Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 220

Posts Tagged ‘meps’

COVID-19: MEPs debate how to best protect cross-border and seasonal workers

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 28 maggio 2020

 

The Employment and Social Affairs Committee is set to delve into alleged breaches of EU law on working time, health and safety of cross-border workers, on Tuesday.Following disturbing reports about the precarious situation facing potentially hundreds of thousands of cross-border and seasonal workers in the EU, MEPs will debate with Josip Aladrović, Croatian Minister of Labour and Pension Systems, Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, and Jordi Curell Gotor, Interim Executive Director of the European Labour Authority how to protect the employment rights, health and safety of these critical workers during the pandemic.Workers from Romania and other Eastern European member states provide a vital workforce on farms in Germany, France and other member states and ensure food security across Europe. Other workers from e.g. Slovakia provide social and long-term care services for the elderly in Austria and other member states. The European Commission issued guidelines to ensure that mobile workers within the EU who qualify as critical workers in the fight against COVID-19 can reach their workplace. The agri-food sector is a key sector included in these guidelines, especially regarding seasonal workers.MEPs will look into their situation to examine if, as reported, there are few or no COVID-19 prevention measures in place and if their rights with respect to working time, overtime and pay are being violated, thereby infringing EU law.

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MEPs debate COVID-19 recovery with Valdis Dombrovskis

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 20 maggio 2020

Research and Energy Committee MEPs and the Commission Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, discussed the EU’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan, on Friday.“We all see that COVID-19 impacts not only our daily life routines, but the society as a whole, which has a direct impact on our economy. We have to find solutions for the affected industry sectors, and we have to ensure that the recovery plan has synergies with the industrial and SMEs strategy in order to overcome these challenges” said committee Chair Cristian Bușoi (EPP, RO) on Friday. “We need to work together to ensure that its effects are as short and limited as possible” he said.“Commission President von Der Leyen clearly stated in the plenary on Wednesday, that the next long-term EU budget will be topped up by a recovery instrument focusing on what are now our common priorities: the European Green Deal, digitalisation and resilience. Research will play a crucial role as it can have a great potential to be the driver for the recovery” he added.
Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis listed the measures already taken at EU level to mitigate the impact of the crisis, and warned that all Member States will experience recession. The recovery will have to be inclusive and should not hamper the economic convergence process in the EU. He also highlighted that the magnitude of the economic shock is not necessarily linked to the number of COVID-19 cases in a specific Member State.Among other topics, MEPs raised the question of the complex steering of the recovery, how EU plans will fit in national strategies, the need to relocate strategic industries in the EU, the potential of building renovation projects to improve energy efficiency, and the EU’s carbon neutrality goals

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EP wants data protection guaranteed before allowing fingerprint exchange with UK

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 18 maggio 2020

MEPs rejected the Council draft implementing decision on the exchange of fingerprints with the UK with 329 votes for, 357 against, and 4 abstentions. MEPs urge the Council not to take any decision on the topic until the UK gives guarantees on full reciprocity and data protection and to wait until the new legal framework for the new partnership cooperation with the UK has been concluded.
The launch of the fingerprint exchange between the United Kingdom and EU member states, bound by the Prüm decision, would allow the responsible national authorities to share fingerprint data to prevent and investigate crimes.This decision on the fingerprint data exchange would be limited to the transition period ending on 31 December. MEPs say however that, since it is not clear if the UK will meet EU data protection standards after this date, such a decision could pose a serious risk to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of EU citizens after the transition period.
Furthermore, MEPs think that the reciprocity of the data exchange should be guaranteed before any decision on the matter is taken. As stated in the Council draft implementing decision, the UK does not intend to make fingerprint data from suspects’ profiles available, in contrast with other member states participating in the Prüm system.Decisions on automated exchange of fingerprint data in the EU are enabled by the Prüm framework. It lays down provisions under which EU member states grant each other access to their automated DNA analysis files, automated fingerprint identification systems and vehicle registration data.
The Parliament has a consultative role in the decision.

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MEPs deeply concerned about looming social and employment crisis due to COVID-19

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 14 maggio 2020

MEPs on Thursday discussed the social and economic impact of the COVID-19-pandemie and its consequences on the workplace with the Directors of EU-OSHA and Eurofound.Opening the discussion held within the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, committee chair Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová (ECR, SK) raised the issue of the hundreds of thousands seasonal – and cross border workers in the EU who are in a specifically vulnerable situation in the context of the COVID-19-crisis. The Chair has written to the European Labour Authority to inquire if the Agency has information on the alleged failures to correctly apply and implement the relevant EU rules on labour mobility and social security coordination by the member states concerned and if they have data on the numbers of the cross border workers concerned.
Executive Director of European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) Dr. Christa Sedltaschek presented EU-OSHA guidance for businesses and workers on how to prevent and slow the spread of the coronavirus at workplaces and support their safe and healthy return to work. Dr Sedltaschek also presented research on biological agents and work-related diseases as well as guidance to make home-based telework as healthy, safe and effective as possible
Various Members paid tribute to the frontline workers and pointed to the specifically difficult situation of health care workers. They asked what EU-OSHA could do to avoid long-term mental health issues caused by the COVID-19-crisis and wanted to know if the agency recommends including mental health for health care workers in the new occupational and health strategy. Other MEPs underlined the need for more data on mental health disorders and the impact of teleworking on occupational health.
Members also wanted to find out more about the data collected on the measures taken in the member states to resume economical activities, and if this is being done in a way to protect all workers. EU-OSHA could act as a facilitator and disseminate best practices, they said.Many MEPs asked for more details on the situation of cross border, seasonal and posted workers and expressed concern about unsafe working and living conditions, especially because these workers were often already faced with precarious conditions before the coronavirus-outbreak.On the Biological Agents Directive, several members wanted to know in which category Covid-19 would be classified.
Eurofound Executive Director Juan Menéndez-Valdés presented the first findings of the large-scale online survey “Living, working and COVID-19” conducted in the EU and beyond to which over 85,000 respondents participated so far.The survey shows that 60 % of respondents are experiencing feelings of insecurity and fear of losing their job.Members underlined that the COVID-19-pandemic and the measures taken to curb its spread have severely affected the way people live and work, affecting their physical and mental well-being in a profound way. Almost all Europeans are feeling the far-reaching and lasting consequences in different sectors of the economy, in the form of job and income losses or significantly modified working conditions.Members wanted to know which specific groups of workers need special protection and support. They stressed the importance of social dialogue and special measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people in society, such as people with disabilities, children and elderly people.MEPs underlined the difficult situation of platform workers and the self-employed.Questions were also asked regarding the monitoring of the digitalisation of services and work. MEPs underlined that digitalisation must be user-friendly so that no one is left behind, with special attention for the elderly.

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Combining the Green Deal and COVID-19 recovery: MEPs’ debate with Frans Timmermans

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 14 maggio 2020

MEPs and Commission Executive Vice-President Timmermans discussed ways to link the European Green Deal’s objectives with the EU’s COVID-19 recovery plan, on Friday.“The European Green Deal is the best growth strategy for Europe”, said Frans Timmermans, who warned against a “huge investment gap that will pose a challenge to our industry and economy at large” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic crisis is hitting industries that were already restructuring because of new challenges and the climate crisis, thus making the transition even more complicated, he said. The European Commission’s recovery plan will follow an analysis of sectors most affected by the crisis. Those which are crucial for the future and which affect employment the most should be prioritised, he said.MEPs discussed how to embed the economic recovery into the European Green Deal, and how to channel support for specific sectors such as aviation, energy storage and renewables, as well as SMEs.

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MEPs against fingerprint data exchange with the UK during transition period

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 12 maggio 2020

The Civil Liberties Committee gave a negative opinion on starting a fingerprint data exchange between the UK and EU countries without UK guarantees on reciprocity and data protection.Civil Liberties MEPs recommend that the Parliament rejects the Council draft implementing decision on the exchange of fingerprints with the UK by 35 votes for, 30 against, no abstentions. They ask the Council not to take any decision on the topic until the UK gives guarantees on full reciprocity and data protection and the new legal framework for the new partnership cooperation with the UK is concluded.The launch of the fingerprint exchange between the United Kingdom and EU member states, bound by the Prüm decision, would allow the responsible national authorities to share fingerprint data to prevent and investigate criminal offences.
This decision on the fingerprint data exchange would be limited to the transition period ending on 31 December. MEPs say however that, since it is not clear if the UK will meet EU data protection standards after this date, such a decision could pose a serious risk to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of EU citizens after the transition period.Furthermore, MEPs think that the reciprocity of the data exchange should be guaranteed before any decision on the matter is taken. As stated in the Council draft implementing decision, the UK does not intend to make fingerprint data of suspects’ profiles available, in contrast with other member states participating in the Prüm system.The Parliament has a consultative role in the decision. The full House will vote on the Civil Liberties Committee’s recommendation in the plenary next week.

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Economic and Monetary Committee MEPs concerned about Karlsruhe ruling

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 12 maggio 2020

During their meeting on Thursday with ECB Vice-President Luis de Guindos, MEPs focused on the German Constitutional Court ruling and the ECB’s response to the economic crisis.The German Constitutional Court Judgement, which came out on Tuesday, calling into question the European Central Bank bond-buying and demanding that the ECB produce the proportionality assessment within three months, was the focal point of the discussion. Many MEPs voiced their disappointment with the ruling and pointed out that it created instability by attacking both the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which approved the programme, as well as the EU legal order in general. While some MEPs in the committee demanded that Mr de Guindos declares that the ECB will give a clear signal to the financial markets and not change direction, others called for a proportionality assessment of the bond-buying programmes and pointed to the negative side effects, such as negative interest rates and low productivity.Vice-President de Guindos reiterated that the ECB is subject to the EU legal framework and the ECJ, and is accountable for its actions and transparent in its decision-making process. He reminded MEPs of the ECB’s two main principles: price stability and the bank’s independence. Finally, he explained that the ECB looks at interactions between fiscal instruments when taking monetary decisions. Side effects are taken into consideration and pros and cons of each policy decision are constantly assessed, he added.

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Asylum and Migration Pact: MEPs push for legal and safe avenues

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 4 maggio 2020

In a letter to Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Ylva Johansson sent by Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, on behalf of the committee, MEPs call for a balanced approach covering all pillars of the EU policy on asylum and migration, also addressing safe and legal migration.They insist that the Common European Asylum System needs to be complemented by a European Union Resettlement Framework and humanitarian corridors, but stress that safe and legal migration is much broader. Providing legal and safe routes for labour-related migration is key to reducing irregular migration as well as the risks undertaken by persons trying to reach Europe, MEPs underline.Offering third-country nationals wishing to work in the European Union a lawful path to do so could complement partnerships with third countries already in place and help fill gaps in the labour market, whilst ensuring third-country nationals who are filling these gaps are treated equally and not exploited, the letter notes.MEPs complain that, despite legal migration being one of the priorities of the European Agenda for Migration announced in 2015, the only legislative proposal in this field in the last legislature was a revision of the Blue Card Directive, a proposal that has been blocked by the Council since the end of 2017.The Civil Liberties Committee is currently working on an own-initiative report on New Avenues for Legal Labour Migration and hopes that the European Commission is equally ambitious. Among the options on the table, MEPs point to developing sectoral labour migration, but also long-term residence, intra-EU mobility or family reunification rights. “We are looking forward to seeing the Commission move the European framework for legal migration forward”, including by initiating legislative proposals, they say.MEPs are convinced that all member states could profit from a more harmonised approach to labour migration at European level. In their view, the European Union could contribute to improving third-country nationals’ access to the European labour market, addressing skills demands, making member states more attractive to third-country workers, and improving working conditions and integration of third-country nationals. They stress that the hosting communities would benefit from this on several levels.

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MEPs debate EEAS report on disinformation activities related to COVID-19

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 4 maggio 2020

The Foreign Affairs Committee held an important debate with EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell on the latest report by the European External Action Service on disinformation activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report reveals many troubling facts, for instance the significant number of coordinated disinformation campaigns by the Russian and Chinese governments to spread false health information in and around Europe, and conspiracy theories and claims that only authoritarian political systems – not democracies – are best suited to deal with the current crisis.
MEPs raised questions about the editing of this text, as there were media reports that the choice of words and the very content had allegedly been altered following requests from the Chinese government. I am pleased that Mr Borrell agreed to discuss this today with the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.Just recently, the European Parliament emphasised that one thing is clear: the EU must stay free of undue political and economic influence from the outside. Democracy is not an empty word. I am convinced that an open debate about the actions being taken by European leaders is an asset, not an obstacle, as it helps us to make the right decisions. At the same time, there is no doubt that the EU must become better at strategically communicating all of its actions, in Europe and abroad, while continuing to fight external disinformation, fake news and cyberattacks.In the Parliament’s latest resolution of 17 April on the COVID-19 pandemic, we urged the European Commission to counter aggressive Russian and Chinese propaganda efforts that are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine the EU and sow mistrust in the local population towards the European Union. To counter negative narratives, it is particularly important to communicate about the EU’s financial, technical and medical support in response to the pandemic, both between EU countries and to our other partner, among them China. Most acts of solidarity, by organisations, professionals or individuals, take place far away from the gaze of cameras and reporters. But it would also be unfair to all the health workers, volunteers helping fellow citizens and people organising the transport of crucial equipment to let the lies about a lack of European solidarity spread without effectively challenging them.”In the debate with Vice President Borrell on Thursday, many MEPs stressed their support for the EEAS and its work on disinformation. However, they also voiced their concerns about recent media reports alleging that the latest special report by the European External Action Service (EEAS) on disinformation surrounding COVID-19, and the references to the state-backed actors pushing it, had been watered down following pressure from Chinese authorities. The EU High Representative rebuked those claims, underlining that the two compared documents are, in fact, different publications – one internal for experts and one for the broader public – and not two versions of the same publication.MEPs quizzed EU High Representative Borrell on details about the editing process, Chinese pressure and how the EEAS had reacted to this pressure. They also asked how the EU can step up its efforts to strategically communicate about its concrete work, fight disinformation more effectively and also ensure enough funding for the EU’s Strategic Communication Task Force.Some members stressed their deep concern over the media allegations, highlighting that the EEAS must clarify what kind of approaches were made by outside parties regarding the work on the latest report. Others said that the media reports appear to be “vastly overblown”, pointing out that most of the critical issues remain intact in the text – such as the clear description of extensive Chinese and Russian disinformation attempts surrounding the origins of COVID-19 and the EU’s attempts to combat them.

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MEPs call for concrete details and novel tools to address the economic crisis

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 2 maggio 2020

MEPs on Monday quizzed Commissioners Dombrovskis and Gentiloni on planned measures to tackle the looming economic crisis due to COVID-19.Opening the discussion held within the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Committee Chair Irene Tinagli (S&D, IT) underlined that although the measures agreed by the European Council were to be welcomed, more was needed, including fresh funds. “At stake is more than solidarity”, Ms Tinagli said, explaining that “the divergences that risk being created could lead to unprecedented pressure for the European Union”.The divergences on the horizon were highlighted by both Mr Dombrovskis and Mr Gentiloni, who agreed that this was the primary reason that more measures were needed to help the hardest hit regions and countries.Various MEPs asked for more details on the planned interplay between the EU’s long-term budget and the envisaged recovery fund. Many also wanted to find out more about how the recovery fund would function, especially regarding what proportion would consist of grants. Questions were also asked regarding the mechanism for allocating the fund’s money between the countries.Some MEPs raised concerns that, however they were named, the measures being considered would invariably take the EU down the road of mutualising debt in one form or another. On the other hand, other MEPs argued that the ideas on the table did not seem credible or useful. Not credible because leveraging guarantees with funds from private investors would be very difficult in times of crisis and not useful because some countries could not afford to be saddled with further debt. A few MEPs underlined the need, now more than ever, to ensure that the EU does all that it can to ensure that tax fraud and tax havens are tackled more effectively. This would ensure that more money would be available to deal with the fallout from COVID-19.

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Tourism in COVID-19 crisis: MEPs demand clear action plan to help the sector

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 24 aprile 2020

Bruxelles. Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee urges the Commission to come up with a European action plan to help the tourism sector to overcome the crisis.MEPs reiterated, in a debate with Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, that the tourism sector needs more support in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis through specific measures, funding, increased EU-level coordination and a targeted roadmap. The demand for a sector-specific recovery plan and strategy was echoed across the political spectrum.Commissioner Breton acknowledged that tourism was the first sector hit by the coronavirus and it is likely to be the slowest to recover from the crisis. “We have to come up with a strong response,” explained Breton. “Tourism is our priority and we are trying to do as much as we can with the existing funds.”Beyond providing safety via short-term financing, the Commissioner said that tourism should benefit extensively also from the long-term crisis recovery plans, which will be funded through the next long-term EU budget (2021-2027). He is supporting the idea of a dedicated budget line “with the depth and firepower we need for the sector to get over this crisis”.The Commissioner also added that the ultimate goal is to reform and reinvent the tourism sector and proposed to hold a European Tourism Summit for sustainable tourism this autumn.Certainty on travel restrictions needed before summer holidays
Several MEPs also asked for more certainty regarding travel and movement restrictions that could continue in the coming months, including possible bans on visiting beaches because of social distancing rules. The Commissioner explained that sufficient guarantees for safety and security are needed before such restrictions are lifted. He added that the work on facilitating travel is ongoing and there will be more clarity ahead of the summer.On the questions regarding passenger rights and vouchers being offered by companies following cancelled bookings, the Commissioner assured MEPs that passenger rights remain protected and member states can already support their tourism businesses by providing liquidity for companies, including to cope with travellers’ demands for reimbursement.

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COVID-19: Stepping up EU’s response to alleviate the effects of the crisis

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 20 aprile 2020

MEPs adopted additional measures so that EU funding can be granted immediately and with exceptional flexibility to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.In Friday’s extraordinary plenary session, the European Parliament endorsed the “Corona Response Investment Initiative Plus” (CRII+) package proposed by the European Commission on 2 April by means of an urgency procedureThe approved proposals are: Specific measures so that EU funds can be used flexibly. The adopted measures will allow member states to transfer resources between the three main cohesion funds (the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund), between the different categories of regions and between the funds’ specific priority areas.Exceptionally, it will be possible to fully finance cohesion policy programmes related to COVID-19 through 100% EU funding during the accounting year starting on 1 July 2020 and ending on 30 June 2021. The measures also simplify programme approval to speed up implementation, make financial instruments easier to use and simplify audits.New rules will allow farmers to benefit from loans or guarantees at favourable conditions to cover their operational costs of up to €200.000. They will also free unused agriculture-related rural development funding to fight COVID-19.The proposal was adopted with 689 votes in favour, 6 against and one abstention.Specific measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the fishery and aquaculture sector. Measures include supporting fishers that have to temporarily stop operating, financial aid for aquaculture producers when production is suspended or reduced, support to producer organisations for temporary storage, as well as a more flexible reallocation of national operational funds.MEPs also approved, following informal agreement with the Council, a series of improvements that will allow support to be given to new fishers and fishers on foot (i.e. those fishing without a boat). These improvements will also adapt provisions for outermost regions to deal with the crisis, as well as providing budgetary flexibility to help countries that have exhausted all allocated funding. The amended proposal was adopted with 671 votes in favour, 10 against and 15 abstentions.Specific measures to guarantee the continued functioning of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). Measures include the possibility to finance the provision of protective equipment for workers and volunteers, the temporary 100% co-financing from the EU budget and lighter reporting and audit measures during the COVID-19-crisis.Following informal agreement with the Council, MEPs also approved changes that allow for aid to be delivered using new methods, such as through electronic or paper vouchers, to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the operations and to reach the most vulnerable and excluded. The approved measures aim to protect the most vulnerable people from falling victim to COVID-19 and to ensure that food aid and basic material assistance still reaches them, while respecting social distancing and personal protection. The amended proposal was adopted with 686 votes in favour, 7 against and 3 abstentions.
The Council has to formally approve Parliament’s position. The adopted measures will enter into force once published in the Official Journal of the European Union in the coming days.

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Let’s help European Industry step up against COVID-19, say MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 30 marzo 2020

Industrial sectors need support and incentives to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, said Industry, Research and Energy Committee Chair and political groups coordinators on Friday.“In a context of the novel corona virus crisis, our role as individuals is to support our national Governments and the front line workers in their action. Member States, and in particular their emergency task forces deserve our gratitude and support for all the actions taken and need our continuous support further on!” said ITRE committee Chair Cristian-Silviu Bușoi (EPP, RO).“Afterwards, as lawmakers, we will have to reflect upon the many things will have to change in the long term if we want to be ready if such a pandemic were to happen again” he said.“We now want to build a response that will allow the EU to make a concrete difference on the ground, in support of the Member States, who often felt on their own. We will have to beef up EU competences so preparedness and response are more integrated, because pandemics know no borders” he said.Mobilise EU research funds to support medical research on Coronavirus
ITRE committee political group coordinators also called on the European Commission and the Member States to ensure that all necessary funding and research is directed towards promptly identifying and making available treatments and vaccines, building on the Union’s world-class research and pharmaceutical expertise. Given the current lack of protective equipment, sanitizers, and emergency equipment, and the fast spreading nature of this outbreak, they call on Europe’s industry to urgently step up production of needed supplies such as respirators and protective equipment.
MEPs also call on European telecom operators to ensure that the Internet and mobile networks continue to function normally, and on the Commission to intensify its efforts to ensure that robust and reliable very high capacity networks are rolled out to everyone, everywhere, in the Union so that the infrastructure can deal with demand in all circumstances.

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COVID-19: EU must ensure access to medical gear and future vaccine, MEPs say

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 27 marzo 2020

All the EU internal market tools should be used against the COVID-19 crisis. Price hikes and scams on consumers must be stopped and all must have equal access to a future vaccine.In a letter addressed on Monday to the EU Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager (Europe Fit for the Digital Age), Commissioners Thierry Breton (Internal Market) and Didier Reynders (Justice), as well as to the Croatian Presidency of the Council, Parliament’s Internal Market Committee calls for further action to be taken to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.“We must show our citizens that the EU is here when they need it. In this time of uncertainty, we must preserve the achievements of the internal market and consumer protection more than ever and use all available tools to their full extent”, says the letter, signed by Internal Market Committee Chair, Petra de Sutter, on behalf of the committee.In order to prevent a shortage of essential goods, such as food, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and personal protection equipment, the Commission must monitor any restrictions imposed by member states on the free movement of goods in the internal market and ensure that they respect EU rules, MEPs stress.EU countries should also make sure that professional services, especially in the healthcare, childcare or elderly care sectors in cross-border regions can continue to run.“Joint procurement needs to be strengthened, so that it can be used to purchase the vaccine once it is available, and in order to avoid price speculation and allow for equal access in the European Union”, says the Internal Market Committee.MEPs also call for EU countries to coordinate in using innovative technologies such as 3D printing. “The additive manufacturing sector could provide immediate solutions for hospitals that are experiencing sudden shortages in equipment or limited access to essential pieces for personal protective equipment”, they say in the letter.MEPs urge the EU Commission and national authorities to proactively monitor the market during the crisis to prevent consumers from being harmed due to the COVID-19 situation.They should share information about malpractice, e.g. misleading claims about why prices have increased or coronavirus-related scams, in particular for products that are currently in high demand. A consistent and coordinated approach to tackle the misleading practices of rogue traders is needed, in particular for those selling false medical equipment online, says the committee.Finally, the committee welcomes the Commission’s guidelines on the EU passenger rights regulations and the reference to the travel package rules, which allow passengers to cancel their trips without penalty in such “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances” and which require tour operators to provide assistance to travellers blocked abroad.

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Coronavirus: MEPs call for EU solidarity

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 12 marzo 2020

: MEPs call for EU solidarity
• Praise for health workers fighting the Coronavirus
• Testing kits, masks and respiratory machines must be produced in the EU and be made available for all member states to purchase
• Put more funds into joint research to fight the virus
Parliament discussed the COVID-19 outbreak with the Commission and the Croatian presidency on Tuesday, underlining the need to slow down the spread across Europe.
Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said COVID-19 was a public health emergency that is changing by the hour. Member states must focus on containing the virus to slow down its spread, so that health systems can cope and the impact on the economy and social life is limited as much as possible.A number of EP political group leaders expressed their sympathy with those affected by the virus and their admiration for the health care personnel working to take care of those infected.
Many also highlighted the need for EU solidarity and for more funds to be put into researching the virus. Necessary medical supplies such as testing kits, masks and respiratory machines should be produced inside the EU and be made available to all member states.
Some MEPs said there was a need to have a common European risk assessment to ensure that the same measures would apply for areas with the same risk level. The need for common rules on entering the Schengen area was also raised by some.

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EU-US relations in data protection, AI and security: MEPs conclude visit to US

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 1 marzo 2020

A delegation of seven MEPs visited Washington and Boston from 23 to 28 February to discuss the state of play on major Civil Liberties Committee topics with US authorities and stakeholders.Discussions during the Civil Liberties Committee delegation visit focused on possible future legislation on personal data protection at the US federal level, the use of artificial intelligence in law enforcement, the visa waiver programme and counter-terrorism.The delegation held meetings with representatives of the US Congress and US Administration, i.e. the Department of State, Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission (FTA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). In Washington, MEPs also held meetings with various industry, think-tank and NGO representatives and in Boston with representatives from MIT, Harvard and Cambridge and local authorities as well as start-ups and law firms active in the field of AI.
Civil Liberties Committee Chair and head of the delegation, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), commented on the talks on data protection: “We are pleased that the US Congress is now seriously considering developing federal privacy legislation inspired by the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and we look forward to more progress. Similar legislation on both sides of the Atlantic would better protect the privacy of US and EU citizens, further ease transatlantic data flows and provide legal certainty to all stakeholders.” The EU-US Privacy Shield deal, the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act) and the EU-US agreement on sharing electronic evidence currently under negotiation were also high on the delegation’s agenda.In relation to the settlement of five billion dollars recently reached between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Facebook following the Cambridge-Analytica leaks and the related non-compliance with the Privacy Shield, MEPs regretted that the EU has not imposed a similar fine on Facebook. They noted that such fines are necessary, but unfortunately not sufficient on their own, to prevent similar incidents reoccurring in the future.The delegation also took stock of the state of play on the use of AI in the US, especially for law enforcement purposes. MEPs discussed in this context whether legislation is needed to address the possible unintended negative impact of the use of AI on civil liberties and fundamental rights and how this could be done without losing the benefits of AI. MEPs highlighted the need to prioritise legislative work in the field of AI, given the accelerating development of new disruptive AI technologies.

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MEP’s MFF negotiators disappointed by failure of EU budget summit

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 24 febbraio 2020

“We cannot afford a narrow accounting approach with a complete lack of political vision”, says the EP’s negotiating team for the long-term EU budget and Own Resources reform.
“European Council President Charles Michel’s proposal was clearly lacking ambition and coherence and we call upon the Heads of States or Government to continue the discussions in view of finding a good agreement.We cannot afford a narrow accounting approach with a complete lack of political vision. This is totally out of line with today’s and tomorrow’s grand challenges which require strong budgetary commitments to match the Union’s ambitions, notably in leading the fight against climate change, ensuring the digital transition and being stronger on the international scene.It is still time for President Michel to go back to the drawing board and search for a win-win compromise on the basis of what we agree to achieve together for a stronger Europe; not a lose-lose compromise on the basis of the lowest common denominator.We expect the Member States to break the deadlock on the own resources. The proposed changes are insufficient for the Parliament, which recalls it will not give its consent on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) without a satisfactory reform. We encourage the Member States not to put aside this issue and make real progress. We need a basket of new own resources and a binding commitment to introduce new sources of revenue in the course of the next MFF.”

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Discussions kick off among MEPs and national MPs on economic governance

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 22 febbraio 2020

MEPs and members of national parliaments kicked off their two-day yearly gathering on Tuesday, dedicated to discussing EU economic governance.The opening, chaired by Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Chair Irene Tinagli (S&D, IT), saw interventions from top European politicians leading the implementation of economic governance and its reforms.Ms Tinagli highlighted the areas where progress is most pressing and on which the European Parliament is working, including completing the banking union and the capital markets union, reforming the architecture of economic governance and more particularly, making economic governance more democratically accountable.Commission Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Gentiloni presented the institution’s plans to review the architecture of economic governance. Eurogroup President Centeno laid out what finance ministers would be prioritising in the coming months. Zdravko Marić, the current ECOFIN chair, presented the priorities of the Croatian Presidency of the Council.Fabio Panetta, Executive Board member of the ECB also presented the Eurozone’s monetary outlook and described the actions that the ECB still deems necessary to complete the economic and monetary union (EMU).
The meeting will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday with debates among parliamentarians on taxation, financial services as well as the fight against poverty and the EU long-term budget (MFF).EP President David Sassoli will open the plenary debate on Wednesday morning on climate change and the role that EU economic, budgetary and social policies can play in this regard.

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AFET adopts recommendation on EU stance on a key nuclear arms control regime

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 21 febbraio 2020

MEPs call for effective multilateralism and rules-based international order in the run-up to the 2020 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty review process.The Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) adopted on Wednesday a recommendation to the Council and the EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell on what stance to take on preparing the 2020 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) review process, nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament options.In a report adopted with 61 votes for, 1 against and 5 abstentions, AFET MEPs recommend that the Council and the EU foreign policy chief should reaffirm the EU’s and member states’ full support to the NPT and its three mutually reinforcing pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear energy They should also reiterate that effective multilateralism and rules-based international order are a pre-condition for countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons, say MEPs They warn that exacerbating the situations in which nuclear weapons could be used could seriously jeopardise global strategic stability, urging the state parties to the NPT to ensure that the trend of reducing nuclear arsenal, since the number of nuclear weapons peaked in 1986, is not reversed.With the collapse of the INF treaty last summer in mind, MEPs recommend that EU representatives call on the US and Russia to resume a dialogue and find a way to put in place a new legally binding instrument for short- and medium-range missiles.They should also stress that a clear commitment from Russia and the US to extend the new START Treaty before it expires in February 2021 would contribute significantly to the NPT review conference.MEPs also recommend that the EU’s continuing commitment to the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) should be reaffirmed as the best possible means for obtaining assurances of an exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy by Iran. However, MEPs also point out that the EU regrets that Iran stopped limiting its production of enriched uranium, which led to all European signatories to the JCPOA triggering a dispute mechanism. Regarding North Korea, MEPs recommend urging the country to abandon its nuclear weapons programme and return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards. They also recall that the DPRK continues to represent a regional and international nuclear and ballistic threat.Rapporteur Sven Mikser (S&D, ET) said: The European Union needs to continue to work hard to make the upcoming NPT Review Conference a success. For half a century, the NPT has provided a crucial framework to reduce the nuclear threat, and it continues to be the best instrument available to the international community to pursue a path towards a world free of nuclear weapons.”

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MEPs to look into Artificial Intelligence in criminal law

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 20 febbraio 2020

Bruxelles Thursday, 20 February, from 14.00 to 17.30 European Parliament, Antall building, room 4Q2 The use of Artificial Intelligence by the police and judicial authorities, including facial recognition, will be discussed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday.
The hearing will focus on the benefits and risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the criminal law framework, predictive policing, facial recognition, as well as the ethical and fundamental rights implications. The list of speakers includes representatives from the Council of Europe, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). Experts from academia, think tanks and civil society will also speak at the hearing.

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