Profile: Valean, the new ENVI chair, what does she stand for?

The change of leadership at the helm of the Environment and Public Health Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament is by far the move with the greatest direct impact on policy that took place during the reshuffle. As EP insiders know, ENVI is one of the committees that deals with the biggest number of legislative / binding decisions. Moreover, the environment-related subjects are also the most disputed files in the EP: a measurement by VoteWatch Europe indicates that it is on environment where the EPP and the S&D vote against each other the most (about half of the time, compared to only 24% overall). Continue Reading

Centre-left EU Parliamentarians oppose the renewal of anti-smuggling agreements with tobacco companies

A majority of the Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) asked the Commission not to renew the EU anti-smuggling agreement with the tobacco industries. Indeed, the centre-left and leftist MEPs backed by the Eurosceptics and the Nationalists passed a non-binding resolution urging the Commission not to renew, extend or renegotiate the anti-contraband and anti-counterfeit agreement between Philippe Morris International (PMI) affiliates and the EU. Continue Reading

Centre-right EU parliamentarians rescue Commission’s new proposal on diesel car emission limits

VW Golf TDI clean diesel

Centre-right EU parliamentarians sided with the European Commission and narrowly pushed back an attempt by their leftist and liberal colleagues who wanted to force the Executive to come up with a different law on diesel car emissions.

The Commission proposed to temporarily raise diesel car emission limits by up to 110% as part of a package to introduce the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test procedure.  Continue Reading

EU Parliamentarians back the creation of an Energy Union

Only a couple of days after the ending of the COP21 Paris conference and that a historic agreement to tackle climate change was agreed by world leaders, a majority of EU parliamentarians adopted a strategy for the Energy Union.

The motion was adopted by 403 vote in favour, 177 against and 117 abstentions. The majority in favour of the motion included the three pro-EU groups: the Christian-Democrats, the Socialists and the Liberals. Continue Reading

New rules for novel food were adopted. They include food from cloned animals

Novel food can be a newly-developed innovative food or a food that has been produced using new technologies and production processes. It can also include traditional foods from third countries that has never been eaten before in the EU. The legislative resolution adopted by the EU parliament approved plans to make it easier to get these novel foods approved.

The text was adopted by 359 votes in favour, 202 against and 127 abstentions. The centre-right group EU People’s Party and the Conservatives from ECR were able to reach a majority together with the Liberal ALDE members. The Socialist members were split with a majority of them abstaining.

Novel food final vote Continue Reading

EU Parliamentarians agree on the damage of Volkswagen emissions scandal. They disagree on the measures to be taken

VW Golf TDI clean diesel

The European Parliament adopted its position on the recent Volkswagen emissions manipulation revelations and pressed the Commission to adopt and implement the new Real Driving Emission (RDE) test cycle as a matter of urgency.

The text strongly condemns the fraud by the automotive manufacturer and regrets that these excess emissions caused harmful effects on human health and environmental damage. The EU parliamentarians underlined the urgency to restore the confidence of consumers by the Commission and the Member States through concrete actions. Continue Reading

COP21: EP centre-left majority sets the mandate for EP delegation to “ambitious legally binding agreement”

The EU Parliament adopted a resolution constituting the mandate for its delegation to COP 21, the UN climate change conference that will take place in Paris in December 2015. The adopted text urges the EU to demand a legally binding and ambitious agreement. Although the final document received cross-party support, key differences remain between the political families, which sets the stage for further difficult negotiations.

Concretely, MEPs coming from the leftist groups and ALDE formed a majority in favour of more ambitious legally-binding targets. Their position is that the EU should lead the way and go ahead with 3 binding targets, an energy-efficiency target of 40%, a renewable energy target of 30% by 2030 and a greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction target of at least 40% (compared to 1990 levels). These forces have also asked for a roadmap to completely eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

On the other hand, the conservative forces, EPP and ECR, prefer a more gradual approach that would allow various economic sectors more time to adjust without losing competitiveness. EPP and ECR proposed that the full elimination of CO2 emissions should be envisaged by the end of the century, as 2050 is considered an unrealistic deadline. Moreover, the centre-right euro-parliamentarians are of the opinion that the EU should be more cautious in establishing its own binding targets in the absence of a legally-binding agreement at global level, since the lack of a level-playing field would put the European industry (and its jobs) at a disadvantage when trying to sell its products and services on the global market.  This view was not shared by the left and ALDE, who currently rally a majority in the European Parliament on environmental matters, and who are more inclined to believe that if Europe takes the lead this would put pressure on the other global players to do the same.

Through this report, the EU Parliament also calls on the Member States to urgently take binding and concrete measures against climate change and pull their weight towards an ambitious and legally binding agreement in Paris this December. However, the voting behavior of some key delegations of MEPs whose parties are governing in their countries seems to indicate that these governments have reservations. Concretely, Angela Merkel’s German CDU/CSU delegation, David Cameron’s Conservative delegation, Polish Law&Justice Party (of the new prime-minister Beata Szydlo) and Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular delegation all voted for a more gradual approach towards achieving environmental objectives.

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Manfred Weber (EPP) vs. Gianni Pitella (S&D): allies or rivals?

Manfred Weber and Gianni Pittella are the leaders of the two biggest political factions in the European Parliament, the groups of the European People’s Party and of the Socialists and Democrats, respectively.

Many observers have argued that there are few differences between the views of these two, a situation which acts as a disincentive for the European citizens to come to vote, since they can’t see why an option is better than the other. Continue Reading

A united centre-left pushes trough the exclusion of water services from trade agreements. Centre-right splits.

The EU parliamentarians adopted a non-legislative resolution in favour of the “Right2Water” initiative. The text was approved by 363 votes in favour, 96 against and 231 abstentions.

The majority in favour of the text included the Socialists, the Greens, the Radical Left and the Italian delegation of the EFDD group (5-Star Movement). On the other hand, the majority of the Christian Democrats (EPP group) abstained, together with the Liberals and democrats (ALDE group). Over 40 EPP MEPs, however, voted in favour of the text. These come from Spain, Austria and South of Germany (Bavaria).

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MEPs agree to limit the production of 1st generation biofuels

EU Parliamentarians adopted the long-awaited reform of the fuel quality directive and renewable energy directive aimed at capping the production of biofuels derived from crops (also known as first-generation biofuels) and advancing the shift towards alternative sources, such as waste or residues.

The MEPs adopted the agreement reached with the Council by 531 votes in favour, 132 against and 27 abstentions. All the main four EU political groups backed the compromise: EPP, S&D, ECR and ALDE. Continue Reading