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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Parliament and the EU's policies outside Europe

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News The growing international role of the European Union is reflected in the burgeoning relations the European Parliament has with the world outside Europe. Here we look at some of these external relations topics over the coming months, from overseeing the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden to the Copenhagen climate conference.

Pakistan and Afghanistan discussed On 6 October the security situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan will be discussed in the Foreign Affairs Committee. Top EU officials will be joined by the EU's Special Representative for the region, Ettore Francesco Sequi. Following that, on 15 October Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Enlargement will brief MEPs on the annual "progress reports" for countries trying to join the EU. As well as former Yugoslav States, this will also cover the EU ambitions of Turkey. The progress reports are crucial in identifying strengths and weaknesses of a country's application to join the Union. A recent development likely to be discussed is Iceland's application which was made in July this year. This autumn also sees the Development Committee conduct a review of the twin planks of the European Union's development policy, the Cotonou agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the "Development Cooperation Instrument" which is the legal basis for development aid from the EU budget. The impact on the economic crisis on the developing world will also be examined. Members of the Committee will also be involved in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit in December, specifically they will be concentrating on the impact of climate change in the developing world and how it can be brought into any international climate agreement. Trade & the climate change challenge For November and December the committee on Trade has tentatively scheduled two public Hearings. The first will deal with the question of how trade affects the climate and how trade policy should respond to climate change. The second looks into how social and environmental standards can be included into international trade agreements and negotiations. If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified the Parliament's approval will be needed for all new trade treaties the EU concludes. Security and piracy: MEPs go to Djibouti to investigate The Security Sub-Committee will be sending a delegation to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa at the end of October to enquire about the anti-piracy EU mission "Atalanta". This has seen several European navies deployed to deal with the growing threat of piracy from Somalia. Sakharov: 10 nominees down to 3 then 1 The Parliament's annual Sakharov human rights prize will be awarded at the end of the year. Thus far there are 10 nominees which will be reduced to 3 on 6 October. Then on 26 October Members will vote for one of the three people or groups that they would like to see recognised for their stand on human rights. Election Observation: promoting democracy and fair elections The first election observation missions of the newly elected EP will be to Mozambique, where Presidential and Parliamentary elections take place 28 October, and where the exclusion of various candidates of a new opposition party is already causing controversy.

Source :  European Parliament

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