The Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament recently held a public hearing on Multispecies Management Plans for fish stocks. Public hearings provide a valuable opportunity for MEPs to hear from experts about the 'real world' practical implications of the topic under discussion - in this case the implementation of new management principles arising from the review of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Spare a thought for Angela Merkel. Throughout the Greek debt crisis she was panned for her uncaring uncompromising stance. At the outset of the refugee crisis she demonstrated a humanitarian and generous spirit and was attacked for it. Der Spiegel, who had accused her of being too tough on the Greeks, now said she was too charitable to migrants. The Sunday Times claimed “Walls are going all over Europe – thanks to Mother Merkel's kindness”.
The Commission's 16 proposals to be delivered in the next five years are a step in the right direction in addressing the problems consumers and businesses face in accessing the digital single market. But it is by no means a silver bullet.
Newsnight Scotland had a broadcast, which focussed on the upcoming European Elections. The report featured the Edinburgh office's European Election projection on Register House. It also featured the majority of Scotland's MEP's and the political state of the European Parliament.
Scotland Tonight broadcasted an hour long special on the upcoming European Elections. Per Johansson, the head of office in Edinburgh, appeared on the programme and talked about how the European Parliament functions and the importance of the elections. The broadcast also had a debate between Scotland's MEP's and interviews with other political parties.
In November I spent four days in Iraq in my capacity as President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq. I visited Syrian refugee camps and discussed the country’s worsening human rights situation and persecution of minorities with senior political leaders. I travelled to Erbil in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, where I met with the Kurdistan Regional Government's President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. I also met with leading Christian bishops, the Grand Mufti of Iraq’s Sunni faith and members of the Iraqi Parliament, including the Chairman of its Human Rights Committee, as well as leaders of the recent popular uprisings in six Sunni provinces against the Baghdad Government.
Although there are almost as many languages spoken in Brussels as there are member states, the European Union has always had a language of its own. In the Commission and the Parliament, acronyms are ubiquitous. And over the few months, the agenda has been dominated by two of the biggest three letter acronyms of all – CAP and MFF. Debates over the Common Agricultural Policy have traditionally been fractious.
At approximately 3.30am on 30th May 2013 a deal was struck between the European Parliament and the Irish Presidency of the Council, representing the 27 EU member states, on the way forward for CFP reform.
The deal was historic in a number of ways. Agreement on a discard ban means that fishermen will no longer be forced to throw dead fish back into the sea. The obscenity of discards has rightly caused outrage amongst the public in recent times - but those involved in the industry have resented the issue for decades. Fishermen don't gain anything by throwing fish over the side - but the rules of the CFP have forced them to do so.
According to the Oxford Dictionary a blacklist is '...a list of people or groups regarded as unacceptable or untrustworthy and often marked down for punishment or exclusion.' And on Wikipedia '...a blacklist (or black list) is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition.' As a verb to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize from a certain social circle - as a concept it runs totally counter to the ethos of the European Union (EU).
March the 16th marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the massacre of almost 5,000 people in the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq. The gas attack on these defenseless villagers was the deadliest assault carried out by Saddam Hussein during his al-Anfal campaign against the Kurdish population. Three quarters of the victims in this horrific chemical-weapon attack were women and children. I believe that it is important for the European Parliament to support the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in formally recognising the massacre in Halabja and the al-Anfal campaign as a "genocide" and March 16 as an international day against the use of chemical weapons.
Over the past few weeks, we've had a good long look at the state of our food chain, and we definitely don't like what we see. Horsemeat in processed meals being passed off as beef (in some cases the "beef" consisted 100% of horse!); horsemeat containing traces of the painkiller phenylbutazone entering the food chain (found in eight carcasses in the UK, of which six may have entered the food chain in France); the removal of dozens of product lines from supermarket shelves; traces of pork DNA found in prison meals labelled as "halal"; the discovery of slaughtered dogs in Spain intended for processing into animal feed...
As we continue to struggle with the ongoing economic crisis, the importance of public contracting as a tool to promote sustainable economic growth and jobs has come in to sharp focus.
A stated aim of the revision of the public procurement directive is to ensure better use of public procurement in support of common societal goals such as energy efficiency, combating climate change and protection of the environment. This is combined with the intention to create a simplification of the rules to remove barriers for a greater take-up of sustainable procurement.