It was a hectic week, as usual, in Strasbourg. We had several important votes, and the S&D group were visited by both the chair of the European Trade Union Congress and the leader of our Icelandic sister party, Árni Páll Árnason (Social Democratic Alliance). We marked International Workers' Memorial Day and the UN World Day for Safety at Work by passing a proposal to help the victims and the victims' families of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh two years ago.
Between meetings and speeches and votes I was organising my first visit to Burundi as head of the EU's Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the upcoming legislative and presidential elections there. I was officially appointment by Vice President of the Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, last Thursday. I am hopeful that the EU's EOM can help facilitate a resumption of political dialogue, which is crucial to ensuring transparent, inclusive and credible elections. I was previously appointed Chief Observer in Jordan and Tanzania.
During the plenary session on Monday evening I spoke in support of full compensation for victims from companies and effective health and safety standards to be implemented by the Government of Bangladesh. This came at the 2 year anniversary of the Rana Plaza where over a 1000 people died, and no compensation has yet been given. The EU should use its position as a powerful actor in International Trade to ensure that those whom we trade with secure due diligence on the part of governments and companies to protect their workers and secure decent conditions them to work in. The resolution we helped pass calls for the EU to look seriously at Bangladesh's trade preferences if no action is taken.
Labour and S&D MEPs voted for new cars to be installed with a 'Dashboard Angel' that automatically contacts the emergency services in the event of a serious accident. This system has been designed to work in tandem with the European-wide emergency number 112. It will reduce the number of road deaths in the UK and across Europe, and should be a great reassurance for motorists when they are travelling abroad.
New proposals to protect taxpayers against having to bail out any corporations in the future passed with Labour MEPs' support and were led by Labour S&D MEP Nina Gill. The idea is to stabilise markets and boost economies across Europe through new regulations for Money Market Funds (MMFs). These are frequently used as an alternative cash management tool to bank funding by various organisations. This is an innovative plan to reduce Europe's dependency on bank money and ensure that taxpayers are protected should investors once again attempt to leave them with large financial burdens during tough times. These proposals now go to negotiation between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
Labour MEPs supported a resolution which called for the European Commission to produce a new alcohol strategy and take greater steps to ensure people are fully aware of the dangers of drinking when driving and when pregnant. There were also calls to ensure that the chronic illnesses that are linked to alcohol are clearly outlined, and that alcoholic drinks should be included in food labelling laws. These measures would allow consumers in the European Union to make informed choices about what they drink, and in raising awareness, may reduce the numbers affected by alcohol-related conditions.