Recent events at the European Parliament
Europe Day Debate
To mark Europe Day on 9th May, European Parliamentarians debated in Brussels: 'What next for crisis-hit Europe?' Coming in the wake of French and Greek elections, in which EU issues were prominent, this was a good moment to consider big questions about the EU. EP President Martin Schulz and the political group leaders gave their assessment of where the EU stands - and their vision for the future. Speakers agreed the Union and its common currency are being challenged like never before, with some asking for more Europe and others insisting on less austerity.
Mr Schulz wondered "why is the current crisis, like a centrifugal force, driving us apart rather than binding us more closely together? Only together can we act to prevent the economic decline of Europe and halt unemployment". Joseph Daul, the French leader of the centre-right EPP group said the EU should aim to achieve growth by making economies more competitive. Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian leader of the Liberal-Democrat group, said: "Europe has no ambition, no roadmap and no hope. European federalism is the only way out." Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the French co-chairman of the Green group, argued that "if we say there is no other solution, people will find other solutions and sometimes they are dreadful. Democracy is about looking for alternatives." Martin Callanan, the British leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, said that rather than claiming to have all the answers, the EU should embrace small government, cut red tape for small business and trust the people to know what is right for them.
The cost of using mobile phones, Smartphone and tablets when travelling within the EU will fall sharply from 1st July this year, under an agreement between MEPs and national governments that was approved by the EP at the start of May. For the first time, cheaper roaming rates will include caps on mobile internet charges which are of particular importance when using a Smartphone. The agreement also includes alerts to prevent "bill shocks". As from 1 July 2012, people will get a warning message when they approach 50 Euros of charges in a month.
EU aviation policy must pay special attention to the needs of regional airports, says a resolution adopted by the EP at its May Session in Brussels. MEPs said regional airports could do much more to boost local economies and ease air traffic congestion at key hubs, with help from the EU. Regional airports are crucial to the EU's territorial cohesion and economic diversification and are also job-creators. The Resolution also called for certain practices of dominant low-cost airlines to be tackled, specifically abusive booking fees and hand-luggage restrictions that discourage travellers from buying goods in airports. It added that ground and air transport networks should be better integrated to make smaller airports more attractive to travellers.
News from Scotland's MEPs
Ian Hudghton MEP has welcomed a unanimous vote in the EP's Fisheries Committee at the end of April backing possible EU sanctions against countries embarking on non-sustainable fishing.
George Lyon MEP has warned that Europe's need to increase food production is being blocked by energy and water constraints.
David Martin MEP was one of 395 MEPs who signed a Written Declaration calling for an EU-wide maximum eight-hour limit for the journeys of animals transported for slaughter.
Alyn Smith MEP has welcomed a public consultation on the issue of food obtained from cloned animals and their offspring, which was launched by the European Commission.
Struan Stevenson MEP has called for better regulation of the EU aquaculture sector and improvements in marketing to advance its competitive position in the global marketplace.
Catherine Stihler MEP has encouraged anyone born in 1992 to enter an EU competition to mark 20 years of the single market.
Recent Events in Scotland
The Big Fisheries Question Time and Debate - 30th March, Peterhead
On 30th March the European Parliament Office in Scotland organised series of activities in Peterhead with three MEPs: Struan Stevenson (Conservative, Scotland), Ian Hudghton (SNP, Scotland) and Chris Davies (LibDem, North West England). The MEPs met with local businessmen, fishermen, Peterhead Port staff as well as pupils from a local school. A wide range of fisheries issues were raised and debated during the events, but there was a particular focus on the current reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. The highlights were captured by the EuroparlTV. See their short film.
Seminar on ACTA - 13th April, Edinburgh
On 13th April the European Parliament Office in Scotland held the seminar on the highly controversial ACTA. The main speaker was David Martin MEP, the EP's rapporteur on the issue. The seminar took place the morning after his announcement that he would recommend the Parliament to reject ACTA. Other speakers included representatives from the European Commission, the Alliance Against the IP Theft and the Open Rights Group. Attendees posted their thoughts on a Twitter Wall with the hashtag #ACTAEdinburgh, which generated a lot of interest and enabled those who could not attend in person to follow the discussion.
Europe Quiz 2012 - 10th May, Edinburgh
On 10th May the European Parliament Office in Scotland marked Europe Day with the annual Europe Quiz, organised jointly with the European Movement in Scotland. The quiz took place at the Pleasance Bar at the University of Edinburgh where eighteen teams pitted their wits against each other on a range of European political, cultural, historical and other trivia. This years' winners, ironically called the 'Wooden Spoons', collected the prestigious Tyrell-Orr trophy by a narrow margin - see the photo on our website.
Upcoming events at the Edinburgh Information Office
Scotland Debates EU Economic Governance - 31st May - 1st June, Edinburgh
Amid the current era of crisis and austerity in Europe, a high-level conference examining a number of aspects of economic governance in the EU will take place at Old College, sponsored by the European Commission, the Jean Monnet Centre and Europa Institute of the University of Edinburgh. Speakers will include Scottish MEP Alyn Smith, who was a member of the European Parliament's Temporary Committee of Inquiry on the Financial Crisis, as well as a large number of other experts from the worlds of academia, government, journalism and banking. It is free to attend. For more details please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal Highland Show - 21st-24th June, Edinburgh
The European Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture, will be among the exhibitors at this year's Royal Highland Show, which takes place at Ingliston, just outside Edinburgh. Currently, the EU's Common Agricultural Policy is in the midst of a major reform that could have a significant impact on Scotland's farmers and rural communities. Activities on the stand involving Scottish MEPs are planned - watch this space...
Round Table on Active Citizenship in Later Life - 28th-29th June, Edinburgh
In the context of the 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations, the European Parliament will host round table event in association with the European Economic and Social Committee and the University of Edinburgh. It is one of a number of activities in Scotland related to the European Year 2012; please see our website for more details.
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