Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 279

Posts Tagged ‘meps’

MEPs debate defence priorities with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 18 luglio 2020

Defence and security policy will be marked by the COVID-19 crisis, says the German Defence Minister, presenting the priorities of the German Presidency.When it comes to defence and security policy, the COVID-19 crisis will mark the German Presidency priorities, just as it will every other policy area, said German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to the Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Subcommittee MEPs on Tuesday.Presenting via video link the security and defence priorities of the EU for the next six months, she stressed that German presidency’s attention will be focused on European resilience – “where we as Europeans haven’t been resilient enough, above and beyond national borders”.Europe has not been capable of action when it comes to hybrid threats, which includes the scenario of a pandemic, said the German minister. Europe needs capabilities and assets, as a genuinely common European approach and policy in this area was not planned for when COVID-19 started taking over.

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COVID-19 lessons for the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 17 luglio 2020

The draft report by Gabriele Bischoff (S&D, DE), which was prepared with assistance by the relevant working group, contains new provisions for the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure that will allow MEPs to continue performing their duties in times of emergency. During her presentation, the rapporteur highlighted the guiding principles behind the changes proposed by the report: equal treatment for all MEPs, preserving the freedom of mandate, the right to speak and vote freely and personally, and the continuity of EP legislative, budgetary and political control work.The proposed changes foresee the activation of derogations from the standard rules by the EP President, in agreement with political group leaders, that will have to be proportional to the event in question and can be reversed, under certain circumstances, by the plenary. A flexible approach has been taken in defining the conditions that could justify such decisions: events will have to be exceptional, unforeseeable, and outside Parliament’s control. The report foresees digital solutions for remote participation for all MEPs or a significant number among them.Constitutional Affairs Committee MEPs will submit amendments, aiming to finalise the process by the end of September and for the report to be tabled at a plenary sitting in October.

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MEPs adopt a report on the implementation of EU arms export rules

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 17 luglio 2020

MEPs condemn the increasing arms race evolving across the world, calling on the EU to play an active role in the areas of non-proliferation of arms and global disarmament.In the “Arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP” report, adopted by the European Parliament´s Committee on Foreign Affairs on Monday evening, MEPs looked into how the member states were implementing the EU’s common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment.The latest SIPRI figures show that arms exports from the EU-28 amounted to some 26 % of the global total in 2015-2019, collectively making the EU-28 the second largest arms supplier in the world after the USA (36 %) and followed by Russia (21 %), point out MEPs.In light of the EU’s growing importance in arms production, they support the Council´s commitment to strengthen the control of arms exports. Its recent decisions reflect a growing awareness among member states of the need for greater transparency in this area, MEPs say.The ambition to make the European defence sector more competitive must not undermine the application of the Common Position’s eight criteria as they take precedence over any national economic, social, commercial or industrial interests, warn MEPs.The rapporteur Hannah Neumann (Greens/EFA, DE) said: “Arms exports need parliamentary and public scrutiny. With increasing EU cooperation and EU funding in arms production, EU oversight and regulations are needed more and more. The report demands clear advances in this regard and should guide member states and the Commission in the coming years.”MEPs recall that the EU has been implementing a number of arms embargoes on several countries, ensuring that the EU does not contribute to humanitarian crises, human rights abuses and atrocities. Welcoming Operation IRINI´s objectives to strictly implement the UN arms embargo, they call on all member states to halt any transfer of weapons, surveillance and intelligence equipment to all the parties involved in the Libyan conflict.MEPs also welcome the decisions of some member states to restrict their arms exports to countries who are members of the Saudi-led coalition involved in the war in Yemen and call again on the High Representative to launch a process that would lead to an EU arms embargo against Saudi ArabiaThey welcome the EU´s efforts to make the Arms Trade Treaty universal, to which all EU member states are party, and call the major arms-exporting countries, such as the USA, China and Russia, to sign and ratify the Treaty.MEPs also stress the need to strengthen public oversight in this domain as well as the importance of regularly consulting the European Parliament, national parliaments, arms export control authorities, industry associations and civil society to establish a meaningful level of transparency.The report was adopted by 33 votes for, 11 against and 26 abstentions.

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Tourism MEPs: trust in travelling remains low, SMEs are suffering

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 17 luglio 2020

Members of Parliament’s Tourism Task Force request additional urgent measures to relaunch tourism in Europe and help businesses to survive the COVID-19 crisis.The Transport and Tourism Committee discussed on Tuesday, with European Commission Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Director-General Kerstin Jorna, the tourism aspects of the EU Recovery Package and next long-term EU budget. The MEPs also reiterated their request for further action to support the sector, which is facing bankruptcies and massive layoffs. The Tourism Task Force took stock of the progress made by different actors to help the sector to overcome the crisis one month after the Parliament adopted its resolution on transport and tourism:As soon as possible, Europe needs
• a common threshold of what would be considered an acceptably low level of virus propagation, which would then have to be enforced across all EU member states;
• common hygiene and sanitary measures for various modes of transport within the European Union, instead of different protocols at each airport or port;
• a more objective and transparent process of opening the borders to third-country nationals, based on epidemiological evidence; the current recommendation that lists 15 third countries whose nationals can enter the EU is confusing for travellers, especially to those in transit.We also see that specific financing for tourism is still lacking in several member states. The sector is suffering from a lack of liquidity due to the drop in demand. Specific financing is either not tailored to tourism or has not been allocated due to a lack of will demonstrated by some member states.The Tourism and Transport package and the EU Recovery Plan put forward by the European Commission in May were important first steps for relaunching tourism in the EU. Nevertheless, it is clear by now that more efforts are urgently needed.
The coordinated relaunch of the tourism sector at EU level must be an immediate strategic priority both for the EU institutions and for the member states, as the Parliament outlined in its 19 June resolution on tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond.
Further to recognising tourism as one of the economic activities most badly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the tourism sector must be given due importance in the EU Recovery Plan. This must include the possibility of providing additional financial support to the sector, also taking into account the share that the travel and tourism sector contributes to a member state’s GDP.Most importantly, we regret that repeated calls from the Parliament for a dedicated budget line for sustainabletourism have fallen on deaf ears and that subsequently this was not included in the revised long-term EU budget for 2021-2027.This crisis clearly highlights the benefits that a genuine European tourism policy could bring. We need a common EU tourism policy to enhance the EU’s competitiveness in this sector, promoting cooperation between member states and regions and creating options for further investment and innovation in the sector.”

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Shipping industry must contribute to climate neutrality, say MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 11 luglio 2020

To decarbonise maritime transport, the Environment Committee voted on Tuesday to include CO2 emissions from the maritime sector in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).
The Commission has put forward a proposal to revise the EU system for monitoring, reporting and verifying CO2 emissions from maritime transport (the “EU MRV Regulation”) and bring it in line with new obligations under International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to monitor emissions from 2019 and report in 2020.In the legislative report approved (62 votes to 3 and 13 abstentions) on Tuesday, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee welcomes the proposal but wants to see more ambition and voted to include ships of 5000 gross tonnage and above in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). In addition, MEPs say that market-based emissions reduction policies are not enough, so they also introduced binding requirements for shipping companies to reduce their annual average CO2 emissions per transport work, for all their ships, by at least 40% by 2030.
When adopted by the Plenary, which should happen during 14 – 17 September session in Strasbourg, Parliament will be ready to start negotiations with member states on the final shape of the legislation.

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Tap into the potential of the building sector for jobs and decarbonisation, say MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 11 luglio 2020

Ahead of the upcoming Renovation Wave announced by the European Commission, MEPs outline proposals to achieve an energy-efficient and climate-neutral building stock by 2050.The Renovation Wave currently being prepared should also aim to end energy poverty and ensure healthy and safe living conditions for all among its core objectives, say MEPs in a report adopted on Monday in the Industry, Research and Energy committee.Improving the energy efficiency of buildings would also help alleviate the estimated 50 million households in the European Union experiencing energy poverty, by reducing energy bills. Building and renovation policies should, however, be inclusive and contribute to EU climate goals, but also integrate local value chains and should not lead to an unbearable rental cost burden for tenants, say MEPs.They also advocate for renewable energies to be fully integrated into the sector, and stress the importance of decarbonised district heating and cooling for more connected communities.Member states should also propose scrapping schemes to replace old and inefficient heating systems, and establish a roadmap to phase out fossil fuel heating and cooling technologies as part of their national energy and climate plans (NECPs).The use of natural and low carbon building materials, such as certified wood, should be incentivised, as construction offers an opportunity to store carbon in bio-based building products.
MEPs call on the EU co-legislators to ensure the necessary funding within the EU Economic Recovery Plan. The Commission should revise energy efficiency targets upward, as required by the Energy Efficiency Directive, and propose minimum annual renovation rates for buildings as well as measures creating financial triggers and investment stability.The Commission should also consider directing revenues from the Emissions Trading System (ETS) into energy efficiency actions such as for building renovations, and to earmark a portion of the auctioning revenue at EU level.

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Investigate alleged pushbacks of asylum-seekers at the Greek-Turkish border, MEPs demand

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 8 luglio 2020

Greek and EU authorities must investigate recurrent reports of violent pushbacks at the border with Turkey, which if true would mean Greece is not ensuring the right to asylum.On Monday, MEPs in the Civil Liberties Committee asked the Greek Government to clarify their position regarding several media and academic reports which indicate that the country’s police and border guards systematically prevent migrants from entering Greece, using violence and even shooting at them, both at the land and sea borders.Greek Ministers for Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrisochoidis, and for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, dismissed the accusations, describing them as “fake news”, and underlined the key role that Greece plays in “keeping EU borders safe, always respecting fundamental rights”. They also warned that a repetition of the events that took place in March, when President Erdoğan announced that he was opening the Turkish borders, cannot be ruled out.A majority of MEPs called on the European Commission to make sure the Greek authorities comply with EU legislation on asylum, urging it to condemn the use of violence and impose sanctions if the breaches are confirmed. Commissioner Ylva Johansson agreed that allegations of violence against asylum-seekers must be investigated, not only in Greece, but all across the EU. “We cannot protect our borders by violating people’s rights”, she said.Some MEPs commended Greece for guarding the EU’s borders from Turkey. Commissioner Johansson also pointed to the progress made in the last few months and stressed that, despite a very challenging situation, the Greek authorities have avoided the spread of COVID-19 within the refugee camps.

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MEPs reiterate the need for a political solution to the Syria conflict

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 4 luglio 2020

The Foreign Affairs and Development Committee Chairs deliver remarks during the ministerial meeting at the IV Brussels conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region.The Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McAllister (EPP, DE) and the Chair of the Committee on Development, Tomas Tobé (EPP, SE), participated in the meeting of Foreign Ministers held in the framework of the IV Brussels Conference.
The Foreign Affairs Committee Chair intervened during the first part of the afternoon plenary session, which was co-chaired by European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi. Mr McAllister stressed that from the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the European Parliament has provided a strong mandate to the European Commission and the European External Action Service in deploying all efforts to find a political solution to the conflict and for their capacity to continue to provide relief to the Syrian population both in Syria and in neighbouring countries. He also underlined that a political solution to the conflict must remain the primary objective of the international community. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must come to the negotiating table and show a clear commitment to resolving the conflict, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. There is no way around this fundamental principle and this is why it is important to ensure that the resources devoted to the immediate relief of the Syrian people will not be used for reconstruction purposes or longer-term relief in Syria, unless there is a clear commitment by the Syrian regime to adhere to the Geneva process and until a political process is underway. Mr McAllister reminded all participants that the future of Syria also very much depends on the Syrian refugees who will choose to return – once the conflict is over. They will play an active role in rebuilding their country. Facilitating access to education and to longer-term socio-economic integration for Syrian refugees is essential. Mr McAllister concluded his intervention by inviting Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen, Special Envoy for Syria of the UN Secretary General, to the European Parliament to continue the dialogue on ways to bring an end to the conflict in Syria.The Chair of the Committee on Development intervened during the second part of the afternoon plenary session, which was co-chaired by European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. Mr Tobé recalled how only a week ago, Parliament’s Budgets Committee approved an additional EUR 585 million to support Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, in areas such as education, livelihoods, health, sanitation, water and waste services, and social protection. This is one more example of the continued commitment of the EU and its Member States – the largest donors when it comes to responding to the Syria crisis – to support the populations in need and especially those most vulnerable, such as women, children, minorities or people with disabilities. Mr Tobé, reiterated the demand of the European Parliament to respect humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, as well as safe, timely and unhindered access for humanitarian organisations throughout Syria, including through the authorisation of cross-border and cross-conflict-line humanitarian access as authorised in UN Security Council resolutions. The Chair of the Development Committee also echoed the message of the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs that the only way forward in resolving the conflict in Syria is a political solution under the auspices of the UN-led Geneva process. Until then, the international community has the responsibility to provide assistance and advocate for the protection of the Syrian population. This is what the European Parliament, and the European Union as a whole, have done for years, and will continue to do.

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MEPs want to boost energy storage in the EU to help spur decarbonisation

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 3 luglio 2020

As energy from renewable sources is increasingly part of the European energy mix, MEPs propose ways to step up storage solutions such as hydrogen or home batteries. In a report adopted on Monday, MEPs in the Industry, Research and Energy Committee outline their strategy for energy storage, which plays a crucial role in reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate change.Lead MEP Claudia Gamon (Renew Europe, AT) said: “Energy storage will be essential for the transition to a decarbonised economy based on renewable energy sources. As electricity generated by wind or solar energy will not always be available in the quantities needed, we will need to store energy. Apart from storage technologies that we already know work well like pumped hydro storage, a number of technologies will play a crucial role in the future, such as new battery technologies, thermal storage or green hydrogen. These must be given market access to ensure a constant energy supply for European citizens.” The Industry, Research and Energy Committee calls on the European Commission and member states to remove regulatory barriers that hamper the development of energy storage projects, such as double taxation or shortcomings in EU network codes. The Trans-European energy networks also need to be revised in order to improve eligibility criteria for those wishing to develop energy storage facilities, MEPs say.MEPs also highlight the potential of hydrogen produced from renewable sources (so-called “ green hydrogen”), and call on the Commission to continue supporting research into and development of a hydrogen economy. Support measures are needed to reduce the cost of green hydrogen to make it economically viable, they say. The Commission should also assess if retrofitting gas infrastructure to transport hydrogen is possible, as the use of natural gas is only of a transitional nature.The committee also supports the Commission’s efforts to create European standards for batteries and to reduce dependence on their production outside of Europe. The EU’s heavy dependence on importing raw materials from sources where extraction degrades the environment should be reduced through enhanced recycling schemes and by sourcing raw materials sustainably, possibly in the EU.Finally, MEPs propose ways to boost other storage options, such as mechanical and thermal storage, as well as the development of decentralised storage through home batteries, domestic heat storage, vehicle-to-grid technology and smart home energy systems.

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MEPs call on EU Commission to step up action against dangerous chemicals

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 3 luglio 2020

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee adopted a resolution by 65 votes to 1 and 14 abstentions, calling on the Commission to come up with a new chemicals strategy for sustainability that effectively ensures a high level of protection of health and the environment, minimising exposure to hazardous chemicals. It also says that further regulatory measures are needed to adequately protect vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly.The new chemicals strategy must fully reflect the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle, as well as being more transparent during the approval process. It should also encourage safe and sustainable alternatives to be developed in a competitive way, including through a clear commitment to securing funds for research.
MEPs believe there is a need to support the ‘one substance – one hazard assessment’ principle, to allow substances to be reviewed by only one EU agency to speed up and make chemicals regulation more consistent.The resolution calls for a comprehensive EU framework on endocrine disruptors (EDCs) to effectively minimise the extent to which humans and the environment are exposed to EDCs, and insert specific provisions into legislation on toys, food contact materials and cosmetics to treat EDCs like substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction.
It also calls on the Commission to heed the various calls of the European Parliament to improve the EU’s authorisation procedure for pesticides and accelerate the transition towards low-risk pesticides.MEPs call on the Commission to develop EU criteria for Sustainable Chemicals to provide incentives for sustainable chemistry, materials and technologies, especially non-chemical alternatives that are safe.MEPs also underline that there are harmful chemicals in recycled products and therefore call for the same rules that apply to new products to apply to recycled materials.The EU must also minimise and progressively replace animal testing through expanded use of new approach methodologies and intelligent testing strategies.The resolution, which still has to be adopted by Plenary, is Parliament’s input to the upcoming EU chemicals strategy for sustainability foreseen to be presented by the Commission this autumn. A draft roadmap was open for feedback until 20 June. It is part of the European Green Deal.An oral question to the Commission has also been adopted, asking what measures the Commission is intending to take under the chemicals strategy for sustainability and in particular, how the Commission intends to improve the functioning of REACH to close the regulatory gaps in EU legislation.

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COVID-19: Both WHO and Europe must learn from the current pandemic, say MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 29 giugno 2020

The Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety held a debate with the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on the fight against COVID-19 and the global response to it, including WHO actions to prevent the spread of the disease and to develop treatments and vaccines.Dr. Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic has highlighted the importance of global solidarity and that health should not be seen as a cost but an investment. He added that all countries in the world must strengthen primary health care and crisis preparedness and stressed the need for EU leadership globally. While the Director-General said the situation in the EU has improved significantly, he underlined that COVID-19 is very much still circulating globally, with more than four million new cases in the last month.Many MEPs said that the global community must cooperate including in developing, manufacturing and distributing vaccines against COVID-19 and asked when a safe vaccine could be available.Dr. Adhanom Ghebreyesus very much welcomed the Global Coronavirus Response pledging campaign launched by the EU, which has so far raised €9.8 billion, but said more is needed. He said scientists predict we may have a vaccine within one year or even a few months earlier. However, making the vaccine available and distributing it to all will be a challenge and requires political will. One option would be to give the vaccine only to those that are most vulnerable to the virus.Several MEPs underlined the importance of the WHO but also said it has made mistakes in its response to the pandemic. The Director-General admitted everyone makes mistakes and informed MEPs that an independent panel will evaluate the WHO response to the pandemic to learn from any mistakes made. It will start its work soon.Dr Hans Kluge, Regional Director of WHO Europe, added that the three most important lessons learned in Europe from the pandemic are:
A stockpile of medical equipment, such as ventilators and masks, is needed;
Common indicators for monitoring a pandemic are necessary;
Solidarity is key, as no one is safe from a pandemic until everyone is safe.

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MEPs call for EUR 40 billion for Just Transition Fund to cushion road to green transition

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 29 giugno 2020

MEPs of the economic and monetary affairs committee on Thursday backed the setting up of the Just Transition Fund, calling for it to be adequately financed to the tune of EUR 40 billion.
The vote was carried by 45 MEPs in favour, 7 against and 5 abstentions.After the vote, the rapporteur Henrike Hahn, (Greens/EFA, DE) said:”The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is the first legislative opportunity to show in the European Parliament our capacity and willingness to implement the Green Deal. We need a sustainable economy in the light of the Paris goals that serves the people and leaves no one behind. We need a social-ecological transformation process towards a sustainable, climate-neutral and resource-efficient economy. The JTS spells out the high importance of social justice in Europe and how we can stand together in this social-ecological transformation process of the economy.””The Economic and monetary affairs committee calls for an ambitious budget of EUR 40 billion. The Fund should be distributed only to territories which are engaged in a real transition: they have a clear fossil fuel phase out plan and prioritise investments in green energy technologies. The use of the JTF to support the ecological transition of large and ETS companies should be duly scrutinized. And when the Fund is used to revitalise former coal mining sites, the polluter pays principle should be strictly applied. Finally, like other European Parliament committees, ECON calls for a locally owned transition, through strong engagement of territorial communities. “The economic and monetary affairs committee is one of the committees consulted on the setting up of the Just Transition Fund. The lead committee in the European Parliament is the Regional affairs committee.

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MEPs demand unprecedented support measures for EU firms and workers

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 28 giugno 2020

To prevent massive job losses and a deep recession, EP’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee calls for radical measures to help EU firms and workers out of the crisis.Member states need to take radical measures to cushion the employment and social shock caused by the pandemic, says the resolution on the EU Employment Guidelines, drafted by José Gusmão (GUE/NGL, PT) and adopted on Wednesday by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee. The text calls on the Commission to revise the Employment Guidelines to take account of the consequences of the pandemic and better respond to future crises.Measures proposed by MEPs include wage subsidies, income support, extending unemployment benefit schemes and paid sick leave as well as carers’ leave and arrangements to work from home. The fight against youth unemployment, homelessness and poverty must be prioritised through a reinforced Youth Guarantee, a strong Child Guarantee for tackling child poverty and the Housing First approach, they say.The text asks that only companies that are not registered in tax havens, that respect the applicable collective agreements and that do not pay dividends or bonuses can apply for financial assistance from the SURE mechanism for short-time work, and welcomes a proposal for a European permanent unemployment reinsurance scheme, expected towards the end of 2020. MEPs consider that the length of time that the ‘General escape clause’ will apply, which gives member states fiscal flexibility during severe economic shocks, has to “reflect the dimension and duration of the COVID-19- crisis”.To create new job opportunities, MEPs propose that member states support fair labour mobility throughout Europe and further strengthen the ERASMUS+ mobility programme. Public services should be digitalised more quickly, particularly those linked to the coordination of social security systems.The report was adopted with 46 votes in favour, 5 votes against and 3 abstentions.The full house is expected to vote during the September plenary session on the draft report adopted in committee today.

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MEPs call for free movement across borders to be swiftly and fully re-established

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 24 giugno 2020

MEPs express their concern about remaining internal border controls in the Schengen area and their impact on people and businesses, in a resolution adopted on Friday by 520 votes in favour, 86 against and 59 abstentions.They stress that a swift and coordinated return to a fully functional Schengen area is of utmost importance to safeguard freedom of movement, one of the main achievements of European integration, and to ensure the EU’s economic recovery after the pandemic. MEPs reject any uncoordinated, bilateral action by individual EU countries and highlight the principle of non-discrimination in the reopening of borders.MEPs also urgently call for a discussion on a Recovery Plan for Schengen to prevent any temporary internal border controls from becoming semi-permanent. The plan should also include contingency plans in case of a potential second wave.
Civil Liberties Committee Chair and rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “While it is good news that more and more internal border restrictions are being lifted, the way in which it has been done leaves a lot to be desired. Without the return to a fully functional Schengen Area, we are still missing an essential stepping-stone on our way to recovery. A complete return to free movement, no discrimination, mutual trust and solidarity are of utmost importance and core values of the EU.”
In the medium-term, MEPs stress that a reflection on how to enhance mutual trust between member states and ensure a truly European governance of the Schengen area is needed. In light of new challenges, they call on the Commission to propose a reform of Schengen governance.MEPs also ask Council and member states to increase their efforts in Schengen integration and take the necessary steps to admit Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia into the Schengen area.After introducing internal border checks to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, EU countries have started to lift controls and related travel restrictions. The Commission recommended to Schengen countries that they should lift the internal border controls by 15 June 2020; the Commission in turn set up an online platform called Re-open EU with up-to-date information for travellers.The Schengen Area encompasses most EU member states, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. Of non-EU states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have joined the Schengen Area. Europe is celebrating this week the 35th anniversary of the agreement that was signed on 14 June 1985 in Schengen (Luxembourg) to abolish internal border controls.

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COVID-19 crisis is a potential geopolitical game-changer, warn MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 22 giugno 2020

A global pandemic needs global solutions, and the EU has to be at the centre of this response, said High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell in a plenary debate on the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis on EU foreign policy, on Thursday.To this end, the EU has launched a Team Europe response to support its partner countries in facing the pandemic, said Mr Borrell in his introductory speech. It is vital to boost sustainable and green investment in the EU’s partner countries worldwide, he added. “This crisis will be a crisis of biblical consequences”, warned the EU foreign affairs chief, stressing also the importance of extending the European Union’s programmes for refugees.The pandemic has brought about changes of tremendous dimensions and will be a potential “geopolitical game-changer”, MEPs pointed out, be it due to the deterioration of democracy and fundamental freedoms in many parts of the world, increasing disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks, or isolationism instead of multilateral cooperation.They supported strong and coordinated measures that would clearly show solidarity to EU partners throughout the world.Recalling the EU’s ambitions to be a global player, MEPs called for unity in facing the crisis. They pointed out that in the absence of the US as a global leader, Europe should step in and take on this role.Several MEPs called for an adequate EU response to China, saying that the country has not acted as a reliable partner and accusing its government of human rights breaches, a state-led economy, spreading fake news and an inability to fight the pandemic transparently.

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EU-UK debate: MEPs will not back a deal at any cost

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 21 giugno 2020

In a joint debate ahead of the EU summit covering future EU-UK relations and EU financing, MEPs urged Council to agree on the recovery plan.Parliament will not back a deal at any cost, warned several MEPs commenting on the ongoing negotiations about the future relationship between the EU and the UK. They rejected the UK’s intention to select certain policy areas on which to negotiate while ignoring others.Several speakers underlined that both parties have to stick to the Political Declaration, signed by the UK and the EU last year, which provides a clear framework for a future relationship. MEPs also called for commitments to be met faithfully, among others in the interest of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK, as laid down in the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement. Parliament hopes for a new dynamism to conclude talks, for which there are but 204 days left. A resolution assessing the talks will be adopted on Thursday, followed by a press conference.On the next long-term EU budget and the COVID-19 recovery package, MEPs said that time is pressing and it is now in the European Council’s hands to quickly take the next important step: finding a common position among member states. The economy has to get back on track urgently, and the recovery plan “can get things going, but only with an ambitious long-term budget can we cross the finishing line”.

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Parliament requests further action to save EU tourism

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 20 giugno 2020

MEPs call for additional measures to save the EU’s tourism and travel sector and make it future-proof after COVID-19 crisis. The resolution on transport and tourism in 2020 and beyond was adopted on Friday by 587 votes in favour, 32 against and 46 abstentions. It identifies areas where actions taken so far remain insufficient to support a sector that employs 22.6 million people (11.2% of the total EU employment) and that contributed 9.5% to EU GDP in 2019.Giving tourism businesses a chance of survival
• Short-term financing to avoid businesses going bankrupt and to support workers, including self-employed workers, in the transport, culture and tourism sector.
• Support long-term recovery and modernise the sector: Parliament asks the Commission to issue guidance to ensure available funding can be accessed swiftly. MEPs call for a dedicated budget line for sustainable tourism in the 2021-2027 long-term EU budget.Guarantee safety and fairness by
• establishing common standards and detailed protocols for hygiene and health screening measures;
• developing an early alert system that warns tourists about any potential health threat at their destination;
• creating an EU safety certificate for establishments and operators that meet the highest hygiene and safety standards;
• launching a dedicated information campaign on travel and tourism, aiming at promoting intra-EU travel, re-establishing confidence in travel and tourism during COVID-19, and educating tourists on the health and safety measures in place;
• ensuring safe transit and country-to-country movement is not hampered by unilateral measures and agreements between individual member states.
The Parliament encourages the Commission to explore the idea of a crisis-management mechanism for EU tourism, in order to respond adequately and swiftly to any future challenge of similar magnitude. MEPs see the crisis also as an historic opportunity to modernise tourism in the EU and make it more sustainable, e.g. local and rural tourism initiatives, or out-of-season travel. The EU should promote and certify environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically sound travel and tourism. The Parliament wants EU support to serve as a tool to guide infrastructure and transport development and tourism towards more sustainable, innovative, resilient and high-quality products and services. The Parliament supports the concept of ‘safe and smart destinations’ to ensure the development of sustainable, responsible and accessible tourism.

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MEPs call on EU to consider lawsuit against China over Hong Kong

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 20 giugno 2020

Parliament recommends that EU and members states file a case before the International Court of Justice, if the new national security law for Hong Kong is applied.In a resolution adopted on Friday by 565 votes to 34, with 62 abstentions, the European Parliament voted in favour of bringing China before the International Court of Justice over its decision to adopt a new national security law for semi-autonomous Hong-Kong.In the text, MEPs “call on the EU and its Member States to consider, in the event the new security law is applied, filing a case before the International Court of Justice alleging that China’s decision to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong violates the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
They also strongly condemn the new law as an assault on the city’s autonomy, as well as China’s constant and increasing interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. MEPs call for the jailed pro-democracy activists and peaceful demonstrators to be released and for charges against them to be dropped. They want to see a UN Special Envoy appointed to deal specifically with the situation in Hong Kong.The European Parliament is greatly concerned by the steady deterioration of civil and political rights, and press freedom in Hong Kong and calls for an independent and impartial investigation into the police’s use of force against pro-democracy protesters.It finally strongly urges EU member states in the Council and the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell to address the issue of the national security law for Hong Kong as a top priority at the upcoming EU-China Summit on Monday, 22 June, (via video conference) and at the planned EU-China Leaders meeting, as well as other human rights issues, such as the situation of the Uyghurs.

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COVID-19 and European Citizens’ Initiatives: MEPs vote for deadline extensions

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 20 giugno 2020

Parliament approved the proposal to extend retroactively time limits for the collection, verification and examination phases of ECIs affected by COVID-19 restrictions.With a majority close to unanimity (653 votes for, 10 against and two abstentions), Parliament approved on Friday the Commission’s proposal to extend retroactively the limits for collecting, verifying and examining European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECIs) that are being impeded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed changes are as follows:
• Six-month extensions will be given for the collection of statements of support for initiatives whose signature collection was ongoing on 11 March 2020. Where the collection of statements of support started between 11 March and 11 September 2020, the maximum collection period will run until 11 September 2021.
• Member states can request an extension of the verification period (by one to three months) in case they cannot complete the process in time.
• EU institutions can defer the organisation of meetings with ECI organisers (a Commission obligation, normally within one month after submission of a successful initiative) and public hearings (organised by the Parliament within three months after submission) for as soon as the public health situation allows.
The approved text gives the Commission the capacity to prolong further the applicable collection periods if the situation continues to be difficult after 11 September 2020, or if lockdown measures are reintroduced in the future. Each such extension will be for three months, with a maximum total collection period of 24 months.Parliament has improved the original proposal by lowering the thresholds required for the Commission to act in this way, from a majority of member states (or states representing more than 35% of the Union), to a quarter of EU countries. MEPs also voted to allow for the remote participation of ECI organisers in hearings or meetings.Rapporteur Loránt Vincze (EPP, RO) said: “The pandemic had a serious impact on the ongoing ECIs. Organisers were not able to lead effective signature collection campaigns. We must make sure that the EU’s main instrument for participative democracy gets back on track as quickly as possible, with full legal clarity and effectiveness. Citizen engagement is essential to strengthen our Union.”This proposal was approved using the Parliament’s urgent procedure under Rule 163.5. Parliament will now negotiate with the Council its proposed improvements, with the intention to finalise the process swiftly so that the extension can be formally adopted in July. These temporary measures, once adopted, will stay in force until the end of 2022.

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Employment MEPs reach consensus with Commission on workers’ health and safety

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 14 giugno 2020

Several groups in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) had tabled an objection to the Commission’s classification of SARS-CoV-2 as a risk group 3 biological agent, the second most dangerous category. They considered that the novel virus should be classified in risk group 4, the highest risk group, to ensure the highest possible levels of protection of workers’ health and safety.However, during today’s EMPL meeting, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit addressed the concerns raised by MEPs and declared that the Commission will strongly encourage member states to ensure that written instructions are provided to all workers exposed to COVID-19, as also recommended in the EU guidance on protecting workers. The Commission will also assess the need to amend the Biological Agents Directive following the lessons learned during the pandemic to ensure better preparedness and response planning in all workplaces.Based on these additional safeguards to protect workers’ health, some of the groups withdrew their objection to the classification of SARS-CoV-2 in risk group 3.The resolution objecting to the Commission decision was rejected with 35 votes against, 5 votes in favour and 15 abstentions.
The Commission decision to classify SARS-CoV-2 as a risk group 3 biological agent is adopted and in force. Member states must implement the Directive by 24 November 2020.

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