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Recent Developments in the EP EU



Recent Developments in the European Parliament
                 and the EU

    Bulletin No. 2: October-November 2008

   Prepared by the Oireachtas EU Liaison Office, Brussels
          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

Contents                                                                                                   Page

Lisbon Treaty ......... ………………………………………….......................…...                                             3
      Minister Martin meets with EP Constitutional Affairs Committee.............                               3
      Commission Vice President Margot Wallström on the "No" Vote ............                                  3
      Taoiseach's remarks to the European Council ............................................                  4
      President Sarkozy promises a "Roadmap" .................................................                  5
      French PM Fillon says "Ireland needs time and space"...............................                       5
      EP Constitutional Affairs Committee – Motion on Lisbon Treaty .............                               6

European Parliament – Political and Legislative Highlights ..............….......... 6

          European Parliament to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% ....................... 6
          New directive to improve the safety of toys ................................................ 7
          New legislation governing pesticides ........................................................... 7
          Revision of the Working Time Directive ..................................................... 8
          Temporary agency workers gain equal rights .............................................. 9
          Fisheries - Cod stocks recovery plan and discards ....................................... 10
          CAP Health Check Developments ................................................................ 10
          Airport Security - Use of body scanners at airports challenged .................. 11
          Common charge system for EU airports ....................................................... 12
          Financial Crisis - Commissioner Kroes gives the Commission position .....12
          Enlargement - Latest Developments ............................................................. 13

Inter-Parliamentary Activities …………………………………... ..................... 14
       COSAC XL.................................................................................................. 14
       COSAC Working Group on Subsidiarity .................................................... 15
       Climate Change Committee visits Brussels................................................. 16
       Joint Parliamentary Meeting on Agriculture ………………....................... 16
       New Speakers appointed in Slovenia and France ........................................ 17
       Upcoming inter-parliamentary events .......................................................... 17

European Commission News …………….......................………………………. 19
      Annual Legislative and Work Programme………………………………… 19
      Commission comments on Ireland's Bank Guarantee Scheme .................... 20
      New Trade Commissioner appointed ……...................................………… 20
      Communication Policy - New Partnership Approach ........................ ……. 21

European Council / Presidency News …………………………….........………. 21
      October European Council ....................................... ........................ ……. 21
      President Sarkozy addresses the European Parliament....................... ……. 22
      Czech Presidency of the EU ...................................... ........................ ……. 23

          Provisional timetable of inter-parliamentary meetings - Jan-July 2009........ 25

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

       Recent Developments in the European Parliament and the EU

                             October/November 2008


   Minister Martin meets with EP Constitutional Affairs Committee
   On 6th October Foreign Affairs Minister Martin addressed the European
   Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on the Lisbon Treaty
   (three members from this Committee represented the Parliament at the IGC which
   drew up the Lisbon Treaty). While the tone of the meeting was conciliatory with a
   general recognition that this was a European as well as an Irish crisis and while
   most speakers expressed their willingness to work with Ireland to find a solution,
   the political signal was that an early declaration of the Government’s road map
   was required.
   While acknowledging the deep disappointment in the Parliament about the
   outcome of the referendum, Minister Martin emphasised the need to explore ways
   of moving forward together which respects the democratic will of the Irish people
   as well as the interests of the EU partners which have ratified the treaty, within a
   reasonable timeframe. He went on to explain the Government’s strategy, which
   included the establishment of the new parliamentary Committee on Ireland’s
   future in Europe, which would provide a forum in which to conduct a vital
   national debate which would assist in pointing the way forward. The Committee
   has been given a demanding timetable which was indicative of the urgency and
   priority the Government attached to the issues which it would be exploring. By
   December, the Government expected to be able to identify more precisely the
   issues that need to be addressed and to outline the necessary steps to achieve
   Ireland's objective of continued full engagement in the Union.

   During the ensuing discussion, AFCO members expressed 3 main concerns -
    the lack of clarity regarding the European Parliament elections in June 2009
      and the new Commission - the application of “Nice” rules would see 12
      member states having a reduced number of MEPs, and a reduction in the
      number of Commissioners.
    it was essential that Ireland recognised the sovereign position of the 24
      member states (soon to be 26) who had ratified the Treaty.
    the lack of transparency regarding the funding of the “No” campaign.

   Commission Vice President Margot Wallström on the "No" Vote
   Commission Vice President Margot Wallström also spoke at the AFCO meeting
   regarding the Commission’s own post referendum euro-barometer survey and the
   Government’s more recent poll -
    The referendum was not about Ireland's membership in the EU. The Irish
       people remained strongly pro-European.
    The referendum result related very little to the Lisbon Treaty provisions.
       Taxation, Irish neutrality, abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia featured
       highly in the campaign even though these issues were not directly related to
       the Treaty.

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

      The main reason for the NO vote and for the abstentions was a lack of
       information and understanding of what the Treaty is about. 46% of absentees
       mentioned lack of knowledge or the high complexity of the Treaty as the main
       reason for staying away.

   She drew three conclusions:
    The "NO" vote was perceived as a "risk-free" option. The "NO" voters largely
      believed that their vote would allow the Irish Government to negotiate
      exceptions for Ireland.
    Concerns about the negative economic outlook and the employment
      influenced voter decisions. Discussions on the WTO negotiations, workers
      rights, the consequences of recent judgements of the Court of Justice also
      oriented the choices of the voters, and
    Young people were the least likely to vote, with only 3 out of 10 young adults
      going to the polls. Young adults were also twice as likely to vote NO as to
      vote YES. Similarly, women, as well as the less educated and less well-off
      social groups, were also more likely to abstain or vote no.

   Taoiseach's remarks to the European Council on the post-referendum situation
   in Ireland
   At the recent European Council, the Taoiseach outlined the post referendum
   situation in Ireland. He stressed that an event as significant as the referendum vote
   required time to be understood, for its significance to be absorbed, and for the
   basis for moving forward to emerge. In the aftermath of the referendum, the
   Government commissioned a comprehensive, independent study into the reasons
   why people voted the way they did. The survey results clearly showed that the
   Irish people wanted Ireland to continue to be fully involved in the Union and
   therefore the vote cannot be described as an expression of anti-EU sentiment.

   The Taoiseach explained that survey revealed that many people voted No or
   abstained because of a lack of knowledge or understanding of the Treaty. It is
   becoming increasingly clear that this problem applies not only to the Lisbon
   Treaty itself, but more generally to the EU and how it functions. A number of
   other issues also gave rise to very real concerns in the minds of the electorate. The
   Taoiseach said that his assessment so far was that the issues of most concern
   during the referendum campaign included:
    the future composition of the Commission;
    issues related to defence and Ireland’s tradition of neutrality;
    social/ethical matters, and
    taxation.

   Following the publication of the survey results, the Government established a
   Parliamentary Committee on Ireland’s future in the EU. This Committee would
   examine the issues that arose during the campaign, including the concerns
   highlighted by the survey, and how they sit in the broader context of Ireland's EU
   membership. The Committee is due to report by the end of November

   The Taoiseach said that it had been made clear that Ireland’s EU partners had no
   wish to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty. At the same time, he stressed that it must

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   also be clear that a satisfactory response to Irish concerns will have to be obtained
   if an acceptable way forward is to be found. To this end the Taoiseach said that
   Ireland would work closely with the Presidency, with the Member States and with
   the EU institutions between now and the December European Council. He was
   extremely mindful that there are important milestones in the course of 2009 which
   would require clarity at an early date.

   The Taoiseach concluded by stating that he fully understood the anxiety across the
   EU to bring the Treaty reform process to a conclusion and that the desire for a
   stronger, more cohesive and more effective Union had increased significantly in
   light of recent political and economic developments. By December, it was his
   aim that the necessary steps that needed to be taken next year will have been

   President Sarkozy promises a "Roadmap"
   The recent European Council took note of the analysis of the results of the
   referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon presented by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
   Member States accepted that the Irish Government would continue its
   consultations with a view to contributing to finding a way to resolve the
   ratification issue. On that basis, the European Council agreed to return to this issue
   at its meeting in December 2008 with a view to defining the elements of a solution
   and a common path to be followed.

   Following the European Council, French President Sarkozy addressed the
   European Parliament in Strasbourg. The President argued that the recent crises in
   Georgia and the financial markets demonstrated that it would be a major mistake
   not to proceed with institutional reform envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty since
   Europe often needs a powerful, rapid and united response, something which was
   difficult, for example, with the EU's six-month rotating presidency. The French
   Presidency was thus looking to a roadmap to find a solution by December to the
   question of Irish ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

   French PM Fillon says "Ireland needs time and space"
   The comments made by President Sarkozy were reiterated by French Prime
   Minister Francois Fillon when he addressed the COSAC meeting on 3 / 4
   November. The French Presidency would be looking to a detailed roadmap to find
   a solution by December to the question of Irish ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. A
   number of the delegations at COSAC expressed disappointment at the referendum
   result in Ireland. The European Parliament in particular was vocal in calling for
   early ratification of the treaty in Ireland, in time for the European elections in June
   2009. However Mr. Fillon was adamant that Ireland must be given the time and
   space to find and implement a solution to the ratification of the Treaty, without
   outside interference. Following their own experience of the rejection of the
   Constitutional Treaty in France, the French Presidency stressed that the political
   difficulties facing Ireland should not be under-estimated.

               Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

        EP Constitutional Affairs Committee – Motion on Lisbon Treaty
        The EP’s Constitutional Affairs Committee will vote at it’s extraordinary meeting
        on 17 November in Strasbourg on a resolution on the ratification of the Lisbon
        Treaty. The motion has been tabled by Committee Chairman Jo Leinin following
        visits by AFCO delegations to Ireland (where they addressed the Sub-Committee)
        and Czech Republic to discuss the stage of ratification in these countries. The
        strongly worded motion states that the institutional reforms contained in the
        Treaty of Lisbon are urgently needed to -
         ensure that the EU functions smoothly and in a balanced manner, with full
            democratic scrutiny
         provide clarity about the institutional provisions which will apply to the major
            political events of 2009, notably the European elections and the setting up of a
            new European Commission
         enable the European Union to play a much more coordinated and coherent
            role in international developments such as the recent the conflict between
            Russia and Georgia, the financial crisis and the increase in energy prices .

        The motion -
         Seeks the ratification of the Treaty in the remaining Member States to be
           achieved in good time.
         Insists that all possible efforts be made to ensure that the Treaty of Lisbon can
           enter into force before the European elections of 2009.
         Invites the Irish Government to come forward in the near future with a
           concrete proposal establishing the conditions under which the ratification
           procedure could be resumed in Ireland.
         Feels that of many of the concerns expressed by Irish citizens in the context of
           the referendum can be met without amending the treaty.
         Strongly expects that the European Council in December will reach a final
           agreement which will open the way for Ireland to resume the ratification
           procedure in spring 2009.

        The members have made 41 amendments to the draft motion. If adopted by the
        Committee, the motion will then be considered by the EP at the next plenary
        session in December, following which it will be forwarded to the European
        Council and to the Commission.


        European Parliament to reduce its carbon footprint by 30%
        The European Parliament has decided to reduce the institution's carbon footprint
        by 30%, thus going beyond the EU undertaking to cut greenhouse gas emissions
        by 20%. An in-house study demonstrated how the 30% reduction could be
        achieved, noting that the Parliament's recent shift to the use of only "green
        electricity" in its three sites has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by
        17%. A strategic plan with concrete measures based on the study will be put
        forward by the beginning of next year. Various emission reduction strategies are
        envisaged, e.g. changing behaviour, increasing energy efficiency and the use of

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   renewable energy. The main potential reduction opportunities suggested would
   require action in the areas of energy use, IT and building infrastructure.

   The European Parliament has recently been awarded the EMAS (Environmental
   Management Scheme) certification for its buildings in Luxemburg, so that it now
   has an EMAS certificate for all three places of work.

   New directive to improve the safety of toys
   The EP Internal Market Committee has considered a draft directive on toy safety.
   The aim of the new directive is to strengthen and update the rules on toy safety.
   The Committee gave their backing to the Commission's draft legislation but
   adopted amendments tightening restrictions on the use of chemicals and perfumes,
   clarifying the rules on warnings and totally banning the use of heavy metals in
   toy manufacture.

   The existing directive is considered to be insufficient to deal with the risks from
   imported toys, since 95% of toys in Britain and 80% in the EU as whole are
   imported from China. New types of toy have appeared on the market, with new
   materials and technologies being used for their manufacture. In addition, cases of
   toxic or dangerous toys being placed on the market, such as Mattel in 2007, have
   shown the need for tighter safety rules.

   A toy is defined under the directive as a product intended to be used for playing
   by children under 14 years of age. Excluded are items clearly intended for people
   aged fourteen or over, such as collectors items (including reproductions of real
   firearms or faithful scale models), fireworks and new products such as video
   games and game consoles. Toys for children under 36 months must meet higher
   safety standards. Amendments by the Committee seek to reduce the risk of
   suffocation or choking by small detachable parts or toys contained in food such as
   chocolate eggs.

   The Internal Market Committee also tightened up the restrictions on substances
   that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic saying these should be almost
   completely banned. The Committee also banned the use of heavy metals such as
   arsenic, cadmium, chromium (VI), lead, mercury and organic tin in the
   manufacture of toys. The Commission proposal bans the use of some allergenic
   fragrances. This will affect toys such as play dough and dolls. A limited number
   of substances listed will be allowed in educational toys designed to develop the

   The Committee's draft report will be put to the vote at Parliament's plenary in
   Strasbourg in December. Under the co-decision procedure, the Council and the
   Parliament must reach agreement on the proposal before it can be implemented.

   New legislation governing pesticides
   The EP Environment Committee is considering new legislation governing the
   production, licensing and use of pesticides. The European Commission proposal
   has been criticised by farming groups who say that the tough new rules on

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   pesticides would cause a large number of pesticides to be removed from the
   market, thereby seriously affecting farmers and food prices.

   The Committee confirmed the ban on certain highly toxic chemicals. However, if
   a substance is needed to combat a serious danger to plant health, it may be
   approved for up to four years even if it does not meet these safety criteria.
   The draft regulation on the authorisation of plant protection products will require
   a positive list of approved "active substances" (the chemical ingredients of
   pesticides) is to be drawn up at EU level. Pesticides will then be licensed at
   national level on the basis of this list. Products containing certain hazardous
   substances are to be replaced if safer alternatives are shown to exist. The
   Committee voted to speed up this process, cutting the maximum replacement
   deadline from five years to two. The overall aim is to encourage the use of the less
   toxic substances or of non-chemical alternatives.

   For the purpose of licensing pesticide products, the Commission and Council wish
   to divide the EU into three zones (north, centre and south), with mutual
   recognition by Member States within each zone. The Committee rejected this idea,
   opting instead for a single EU-wide zone, although individual States would be
   allowed to ban pesticides if they can substantiate their case, for example on
   grounds of local environmental conditions.

   The directive on the sustainable use of pesticides was adopted with an
   amendment stating that National Action Plans for reducing the volume of
   pesticides used should include quantitative targets. For toxic substances the target
   will be a minimum 50% reduction. The directive already states that aerial crop
   spraying will in general be banned. The Council wants to allow Member States to
   lay down that if the authorities do not respond within a set time to an application
   to spray, the application is deemed approved ("tacit consent"). The Environment
   Committee rejected this idea.

   To protect bodies of water from pesticides, the Council believes Member States
   should simply take "appropriate measures". The Committee has demanded "buffer
   zones" around water courses and even tougher measures where drinking water
   sources are concerned. Regarding areas where pesticide use must be kept to a
   minimum, such as parks and playgrounds, the Committee demanded that public
   healthcare facilities such as hospitals to be included and that "substantial no-spray
   zones" to be established around all these protected areas.

   There are clearly differences between the Council and the EP on these regulations.
   Negotiations will take place with Council on a number of points before the
   plenary vote in Parliament in December or January.

   Revision of the Working Time Directive
   Signalling a disagreement with the Council on the revised Working Time
   Directive, the EP's Employment and Social Affairs Committee has voted to set
   the maximum working time in the EU to 48 hours a week, specifying that the opt-
   outs from this rule should be removed within three years. The Committee made
   clear its disagreement with the Council (where a common position was adopted on

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   9 June 2008) notably regarding the non-participation clause, more commonly
   known as the “opt-out”, and on on-call time, an issue of particular importance for
   the health sector.

   The Council had proposed that the working week in the EU should continue to be
   limited to a maximum of 48 hours, except where a Member State invoked a non-
   participation clause. This would have allowed workers to agree to work longer,
   subject to certain limits: no more than 60 hours on average a week when
   calculated over a period of three months and when the inactive period of on-call
   time is considered as working time.

   On-call time means “any period during which the worker has the obligation to be
   available at the workplace in order to intervene, at the employer's request, to carry
   out his activity or duties." This issue principally concerns medical staff.
   The Council position is that the inactive period of on-call time should not be
   considered as working time unless national legislation, a collective agreement or
   an agreement between the social partners provides otherwise. This “inactive
   period” is when the worker is on-call but not in fact called upon to carry out his or
   her duties. The Committee recognise that there is a difference between active and
   inactive on-call time, but they nevertheless insist that the full period of on-call
   time, including the inactive period, should be counted as working time.

   Another feature of the directive is where workers have not been able to take their
   normal rest periods, they should be granted compensatory rest periods. According
   to the Council’s common position, it is for the Member States to determine what is
   a reasonable period within which such compensatory rest should be granted. The
   EP Committee, on the other hand, decided that such compensatory rest periods
   should be granted at the end of the working period.

   Informal negotiations with the Council will now take place with a view to
   reaching a possible compromise ahead of the plenary vote in Parliament at the
   December session in Strasbourg.

   Temporary agency workers gain equal rights
   The European Parliament has adopted a directive on temporary agency work
   which enables temporary workers to be treated equally and receive the same pay
   and conditions as the permanent staff of the employer company. The directive will
   apply from the first day of employment, except in the UK where a 12 week rule
   will apply. The agreement between the social partners in the UK means the
   directive can be adopted after being blocked in Council since 2002.

   The 2002 proposal for a directive, tabled in the context of the Lisbon jobs and
   growth strategy, established the principle of non-discrimination between
   temporary workers and those of the employer company, for temporary workers
   hired for more than six weeks. An exception to this principle was provided for in
   the case of collective agreements. The directive will guarantee equal treatment in
   the "essential conditions" of work and employment, i.e. working hours, overtime,
   breaks, pay, etc.

   Parliament won an undertaking that equal treatment must apply from the first day.

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   Furthermore, any exceptions to this principle will be limited, and must be
   governed by agreements between the social partners, collective negotiations or
   agreements reached by the social partners at national level.

   Member States now have 3 years to implement the legislation, regulations and
   administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive

   Fisheries - Cod stocks recovery plan and discards
   The cod recovery plan, established in 2004, aims to ensure the reconstitution of
   cod stocks within a ten-year period to precautionary levels advised by scientists.
   The cod stocks covered by this plan were those in the North Sea, Kattegat and
   Skaggerak, the Eastern Channel, the Irish Sea and West of Scotland.
   Recent scientific advice has indicated that the reductions in cod catches arising
   from the management measures have been far from sufficient to allow the cod
   stocks to rebuild. None of the four cod stocks covered by the recovery plan show
   clear signs of recovery, although stocks in the North and Celtic Seas are showing
   some signs of improvement.

   In a discussion with Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg, the European Parliament
   has called for all cod caught to be landed, rather than discarded, so as to enable
   proper scientific evaluation of stocks. They also sought the inclusion of the Celtic
   Sea (south of the Irish Sea) in the cod recovery plan.

   Among the proposals made by the European Parliament in its response to the
   Commission's cod recovery plan -
    all cod caught to be landed, rather than discarded, so as to ensure proper
     scientific evaluation of stocks;
    Member States as well as fishermen themselves should be encouraged to bring
     in measures to reduce fish mortality and discards;
    The 15% +/- margin for Total Allowable Catch, established the previous year,
     should be generally applicable;
    2004-2006 should be used as reference years, rather than 2005-2007, to ensure
     the highest quality and reliability of data

   Commissioner Borg said that the Commission would soon publish a proposal for
   a European regulation on reducing discards. He clarified that
   although the cod stock in the Celtic Sea is in better shape than other areas, 'it is
   still in very bad shape' and would be included in the recovery plan.

   Under the current treaty arrangements, the European Parliament is consulted on
   proposals in the area of fisheries policy, but the final say lies with the Council of

   CAP Health Check Developments
   A much smaller reduction in support for farmers than proposed by the European
   Commission, an increase of just 1% in milk quotas over two years, the option for
   Member States to provide extra help for milk producers and livestock farmers,
   keeping the link between subsidies and production and retaining intervention

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   schemes for sensitive sectors are among the main changes sought by the EP's
   Agriculture Committee's to the Commission's CAP "Health Check" proposals.

   More than a thousand amendments to the Commission's proposal had been tabled
   by MEPs, reflecting the diversity in the situations facing farmers in the EU and the
   importance attached by Members to getting the right approach to the last major
   changes to be made to the CAP until the next negotiations on the EU's financing

   The plan to reduce further and faster direct support to farmers in order to
   strengthen Member States' rural development programmes ("modulation") was
   one of the most hotly disputed measures. The Committee asks that the current 5%
   rate of modulation for farmers receiving more that €5000 in EU subsidy should
   only be increased to 7% by 2013, rather than the 13% proposed by the
   Commission. Other amendments sought by the Committee call for the link
   between support and production to be kept for livestock farmers in the current
   context and for small producers (including fodder, protein and flax production).

   The proposal to raise Member States' milk quotas by 1 per cent to pave the way
   for their abolition in 2015 was also the subject of controversy within the
   Committee, given the difficult situation faced by dairy farmers in several Member
   States, where sale prices are already very low, while in other Member States
   farmers want to increase production to take advantage of new opportunities on the
   world markets. The Committee favours an increase in quotas by 1% in 2009 and
   2010, but they ask the Commission to review the situation in 2010 before making
   proposals for later years.

   Other amendments sought by the Committee aim to allow Member States to use
   up to 15% of their community funding envelope to support hard-hit sectors such
   as livestock and dairy farming and to contribute to insurance and mutual schemes
   (so-called Article 68 support), to widen insurance coverage, notably for all type of
   climate damage and for major losses caused by animal or plant disease, and to
   increase Community co-financing of these insurance schemes and mutual funds.

   While the Council are only required to consult with the Parliament on Agricultural
   issues, the French Agriculture Minister, Michel Barnier, has committed to deal
   with the European Parliament as if co-decision between Parliament and the
   Council on agriculture was already in place, as envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty.

   Airport Security - Use of body scanners at airports challenged
   The Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has
   expressed severe reservations about the Commission proposal for changes to
   existing airport security measures. The Commission has proposed a draft
   regulation supplementing the existing standards on civil aviation security, which
   inserts 'body scanners' among the permitted methods for screening of passengers
   in EU airports, i.e. machines producing scanned images of persons as if they were
   naked, equivalent to a virtual strip search. The Parliament believes that this draft
   measure could exceed the implementing powers as the measures foreseen cannot

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   be considered mere technical measures related to security, as they would have a
   serious impact on the fundamental rights of citizens.

   The Committee asks the Commission to:
       carry out a fundamental rights impact assessment
       consult the European Data Protection Supervisor
       carry out a scientific and medical assessment of the possible health impact
         of such technologies
       carry out an economic, commercial and cost-benefit impact assessment.

   The Committee considers that that all aviation security measures, including use of
   body scanners, should respect the principle of proportionality. In a strongly
   worded statement, the Committee said that it reserved the right to verify the
   compatibility of such measures with human rights and fundamental freedoms with
   the EU legal services.

   Common charge system for EU airports
   Common principles for levying charges at European airports and which will
   prevent individual airports abusing a dominant position on the market are set out
   in a draft directive which has been adopted by the European Parliament.

   As adopted, the directive will apply only to airports with an annual throughput of
   over five million passengers per year, rather that the one million proposed by the
   Commission. Applying the rules to smaller airports would have imposed
   administrative and bureaucratic burdens, to no great effect, on airports that are not
   in competition due to geographic and structural factors. However, the directive
   will apply to the largest airport in each Member State, irrespective of passenger
   numbers. In Ireland, only Duplin Airport falls under the directive.

    The proposal also provides for mechanisms for consulting airport users, and for
   resolving disputes between users and airports. Parliament says these are necessary
   to establish a level playing field for economic operators and ultimately also to
   safeguard consumer interests.

   The European Parliament also saw to it that any differentiation in airports' charges
   will have to be based on transparent and objective criteria. The Council Common
   Position, published on 23 June, also makes it clear that there should be a national
   independent supervisory body, rather than merely regional ones, which is also in
   line with Parliament's position.

   Incentives will be permitted for new routes to disadvantaged and outermost
   regions. In addition, charges for the provision of services to disabled and reduced-
   mobility passengers will be excluded from the scope of the Directive

   Financial Crisis - Commissioner Neelie Kroes gives the Commission position
   Speaking to the EP Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Competition
   Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that an EU-wide response to the banking crisis
   would be preferable to unilateral action. Competition rules were part of the

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   solution rather than an obstacle to it, she argued. The current crisis did not mean
   that competition rules should not be applied. They are the way to ensure a
   common framework, even when Governments have to act at national level.
   Unilateral action was not the way forward, she said, as ignoring state aid rules
   would tempt Governments into a subsidy race, with healthy companies being put
   out of business because others get subsidies.

   On Government guarantees for bank deposits, she said that in this specific context,
   general guarantees were be a legitimate component of public policy response. The
   Commission would be looking to provide legal certainty on this subject. Her
   preference would be for an EU solution as that is the best way to coordinate
   national actions and make them more effective.

   On the Irish guarantee scheme, she said concerns had been raised about its very
   large scope, and at first it had seemed to discriminate according to nationality, but
   she welcomed the Irish Governments willingness to apply the scheme to other
   banks with significant operations in Ireland. However, the system could do with
   some fine tuning to be brought in line with EU law, and she stressed that she was
   in contact with the Irish authorities. The German guarantee policy for retail
   deposits, she said, was similarly being discussed with the German authorities, but
   at first sight it did not seem problematic for competition.

   The revised plan to rescue Hypo Real Estate did not appear to need any change to
   the positive decision given by the Commission on the previous plan, as it was only
   the private participation that was being increased, she said. On Fortis, on the other
   hand, the rescue plans were now completely different from the previous approach
   and the Commission would have to consider them afresh. Ms. Kroes encouraged
   all Member States to involve her team as soon as possible in developing any
   rescue plans as this would make it simpler to ensure they were compatible with
   competition rules.

   Regarding EU competition rules, Ms Kroes insisted that there was no doubt at all
   that these remained in place, saying that “without them we are lost in a
   wilderness; a jungle without a level playing field".

   Enlargement - Latest Developments
   Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn met with the EP's Foreign Affairs
   Committee to present the annual strategy paper for the EU's enlargement policy.
   Although the financial crisis has had a limited effect so far on the candidate
   countries and the Western Balkans' economies, these countries were beginning to
   be affected by slow growth and high unemployment, said the Commissioner .
   According to the Commissioner, the EU's Stabilisation and Association
   Agreements for the countries of the Western Balkans and the Central European
   Free Trade Agreement may act as an anchor in these difficult times.

   Based on the progress made by Croatia, it should be possible to reach the final
   stage of the accession negotiations by the end of 2009, provided that the country
   fulfils all the necessary conditions. The two recent murders on Zagreb's streets
   have underlined the challenges facing the country in the fight against corruption

               Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

        and organised crime. The restructuring of the shipyards also remains an important
        condition, according to the Commissioner.

        Regarding Turkey, the Commissioner said that the Constitutional Court cases
        highlighted the need for urgent revision of the rules governing political parties,
        and also for a wider constitutional reform. He called on Turkey to re-energise its
        reform efforts to advance fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. He also
        expected that Turkey would contribute to a favourable climate to achieve a
        comprehensive settlement on the reunification of Cyprus.

         Responding to comments that the Commission set a date for one country - Croatia
        - and not the other Balkan countries, the Commissioner said that if Serbia carried
        out the necessary reforms and fulfil the conditions, it might still be able to obtain
        candidate status in 2009. The EU expects in particular Serbia to take a
        constructive approach to EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in
        Kosovo) deployment. In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the good
        results in judicial and police reform are overshadowed by shortcomings in the
        political criteria, which is fundamental if accession negotiations are to start, said
        Mr. Rehn.

        Strengthening the rule of law and administrative capacity remains a challenge for
        Montenegro. Bosnia's leader's challenge, meanwhile, is to achieve the degree of
        political consensus that has delivered progress on EU integration elsewhere in the
        region. EU-related reforms must move to the top of the agenda, according to the


        COSAC XL, Paris
        COSAC, the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of
        Parliaments of the European Union, is the principal forum for co-operation
        between Committees of national parliaments dealing with European affairs. The
        XL COSAC was held in France at the French Senate in Paris on 2/3 November
        2008. The Joint Committee on European Scrutiny was represented by the
        Chairman, John Perry TD and by Michael Mulcahy TD. The Joint Committee on
        European Affairs was represented by the Chairman, Bernard Durkan TD. The
        main guest speakers at the meeting were Mr. Francois Fillon, Prime Minister of
        France, Mr. Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Secretary of State for European Affairs and Mr.
        Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission. Other speakers
        included Mr Claude Mandil, former director of International Energy Agency, Mr.
        Max-Peter Ratzer, Director of Europol and Mr. Jose Luis de Mota, President of

        The conference focused on topical issues such as the French presidency and its
        responses to recent crises, climate change, energy security, the role of the Treaty
        of Lisbon in bringing Europe closer to its citizens and parliamentary scrutiny of
        Europol and Eurojust. The "contribution and conclusions" of the conference,
        which are brought to the attention of the EU institutions, addressed the following

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

      On the financial crisis, COSAC welcomed the measures to be taken to boost
       growth and employment and the objective of working on a reform of the
       international financial system, based on the principles of transparency, sound
       banking, responsibility, integrity and world governance.

      On Climate Change, COSAC stressed that the economic slowdown must not
       lead to a climb down from the EU objectives in terms of sustainable
       development and climate strategy and called for overall agreement on the
       legislative package before the end of 2008.

      On energy security, the development of energy savings, the diversification of
       energy sources and of routes of transportation, cooperation between national
       transmission system operators and the definition of an investment policy in
       energy infrastructures (and especially in electric and gas interconnections)
       were considered to be the keys to improving energy security.

      COSAC hoped that the concerns expressed by the Irish people in the
       referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon will be addressed and that the elements of
       an acceptable solution would be defined by the end of the year. The
       provisions contained in the Treaty would help bring Europe closer to its

      Following concerns expressed by the Finnish delegation, COSAC took the
       opportunity to express its concerns about the Commission proposal for a
       regulation regarding public access to documents, which should not limit the
       access to documents in comparison with the current situation. The European
       Parliament and the Council were invited to guarantee full public access to
       European documents, according to the transparency principle.

      While stressing the importance of developing police and judicial cooperation
       in the EU through Europol and Eurojust, COSAC underlined the need for
       cooperation in these fields to be the subject of scrutiny by the European
       Parliament, in association with national parliaments. The European
       Commission was requested to issue a consultation document before finalising
       the proposal for regulations concerning the activities of Eurojust and Europol

   COSAC Working Group on Subsidiarity
   The report of the Working Group of the Nation Parliaments Representatives to the
   EU, on ideas for co-operation in the application of Protocol 2 of the Lisbon
   Treaty on the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality was considered at the
   meeting. COSAC concluded that IPEX was the most appropriate platform to
   transmit at an early stage information on subsidiarity and the official decisions of
   national parliaments. COSAC also encouraged national parliaments to make good
   and effective use of the network of their representatives based in Brussels. This
   existing network is the most efficient way to exchange regular, early and informal
   information on the results of national parliaments’ scrutiny activities. It also
   considered that the COSAC meetings were the appropriate body for political
   exchanges on subsidiarity and that the COSAC secretariat should inform national
   parliaments when the threshold for a “yellow” or “orange card” has been reached.

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   Fact-finding visit to Brussels by the Joint Committee on Climate Change and
   Energy Security
   The Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security visited Brussels on
   3/4 November for a series of meetings on the Commission's climate change and
   energy legislative package. The Committee was represented by the Chairman,
   Sean Barrett TD and by Sean Aylward TD. The delegation was accompanied by
   advisors Mr. Peter Brennan and Mr. David Taylor. The visit commenced with an
   exchange of views the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on Climate
   Change, sitting in public session. This was followed by a meeting with senior
   officials from the Irish Permanent Representation for a briefing on the progress of
   the Climate Change package in the Council. The delegation also had an
   opportunity to meet and exchange views with the Parliaments rapporteurs on the
   climate change package - Mrs Avril Doyle (Emissions Trading Scheme), Mrs Satu
   Hassi (Effort Sharing) and Mr Chris Davies (Carbon Capture and Storage). The
   visit concluded with meetings with Energy Commissioner Andris Pielbags, and
   officials form the Commission's Environment Directorate. During the various
   meetings, the delegation took every opportunity to highlight Irish concerns, in
   particular the disproportionate effect and consequent difficulties which the
   legislative package would have on Irish agriculture.

   Joint Parliamentary Meeting held in Brussels on Agriculture
   On 3-4 November, the EP's Agriculture Committee hosted a meeting with national
   parliaments on the future of European agriculture (note: a delegation from the
   Oireachtas Agriculture Committee had been due to attend the meeting, but had to
   cancell due to pressing Dail business).

   Opening the meeting, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering said
   that the EU's aim must be to deliver a productive, high-performance, future-
   oriented agricultural sector, which preserves rural areas. In 2013, the EU will have
   a new budgetary framework, and if the Lisbon Treaty is in force, the EP will have
   acquired co-decision powers in the agricultural field and can intervene to shape
   EU agricultural policy along with national parliaments, whose powers will also be

   During the debate many delegations expressed concern that the European
   Commission's proposal did not consider how the CAP should tackle the global
   food crisis and increased energy demand, or how it should evolve after 2013.
   Justifying the Commission proposals, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer
   Boel said that it " takes time to turn a supertanker around". After 2013, the EU
   must leave more room for the market to work, retaining safety nets only for
   genuine crises, and justifying agricultural spending to citizens by developing rural
   development policy and taking more account of the environment. However, in the
   debate, most speakers called for markets to be regulated and a strong agricultural
   policy sustained, without however returning to pre-1992 CAP management
   systems. The need to simplify the rules and provide more predictability for
   farmers were also recurrent themes. Many speakers also voiced concerns about the
   future of the dairy sector, given that quotas are to be eliminated in 2014.

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   There was a consensus that the CAP's future lay in food quality and safety, safe
   production and in protecting the diversity of landscapes. Regulation must not be
   too strict, as this can damage markets, and agricultural policy must be fairer to
   developing countries, so as not to de-stabilise their markets.

   On development aid, the majority of contributors observed that development aid
   policies should be refocused on agriculture, that farmers worldwide need
   sufficient incomes to enable them to continue production, and that international
   trade negotiations need to produce a more balanced agreement for developing
   countries. Several speakers advocated an "agricultural waiver" at the WTO, whilst
   others stressed the importance of backing new technology research to boost

   New Speakers appointed in Slovenian National Assembly and French Senate
   In Slovenia, following elections to the Slovene National Assembly in September,
   Mr Pavel Gantar has been appointed as President of the National Assembly. Mr.
   Gantar had been a long-serving MP with the Zares Party. Mr. Gantar, aged 58,
   holds a doctorate in social sciences. He served as Minister for the Environment
   and Spatial Planning from 1994 to 2000, and Minister for the Information Society
   in the 2001-2004 period.

   In France, Following the elections to the French Senate in September this year,
   Mr. Gérard Larcher was elected as President of the Senate. Mr. Larcher, (age 59),
   is a member of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party. He
   was a Senator for the Yvelenes département from 1986 to 2004 and again since
   2007. He was a Junior Minister in the Ministry of Social Affairs and was the
   Mayor of Rambouillet from 1983 to 2004.

   Upcoming Inter-Parliamentary Events

   Joint Parliamentary Meeting on Energy and Sustainable Development
   On 20-21 November 2008, the French Presidency and the European Parliament
   will host a      Joint Parliamentary Meeting on "Energy and Sustainable
   Development" in Strasbourg. Issues to be discussed at the meeting will include
   Europe's energy policy and security of supply, energy innovation and sustainable
   development. The key speakers at the meeting will be Mr Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the
   French Minister responsible for European Affairs, Mr José Manuel Barroso,
   President of the European Commission and Mr Stavros DIMAS, Commissioner
   for Environment. A delegation from the Oireachtas Climate Change and Energy
   Security Committee is scheduled to attend the meeting.

   Joint Committee Meeting on Culture
   On Monday 8 December, the European Parliament's Committee on Culture, in
   cooperation with the French presidency will host a Joint Committee Meeting in
   Brussels on "Culture and Education". The meeting will be attended by Mr
   Leonard Orban, EU Commissioner for Multilingualism and Mrs Viviane Reding,

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. Topics for discussion at
   the meeting include language learning, multilingualism and intercultural
   dialogue, and cultural diversity and the digital economy . The relevant
   Oiireachtas Committees (Education, Arts) have been invited to the meeting.

   Forum on Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters
   On 2 December the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, in
   association with the French Presidency will organise a forum with national
   parliaments on the topic of judicial cooperation in civil matters. Key speakers will
   include Mme. Rachida Dati, French Minister of Justice and Mr. Jacques Barrot,
   Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for Justice,
   Freedom and Security. The Oireachtas Justice Committee has been invited to

   Meeting of Secretaries-General
   Secretaries-General of the National Parliaments of the EU and of the European
   Parliament will meet in Paris on 15 December to finalise the agenda for next
   February's Conference of Speakers. At the meeting the Clerk of the Dáil will be in
   a position to brief his colleagues on the report of the newly formed sub-
   Committee on Ireland’s Future in the European Union.

   Thematic Visits to the European Parliament - Library and Research
   A recent initiative in the European Parliament has been the introduction of
   "thematic" study visits for officials of national parliaments .The aim of these visits
   is to enhance dialogue between the European Parliament and national parliaments
   and between national parliaments themselves, and to promote the exchange of
   best practices and support the creation of a "community" of European
   parliaments. On November 27/28 officials from the Oireachtas Library and
   Research Service will participate in a thematic visit entitled "Meeting
   Parliamentarians' needs - shared experiences of Parliamentary Libraries". The
   purpose of the event is to share ideas on some concrete and practical aspects of
   library activities in parliamentary institutions in order to provide fresh insight into
   the provision of library and information management services to parliamentarians.

   Meeting of EU Liaison Officers
   On 28/29 November, the European Parliament will host a meeting of EU Liaison
   Officer in Brussels. The meeting will provide an opportunity for an exchange of
   views on current state and future developments concerning relations between the
   EP and National Parliaments and on administrative cooperation between the
   European Parliament and the National Parliaments. The role of Parliaments
   during EU Presidencies will also be discussed, during which the inter-
   parliamentary activities planned under the Czech Presidency of the EU Council
   will be outlined.

   Inter-Parliamentary Meetings during the Czech Presidency
   The Czech Republic will assume the presidency of the EU on 1 January 2009. A
   provisional timetable has been released which indicates that there will be 13 inter-
   parliamentary meetings held in the first 6 months of next year. Of these, 7 will be
   held in Prague and 5 in Brussels (co-hosted with the European Parliament). The
   COSAC Chairpersons meeting will take place in the Czech Senate on 9/10

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   February, with the plenary session taking place on 10/12 May in the Czech
   Chamber of Deputies. The full timetable is attached.


   Annual Legislative and Work Programme
   The European Commission has published its 2009 Legislative and Work
   Programme which announces the main initiatives it intends to present next year. In
   2009, the Commission will follow up on the initiatives launched in recent weeks
   to address the financial crisis and to set out a European framework to address the
   economic downturn. At the same time, the Commission will use the final year of
   its mandate to complete the work already under way.

   The programme will seek to consolidate the achievements of the last four years
   by maintaining the focus on delivering results for European citizens and
   businesses. The Commission will prioritise its work to lead the response to the
   financial crisis and tackle the issues of concern to citizens like climate change,
   migration and development so that Europe can continue to shape the effects of
   globalisation. The result is a Work Programme with 12 strategic initiatives, 37
   priority initiatives, 33 simplification proposals and 20 withdrawals.

   The Commission's priorities are structured around 4 pillars:

      On Growth and Jobs, the Commission will focus on economic reform and
       specific measures aimed at rebuilding confidence to help Europe deal with the
       economic and financial crisis, through the work of the renewed Lisbon
       Strategy and the framework for recovery presented recently. Proposals will be
       made in the area of financial markets and financial supervision.

      On Climate Change and Sustainable Europe, the key challenge will be
       achieving a successful agreement at the Copenhagen meeting. The EU can
       show leadership in this area with agreement on the energy and climate change
       package in December. In 2009 the emphasis will shift to implementation.

      The Commission will target measures which impact directly on citizens. This
       will include specific action to help citizens as consumers, and a major new
       direction for policies on freedom, security and justice. In this area, the fight
       against terrorism and organised crime will be a particular focus.

      Internationally, the Commission will support Georgia's reconstruction and
       reform efforts to adapting transatlantic relations to the new US administration.
       Enlargement, the neighbourhood, and world trade will remain key priorities.

   Additionally, promoting a simpler and better regulatory environment without
   unnecessary administrative burdens will remain a key priority. The programme
   sets out specific measures on simplification, covering areas from agriculture to
   environment and from accounting to transport, as well as on the withdrawal of
   pending proposals.

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   Finally, inter-institutional communication priorities will be agreed by the Council
   of Ministers, the European Parliament and the Commission under the recent joint
   declaration on Communicating Europe in Partnership.

   Commission comments on Bank Guarantee Scheme in Ireland
   Following the initiative by the Irish Government to introduce a guarantee scheme
   for bank deposits and debt, the Commission expressed concerns that the scheme
   might be "anti-competitive". These concerns related to the maintenance of the
   integrity of the single market in financial services and compliance with EU state aid
   principles, in particular as regards:

    non-discriminatory coverage of banks operating in the Irish market, regardless of
    a pricing mechanism that covers the funding costs of the scheme and ensures a
       fair contribution over time by the beneficiary banks;
    appropriate safeguards against abuse of the scheme;
    accompanying measures to address structural shortcomings of certain banks, in
       particular if the guarantee has to be called upon;
    safeguards on the use of guaranteed subordinated debt (lower tier-2 capital), in
       particular regarding the solvency ratios of the beneficiary banks;
    a review at 6-monthly intervals of the continued necessity for the scheme, in the
       light of changes in financial market conditions.

   Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan TD, and the European Competition
   Commissioner, Ms Neelie Kroes, met in Luxembourg to discuss the proposed
   legislation. Following this meeting and a series of constructive and positive
   exchanges, the government submitted to the European Commission a number of
   clarifications and modifications to the scheme. The European Commission
   stressed that at all times it had sought to ensure, in cooperation with the Irish
   authorities, the achievement of the objective of stabilising financial markets in
   Ireland, while ensuring that there were no unnecessary distortions of competition
   with other banks and avoiding negative spillovers in other Member States. The
   Commission said that it welcomed the various changes and commitments made
   and was satisfied that the revised scheme submitted by the Government addressed
   the issues that had been raised by the Commission.

   New Trade Commissioner Appointed
   Catherine Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, has been confirmed as the new
   European Commissioner for External Trade. The appointment by the Council of
   Ministers follows the departure of Peter Mandelson to take up the position of
   Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in the UK.
   Baroness Ashton was previously a Labour member in the UK House of Lords,
   where she was the Leader of the House and was responsible for steering the
   Lisbon Treaty through that chamber. She was appointed as "Lord President of the
   Council" in Gordon Brown's first cabinet in June 2007. She is an economist and
   previously held positions as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the
   Departments of Education, Constitutional Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   Baroness Ashton's appointment must be approved by the European Parliament and
   as part of this process, she appeared before the Parliament's Trade Committee. She
   stated that she believed that the gradual building of an open global trading system
   based on shared rules is one of the great achievements of the twentieth century.
   The WTO system might not be perfect, she said, but it would be easy to
   underestimate just how unpredictable the global economy would be without it.
   She assured the Committee that pursuing a successful Doha Round remained
   absolutely central to Europe’s trade policy.

   Communications Policy - New Partnership Approach
   In recent years the Commission has brought forward a number of initiatives to
   improve EU Communications Policy. The focus has been consistently on
   "empowering citizens" and improving coherence between the different activities
   of EU institutions and the Member States. The Commission's main proposals
   were set out in the 2007 paper "Communicating Europe in Partnership" . A
   principal proposal in this paper was an inter-institutional agreement to provide a
   framework for better co-operation on the EU communication process, while
   respecting the autonomy of EU institutions and Member States.

   At the recent October plenary session of the European Parliament, a political
   declaration was signed to give effect to this proposal. The declaration, entitled
   "Communicating Europe in Partnership", was signed by Alejo Vidal-Quadras,
   Vice-President of the European Parliament, the French Minister of State Jean-
   Pierre Jouyet, on behalf of the Council of the EU and Margot Wallström, Vice-
   President of the European Commission.

   According to the objectives of the political declaration, citizens should be
   provided, in a language they understand, with adequate and objective information
   on the EU's issues and policies, which takes into account their expectations.

   2009 will be the first year that inter-institutional priorities will be agreed by the
   Council, the European Parliament and the Commission under the joint declaration.
   The EP elections will be the main inter-institutional communication priority
   agreed by the three institutions. Communication activities will target in particular
   the audience which is less engaged with EU issues such as young people, women,
   and the unemployed. Communicating the progress in the energy-climate change
   package will also be a priority in view of the December Copenhagen Conference.
   2009 is also the 20th anniversary of democratic change in Central and Eastern
   Europe. Under this broad title, the Commission will focus on the celebration of the
   20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall/Iron Curtain.


   October European Council
   The European Council met on 15 and 16 October 2008 in Brussels, against a
   backdrop of international economic and financial crisis. The conclusions of the
   meeting can be summarised as follows -

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

          On the financial crisis, the European Council expressed its resolve to act in
           a concerted and comprehensive manner to protect the European financial
           system and depositors. However, in the current exceptional circumstances,
           the Council stressed that European rules must continue to be implemented
           in a way that meets the need for speedy and flexible action. It supported
           the Commission's implementation, in this spirit, of the rules on
           competition policy, particularly State aids, while continuing to apply the
           principles of the single market and the system of State aids.
          On the climate change /energy legislative proposal, the European Council
           reaffirmed the objective of an overall agreement before the end of the
           year, having regard to each Member State's specific situation.
          It was also agreed to speed up work on energy security. The European
           Council will return to this issue at its meeting in March 2009 to take stock
           of progress, to consider the Commission's forthcoming strategic energy
           review, and to adopt the necessary decisions
          The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum was adopted. The pact
           expresses the commitment of the European Union and its Member States
           to conduct a fair, effective and consistent policy for dealing with the
           challenges and opportunities which migration represents.
          In the external sphere, the meeting took stock of Russia's implementation
           of the agreement of 8 September, the situation in Georgia and the EU's
           relations with its eastern neighbours. The Commission and the Council
           were asked to continue a full in-depth evaluation of EU-Russia relations
           which would be taken into account in the further negotiations for a new
           Partnership Agreement with Russia.
          Following the presentation of the Taoiseach's analysis of the outcome of
           the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; the Council agreed to return to
           the issue in December.

   President Sarkozy addresses the European Parliament
   Following the European Council on 15-16 October, EU President-in-Office
   Sarkozy addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament on 21 October.
   President Sarkozy's comments centred on the financial crisis, the recent conflict in
   Georgia, the Lisbon treaty and climate change. The President said the Georgian
   conflict and the financial crisis had strengthened the case for a united European
   response to major world problems. He felt the roots of the financial crisis went
   back a long way and queried the role of unbridled free markets. The President also
   rejected any idea that the EU should backtrack on its climate change commitments
   because of the crisis.

   President Sarkozy, speaking on behalf of the European Council, said that the
   Russian reaction in the Georgian conflict was disproportionate, but stressed it was
   a reaction to a previous inappropriate action by Georgia itself. He emphasised that
   was a long time since Europe has played this sort of peace brokering role in this
   kind of conflict, which only underlined the case for a united European response to
   major world problems.

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   Financial Crisis
   On the world financial situation, Mr. Sarkozy said that the solutions now being
   found - in which Europe had taken the lead - simply amounted to "crisis
   management". Ireland attracted criticism for acting unilaterally in its response to
   the crisis. President Sarkozy criticised the Government for its actions in
   introducing the bank guarantee scheme which he said made the financial crisis
   even more unstable, with money moving from in and out of countries, depending
   on who offered the best deal. A key point for Europe now was how to prevent a
   recurrence. He had proposed to the UN General Assembly the creation of a new
   global financial system, the aim of which must be to overhaul capitalism. Certain
   principles to be observed - all financial institutions must be subject to financial
   regulation, and bonus structures must not push bank traders to take undue risks.
   The USA and the EU had proposed a series of summits on global governance,
   starting in November, involving first the G8 and then adding the G5, at which, he
   stressed, Europe must speak with one voice. Questioning the role of the European
   Central Bank, the President said that the eurozone cannot continue without clear
   economic governance. While the European Central Bank must be independent it
   must be able to hold discussions with European Governments.

   Energy/Climate Change
   On the EU's energy and climate package, President Sarkozy rejected any idea that
   the world should do less to combat climate change because of the financial crisis,
   stressing that Europe must set an example to the world. He recognised the
   difficulty some European countries were facing, especially those that are largely
   dependent on coal, but some flexible solution must be found. However, referring
   to the targets previously agreed, he described respect for the climate change
   objective and respect for the timetable as essential among the EU's member states.

   Lisbon Treaty
   President Sarkozy argued that the recent crises with Georgia and the financial
   markets showed that it would be a major mistake not to proceed with institutional
   reform envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty, since Europe often needs a powerful,
   rapid and united response, something which was difficult, for example, with the
   EU's six-month rotating presidency. The French presidency was thus looking to a
   roadmap to find a solution by December to the question of Irish ratification of the
   Lisbon Treaty.

   Czech Presidency of the EU
   The Czech Republic will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European
   Union for the first time on 1 January 2009. The way the Czech Republic copes
   with this task will have a major impact on its reputation and standing in Europe
   and accordingly, the prime objective will be to ensure a competent Presidency.

   In 2009, Europe will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Iron
   Curtain and the fifth anniversary of the biggest ever enlargement of the European
   Union. In the light of these historical lessons, the Czech Republic is particularly
   sensitive to the persisting obstacles hampering the European integration process,

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   especially in relation to the internal market. With this in mind, the main motto for
   its Presidency will be 'Europe Without Barriers'. The Czech Republic will draw
   attention to the transitional periods for the free movement of workers, obstructions
   hindering the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital, the
   problematic functioning of the internal market in energy, the excessive financing
   of traditional policies (especially the CAP) which is holding back extra funding
   for pro-growth policies, the need to improve and streamline the regulatory
   environment of the EU, and the need to deepen mutual cooperation between EU
   Member States in the fields of justice and home affairs. As for the external
   dimension, the Czech Republic considers the main barriers to be the low level of
   liberalisation in trade with third countries, the Union's inadequate energy policy,
   the slow pace of EU enlargement, and the obstacles existing to transatlantic
   economic cooperation.

   Further to the motto 'Europe Without Barriers', the Czech Republic has set five
   priority areas for its Presidency -

      Competitive and Open Europe'
       The Czech Republic supports for the existing policy reform programme both
       at EU level and in each Member State (the Lisbon Strategy ). At the same
       time, the Czech Republic expects the promotion of EU reform efforts to drive
       forward the reform process on a national scale.
      Sustainable and Secure Energy
       For the EU and all its Member States, a key issue at present is secure,
       sustainable and competitive energy. The EU must be capable, in the
       foreseeable future, of finding an adequate response to the external pressures it
       is exposed to in this area.
      A Budget for Europe´s Future
       The Czech Presidency will have the considerable challenge of mediating the
       debate on a review of the EU budgetary framework. The heart of this debate
       will be linked to the reform of the CAP, which has been the long-term
       recipient of the lion´s share of funds allocated every year under the EU budget.
      Europe as a Global Partner
       In the field of external relations, the Czech Republic has identified three areas
       on which it is keen to concentrate during its Presidency: transatlantic relations,
       the regions of the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe.
      A Secure and Free Europe
       The building up of the area of freedom, security and justice is currently one of
       the most dynamic areas of cooperation within the EU. The Czech Republic is
       acutely conscious of its co-responsibility for further developments in this key
       area of EU cooperation, and will pay special attention to this during its

          Recent developments in the European Parliament and the EU - Oct/Nov 2008

   Provisional Timetable of Inter-parliamentary Meetings (as of November 07, 2008)
                Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union

   Date         Place                       Event                          Organizing institution
                          Proposed Joint Committee Meeting (JCM)         Jointly European Parliament
(19.-20.1.)                        LIBE + CZ Parliament                 (Committee on Civil Liberties,
               Brussels   Transparency of decision-making in the EU       Justice and Home Affairs)
 date TBC
                                                                             + Czech Parliament

25. – 26. 1.                  Committees Chairpersons Meeting                       Senate
               Prague     “Secure, sustainable and competitive energy
                                          in the EU”
                                                                        Senate (in coordination with the
 9. – 10. 2.              Meeting of the COSAC Chairpersons and the                 Chamber
    2009                                   Troika                                 of Deputies)

                           ECON, Debate with National Parliaments                EP – ECON
 11. - 12.2.
               Brussels     “The European Economy, What Next?”
                            REGI, Debate with National Parliaments                EP – REGI
11.2. 2009     Brussels
                           “The future of Cohesion Policy after 2013”
                             High Level Parliamentary Conference                  EP –DEVE
12.2.2009      Brussels      "Migration and Policy Coherence for
                               Joint Parliamentary Meeting (JPM)                   Jointly
 16. - 17.2.                 Lisbon Strategy issues, including the           European Parliament
               Brussels      Small Business Act, Better Lawmaking            + Czech Parliament
                             and Free Movement of Services
                                Meeting of Security Committees               Chamber of Deputies
23. – 24. 2.                               Chairpersons
   2009                             "Environmental security"
                              (migration and civil security aspects)
                            Conference of Foreign Affairs Committee          Chamber of Deputies
 9. – 10. 3.                        Chairpersons (COFACC)
    2009                          "Transatlantic cooperation"
                                  (EU-NATO and EU-NAFTA)
 6.4. 2009                          Parliamentary Conference                 Chamber of Deputies
               Prague        topic related to priorities of CZ PRES
                          Meeting of Budget and Financial Committees         Chamber of Deputies
27. – 28. 4.
               Prague          "Financial perspective after 2013,
                                       bank supervision
                                 & capital market protection"
10. – 12.5.                     Meeting of the XXXXI COSAC                 Chamber of Deputies (in
   2009                                                                  coordination with the Senate)

In addition, a meeting of Human Rights Committees of National Parliaments has been
tentatively arranged for 30th March.


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