Plenary Focus - July 2013
European Summit and MFF
To date, the commitments made with a view to combating youth unemployment represent a failure for the EU as a whole. Recent proposals for a ‘social dimension’ to the Economic and Monetary Union are meaningless so long as member states are forced to reduce that very dimension in their countries through the dictates of austerity. In the recent backroom deal on the MFF the Parliament has been fobbed off with empty promises for the future. With a reduced and
structurally conservative budget the EU will not be able to face the challenges of the crisis.
Greek TV and Radio Closure
The Greek government’s closure of the country’s public television is not only an attack on the rights of ERT employees but it is an aggressive attack on press freedom, democracy, and the culture of the country.
The employees of ERT and the vast majority of the Greek people are fighting against this ERT ‘black screen’. They are also fighting against the austerity policies of the government and the Troika. SYRIZA express its full support to this movement.
Greek TV and Radio Closure
The unacceptable decision of the Greek three-party coalition government, with the consent of the EU, to close ERT, firing 2650 workers, is a powerful blow to the right to information. There is now a real imminent risk that the government will shut down other strategic public institutions, such as Hellenic Defence Systems, throwing thousands of workers into unemployment. The KKE condemns the government in the strongest terms, supports the struggle of the workers, and demands the immediate withdrawal of its decision.
US NSA Surveillance
Thanks to Edward Snowden we now have a better picture of the degree of surveillance in western democracies. But NSA’s spying is merely the tip of the iceberg, as recent revelations on the activities of the British GCHQ show.
Even worse, many other European intelligence agencies have received data from Tempora while knowing perfectly well that they were in breach of European privacy laws. These covert illegal activities must stop immediately.
European Globalisation Adjustment Fund
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund provides direct help to workers who were made redundant, by offering them new and specific training opportunities. Some of its limitations could be circumvented if it could also encompass independent workers, if the limit for application was lowered from 500 to 200 workers and if specific conditions could be offered to countries experiencing economic and financial constraints.
Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Wednesday
Irish Presidency Review
The Irish Presidency has not impressed. By pouring billions of taxpayers’ money into toxic banks and not separating banking and sovereign debts it failed and impoverished the people of Ireland. Its pretence of agreement on the MFF where there was none was an embarrassment. It failed economically and socially, failed on CAP reform, failed to put domestic violence on the agenda, and failed to prevent the lifting of the Syrian Arms embargo.
In addition to the heavy workload the Lithuanian Presidency will inherit, three goals were set up: “a credible, growing and open Europe”. But we are far from being “credible” if we promise to fight youth unemployment but don’t have the sufficient financial means, we are far from creating “growth” with
countries tied up in austerity and we are far from being “open” with regard to our shameful role at our southern borders. But I hope that the Lithuanian Presidency will not repeat the mistakes of the Irish Presidency and respect the Parliament as an equal co-legislator, especially when it comes to the MFF negotiations.
Irish Presidency Review
This Presidency has continued the same failed policies of austerity. They have been the biggest defenders of an EU budget of cuts. The ‘Youth Guarantee’ scheme will have nowhere near enough resources to deliver results. The negotiations on a free trade agreement, that they have opened with the US, threaten our public services and will undermine workers’ rights. The Presidency’s slogan, “Stability, Jobs and Growth” has proven to be little more than empty rhetoric.
Financial Transaction Tax
The implementation of a Financial Transaction Tax is a significant moment for the Eurozone. It will prove that all the fears that surrounded this proposal were unfounded and meant only to scare the decision makers and protect financial speculation. We support this proposal, despite the fact that we disagree with the lower rate for derivative products and some of the exemptions. It’s still a step forward...
Human rights in Hungary
The report details the fundamental human rights violations, authoritarian tendencies, and threats which weigh heavy over a Hungary that remains under the leadership of Viktor Orbán and FIDESZ. As the EU never hesitates to give lessons to the rest of the world when it comes to human rights abuses, it is high time for it to clean up its act closer to home, and not just in Hungary. The EU must start practicing what it preaches.