hour working week. From the end of 2011, therefore, workers will be able to work a maximum 48 hours a week averaged out over 12 months. On-call time would also be included in the calculation. This has yet to be agreed with the Council of Ministers, discussions continuing into spring 2009. Patio heaters in from the cold? In January 2008, the E uropean P arliament adopted a report making recommendations on how t he E U should best meet its energy efficiency targets by 2020. A ban on patio heaters, which use an enormous amount of energy, was among the many suggestions contained in the report. This sparked a heated debate in many parts of the media, from Breakfast TV through national newspapers to trade magazines for the catering industry. The more general recommendations on energy efficient buildings, energy - saving stand-by buttons and smart meters were largely ignored by the media. Labelling whisky, what‟s in vodka? A spirited debat e was had on new rules governing the labelling of drinks such as whisky and vodka. MEPs voted to allow traditional vodka to be made from either grain or potatoes, but added that if made from ot her ingredients, these must be stated on the label. Regional specifications such as „Highland Whisky‟ or „single malt‟ must be justified by national rules. Ban on cat and dog fur trade Such was the UK interest in the European P arliament vote on banning the trade in cat and dog fur that even Heat her Mills McCart ney visited B russels to support the MEPs‟ position. The vote, in June 2007, scrapped a loophole in existing rules which allowed trade in cat or dog fur provided they were not „bred or killed for fur production‟. The ban came into effect on 1 January 2009. Ban on mercury A heated debate took place in June and July 2007 as MEPs adopted new rules ending the use of mercury in measuring instruments and banning mercury exports. From 2010 new barometers can no longer be sold if they contain mercury, while the ban on „fever thermometers‟ will come in six months earlier. This will not, though, affect barometers already on the market. New driving licences MEPs voted in December 2006 for all newly-issued or replacement driving licences to be in a single EU - wide credit card format from 2013. This will replace the 110 different models of driving licence currently used in the 27 EU Member States. Some of the UK media report ed that this would mean all drivers having to retake their driving test every ten years. In fact, the new rules merely suggest driving licences be renewed every 10 years, with no mention of re -testing drivers. The „pinta‟ is safe UK headlines in February 2006 spoke of a „threat to the pinta on your doorstep‟ ahead of a European Parliament vote on pre-packed product sizes. In fact, the proposal was to deregulate sizes of packaged food and drink, except for basic products such as milk and bread. MEPs spotted th at no mention was made of pint measurements for milk and quickly adopted amendments to rectify this. Pints of milk are still to this day being delivered across the UK and the European P arliament endorsed a propos al in December 2008 to confirm this is perfectly legal. Safety first for pe sticides A new regulation on pesticides adopted by Parliament will phase out the use of certain highly toxic chemicals in the manufacture of these products. Other risky substances will have to be replaced with safer alternatives. However, manufacturers will gain speedier approval for new pesticides that meet the safety rules. www.elections2009.eu A directive adopted at the same time will reduce the amount of pesticides used, by prohibiting most aerial crop spraying with pesticides as well as the use of these products near parks and playgrounds and in buffer zones around rivers and lakes. PETITIONS Britons in Spain – urban development laws Thousands of Britons living in Spain petitioned the European Parliament arguing that the Spanish urban „Land Law‟ infringed EU environmental legislation. The Petitions Committee investigation and report, adopted in December 2005, led to news and feature articles at regular intervals since the European Parliament investigations began in 2004. A follow -up report is due in March 2009. Equitable Life Victims of the Equitable Life financial collaps e petitioned the E uropean P arliament in 2004-5 alleging that the UK had not complied with the existing EU insurance directives. The Parliament set up a Temporary Committee of Inquiry into Equitable Life, which reported in June 2007. Evidence sessions with government ministers, the parliament ary ombudsman, E quitable Life management and the petitioners themselves all led to extensive UK media coverage. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu www.elections2009.eu Looking Ahead from now to June 2009 This factsheet takes a look at some of the key dossiers to be tackled by MEPs before the European elections in June. From liberalising EU gas and electricity markets, to facilitating patients' access to healthcare anywhere in the E U, the last few months of the legislature promise t o be extremely packed for MEPs. Other highlights for the Parliament include legislation on cheaper roaming costs for SMS and data messages, a conciliation on the working time directive, and a series of rep orts to combat the economic crisis: Parliament will deal with rules on credit rating agencies, supervision of the banking sector and the way in which capital requirements are calculated. There is also a section on the Li sbon Treaty which is still in the process of being ratified by the 27 Member States. If this occurs, the process will be completed after the June European elections. Energy package In the months to come, proposals further to liberalise the EU electricity and gas markets wil l come back to Parliament. A key issue is the ownership structure of production and distribution assets, with the controversial "unbundling" clause to separate ownership of generation/supply and transmission infrastructure. The new rules will also cover the role of regulators and restrictions on the purchase of assets by non-EU operators. Adoption by EP expected by May 2009 Telecom package Proposed reforms of existing legislation on electronic communications (such as mobile and fixed telephony, broadcasting, internet, etc.) are also due to return to the EP. The telecom package aims to improve competition, to eliminate barriers that remain in the already liberalised market and t o promote investment in next-generation networks, while guaranteeing consumer protection. The reform als o covers the management of radio spectrum. Adoption by EP expected by May 2009 Banking and securiti sation In t he light of t he financial c risis, the European Parliament will be considering legislation to alter the supervision of the banking sector and the way in whic h capital requirements are calculated. A key issue is securitisation – lenders making loans to individuals then selling on the debt as an investment product. The aim is to find a way to ensure the originator of the loan continues t o have an interest in seeing it repaid, thereby discouraging reckless lending. EP vote expected by April 2009 EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Rules governing the insurance industry A major reform to the rules governing the insurance industry is also currently making its way through Parliament. This project, known as Solvency II, aims to ensure supervisors have a much more sophisticated set of tools to assess the risks taken by insurance companies and thus the capital requirements that should be imposed upon them. EP vote expected by April 2009 Rules on credit rating agencies New rules on credit rating agencies, to address perceived conflicts of interest have now started their passage through the EP. Parliament had called for a review in this area on several occasions. EP vote expected by April 2009 Cheaper roaming rates, also for SMS Parliament is due to decide on a proposal to cut the charges for mobile data services and t ext messages for users in the EU but outside their own Member State. The proposal before MEPs also suggests reducing furt her the price of calls and fixing new roaming caps for the period 2010-2013. Vote Industry Committee expected by 9 March 2009 Adoption by EP expected by April 2009 Clearer food labelling The E uropean P arliament will vote on a proposal to modernise and improve EU food labelling rules. This legislation will include food sold in restaurants and other catering establishments. Proposal for a regulation adopted by the Commission: 30.1.2008 Working Time Directive In the months to come, Parliament and Council will be negotiating to reach an agreement on the working time directive, after Parliament rejected key proposals from Member States. Parliament voted t o end all opt-outs to the 48 hour week within three years and to ensure that all on-call time is considered working time. MEPs agreed that the average 48 hour week should be calculat ed over 12 mont hs and introduced exceptions for senior management positions. Possible vote in plenary: May 2009 (final vote if conciliation leads to a joint text) Application: after 3 years of adoption, according to EP amendments www.elections2009.eu Measure s to improve work-life balance In the next few mont hs, Parliament will be considering proposed changes in legislation which aim to improve work-life balance. If adopted as they stand, t he changes would mean an E U-wide minimum maternity leave allowance of 18 weeks, instead of t he current 14 weeks. Self-employed women would also get access to maternity leave. Probable vote in EP: May 2009 (codecision, first reading) Towards a comprehensive non-di scrimination EU directive Parliament will be examining a broad non-discrimination directive, recently presented by the European Commission following requests by the EP. The idea is to fill the gaps in the existing legal framework so that there is protection against discrimination - not just in access to employment, but also in goods, facilities and services - on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Patient mobility - healthcare without borders The European Parliament is due to vot e in March 2009 on a proposal to facilitate patients' access to healthcare any where in the EU. The aim is to clarify the c onditions under which patients have the right to treatment in other Member States, and how the costs of such treat ment should be met. Proposal adopted by the European Commission: 03/ 07/2008 Probable vote in EP: April 2009 Reform of the financing system MEPs will be involved in assessing how to reform the Union financing system. In this mandate, the European Parliament said that funding the E U by direct contributions of the Member States was "unfair to the general public and anti-democratic". The EP called for examining the possibility of using an existing tax to finance the E uropean budget, establishing a direct link bet ween the tax payer and the expenses of the European Union. Eco-labelling MEPs will scrutinise a package of new measures aiming to enc ourage manufacturers to make more eco - friendly goods and to facilitate clear labelling for consumers. The aim is to extend E U rules on energy efficiency labelling to a much wider range of products – for example windows. New rules on tyre labelling are also on the agenda - the type of tyres can account for up to 30% o f a vehicle's fuel consumption. Probable vote in EP: April 2009 (codecision, first reading) Energy efficient buildings MEPs will be discussing proposals to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Probable vote in EP: April 2009 (codecision, first reading) New asylum norm s A new series of proposals to regulat e the right of asylum will be voted in the coming months. The aim is to address deficiencies in the current system and assure a dignified standard of living for asylum -seekers throughout the EU. Conditions for det ention, access to the labour market and the situation of children are some of the key issues. Probable vote in EP: April 2009 (codecision, first reading) Implementation: within 2 years after adoption EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu European fisheries control policy / control measure s for recreational fishing? MEPs will be examining a proposal to reform t he control system of the Common Fisheries P olicy. The proposal establishes inspections for all catches at all stages of the chain - at sea, in port, on transports and markets, introduces harmonised inspection procedures and deterrent sanctions across the EU. It also envis ages control meas ures for recreational fisheries, such as the registration of catches. Vote in Fisheries Committee (consultation): 31/03/2003 Vote in plenary: April II Authors' rights - proposal to extend term of protection Parliament is currently scrutinising a proposal to extend the term of protection for sound rec ordings and performers beyond the currently applicable 50 year t erm, up to 70 years after their death. The extension, according to the Commission, will bring additional income to authors, performers and record companies, offsetting losses due to internet piracy. Probable vote in EP: April 2009 (codecision first reading) www.elections2009.eu Lisbon Treaty: more powers for the European Parliament If ratified by E U Member States, the Lisbon Treaty would create the legal framework and tools needed to meet Europe's most pressing challenges. By giving the directly elected P arliament more power on areas like home affairs, agricult ure and the budget, it would make t he E U as a whole more democratically accountable. More democratic accountability With a few exceptions, it would place t he E uropean P arliament on an equal footing as lawmaker with the Council, representing E U Member States, in areas where this has not b een case so far, notably in setting the EU budget (the EP would enjoy full parity and decide also on agricult ure ex penditure), agriculture policy and justice and home affairs. National parliaments would gain the right to object to a proposal if they felt the subsidiarity principle had been breached, for example that a given result could be better attained by action at national rat her than EU level. A Commission President would be selected by EU heads of government on the basis of the European election results, and would have to be approved by the E uropean P arliament. The appointment of the EU's High Representative for Foreign A ffairs and Security Policy would also be subject to Parliament's consent. More rights and clarity for citizens Citizens' rights would also be strengt hened. For example, the Treaty would make the E U Charter of Fundamental Rights binding upon the EU itself, thus requiring EU institutions to respect citizens' civil, political, economic or social rights. A new right of Citizens' Initiative would enable groups who can muster one million signatures to call upon the Commission to put forward new policy proposals, thus increasing citizens' participation in E U decision-making. Greater effectiveness The Treaty also aims to improve the efficiency of the EU's decision-making process. Greater use of qualified majority voting, replacing unanimity, would facilitate agreements in the Council of Ministers. The new European Council P resident and the High Represent ative for foreign policy, with t he backing of a new European external action service, should improve the consistency and impact of EU action, wit hin and beyond the Union. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu More legislative power for the European Parliament The Lisbon Treaty would make the E uropean P arliament a co -legislator with the Council in a series of new fields. Some of these, currently dealt with only by the Council, would be handled under the co - decision procedure. Others are completely new policy areas for the EU. Existing EU policies which bec ome subject to co-decision (non-exhaustive list) Visas, asylum (some aspects, including conditions for the reception of applicants), legal immigration (including conditions of entry and residence), judicial cooperation in criminal matters, police cooperation, Eurojust and decisions on Europol, minimum rules on criminal sanctions for serious crime with cross - border aspects, common financial provisions, measures necessary for the use of the Euro, structural funds and agriculture and fisheries policies. New policy areas to be introduced by the Lisbon Treaty under which will be subject to co-decision (non- exhaustive list) Energy (energy internal market is already under codecision), border checks, sport, services of general economic interest, personal data protection, immigration (combating human trafficking and promoting integration), European intellectual property rights, public health (measures setting high quality standards, but not harmonisation), space policy and tourism. www.elections2009.eu Top Stories Over the last five years the European Parliament has taken decisions ranging from major turning points to the routine; Parliament has held debates on essential political issues of the day and on highly complex technical matters; there have been very close votes and others with an overwhelming majority. Here we present our " Top Stories", the highest-profile debates and votes of 2004 -2009. Each item traces a decision taken in Parliament and explains its implications. Where appropriate, we have also set out some of the political views expr essed on the different sides of each argument. REACH: reducing chemical risks without penalising industry CIA activities in Europe: European Parliament denounces secretiveness of some Member States Liberalising services wit hout touching the European social model EU-wide rail services When Parliament rejects... Roaming: Parliament cuts cost of using mobile phones abroad All-inclusive air fares Illegal immigration Towards more transparency Climate change: wide-ranging E U measures to fight global warming Working time: 48 hours a week maximum EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu REACH: reducing chemical risks without penalising industry Ambitious legislation on chemicals, placing the onus on industry to show that its products are safe, was passed by Parliament in December 2006. The "REACH" (Registration, Evaluation and Authori sation of CHemicals) regulation requires the registration of some 30,000 of the 100,000 chemical substance s on the market. The legislation aims to increase the safety of chemical products and promote alternatives to anima l testing, while enhancing competitiveness and facilitating trade. When it entered into force in June 2007, it replaced some 40 previous laws. During three years ' debate with the E uropean Commission and Member States, Parliament made important changes to the draft regulations, which include an obligation to replace the most hazardous substances with safer alternatives where t hese exist, a manufacturer's "duty of care" for health and the environment, and a requirement to promot e alternatives to animal testing. The REACH regulation, formally proposed by the Commission on 29 October 2003, replaces some 40 previous pieces of legislation. It aims to gather more information on the safety or otherwise of around 30,000 substances first placed on the market before 1981 (since when formal applications for authorisation have been required) and manufactured or imported in quantit ies of over one tonne per year. Public health vs. chemical industry competitiveness Modern society cannot do without chemicals and t he indus try is crucial t o the E U economy. But chemical production and use may also pose risks to health and the environment. Chemicals are thought to be at least partly to blame for t he rise in ailments such as allergies, asthma, some forms of cancer and reproductive problems. But information is inadequate, because in many cases, insufficient researc h has been done. The most controversial question in long and intensive debates in Parliament was how to balance protecting public health and t he environment with s afeguarding chemical industry competitiveness. At the outset, views differed mark edly between political groups and committees, particularly on registration and authorisation requirements. Compromise amendments were gradually hammered out to win the backing of a majority in Parliament. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu The Helsinki-bas ed E uropean Chemicals A gency (ECHA), started work in June 2007 and has been able to accept registrations since 1 June 2008. Registration and safety reports The approved text requires E U manufacturers and importers of chemicals produced or imported in quantities over one tonne per year to demonstrate their safety with evidence in a registration dossier submitted to t he European Chemicals Agency. Failure to register will mean t he substance must not be imported or manufactured in the EU. MEPs and the Council finally agreed to reduce information requirements for the registration of substances produced in quantities of less than 10 tonnes per year. For quantities over and above 10 tonnes per year, a Chemical Safety Report is also required to document the s afety assessment of the substance. Such a report is not needed for lesser quantities. Authori sation of hazardous substance s REACH also requires authorisation of substances rated as being “of very high concern”. This authorisation was one of the most controversial issues in Parliament, whose compromise restores environment and health protection to the heart of t he system by limiting the duration of authorisations for the most hazardous substances and requiring that they be replaced with safer alt ernatives as these become available. It is estimated that of the 30 000 substances to be registered with REACH around 3 000 are considered hazardous and hence are subject to the strict authorisation procedure – wit h no guarantee that they will be able to remain on the market. Hazardous substance manufacturers are required to submit plans to replace them with safer alternatives. Where no alternative exists, manufacturers must prese nt a research plan to find one. The most haz ardous and largest volume chemicals must be registered by 1 December 2010, while safer and lower-volume ones may wait until 1 June 2013 or 1 June 2018 − depending on the degree of risk and annual production volumes. Burden of proof REACH transfers the burden of proof (i.e. testing and evaluating chemicals to establish their safety) from the authorities to industry. The old regulatory structure had failed to assess the estimated 100 000 chemicals already on the market. Over 20-25 years about 140 had been identified as needing a full risk assessment; of those, only 40 had been studied. Duty of care and animal testing At Parliament 's request, the regulation also impos es a "duty of care" on manufacturers to ensure that human health and the environment are n ot adversely affected and to inform the public of dangers. It also includes safeguards for confidential information and provisions to prevent the duplication of animal testing. Promoting alternatives to testing chemicals on animals was a prime concern for MEPs, and is now a REACH goal. Its ambition, scope and technical complexity made REACH one of the most substantial pieces of legislation ever ex amined by the E uropean Parliament. No fewer than 10 parliamentary committees were involved and the text, which exceeded 1,000 pages at first reading in November 2005, was still 750 pages long at the end. CIA activities in Europe: European Parliament denounces secretiveness of some Member States Over one thousand CIA flights used European airspace and secret detention facilities may have been located at US military base s in Europe, according to the European Parliament‟s Temporary Committee on CIA activities. Its final report, adopted in 2007, deplores the passi vity of some Member States in the face of illegal CIA operations and also the Council‟s lack of cooperation. According to t he Temporary Committee‟s final report, adopted by Parliament on 14 February 2007, certain E uropean countries have been „turning a blind eye‟ to flights operated by the CIA which „on s ome occasions were being used for extraordinary rendition or the illegal transportation of detainees‟. The report highlights that „secret detention facilities in E uropean c ount ries may have been located at US military bases‟ and that „there may have been a lack of control‟ over these bas es by host European countries. With the above in mind, P arliament asked the Council to „put pressure on all the governments concerned to give full and thorough information to the Council and the Commission and, where neces sary, to start hearings and commission an independent investigation without delay‟. Subsequently, in the absence of any response from the governments concerned, the Members of Parliament‟s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home A ffairs, responsibl e for following up this matter, set up a working group for this purpose., chaired by Carlos Coelho (EPP-E D, P T) and Claudio Fava (PES, IT), respectively the former chairman and rapporteur of the Temporary Committee. This group proposed to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs that the Member State parliaments be contacted directly in order to find out whether any new information had come to light in the meantime. This consultation is still ongoing. CIA flights „At least 1 245 flights operated by the CIA flew into European airspace or stopped over at European airports bet ween the end of 2001 and the end of 2005‟, although, as emphasised by MEPs, „not all those flights were used for extraordinary rendition‟. In t heir report, MEPs menti on 21 well-documented cases of extraordinary rendition in which victims were transported via a European country or were residents in a Member State at the time of their kidnapping. With this in mind, the report „calls on European count ries to compensate th e innocent victims of extraordinary rendition‟. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Parliament therefore condemned these renditions „as an illegal instrument used by the United States in the fight against terrorism‟ and also „the acceptance and conc ealing of the practice, on several occasio ns, by the secret services and governmental authorities of c ertain European countries‟. As a result, MEPs called on the Council and the Member States „to issue a clear and forceful declaration calling on the US Government to put an end to the practice of extraordinary arrests and renditions‟. Use of torture The report notes that the renditions analysed by the Temporary Committee in the majority of cases involved incommunicado detention and torture during interrogation, as confirmed by the victims – or their lawyers – who gave testimony to P arliament‟s Temporary Committee on the CIA‟s illegal activities in Europe. According to the testimony of the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Mr Craig Murray, the sharing of intelligence obtained under torture by thir d count ries‟ secret services with the British secret services was a practice known and tolerated by the UK Government. In light of the available evidence, MEPs note that there is a „strong possibility that some European countries may have received [...] information obtained under torture‟. Reluctance to cooperate MEPs also regretted „the lack of cooperation of many Member States‟ and of the Council of the European Union towards the Temporary Committee and explained that „the serious lack of concrete answ ers to the questions raised by victims, non -governmental organisations (NGOs ), the media and parliamentarians has only served to strengt hen the validity of already well-documented allegations‟. The Council, they explained, had initially withheld and then supplied only piec emeal information on the regular discussions held with senior US officials. The report qualifies this attitude as „wholly unacceptable‟. According to the report, such „shortcomings‟ of the Council „implicate all Member State governments si nce they have collective responsibility as members of the Council‟. As highlighted by MEPs in the report, the „principle of loyal cooperation enshrined in the Treaties – which requires Member States and t he E U institutions to take measures to ensure the fulfilment of their obligations under the Treaties, such as the respect for human rights, ... has not been respected‟. The national governments specifically criticised for their unwillingness to cooperate with Parliament‟s investigators were those of A ustria, Italy, Poland, Port ugal and the United Kingdom. The report also gives detailed evidence of investigations of illegal rendition or CIA flight cases involving Bosnia, Cyprus, Denmark, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Germany, Greece, Ireland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. Liberalising services without touching the European social model: mission accomplished for the EP As from the end of 2009, servi ce providers – from travel agents to office maintenance staff – will be able to pursue their occupation anywhere in the EU thanks to the entry into force of one of the most important texts dealt with by the European Parliament over the past few years. The „Services Directive‟, proposed by Commi ssioner Bolke stein in 2004, had aroused deep concern throughout the EU until it was completely rewritten by the EP, ultimately achieving an acceptable result. The aim of this directive is to realise t he fourt h fundamental freedom underpinning European integration, after the free movement of persons, goods and capital, without lowering the social standards of the Member States. The difficulty of the issue at hand was to balance the int erests of consumers, workers and service providers, against a background of conflict bet ween advocates of liberalisat ion and defenders of social standards. However, Parliament event ually managed to resolve this dilemma. A fter prot racted, difficult discussions, its political groups managed to reach a compromise which was accepted by governments. The tertiary sector accounts for almost two-thirds of the E U economy. But in order to benefit from this market, it had to become more competitive and open. The proposal for a directive on servic es, as presented by the Commission in early 2004, had caused so much controversy as to affect the French rejection of the Constitution. The main issue in question was the „country of origin principle‟, which would have allowed servic e providers to operate in another Member State under the same conditions as in their country of origin. In the E uropean Parliament, as in EU public opinion, some feared that t his would pave the way to unhealt hy competition bet ween Member States, and social dumping, while others stressed the need to facilitate t he free movement of workers and improve the sector‟s c ompetitiveness. While the Member States‟ representatives were deeply divided in the Council, MEPs managed to overcome their differenc es of opinion, eventually securing a directive which would allow the internal services market to open up more widely to cross-border competition whilst prot ecting the European social model. Parliament redresse s the balance between the economy and social rights In P arliament, for over a year and a half, various solutions were c onsidered by at least ten parliamentary committees in order to make t he text more consensual. The debate – at times very heated – ended in February 2006 with an agreement between Parliament‟s largest political groups – the PPE and the PSE. Following this first reading in plenary, the text explicitly specified that the directive would have no effect on labour law in the Member States, nor on working or employment conditions or contractual relations between employer and employee, be they based on national law or on collective agreements. The key parts of this compromis e were subsequently accepted by the Member States and confirmed by a large majority of Parliament at second reading in November 2006. The GUE/NGL Group, the Greens /Efa and the French PES Members opposed the directive. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Provi sion of service s made easier, with certain safeguards The directive, which should be applied throughout the EU by 28 December 2009 at the latest, should make it significantly easier for a service provider to set up business in anot her Member State. For example, a company which wants to manage a hotel in another EU c ount ry will no longer have to deal with several different authorities (national, regional or local), but with a single „one-stop shop‟ for all administrative formalities. The directive explicitly prohibits any restrictions on the freedom to provide services. It will therefore be easier than before to provide services temporarily in another EU country. For instance, countries will no longer be able to demand that a mountain guide must bec ome a resident of the count ry in which he wishes to temporarily pursue his occupation. However, temporary providers will be subject to the labour and social laws of the country in which they are working. Moreover, the directive will affect neither the labour law nor the collective rights which workers in the Member States currently enjoy. Services excluded A number of services have been excluded from the scope of the directive, such as services of non - economic general interest, certain social services or services that are already covered by sectoral legislation (audiovisual, financial or transport services). As regards the issue of services of general interest, the Treaty of Lisbon, currently under ratification, addresses this issue to some extent, in that it recognises the specific characteristics of those services. However, some Members regret the Commission‟s decision not to submit a proposal on this topic. The issue therefore remains open. With regard to health servic es, also not covered by the directive, Parliament is current ly working on the Commission proposal of July 2008 on patients‟ cross -border healthcare rights. The aim is to facilitate the reimbursement of medical services provided in another Member State. Here too, a balance must be struck between social and mark et interests on the one hand and Community and national competences on the other. EU-wide rail services: more choice and clearer rights for passengers From January 2010, train passengers travelling from one EU country to another can expect to see more rail companies competing on these international connections. In September 2007, the European Parliament adopted legislation to enable Europe's railway companies to compete across borders, to guarantee basic pa ssenger rights and to ensure that train drivers ar e fully qualified. After three years' arduous negotiations among MEPs and bet ween Parliament and the Council of transport ministers on three related pieces of legislation, Parliament advocated more cross -border competition, and also won a set of basic rig hts for rail users, including compens ation for delays to international services. A decision on whet her to open up Member States' domestic rail net works to competition from abroad as well is to be taken lat er, in the light of market developments. Freedom to supply international rail services From 2010, operators will be free to supply international rail passenger servic es across borders within the EU (so Thalys and Eurostar could get competitors), passengers on all lines will be entitled to minimum service quality standards and a European licence will qualify train drivers to use any E U Member State's network. The European Commission will review how the rules are going in 2012, and assess then whether to propose extending liberalisation to domestic networks. Although international passenger rail services will be opened to cross -border competition, domestic ones will not. In a vot e in second reading in January 2007, the full Parliament rejected the advice of its Trans port Committee and decided not to set a date for the liberalisation of national rail services. Passenger rights From 2009, when t he EU passenger rights regulation takes effect, all rail passengers, international and domestic, will have basic rights, such as company liability for luggage and on transport for people with reduced mobility. These rights were originally proposed only for international passengers, but, after tough negotiations with the Council, MEPs succeeded in also extending them to domestic ones. Compensation rules The regulation lays down ground rules for protecting rail passenger rights similar to EU arrangements already in place for air passengers. On the railways, compensation for delays for which the railway company is responsible on cross -border services will be 25% of the fare for a delay of one hour or more and 50% for a delay of two hours or more. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu If the delay exceeds one hour, and with certain restrictions on practicality, passengers must also be offered free refreshments and, if needed, hotel accommodation or trans port from a stranded train. E vent ually, these rules will also apply to all intercity services. However, Member States may exclude domestic services from the compensation rules for up to 15 years and urban, suburban and regional services indefinitely. Rapporteur Dirk Sterckx (ALDE, BE) was happy to have "made a difference where it mattered, not between international and national traffic, but bet ween long-distance and local traffic." Ea sier access for di sabled people and cyclists Companies must facilitate access to stations and plat forms for people with disabilities or with reduced mobility, and remove all obstacles to getting on, off, or remaining on board. In unstaffed stations, companies "must take all reasonable measures" to ensure their access to rail transport. Passengers must also be permitted to take bicycles on trains, provided that the rolling stock permits it. EU train driver's licence All train drivers will have to hold a certificate showing that they meet minimum educ ational and fitness requirements and professional skills. This should enhance safety on EU railways, while making it easier for train drivers to work in another EU country. These requirements will not apply to other train staff at first, but MEPs won an undertaking that the Commiss ion will look into this within one year of the directive's entry into force and, if necessary, present a new proposal to include staff per forming safety- critical tasks. Safety and interoperability To be able to cross a border, trains must meet the safety rules of Member States on both sides. These rules sometimes conflict − e.g. in Italy fire extinguishers on trains must contain CO2 powder and no foam, while Austria requires the reverse. Rail companies wanting to supply international services have traditionally had to undergo approval procedures for their rolling stock in each Member State whic h can take years. In July 2008, Parliament approved an agreement with the Council of Ministers on EU -wide approval of different types of rolling stock, which will amend t he Rail safety Directive (2004/49/E C) to ensure that any rolling stock already approved for use in one Member State must be accepted in the others. This would cut red tape and should accelerate the growth of rail transport in E urope. S ome additional national safety requirements will still be possible, but within clearly defined limits. Further to a request from MEPs, heritage, museum and tourist railways will be exempted from the directive. When Parliament rejects… The European Parliament can go further than amending proposed laws with which it finds fault. If a proposal is completely unacceptable and there is no prospect of making sati sfactory improvements, it can be thrown out altogether. In 2004-2009, for example, Parliament rejected outright two important legi slative proposal s: the so -called “software patents directive” and plans to liberalise port service s. No directive on software patents In July 2005, the European Parliament almost unanimously rejected, what had become known as the "software patents directive", ending three years of passionate debate. If adopted, this directive would have allowed patenting of computer-implemented inventions (CIIs), i.e. those that use a computer, a computer network or similar equipment. Under the European Patent Convention (which is not an EU law – it covers a wider area), a patent may be granted only if an invention is new, involves an inventive step and is capable of industrial application. Granting patents for computer programmes (i.e. soft ware) is expressly ruled out – they are instead protected by copyright. But thousands of patents for inventions that use software have been issued by the European Patent Office (EPO – not an EU body, it was created under the EPC) and national offices. An example is a patent granted for a method of det ecting whether an antilock brak e sy stem is functioning properly. In this case, the software is deemed to make a "technical cont ribution" and is thus pat entable under EPO practice. In that case, the patent protects both the invention (the brake control system), and the software involved. In practice there has been wide variation in the ways in which national patent offices interpret there rules, and in how national authorities interpret EPO patents in this field. The European Commission proposed an EU directive to specify more clearly what was and was not patentable. Big software firms vs. open source? There was intense lobbying of Parliament on this issue. One side, principally representing larger soft ware firms, argued that making CIIs patentable in Europe would encourage research spending and prot ect European inventions from unfair competition, particularly from t he US, where it is often easier to obt ain patents on similar inventions. But some smaller companies and activists supporting the use of open - source soft ware argued instead t hat software inventions are already protected by c opyrights and that CII patenting could raise legal costs and force them off the market. MEPs listened t o both sides. Most Socialist, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL MEPs wanted a narrower focus for patents to allow more room for open-source innovation whereas EPP-E D, ALDE, UEN and IND/DEM MEPs felt the directive would help firms, including smaller ones, to benefit from their inventions and should go ahead with some clarifications and safeguards. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu First reading vote and developments in Commi ssion and Council At Parliament's first reading (which took place before the 2004 election) a majority of MEPs decided that the Commission's draft directive was insufficiently clear on the question of what constituted a "technical contribution". Parliament adopted amendments to ensure that computer programs as such could not be patented. Other amendments sought to protect small businesses, including a call for the Commission to monitor the directive's impact on them. After the 2004 elections, the new P arliament requested that the Commission withdraw its propos al and start afres h, but the Commission did not do so, arguing that the Council was on the point of adopting its position, which would put the ball back in Parliament‟s court in any case. The Council did indeed adopt a common position (which was unacceptable to eit her side of the argument in Parliament) one in which the crucial technical definitions as to what was and was not patentable. Some argued that it went too far in restricting what could be patent ed compared to current practice in patent offices, while ot hers, on the contrary, saw the definitions as allowing software patents by another name. No directive on port service s In January 2006, Parliament rejected − by 532 votes to 120 with 25 abstentions − a proposed port services directive, which the Commission had said sought to "modernise ports and increase t heir work volumes", open up port services (suc h as loading and unloading ships) to competition in line with the E U Treaty, and reduce congestion on the roads, while protecting sa fety, jobs and social security. Cargo handling employs thousands in the EU, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK. This rejection concluded a lengthy debate, started by a Commission discussion paper in 1997, bet ween those arguing that more competition among ports was needed to boost growth and jobs, and those who believed that liberalisation would lead to widespread job losses (among dockers) and a deterioration in working conditions and safety (e.g. for sailors who would be required to load or unload ships, rather than dockers, so called “self-handling”). A demonstration of dockers outside Parliament's Strasbourg premises led to violence from a minority. Faced with this rejection, the Commission wit hdrew its proposal. Second time around During the previous parliamentary term, MEPs had already rejected an earlier proposal along similar lines, in November 2003, when the most controversial issue in a deal almost struck a fter talks with Trans port Council Ministers was a compromise on "self-handling". Following this first rejection, the Commission did not simply drop the issue, as might have been ex pected. Instead, it brought forward a new draft directive on access to the port services mark et, without first consulting stakeholders. Its failure to take account of Parliament's original vot e and the lack of dialogue with those working in the industry caused disappointment among MEPs. This goes some way to explaining the very large majority voting to reject the propos al a second time. Roaming: Parliament cuts cost of using mobile phones abroad By adopting the EU's mobile roaming regulation in May 2007, the European Parliament cut the cost of making and receiving mobile telephone calls while abroad in the EU for at least 140 million users. The new law came into force on 30 June 2007. MEP s are currently consi dering similar price caps for text message s and other data roaming service s such a s multimedia messages or mobile internet. In May 2007 MEPs backed by an overwhelming majority a first -reading compromise agreement, obtained by Parliament after intense negotiations with the Council, which put price caps on charges for using a mobile phone while abroad − otherwise known as mobile "roaming". Mobile phone users "roam" when they make or receive a call abroad while transferred onto a foreign "host" operator's net work. Instead of sending the customer a bill, the host operator charges the user's home operat or, using a "wholesale" rate agreed by the two companies. The home operator then recovers the cost, either via a charge that appears on t he user‟s next bill or by deducting the amount from his/her credit. Before t he roaming regulation entered into force, a roaming call cost the us er an average €1.15 per minute − five times the actual cost of providing " wholesale" services. The int ention was not to fix roaming prices at rat es set by the EU, but to set a ceiling beneath which mobile operators could compete by offering lower prices and still earn a reasonable return. Eurotariff caps calling rates at €0.46 per minute – and lower from summer 09 The roaming regulation enables consumers to benefit from a so -called Eurotariff price cap. Home operators may now charge their customers a maximum of €0.46 per minute (excluding VA T) for outgoing roaming calls and a maximum of €0.22 per minute (excluding VA T) for incoming ones. These retail price caps are being lowered further (to €0.43 and €0.19 respectively) from summer 2009. The average "whol esale" charge an operat or abroad can make to a roaming customer's home operator for providing roaming calls is currently capped at €0.28 per minute and will decrease to €0.26 in 2009. Eurotariff by default and automatic tariff information when crossing the border MEPs went for the "opt-out" model which ensures that the Eurotariff applies by default − unless the customer chooses otherwise. The regulation also requires home operators to provide their customers with "basic personalised pricing information on the roaming c harges (including VA T)" t o outgoing and incoming roaming calls as soon as they cross a border. It was felt that if users had to "opt -in" to benefit from the Eurotariff, many would have failed to do so, as operators had little incentive to advertise it. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Coming soon: Eurotariff for the years beyond 2010? The Commission's 2008 review of the current roaming regulation, which ex pires by 2010, concluded that competition bet ween operators was not y et strong enough, as prices for roaming calls do not y et vary sufficiently below the maximum levels. Parliament's Industry Committee is therefore now working on a Commission proposal of September 2008 for a new law setting roaming call price caps for 2010 to 2013. Per-minute billing creates hidden costs While working on the new roaming regulation, MEPs will also look at operators' billing practices, which sometimes include charging per minute rather than per second. This adds hidden costs to roaming calls. Cutting costs of text messages and mobile inte rnet browsing Further E U action is expected to deal with the retail charges paid by users for text messages (short message services − SMS) as well as wholesale charges for furt her data roaming services such as multimedia messages (MMS) or internet browsing from mobile phones and lapt op devic es. At present, fees charged for roaming texts can be ten times higher than for domestic messages. Belgian travellers, for example, pay up to € 0.75 per SMS when abroad. The current prices for data roaming services ran ge from € 5 to € 10 per megabyte, according to a Commission study of June 2008 (see link below). Next steps Parliament's Industry Committee voted on the new roaming proposal on 9 March 2009, so the plenary vote will take place in April 2009. All-inclusive air fares As of 1 November 2008, air travellers can be certain that the price they are quoted for a plane ticket will be the price that they actually need to pay. Thanks to an EU regulation amended by Parliament in July 2008, air fare s a s di splayed on internet site s and elsewhere must include all taxes, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price and known at the time of publication. The price you pay All-inclusiveness was introduced in amendments adopted by Parliament. The regulation should put an end to misleading offers, such as adverts for flights supposedly costing 1 or 2 euros, but which by the end of t he booking proc edure turn out to cost much more. Internet booking − often the only possibility with low-c ost air carriers − is a particular concern. Under the new EU regulation, all carriers must now provide the general public with comprehensive information on air fares, "including on the Internet". Air fares that are "addressed directly to t he t ravelling public" must include all applicable tax es, non-avoidable charges, surcharges and fees known at the time of publication. Info required The following information, at least, must be specified: air fare or air rate, taxes, airport charges and other charges, surcharges or fees, such as those rel ated to security or fuel. Optional price supplements − e.g. for additional luggage − must be communicated in a clear, transparent and unambiguous way at the start of any booking procedure and consumers must "opt in" to them − i.e. give their explicit consent. Parliament also broadened the scope of pricing transparency to include all flights departing from Community airports (regardless of destination). Security taxes and charges With security charges on the rise, MEPs amended the proposals to ens ure that the consumer has a right to know how high these costs are, and what they are used for. Where airport or on -board security costs are included in the price of an air ticket, these costs will have to be s hown s eparately on the ticket or otherwise indicated to the passenger. And, security taxes and charges, whether levied by the Member States or by air c arriers or other entities, must be transparent and be used exclusively to meet airport or onboard airc raft security costs. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Part of a package The all-inclusive air fares rules were part of a wider "third liberalisation package" to increase market efficiency, enhance the safety of air servic es and improve passenger protection. The regulation lays down rules for, inter alia, operating licences, leasing of airc raft, public service obligations, traffic distribution and price transparency. Illegal immigration: European Parliament lays down common standards on expulsion By adopting the 'return' Directive in June 2008 the European Parliament took a major step tow ards a European immigration policy. The Directi ve, which will apply with effect from 2011, encourages the voluntary return of illegal immigrants and lays down minimum standards for detention periods and re-entry bans. It al so provides a number of legal safeguards and allows the Member States to apply more generous rule s. Parliament's vote opened the way to agreement at first reading. By adopting a package of amendments negotiated with the Council of Ministers, Members sought to prevent States applying hars her standards than those of the E U to illegal immigrants, while allowing them to keep or adopt more generous standards. The Directive applies only onc e a deportation decision has been taken and leaves each Member Stat e the power to decide whether to regularise its illegal immigrants or not. During the vote, following a lively debate, the EPP-E D and UEN Groups supported t he proposal in their entirety, while the Greens and the GUE/NGL Group voted against. The votes by the PES, ALDE and IND/DEM Groups split on the basis of national affinities. Encouraging 'voluntary return' The political compromise introduc es a two-step approach: the deportation decision triggers a 'voluntary return period' (of bet ween seven and 30 days), which may be followed by a 'removal o rder', i.e. expulsion. If this is issued by a judicial authority and if it is believed that the individual in question might abscond, the person can be placed in a closed cent re by a judicial or administrative decision. The Directive lays down a maximum detention period – this is currently unlimited in some Member States – and establishes standards for the living conditions which must be ensured; these include the right to medical assistance and to education for children. If a pers on is expelled following the expiry of the 'voluntary return period' he or she may be subject to a 're-entry ban', during which the individual may not re-enter the territory of the European Union. Six-month detention period, with possible 12-month extension The detention period is a maximum of six months, although this can be extended by a further 12 months in certain cases. There is a re-entry ban of five years maximum if the pers on is deported after the 'volunt ary return period' has expired, or longer if the individual represents a 'serious' threat to public safety. However, Member States retain the right to waive, cancel or suspend such bans. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu If a person is placed in custody following an administrative decision, this decision must be approved by the courts 'as speedily as possible' – the original proposal required a court order within 72 hours, while the EP Civil Liberties Committee wanted 48 hours. A PES amendment seeking to restore the deadline of 72 hours was rejected. Children and families to be detained only 'as a last resort' Finally, the Directive addresses the situation of children and families: they must not be subject to coercive measures and can only be held in custody as a last resort. Unaccompanied minors may only be deported if they can be returned to their family or to reception facilities upon arrival. Emergency situations An article inserted by the Council also provides for great er flexibility for the authorities in 'emergency situations'. If an 'exceptionally large number' of third -country nationals places 'an unforeseen heavy burden' on t he administrative or judicial capacity of a Member Stat e, court orders may be postponed and less favourable detention conditions may apply. Member States must also take account of the situation of t he individual's count ry of origin, under the principle of non-refoulement (which states that no state may send a refugee to a count ry where his/her life or liberty may be endangered). Following a recent ruling by the Court of Justice, the European Parliament will in future decide jointly with the Council (under co -decision) which countries are deemed 'safe'. Legal aid subject to the terms of the 'procedure' Directive The Directive provides for legal aid to be granted t o illegal immigrants who have no resources, in accordance with relevant national legislation and the 'procedure' Directive of 20 05 on aid to asylum seekers. The Community return fund, set up for the period 2008-2013, may also be used to finance legal aid. The E uropean return fund, s et up for t he period 2008 -2013 with funding of € 676 million, may be used to fund legal aid for illegal immigrants. The use of the fund was suspended pending the adoption of the 'ret urn' Directive. Towards more transparency − a reformed Parliament from 2009 Reform s to make European Parliament elections, working methods and pay easier for citizens to understand are being made ahead of the June 2009 elections. European political parties will get new EU campaign funding, common rules will put an end to wide national disparities in MEP s' pay, and lobbyi sts' access to MEP s i s to be made subject to new requirements, such as financial disclosure and being listed in a mandatory public register. Making European elections more European In November 2007, Parliament backed a Commission propos al to allow European political parties to fund campaign activities for the June 2009 European elections, so as to make elections to the European Parliament more specifically European in character. The new legislation improves the financial stability of European parties, by allowing t hem to save some funds from one year to use the next, and so facilitates their long-t erm planning. It also permits the creation of European political foundations, which complement the aims of political parties at European level, e.g. by contributing to public policy debates, supporting seminars, training and conferences, and providing forums for national political foundations and academics to work together. European political parties receive total E U public funding of about €10 million per year, via the European Parliament. The EU's 2008 budget also includes a total of €5 million for the new political foundations. There are currently (2008) ten European political parties receiving funding from Parliament: European People's Party (EPP) Party of European Socialists (PES) European Liberal Democrat and Reform P arty (ELDR) European Federation of Green Parties (EFGP) Party of the European Left (EL) European Democratic Party (PDE/EDP) Alliance for Europe of the Nations (AEN) Alliance des Démocrates Indépendants en Europe (A DIE) European Free Alliance (EFA) EU Democrats (EUD) EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu These European political parties are not the same as the seven political groups within Parliament itself: the political groups for the most part include MEPs affiliated to more than one European party via their national party membership. Even so, since national parties are affiliated to European political parties with whom they share a common vision and MEPs join a political group on a similar basis, it is no surp rise that there is a large overlap in membership bet ween the groups and the European parties. No funding of national parties To enhance political debate at EU level with a view to the European P arliament's 2009 elections, Parliament welcomed a Commission proposal to allow European political parties to use their money to finance campaign activities for European elections. Parliament also endorses the general principle that in no circumstances should these funds constitute direct or indirect financing of other parties and particularly of national parties and candidates. The funds allocated to the t en EU parties eligible for funding in 2009 are set out in Parliament's section of the E U's 2009 budget (line 402, chapt er 40, title IV section I (Parliament) – s ee t he link below. These funds are controlled and managed by Parliament. Foundations The new Regulation on the statute and financing of European political parties int roduced a new legal basis for establishing European political foundations. It says that foundations must be formally associated with an existing European party in order t o access funding - a foundation may receive funds only by applying through the political party to which it is affiliated. This funding is directed only to the European political parties, and not to the political groups in Parliament itself. Parliament's working methods reformed The efficiency and transparency of P arliament 's work is already being improved by changes to the procedures used in its plenary sessions, committee meetings and foreign delegations. In October 2007, the Conference of Presidents of political groups in P arliament unanimously adopted recommendations made by a working party on parliament ary reform, in order to make Parliament 's work more efficient and more attractive to a wider public. The first set of measures covered five areas: agenda-setting and the organisation of plenary activities; priority-setting and the format of annual debates; the organisation of debates, the organisation of votes and the treatment of amendments; meetings held in parallel and the Chamber seating plan. The plenary agenda is now divided into clear sections: major legislative items are grouped on Tuesday, the week 's priority debate is held on Wednesday morning and Wednesday aft ernoon is devot ed t o items of topical political interest. Parliament's rapporteurs have been given more speaking time, and also the last word, in plenary legislative debates. To enable MEPs not on the speaking list to take part in discussion, each debate includes a five-minute "catch-the-eye" session, during which t hey can ask the chairperson to give them the floor. These changes have been in effect since the beginning of 2008. A common salary for MEP s A single Statute for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) was approved in June 2005 by an overwhelming majority. From June 2009, all MEPs are to earn around €7,665 a month, thus ending the wide pay disparities that result from the current system of MEPs earning the same as national MPs in their home countries. The rules set MEPs‟ salaries as 38.5% of the salary of a European Court of Justice judge. MEPs will pay income tax to the EU budget, though Member States also retain an option to apply in addition taxation up to the level of national rates. The agreement allows for a transition period during which, for MEPs elected by its citizens, each Member State may continue to apply different rules from those of the Statute. Current MEPs who are re -elected may also opt to continue their existing national arrangements. More transparency on expense s and pensions The new Statute will als o change the way in which MEPs' travel expenses are refunded: rather than a flat - rate tariff, reimbursements will reflect only the costs actually incurred. MEPs will also join a common pension scheme, wit h contributions paid by Parliament. All payments from Parliament's budget to MEPs are made monthly in euro or, (at the MEP's request), in the currency of the Member State where he or she is domiciled. New rules on assi stants' pay New rules on MEPs' allowances for paying assistants will also t ake effect for the new P arliament, to address weaknesses identified in the system. From June 2009, the contracts of MEPs' assistants working in the Member States will be managed by certified paying agents, specialising in fiscal and s ocial security aspects of employment contracts, who will be responsible for compliance with the relevant national social security and tax provisions. It will be possible for an MEP to use up to 25% of the parliamentary assistance allowance for services such as research studies or other advisory work. Brussels-bas ed assistants, meanwhile, will be covered by a new addition to the statute which covers E U officials and other employees. The c ontracts of and salary payments to the assistants will be handled by Parliament's services, but the MEPs will be entirely free in their choice of assistants, the tasks to be assigned to them and the duration of the labour contracts. The EP has also decided that in future, MEPs may not employ close family members as their assistants. Mandatory public register of lobbyi sts A mandatory public register of lobbyists, common t o the Council, Commission and Parliament and providing for "full financial disclosure", was proposed by the European Parliament in May 2008. Lobbyists would need to register only once to have access to Parliament, the Commission and t he Council. The three institutions have set up a joint working group to prepare a proposal on the common register as soon as possible. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu "Full financial disclosure" and sanctions According to the May 2008 resolution, lobbyists would have to abide by a code of conduct, and could lose their accreditation if they break the rules. Moreover, MEPs suggested that the register should include "full financial disclosure" by lobbyists. Professional consultancies and law firms in particular would have to disclose the relative weight of their major clients and the c osts associated with lobbying. NGOs and t hink tanks would be required to s tate their overall budgets and main sources of funding. In November 2008, a second inter-institutional working group of Parliament and Commission representatives started working on specific proposals on the c ode of conduct, the sanctions and the extent of financial disclosure required. Climate change: wide-ranging EU measures to fight global warming The world's first comprehensive set of measures to limit global warming was adopted by the EU in December 2008, when new EU climate and energy laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars, industrial installations and power plants and to promote renewable energies were amended and approved by MEPs. Parliament thus put the E U on course to ac hieve its climate change reduction t argets by 2020: a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, and a 20% share of renewables in the E U's energy mix. The E U is the first region in the world to set such far-reaching and legally binding targets for all sectors of the economy. The EU has also undert aken to go further and cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30%, provided an ambitious international agreement is reached in Copenhagen by the end of 2009. The package, adopted by a large majority in P arliament at the first reading aft er int ense negotiations with the Council of Ministers, includes a revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (E TS), Member States' targets for CO2 reductions in sectors not covered by the E TS, a legal framework for environmentally -safe carbon capture and storage (CCS), binding targets for the use of renewable energy and a regulation on CO2 emissions from cars. EU-wide emission trading from 2013 The revised EU Emission Trading System (ETS ), to apply from 2013 to 2020, aims to reduc e greenhouse gas emissions by 21% from 2005 levels. The E TS is a "cap and trade" system: it caps the overall level of emissions allowed but, within that limit, participants may buy and sell allowances to meet their needs, so as to cut emission costs effectively. The Community -wide quantity of allowanc es issued eac h year will decrease in linear fashion, so as gradually to reduce the overall level of emissions each year. The E TS currently covers over 10,000 energy and industrial installations, which collectively account for almost half of the E U's total CO2 emissions and for 40% of its total GHG emissions (the remaining 60% is covered by a "non-E TS" effort-sharing decision). The aviation sector will be brought int o the system from 2012, as agreed between the European Parliament and Council in July 2008. In the first and second E TS trading periods (2005-2012) the great majority of allowances were allocated free of charge. The revised directive provides in principle for allowances to be auctioned from 2013, but nonetheless includes several exceptions, as advocated by the European Council on 12 December 2008. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Transitional exceptions are possible for electricity generation, essentially for the new EU Member States and subject to certain conditions. Several MEPs had feared that intro ducing full auctioning from 2013 in the power sector could increase electricity prices. Exceptions to the full auctioning principle are also possible for manufacturing sectors at serious risk of "carbon leakage" - that is the relocation of production to third countries with a less strict climate policy, leading to increased CO2 emissions by these countries. Effort sharing: Member States' targets for CO2 reduction The "effort-sharing" decision, a world first, sets binding national targets for each EU Member State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in sectors not covered by the E TS (e. g. road and sea transport, buildings, services, agriculture and smaller industrial installations). These sources currently account for about 60% of all EU GHG emissions. The decision aims to cut thes e emissions by 10% between 2013 and 2020. The decision will allow Member States to "offset" emissions, i.e. to buy credits resulting from projects in third countries under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), as a means of complying with their GHG emission limits. Power plants and industrial installations may store CO2 underground Industrial installations and power plants may in future use new technology to cut their emissions of CO 2, by capturing and storing it perman ently and safely underground. To enc ourage use of carbon capture and storage t echnology (CCS ), MEPs had earmarked revenue from 300 million E TS allowances to fund large - scale demonstration and testing projects in the E U. The E TS could provide funding for up to 9 CCS demonstration projects in the EU. Reducing CO2 emissions from new cars A new regulation s etting emission performanc e standards for new passenger cars registered in the E U backs an average emission target of 120g of CO 2/km for the whole car industry by 2012, down from 160g/km today. An average target of 130g CO 2/km for new passenger cars is to be achieved by improvements in vehicle mot or technology, and the further 10g/km reduction needed to achieve the 120g/km target is to be achieved by other technical meas ures (required by different legislation), such as better tyres, the use of biofuels or minimum efficiency requirements for air -conditioning systems. MEPs also succeeded in setting a long -term reduction target, for 2020, of 95g CO 2/km. Each manufacturer will be given a specific average CO 2 emissions target, with which it must comply in interim stages: 65% of the fleet must comply in January 2012, 75% in January 2013, 80% in January 2014 and 100% from 2015. Manufacturers who fail to meet these int erim targets will have to pay fines. More renewable energy in electricity generation, transport, heating and cooling The new "renewables" directive s ets binding national targets for each Member State t o ensure that by 2020 renewable energy makes up at least 20% of the EU's total energy consumption. Renewable energy is, for example, produced from hydro power, solar, wind, biomass or geothermal sources. Environmentally and socially sustainable biofuels Each Member State must increase its share of renewable energy in transport - biofuels, electricity and hydrogen produced from renewable s ources - to 10% by 2020. "Second-generation" biofuels (i. e. those produced not from food or feed crops, but from alternatives such as algae, wood residues, or pap er waste), will be double-credited towards this target. MEPs ensured that the new law includes criteria to guarantee that biofuels production is environmentally and socially sustainable and does not lead to deforestation and rising food prices. In Decem ber 2006, Parliament had called on the Commission to develop suc h a tool which "objectively measures the environmental, social and economic sustainability aspects of mineral fuels and biofuels". Next steps In its final report, Parliament's Climate Change Committee called on the EU and the other industrialised countries to set, as a group, a medium-term target of a 25-40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020, and a long-term reduction target of at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990. Negotiations are under way for a new international climate change agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012. At the UN Climate Change Conference in P oznań in December 2008, where MEPs were present, the parties present decided to switch from discussion i nt o "full negotiating mode" and agreed that the first draft of the text of the future climate change agreement would be available at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathering in Bonn in June 2009. Working time: 48 hours a week maximum So as not to compromise the health and safety of workers, the working week should remain limited to 48 hours, calculated over 12 months for greater flexibility. MEPs have disagreed with the Council of Ministers in that they also want to put an end to so-called "opt outs" three years after the future directive enters into force. They also t ake the view that in some cases, and particularly t he medical profession, periods spent "on call" should be considered as working time. The review of the 2003 Working Time Directive, which began in 2004, sought primarily to examine the issue of voluntary opt -outs and to consider the implications of c ertain European Court of Justice judgments with regard to on-call duties, particularly of medical doctors. The E uropean Parliament gave its first-reading opinion at in 2005, but its proposal was blocked by the Council, which represents the Member States. After t hree years of discussions the Council reached a common position in June 2008 (with S pain and Greece voting against the motion and Belgium, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Hungary abstaining). However, in December 2008, the European Parliament, reaffirming its first -reading position, rejected a compromise arrangement that would have allowed Member States to evade the maximum limit of 48 hours a week. Aboli shing the "opt-out" clause Since its first reading of the review, Parliament has opposed the opt -out clause that the United Kingdom obtained in 1993, which allows it to disregard the maximum working time of 48 hours a week. This opt-out clause is currently applied not just in the United Kingdom but in other Member States too. However, the compromise that was negotiated by EU Member State governments stipulat es that if the working week in the EU is to remain limited to a maximum of 48 hours, any Member State may exercise a " non - participation" clause and in which case workers will be entitled to make use of it. For those workers who prefer the opt -out, the compromise provides for a special limit of 60 ho urs or 65 hours a week, calculated as an average over a reference period of three months. Calculating the working time as an average over 12 months At its second reading, on 17 December 2008, Parliament reaffirmed its position on removing the opt -outs three years after the directive comes into force, with 421 in favour, 273 against and 11 abstentions. Most MEPs in fact took the view t hat being able to calculate t he working time over a reference period of 12 months would provide sufficient flexibility. At the first reading, Parliament had proposed extending t he reference period for calculating the weekly working time from four months (according to the current text) to 12 months, so as to strike a balance between health and safety of workers and flexible working practices. EN Press Service www.elections2009.eu Treating on-call time as working hours At the second reading vote, over 500 MEPs additionally called for all hours spent on call to count as working time. The Council, for its part, intended drawing a distinction bet ween "active" o n-call time, during which a worker must be available at the workplace in order t o perform the activity or function in question when required by the employer, and "inactive" on-call time – which is not to be considered as working time – during which a worker is on c all but is not required by the employer t o carry out the said activity or function. Other provi sions Parliament also amended the text in order better to reconcile work and family life. MEPs called on employers to notify their employees well in advance of any proposed change to the working schedule. Workers would also have the right to ask for their working hours to be amended and employers would be obliged to take such requests into account. For rest periods, the general principle is that in those cases where normal rest periods cannot be taken work ers should be granted compensatory ones. Parliament strengthened this measure and said that compens atory rest periods should be granted "following periods spent on duty", in accordance with the law or by agreement bet ween the social partners. Parliament further clarified the situation of workers who are bound by more than one contract: working time should be defined as the sum of the periods of time worked under eac h contract. It also stipulated the categories of senior executive that would be exempt from the directive: CEOs, senior managers directly subordinate to them and other persons who have been directly appointed by a board of directors. Next step The directive is currently undergoing a conciliation procedure between P arliament and the Council with a view to reac hing a compromise before the May 2009 part-session.