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Summary of the 7-10 March 2011 EP plenary session

Centre-left wins first battle over a new tax on financial transactions

According to the resolution adopted on Thursday, EU should introduce a tax on financial transactions (FTT) so that the financial sector will become safer and society greener. By introducing the tax, EU and developing countries should try to increase their tax revenues by combating tax evasion and harmful tax practices. This measure will not only reduce poverty but also eventually lead to a “governance dividend”.

One key vote was on amendment 2, which stipulate the fact that the EU should promote the introduction of an FTT at global level; failing that, the EU should implement an FTT at European level as a first step.

This centre-left forces succeeded in having this key amendment adopted due to a number of defections in the ALDE and EPP groups. Click to see the distribution of votes on amendment 2. Continue Reading

Summary of the 14-17 February 2011 EP plenary session

EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement approved by the MEPs

The European Parliament voted in favour of the FTA that aims to eliminate 98% of import duties – 1.6 billion euro of South Korean duties and 1.1 billion euro of EU duties – as well as trade barriers in manufactured goods, agricultural products and services over the next five years. While a majority of 465 MEPs voted in favour, the radical left (GUE/NGL) and the Greens/EFA groups, as well as 25 Socialists and Democrats (S&D) members from France and Italy opposed the agreement. Click to see how each MEP voted and the text of the agreement.

The House also adopted a Safeguard Clause to accompany the FTA, that allows the EU industry and governments to request a re-imposition of duties if surging imports hurt EU producers. This time the Greens/EFA and the GUE/NGL groups abstained, while the rest of the MEPs voted in favour. Click to see how MEPs voted and the text of the Safeguard Clause.

To read more about the EU-South Korea FTA click here. Continue Reading

Voting Behaviour in the EP: How Do MEPs Vote after Lisbon ?

This VoteWatch.eu report looks into the voting patterns in the first 18 months of the 7th European Parliament. The study, based on 1351 roll-call votes, finds that the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) continue to vote based on ideology rather than nationality and identifies the coalition formation pattern between the 7 political groups in the EP on each of the 20 policy areas.  Continue Reading

Summary of the 17-20 January 2011 EP plenary session

EU strategy for the Black Sea

A non-legislative report urging the Commission and the EEAS to draw up a strategy for the Black Sea region was adopted by the House. While the final vote saw an overwhelming majority, the most controversial provision was on paragraph 25 (2), which referred to Russian’s fleet presence in the area. Concretely, the provision stated that the Parliament “expresses particular concern at the extension of the port agreement for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea and its possible impact on stability in the region”. The S&D, ALDE and GUE/NGL groups voted against this stipulation, but they were defeated as the EPP, ECR and the Greens/EFA secured a majority in its favour. Click to see the distribution of votes and text. Continue Reading

Summary of the 13-16 December 2010 EP plenary session

The European citizens now have the right of proposing legislative initiatives to the Commission

This proposal was supported by all political groups and is considered an important step towards a strong participatory democracy at EU level. Upon adopting this initiative, the European citizens will have more means to making their voice heard to the European institutions and be directly involved in the European decision-making process. Click to see the distribution of votes, text and additional information.

Content: Parliament’s main aim was to make the procedure as simple and user-friendly as possible. Thus, the minimum number of Member States from which signatures must be gathered was lowered to one fourth. Continue Reading

Summary of the 22-25 November 2010 EP plenary session

ACTA (Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement): the Commission narrowly receives the backing of a majority of MEPs on its negotiated multilateral agreement that concerns particularly the measures taken to protect intellectual property against illegal downloading from the internet.

The issue raised strong competition between conservatives and centre-left, with the former getting the upper hand. The conservative forces (EPP and ECR groups) have succeeded in having their form of the resolution adopted in the European Parliament’s plenary (click here to see its text). The text backs the Commission and aims at a betterr protection of the industry. Continue Reading

Summary of the 18-21 October 2010 EP plenary session

Center-left wins the battle over the Maternity Leave Directive: 20 paid weeks proposed by the Parliament

The new “Directive on Maternity Leave” was adopted by the European Parliament with a narrow majority. The text provides for the extension of the maternity leave from 14 to 20 fully paid weeks and a number of other measures favorable to mothers and pregnant women, as well as for strengthening the role of the paternity leave.

The left has backed the proposal, arguing that its provisions will provide for more protection of women and encourage demographic growth. The right, on the other hand, has opposed it, stating that such provisions would lead to significant additional burden particularly for the small business and to indirect discrimination of women on the labor market, as employers will avoid hiring young women likely to benefit from an extended paid maternity leave. Continue Reading

Lack of ‘political will’ on public voting records

European Voice

Parliament under pressure to release more data on how it makes decisions.


The European Parliament has come under increased pressure to release more data on how it makes decisions, notably in releasing information on how MEPs vote. VoteWatch.eu, which provides online monitoring and analysis of the Parliament’s voting data, has called for all voting by MEPs, whether in plenary or in committees, to be recorded and made public.

Doru Frantescu of VoteWatch.eu says that the Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers should do more to make their work more transparent – especially with details of how votes are carried out. Continue Reading

Summary of the 20-22 September 2010 EP plenary session

The Financial Supervision Package was adopted by the European Parliament

The architecture of the European financial supervision, as approved by the Parliament, will consist in a European Systemic Risk Board and 3 independent authorities to supervise banks (based in London), insurance and pensions (based in Frankfurt) and securities and markets (based in Paris).

The system is conceived as a European response for preventing future financial crisis. The 6 separate reports were adopted by large majorities in the EP plenary, with only the anti-European group (EFD) opposing. However, the MEPs from the EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups underlined that, although they welcome the compromise reached with the Council over the content of the new regulations, they see this as only the beginning of the transition towards a real European economic and financial governance, as new regulations will follow shortly. Continue Reading

Summary of the 6-9 September 2010 EP plenary session

New guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States have been suggested by the European Parliament in a report under the consultation procedure. The document, whose provisions recommend to Member State measures so as to increase the employment rate in the EU up to 75% of the active population, was adopted in the plenary by a large majority composed of EPP+ALDE+S&D+Greens/EFA. However, the radical-left (GUE/NGL) and the anti-Europeans (EFD) voted against the proposal, while the conservatives (ECR) abstained (click to see the distribution of votes and text). Continue Reading

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