16/12/2011 European Session of the EUROPEAN Parliament: Deputies look to improves security in the Union

During the next plenary session that will be held from the 12th to the 15th December, Euro-deputies will be voting on European anti-terrorist policy, they will debate maritime protection, the problem of waste management and also the European dimension of sport.

Struggle against non-tariff barriers

On Monday Euro-deputies will debate Robert Sturdy’s (ECR-Great Britain) report on barriers on exchanges and investments.
This report recommends that the European Commission take preventative measure to eliminate or at least reduce the consequences of non-tariff obstacles to the capacity of European businesses to access exterior markets.

The Union should also carefully rexamine its own commercial measures in order to avoid obstacles to free and open trade, and to become a leader in the fight against non-tariff barriers. It deems it necessary to create a dialogue with the Unions’ commercial partners to actively fight against these barriers.
These non-tariff obstacles (or non-tariff measures) are restrictive measures that are not customs regulations on importation that limit importation.

With regards to corrective measures, he thinks that is important to ensure that free trade agreements between the Union and non-member countries have sufficient reciprocity in terms of access to markets and that they have mutual advantages for both parties. The bilateral negotiations must not be forgotten, as they can promote fairness and convergence of international norms in all sectors, and also in public markets.

He encourages the Commission to examine the option of establishing an early warning system for identifying non-tariff barriers. This could lead to the creation of a table that could looks at indicators, and measure the negative effect of non-tariff barriers.

The European dimension of sport

The report from Euro-deputy Santiago Fisas Ayxela (EPP, Spain) will also be presented to the parliament on Monday. It highlights the role that sports plays in society, as a means of integration, as it is something that is open to all citizens.

Sport has an important role in the European economy, it accounts for

  • directly or indirectly, apx 15 million jobs (5,4% of the active population)
  • added annual value of apx 407 million Euros (3,65% of European GDP)
  • it contributes to achieving the goals set out in the Europe 2020 strategy.

The report encourages member states to integrate sport and physical exercise into all levels of education, and to increase grants for organisations that fight for integration for vulnerable people through sport, and also to increase legal harmonisation in order to organise better European Police coordination and legal coordination to fight against doping.
The economic dimension of sport is also significant.

The report underlines the need to mutually acknowledge qualifications and professional training for specialised sports professionals (referees, trainers) as they contribute to increasing competitivity in the long term. It asks member states to acknowledge the value of volunteering in the world of sport. It also asks member states to ensure that they efficiently tackle corruption and ensure sporting ethics.

Santiago Fisas Ayxela’s report particularly asks the Commission to:

  • Organise an annual European day of sport
  • Support an annual European capital of sport
  • Support indigenous sports that are part of the cultural diversity of the European Union
  • Facilitate the implementation of a mobility program and create measure specific to young athletes and their trainers...

The problem of waste management

The management of waste is a recurring problem for the European Union, as can be seen by the fact that the Commission received 114 petitions in the period 2004-2010 detailing infringements with regard to the implementation of regulation of waste management committed in 16 member states.

On average citizens produce 513kg of waste a year in Europe, and there are at least 619 illegal dumps in the EU. In addition to the environmental criteria and public health, the recycling industry represents an opportunity for job creation, and could create up to 500,000 jobs.

The relevant principle directive is the Directive on waste (DCD) 2008/98/CE
It looks to:

  • protect the environment and public heath by preventing or mitigating the negative effects of waste generation
  • reduce the amount of resources use while improving its efficiency
  • improve EU citizens’ health and well-being
  • create a sustainable method of eliminating waste.

Only six member states respected the deadline for transposing this directive, which was due in December 2010.

The report from Euro-deputy Carlos José Iturgaiz Angulo (EPP, Spain) encourages member states to transpose the directive as quickly as possible and to speed up the introduction of an advanced waste management strategy.
He also recommends that member states strengthen their capacity for inspection and surveillance at all stages of waste management, so as to improve the application of the legislation in this domain.

To improve participation and understanding among citizens of the waste process, the report suggests the adoption of European norms for colour coding of waste categories when people sort their waste for recycling.

Also, a clear definition and acceptable criteria are necessary, as is the creation of an efficient system for tracing waste, especially toxic waste, so as to ensure that only appropriate waste is sent to landfills or incinerators, and that they are indeed disposed of.
The report underscores the urgency of dealing with the problem of open landfills and illegal dumping of mixed and non-identified waste.

More maritime security in the Union

On Tuesday 13th the Euro-deputies will discuss the modification of regulation (CE) n° 1406/2002 instituting the European Agency for Maritime security (AESM). It was created in 2003  and deals with the pollution created by the shipwreck of the oil tanker Erika.

Knut Fleckenstein’s (ALDE, Germany) report looks at the possibility of widening the scope of the agency’s activities. Its experiences and technical services could be applied in a wider range of policies. Its systems for controlling traffic could contribute to the creation of an open European maritime space that would allow for the transportation of merchandise and passengers by sea between member states without any more formalities than those required by road.

The report recommends that the agency should be given the option to help neighbour countries to reduce the risk of pollution, and to make maritime jobs more attractive to EU citizens.

In addition to this, using the maritime surveillance systems of AESM rather than the individual surveillance systems in each member country would reduce costs for the European taxpayer.

The fight against terrorism in the EU continues

On the 14th of December the report on ‘Anti-terrorism in the EU: the challenges to come’ by Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE, Holland) will be voted on in the European Parliament.

The two main sources of terrorism are separatist terrorism and religious terrorism. However, new forms of terrorism have appeared, such as cyber terrorism. The structure, methods and financing of terrorist networks have all become more elaborate, making the threat of terrorism more complex.

Attacks that have taken place in Europe since September 11th, those in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005, have profoundly changed the way in which common security is perceived by European citizens.

There is no clear or universally acknowledged definition of terrorism, and fighting it will take effort form all member states. International cooperation is also indispensable to try and deprive terrorists of financing, logistics and operational capacities.

As it is a phenomenon that effects the security of all of the union, the report highlights the need for the adoption of a common European approach, as terrorist operations often have a pan-European dimension.
The report highlights the need to reinforce judicial cooperation and police cooperation at EU level. It asks the Commission to exhaustively evaluate existing anti-terrorist policies and measures and also to focus on future challenges, like the reform of Europol and Eurojust. It highlights the need to develop partnership with non-member states in the fight against terrorism.

In light of these comments, the report encourages the Commission to act on a number of points, especially:

  • carry out a study to determine if anti-terrorist policies are really part of democratic checks
  • to use information better, and much date should only be collected as needed
  • to update the definition of terrorist acts, and establish a clearer link with the European Instruments of human rights protection, especially the charter of fundamental rights
  • draw up a complete list of all current antiterrorist policies, concentrating particularly on EU regulations, its transposition and its implementation on EU level.

The Sakharov Prize will also be presented on the 14th of December, this year it recognises the work of five actors in the Arab Spring, for their efforts in defending human rights and fundamental liberties.

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