Plenary Focus - March 2015
We stick to our critique of the European Semester procedure: it is deeply rooted in an undemocratic and neoliberal framework that fosters failed austerity policies. It limits member states’ policy choices to the extent that alternative policies, such as different economic policies, are prevented - as is the case for Greece. We call on heads of state to discuss the excessive surpluses of some member states that lead to macroeconomic imbalances; one-sided discussions about member state deficits miss the point. The importance of renewable energy and energy efficiency is not sufficiently taken into account in the Energy Union. Without binding targets for member states on renewables and energy efficiency, the fight against climate change will be undermined. Instead of focussing on fossil fuels more resources for research and innovation are urgently needed.
Instead of promoting and building a healthy and respectful relationship with Venezuela, the European Parliament has been interfering with its internal affairs in an attempt to change its legitimate and constitutional government. The main political groups in this house have taken a lead from the most extreme factions of the Venezuelan opposition who are involved in a plan to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro through violent means.
The report on the Annual Growth Survey (2015) represents the starting point of the European Semester and the whole economic governance process. This report provides the building blocks on which national budgets will be made. As expected, it continues to defend the austerity and structural reforms, particularly in terms of labour market and privatisation of welfare services and public companies. This is totally unacceptable because it prevents countries from intervening in this time of crisis with redistributive policies to help those in need and avoid the collapse of aggregate consumption.
Debate: Wednesday; Vote: Wednesday
We are very concerned about the massive anti-abortion campaign being led by many extremely conservative movements which want to take us back to the dictatorship era in Spain. It is important to go ahead with this relevant report which warns and explains that there is still a long way to go to obtain real gender equality in Europe. The report also calls for the Commission and the Parliament to keep prioritising an issue that affects 52% of the population. This report is one way towards changing how our patriarchal-like society is run.
Debate: Monday; Vote: Tuesday
I am happy with the result of these negotiations. The agreed text promotes fuel savings and road safety and also allows reductions in CO2 emissions. This is important as lorries account for 25% of road transport CO2 emissions in Europe - despite only making up 3% of vehicles. The new directive will also respect the status quo and allow member states to use energy-efficient vehicles in their territory and also in cross-border traffic if mutually agreed. This is a big deal for competitiveness of logistics, especially for countries in northern Europe.
Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Tuesday
Interchange fees for card-based payments, paid by the merchant’s bank to the bank that issued the card, are not transparent and they differ between EU countries. This is an important piece of legislation as it will ensure that consumers cannot be excessively charged for using their debit or credit cards or that retailers won’t suffer undue costs by card companies.
Liadh Ní Riada
These redundancies primarily affect the Basse-Sambre area which is characterised by a relatively high level of structural unemployment. The 257 workers made redundant by SGS Benelux have limited employment possibilities in this area as they are likely to be in competition with many other workers with similar qualifications and experience for a limited number of jobs in the glass sector. The mobilisation of the EGF will now provide assistance and new opportunities for them.
This CFSP report follows the logic of previous ones. It does not reflect the EU’s negative and escalating role regarding current conflicts in the southern and eastern EU neighbourhood. But the report does promote the subordination of all strategic policy areas under CFSP/CSDP, demands increased resources for defence and military, advocates stronger EU-NATO cooperation and supports the merge of internal and external security. We strongly reject this report and tabled a minority opinion.
Debate: Wednesday; Vote: Thursday
Cornelis de Jong
For the twentieth consecutive year, the European Court of Auditors issued an adverse opinion on the legality and regularity of payments made out of the EU budget. In most cases, member states are responsible for prosecution of those who are accused of fraud involving the EU’s financial interests. It is vital that they step up their efforts in this respect.
Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Wednesday