10 things you should know about the February plenary
- Published on Monday, 20 February 2012 10:44
- Posted by Scott Buckler
Eurobonds, food aid, a trade agreement with Morocco, Euro transfers and blind people's access to books were some of the issues discussed by MEPs during the February plenary session
MEPs also received Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and debated the situation in Syria and voted on the situation in Russia and Hungary, among many other topics.
From cuts to growth
Moving from budgetary cuts to economic growth should be the order of the day in the upcoming European Council in March, MEPs warned during the pre-summit debate on Wednesday morning. A day earlier they had debated eurobonds and examined the Commission's annual growth survey for the EU, insisting that economic policy coordination requires structural reforms.
Mario Monti addresses the EP
Italian PM Mario Monti was warmly welcomed in the plenary, where he insisted that his government is committed to reforms and fiscal consolidation. "Fiscal discipline has to be followed by a strengthened single market leading to a stronger economic union."
Fighting hunger and homelessness in today's Europe
Food aid to Europe's neediest will continue after Parliament voted on Wednesday to extend by at least another two years the "Food for the Needy" programme that provides for the 18 million Europeans facing hunger. On Monday MEPs had once more called for an EU strategy to help the Union's three million homeless.
Good for Europe and the Mediterranean countries or a boon for the agro-industry that will destroy family farming? Italian Christian-Democrat member Cristiana Muscardini and French Green José Bové, argued on our website for and against the EU-Morocco agreement on liberalising trade in agriculture and fishing, ahead of the plenary debate and vote on the issue.
Transferring funds between member states and other European countries is set to become faster and cheaper following approval of a deal to make cross-border payments almost indistinguishable from domestic ones. It will apply in 2014 within the EU and in 2016 for transfers to and from Switzerland, Norway, Monaco, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Human rights in Syria and Russia
Protecting human life and rights amid the fierce fighting in Syria was debated by MEPs on Wednesday. They also voted on a resolution following the events surrounding December's elections in Russia following a debate held on February 1.
The situation in Hungary
Having discussed the situation in Hungary with the country's prime minister Viktor Orbán in the previous plenary in January, MEPs voted on a resolution expressing their concern, following the Commission's decision to launch accelerated infringement procedures against Hungary over certain constitutional issues.
Helping milk producers
Parliament on Wednesday voted to improve dairy farmers' bargaining power vis-a-vis the bottling companies and thus their chances of getting better prices for their milk through changes to the system of negotiations with bottling companies.
Books for the blind
Members and European Commission representatives discussed the possibility of a legal obligation for book publishers to accept the printing of copies of their published works specifically prepared for the blind.
A tweet to die for?
Opening the session, Parliament President Martin Schulz strongly condemned the extradition of Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari, who is accused of posting blasphemous comments on Twitter. If convicted, he could face the death penalty in his home country. The President promised "to do everything possible to stop this happening".