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Monday, February 21, 2011

Main axes of the February plenary session

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News During the session of Parliament in February 2011, MPs approved new reforms of CO2 emissions, enhanced cooperation and discussed the political situation in Egypt and the accession of Croatia.

More rights for bus and coach travellers The missing link on passengers' rights under EU law was finally put in place in Strasbourg on Tuesday when the EP adopted new rules laying down greater rights for bus and coach passengers. After two years of tricky negotiations, Parliament and member states agreed on rules covering all long-distance scheduled services (250 kilometres or more). Fake medicines: Parliament approves new rules to protect patients better A new law to prevent fake medicines from entering the legal supply chain was approved by Parliament on 16 February. Internet sales will be covered by the law, which also introduces new safety and traceability measures, as well as sanctions against counterfeiters. This law still needs to be agreed between the European Parliament and European governments. Vans to face tougher emissions targets The era of green vans is coming. MEPs voted on Tuesday for a regulation on more fuel efficient and cleaner light-duty vehicles similar to existing CO2 limits for passenger cars. MEPs believe that the new law will also encourage innovation despite fears over the cost. MEPs back common EU patent The EP agreed Tuesday for a common EU patent system to be created using the enhanced cooperation procedure. A total of 25 countries will participate in the strengthened cooperation: all but Spain and Italy, who protest about the linguistic regime for patents as it will only be in English, French and German. Egypt turmoil Parliament debated Egypt's revolutionary changes - raising high hopes for the future but also fears that can't be ignored in this "democratic tsunami". MEPs favoured stepping up the use of existing EU financial instruments to help the democratisation process and also said the European Neighbourhood Policy needs a critical review. The debate was followed up by a resolution on Thursday. Croatia's EU hopes debated Croatia's EU membership negotiations could be completed in the first half of 2011 provided Zagreb pushes ahead with reform, say MEPs. Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda (S&D), rapporteur on Croatia, said in the debate: "If a country does its homework we need to stick to the promises we gave". Treaty Change Commission President José Manuel Barroso presented to Parliament the Commission's opinion on the Treaty change proposed to allow a permanent crisis mechanism to be set up for the eurozone. MEPs back tougher rules on child pornography on the web Up to 20% of minors in Europe could be sexually abused - studies suggest. The Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee Monday backed a proposed new directive to combat sexual abuse and child pornography. Immigration and asylum MEPs invoked the solidarity principle with the countries like Italy who are seeing an extraordinary influx of migrants following the Tunisian revolution. The Commission promised exceptional assistance. The same afternoon the plenary discussed the need to reform the EU asylum system: Member states have to stop "playing ping pong" with asylum seekers, say MEPs. Free trade agreement with South Korea Members voted to support a free trade agreement with South Korea which will eliminate about 98% of import duties and other trade barriers in manufactured goods, agricultural products and services over the next 5 years

Source :  Press room - European Parliament


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