David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

Strasbourg Round-up

Round-up of the European Parliament Plenary Session, Strasbourg, 3 - 7 July 2017

Calls to suspend accession talks with Turkey

MEPs voted on an ‘Own Initiative’ (non-legislative) report asking that EU-Turkey accession talks be suspended if Turkey’s proposed changes to their constitution go ahead. The concern is that Turkey may be backsliding on human rights, media freedom and the fight against corruption. Academics, mayors, university rectors, opposition politicians and journalists have been labelled as terrorists if they dare to speak out against President Erdogan’s policies with thousands having been imprisoned without any legal rights.

It was also restated that the reintroduction of the death penalty, as the Turkish President has repeatedly declared his support of, would prevent any further consideration of Turkey’s membership of the EU.

The draft resolution emphasised the need for maintaining good EU-Turkey relations and the continuing of constructive dialogue - essential to addressing the challenges of migration, security and terrorism. However MEPs voted overwhelmingly against the Commission’s apparent policy of waiting silently for things to improve. Remaining silent to the country’s consistent breaches of fundamental rights appears to be feeding President Erdogan’s authoritarianism. The European Parliament must stand up for the values of the EU.

Rules to ensure multinational companies disclose tax details

MEPs supported proposals for EU rules that would oblige large multinationals to make available to the public, information about the tax they pay a country-by-country basis.. The legislation aims to increase tax transparency by providing the public with a picture of the taxes paid by multinationals and where those taxes are paid. It is designed to crack down on corporate tax avoidance, which is estimated to cost EU countries 50-70 billion euros a year in lost tax revenues.

EU rules for private security companies

There are estimated to be 40,000 security companies in Europe. Concern about a lack of accountability for the estimated 40,000 security companies operating in Europe has led to the European Parliament considering a resolution calling on minimum EU standards and that security companies respect requirements on accountability. This would include what they can be used for, what they can do and within what framework they can operation.

The resolution suggested drawing up a list of contractors complying with EU standards on transparency, criminal records, financial and economic capacity, licenses, vetting of personnel and adhering to an international code of conduct.

Political dialogue and cooperation with Cuba

MEPs gave their consent to the first ever EU-Cuba cooperation agreement, the aim of which is to support political dialogue and economic cooperation. The agreement had been signed off by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini in December, but at this Strasbourg Plenary the Parliament gave its consent for it to enter into force on a provisional basis, pending ratification by all the member states.

Proposals for tackling communicable diseases

MEPs debated a resolution recommending HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C epidemics should be tackled better at EU level with long-term programmes.  MEPs also emphasised the importance of tackling anti-microbial resistance and called on EU leaders to establish cross-border prevention measures and initiate joint action.

Steps towards a Circular Economy

MEPs voted to support a non-legislative recommending the setting of criteria for how long products should last and to better inform consumers about the durability of what they buy in order to encourage them to repair. The aim is to see longer-lasting products on the market and to encourage the modular construction of goods to enable mending or upgrading. The parliament also wants to tackle ‘planned obsolescence’ – the inclusion of defects designed to cause a product to fail at a certain date.

Protecting EU industry and jobs

MEPs voted to support tougher anti-dumping rules to protect European industries and jobs against unfairly cheap imports. EU jobs and businesses have been under pressure due to Chin’s excess production capacity and subsidised economy, especially in the steel sector. The expiry in December 2016 of parts of China’s 2001 World Trade Organisation (WTO) accession protocol called into question whether WTO members can treat China as a non-market economy an calculate anti-dumping measures accordingly.

Laying down new rules for the calculation of import duties, MEPs proposed anti-dumping investigations into an exporting country’s compliance with international labour, fiscal and environmental international standards. Free global trade can only be of benefit if everyone plays by the rules. Clear, tough anti-dumping rules will help protect economies from the negative effects of globalisation.

 

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