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Events & Activities 2012

Welcome to the European Parliament's Think Tank pages - an online platform that brings together all sources of EP expertise and high quality information. This powerful search engine will systematically search the many Parliament studies, library briefings, impact assessment and European added value papers, STOA and economic dialogue documentation, surveys on public opinion and EU fact sheets and provide you with solid background information in a policy field.
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Parliament decides its annual calendar of work on the basis of a proposal by the Conference of Presidents. The calendar is divided into plenary sittings (part-sessions) and meetings. It comprises: 12 four-day part-sessions in Strasbourg and additional two-day part-sessions in Brussels, two weeks a month for meetings of parliamentary committees and interparliamentary delegations, one week a month for political group meetings and four weeks a year where MEPs concentrate exclusively on constituency work. The weeks are colour coded indicating that period's particular activities. Parliament's calendar is explained here.
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General information about grants awarded The Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Union sets out the principles for implementation of the budget, including the principle of transparency, which is affirmed throughout the Financial Regulation and the Rules of Application for it. Provision is made for appropriate ex ante and/or ex post publication of implementation of the budget. Rules for publication of grants are set out in Article 128 of the Financial Regulation, which makes provision for ex ante publication of the annual programme and calls for proposals and ex post publication of grants awarded in the course of a financial year. A grant is said to have been awarded when a legal undertaking is first given, i.e. when the first agreement has been signed.
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Congratulations to Coláiste Chiaráin, Croom, Co. Limerick, on being selected Ireland’s national winner of this year’s European Charlemagne Youth Prize. The Irish jury, Deirdre Clune, MEP, Brian Hayes, MEP and Sarah Haslam, Foróige, selected the project “Tedds Journey through Europe” to go forward to represent Ireland at the European final in Aachen on 12th May. Unfortunately Tedd was not placed in the top three in Aachen but the project was extremely popular among the other contestants and Tedd received lots of invitations to continue his travels across Europe.
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Groups and individuals may visit Parliament's premises in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
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Countries such as Italy and Greece dealing with an influx of asylum seekers should receive more support from other member states, MEPs said on a delegation visit to the Italian island of Sicily from 22 to 24 July. “Italy spends over €1 billion every year just to take care of those who make it across the Mediterranean. Italy’s borders are the EU's borders and a better management of the migratory flows is our common responsibility,” said French ALDE member Jean Arthuis, co-chair of the delegation.
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Today, at the Venice Days (Giornate degli Autori) press conference, the First Vice President of the European Parliament Mr Antonio TAJANI and the President of the Committee on Culture and Education, Mrs Silvia Costa, announced the 3 contending films to run for the 2015 LUX Film Prize. Directors will attend the upcoming Venice Film Festival to present the 3 films: MEDITERRANEA, by Jonas Carpignano – Italy, United States, Germany, France, Qatar MUSTANG, by Deniz Gamze Ergüven – France, Germany, Turkey, Qatar UROK (THE LESSON), by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov – Bulgaria, Greece.
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Mr Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR), co-chair of the delegation on part of the Committee on Budgets: "We praise the efforts by the Italian authorities to have put in place such a complex reception system and, more in general, to cope with an exceptional migratory pressure at Italy’s sea borders."
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Take part in Parliament's guest photographer contest, inspired by 2015 being the European Year for Development. Until September we will be announcing different topics linked to development. Send in your photo inspired by the theme of that month, along with the submission form and you could be invited to Strasbourg to do a photo reportage.
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The Week Ahead 20 - 26 July 2015: Migration, Taxation and economic affairs, Ukraine and Georgia. - Migration. A joint delegation of the Budgets and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committees will go to Sicily to examine how EU budget resources are spent to manage migration and refugee flows, as well as the system for reception, identification and retention of migrants. See what's on the rest of the agenda this week at the European Parliament
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The European Parliament Information Office is helping to support a summer school of the Cavan Women's Network which will be held on 16 and 17 July 2015 in the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan. Women in Politics will be a major theme of the summer school and presentations by European Parliament Vice President Mairead McGuinness and MEP Marian Harkin will take place on Friday morning, 17 July. To register for this free event Tel. (01) 6057900 or email: events-epdublin@ep.europa.eu.
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The rescue package for Greece agreed at the 12-13 July Eurozone Summit on Greece was debated in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Thursday. Members gave their views on the deal struck by Greece and its creditors, the functioning of the Eurozone, the role played by the European Parliament and on Parliament’s future involvement in monitoring the implementation of the agreement.
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Draft EU rules on sharing and protecting the Passenger Name Record (PNR) data of people flying to or from the EU, and its use by member states and Europol to fight terrorism and serious transnational crime, were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. This data must only be used to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute these crimes, said MEPs, inserting safeguards to ensure "the lawfulness of any storage, analysis, transfer and use of PNR data".
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Women face barriers, stereotypes, conscious and unconscious bias during their academic and scientific careers which often lead them to drop out of the career, said Women's rights and gender equality members in the text adopted on Tuesday. They call on Commission and member states to come up with EU strategy in order to tackle different barriers in professional development of women and to make science more inclusive.
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The films nominated for the 2015 Lux Prize
The 10 films competing for this year's Lux Prize have been revealed at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, including five by first-time directors, a mix of genres and the selection's first-ever Icelandic film. The European Parliament awards the prize to the best European film every year. At the end of the month it will be announced which three films have been short-listed for the finals, meaning they will also be screened all over the EU as part of the Lux Film Days.
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What's on the agenda in the week ahead, June 29 - July 05, 2015. Committee meetings, Brussels.
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Forthcoming proposals to reform EU copyright law for the digital era must ensure a fair balance between the rights and interests of both creators and consumers, said MEPs on Thursday. They called for ways to improve access to online content across borders, while recognizing the importance of territorial licences, particularly for TV and film productions.
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The EU needs to use natural resources more efficiently - a 30% increase in resource productivity by 2030 could boost its GDP by nearly 1% and create an extra 2 million sustainable jobs, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. But to achieve this growth, it needs binding waste-reduction targets, revamped ecodesign laws and measures to uncouple growth from resource use, they add, calling on the European Commission to table legislation by the end of 2015.
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Large firms and listed companies should have to disclose information, country by country, on profits made, tax paid on profits and public subsidies received, said MEPs on Wednesday in amendments to draft rules intended to boost transparency and foster shareholders’ long-run commitment to companies. They also want to empower shareholders to vote at least every three years on directors' pay policy.
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A reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), informally agreed with the Latvian Presidency of the Council, was endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. The reform is intended to reduce the surplus of carbon credits available for trading in order to support the price of the emission rights. The scheme will start operating in 2019.
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An EU-US trade deal must open up US market access for EU firms, but not undermine EU standards, say MEPs in recommendations, voted Wednesday, to EU trade negotiators. To settle trade-related investor-state disputes, a new justice system, run by publicly-appointed judges and subject to scrutiny and transparency rules, should replace private arbitration under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, they add.
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The EU must do more to help farmers to earn a fair return from the food supply chain, introduce better tools for dealing with market disturbances and help farmers to find new outlets for produce shut out of the Russian market, MEPs say in two non-binding resolutions voted on Tuesday. Member states should help them join forces in producer organisations to boost their bargaining power, they add.
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Three agencies managing migration flows into the EU and two EU funds for migration measures should get a €69.6 million budget boost for extra staff and other expenses for this year, after Parliament backed a European Commission proposal on Tuesday. Parliament has been calling for the bigger budgets in the wake of the April tragedies that cost the lives of around 1,200 migrants.
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Greece and the referendum on the bail-out proposals were the focus of the 7 July plenary debate on the outgoing Latvian presidency of the Council. Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma also discussed the challenges and the achievements of the outgoing Council presidency with MEPs and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission
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What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - TTIP - Copyright - Prospects for the EU Dairy Sector - Green Employment Initiative - Commission Work Programme 2016
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Starting today, the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the EU will be in the hands of one of the smallest, yet most experience member states. Luxembourg will have to deal with many pressing issues, including the Greek debt crisis, an increase in irregular migration and the preparation for the climate change conference in Paris in December. We asked all of the country's six MEPs what they see as the main challenges. Read on to find out what they said.
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An informal deal to ban surcharges ("roaming fees") for making mobile phone calls, sending text messages or using the internet while abroad in another EU country from 15 June 2017 was struck by MEPs and EU ministers in the small hours of Tuesday morning. MEPs also inserted guarantees that all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination. To enter into force, this informal deal needs to be formally endorsed by the full Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
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What's on the agenda in the week ahead, June 29 - July 05, 2015. Political group and committee meetings, Brussels
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The European Commission’s weak response to the first EU citizens’ initiative (ECI) petition, on the “Right2Water”, could discredit the ECI system, warn Environment Committee MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday. It “lacks any real ambition and failed to meet the demands of the organizers”, they add. ECIs enable citizens to ask the Commission to propose laws in areas within its competence, if they can muster at least one million signatures from at least a quarter of EU member states.
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The €315-billion “Juncker” investment plan, announced by the European Commission last November to encourage the financing of viable investments in Europe, was backed by the European Parliament in a vote on Wednesday. Parliament modified its financing structure, won a say in selecting its leadership and ensured more democratic oversight in negotiations with the Council.
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The three EU agencies managing migration flows and various EU funds dealing with migration should get a €69.6 million budget boost , said the Budgets Committee on Tuesday as it approved proposed changes to this year's European budget. The budget increases still need to be approved by Parliament as a whole and the Council of Ministers.
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What's on the agenda during this week's mini Plenary Session in Brussels? Highlights include: - Migration, security and economics debate with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker - Corporate tax action plan
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Thank you to everyone for taking the Six Word Challenge and sending your messages to your MEPs. This year's Euroscola competition was based on the Ernest Hemingway six-word short story. Students were asked to compose a six-word message to their MEPs telling them what they would like them to achieve for Ireland and Europe. Congratulations to the six winning schools who will represent Ireland at Euroscola in 2015. Here are the winning messages in the three European election constituencies :
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What's on the agenda in the week ahead, June 22 - 28, 2015. Plenary session and committee meetings, Brussels
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EP President Martin Schulz discussed British plans to renegotiate EU membership during a meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron today. They also talked about the migration crisis in the Mediterranean and the ongoing talks on trade deals. Afterwards Schulz said: I came to London to listen and to learn and I think we had an excellent and open-minded exchange of views.”
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Lydia Foy is among the 47 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2015 of the European Parliament. Since 2008, the prize has been awarded to citizens or organisations having contributed to promoting better mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens or to facilitating cross-border or transnational cooperation within the EU. The winner will receive a medal of honour at an award ceremony in Ireland and will be invited to a joint event with all 47 winners in Brussels in October.
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A draft law to ban the cloning of all farm animals, their descendants and products derived from them, including imports, in the EU was voted by the Environment and Agriculture committees on Wednesday. MEPs beefed up the European Commission’s initial proposal, citing high mortality rates at all development stages of cloning and EU citizens’ animal welfare and ethical concerns.
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Parliament looks forward to starting talks with ministers soon on reform to give the EU high common standards of data protection fit for the digital era, said its key negotiators on Monday, welcoming the Council's announcement that it had approved its negotiating mandate. The first meeting between the institutions is scheduled for 24 June and will be followed by a joint press conference.
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Parliament's International Trade Committee will hold an extraordinary meeting on 29 June in Brussels to decide whether the 116 amendments tabled to Parliament's draft recommendations to Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiators should be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole, the political groups represented in the committee decided on Monday.
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The European Central Bank is doing all it can to facilitate a successful outcome of the ongoing talks with Greece, ECB President Mario Draghi assured Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday. But he also made it crystal clear that ultimately, disbursing any further financial assistance to Greece is "a political decision that will have to be taken by elected policymakers, not by central bankers". Euro area support needed to lift cap on Greek banks’ T-bill holdings
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What's on the agenda in the week ahead, June 15 - 21, 2015. Political group and committee meetings, Brussels
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The European Parliament regrets that recent corruption allegations against the international football federation FIFA have seriously damaged the credibility and the integrity of global football. In a resolution voted on Thursday, MEPs call for a zero-tolerance policy on corruption in football, underlining that in-depth structural reforms within the organisation are now urgently needed.
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The EU must critically re-assess its relations with Russia, which are profoundly damaged by Russia's deliberate violation of democratic principles, fundamental values and international law with its violent action and destabilisation of its neighbours , MEPs said on Wednesday. The EU must now devise a soft-power contingency plan to counter Russia’s aggressive and divisive policies, they said.
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European Parliament President Martin Schulz decided on Tuesday to postpone the plenary vote on the EP recommendations to the negotiators of the Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), scheduled for noon the following day. In line with Rule 175 of the EP Rules of Procedure, he decided to refer the 116 amendments tabled to the report back to the Committee on International Trade, for consideration and a vote on whether they are to be put to a plenary vote.
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EU must bring more balance into the supply chain, introduce better tools against market disturbances and help farmers find new outlets for their produce, says the agriculture committee in a draft non-binding resolution adopted Monday night. To ensure viable, sustainable and a competitive dairy sector across the EU for all - including small farmers and producers in disadvantaged areas - member states must also make better use of tools from the so-called Milk Package.
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The European Parliament Information Office in cooperation with the HSE is organising a discussion with citizens on health and ageing. Learn about European health initiatives and innovative local solutions and supports as well as voicing your opinion directly to European representatives. A keynote speech will be delivered by MEP Marian Harkin. This is a free event and will take place in The Radisson Blu Hotel, Letterkenny on Friday, 5 June 2015 from 9.30 am to 1:00pm. Prior registration is required. Tel. (01) 6057900 or email: events-epdublin@ep.europa.eu
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What's on the agenda in the week ahead, June 8 - 14, 2015. Plenary session in Strasbourg. TTIP, EU-Russia relations, FIFA, and more.
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What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - TTIP talks: MEPs to table recommendations - FIFA corruption scandal - Gender equality strategy: MEPs to call for clearer targets and better monitoring - Climate change: bridging the gap after Kyoto - EU intellectual property rights - EU energy security strategy
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Following the publication of the blacklist of European politicians and officials, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, on Tuesday informed the Russian Ambassador to the EU that insofar as the Russian authorities have failed to ensure transparency in their decisions, in line with international law and legal obligations, and allow the targeted individuals the right of defence and of appeal, he considers that it is now justified to take appropriate measures in response.
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Development MEPs called on companies in all countries to adopt country-by-country reporting and make all information public in order to fight tax evasion and illicit money flows in developing countries, in a resolution adopted on Monday afternoon. It also called on the EU's financial institutions to ensure that companies receiving EU support do not participate in tax evasion and avoidance.
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What's on the agenda in the week ahead, June 1 - 7, 2015. Political group and committee meetings, Brussels
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Rapporteur Bernd Lange (2nd on the left) and the final vote on screen on the draft report, providing guidelines to the current Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.
An EU-US trade deal should deepen EU access to the US market, but must not undermine EU standards or the right to regulate in the public interest, say Trade Committee MEPs in draft recommendations voted on Thursday. Tools for resolving disputes between investors and states should be reformed and improved, they add.
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A deal struck by MEPs and Council of Ministers negotiators in the small hours of Thursday morning means the architecture of the Juncker plan to unlock €315 billion public and private investments in the real economy in 2015-2017 can now be put to a European Parliament vote on 24 June and the investment programme can kick off in the summer.
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Several major Western news organisations have been hit by politically motivated cyber-attacks over the past few years, mostly in retaliation for their critical coverage of events, countries or movements such as the Syrian regime or Islamic State. MEPs discussed on 27 May how the EU could help to counter such attacks.
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Healthy eating habits start young, so the EU and its member states should do and spend more to encourage kids to eat healthy and local foods, Parliament said on Wednesday. To ensure that they get healthy eating lessons, as well as school milk, fruit, and vegetables from EU schemes, Parliament amended draft rules and approved a mandate for MEPs to negotiate their final form with EU member states.
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Budgets MEPs welcomed next year's "restricted" but well focused draft budget presented by Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday immediately after it was approved by the Commission.
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MEPs approved measures to prevent proceeds from conflict minerals being used to fund armed conflicts and called on governments to break the deadlock on plans to harmonise maternity leave across Europe. They also debated measures to tackle irregular migrants coming to the EU during the plenary in Strasbourg on 18-21 May as well as green-lit tougher rules to prevent money laundering. Read on for an overview of the plenary.
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What's on the agenda in the week ahead, May 25 - 31, 2015. Plenary and committee meetings in Brussels. Special Committee on Tax Rulings to visit Dublin.
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A delegation of members of the Special Committee on Tax Rulings of the European Parliament will visit Ireland on Thursday 28 May where they will meet Minister of Finance Michael Noonan and members of the Finance Committee of the Dail. The delegation will also meet, inter alia, experts representing accountancy firms, business associations, NGO's and companies. The Committee was established in the wake of what has become known as the luxleaks revelations.
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The ultimate owners of companies will have to be listed in central registers in EU countries, open both to the authorities and to people with a "legitimate interest", such as investigative journalists, under new rules already agreed with the Council and endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. The new anti-money laundering directive aims to step up the fight against tax crimes and terrorist financing. New rules to make it easier to trace transfers of funds were also approved.
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© European Union
Suggested ways to improve patient safety, including tackling growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics, using today’s treatments more responsibly and promoting innovation, are set out in a resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs note that 8 - 12% of patients in EU hospitals suffer adverse events, such as healthcare-related infections, which are implicated in 37,000 deaths a year and place a heavy burden on limited health service budgets.
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What will the MEPs be working on during next week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Debate on the European Agenda on Migration for 2015-2020 - Tougher rules on money laundering to fight tax evasion and terrorist financing - Debate and vote on a law to stem the flow of “conflict minerals” - Maternity leave: deliver now or start from scratch - MEPs set out blueprint for safer healthcare - Counterfeit cigarettes: MEPs to question future of EU deals with tobacco firms
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@RealTime WW1, a Twitter project from Luxembourg, was awarded first prize at the 2015 European Charlemagne Youth Prize ceremony in Aachen University on 12 May. Second prize went to the Fronterras-European (border) line project (France) and third prize jointly to Social Soccer Club (Austria), Entrepreneurship, the Solution against Unemployment (Cyprus) and Infoactualidad (Spain). The annual prize goes to projects that foster a shared sense of European identity and integration among young people.
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"Whistleblowers should receive protection when they reveal behaviour that goes against the public interest and not only when they reveal illegal activities. There should also be more openness about tax rulings and similar arrangements and countries which defraud other countries should be sanctioned", suggested Richard Brooks of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a hearing with Parliament's Special Tax Rulings Committee on Monday.
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Tax rulings, EU-Russia relations, Turkey’s reform progress, boosting free trade with the US, empowering women in Africa and the current situation in Georgia are all on the Parliament's agenda when MEPs gather this week in Brussels. Political groups will also prepare for the plenary session in Strasbourg on 18-21 May. Meanwhile Parliament President Martin Schulz will be awarded the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen on Thursday.
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Ahead of Europe Day, 9 May, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz stated: "This year's Europe Day which we will celebrate tomorrow is a special one with 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War."
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Following a series of debates and hearings with experts, Commission- and Council representatives and international bodies like the OECD, the Special Committee on Tax Rulings will have another full week ahead:
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The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and the European Commission Representation in Ireland in co-operation with several embassies of EU Member States will celebrate Europe Day on Friday 8th May with “A Taste of Europe”. Sample national foods of EU Member States and enjoy music provided by various African traditional groups to mark the European Year for Development 2015. This free event is open to the public. From 12:30 pm -2:30 pm at European Union House, 43 Molesworth Street/18 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
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What's on the agenda next week at the European Parliament: Political group and committee meetings, Brussels
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© European Union 2014 - European Parliament
Why did the EU Commission take so long to launch investigations into member states’ tax rulings? Is its strategy to go only after small countries, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland? Will the instruments available to it suffice? And if not, what would it take to do away with unfair tax competition? These questions were raised by MEPs in Tuesday’s Special Tax Rulings Committee debate with competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
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People who are suspected or accused of a crime, or are named in a European Arrest Warrant, but cannot afford a lawyer or court proceedings, should have access to EU member state funding and assistance for both “provisional” and "ordinary” legal aid, say Civil Liberties MEPs in amendments, voted on Wednesday, to a proposed EU directive on fair trial rights.
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Fresh suggestions on how to best resolve disputes arising between foreign investors and states on the implementation of the Transatlantic Trade and investment partnership deal, currently being negotiated between the EU and the United states, will be debated by Trade MEPs and the EU Trade Commissioner Malmström on Wednesday afternoon starting from 16.30.
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This special seminar will reflect on the disaster of World War II and is organised jointly with the Embassies of Latvia and Poland. Speakers will include the Latvian Minister for Justice, Mr Dzintars Rasnačs. The seminar will commence at 10:00 am at the European Parliament Information Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Registration from 9:30 am. For further information please contact the Embassy of Latvia at Tel (01) 4780161 or email embassy.ireland@mfa.gov.lv
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Travellers putting together their own package holidays online will get the same protection as those buying from traditional travel agents under a provisional deal struck by MEPs and Council negotiators on Tuesday. The deal also strengthens holidaymakers’ rights, by enabling them to cancel a package deal contract if its price rises by more than 8%, get help if they encounter difficulties or get transport home if a tour operator goes bust.
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Plans for labelling the calorie content of alcoholic beverages should be tabled by the European Commission at the latest in 2016, said MEPs on Wednesday. The resolution calls for a new EU Alcohol Strategy focusing on alcohol consumption by minors and EU-wide labelling to discourage drink driving and drinking while pregnant.
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© European Union 2015 - European Parliament
The EU should do everything possible to prevent further loss of life at sea, e.g. by expanding the mandate of “Triton” operation in the Mediterranean to include "search and rescue operations at EU level", says a resolution voted by Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs also call for a binding quota for distributing asylum seekers among all EU countries, bigger contributions to resettlement programmes, better cooperation with third countries and tougher measures against people smugglers.
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"Today's resolution on asylum and migration, adopted by an overwhelming majority (449 votes in favour), contains a number of concrete steps urgently expected from the Commission, the Council and the Member States.
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One billion euro in EU funding to help member states get up to 650,000 young people into work will be delivered in 2015 thanks to European Social Fund rule changes approved by Parliament on Wednesday. This EU Youth Employment Initiative funding tops up European Social Fund (ESF) money in the 20 member states with regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25%.
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Emergency call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes (eCall) will have to be fitted to all new models of cars and light vans by 31 March 2018 under rules voted by European Parliament on Tuesday. Road accidents took 25,700 lives in the EU in 2014 – a death toll that the new devices could cut by an estimated 10% a year.
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Fishermen will have two years to “adapt” before sanctions for failing to comply with the new fish “discard” ban take effect, under a law passed by Parliament on Tuesday. The draft law, already informally agreed by MEPs and ministers, amends the “omnibus” regulation on arrangements for enforcing the ban. Obliging fishermen to land unwanted catches, rather than throw them back, is a key aim of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
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To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen, at which two survivors now resident in Ireland were imprisoned, the European Parliament Office, in cooperation with the supporting embassies is also screening a series of five films related to this tragic episode in European history. The films will be shown between Tuesday 21 April and Wednesday 13 May from 6:00 pm at the European Parliament Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Attendance free. Registration required. Tel (01) 605.79.00 or email: events-epdublin@ep.europa.eu.
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The new EU forest strategy must focus on managing forests sustainably, promoting efficient use of the raw materials that they produce, and boosting the competitiveness of forest-related industry so as to create jobs, says a non-legislative resolution voted by Parliament on Tuesday.
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To mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland is holding an event organised in cooperation with Holocaust Education Trust Ireland on Friday 24 April from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm during which Holocaust survivors living in Ireland will speak of their experiences. Dr Balazs Apor of Trinity College Dublin will also reflect on the memory of the concentration camps in history. Registration required. The event takes place at the European Parliament Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Mediterranean tragedies: MEPs to demand action to save lives - MEPs to call for stronger EU alcohol strategy - MEPs to clamp down on wasteful use of plastic carrier bags - Vote on life-saving emergency call system for cars - Youth Employment Initiative: vote to make €1 billion available in 2015 - Debate on new "European Agenda on Security" - Forests: MEPs to demand better management and efficient use of raw materials - New fisheries policy: MEPs to approve key draft laws on discards and Baltic Sea
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Europe should come up with a common asylum and migration policy that is humane and realistic, Martin Schulz warned EU leaders. The EP President was speaking at the start of an extraordinary European summit dedicated to migration after hundreds of people died in one week trying to cross the Mediterranean. Schulz said: “Our immediate priority must be to save lives at sea.”
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The demand for organs far outstrips what is available, leading to illegal trafficking in organs all over the world. With Europeans travelling to other countries to receive one of these illegally harvested organs, it also forms a challenge for the EU. The EP's public health committee and human rights subcommittee held a workshop on 21 April dedicated to organ harvesting in China to discuss these issues. However, MEPs warned that the problem was not limited to China.
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Ahead of the extraordinary European Council meeting on Thursday, the Chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee with responsibility for migration and related issues such as the EU border agency Frontex and asylum policy, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), said:
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A negotiating brief on the “Juncker” plan for a European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) to guarantee growth and job-creating investment was backed by the Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees on Monday evening. But MEPs contested plans to feed the fund from the EU research and transport investment budgets, and called for more parliamentary control over its leadership and goals.
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Political groups and committees meet in Brussels. Among the items on the agenda will be the Junker Commission proposal for a European Strategic Investment Fund; how EU development aid shoud be financed; consumer safety; and preparations for the April plenary
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The negotiations under way on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could provide an opportunity to set a path towards high global standards for the protection of the environment and public and animal health. However, the objective of enhancing trade should not come at a price of lowering standards in these areas, said committee MEPs in an opinion adopted on Tuesday. MEPs list a number of areas where progress could be made, such as the protection of geographical indications, tackling antimicrobial resistance, pest management and safety of pharmaceutical products and medical devices.
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EU must seek ambitious and mutually beneficial deal with the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would preserve the European agriculture model, safeguard the Union's food safety standards and protect EU quality products on the US market, the Agriculture committee said in a vote on Tuesday.
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Eight hundred and ninety-eight amendments to a draft resolution on progress in talks with the US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were debated by the International Trade Committee on Monday.
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The EU and its member states must invest more effort and money in promoting healthy eating and the consumption of local foodstuffs amongst children, said the agriculture committee said on Tuesday when it amended draft rules on schemes to provide fruit, vegetables and milk in schools.
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Suggested measures to improve patient safety, inter alia by tackling growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics by using existing treatments more responsibly and promoting innovation, are set out in a Health Committee resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs note that between 8 and 12% of patients admitted to hospitals in the EU suffer adverse events such as healthcare-related infections, which place a heavy burden on limited health service budgets.
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The European Commission’s economic decision-making needs to become more neutral, MEPs said in an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee debate with Commission Vice-President for the euro Valdis Dombrovskis and Economic and Financial affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Tuesday. MEPs also voiced concern about the low implementation of the Commission’s country-specific recommendations and asked what it would do about high current account surpluses in Germany and other exporting countries
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EU smelters and refiners importing „conflict” minerals and metals would have to be certified by the EU in order to help stem the flow of revenue to armed groups, under a draft law as amended by the International Trade Committee on Tuesday. Other amendments lay down conditions for EU recognition of industry self-certification schemes, and labelling requirements. All these amendments still need to be approved by Parliament as a whole.
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Next week in Brussels the main topics on the agenda in Committee and the plenary include TTIP amendments to a draft resolution; Conflict minerals; Advanced biofuels; Cross-border payment claims; Armenia genocide;Bangladesh textile industry;Hospital patient safety and cross border payment claims.
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Draft EU rules to ensure that the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty is fully respected in member states were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. MEPs inserted amendments to prevent statements by public authorities that might suggest a suspect is guilty before a final conviction, ensure that the burden of proof stays with the prosecution and guarantee the rights to remain silent, not to incriminate oneself and to be present at trial.
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A draft EU law to make the benchmarks used to price EU citizens’ mortgages, loans and bonds more trustworthy was backed by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The text (lead MEP Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, ALDE, NL) aims to clean up the benchmark-setting process, by curbing conflicts of interest like those that led to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) rigging scandals of recent years.
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The EU and its member states must use all available tools to avoid disruptions on the milk market, seize the opportunity to build a more confident dairy sector and take the global lead, said chair of the Agriculture committee Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL) and Parliament's rapporteur on prospects for the EU dairy sector James Nicholson (ECR, UK) on the occasion of the end of milk quotas.
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The European Commission should incorporate, as a key priority, an unambiguous horizontal self-standing provision in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), that "fully exempts the existing and future EU legal framework on the protection of personal data from the agreement", says the Civil Liberties Committee in its TTIP opinion adopted on Tuesday. The negotiators should also keep in mind that Parliament's consent to the final TTIP agreement could be endangered as long as the blanket mass surveillance activities are not completely abandoned and an adequate solution is found for the data privacy rights of EU citizens.
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This week in Brussels European Parliament Committees meet. MEPs will vote on controlling financial benchmarks, host a conference on climate change, examine the state of fundamental rights and receive representatives of the OECD and Nato. The Special Tax Rulings and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees will hold a joint hearing with taxation Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Monday
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“We will defeat radicalism only if we stay united” said Antonio Tajani, Parliament’s First Vice-President, opening Tuesday’s high-level conference of MEPs and religious community leaders on the rise of religious radicalism and fundamentalism. EP President Martin Schulz, who closed the debate, said “We have to have the courage to take people on board and encourage dialogue between religions”.
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The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and the ICA are jointly hosting a symposium on health issues and initiatives that are focussed on promoting good health in older age. The EU dimension will be outlined with contributions from community activists. The event will look at innovative solutions to challenges that rural communities in particular are facing. The event will begin at 2:00 pm and takes place in An Grianan, Termonfeckin, Co Louth on Friday 27 March. Registration required.
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€2.5 million in EU aid has been approved for the 450 former workers of the Lufthansa Technik/Airmotive plant in Dublin, to help them find jobs, Parliament decided on Wednesday. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid has already been approved by the EU Council of Ministers.
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The session opened with a minute’s silence for victims of the Germanwings air crash in the French Alps on 24 March and the terrorist attack on Tunisia’s Bardo museum on 18 March. President Schulz conveyed Parliament’s deepest sympathy to their families and friends.
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"In the name of the European Parliament I wish to convey my sincere condolences to all the families and friends of the victims on the Germanwings 4U9525 flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf which crashed this morning near Digne-les-Bains in Southern France. We grieve this terrible loss which has struck individual people and families as well as nations. Tomorrow, at the opening of its plenary session, the European Parliament will remember the victims with a minute of silence."
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At the beginning of the month, the European Central Bank (ECB) started its controversial quantative easing programme, buying government bonds with the goal of lowering interest rates, increasing inflation and kick-starting economic growth. ECB president Mario Draghi met the EP's economic affairs committee yesterday to discuss the initiative. Read on to find out more about how it works and watch the debate on our website.
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The European Central Bank’s expanded asset purchase programme, better known as “quantitative easing” (QE), is starting to make headway across the EU, ECB President Mario Draghi told Economic and Monetary Committee MEPs on Monday. Mr Draghi also reported on the tough negotiations with Greece and outlined what it would take for the ECB to reinstate the waiver for buying Greek state bonds on the secondary market, so as to enable QE to benefit Greece, too.
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Plenary and committee meetings, take place in Brussels. On Monday ECB President Draghi will discuss quantitive easing in ECON Committee. At the plenary session Energy Union, relations with Russia and situation in Ukraine will be discussed with the Commission and the Council on Wednesday. The Parliament will vote on aid of 2.5 million from the EGF for Irish Lufthansa Technick workers. Members will also discuss the Tax Transparency Package, just tabled by the European Commission. Other topics on the agenda include International Roma Day, Russia/Crimea; discharge of 2013 budget,
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The negotiations for an EU-US trade deal - also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - continue to provoke debate. The international trade committee discussed on 18 March the potential benefits with representatives from business, trade unions, consumer and environmental organisations. Committee chair Bernd Lange, a German member of the S&D group, explained: “I have many meetings on TTIP and one question always comes up – what will this mean for me specifically?"
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The Budgets Committee has recommended that almost 1,500 workers made redundant in Ireland and Greece in 2014 should receive EU aid worth €11.3 million to help them find jobs. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid still has to be approved by Parliament as a whole.
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All new car models sold in the EU are to be equipped with eCall technology from 31 March 2018 under draft EU rules endorsed by Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee MEPs on Tuesday.This technology uses the 112 emergency number to call rescue services automatically, enabling them to reach crash scenes faster and thus save lives and reduce the severity of injuries.
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In Committee next week, the Trade Committee will vote on 1.8 Million aid package for Ukraine; Commisioner Malmstrom will debate TTIP in the Trade Committee; e-Call is on the agenda in Internal market committee. The Civil Liberties Committee delegation will travel to Washington to meet members of the US Congress and US Government representatives to discuss data protection. In Yerevan MPs from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and MEPs will have a 3 day meeting. European Parliament President Martin Schulz will visit China.
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The European Parliament Information Office in Dublin, together with Active Retirement Ireland, Age & Opportunity and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, will hold an information and discussion session on "Promoting Health in Older Age on Friday 13 March 2015. Speakers will include MEPs Lynn Boylan and Nessa Childers .This is an excellent opportunity to consider and learn about what health and well-being means in older age and the European initiatives in this area.
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MEPs gave their input to the upcoming summit in Wednesday’s debate with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, and Latvian Secretary of State for European Affairs Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica.
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The murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov calls for an independent international investigation, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. This is the "most significant political murder in recent Russian history", they added, warning that Kremlin propaganda is turning Russia into a "state of repression, hate speech and fear".
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Parliament voted on Wednesday to back the European Commission's approach to stimulating growth and job creation, following a debate on "European Semester” coordination of EU countries’ economic policies in 2015, with Commission Vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioners Marianne Thyssen (social affairs) and Elzbieta Bieńkowska (single market and SMEs).
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Parliament calls for further efforts to investigate online child sexual abuse, prosecute offenders, protect child victims and remove illegal online content, in a resolution voted on Wednesday. The ongoing EU data protection reform also includes changes to better protect the rights of children online, MEPs stress. More than 80 % of the victims are under 10 years old.
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King Abdullah II of Jordan called on Muslims to join the fight against the so-called Islamic State during a speech at the European Parliament on 10 March. The monarch said the terrorists’ acts ran counter to basic Islamic values such as mercy, peace and tolerance. “These terrorists have made the world’s Muslims their greatest target,” he said. “We will not allow them to hijack our faith.”
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On Tuesday, Parliament adopted the rules to address banks' reluctance to lend to small businesses or open-ended research projects by creating European Long-Term Investment Funds (ELTIFs), designed to benefit the real economy and society by channelling non-bank funds into long-term projects in order to deliver infrastructure, intellectual property or research results.
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The fees that banks charge retailers to process shoppers’ payments will be capped, under uniform EU-wide rules, further to a vote in Parliament on Tuesday. The cap, which will apply to both cross-border and domestic card-based payments, should result in lower costs for card users.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Parliament to discuss death of Russian opposition leader Nemtsov - MEPs to debate Europe's economic priorities - Parliament wants to boost equality between men and women in the EU - Tackling child sexual abuse on the Internet - Address of King Abdullah II of Jordan - Parliament to set out its 2016 budget priorities - MEPs to debate impact of Russian import restrictions on EU road hauliers
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Marian Harkin MEP
Marian Harkin MEP will launch a celebration of Women's Day in Trinity College on Friday 6th March. Organised jointly by the European Parliament Office in Ireland together with Network Ireland, the theme of the day will centre on "Harnessing Opportunity in Challenging Times – Empowering Women through Education". The event starts at 12h00 in the Atrium of TCD.
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An event entitled "Agents of Change - Empowering Women through Education" will be jointly hosted by the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and Kerry Business Women's Network on Thursday 5th March at Ballygarry House Hotel, Tralee, Co. Kerry, in advance of International Women's Day. Keynote speakers include MEP Deirdre Clune and entrepreneur, Deirdre Bounds.
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Get involved: Nirj Deva, a UK member of the ECR group, is inviting everyone to contribute to his report on how the private sector could help to foster development worldwide. Starting today, the report will be discussed by the European Parliament's LinkedIn group. Join the discussion and help Deva write his final report.
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The European Parliament Information Office in cooperation with the National Women's Council of Ireland will hold an event on Tuesday, 3 March 2015 at the Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square in Dublin launching "Better Boards, Better Business, Better Society: A handbook for increasing the number of women on boards in Ireland". This is a follow-up to a previous European Union initiative aimed at getting a minimum percentage of women on company boards in all European countries.
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Political group and committee meetings, in Brussels. Items on the agenda include European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), International Women’s Day (IWD), Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)in Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday and preparations for the 9 – 12 March plenary session in Strasbourg.
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A new draft text on an EU system for the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, tabled by lead MEP Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), was discussed in the civil liberties committee on Thursday morning.
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Parliament’s newly-established Special Committee on Tax Rulings elected Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR) as its chair at its constituent meeting on Thursday morning. As vice-chairs, the committee elected Bernd Lucke (ECR, DE), Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL, PT) and Eva Joly (Greens/EFA, FR). Rapporteurs will be appointed on 9 March.
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Having reached an agreement on its bailout with other eurozone countries on 20 and 24 February, Greece is also to the forefront of Parliament's proceedings this week. Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem addressed the economic and monetary affairs committee on Tuesday morning, and ECB president Mario Draghi comes to plenary on Wednesday afternoon.
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The European Parliament is working on its position on the EU-US trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) this week. The international trade committee, which is responsible for drafting the Parliament's position, will discuss recommendations for the first time on Tuesday, while 10 out of the 13 committees that will contribute to the report will also discuss or vote on their opinions this week. MEPs are due to debate and vote on the EP's position before summer.
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Plenary and committee meetings week in Brussels. Among the item on the agenda are:- Greece Chairman of Eurogroup in Economics affairs Committee on Tuesday; PNR; European Fund for Strategic Investments; ETS maket stability reserve; Biofuels; TTIP and EU2016 budget
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To protect the EU against terrorist attacks and yet safeguard citizens’ rights, MEPs advocate de-radicalisation programmes, stepping up checks at Schengen area external borders, and better information exchange among EU member states, in a resolution voted on Wednesday. They urge member states to make faster progress on the Data Protection Package, so that talks could proceed in parallel with those on an EU Passenger Name Record proposal and thus deliver a full set of EU data protection rules.
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Revised rules on the cross-border sharing of traffic offenders’ data, which should help ensure that drivers who commit offences while abroad in the EU do not escape fines, were approved by the Parliament on Wednesday. These rules, which aim to ensure equal treatment of drivers and improve road safety, will be extended to the UK, Ireland and Denmark within two years.
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Meat used as an ingredient in processed foods, such as lasagne, should be labelled by country of origin as is already the case with bovine fresh meat, said MEPs on Wednesday. They call on the European Commission, which published a report on the issue in late 2013, to come up with legislative proposals in order to rebuild consumer confidence in the wake of the horsemeat scandal and other food fraud cases.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Country of origin labelling of meat in processed foods - Facilitating cross-border tracking of traffic offenders - Counter-terrorism measures: MEPs to debate priorities ahead of EU summit - Annual Report 2013 on the Protection of the EU's Financial Interests - Fight against fraud - Access to medicines in the EU
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Draft EU rules to ensure that children suspected or accused of a crime are assisted by a lawyer at all stages of criminal proceedings in any EU country were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday. MEPs also made sure that children will be individually assessed by qualified staff, can be heard and state their views in a trial and are kept separate from adult inmates, even, in some cases, after they are 18 years old.
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The European Parliament political group leaders have decided to propose a special committee to look into tax rulings by member states. The full House will vote at the next session on the creation of the special committee and on its mandate. The group leaders agreed that Parliament should look into tax rulings but opted for a special committee rather than a committee of inquiry as requested by 192 MEPs. Following the advice of the Parliament's legal service, the group leaders took note that the mandate for a committee of inquiry as proposed by the 192 MEPs was incompatible with the EU Treaty and Parliament's rules of procedure.
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"It was a great honour to nominate the Blue Star Programme for the Citizen's Prize and even better honour that the nomination was successful. As a former teacher myself, I appreciate the magnificent work, much of it on a voluntary basis that the teachers do in our schools. At a time when there is much negativity about the EU, it is great that the Blue Star programme gives the opportunity to pupils, parents & indeed the wider community to learn about the real work of the European Institutions & Member States of the Union..."
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Blue Star programme teachers will be presented with the European Citizen’s Prize medal by Sean Kelly MEP on Wednesday 4 February at Askeaton Senior National School, Co. Limerick. Sean Kelly nominated the Blue Star programme which is now in its fourth year and aims to introduce participants (pupils, teachers, parents and the wider community) to the EU, what it means and how it works.
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European Parliamentary Week. The EP hosts a two-day meeting with national parliamentarians from all over the EU and MEPs to discuss economic, budgetary and social matters. Political group and committee meeting take place in Brussels. Among the items on the agenda will be Children/legal protection, Syria and the EU budge. US Vice President Joe Biden will have meetings at the European Parliament on Friday.
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Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann, one of the winners of the 2014 European Citizen's Prize, will be presented with their medal of honour by Sinn Féin MEPs Martina Anderson, Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy and Liadh Ní Riada at an award ceremony to take place at the Brú Ború theatre, Cashel, Co. Tipperary on Saturday 24th January. Comhaltas were nominated for the prize by the Sinn Féin MEPs.
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Plenary and committee meetings, Brussels: On the agenda next week in the European Parliament will be Economic governance, Money laundering, Anti-terrorism measures, EU fund for strategic investments, and International climate agreement, A ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day will take place on 27 January.
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The Governing Council of the ECB met on Thursday 22 January and decided to expand the asset-purchase programme at a EUR 60-billion/month pace until September 2016, including the purchase of sovereign bonds.
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Meat used as an ingredient in processed foods, such as lasagne, should be labelled by country of origin as is already the case with bovine fresh meat, said Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee MEPs on Wednesday. They call on the European Commission, which published a report on the issue in late 2013, to come up with legislative proposals in order to rebuild consumer confidence in the wake of the horsemeat scandal and other food fraud cases.
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Following the Paris attacks the secretary-general of the Arab League has urged greater cooperation between it and the EU to counter extremism. Addressing Parliament's foreign affairs committee on 20 January Nabil El Araby said "the problems we face now are of universal character and are not confined to one place." He outlined how the Arab world looks upon Europe and said that "the European Union has been to the forefront of all just causes."
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At the start of today's Civil Liberties Committee meeting, the Chair Claude Moraes (S&D, UK) said: In the last Civil Liberties Committee meeting, I already said a few words about the recent attacks in Paris. The immediate attention was of course on catching the terrorists, giving condolences to the victims' families and supporting the freedom of speech. However, in the days that followed, the debate has been broadened towards our actions to fight terrorism and radicalisation.
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Left to Right:  Hans Zomer, Dóchas, Olive Towey, Concern Worldwide and MEPs Brian Hayes, Mairead McGuinness and Lynn Boylan
This event will showcase the European Year for Development and will launch a booklet containing the contributions of all 11 Irish MEPs. There will also be an opportunity for dialogue with MEPs, including Mairead McGuinness, European Parliament Vice-President responsible for Communication and Brian Hayes, European Parliament Development Committee. The event is jointly organised by the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland, Dóchas and Concern and will take place in the European Parliament Information Office, 43, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 on 16 January 2015 from 11.00 am-12.30 pm. Registration required.
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The Parliament paid tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Monday at the start of the January plenary. On the legislative side, MEPs approved a proposal to give member states more flexibility to restrict or ban GMOs on their territory, while they also debated the programme of the new Latvian presidency of the Council as well as the outcome of the Italian presidency that ended in December.
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“2013 was a special year regarding the post of the European Ombudsman. Taking over from a long standing and well respected Mr Nikiforos Diamandouros was definitely a great challenge for Ms Emily O'Reilly, but thanks to her experience as an Irish Ombudsman, she started her work very efficiently. Within just a few months, she was able to turn this institution into a more accessible and user friendly one”, said rapporteur Jarosław Wałęsa (EPP, PL).
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The EU must be more united and more coordinated to face new challenges to its security, a majority of MEPs said in Wednesday's debate with Federica Mogherini on the EU's foreign, security and defence policies. Many said, following the Paris terrorist attacks, that internal and external policies must be coherent and called for more cooperation and intelligence- sharing between EU member countries.
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Increasing security, boosting growth, creating jobs, establishing a digital single market: Latvia will have plenty to do at the helm of the Council presidency the coming six months. Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma discussed her country's priorities during a debate in the European Parliament on 14 January. Some MEPs welcomed plans to focus on passenger name record legislation to improve security, while others stressed the importance of investment.
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New legislation to allow EU member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their own territory, even if this is allowed at EU level, was passed by MEPs on Tuesday. The legislation, informally agreed by Parliament and Council in December, was originally tabled in 2010 but was then deadlocked for four years due to disagreement between pro and anti-GMO member states.
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Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that "Jews in Europe still fear for their safety today. That is something that must frighten us and we need to resist that fear”. Referring to last week’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine, police officers and a Jewish supermarket in Paris, he added that “We need to ensure that this hatred does not become contagious". On 27 January 1945, the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by Soviet soldiers. Established by the Nazis in 1940, it became the largest of the death camps. More than 1,100,000 people lost their lives there. The full text of the President's statement is available at the following link http://www.europarl.europa.eu/the-president/en/
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“Violence with Kalashnikovs will not make us downgrade our European values”, promised Parliament President Martin Schulz, naming the 17 people killed in last week’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. After a minute’s silence, Parliament’s political groups paid their tributes too. Several saw the outpouring of solidarity demonstrated by millions of citizens across Europe and worldwide as a renaissance and reaffirmation of Europe’s core values.
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Plenary session and committee meetings, will take place in Strasbourg. Among the items on the agenda are Charlie Hebdo, a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims;debate with Newly-elected European Council President Donald Tusk, 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, GMO cultivation, Media freedom in Turkey and Human smuggling in Mediterranean.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Commemorating 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz - Latvia takes over EU presidency from Italy - Vote on GMO opt-out for EU member states - Debate on boardroom gender balance - Ombudsman Annual activities report 2013
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The European Parliament Office in Ireland will be present at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition which takes place in the RDS in Dublin from Thursday 8 to Saturday 10 January. Come along and visit us in the World of Science and Technology (Stand number 30 in the Industries Hall).
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Marco Alberti simply wanted his children to learn more about Europe, but when he took them to Parlamentarium - the EP's visitors centre - he hadn't counted on being welcomed as the one millionth visitor. A delighted Alberti said: "We are trying to explain to our children what Europe is and thought this would be a good opportunity." The centre, hailed by Tripadvisor as one of the top things to do in Brussels, reached the landmark after having been open for just over three years.
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On behalf of the European Parliament, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of today's terrorist attack in Paris at the offices of the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. We are profoundly shocked by this heinous crime which is an affront to civilised society and we unreservedly condemn such violence. As Europeans we must never surrender the values which are so close to our hearts and which this act has sought to undermine: the freedom of the press and of expression, tolerance, and mutual respect. This is a moment of profound sadness which requires a dignified and clear response. Whatever our opinions or religious beliefs we must stand strong and united against such violent acts. I call on all citizens to defend together the values we cherish. I also wish a prompt recovery to those injured.
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07-01-2015

Martin Schulz on the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris
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The European Parliament’s Visitors Centre, the Parlamentarium, will on Wednesday celebrate its millionth visitor since it opened in October 2011. He or she will be welcomed by Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President of the European Parliament, at around 12.00. The Parlamentarium gives adults and children the chance to make a virtual, interactive journey through European integration and experience its impact on the everyday lives of citizens.
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Parliament approved the draft EU budget for 2015 and a top-up of the 2014 one on Wednesday. The budget foresees €145.32 billion in commitments and €141.21 billion in payments for 2015, and an extra €4.25 billion to settle unpaid bills in 2014. ˮIt is clear that the amounts that we are to accept will at best only stabilize the level of European debt. What gives me hope is the payment plan aimed at decreasing the amount of unpaid billsˮ, said Budgets Committee chair Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR), in the final debate on the budgets on 16 December. ˮGovernments had accepted the political commitments but then they failed to pay what they owed. Do we have to recall yet again that payments are only technical consequences of commitments?ˮ he asked.
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On Wednesday at noon President Schulz announced the winner of the European Parliament's 2014 LUX Prize for cinema at a ceremony in the Chamber. "Ida" is the story of a young women looking for her identity, an emotional individual story superimposed over the painful past of Europe. Accepting the award from EP President, the director Pawel Pawlikowsky said: "Ida is a film that has succeeded in touching the public across the whole of Europe. This shows that cinema still has a role to play in our society. (...) The LUX Prize established a new award for European film-makers (...) and has also made it possible for thousands of European citizens to join together in experiencing shared emotions."
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The European Parliament supports "in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced", it says in a resolution passed on Wednesday. To support EU diplomatic efforts in the Middle East peace process, it also decided to launch a “Parliamentarians for Peace” initiative to bring together MEPs and MPs from the Israeli and Palestinian Parliaments.
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The European Commission’s 2015 work programme, in which it outlines 23 new proposals and lists 80 items of pending legislation for withdrawal or amendment, drew a mixed response from MEPs in Tuesday’s debate with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and first Vice-President Frans Timmermans. Parliament will vote a resolution in January on the "new start" promised by the Commission
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Parliament re-elected the current European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly for the EP's 2014-2019 term this Tuesday 16 December 2014. She was backed by 569 MEPs in a secret ballot. Ms O’Reilly, who is Irish, was first elected European Ombudsman on 3 July 2013, after her predecessor retired. In today's ballot she was the only candidate. 569 members voted in favour, 66 against and 43 abstained. The task of the ombudsman is to investigate complaints about maladministration by EU institutions and bodies. Complaints can be submitted by anyone who lives in the EU or is an official citizen, as well as companies and associations with an office in the EU.
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Setting the Commission's work priorities for 2015 - 2014 LUX film prize to be awarded in Strasbourg - Parliament to elect European Ombudsman - MEPs to vote on whether Palestine should be recognised as a state - Debate on CIA’s use of torture and role of EU member states
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A provisional agreement on the European Union budget for 2015 and the means to settle this year’s most urgent unpaid bills was reached by negotiators for Parliament and the Council on Monday. The deal still needs to be endorsed both by the full Parliament and the Council. For payments, MEPs secured €4.8 billion more to pay bills for 2014-2015. For 2015, the negotiators agreed to a compromise of €145.3 billion in commitments and €141.2 billion in payments.
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Political group and committee meetings take place this week in Brussels. This week MEPs are discussing a number of issues that need to be finalised during the last plenary session of the year which commences in Strasbourg next Monday. Among the issues on this week's agenda are the on-going budget negotiations between the Parliament and Council, a resolution on migration responsibilities and appointments to the banking union's Single Resolution Board. At the Conference of Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker will present the Commission's programme of work for 2015.
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Sean Kelly MEP today hosted a wide ranging dialogue on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with a number of representative bodies and NGOs representing the manufacturing and services Industry, Farming, the Environment and Trade Unions. The meeting heard of a wide range of hopes as well as concerns for the proposed trade deal between the US and the EU.
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New legislation to allow EU member states to restrict, or ban, the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their own territory, even if it is allowed at EU level, were agreed by Parliament and Council delegations on Wednesday night
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The European Parliament's Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders), meeting today in Riga, decided to authorize Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs to draw up two reports on tax fairness in Europe. Because of the complexity of the issue, Parliament's political leaders authorized the preparation of two reports: an inquiry report and a legislative one. For each of these parliamentary acts, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee may appoint up to two rapporteurs.
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Members of the Agriculture committee welcomed on Wednesday plans to simplify the EU farm policy and called on Commissioner Hogan to come up with new actions to help milk farmers. MEPs also voiced concerns over uneven implementation of greening measures which are due to come into force next year and called on Mr Hogan to do more to tackle effects of the Russian ban on EU farmers.
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The “fresh start” to the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks includes more transparency, to show EU citizens “what’s in there for them”, stepping up civil society involvement in the talks, and “ambitious and realistic” goals for EU access to the US goods, services and public procurement markets, EU trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told the International Trade Committee on Wednesday.
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Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiators and experts were quizzed on safeguards for labour standards and public services, and how a TTIP deal could help to create high-quality jobs, at a joint public hearing held by the Employment and International Trade committees on Tuesday.
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The competition for next year's European Charlemagne Youth Prize was launched on Tuesday, 2 December. Now in its eighth year, the prize is awarded to young people who have developed projects to foster understanding between people from different European countries. The deadline for submissions is 2 February 2015.
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This exhibition was launched on 2 December 2014 by Minister of State, Aodhan O'Riordan and is now open to the public as follows: Tuesday 2 December, 2pm-4pm, Wednesday and Thursday 3 and 4 December 10am - 4pm at the European Parliament Information Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of the human lives and ethnic and cultural diversity of 20th century Europe lost to totalitarianism.
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Emily O’Reilly, current European Ombudsman who has been nominated to stand for re-election, will present her priorities in a hearing organised by the Petitions committee on Tuesday afternoon at 15 (Room ASP A1G-3) ahead of election of the Ombudsman for the 2014-2019 parliamentary term. The hearing is open to all Members of the European Parliament. The Ombudsman is elected by Parliament at the start of each parliamentary term. Ms O’Reilly is the only candidate declared admissible and this hearing will take place with a view to her re-election to the post.
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It is Committee week in Brussels next week. Among the items on the agenda are:- 2015 Budget; TTIP; Migration; ACP/EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (in Strasbourg); Preparations for Latvian Presidency of the EU. Irish Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan will be in Parliament twice next week. On Monday Commissioner Hogan will be in the Committee on Budgetary Control and on Wednesday in the Agriculture Committee meeting
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The European Parliament called on EU member states and the European Commission to break down barriers to the growth of the EU's digital single market in a resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs also stressed the need to prevent online companies from abusing dominant positions by enforcing EU competition rules and unbundling search engines from other commercial services.
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"We hope to find solutions to stop rape being used as a weapon of war, sometimes even as a war strategy." For years Denis Mukwege, this year's Sakharov Prize laureate, has been helping the victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo despite threats and his family being attacked. The gynaecologist was honoured for his work by the Parliament during an award ceremony on Wednesday 26 November in plenary.
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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the creation of a new EU strategic investment fund designed to mobilise at least €315 billion over the next three years to jump-start the EU economy. After his presentation in Parliament’s plenary session on Wednesday, MEPs from most political groups voiced support, but also demanded swift action to boost growth in the EU.
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The EU-Canada agreement on the transfer of Passenger Name Records (PNR) should be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for an opinion on whether it is in line with the EU treaties and Charter of Fundamental Rights, MEPs said in a vote on Tuesday. This is the first time that Parliament has asked that a PNR agreement be given a preliminary check by the Court before the final vote on the deal.
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Protecting human dignity was a key theme of the formal address delivered by Pope Francis to Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday. Immigration, protecting the environment and promoting human rights and democracy were among the topics stressed in a speech that enjoined "Europe to rediscover the best of itself". Opening the formal sitting, Parliament’s President Martin Schulz said that the loss of confidence of people in politics, both at national and European level, is "tremendous", stressing that no institution can operate if it lacks support.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Pope Francis to pay official visit to the European Parliament - 2014 Sakharov Prize to be awarded to Dr Denis Mukwege - Juncker to present €300bn investment package to MEPs - MEPs to debate and vote on whether Palestine should be recognised as a state - Parliament to vote on motion of censure on the European Commission
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Pope Francis to pay official visit to the European Parliament - 2014 Sakharov Prize to be awarded to Dr Denis Mukwege - Juncker to present €300bn investment package to MEPs - MEPs to debate and vote on whether Palestine should be recognised as a state - Parliament to vote on motion of censure on the European Commission
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Blue Star programme teachers and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann are among the 47 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2014 of the European Parliament. Since 2008, the prize has been awarded to citizens or organisations having contributed to promoting better mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens or to facilitating cross-border or transnational cooperation within the EU.
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-Political group and committee meetings, Brussels Among the items on the agenda are:- ECB President Draghi at ECON committe; Ebola, Commissioner Stylianides on outcome of fact-finding mission; 2013 &2015 budgets; Ukraine;Syria; STOA annual lecture with Thomas Südhof
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Workers at fashion retailer Sprider Stores in Greece and at jewellery maker Andersen Ireland Limited in Ireland are to receive EU aid worth €8.8 million to help find or create new jobs. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid applications, already accepted by the Council of Ministers, were approved by Parliament on Wednesday.
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The European Parliament called on all parties to join talks to restart the stalled Northern Ireland peace process in a resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs stressed the need to combat low pay and unemployment, so as to halt violent and criminal efforts to undermine the process. Talks broke down in December 2013 due to disputes over issues such as welfare spending, flags and emblems, and parading.
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Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker appeared in person for Parliament’s extraordinary debate on the fight against tax avoidance, prompted by the recent revelation of secret deals granting preferential tax treatments to multinational companies in Luxembourg. Mr Juncker underlined that the tax rulings in Luxembourg were not illegal even though he admitted that "there probably was a certain amount of tax avoidance in Luxembourg, as in other EU countries. We find this everywhere in Europe because there is insufficient tax harmonisation in Europe", he explained, adding that Commissioner Moscovici will initiate proposals for an automatic exchange of information regarding national tax rulings."
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Fifteen finalists are competing in this event to win the title of National Europe Direct Soapbox Winner 2014. The contestants must present a three minute speech for or against the topic "The Internet does more harm than good" before a public audience and a panel of judges. Prizes include a trip to Brussels and a visit to the European Parliament sponsored by MEP Matt Carthy, who will present the prizes to winners in Farmleigh on the day. Our photo shows winners David Williams (Mountmellick) and Siobhan Fitzgerald (Galway) with their winning certificates and Matt Carthy MEP to the right of picture.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's mini-Plenary Session in Brussels? Highlights include: - Commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 - Restarting stalled Northern Ireland peace process – debate and vote - MEPs set to back EU-Moldova association deal - EU job-search aid for former workers at Greek retailer and Irish jeweller
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Plenary session and committee meetings, Brussels next week. Among the items on the agenda are:European Court of Auditors President Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira presents 2014 report; Northern Ireland and Cyprus; EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) data; Fall of the Berlin Wall and GMOs. Press briefing in Brussels at 10:00 on Monday
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Members of the Agriculture committee demanded on Thursday to keep the funding from milk super-levies in the EU agriculture budget and use it to offset the impact of the Russian import ban on EU farmers. The embargo on EU food products that Russia imposed in August is a result of a political decision and therefore the aid to the most hit food producers should not be funded by across-the-board cuts to direct payments, MEPs said.
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The European Commission, the European Parliament and UN Women this morning kicked off the two-day Spring Forward for Women conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. The Conference brings together women lawmakers from the Arab States and members of the European Parliament. Participants will share their experience in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in both the European Union and the Arab States.
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The EU should make available aid worth €8.8 million to help find or create new jobs for workers made redundant by fashion retailer Sprider Stores in Greece and jewellery maker Andersen Ireland Limited in Ireland, recommended the Budgets Committee on Tuesday. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid still has to be approved by Parliament as a whole and the Council of Ministers.
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On Tuesday 25 November, Pope Francis will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg. For technical reasons, all journalists will need a special badge to access its premises that day, even if they already have EU accreditation. Please apply by 12 November.
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Concerns over the possible threats to the EU's internal security posed by Europeans returning home after fighting for the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) were raised by MEPs in a debate on Wednesday. Some called for a swift approval of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal to better detect potential terrorists entering or leaving the EU. Most stressed, however, that all measures taken by the EU to tackle this problem must respect fundamental rights.
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Plans to prolong a largely duty-free access to the EU market for Ukraine’s exports until the end of 2015 were backed by the European Parliament on Thursday. MEPs voted by 497 votes to 78, with 56 abstentions, to take over the original Commission proposal and prolong the measure without amending it. "Given the current situation, a timely approval to prolong the regulation granting autonomous trade measures for Ukraine proves that the EU can act swiftly and decisively. This is also a proof of our political will and moral obligation", said rapporteur Gabrielius Landsbergis (EPP, LT). He added that it would give Ukrainian producers and businesses chance to prepare for the full implementation of the "Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area" from the start of 2016
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MEPs approved the new college of 27 Commissioners, as presented by its President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning, with 423 votes in favour, 209 against and 67 abstentions. The new Commission now needs to be formally appointed by EU heads of state or government to enable it to take up duty on 1 November for a five-year term.
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EU countries need to act more like owners of economic policy reform pledges they themselves signed up to, MEPs stress in a report adopted on Wednesday. Given that only 10% of the European Commission's country-specific reform recommendations (CSRs) for 2013 were implemented in full and that little or no progress was made on 45% of them, MEPs believe "there is an inconsistency between European commitment and national implementation of the CSRs by member states".
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Denis Mukwege is the laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2014, following today's decision by EP President Martin Schulz and the political group leaders. Mukwege will be invited to Strasbourg on 26 November to receive the award during the plenary session.
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All sides in the Northern Ireland peace process should refrain from “dangerous mutual provocation” urged European Parliament President Martin Schulz in his opening address at its October session. Mr Schulz urged all parties to the Northern Ireland peace process to continue contributing to a peaceful solution and thus to the new round of talks launched on 16 October.
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Among the items on the the agenda next week:Hearings of Commissioners-designate, Election of new Commission, EU budget 2015, Duty-free access for Ukrainian goods, European Semester and Aid for the unemployed
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Vote on the new European Commission - 2015: Parliament set to boost funding for EU priorities - Review of Barroso II Commission - European semester: action needed on EU countries’ economic reform pledges
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With the announcement by Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule that she is leaving the EFDD, that political group no longer has members from the minimum of seven member states and has therefore effectively ceased to exist. The Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) meeting today was therefore not able to choose the 2014 Sakharov Prize winner from a shortlist of three. That decision has now been postponed to next Tuesday.
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What started as an Ebola outbreak in West Africa has evolved into a world-wide threat, with the first European case having been reported in Spain. MEPs labelled the outbreak "a global security challenge" in a resolution adopted on 18 September and said that the international community has underestimated the crisis. According to the World Health Organization, 4,447 people have already died because of Ebola. We discussed the issue with the chairs of the development and public health committees.
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The Ukrainian EuroMaidan movement, Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo and Leyla Yunus, a human rights activist from Azerbaijan have been named as the finalists for the 2014 Sakharov Prize. They were selected by the foreign affairs and development committees on 7 October. Read on to find out more about the finalists.
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EU countries need to do more to put their EU economic policy reform pledges into effect at home, especially in the euro area, urged Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday. Noting that only 10% of the European Commission's country-specific reform recommendations (CSRs) for 2013 were implemented in full and that little or no progress was made on 45% of them, MEPs also pressed the Commission and the Eurogroup President to see that they are put into practice.
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In the week preceeding the October plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the EP president and the political group leaders will meet this week to discuss the committee evaluations of the candidate commissioners and decide the next steps. Also on the agenda EU security and the threat posed by ISIS, human rights in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries, announcement of this year's Sakharov Prize. Read on.
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The three films competing for this year’s LUX Prize will be screened in Ireland during the IndieCork Film Festival which runs from Sunday 12th October to Sunday 19th October 2014. Class Enemy" (Razredni sovražnik) from Slovenia, Polish/Danish co-production "Ida" and "Girlhood" (Bande de filles) from France" will be screened on 12th, 18th and 19th October respectively. An open discussion with MEP Liadh Ni Riada on the importance of "cultural exception" will also take place on 17th October as part of the festival.
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Better late than never: - “The publication of the TTIP negotiating mandate is an important step towards more transparency in these trade talks. And while late is better than never, I still hope that member states will show more willingness to listen to and act upon the repeated calls of MEPs and citizens in the future”, said chair of the EP’s trade committee Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) on Thursday, following decision by the EU Council to declassify its mandate for talks on a EU-US trade agreement.
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Youth unemployment is "not only a personal catastrophe for young people, but also for their parents, grandparents, kids, friends and relatives," EP President Martin Schulz warned at the European employment summit in Milan on 8 October.
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MEPs will continue assessing the skills and qualifications of Commissioners-designate for the posts proposed by incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. This time, the candidate Vice Presidents will be heard by the parliamentary committee(s) active in their proposed fields of responsibility, except for the candidate for the post of 1st Vice President of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, who will be heard at a meeting open to all MEPs. (Monday and Tuesday)
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The vetting of president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker's team by Parliament's committees commenced on Monday 29 September. 21 of the 27 commissioners-designate have now been heard by MEPs who had the opportunity to quiz the candidates on their competence and expertise for the portfolios assigned to them. Read our summary here of what has happened thus far.
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The 27 candidates hoping to be part of the European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker start appearing at hearings at the European Parliament today. During the three-hour hearings EP committees will test the candidate commissioners' expertise and competences ahead of the EP voting on whether to approve the new Commission on 22 October. The hearings will be shown live on Parliament's website and can also be followed on various other platforms. Read on to find out how.
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The European Parliament will once again be present at this year's National Ploughing Championships, which take place from Tuesday 23 to Thursday 25 September at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co. Laois. Together with colleagues from several other services, we will be on hand to deal with any queries you may have about the EU, your rights as a European citizen, consumer affairs, food and all topics of EU interest. We will have the EU funded SOLVIT team to assist you with any problems encountered in availing of your EU based rights and we have the newly elected European Parliament to inform you about.
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MEPs meet in committee this week to prepare legislation on data protection, regional policy and discuss the annual report on immigration and asylum. They will also prepare the hearings for the new European Commission taking place from 29 September to 7 October. The nominees for the Sakharov Prize will be presented to three committees on Tuesday. On the same day EP president Martin Schulz will meet Portugal's prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho in Lisbon.
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The candidate commissioners as presented by incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will be scrutinised by the European Parliament committees from 29 September to 7 October. Members will evaluate candidates' suitability before the full house votes on the proposed Commission. The leaders of the political groups have agreed on Thursday on the format and programme for the public hearings. The hearings will take place from 29 September through 2 October and in the following week, on the afternoon of Monday 6 and the morning of Tuesday 7 October.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, Russian ban on imports of EU food products, Crisis in the Middle East – Syria and Iraq, Gaza, Libya, Ebola outbreak, European Youth Initiative, Digital market,Budget 2015
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The candidate commissioners, as presented by incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will need to appear in hearings before parliamentary committees from 29 September to 7 October. The hearings will take place from 29 September to 2 October and in the following week, on the afternoon of Monday 6 and the morning of Tuesday 7 October.
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Tackling climate change will be a key issue for the newly-elected European Parliament and for the new Commission, which will take office later this year. One person who has no doubts about the urgent need to galvanise climate action is former Irish president and current UN special envoy Mary Robinson. While in Brussels to meet with Parliament President Martin Schulz, she urged European politicians to show leadership on the issue.
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Next week committees and political groups will meet in Brussels. The situation in Ukraine, the plight of children in Gaza are on the agenda of the relevant committees while political groups will be preparing the September plenary session. On Wednesday afternoon President Schulz will meet Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change.
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"Access to internet is critical for fundamental freedoms and economic development. Continued access to a free and open internet depends on effective governance... " Joint statement from the EU delegation to the Internet Governance Forum 2-5 September 2014 in Istanbul. Read on.
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The EU must be ready to introduce additional measures and allocate fresh resources outside the agricultural budget to help EU farmers overcome harsh effects of the Russian import ban on EU food products, Agriculture Committee MEPs said on Thursday. They also warned that the embargo might stay in place for some time and called for long-term solutions.
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After the summer recess, business resumes on 1 September in the European Parliament with a week of meetings of parliamentary committees. Crises in the EU neighbourhood, EU-Russia Trade, Ebola Outbreak, Economic Dialogue and more will be on the agenda of the relevant committees. Read on.
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The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz congratulates Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on his election as President of the European Council and Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini on her appointment as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy following the special meeting of the European Council on 30 August 2014.
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The European Parliament is in recess over the summer. Business resumes on 1 September, with a week of meetings of parliamentary committees.
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Euroscola is a unique event for schools to learn about European integration by experiencing it first hand. Students from the 28 EU Member States are selected to become a Member of the European Parliament for one day at Parliament's premises in Strasbourg. They take the floor in plenary and committee sessions to debate and vote on resolutions on current affairs, all the while practising their language skills and making friends with fellow students from across Europe. Enter our competition and your school could win a chance to represent Ireland. Closing date for entries: 21 November 2014
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The European elections in May 2014 changed the relative strength of political groups in the EP, brought new faces at the helm of many groups and affected their political agenda. At the start of the parliamentary term, political group leaders speak about their priorities in the weeks and months to come. Watch the series of interviews to learn more about their views and plans at an important moment for EU policy-making.
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EU sanctions against Russia must be stepped up, the Ukrainian border closed to halt arms flows from Russia, and the bodies of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash victims returned, MEPs insisted in today’s debate with Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin. Mr Klimkin called on the EU to show its solidarity now, as Ukraine is “being punished for its EU aspirations”. The debate opened with a minute’s silence for victims of the 17 July crash.
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The three films competing for this year’s Lux Prize have been announced: Class Enemy (Razredni sovražnik) from Slovenia, Girlhood (Bande de filles) from France and Polish/Danish co-production Ida will all be competing for the European Parliament's annual firlm award. The finalists will be subtitled into the EU's official 24 languages and be screened in all 28 member states during the LUX Film Days this autumn. The winner will be chosen by MEPs and announced on 17 December.
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Next week Committees will hold their final meetings in Brussels before the Summer recess. On the agenda: the Italian Presidency, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), EU Budget 2014... Read more.
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Commenting on the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukrainian territory, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz stated: “I was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic crash of the Malaysian airliner which led to the death of so many people. I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the national authorities of the affected countries.
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Attacks by the Islamic State (IS) on the Iraqi state and its citizens, including summary executions and the imposition of harsh interpretations of Sharia law, were strongly condemned in a European Parliament resolution passed by a show of hands on Thursday. At the same time, the resolution urges the Iraqi security forces to respect Iraq's international commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms while fighting the IS and other terrorist groups.
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The European Parliament called for an immediate end to rocket attacks on Israel and to Israeli military action against Gaza in a resolution voted on Thursday The EU foreign policy chief and the member states must do more to support a ceasefire agreement and put an immediate stop to all acts of violence threatening civilians, MEPs said, calling on Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct peace talks.
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The European Parliament called for stronger measures to fight unemployment among young people, including common minimum standards for apprenticeships and decent wages, in a resolution passed on Thursday. EU funding of employment-related programmes should also be increased in future budgets, it added.
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Lithuania should join the euro on 1 January 2015, recommends the European Parliament in a resolution voted on Wednesday. This vote is in line with a European Commission recommendation and political backing from EU heads of state or government at the June EU Council summit. Parliament's recommendation was passed by 545 votes to 116, with 34 abstentions. It "endorses the adoption of the euro by Lithuania on 1 January 2015."
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EU citizens must be better informed of the progress of EU-US talks on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), said MEPs from all political groups debating the issue with EU trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht on Tuesday afternoon.
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With 422 votes in favour, the European Parliament elected Jean-Claude Juncker in a secret ballot on 15 July as President of the new European Commission to take office on 1 November 2014 for a five-year term. The minimum number of votes required was 376.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Parliament to vote on Jean-Claude Juncker for Commission President - MEPs to quiz EU Commission on transatlantic trade talks - Tackling youth unemployment
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Parliament to vote on Jean-Claude Juncker for Commission President - MEPs to quiz EU Commission on transatlantic trade talks - Tackling youth unemployment
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After the election of a President, Vice-Presidents and Quaestors of the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week, parliamentary committees convened on Monday in Brussels to elect chairpersons and their deputies for next two and a half years. Legislative work of the European Parliament is done in 20 standing committees and two sub-committees. Each committee elects a chair and up to 4 vice-chairs.
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10 films, 28 countries, one prize. Every year the European Parliament awards the LUX prize to the best in European cinema. The contenders for this year's Prize have been announced at the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic. Read on to discover which films have are included in this year’s selection. The three finalists will be announced at the end of July.
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Political group meetings will be taking place in Brussels in preparation for the 14-17 July plenary session in Strasbourg and the election of the new President of the European Commission. The constitutive meetings of Parliament's committees are also taking place.
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EU policy making must heed the call for change made in the European elections, said most MEPs’ group leaders in Wednesday’s debate on the outcome of the 26-27 June EU summit. Heads of state were criticised for their “business as usual” attitude at the summit in this, the first debate of the 8th legislature, in the presence of European Council and Commission Presidents Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso.
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MEPs elected Martin Schulz as the new president of the European Parliament. Ireland’s Mairead McGuinness Fine Gael, (EPP) is one of the 14 vice-presidents also elected on Tuesday. Five quaestors, responsible for administrative and financial matters, will be elected on Wednesday 3 July. The president, 14 vice-presidents and five quaestors - together known as the bureau - are all elected for a period of two-and-a-half years.
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MEPs re-elected Martin Schulz as President of the European Parliament on Tuesday morning for another two and a half year term. The 58-year old German MEP will lead Parliament until January 2017. He won 409 out of 612 valid votes cast in the first ballot. Mr Schulz is the first President in the history of the European Parliament to be re-elected for a second two and a half year term.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - Electing Parliament’s new President - Electing Parliament’s Vice-Presidents and Quaestors - Debate on the outcome of the European summit - Italy to take over EU Presidency from Greece
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Closing the urn: election of the EP President
Before the newly elected Parliament's members casted their votes by secret ballot on Tuesday, 1 July to designate the new President of the House for a two year and a half year term, the four candidates each made a short statement.
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
The new Parliament will kick off its next term with the election of the President, 14 Vice-Presidents and five Quaestors during the first plenary session taking place this week in Strasbourg from 1-3 July. Parliament will also vote on the numerical size of its committees and on their membership. Also on the agenda this week: MEPs debate the results of the 26-27 European Council and debates on the Italian and Greek EU presidencies.
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©The Council of the European Union
The European elections in May are a turning point for the EU as for the first time all major European parties presented lead candidates for the post of Commission president, acting EP president Gianni told European leaders. In a speech to the European Council on 27 June, he said: “The process of lead candidates has deepened a European-wide debate about European issues,” he said. “And without doubt, via this process the EU has become closer to its citizens, more transparent and more democratic.”
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New configuration EP June 2014
Seven political groups have now been recognised as fulfilling the necessary criteria and will be starting their work at next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg where Parliament’s top posts will be decided by MEPs. Parliament rules foresee that political groups should have at least 25 MEPs from seven different member states. Read on to find out more about the political groups and their leaders.
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Gianni Pittella (left) with Martin Schulz
Martin Schulz has today been elected as Group leader of the Socialists and Democrats and steps down as European Parliament President. According to the European Parliament Rules of Procedure (Rule 18) Gianni Pittella, First Vice-President takes over as Acting President of the European Parliament until a new President is elected. The election of a new European Parliament President will take place on 1 July 2014 in Strasbourg during the inaugural plenary session.
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Paulo De Castro, MEP
Talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Partnership (TTIP) agreement are a great opportunity for both the EU and the US, but the European Parliament must be properly involved in them, to ensure that the final deal upholds the EU farming and food standards, protects EU consumers and ensures a level playing field for European farmers, Parliament's Agriculture Committee Chair Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) said at a meeting with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Tuesday.
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The procedure for adopting the EU's budget for next year kicks off on 11 June when budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski comes to Parliament to present the draft proposal and discuss it with MEPs. The budget can only be adopted if both the Council and the Parliament approve it. The budgets committee meeting starts at 11.00 CET. Watch it live online.
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Elections to the European Parliament took place across Europe from 22-25 May 2014 and in Ireland on 23 May 2014. The newly-elected members of the European Parliament will formally take up their seats on 1 July 2014. The first session of the new Parliament takes place in Strasbourg from 1 to 3 July 2014. This session will be dedicated to the formal constitution of the Parliament, when the new MEPs will elect their President and 14 Vice-presidents.
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The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland together with the European Commission Representation in Ireland and the Institute of International and European Affairs will hold a Conference on the outcome of the European elections on Wednesday 28th May from 10:00am-1:00pm in the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Registration required.
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Statement issued by the Conference of Presidents (consisting of the political group leaders and the EP President) who met on Tuesday 27 May to discuss the election of the next President of the Commission prior to an informal dinner of EU Heads of State and Governments later that day.
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Our Europe, a Danish travel project, was awarded first prize at the 2014 Charlemagne Youth Prize ceremony in Aachen University on 27 May. The second prize went to the JouwDelft & Co youth congress from The Netherlands and the third to the Employment4U, a training project from Cyprus. The European Charlemagne Youth Prize is awarded annually to projects that foster a shared sense of European identity and integration among young people. The first prize was awarded by EP Vice-President Anni Podimata, the second by former EP president Hans-Gert Pöttering and the third by Mayor of Aachen Marcel Philip.
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In the next three days 400 million Europeans will have the right to choose who will be in charge in Europe. Voting booths opened in Ireland and the Czech Republic today while voting in the UK and the Netherlands took place yesterday. Go and vote, and then follow all the results on Parliament's official webpage where they will be published as soon as they are available. For all the reactions and live coverage, turn to Parliament's special Elections Night Tumblr account with infographics, videos, pictures, quotes and links.
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The final of the Meath Co. Council inter-schools debating competition was held on Wednesday, 21st May at the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office in Grange, Co. Meath. The finalists this year were Scoil Mhuire, Trim and O’Carolan College, Nobber. The motion "The EU should grant full membership to all European states that wish to join the EU" brought out the best in both teams. The standard was very high and first prize went to O’Carolan College from Nobber. The team of four won the prize of a subsidised trip to Strasbourg for 24 students to represent Ireland at Euroscola on 30th October. The judges this year were Cllr Maria Murphy, Meath County Council, Anne McEvoy-Smyth, European Parliament Office, Dublin and Elisabetta Ravarino-Healy, F.V.O. European Commission, Grange.
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Key media events before, during and after the 22-25 May European elections include a presidential debate, election night and the start of consultations on the election of the President of the European Commission.
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As Parliament gets ready to embark on a new legislative term following the elections on 22-25 May, we take a look back on what has been achieved in the current one. In its seventh term, from 2009 until June this year, the EP has enjoyed greater power than ever before. For the first time it could decide on the full EU budget, as well as on big international trade agreements and nearly all EU legislation, on an equal footing with national governments represented in the EU Council.
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The old European Parliament passed its last laws in April, making a total of over 1,000 in 2009-2014. The new Parliament, elected on 22-25 May, takes office on 1 July. Here is a brief overview of some of Parliament’s work over the past five years and what it will need to do in the next five.
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A debate between candidates for the Presidency of the European Commission, organized by EUROVISION, will take place on May 15 at 21:00 hours (Brussels time) in the Chamber of the European Parliament in Brussels. The debate will take place in front of a live audience over 90 minutes and the show will be presented by Monica Maggioni of RAI News 24 and Irishman Conor McNally, News2day, RTE.
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Together with local organisations and representative organisations, the European Parliament is holding a series of information workshops throughout Ireland on the upcoming European elections. The workshops feature presentations on the elections and will include contributions from local actors and NGOs
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Thousands of young Europeans have now applied to take part in the European Youth Event (EYE2014) in Strasbourg in May when the European Parliament in Strasbourg will open its doors to thousands of young people aged between 16 and 30 from all over the EU. Participants will have the chance to meet with other young Europeans, inspired thinkers, political decision-makers and key figures from business, research, culture and society to exchange ideas and perspectives on issues that are critical for our common future.
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The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and the European Commission Representation in Ireland in co-operation with several embassies of EU Member States are celebrating Europe Day on Friday 9th May with “A Taste of Europe” at EU House Dublin from 12.00 noon. This year to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2004 enlargement, music and dance will be provided by artists from most of the EU10 countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia).
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The European Parliament website is now available in all 24 official languages including Irish. All major sections of the Europarl website are now available as Gaeilge. This includes the Portal, News, MEPs, About Parliament, Plenary, Committees, and Delegations. The mobile version and the visitors' website (Visits, Parlamentarium, House of European History) are also available in Irish language versions. The website's Newsroom is updated daily in Irish and includes top stories and election related content.
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To mark the tenth anniversary of the accession to the European Union of 10 Member States, a conference will be held at the Dublin Castle Conference Centre on Tuesday 6th May 2014. Entitled "Marking 10 Years of the EU’s largest accession: Reflections on the Future Political, Economic and Security Challenges of the European Union", the primary objective of the conference is to create a forum bringing together policy makers, government officials, academics and experts to reflect on the past, enhance the dialogue on the present status of the EU and debate its future direction.
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In the run-up to the 2014 European elections and the European Youth Event (EYE) taking place on 9-11 May in Strasbourg, this survey addresses the five main themes of EYE 2014 i.e. the fight against youth unemployment, the digital revolution, the future of the EU, sustainable development and European values, and takes stock of the views of young Europeans on these themes.
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The European Parliament Office in Ireland in conjunction with Network Ireland will hold an information workshop for current and future entrepreneurs on Tuesday 29 April at 5.30 pm in its offices at 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin. John Perry TD, Minister for Small Business will open the event which will include advice from Enterprise Ireland and case studies of two successful Irish SMEs: Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates and Trilogy Technologies. Booking is advisable. Admission free.
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This event takes place on Wednesday 16 April 2014 from 11:00 am to 1.00 pm in NUI Maynooth. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions, share your thoughts and participate in the discussion before the European Parliament elections take place on 23rd May 2014. The Europe Direct stand will provide advice and information on how to register to vote, eligibility etc. All welcome.
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New EU rules on the information that small investors must be given before they sign a contract were approved by Parliament on Tuesday. This information will be set out in a mandatory, three-page A4 Key Information Document (KID). Before signing a contract, all small (non-professional) investors should be given three-page A4 standard format KIDs to help them to understand and compare packaged retail and insurance-based investment products (PRIIPs), estimate the total cost of their investment as well as be aware of its risk-reward profile.
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Anyone legally residing in the EU would have the right to open a basic payment account, and no-one could be denied this right on grounds of nationality or place of residence, under a new law passed by Parliament on Tuesday. This law should also ensure that fees and rules for all payment accounts are transparent and comparable and make it easy to switch to another payment account that offers better terms.
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Three measures to ensure that banks shoulder the risks of failure rather than relying on taxpayers to bail them out were approved by Parliament on Tuesday. Two deal with restructuring and winding down troubled banks, and the third ensures that banks, not taxpayers, guarantee deposits under €100,000 in the event of a run on a bank.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Strasbourg ? Highlights include: - World War I centenary - Banks: MEPs seal protection package for taxpayers - Improving protection for workers posted abroad - Keeping pension rights when moving to another EU member States
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The European Parliament in co-operation with Irish Rural Link is hosting a seminar on rural isolation from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm in Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal on Friday, 11 April. The aim of this seminar - with special guest speaker Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, the former RTE sports commentator - is to focus on issues that affect people arising from rural isolation and to seek proposals for new or improved solutions as to how the problem of rural isolation can be alleviated.
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No-one has the answer, but the question is on everyone’s mind. Based on the current state of play of public opinion in the EU member states, the European Parliament and its contractor TNS Opinion propose a weekly projection of seats in the Parliament’s hemicycle.
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The European Parliament Group Leaders and the President of the European Parliament, in the framework of the Conference of Presidents, met today European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to the discuss practical arrangements for electing the next President of the European Commission. A large majority of the EP Political Group Leaders agreed that the next European Commission President must be elected from the "lead candidates" already put forward by the political groups.
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This week committees and political groups are meeting in Brussels. Noise at airports, promotion of farm goods and citizens' initiative on the use of human embryos are just some of the issues on the agenda. Political groups will also be preparing for next week's plenary session in Strasbourg. Read on.
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What will the MEPs be working on during this week's Plenary Session in Brussels ? Highlights include: - Ending tariffs on EU imports from Ukraine - Net neutrality and the end of roaming charges - Pension rights when moving within the EU - Medical devices: Better patient safety - Plans to curb harmful traffic noise
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This week Committee meetings as well as a mini plenary session are taking place in Brussels. Read on to see what's on Parliament's agenda during the week of 31 March-6 April 2014
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This event takes place on Thursday 27 March at 11:15am in WIT (FO2, Main campus, Business School Building) and will be chaired by Mary Mosse, Lecturer in Economics, WIT. There will also be an expert panel with Francis Jacobs, Head of the European Parliament Office in Ireland and Dr. John O'Brennan, Director, European Studies at NUI Maynooth and a Question and Answer session session with the audience.
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On Wednesday 26 March, the European Parliament will host the launch by the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) of their pre-Election promotion campaign – the Women Rising Manifesto. The European Parliament and the NWCI believe more equal representation leads to better decision-making and are promoting actions to ensure gender equality and that women’s voices are being heard. The launch takes place at 9.30 am in the Parliament offices, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. For further information: call (01)8787248 or email louiseg@nwci.ie
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The Regional Development Committee (REGI) of the European Parliament will be visiting Ireland this week when they will hold a series of meetings with Ministers and Members of Dáil Eireann in Dublin before moving to Waterford and Kilkenny for a day and a half of meetings.
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An Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee delegation will meet Members of US Congress, the US Treasury and supervisory authorities in Washington to discuss the role of financial services in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, macro-economic policies and the fight against tax evasion. Read on to see what else is on Parliament's agenda during the week of 24-30 March 2014
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A European Parliament delegation has travelled to Israel to assess the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons . The cross-party delegation included Emer Costello MEP (Chair, S&D, Ireland), Nicole Kiil-Nielsen MEP (Greens, France), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE, France) and Jacek Protasiewicz (EPP, Poland) and held meetings in the region on 19 and 20 March 2014.
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Leitrim Peace and Reconciliation Partnership
The national winning entries for the annual European Charlemagne Youth Prize, now in its seventh year, have been announced. Twenty-eight national projects were chosen from 370 projects in total. The competition is open to young people aged between 16 and 30 who have been involved with projects helping to promote understanding between peoples of different European countries. The three final European winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Aachen (Germany) on 27 May 2014.
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In the lead up to the European Parliament Elections 2014, students from universities across the country will debate the motion "This house believes that Ireland's future within the EU is bright" . The event will be chaired by Paddy Smyth, Foreign Policy Editor of the Irish Times. Opposing the motion will be Sean Barrett, Senator and Senior Lecturer in the Economics Department of Trinity College and proposing the motion will be Alan Dukes, former TD and leader of Fine Gael. Starts 7.30 pm. All welcome
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Two Irish MEPs won awards at the MEP Awards 2014 event which was hosted in Brussels on 18 March by the European research, innovation and science commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn: Jim Higgins for Transport and Seán Kelly for the Digital Agenda. This annual event recognising MEPs for their outstanding work over the current legislature is organised by the Parliament Magazine.
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An urgent vote to end or greatly reduce customs duties on EU imports from Ukraine will be taken by the International Trade Committee on Thursday. Read on to see what else is being discussed at Parliament's committee and political group meetings in Brussels during the week of 17-23 March 2014
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The European Parliament in association with four migrant led organisations, AkiDwA, Africa Centre, Forum Polonia and New Community Partnership will hold a seminar on 15 March to develop strategies for mobilising the migrant population to vote. The meeting is being organised in the context of the upcoming European Elections on 23 May. The seminar will take place from 10.00am-3.00pm at the European Parliament Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. All welcome.
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The European Charlemagne Youth Prize" aims to encourage the development of European consciousness among young people, as well as their participation in European integration projects. The Prize is awarded to projects undertaken by young people which foster understanding, promote the development of a shared sense of European identity, and offer practical examples of Europeans living together as one community. "The ECYP" is awarded jointly and annually by the European Parliament and the Foundation of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen.
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Parliament's March plenary session is taking place this week in Strasbourg. On Monday the Foreign Affairs Committee will discuss the €11 bn. EU aid package to Ukraine ahead of a debate and vote on Wednesday. Also on the agenda NSA inquiry, the Troika performance and Package Travel. Read on for more information.
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International Women's day will be marked in Dublin Castle Conference Centre and the event is already a sell-out! Jointly hosted by the European Parliament Office in Ireland and Network Ireland, a full-house of 150 people will throng to Dublin Castle to hear an excellent panel of speakers including Emer Costello MEP, and speakers from the National Women's Council of Ireland and Concern International, one of Europe's largest development agencies with operations in over 50 countries.
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The Leitrim Peace and Reconciliation Partnership are the Irish national winners of the European Charlemagne Youth Prize 2014. Their project "Embracing Change Programme" focussed on young people in Leitrim and was aimed at establishing meaningful cross-community and cross-border initiatives that would improve trust and tolerance and reduce levels of sectarianism and racism. The Embracing Change Programme will now go forward to be considered with 28 winners from other EU countries for the overall Charlemagne Youth Prize.
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On 4 March from 8.00-10.30 GMT, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament will participate in an interactive event hosted by Emily O'Reilly, the European Ombudsman. This event is being organised ahead of the European elections to give you the citizen a chance to be heard on the type of Europe you want for the coming five years. Also participating will be José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. This event will be webstreamed live.
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Today the MEPs of the Economic Affairs Committee will hear Mario Draghi, in his dual capacity as chair of both the European Central Bank and the European Systemic Risk Board, and discuss issues such as the banking union and inflation. Read on to see what else is being discussed at Parliament's committee and political group meetings in Brussels this week.
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The European Parliament in co-operation with Irish Rural Link is hosting a seminar on rural isolation in Ennis, Co Clare on Friday, 28th February. Phil Prendergast MEP will be in attendance and a special guest speaker is Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, the former RTE sports commentator. The meeting will be held from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm in the West County Hotel, Ennis. The seminar will hear from experts in the field but the main purpose of the meeting is to seek proposals as to how the problem of rural isolation can be alleviated and develop polices to target the problem. Groups and individuals working to alleviate the problem of rural isolation will be in attendance.
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Dundalk Europe Direct Information Centre will host an evening of public dialogue with keynote speaker former Government Minister Mary O’Rourke on Thursday 27th February, focussing on Quality of Life - The "European Way". The event will be chaired by radio presenter Gerry Kelly, LMFM and there will also be a panel of experts including Frankie Watters, Senior Lecturer in Law, DKIT and a representative of the European Parliament Office in Ireland.
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Draft legislation updating the EU Tobacco Directive to make tobacco products less attractive to young people was endorsed by MEPs on Wednesday. This legislation, already informally agreed with EU health ministers, would require all packs to carry picture warnings covering 65% of their surface. E-cigarettes would be regulated, either as medicinal products if they claim to help smokers to quit, or as tobacco products.
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This special European Election event entitled ‘This Time It’s Different – Change Your Quality of Life through the EU Ballot Box’, will take place in the regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny on Tuesday 25th February, 2014 from 12.30-3.30pm as part of a series of events being hosted by Europe Direct Information Centres (EDICs), located in eight public libraries around the country. All welcome.
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"We succeeded in achieving our key aims in the year-long negotiations with the Commission and the Member States – to raise the budget from €2.5 to €3.5 billion, to strengthen the role of anti-poverty organizations in the design, operation and monitoring of the programme and to simplify the administrative procedures. The new FEAD programme that we have now agreed is the first ever specific European initiative that seeks to reach out to people experiencing extreme deprivation, particularly food poverty, homelessness and child poverty, in all Member States." said Parliament's rapporteur for the FEAD, Emer Costello.
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Co-rapporteurs Liem Hoang-Ngoc and Othmar Karas
The EU/ECB/IMF "Troika" helped four EU countries out of the crisis and prevented it from getting worse. But flaws in the way the Troika worked hindered national "ownership" of economic reforms, and compromised transparency and accountability, says an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee resolution passed on Monday.
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MEPs will discuss and vote a resolution on developments in Ukraine and EU action in response to the violent repression of demonstrations there at next week's plenary session in Strasbourg. Tobacco, confiscating criminal assets and life-saving eCall devices for cars are just some of the other topics on the agenda. Read more.
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Tubbercurry Library Europe Direct Information Centre will host a special event in view of the forthcoming European Elections which will take place in Ireland on 23 May. The event will take place in Tubbercurry Library on Thursday 20th February from 6.00-9.00 pm and will consist of an interview with Mary O’Rourke, a briefing from a representative of the European Parliament Office in Ireland and a panel discussion. Time will be allocated to a question and answer session and light refreshments will also be served on the night. Admission is free. To reserve your place phone 071 9111721 or e-mail: europedirect@sligococo.ie
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European Parliament President Martin Schulz made the following statement on the deadly clashes in Ukraine: "A tragedy is unfolding in Ukraine. The failure of authorities to engage in genuine dialogue has led to renewed violence and deaths of many protesters and police. It is deeply shocking and unacceptable. It requires a strong and urgent action.
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Organisers of the “Right2Water” campaign urged the EU Commission to guarantee access to water and sanitation as a human right, and give a legal undertaking that water services will not be liberalised in the EU, in the first European Parliament debate on a European Citizens’ Initiative in Parliament on Monday. MEPs shared the view that access to water is a basic human right, but some pointed out that rules on providing drinkable water remain the remit of EU member states.
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Parliament's first official hearing for the European Citizens' Initiative, which enables people to ask for new EU legislation, will take place on Monday 17 February from 15.00 to 18.30 CET when the universal right to clean water will be discussed. Read more about what's happening next week in Parliament when Committees and political groups hold their meetings.
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The countdown has started: there are 100 days to go until the first polling stations open for the 2014 European elections. In the second biggest democratic exercise in the world, 400 million people can cast their vote for a new European Parliament. The 751 MEPs taking up their seats in July will not only set the course of European policies for the next five years but also elect the leader of the EU's executive body, the European Commission President. Ireland votes on 23 May to elect 11 representatives to the European Parliament for 2014-2019.
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Mallow Library Europe Direct Information Centre will host a special pre-European Election event in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Monday 10 February at 5.30 pm focussing on European lifestyle, and the aims of solidarity, non-discrimination, privacy and equal opportunities in the European context. Admission is free but booking is essential. To reserve a place, phone (086) 0245412 or email: mallow.library@corkcoco.ie.
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Are you a journalist? Would you like to learn more about the European Parliament elections which take place in Ireland on 23 May? If so, you can apply now to take part in our election seminar in Brussels on 26 March. Deadline for applications: 10 February 2014
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New rules to reinforce consumers’ rights when buying a travel package will be voted on by the internal market committee on Tuesday in Brussels. This is just one of the topics on this week's agenda during parliamentary committee week. Other topics include NSA inquiry, Troika inquiry, money laundering... Read more about what's on.
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This special European Election event entitled ‘This Time It’s Different – Change Your Quality of Life through the EU Ballot Box’, will take place in the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran on Thursday 6 February, 2014 from 6.30-9.30pm. Admission is free but booking is essential. To reserve a place, phone 074-9124950 or email eudirect@donegallibrary.ie
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
Next week the European Parliament holds its monthly plenary session in Strasbourg. Banking union, air passenger rights, financial market fraud are just some of the topics on the agenda. Find out more.
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On the occasion of the International Women's Day 2014 and in the run-up to the European elections in May 2014, the European Parliament, in conjuction with the European Journalism Centre will organise a seminar in Brussels on 4-5 March for 100 journalists from the EU28 Member States. Deadline for applications: Monday 3 February 2014
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Do you want to learn more about the European Union, its relevance to everyday life and its impact on Ireland? Do you have questions on the role of the European Parliament and the upcoming elections which are taking place on 23 May? A series of events being hosted by Europe Direct Information Centres (EDICs), located in eight public libraries around the country, will give you the opportunity. This is the third event in the series and takes place in Westside Library, Galway from 6.00 pm-9.00 pm. Chaired by Páidí Ó Líonaird TG4 with keynote speaker Mary O'Rourke, former Government Minister, there will also be an expert panel which will include a representative of the European Parliament Office in Ireland and Professor Ronan Long, NUIG. Open to the public. Admission free.
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This special European Election event "Post Troika: Where now for Ireland in 2014?" will take place on Monday 27 January at 7.00 pm at the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise. This is the third event in the series and will see keynote speaker Mary O'Rourke, former Government Minister interviewed by Claire O'Brien from Midlands Radio 3. There will also be a panel of experts including a representative of the European Parliament Office in Ireland. This is a free event but booking is essential.
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Troika under scrutiny, emission trading in aviation, fluorinated greenhouse gases... Read more about what's on the agenda this week in Brussels at Parliament's Committee and political group meetings.
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This Wednesday Emer Costello and Mairead McGuinness will take part in the Google Hangout on Ireland and the European Elections. Other participants include SIPTU President Jack O'Connor and a representative from the Irish Bank Federation. Join in from 8.30 am to find out what the EU does for you and to have your say! If you want to participate live during the event, let us know in the comments.
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The European Parliament elections will take place between 22-25 May 2014. To encourage citizens to vote, a series of free events are taking place in the Europe Direct Centres across the country. This is the second event in the series and takes place at 6.15 pm at the offices of Fingal County Council in Blanchardstown, with keynote speaker Mary O'Rourke, former Government Minister and a panel of experts that will include a representative of the European Parliament Office in Ireland.
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Are you 16-30 years old and do you run a project with a European dimension? Or do you know anybody that does? Since 24 October projects promoting Europe among young people have started competing for the seventh Charlemagne Youth Prize. Winning projects will not only benefit from recognition and media coverage, but also from prize money to further develop the initiative. Deadline for applications extended until 10 February 2014
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An EP delegation will visit Ireland on 16-17 January as part of its inquiry on the role and operations of the Troika (ECB, Commission and IMF) with regard to the euro area programme countries. The delegation has visited Portugal on 6-7 January and Cyprus on 10 January and will visit Greece on 29-30 January. The visit includes meetings with ministers, parliamentarians and representatives of civil society.
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This special European Election event "Post Troika: Where now for Ireland in 2014?" will take place on Thursday 16 January at 2pm at the Theatre Royal in Waterford. This is a free event but booking is essential. To reserve your place, phone 051 849975 or email europedirect@waterfordcity.ie.
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
This week the European Parliament holds its monthly plenary session in Strasbourg. Freedom of movement for EU citizens; Public services: better value for money; CO2 emissions: cleaner vans by 2020 are just some of the topics on the agenda. Find out more.
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The Icub robot
The European Parliament Office in Ireland will be present at the 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition which takes place in the RDS in Dublin from Thursday 9 to Saturday 11 January. Come along and visit us in the World of Science and Technology (Stand number 35 in the Industries Hall).
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Welcome to 2014! This month Greece took over the presidency of the Council of the EU for the next six months, Latvia became the 18th country to adopt the euro, while the European elections will take place in May. This week MEPs meet in committees to investigate Troika operations in bailout countries, vote on funding for asylum and law enforcement measures and debate how to deal with failing banks. In addition political groups are preparing for next week’s plenary.
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Latvia became the 18th member of the eurozone on 1 January, joining the 330 million people who use Europe's single currency -the euro. It is the second Baltic state after Estonia in 2011 to adopt the currency.
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Happy New Year

01-01-2014

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Parliament business resumes on 6 January 2014, with a week of meetings of parliamentary committees and political groups. The next parliamentary session takes place in Strasbourg from 13-16 January 2014. The European Parliament Office in Ireland wishes everyone a Happy New Year.
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photo by iMatthew Ireland
Travelling over the Christmas holidays can prove a real headache when ticket prices go north, temperatures go south and you go nowhere. Luckily, you enjoy rights under European legislation when your flight is delayed or cancelled. However, there is always room for improvement. On 17 December the Parliament's transport committee voted in favour of strengthening these rights. Read on to find out what the current situation is and how it could change.
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The European Parliament's President, Martin Schulz, has announced that an Irish language website for the EP will be available before the European Elections in May 2014. This announcement has been welcomed by the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly.
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An information seminar on the latest negotiations recently concluded between the European Parliament, Council and Commission on the new Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) to run from 2014 to 2020 will take place on Friday 13 December in the European Parliament Information Office in Dublin from 9.30am-11.30 am. The event is hosted by Emer Costello MEP, rapporteur for this programme. To register email emer.costello@ep.europa.eu or telephone 01 874 6109.
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Erasmus students witness EP President Schulz sign the Erasmus+ law including Irish student Laura Hegarty (to the immediate right of President Schulz)
With a simple signature, the revamped version of Europe’s most popular student programme was signed into law on 11 December by EP President Martin Schulz. Erasmus+ boasts a budget of more than €14 billion for 2014-2020, nearly twice as much as its current funding, giving more than four million young Europeans the chance to study or train abroad. The new programme will kick off on 1 January 2014.
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EU aid to redundant workers will continue in 2014-2020 and be extended to new categories of workers, such as the self-employed and those on fixed-term contracts, according to an agreement endorsed in plenary session on Wednesday. This €3.5 billion EU programme takes effect on 1 January 2014. "The reintegration rate of those who used the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is 48% according to the European Commission estimates. The Parliament fought national governments to keep the fund going in 2014-2020. However, I hope that despite the decrease from 3.5 billion euros to 1.05 billion, it will be sufficient", said rapporteur Marian Harkin (ALDE, IE).
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The PRESS KIT for the #EP2014 elections is out. This multimedia press kit is aimed at journalists who want to cover the European elections which will take place in May 2014. You will find here a guide to the role and powers of the Parliament, an overview of the work done by its Members over the past five years and other information.There are a wealth of charts and graphics available plus a wide range of audio-visual material, all designed for easy use by the media. You can DOWNLOAD it in all EU languages including Irish.
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Mairead McGuinness
The European Parliament Office in Ireland in conjunction with Network Kildare are pleased to invite you to our forthcoming business seminar ‘Successfully Emerging from Recession' on Friday, 6 December at Killashee House Hotel, Naas, Co Kildare from 9.15am-12.30pm. There is no charge to attend this business seminar. Prior registration is required.
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EU flags are flying at half-mast at the European Parliament in tribute to Nelson Mandela who died at the age of 95 on 5 December. Speaking after the death of Mandela, EP president Martin Schulz said: "South Africa today loses its father, the world loses a hero. I pay tribute to one of the greatest humans of our time.” Mandela was the first recipient of the Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
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The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is currently holding an open competition to select candidates for recruitment as lawyer-linguists in the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. This seminar will provide attendees with a first-hand insight into the work of a lawyer-linguist in the EU Institutions and a detailed overview of the key stages of EPSO’s recruitment process. Attendance is free of charge but participants are requested to register in advance by contacting the European Commission Representation in Ireland comm-ie-reception@ec.europa.eu
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This half-day seminar will help political organisations to communicate with the one in seven voters that have a disability. This seminar is particularly aimed at those who will be responsible for getting messages to voters, through election materials, websites, social media, political broadcasts and other communication tools.The event is jointly organised by the National Disability Authority and the European Parliament Information Office. There is no charge to attend this event. Advance booking is required.
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Europe's new mediator, ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, made her first official appearance in the Parliament, when she took part in a meeting by the petitions committee on 26 November. The committee deals, as the Ombudsman does, with people's complaints addressed to the EU administration. Ms O'Reilly is the first woman to hold this position. Previously she was Ireland's national ombudsman.
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Congratulations to the winning schools in our Design a Flyer Competition : St. Joseph's Secondary School, Rush; St. Olivers Community School, Drogheda; Meán Scoil Mhuire, Newtownsmith, Galway, Coláiste Iósaef, Kilmallock, Limerick, and Castleknock Community College, Dublin.
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Entry of Castleknock Community College
Congratulations to the winning schools in our Design a Flyer Competition: St. Joseph's Secondary School, Rush; St. Olivers Community School, Drogheda; Meán Scoil Mhuire, Newtownsmith, Galway and Coláiste Iosaef, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. Owing to the exceptionally high standard of entries received in the competition this year the European Parliament is delighted to announce that an additional Euroscola will be awarded to Castleknock Community College to attend the Special Euroscola at the European Youth Event in May 2014.
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Entry of Castleknock Community College
Congratulations to the winning schools in our Design a Flyer Competition: St. Joseph's Secondary School, Rush; St. Olivers Community School, Drogheda; Meán Scoil Mhuire, Newtownsmith, Galway and Coláiste Iosaef, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. Owing to the exceptionally high standard of entries received in the competition this year the European Parliament is delighted to announce that an additional Euroscola will be awarded to Castleknock Community College to attend the Special Euroscola at the European Youth Event in May 2014.
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Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year old Pakistani girl campaigner for girls’ right to education and 2013 laureate of the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, received her prize from Parliament’s President Martin Schulz at a ceremony in Strasbourg, on 20 November.
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The European Parliament Office in Ireland in conjunction with Network Mayo are pleased to invite you to our forthcoming business seminar ‘Successfully Emerging from Recession' on Saturday 16 November at Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, from 10h00-13h00. There is no charge to attend this business seminar. Pre booking is essential. Contact European Parliament Office in Ireland by email epdublin@ep.europa.eu or phone (01) 6057900
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Co-hosted by the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland and the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland, this meeting is an opportunity both to look back and take stock, to hear from some of those who were present during the social policy debates in 1973 and also to look at some of the current challenges facing European social policy. To register please contact European Parliament Information Office, Tel. 01/6057900, email: epdublin@ep.europa.eu
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The European Parliament’s Information Office in Ireland and The Wheel would like to invite you to a workshop - Shaping Ireland’s and Europe’s Future - on 8 November (9.30am to 1.30pm) in the River Lee Hotel, Western Road, Cork, to help develop a strong compelling vision for the European social model, the economy and environment in the years ahead. This free event is open to the public, as well as community and voluntary organisations. Registration is required.
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Opening the Agora, EP president Martin Schulz said: "We think this is a question of survival for our democratic system. The most important thing for every generation of parents is, what are the chances for my children, for our children." EP vice-president Isabelle Durant added: "This conference aims to understand what the obstacles are that young people encounter when looking for a job
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On Friday 8th November 2013, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland teamed up to deliver a Cross-Border Shoppers’ information event at Letterkenny Europe Direct to mark the European Year of Citizens 2013. The workshop was attended by over 30 people from the Letterkenny and Strabane area who heard from experts on cross-border consumer issues such as shopping online, consumer credit rights, scams and how to complain about faulty goods and services.
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Othmar Karas, MEP
MEPs laid into top European Central Bank and European Commission staff over the working methods of the ECB/Commission/IMF "Troika" at Tuesday's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee meeting. They demanded details of how Troika decisions were taken and what lessons had been learnt. They also sharply criticised the often mistaken economic forecasts behind the economic reform programmes demanded of Greece, Cyprus, Ireland and Portugal.
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
In the second October plenary session, Parliament voted to reverse cuts to the EU's 2014 budget proposed by the Council and amended the current budget to cover its €2.7 billion deficit. MEPs also voted for suspending the US-EU deal on tracking terrorist financial activities as a response to the alleged tapping of Europeans' bank data. Aung San Suu Kyi received her Sakharov prize in what President Martin Schulz described as a great moment for which an entire generation had been waiting for.
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The Chairperson of the European Parliament's Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC), Emer Costello, has said that she is both astounded and dismayed at the decision of the Israeli authorities to refuse an official visit of the Delegation to Gaza. The visit, which was scheduled to take place between 27 and 30 October 2013, had the full support of Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament.
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In co-operation with AKIDWA and Polonia Forum, this day long event will feature workshops for local activists to register immigrant and minority group voters and to encourage participation in the European Elections in May 2014. The event will be opened by Emer Costello MEP and will feature a contribution from Chris Wooley, an expert and activist in registration of immigrant and minority groups in the UK. The seminar is open to all.
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The Broken Circle Breakdown, Miele and The Selfish Giant, begin their journey across Europe. The three films in competition for the LUX Prize will be shown this week at the Indie Cork Film Festival (October 16 - 20). The festival will be the first stop of the LUX FILM DAYS. Miele will start the screenings on 18 (Gate Cinema, 9pm). It will be followed by The Selfish Giant on Saturday 19 and The Broken Circle Breakdown – which is also the festival’s closing film - on Sunday 20.
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The European Parliament’s Information Office in Ireland and The Wheel would like to invite you to a workshop - Shaping Ireland’s and Europe’s Future - on 18 October (9.00am to 1.30pm) in the Meyrick Hotel Galway City to help develop a strong compelling vision for the European social model, the economy and environment in the years ahead. This free event is open to the public, as well as community and voluntary organisations. Registration is required.
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The GAA the first ever Irish winner of the European Citizen’s prize were in Brussels this week. Together with the 43 winners from other member states of the EU, they attended an official event in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday at the European Parliament, where they met EP President, Martin Schulz. (Photo shows left to right: Pat the Cope Gallagher, Joe McDonagh (former GAA President), Sean Kelly and Jim Higgins)
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Today, the Gaelic Athletic Association, one of the winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2013 was presented with the award medal by Seán Kelly MEP at Croke Park. Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill accepted the Prize on behalf of the GAA in light of the Association’s role in promoting enhanced mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens.
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Pakistani campaigner for girls' education Malala Yousafzai is the laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2013, following today's decision of the Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders). She will be invited to receive the award at a ceremony in Strasbourg on 20 November.
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A briefing on the information campaign ("This Time it's Different") for the 2014 European Parliament elections, will be held from 10.30 am-12.00 am on Wednesday 2 October in the EP Conference Room at 43 Molesworth Street with confirmed speakers David Farrell of UCD and Arthur Beesley of the Irish Times. To attend please call (01) 6057900 or email epdublin@ep.europa.eu
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A universal charger for all mobile phones should be introduced to cut costs and waste for users, proposed the Internal Market Committee on Thursday, in an amendment to a draft law on radio equipment. The committee also cut some red tape, by deleting a rule that would have required manufacturers to register certain categories of devices before placing them on the market.
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Parliament and Council negotiators reached a deal Tuesday evening on outstanding Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform issues such as co-financing rates for rural development and capping payments to big farms, after the Council showed flexibility on issues of crucial importance to Parliament: The deal was based on the new mandate adopted on 23 September by the Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
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Mairead McGuinness MEP (centre) pays a visit to the EP stand (S298) at the National Ploughing Championships (25/9/2013)
The European Parliament will once again be present at this year's National Ploughing Championships, which takes place from Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 September at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co. Laois. You will find us at Stand S 298.
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Commission President José Manuel Barroso delivered the last state of the union speech to Parliament for this legislature on Wednesday. Political group leaders took the floor to set out the priorities which they feel Commission should address in the coming months. They stressed the need to restore trust in the EU, pointing out that the May 2014 European elections offer voters a real chance to choose its future.
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The European Commission is looking for applications in order to set up a panel of candidates for vacancies which may arise in the following fields: administration, audit, secretariat, economy, finance, information and communication, languages, law, policy, program/project management and statistics. Successful candidates will be offered a fixed-term contract of a maximum duration of three years. There is no set deadline for this exercise but the Commission reserves the right to close the call at any time, in which case the closing date will be published at least one month in advance on the Europa and EPSO websites.
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Home buyers would be better informed about the costs and risks of taking on a mortgage, partly shielded against market swings that inflate their repayments and better protected if they default on the loan, under new rules provisionally approved by Parliament on Tuesday. But before finalising these rules, MEPs wish to fine-tune them to ensure that they are properly enforced across the EU.
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International couples in registered partnerships should have the same right as married ones to choose which member state's national law will govern their property rights if the relationship ends, says Parliament in a resolution, voted on Tuesday, which recommends that draft legislation be amended to this end.
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The official run-up to the 2014 European elections starts on 10 September, when the European Parliament launches its awareness and information campaign. This campaign will continue beyond the elections themselves, until the newly-elected Parliament in turn elects the next European Commission President. Follow this live here.
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
Highlights include: Launch of the information campaign on the 2014 European Elections; Barroso on the State of the Union; mortgages; Syria and Egypt; biofuels and renewable energy; shale gas; threat to media freedom
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A majority of EU citizens (Irish 66%) said they would be more inclined to vote in the May 2014 European elections if political families named their candidates for the next Commission President, says a new "Eurobarometer" survey, published on 6 September. For the first time, the next Commission President will be elected by the newly-elected Parliament, taking into account the results of the European elections. The survey also shows that a growing number of EU citizens subscribe to an EU as well as a national identity.
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The European Parliament’s Citizens’ Agora on Youth Unemployment aims to gather young people from all over Europe to discuss the current challenges in Europe’s employment market. Two young people from each Member State of the EU, aged between 18 and 30, will be invited to this conference - one who is employed and one who is unemployed. Are you interested in participating? Deadline extended to 6 September 2013
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It is "realistic to assume that additional support will be required for Greece beyond the programme", Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Thursday. But it is too early to speculate on the exact details, he later said in reply to MEPs' questions. The hearing also focused on the nascent banking union, the recently-issued country-specific recommendations, and the urgent need to tackle unemployment.
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This year's Euroscola Schools Competition - Design a Flyer - has just been launched. Enter our competition and your school could win the chance to represent Ireland at Euroscola, a one-day European youth forum at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Closing date for entries: Friday, 15th November 2013.
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"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. In his inspiring poem Beacons at Bealtaine of 1 May 2004 composed to greet European enlargement, the lines "So on a day when newcomers appear Let it be a homecoming …," summarises in a short simple phrase the real meaning of the European Union, namely a home for all Europeans."
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 (01/09/2009)
The summer recess is over and business resumes at the European Parliament this week. The dramatic events in Egypt will be the main topic of a special meeting by the foreign affairs committee on 28 August, which will also deal with increasing tensions in Ukraine-Russia relations. The development committee will vote on the EU's budget for 2014 and discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria. Meanwhile MEPs will also be working in their constituencies.
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The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) are currently looking for talented, motivated conference interpreters and translators to work for the EU Institutions. Deadlines for application: 6 August noon and 13 August noon. Workshop on the work of translators on Wednesday 24th July at 6pm at EP Information Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. Open to the public
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The finalists for this year's LUX Prize have finally been announced: Belgian film “The Broken Circle Breakdown”, British film “The Selfish Giant” and “Miele”, an Italian and French coproduction, will be battling it out for the top honour. The LUX Prize is awarded by the European Parliament every year to films that promote European cinematography, values and social issues. The winner will be determined by a vote by MEPs.
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MEPs are taking a break from official meetings the coming weeks, but behind the scenes work will continue to prepare for important legislative files later this year. Parliament will have to decide on matters that will affect the EU and Europeans for years to come, such as the long-term budget, banking supervision, data protection and better protection for temporary workers. Read on to find out more.
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This is the last week of official meetings until September, but work will continue behind the scenes. MEPs will meet their constituents and delegations will travel to countries such as the US to discuss the response to the global crisis and how a transatlantic free-trade agreement - which is currently being negotiated between the EU and the US - could affect the environment. A delegation will also travel to Spain to observe the Frontex Indalo border control operation.
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This Friday, Dublin MEP Emer Costello will host a public seminar on Youth Unemployment and the European Youth Guarantee. This event is intended to enable young people and organisations working on their behalf outline how they believe the Youth Guarantee should be implemented in Ireland so that it will make a real impact on the youth employment crisis and to guarantee a brighter future for young people. To register, please contact emer.costello@ep.europa.eu or Tel 01.8746109.
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Operating rules for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) were approved by the Fisheries Committee on Wednesday. From 2014, the EMFF will fund EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) measures to make EU fisheries sustainable and develop aquaculture. The EMFF will also fund Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) cooperation among maritime stakeholders in different policy areas.
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A draft law to make smoking less attractive to the young by banning the use of "characterised" flavours such as strawberry or menthol in tobacco products was backed by Public Health Committee MEPs on Wednesday. But they also amended the draft to require health warnings on every side of a cigarette pack and ban slim cigarettes and "attractive" packaging.
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On-line music service providers will get licenses more easily and musicians will receive royalties more quickly, enabling consumers to enjoy a wider range of music on-line, under rules approved on Tuesday by the Legal Affairs Committee.
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"Roaming" fees for making mobile phone calls, sending text or downloading data while abroad must end by 2015, said the Industry Committee on Tuesday. "Unbalanced profit margins on roaming" not only create excessive costs for users but also hamper growth and prosperity . They are one reason why there is not yet a single telecoms market, MEPs say.
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Some €1.5 billion could be saved each year simply be making it easer to re-register your vehicle in the EU. Difficulties when transferring a vehicle to another member state is one of the 20 problems Europeans complain about the most . On 9 July the EP's internal market committee approved a proposal to cut red tape when moving a car to another country in the EU.
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Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an "in-depth inquiry" into the US surveillance programmes, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year, says a resolution passed by the full House on Thursday. Parliament's President and political group leaders formally confirmed the launch of the inquiry. MEPs also call for more protection for whistleblowers.
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Emily O’Reilly (Ireland) was elected European Ombudsman on Wednesday. Ms O'Reilly was backed by 359 MEPs in a secret plenary vote. The European Ombudsman investigates citizens' complaints of maladministration by EU institutions.
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Parliament endorsed the outcome of its negotiations with the Council on the EU's long-run budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020 on Wednesday.
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EP President Martin Schulz, together with the new Croatian Commissioner Nevan Mimica, will today open the European Forum for Consumers in Strasbourg. The Forum marks the twentieth anniversary of the Single Market and the establishment of the ECC in France/Germany.
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Twelve new substances will be added to the EU priority list of those known to pose a pollution risk to surface waters under rules endorsed by MEPs on Tuesday. For the first time, three pharmaceuticals will also be included in a "watch list" of emerging pollutants that could one day be placed on the priority list.
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The Irish Presidency has worked closely with the European Parliament on numerous issues including securing political agreements on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and on banking union."
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
What will the MEPs be working on during the next Plenary session in Strasbourg ?
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EU institutions face a test of their credibility by failing to act on promised reforms, warned Martin Schulz. The EP president spoke out at the opening of the EU summit dedicated to tackling youth unemployment, which takes place in Brussels on 27-28 June. “Ordinary people are increasingly losing faith in the ability and the willingness of democratic institutions to take action,” he said, putting down the gauntlet for member states to finally agree on concrete measures.
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"Erasmus+", is set to be the EU's next programme for education, training, youth and sport, following an agreement confirmed by Parliament negotiators and the Council on Wednesday. The overall budget for the new programme is subject to approval of the EU's overall multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for that period.
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Will the EU budget for 2014 be able to deliver growth, as promised? If youth employment is the top priority in 2014, will other programmes suffer? Can the EU still support youth employment after 2016? And what happens if the issue of outstanding bills for 2013 (€11.2 billion) is not resolved in time? These were some of the questions MEPs raised when Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski presented the draft budget on Wednesday.
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Negotiations on the future shape of EU farm policy are on the right track but the Irish presidency must get EU agriculture ministers to be more flexible before further progress can be made in Brussels on Wednesday, EP head negotiator Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) said on Tuesday early morning, after hours of intensive talks between the Parliament, Council and Commission in Luxembourg.
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Week 24-30 June 2013: Committees and political group meetings, Brussels
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Next Friday 21 June sees the launch of the Shaping Europe's Future Programme which will give civil society organisations an opportunity to engage with our MEPs and set priorities for the European social model, the economy and environment in the years ahead. The programme, developed by the Wheel with the support of the European Parliament, will be launched at The Wheel's inaugural Summer School at the Carmelite Centre, 56 Aungier Street, Dublin, from 9am-1.30pm. This is a free event but registration is required.
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The US PRISM internet surveillance case highlights the urgent need to pass legislation to protect EU citizens' personal data, most MEPs agreed in Wednesday's Civil Liberties Committee debate with Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. MEPs also called for safeguards for personal data transferred outside the EU.
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On Thursday 20th June, 12.00 noon to 2.30 pm, the European Parliament Office welcomes Ms Jocelyn Bell Burnell, to Dublin for a special presentation to mark her contribution to science and her advocacy of the role of women in science. Ms Burnell will also be interviewed about her life and work. Ms Burnell acquired fame for the discovery of pulsars - fast rotating neutron stars. She is currently visiting Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University. The event is open to the public. To book a place, telephone (01) 605.79.00 or email epdublin@ep.europa.eu.
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This Wednesday 19 June, the European Parliament Office in Ireland will host a Sakharov Prize Network lecture with guest speaker Hauwa Ibrahim, Sakharov Laureate 2005 and Nigerian human rights lawyer. This will be an opportunity to hear the personal experiences of Ms Ibrahim in her drive to promote freedom and democracy. The lecture will take place from 18h30-20h00 at the European Parliament Office, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. All welcome. To register please call (01) 6057900 or e-mail epdublin@ep.europa.eu.
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New rules laying down common procedures and deadlines for handling asylum applications and basic rights for asylum seekers arriving in the EU were endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. The Common European Asylum System will also stop transfers of asylum seekers to member states unable to ensure decent living conditions for them.
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Jim Higgins, MEP for Ireland North West and Ireland's Member of the European Parliament Transport Committee, has welcomed the European Parliament's decision to back his report by 516 to 111 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg today (11th June).
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In the 2014 European elections, Ireland, along with 11 other EU member states, will each lose one seat and none will gain any, under a draft decision endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. These reductions are needed in order to comply with the 751-seat limit set by the Lisbon Treaty and to make room for Croatia's MEPs. The draft European Council decision, approved by Parliament by 574 votes to 71, with 39 abstentions, leaves unchanged the redistribution of seats between member states proposed by MEPs on 13 March 2013. After Parliament's consent, the text still needs to be formally adopted by all EU heads of state and government at the 27-28 June summit.
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The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived must be at least maintained at today's €3.5 billion, not cut to €2.5 billion, said Parliament in a vote on Wednesday. The €1 billion cut has been proposed by the EU Commission and member states, in negotiations on the EU's long-term budget. "Almost 120 million Europeans are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Over 40 million suffer from severe material deprivation and over four million are homeless. The new fund is an important instrument for alleviating the effects of the economic and social crisis and a practical expression of Europe's solidarity with its most vulnerable citizens", said rapporteur Emer Costello (S&D, IE), in the debate preceding the vote.
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Rules on the labelling and content of baby milks and foods for special medical purposes will be better defined in order to protect consumers and distinguish more clearly between foods for normal consumption and foods for specific groups under legislation passed on Tuesday. The new rules, already agreed with Council, also cover some low-calorie diets.
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aerial view EP Strasbourg.
New legislation setting out common procedures for treating asylum applications will be voted on by MEPs during the plenary session starting in Strasbourg on Monday 10 June. They will also talk debate the situation in Turkey and discuss the priorities of the forthcoming European Council meeting that will focus on youth unemployment and challenges in the eurozone.
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The Gaelic Athletic Association / Cumann Lúthchleas Gael which was nominated for the European Citizen's Prize 2013 by Sean KELLY MEP, is among the 43 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2013 of the European Parliament. Since 2008, the prize has been awarded to citizens or organisations having contributed to promoting better mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens or to facilitating cross-border or transnational cooperation within the EU. The winners will receive a medal of honour at an award ceremony in their country and will be invited to a joint event in Brussels on 16-17 October.
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At a high-level seminar held in Brussels this week organised in association with the Irish Presidency and hosted by Liam Aylward MEP for Ireland East and Makhteshim Agan, policy makers and participants heard from the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan Quinn and food experts from the FAO, China, Israel and Ireland that research and innovation would play a critical role in averting a food security crisis in European and global agriculture.
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On 31 May and 1 June, Members of the United States House of Representatives and the European Parliament meet in Leinster House, Dublin, to discuss topics of joint American and European interest, in particular economic and financial challenges, transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), cyber security and foreign policy cooperation. This will be the 74th EU/US Interparliamentary Meeting and Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue Meeting (TLD).
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A breakfast address by Danuta Hübner MEP, on "Emerging from the Crisis:Challenges and Opportunities for Europe" will take place this Friday 31 May at 8.30 am at the Institute of International and Economic Affairs, 8 North Great Georges Street, Dublin 1. To register contact the IIEA by tel. (01) 874.67.56 or email reception@iiea.com.
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The final deal on the future EU farm policy much depends on the successful conclusions of the EU long-term budget talks, a satisfactory deal on the delegated and implementing acts, and on the ability of Council to compromise more on crucial aspects of the CAP reform, Paolo De Castro, chair of the EP Agriculture committee told EU farm ministers on Monday during the informal Council meeting in Dublin. MEPs are ready to work day and night but the quality of the reform must prevail over the speed, he added.
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The Gaelic Athletic Association / Cumann Lúthchleas Gael was nominated for the European Citizen's Prize 2013 by Sean Kelly MEP. A national jury, made up of Phil Prendergast MEP, Marian Harkin MEP and Gay Mitchell MEP endorsed the nomination.
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The National Disability Authority and European Parliament Information Office in Ireland are jointly hosting a conference on the opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in public and political life on an equal basis with others. The event takes place on the morning of Friday 24th May 2013 in the Croke Park Conference Centre and attendance is free of charge.
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On the 23rd May 24 students travelled to Strasbourg, accompanied by 3 teachers. The European Studies class won this subsidised trip to participate in Euroscola, a youth parliament for 16-18 year old students. This trip was funded by the European Parliament Office in Ireland after a group of students won the competition to design a webpage for their schools website entitled ‘My European School’.
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MEPs call for respect for human rights and humanitarian law in Syria and support a political solution to the conflict, in a resolution voted on Thursday, while emphasizing that the two tracks should be kept separate.
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Draft laws setting up a single EU bank supervisory system were approved in a plenary vote on Wednesday. The European Central Bank will supervise the Eurozone's largest banks directly and have a say in supervising other banks. However, Parliament will give its final seal of approval only later, to allow time for parallel talks with the ECB on detailed accountability arrangements.
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Victims of stalking, harassment or gender-based violence who are granted protection in one member state will get equivalent protection if they move or travel to another, without having to go through time-consuming formalities, thanks to a new law passed by Parliament on Wednesday. These civil law rules complement the European Protection Order, which already provides similar protection under criminal law.
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A cross-party delegation of Irish MEPs including Pat the Cope Gallagher, Gay Mitchell, Emer Costello and Martina Anderson met with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz to discuss the absence of an Irish language version of the European Parliament website.
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Plenary Session - Employment policy. The economic crisis and the challenges of an ageing population have revealed the vulnerability of both funded and public pension schemes, MEPs say in a resolution passed on Tuesday. They ask EU member states to introduce or maintain diversified pension schemes and highlight the role of public pensions in ensuring decent living standards for all, urging the member states to safeguard them.
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Plenary Session - Economic and monetary affairs. EU member states should join forces to halve the €1 trillion uncollected "tax gap" by 2020, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs want governments to agree measures to clamp down on tax havens, close avoidance loopholes and combat aggressive tax planning. Other ways in which EU countries could benefit by better coordinating their tax systems are set out in a separate resolution, also voted on Tuesday, on the annual tax report.
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Taxpayers and savers must be the last people called upon to bail out banks, says Parliament's negotiating position, approved by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Monday, on draft rules on saving struggling banks. The text rules out using deposits below €100,000 and says that even deposits above €100,000 should be the last to be called in. The committee voted against using deposit guarantee funds for resolution actions and also set out strict conditions for using taxpayer's money.
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Changes in EU member states' media laws that make it easier for governments to interfere in the media should be monitored every year at EU level, says a resolution voted by Parliament on Tuesday. To safeguard media freedom and pluralism, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive should be revised and journalists' working conditions improved, it adds.
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The 2014 European Parliament elections should be held from 22 to 25 May, instead of 5-8 June, according to a draft decision endorsed by the full House on Tuesday. Bringing the elections forward would give the new Parliament more time to prepare for the election of the European Commission President in July 2014.
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The social affairs committee voted on Monday to reject the one billion euro cut to the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived proposed by the European Commission, and called for support for the EU's neediest citizens be kept at the 2007-2013 level of. 3.5 billion euros. "The new Fund is an important instrument to alleviate the effects of the economic and social crisis. It will provide tangible aid for the most disadvantaged people and will help bring in vulnerable people from the margins of society, including homeless people and children in impoverished homes. It is in short a practical expression of Europe's solidarity with its most vulnerable citizens," said the rapporteur, Emer Costello (S&D, IE).
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This year’s final took place on Friday, 17th May and was held at the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office in Grange, Co. Meath. The motion this year was "Ireland has achieved much to date in its EU Presidency"
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