Saturday, 12 October 2013

Last Week In The EU (Week ending 12-OCT-2013)

So in order to challenge the popular (but wrong) view that nothing of any importance ever happens in the European Union here's a selection of things that happened over the previous few days;

  • New rules were adopted on pilots hours, this overturned a previous vote in committee which rejected the proposals
  • A 1985 law on environmental impact assessments for major infrastructure projects was revised (this will include old exploration and fracking)
  • The Tobacco Products Directive made it though it's first reading and was amended by allow e-cigarettes to be widely available (rather than restricted to being medicines). This managed to displease both the Tobacco and Health lobbies so is probably about right!
  • A new plan for a investment agreement with People's Republic of China moved forward, there's still a (very!) long way to go. A similar agreement was proposed for Taiwan.
  • The deaths of 250 asylum seekers off the island of Lampedusa was discussed following a visit to the island by Commission President Barroso to meet survivors. A new border surveillance system using satellite imaging should be up and running by the end of the year but as it stands at the moment the lack of resources members states are wiling to commit to land and sea border patrols means the border will continue to be poorly policed. The Commission has given Italy another €30 million to help with the 30,000 refugees who have arrived on their shores so far this year.
  • Employment ministers from the 28 member states met in Luxembourg on Tuesday to review the Posted Workers directive (governing those posted abroad to work on specific contracts). But there is so much disagreement between them that policy will likely continue to be set by the European Court of Justice.
  • A report by the EU's environment agency showed that member states are on track to achieve a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases, a 20% energy saving through efficiency improvements and 20% of renewable energy in our total energy mix by the previously agreed deadline of 2020. Unfortunately though the huge leaps some member states are making seem to be allowing some other members states to achieve very little progress. For example Germany's attempt last week to delay or water down the new emissions standards for cars and vans appears to have been defeated.
  • The Spinelli group of one hundred MEPs seeking a federal Europe published on Thursday a draft new EU treaty under which countries not wishing such a development (such as the UK) would be invited to become associate members of the EU. It is largely the work of my UK MEP Andrew Duff.