Recent Developments in the EP EU by mikesanye


									Recent Developments in the European Parliament
                 and the EU

           Bulletin No. 30 : 8 October 2010

Prepared by the Oireachtas National Parliament Office, Brussels
          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

Contents                                                                                               Page

European Parliament – Political and Legislative Highlights ..............….......... 3
      Parliament takes stance on economic governance............……............…… 3
      Country of origin labelling to be introduced to third-country products.........3
      External Action Service hearings postponed......................…………......... 4
      New legislation governing air accident investigations................................. 4
      Visa liberalisation for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina............................ 5
      New legislation governing right to information on prescription drugs......... 5
      News legislation on pest control products................................................... 6

Inter-Parliamentary Activities …………………………………... ..................... 7
       Inter-parliamentary meeting on the Citizens Initiative.................................. 7
       Inter-parliamentary meeting on the European electoral procedure................8
       Upcoming inter-parliamentary events .......................................................... 8

European Commission News …………….......................………………………. 9
      EU civil servants pay to be reduced in 2011................................................. 9
      Commission adopts legislative package on EU economic governance....… 9
      Commission communication on taxing the financial sector.......................... 11
      "Innovation Union" launched by the Commission ...............………….……11
      New common rules against home-made explosives.........................…....... 13
      Commission approves assistance from EU Globalisation Fund to
      former SR Technics workers ....................................................................... 14
      Commission proposes energy labels for TVs, refrigerators, dishwashers
      and washing machines................................................................................... 14
      Commission consultation on revision of the tobacco products Directive .....14

European Council / Presidency News …………………………….........………. 15
      Progress on Directive on patient's rights in cross-border healthcare............ 15
      Council adopts legislation on rights to translation and interpretation
      in criminal proceedings................................................................................ 16
      Forthcoming Council meetings.................................................... …..………17

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010


   Parliament takes stance on economic governance
   The Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee has finalised the
   EPs draft contribution to the EU economic governance debate. The Committee
   broadly backs the Commission's legislative proposals, but goes further, calling for
   a permanent European monetary fund, European bonds, and the need to tackle
   budget surpluses as well as deficits.

   The draft position contains the following key points -

      Countries running high surpluses, in addition to those with high deficits,
       should be required to undertake adjustments as a result of the detailed
       country-by-country surveillance to be established.
      The procedure to monitor debt build up should be designed in such a way so
       as to allow for country specific conditions, such as Poland's request to be
       given some margin for manoeuvre while it reforms its pensions system.
      A permanent European Monetary Fund should be established after the
       Commission has carried out an assessment of the advantages and
       disadvantages. The fund would make permanent the current European
       Financial Stability Facility, which was established with a lifespan of three
      The Commission is requested to carry out a feasibility assessment of a system
       for the issuing of European bonds.
      A high-level group, chaired by the Commission, should be established with
       the task of studying potential institutional changes to ensure better economic
       governance, including the possibility of a European Common Treasury, so as
       to reduce the EU's dependence on national financial transfers.
      An increased role for the European Parliament is envisaged in the national
       budget vetting procedure. The idea is to raise awareness, visibility and
       accountability of the steps being taken.

   Although the draft position asserts that much can be achieved without needing to
   change the EU treaties, it also calls on the Commission to look into the limits
   which exist and develop ideas for Treaty reform to achieve real economic
   convergence among Member States.

   The draft position will now be put to a vote at the Parliament's plenary session at
   the end of October. Parliament will then set about considering the legislation with
   the Council to reform the legal system regulating the co-ordination of economic
   policy among Member States and the measures to be taken against those running
   excessive deficits.

   Country of origin labelling to be introduced to third-country products
   The EP's International Trade Committee has approved a proposed EU-wide
   system of country of origin markings for goods imported from third countries. The
   proposed EU regulation aims to ensure that customers are properly informed
   about a product's origin and also to protect them against possible health risks,

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

   counterfeiting and unfair competition. The Committee amended the draft proposal
   to ensure that the origin is stated in English in all Member States. The country of
   origin must be marked on most goods, except where such marking would damage
   the goods, or is not possible for technical reasons. If goods are packaged, the
   origin marking should be placed on the package, as well as the goods. The
   regulation, as approved in committee, will apply only to products which are
   destined for end consumers. The very long list of products covered includes
   glassware, textile and pharmaceutical products, tools and furniture. It does not
   cover fish, aquaculture products or foodstuffs, or goods originating in the EU,
   Turkey, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. The Commission proposal does not
   provided for a harmonised system of penalties where the rules are breached. The
   Committee advocates that the Commission must propose minimum common
   standards for penalties, to ensure that the rules are applied uniformly in all
   Member States.

   At present, there are no harmonised origin marking rules at EU level. The
   Commission submitted a draft regulation in 2005 but the procedure was blocked
   by some Member States. The regulation, once adopted by both Parliament and the
   Council, will be applicable in all Member States starting one year after its
   publication in the EU Official Journal. Parliament as whole is likely to approve
   the regulation before the end of this year,

   External Action Service hearings postponed
   EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has cancelled plans for several senior
   appointees to the EU's External Action Service to appear before the Parliament's
   Foreign Affairs Committee. The first hearing with the EU ambassador to Japan
   was cancelled following Ms. Ashton's intervention. She is unhappy that the
   Committee opted to hold the hearings in public, rather than in camera. Unlike the
   US Congress, the Parliament does not have the power to veto these appointments
   and public hearings had the potential to undermine the appointees. The Foreign
   Affairs Committee has "taken note" of the High Representative’s wish to
   reschedule the "exchange of views" with her nominee for EU ambassador to
   Japan. The Committee has also reaffirmed its willingness to discuss the format of
   these exchanges and considers these hearings as exchanges of views with
   nominee ambassadors, in order to impart to them Parliament's political priorities
   for the countries concerned.

   New legislation governing air accident investigations
   New legislation governing air accident inquiries has been approved by the
   European Parliament. The new EU regulation will ensure that a safety
   investigation into an accident is conducted free of pressure from regulatory or
   other authorities. To aid the investigators, whose purpose is not to attribute blame
   but to establish the facts, any statements taken from individuals by a safety
   investigator, as well as voice and image recordings inside cockpits and air traffic
   control units, will be used only for safety investigation, unless there is an
   overriding reason for disclosure to the judiciary. As is the case at present, the
   safety investigation authority will be obliged to make public the final accident
   report in the shortest possible time and if possible within twelve months of the

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

   date of the accident or serious incident. Each Member State must set up a civil
   aviation accident emergency plan and ensure that all airlines based on its territory
   have a plan to assist victims of accidents and their relatives. EU airlines, as well as
   non-EU airlines departing from an EU airport, will be obliged to produce a list of
   all those on board an aircraft within two hours of the notification of the occurrence
   of an accident. Their names can only be made public after the families or close
   relatives of the passengers have been informed by the authorities and only if they
   do not object. Airlines will also be required to provide passengers with the means
   to indicate a contact person in case of an accident. However, the regulation
   stipulates that this information may be used by the airlines only in the event of an
   accident and not be communicated to third parties or used for commercial
   A European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities will be set
   up to advise the EU institutions, make Europe-wide air safety recommendations,
   promote best investigation practices and strengthen national safety investigation
   authorities. The Cologne-based European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will
   have access to the safety occurrence reports produced by Member States and may
   be invited to advise in accident investigations.

   This regulation has already been agreed with the Council and will enter into force
   20 days after it is published in the Official Journal.

   Visa liberalisation for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina
   The European Parliament has supported proposals to exempt nationals of Bosnia-
   Herzegovina and Albania from visa requirements by the end of 2010, as these two
   countries now meet the required conditions on document security and combating
   illegal immigration and crime. Last year the EU decided to waive visa
   requirements for citizens of Serbia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav republic
   of Macedonia. At the time, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania did not meet all the
   criteria on illegal immigration, public policy and security. Last May, however, the
   Commission decided that the two countries had made good progress and
   recommended that Parliament and the Council give the go-ahead to abolish the
   visa requirements by the end of the year, for visits of less than three months. Only
   holders of biometric passports will however be exempt from the visa rules.
   Kosovo remains the only part of the Western Balkans still totally outside the
   process of visa liberalisation because of the split between Member States over
   recognition of its independence.

   The proposal to waive visa requirements still needs to be approved by the Council
   of Ministers by a qualified majority in November. The UK and Ireland have not
   opted in to this legislation.

   New legislation governing right to information on prescription drugs
   The EP's Public Health Committee has finalised the Parliaments draft position on
   a Commission proposal to ensure the availability of good-quality, objective and
   non-promotional information on prescription medicines. The Committee amended
   the draft legislation to emphasise patients' rights to information rather than making

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

   the provision of information an option for the pharmaceutical companies, as
   proposed by the Commission.
   The Committee wants to specify which data must be made available to the public
   by pharmaceutical firms, which information is optional and through which
   channels it is to be supplied At least the following would have to be made

      a summary of product characteristics and a publicly accessible version of the
       assessment report of the medicinal product;
      the diseases and health conditions which are to be treated with the medicinal
      information on how to prevent such diseases and conditions.

   Such information would have to be made available both in electronic form (on
   dedicated websites set up by the Member State) and in printed form, and in a
   format accessible for people with disabilities. In addition, pharmaceutical
   companies may provide the general public with other well-defined non-
   promotional information, for example on the environmental impact of the product
   or on prices. Printed material may only be sent to members of the public at their
   specific request.

   The plenary vote on the draft regulation is scheduled for December.

   News legislation on pest control products
   The European Parliament had completed its first reading of a draft regulation to
   update EU rules which govern "biocides", products ranging from insect repellents
   to water treatment chemicals. Agricultural pesticides are however covered by
   separate legislation. The new legislation will ensure that biocides to control pests
   and germs will be safer and more environmentally-friendly. New EU-level
   approvals for pest control products will streamline the application process for
   companies. Parliament also voted to ban the most toxic chemicals, especially
   those that are carcinogenic, harmful to fertility or interfere with genes or
   hormones. It also tightened up requirements to gradually replace other hazardous
   substances with less harmful alternatives. However, the regulation recognises that
   highly toxic substances may at times be needed to protect human and animal
   health or the environment, for example to control rodents in the absence of
   effective alternatives.
   A centralised, EU-level approval of biocides should be phased in gradually. The
   European Chemicals Agency should be tasked with assessing applications for new
   and low-risk products from 2013 and most other biocides from 2017. But Member
   States should continue to decide on products that potentially pose the biggest
   health risks and should also retain the right to impose extra controls on the use of
   products approved at EU level. Parliament also decided that, as in EU "REACH"
   rules for chemicals, companies should be obliged to share data from the tests they
   conduct on animals (in return for reasonable compensation) in order to prevent
   duplication of experiments. Lastly, with doubts remaining over the possible long-
   term health effects of nanomaterials, Parliament has insisted on the need for
   separate assessment of such particles in biocidal products.

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

   Parliament amendments to the draft legislation will now have to be considered by
   the Council of Ministers.


   Inter-parliamentary meeting on the Citizens Initiative
   The European Commission's draft proposal for the Citizens' Initiative was
   discussed by members of National Parliaments and the European Parliament at an
   inter-parliamentary meeting organised by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs
   on 30 September. The key features of the citizens' initiative are enshrined in the
   Treaty. In particular the Treaty requires that the signatories of a citizens' initiative
   should number at least one million and that they should come from a significant
   number of Member States. The initiative must also be within the framework of the
   Commission's powers.

   There was a general consensus at the meeting that the Citizens initiative is one of
   the major innovations of Lisbon Treaty and a unique opportunity to breathe new
   life into European democracy, to strengthen the participation of citizens in EU
   policy-making and to foster greater cross-border debate about EU policy issues.
   However, there are an number changes most participants would like to see to the
   Commission's proposal in order make it more user-friendly, to make sure that it is
   a powerful democratic tool and not abused and that it is works on an efficient
   manner. Common suggestions for improvement in the Commission's draft
   proposal included -

       -   an18 months time period for the collection of signatures
       -   a minimum age of 16
       -   be supported by citizens from one quarter rather than one third of all EU
       -   no ID should be required
       -   a uniform system for verifying identity
       -   an early admissibility check on the citizens' initiatives, as opposed to the
           Commission proposal that they be checked only after 300,000 signatures
           have been collected
       -   a public hearing following the submission of a valid initiative

   In addition, the proposal should avoid any unnecessary administrative burdens
   which might cause frustration among citizens. Online collection of signatures
   should also be supported to meet the requirements of the 21st century and address
   the e-generation. Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, who attended the meeting, said
   the Commission was moving towards finding a more appropriate solution to the
   question of checking admissibility and he also promised the Commission would
   provide a helpdesk for the citizens' initiatives. The revised text of the regulation
   will be put to a vote of the Constitutional Affairs Committee on 30 October and at
   the EP plenary session on 15 December. Both the Council and the Commission
   are anxious that the citizens' initiative should be put in place soon, as the first
   anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty is approaching.

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

   Inter-parliamentary meeting on the European electoral procedure
   The European electoral procedure was the subject of a discussion between
   members of National Parliaments and the European Parliament at an inter-
   parliamentary meeting organised by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.
   According to the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament has the right to
   initiate the reform of its own electoral procedure. In this context, the
   Constitutional Affairs Committee has started preparation of a proposal on the
   modification of the current rules. It’s rapporteur, UK Liberal MEP Andrew Duff,
   had prepared a draft report which presents a number of ideas for change. These
   include -

      An additional EU-wide constituency from which 25 MEPs would be elected
       from transnational lists.
      Regional constituencies in all countries with more than 20 million people.
      Every citizen would have two votes: one to choose a national or regional
       candidate and one to choose a candidate from the transnational list.
      An EU electoral authority established to oversee the transnational elections.

   In addition, polling days should be limited to Saturdays and Sundays , the timing
   of the election should be brought forward from June to May and a standard
   minimum voting age should be introduced across the EU. MEP Duff wants to
   increase the relevance and popularity of the European Parliament and he wants to
   have a new electoral system in place in time for the next EP elections in 2014.
   During the discussion, many doubts were raised about the scope and timetable for
   the electoral reform. While the need for reform recognised, many participants felt
   that following the long drawn out attempts at institutional reform which resulted
   in the Lisbon Treaty, the time was not right for further change and that it would be
   difficult to push changes through the Council.

   Upcoming Inter-Parliamentary Events
    Meeting of Chairpersons of the Committees on Scientific Research and
      Innovation, 17-18 October, Walloon Regional Parliament, Brussels.
    Meeting of Chairpersons of Foreign Affairs Committees (COFACC), 17-19
      October, Belgian Federal Parliament, Brussels.
    COSAC XLIV, 24-26 October, Belgian Federal Parliament, Brussels.
    Inter-parliamentary Committee Meeting, "Recognition of Professional
      Qualifications", 26 October 2010 , European Parliament, Brussels.
    Inter-parliamentary Committee Meeting, "Contract Law", 27 October 2010 ,
      European Parliament, Brussels.
    Joint Parliamentary Meeting, "Beyond the crisis: How should Europe respond
      to the challenges ahead?", 8-9 November 2010, European Parliament,

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010


   EU civil servants pay to be reduced in 2011
   Salaries of EU officials will drop by 0.4% in 2011, according to a calculation
   based on civil service pay in major EU countries. The salaries were due to
   increase by 3.7% in July 2009, but Member States halved the increase on austerity
   grounds, prompting an ongoing court case. EU staff regulations lay down clear
   rules on the annual adjustment of remuneration and pensions for EU civil servants,
   linking them to the salaries in eight Member States representing 76% of EU GDP.
   EU civil servants' salaries therefore move in line with those of national civil
   servants in the eight countries concerned (DE, FR, UK, IT, ES, NL, BE, LU).
   These rules (in normal circumstances) do not give any discretion to the
   Commission or the Council to apply other criteria. The method for adjustment
   under the Staff Regulations also reflects the developments in the cost of living in
   Brussels. This approach has prevented the need for contentious annual salary
   negotiations with the Council. EUROSTAT calculates the adjustment on the basis
   of statistical data supplied by the eight Member States and the Council has to take
   a decision before the end of each year. There is always a one year time lag
   because the annual adjustment of EU officials' salaries is based on figures
   provided by Member States that reflect developments during the previous
   reference year. According to the press release from the Commission, "EU civil
   servants share the pain with national officials when their salaries go down. This
   illustrates the effectiveness of the Method, which ensures parallelism between the
   changes in purchasing power of national civil servants and European civil

   Last year, the Council unanimously decided not to follow the Commission
   proposal for pay increases. Instead of the 3.7% calculated in accordance with the
   method laid down in the Staff Regulations, Council approved a 1.85% increase.
   The Commission, supported by the Parliament, subsequently submitted an action
   for annulment against the Council Regulation for breaching the Staff Regulations.
   The case is pending, the hearing is expected to take place in December 2010 and
   the judgment can be expected in the first half of 2011.

   Commission adopts package of legislative measures on EU economic
   The European Commission has adopted a legislative package to reinforce
   economic governance in the EU and the euro area. New enforcement mechanisms
   are foreseen for non-compliant Member States and the recently agreed "European
   semester" will integrate all revised and new surveillance processes into a
   comprehensive economic policy framework. For Member States of the euro area,
   the Stability and Growth pact will become more rule based. Sanctions will be the
   normal consequence when Member States are in breach of their commitments

   The legislative package is made up of six pieces of legislation - four proposals
   deal with fiscal issues, including a wide-ranging reform of the Stability and
   Growth Pact, while two new regulations focus on detecting and addressing
   effectively emerging macroeconomic imbalances within the EU and the euro area.

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

      A Regulation amending the legislative underpinning of the preventive part of
       the Stability and Growth Pact [COM(2010)526]
       The preventive part of the SGP is meant to ensure that EU Member States
       follow prudent fiscal policies in good times to build up the necessary buffer
       for bad times. The Commission may issue a warning in case of significant
       deviation from prudent fiscal policy for the euro area Member States.

      A Regulation amending the legislative underpinning of the corrective part of
       the Stability and Growth Pact [COM(2010) 522]
       The corrective part of the SGP is meant to avoid gross errors in budgetary
       policies. The regulation is amended so that debt developments are followed
       more closely and put on an equal footing with deficit developments as regards
       decisions linked to the excessive deficit procedure. Member States whose debt
       exceed 60% of GDP should take steps to reduce it at a satisfactory pace.

      A Regulation on the effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance in the
       euro area [COM(2010) 52]
       Changes in both the preventive and corrective part of the SGP are supported
       by a new set of gradual financial sanctions for euro-area Member States. In
       the preventive part, an interest-bearing deposit should be the consequence of
       significant deviations from prudent fiscal policy making. In the corrective
       part, a non-interest bearing deposit amounting to 0.2% of GDP would apply
       upon a decision to place a country in "excessive deficit". This would be
       converted into a fine in the event of non-compliance with the recommendation
       to correct the excessive deficit. To ensure enforcement, a "reverse voting
       mechanism" is envisaged when imposing these sanctions. This means that the
       Commission's proposal for a sanction will be considered adopted unless the
       Council turns it down by qualified majority. Interest earned on deposits and
       fines will be distributed among euro-area Member States neither in excessive
       deficit nor in excessive imbalance.

      A new Directive on requirements for the budgetary framework of the Member
       States[COM(2010) 523]
       Since fiscal policy-making is decentralised, it is essential that the objectives
       of the SGP are reflected in the national budgetary frameworks, i.e. the
       accounting systems, statistics, forecasting practices, fiscal rules, budgetary
       procedures and fiscal relations with other entities such as local or regional
       authorities. The directive sets out minimum requirements to be followed by
       Member States.

      A new Regulation on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic
       imbalances [COM(2010)527]
       The Excessive Imbalance Procedure (EIP) is a new element of the EU's
       economic surveillance framework. It comprises a regular assessment of the
       risks of imbalances based on a scoreboard composed of economic indicators.
       On this basis, the Commission may launch in-depth reviews for Member
       States at risk that will identify the underlying problems. For Member States
       with severe imbalances or imbalances that put at risk the functioning of EMU,
       the Council may adopt recommendations and open an "excessive imbalance
       procedure” (EIP). A Member State under EIP would have to present a

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

       corrective action plan that will be vetted by the Council, which will set
       deadline for corrective action. Repeated failure to take corrective action will
       expose the euro area Member State concerned to sanctions.

      A Regulation on enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic
       imbalances in the euro area [COM(2010) 52]
       If a euro-area Member State repeatedly fails to act on Council EIP
       recommendations to address excessive imbalances, it will have to pay a yearly
       fine equal to 0.1% of its GDP. The fine can only be stopped by a qualified
       majority vote ("reverse voting"), with only euro-area Member States voting.

   These proposals will now be considered by the Council, the European Parliament
   and the Economic and Social Committee.

   Commission communication on taxing the financial sector
   The Commission has published a Communication looking at the conditions and
   consequences of a possible introduction of supplementary taxes on the financial
   sector. This new taxation, for which it is proposed to launch a full impact
   assessment, could include either a financial transactions tax, if implemented at a
   global level, or a financial activities tax for Europe [Communication from the
   Commission – Taxation of the Financial Sector (COM(2010)549]. At global level,
   the Commission supports the idea of a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT), which
   could help fund international challenges such as development or climate change.
   A Financial Transactions Tax would tax every transaction based on its transaction
   value, resulting in substantial revenues.          At EU level, the Commission
   recommends a Financial Activities Tax (FAT) as the preferable option. If
   carefully designed and implemented, an "EU FAT" could generate significant
   revenues and help to ensure greater stability of financial markets, without posing
   undue risk to EU competitiveness. It would tax the corporations, rather than each
   actor involved in a financial transaction (as is the case with the FTT).

   The Commission will present its Communication to EU Finance Ministers at the
   ECOFIN Council on 19 October, and to EU Heads of State and Government at the
   European Council at the end of October. An EU position on financial sector
   taxation will be presented at the G20 Summit in November, with a view to
   encouraging international partners to agree on a global approach. The Commission
   will also begin an in-depth Impact Assessment to further examine the ideas it has
   set out the Communication, with a view to coming forward with policy initiatives
   in 2011.

   "Innovation Union" launched by the Commission
   The European Commission has launched "Innovation Union", which sets out a
   strategic approach to innovation in the EU [Communication from the Commission
   - Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative - Innovation Union - COM(2010)546].
   Innovation Union will focus the EU's efforts and co-operation with third countries
   on challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an
   ageing population. It will use public sector intervention to stimulate the private
   sector and to remove bottlenecks which prevent ideas reaching the market. These

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

    include lack of finance, fragmented research systems and markets, under-use of
    public procurement for innovation and slow standard setting. Innovation Union is
    a "flagship" in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Key elements in the strategy include -

       European Innovation Partnerships will mobilise stakeholders behind well-
        defined goals in areas which combine tackling societal challenges with
        potential for Europe to become a world leader. The Partnerships will step up
        R&D, coordinate investment, speed up standards and mobilise demand. The
        Commission will provide "seed corn" funds to attract stakeholder funding. A
        pilot Partnership on active and healthy ageing will be launched by early
        2011, aiming to extend by two years by 2020 the proportion of our lives in
        which we enjoy good health. More partnerships will follow on areas such as
        energy, "smart" cities and mobility, water efficiency, non-energy raw
        materials and sustainable and productive agriculture.
       The Commission has assembled 25 indicators in an "Innovation Union
        Scoreboard", and a checklist of the features of successful innovation systems.
        A new indicator will be developed on the share of fast-growing innovative
        companies in the economy. The Commission will also support an
        independent ranking system for universities.
       The Commission will bring forward measures to improve access to finance. It
        will propose a cross-border venture capital regime, work with the European
        Investment Bank to scale up EU schemes like the Risk-Sharing Finance
        Facility and appoint a leading figure to strengthen cross-border matching of
        innovative firms with investors.
       Existing research initiatives will be stepped up. The Commission will
        propose measures to complete the European Research Area, a legal
        requirement under the Lisbon Treaty, by 2014. This means more coherence
        between European and national research policies, cutting red tape and
        removing obstacles to researchers' mobility, such as the lack of transferability
        of pension rights. It also means maximising open access to results of
        publicly-funded research. The European Research Council and the European
        Institute of Innovation and Technology will be further developed. The
        Commission will reinforce the scientific base for policy making through its
        Joint Research Centre.
       The Commission will set up in 2011 a European Design Leadership Board
        and a European Design Excellence Label.
       The Commission will launch in 2011 a major research programme on public
        sector and social innovation and pilot a European Public Sector Innovation
        Scoreboard. It will launch a European Social Innovation Pilot to provide
        expertise for social innovators and propose social innovation as a focus of
        European Social Fund programmes. It will consult social partners on
        spreading the innovation economy to all occupational levels.
       The Commission proposes that governments set aside dedicated budgets for
        public procurement of innovative products and services. This could create a
        procurement market worth at least €10 billion a year for innovations that
        improve public services. The Commission will offer guidance on joint
        procurements between contracting entities from different Member States.
       In early 2011, the Commission will make a legislative proposal to speed up
        and modernise standard-setting to enable interoperability and foster

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

       Structural funding and state aid frameworks will be reviewed to boost
        innovation. The Commission will assist Member States to use better the €86
        billion of structural funds programmed for research and innovation for 2007-
        13. It will propose a framework for post 2013 Structural Funds with more
        focus on innovation. In 2011 it will review the state aid framework.

    Innovation Union will be discussed at the Competitiveness Council on 12
    October and at the European Council in December. Progress will be monitored as
    part of the governance of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

   New common rules against home-made explosives
   The European Commission put forward a proposal to limit access to chemicals
   which can be misused to produce home-made explosives [COM(2010) 473
   Proposal for a Regulation on the marketing and use of explosives precursors].
   Home-made explosives are tools used very frequently by terrorists and other
   criminals to perpetrate attacks. The main aim of the measures proposed is to
   reduce this risk by preventing access to selected highly concentrated chemicals by
   the general public. Home-made explosives were used, for instance, in the London
   bombings in 2005. While several legislative and non-legislative measures exist at
   international, EU and national level, these are either not specifically focused on
   the security risks associated with certain chemicals or do not cover the entire EU.
   The Regulation would ensure the same level of control over access to certain
   chemicals in the whole EU. This will prevent terrorists and criminals from taking
   advantage of differences in security regimes amongst EU Member States.

   Currently, the general public has relatively easy access to these chemicals. They
   are used in a wide range of products such as fertiliser mixtures, products for food
   preservation, for cleaning and disinfection or as components of rodenticides,
   fungicides, pesticides or herbicides. For example, hydrogen peroxide is a
   component of products for hair bleaching and dyeing, tooth bleaching, toilet
   cleaners and dishwashing detergents, but it can also be used to make improvised
   explosive devices. Acetone, used as a domestic solvent (superglue remover, nail
   polish remover, household cleaner), combined with other chemicals and properly
   treated, can also be transformed into an explosive. Other examples of explosive
   precursors include:

       Hexamine (used in shampoo / hair products or fuel tablets)
       Nitric acid (cleaning)
       Hydrochloric acid (swimming pool and fish tank pH adjuster)
       Sulphuric acid (can be found in car and other lead acid batteries; rust

   Sales of products that contain certain chemicals will be banned if this chemical
   exceeds a certain concentration. Most consumers will be able to use alternative
   products, which are already widely available, or will be able to obtain a license to
   continue purchasing these products. Some products will continue to be sold
   without any restrictions to consumers but their sales will be better controlled, for
   example through a mechanism for reporting suspicious transactions.

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

   Commission approves assistance from EU Globalisation Fund to former SR
   Technics workers
   The European Commission has approved an application from Ireland for
   assistance under the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The application
   was submitted after 1,135 employees were made redundant by SR Technics
   Ireland Ltd operating in the aircraft maintenance sector. The application will now
   be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for approval.

   The €7.4 million requested will help 850 of the most disadvantaged workers back
   into employment by offering them guidance and training, third level education and
   promotion of entrepreneurship and self-employment. The total estimated cost of
   the package is almost € 11.5 million, of which the European Union has been asked
   to provide EGF assistance of € 7.4 million.

   There have been 65 applications to the EGF since the start of its operations in
   January 2007, for a total amount of about €373.6 million, helping more than
   70,000 workers.

   Commission proposes energy labels for televisions, refrigerators, dishwashers
   and washing machines
   The European Commission has proposed revised energy labels for refrigerators,
   dishwashers, washing machines and for the first time, TVs. The labels are
   intended to help consumers choosing products which save energy and provide
   incentives for industry to develop and invest in energy efficient product design.
   For televisions, which represent almost 10% of the average household's electricity
   bill, it will be the first time ever that manufacturers will have to declare the energy
   efficiency of their products, using an A to G scale. The label must be clearly
   shown on the TV set and in advertisements. Energy labelling of refrigerators-
   freezers, dishwashers and washing machines has already been in use since 1992.
   Today 90% of appliances sold in the EU are in class "A", the best existing class.
   However, as new technologies allow more efficient energy consumption, the "A"
   scale will be extended upwards with three new classes: "A+", "A++", and "A+++"
   for products with a better than "A" performance.

   The four regulations for these labels will now have to be agreed by the European
   Parliament and Council and will enter into force 12 months after publication in the
   Official Journal.

   Commission launches consultation on revision of the tobacco products Directive
   The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the revision of
   the Tobacco Products Directive. The Commission is inviting all stakeholders to
   give their input on the different options and to comment on possible measures to
   improve awareness of the dangers of tobacco use, increase motivation to quit and
   discourage initiation of smoking. This consultation is a step towards the adoption
   of a legislative proposal planned for beginning of 2012. The Commission's
   initiative is in response to requests by the European Parliament as well as the
   Commission's report on the implementation of the Directive which identified

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

   potential areas for improvement. In the EP's Resolution of 2007 on the Green
   Paper "Towards a Europe free from Tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level",
   the Member States were asked to reduce smoking in young people by 50% by
   2025. Stricter rules on tobacco products would be an important contribution to
   achieve this target.

   The existing Tobacco Products Directive dates from 2001. It stipulates maximum
   limits in cigarettes for substances such as nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. It
   also requires manufacturers to put textual health warnings on tobacco products
   and bans terms such as "light", "mild" or "low tar". However, problems with the
   existing legislative framework include -

       Legislation in Member States varies widely across the EU and does not
        sufficiently address health and safety concerns relating to certain tobacco and
        nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes.
       The level of information for EU consumers about the dangers of smoking can
        vary considerably from one Member State to another. Pictorial warnings are
        currently only used in four Member States: Belgium, Romania, the UK and
       Regulations allowing or forbidding potentially harmful, addictive and
        attractive substances, including flavours, varies widely between Member
       Information on ingredients in tobacco is difficult to understand, compare and
        analyse at present. This is due to a variety of formats and reporting
        mechanisms in different Member States.

   The consultation is open until 19th November 2010.

4. European Council

   Progress on Directive on patient's rights in cross-border healthcare
   Following protracted discussions, the Council has reached a first-reading position
   on the draft directive concerning the application of patients' rights in cross-border
   healthcare [COM(2008) 414]. The draft directive provides clarity about the rights
   of patients who seek healthcare in another Member State. The Council's position
   on the draft directive aims to facilitate the access to safe and high-quality cross-
   border healthcare and to promote cooperation on healthcare between Member
   States. The compromise reflects the Council's intention to fully respect the case
   law of the European Court of Justice on the patients' rights in cross-border
   healthcare while preserving Member States' rights to organise their own
   healthcare systems. Some of the provisions included in the Council's position are
   as follows -

       As a general rule, patients will be allowed to receive healthcare in another
        member state and be reimbursed up to the level of reimbursement applicable
        for the same or similar treatment in their national health system.
       In case of "overriding reasons" (such as the risk of seriously undermining the
        financial balance of a social security system) a Member State may limit the
        application of the rules on reimbursement for cross-border healthcare.

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

        Member States may manage the outgoing flows of patients also by requiring
        a prior authorisation for certain healthcare .
       In order to manage incoming flows of patients and ensuring sufficient and
        permanent access to healthcare within its territory, a Member State of
        treatment may adopt measures concerning the access to treatment where this
        is justified by "overriding" reasons”.
       Member States of treatment will have to ensure, via national contact points,
        that patients from other EU countries receive on request information on
        safety and quality standards on their territory.
       Cooperation between Member States in the field of healthcare is
        strengthened, for example in the field of e-health and through the
        development of European reference networks which will bring together, on a
        voluntary basis, specialised centres in different member states.
       The recognition of prescriptions issued in another Member State is improved.
        As a general rule, if a product is authorised to be marketed on its territory, a
        Member State must ensure that prescriptions issued for such a product in
        another member state can be dispensed in its territory in compliance with its
        national legislation.
       Sales of medicinal products and medical devices via internet, long-term care
        services provided in residential homes and the access and allocation of
        organs for the purpose of transplantation fall outside the scope of the draft

    The Council's position includes a double legal basis for the draft directive,
    striking herewith a balance between the case law of the European Court and the
    Member States' competencies for the organisation and provision of health
    services. As far as e-health is concerned, the Council's position provides for a
    close collaboration between the Member States and the Commission in this field.

    The Commission accepted in full, in part or in principle most of the Council's
    amendments adopted at the first reading, as it considered that these amendments
    clarified or improved the Commission proposal and were consistent with the
    general aim of the proposal. However, the Commission takes the view that the
    Council's position contains elements departing from the Commission's proposal
    which may create risks of legal uncertainty. In order to allow the legislative
    process to move forward, the Commission did not stand against the position
    adopted by the Council by qualified majority, but it indicated to the Council that
    it may to support European Parliament amendments during second reading on
    eHealth, the scope of the prior authorisation, and increasing legal certainty for
    patients. The Council's position will now be forwarded to the European
    Parliament for its second reading.

    Council adopts legislation on rights to translation and interpretation in
    criminal proceedings
    The Council has approved new legislation to ensure translation and interpretation
    rights in criminal proceedings. The European Parliament had previously endorsed
    this legislation in June. It is the first ever EU measure setting common minimum
    standards for the rights of the defence in criminal matters. The law guarantees the
    right of suspects to obtain interpretation in their own language throughout

          Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU: 8 October 2010

    criminal proceedings, including when receiving legal advice, in all courts in the
    EU. Translation and interpretation costs will have to be met by the Member State,
    not by the suspect. The law is the first of a series of fair trial measures to set
    common EU standards in criminal cases. EU Member States now have three years
    to transpose the measure into their national legislation.

    Since "all in one" proposals on fair trial procedural rights have not received the
    unanimous support of EU governments when the Commission first made
    proposals in this area in 2004, the Commission is now taking a "step by step"
    approach, as foreseen in a series of measures set out in the Stockholm Programme
    The Commission will propose a series of measures over the next four years. A
    second measure, on the right to information , is currently before the Council and
    Parliament. The next measures, planned by the Commission for 2011, will be a
    Directive on the right to have access to a lawyer and on the right to communicate
    with relatives, employers and consular authorities.

   Belgian Presidency: forthcoming Council and Ministerial Meetings

   October 11-12:     Competitiveness
   October 14:        Environment
   October 15:        Transport, Telecommunications and Energy
   October 19:        ECOFIN
   October 25:        General Affairs
   October 25-26:     Agriculture and Fisheries
   October 28-29:     European Council

Prepared by the Oireachtas National Parliament Office, Brussels
Contact: John Hamilton
Phone: 0032 2 2842038
Mobile: 0032 474 289925


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