Saturday, 26 October 2013

Last Week in the EU

Liberal Democrats were pleased to emerge as the only major party making gains in last Sunday's general election in Luxembourg. Though not the largest party, we may yet secure the prime ministerial role in a Liberal-SocDem-Green coalition. As in Germany, however, it may take a number of weeks for the parties to agree the new coalition.

The tiny republic of San Marino voted in a referendum the same day to apply to join the EU (though only by the narrowest of margins). I imagine we might see other micro states do the same as the crackdown on tax evasion renders their 'offshore' status less attractive.
 
The European Parliament met in Strasbourg. On Tuesday in committee and on Thursday on the floor of the house an emergency measure was approved in the form of a draft amending budget to prevent the European Commission running out of money to pay its bills (which might seem vaguely familiar). Part of this was also to secure from the 28 member states sufficient flexibility in budgetary rules to prevent such a near crisis happening more regularly (which might also ring a few bells). 

It looks like the heads of state are attempting to have things both ways; calling for cuts in the overall EU budget whilst at the same time insisting the EU does more and more things.
 
The highlight of the week was the visit by Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma/Myanmar, who came to the foreign affairs committee on Monday evening and to the floor of the House on Tuesday to collect the Sakharov prize she was awarded in absentia 23 years ago. She also met the 28 member state foreign ministers in the EU's Council of Ministers.
 
On Wednesday Parliament voted at second reading to reject proposals for public aid to fishermen to modernise their fishing boats (other than for the purchase of more fuel-efficient engines). Aid should be available to compensate fishermen for spending fewer days at sea. The final shape of this final measure in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy must now be taken in 'co-decision' between Council (the 28 fisheries ministers or their representatives) and Parliament.