Monthly Archives: Dec 2012

Changes to Khodorkovsky’s jail sentence must not deflect EU from asking tough questions of Russia at today’s summit

ALDE spokeswoman on Russia Kristiina Ojuland MEP today expressed satisfaction at news of the two-year reduction in the prison sentence of businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky but warned EU leaders at today’s EU-Russia summit not to be misled….

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Fisheries Committee votes for crucial overhaul of Common Fisheries Policy

The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee voted today on major reforms to the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) calling for legally binding commitments by 2015 and 2020 to rebuild fish stocks, a ban on fish discards at seat, and devo…

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Big boost for renewable energy projects across Europe

Big boost for renewable energy projects across Europe
ALDE MEP Chris Davies (UK, Liberal Democrat) has welcomed news today that a funding mechanism he helped steer through Parliament on behalf of the Liberal and Democrat Group in 2009 will lead to over €3 billion being put into new clean energy technologies across Europe.

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Connecting Europe Facility is a growth instrument that must demonstrate added EU value

MEPs in the Industry and Transport Committees today voted on a new financing instrument, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), aimed at building and upgrading the Trans-European Networks for Transport, Energy and Telecommunications as the…

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Connecting Europe Facility is a growth instrument that must demonstrate added EU value

MEPs in the Industry and Transport Committees today voted on a new financing instrument, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), aimed at building and upgrading the Trans-European Networks for Transport, Energy and Telecommunications as the…

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Public procurement reform hampers SMEs

Changes voted this morning by MEPs to the reform of the EU rules on public procurement have worsened the balanced text of the Commission in many important respects, according to ALDE MEPs. They would increase the likelihood of distortions…

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Easier financing for Europe’s SMEs

The EP Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs adopted today a report to explore innovative tools and alternative funding mechanisms for Europe’s 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises, strongly supported by the Liberal and Demo…

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ALDE Newsletter December 2012


13 December 2012 Headlines ALDE NewsALDE’s SME BOOST CampaignProfiles of MEPs in the News EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE NETWORKING ALDE News Iranian Human Rights activists receive EP Sakharov prize in honour of their fight for freedom Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh and Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi have been awarded the Sakharov Prize 2012 during the December 12 ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. They were nominated for the prestigious prize by the ALDE group with the support of other parliamentarians from across the House. Read More Fundamental rights in the EU are under threat A report by the European Parliament during the December plenary session, assessing respect for fundamental rights within the EU seeks to draw attention to abuses or dangerous tendencies in evidence amongst existing Member States which undermine the basic principles of the EU. Despite efforts by political parties on the right of the House to completely water down the text, a majority of the Parliament approved the self-critical report. Read More Airlines should be penalised for holding onto unused airport slots On December 12 the European Parliament gave its green light to the new regulation governing the allocation of slots at EU airports, aiming at increasing airport capacity and decreasing delays. Read More If EU leaders are not prepared to agree on how to end the crisis, they should stay at home “Tomorrow’s EU summit in Brussels lacks ambition”, according to ALDE group leader, Guy Verhofstadt, addressing the European Parliament on December 12th. Read More The struggle for human rights has moved online – EU needs an ambitious strategy in foreign policy During the December Strasbourg plenary session the European Parliament backed a report by ALDE MEP Marietje Schaake (D66, Netherlands) calling for an ambitious strategy to prioritize digital freedom in EU Foreign Policy. The struggle for human rights has a growing technological component, and therefore digital freedoms should be considered fundamental rights. They are an indispensable element of human rights as they are a modern-day vehicle for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Read More ALDE condemns the forced resignation of the Prime Minister of Mali ALDE group strongly condemns the forced resignation of Mali Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra and of his entire government following their arrest by the army. Louis Michel MEP (MR, Belgium) states “Many of the soldiers who led the coup in March are opposed to foreign intervention – and this might explain this new coup. This forced resignation is a dramatic set back in Mali’s process to recover peace and territorial integrity and risks to jeopardize the planned political dialogue over the transition to democracy”.Read More EU trade and association agreements with Central America, Colombia and Peru will boost their economies and strengthen democracy The Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe welcomed the European Parliament’s December 11th vote in favour of a free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru and an association agreement with Central America. ALDE spokesperson, Catherine Bearder MEP (UK, Lib Dem), said: “I welcome the Parliament’s approval of this agreement. At a time when our economy is struggling, it is vital that the EU forges stronger links with emerging economies such as Colombia and Peru.” Read More Long expected agreement on patents boosts innovative SMEs in the EU After four decades of negotiations and deadlocks, the European Parliament on December 11 has adopted a legislative package which sets up a unitary patent valid throughout the EU. The legislative Patent Package contains three components: a draft regulation (co-decision) setting up the unitary patent (UPP), another regulation laying down translation rules and a draft intergovernmental agreement setting up the patent court system (UPC).Read More “Nobel Peace prize is merited but we cannot rest on our laurels” The European Union has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts over the last 60 years in bringing stability and reconciliation to the continent. It is a message for the future as much as for the past. I urge today’s EU leaders to show as much vision and ambition as their predecessors in writing the next chapter in Europe’s history. Read More 2013 Budget: Reason begins to prevail Commenting on the December 10th votes taken in Strasbourg during the Budget Committee meeting on the 2013 budget and the 2012 amending budget, and endorsed by the plenary session on the 12th, Jan Mulder (VVD, Netherlands), ALDE coordinator for BUDG, said: “This case ends in a reasonable manner: the Council tops up the 2012 budget to the level of commitments already taken, and commitments for 2013 are limited, while respecting Parliament’s priorities, particularly regarding the lifelong learning program and the support for SMEs. Read More USL coalition in Romania wins a broad mandate to pursue reforms Following the release of preliminary results in the December 9 Romanian elections, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader, made the following statement: “I congratulate Partidul National Liberal, member of the USL coalition, for scoring a decisive victory in the Romanian parliamentary elections. The vested trust of the Romanian citizens should be put to good use, by achieving progress in crucial areas of concern – reform of the judiciary and the fight against corruption.”Read More Verhofstadt: EU High Representative Ashton must send unequivocal message to Morsi The situation in Egypt is becoming more dangerous and less democratic every day following the presidential decree from Mohammed Morsi assuming full powers. Read More The EU should follow US and enforce Magnitsky list A delegation of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) is attending the conference of democratic opposition in Moscow 6 – 7 December 2012. At the conference Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE President made the following statement:”Despite what Russian ruling elite want its citizens to believe it is not Western values or institutions, or a girl punk band that undermine stability in Russia. The European Union is now more united in its approach towards Russia than ever before. It is a high time to admit that no modernisation can stem from authoritarian rule. Read More Youth Guarantee can help member states tackle youth unemployment The Youth Employment Package presented on December 5th introduces the concept of a Youth Guarantee to ensure that all young people up to age 25 receive a quality job offer, continued education, an apprenticeship, or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. Read More CCS hopes dashed across Europe Hopes of Europe becoming a world leader in the development of a key technology to combat global warming have been dashed. More than €1.5 billion of EU funding available to support carbon capture & storage (CCS) projects will now be diverted to new renewable energy schemes. The announcement that steelmakers ArcelorMittal will not proceed with their Ulcos project in France means that not one single new CCS scheme is set to proceed. Read More Membership of WTO is not a blank cheque for Russia in its trade relations with the EU At the initiative of Silvana KOCH-MEHRIN (FDP, Germany) and KRISTIINA OJULAND (Reform Party, Estonia), the ALDE group on December 5th held a seminar on the trade relationship between EU and Russia with the key participation of Pascal Lamy, General Director of the WTO, and Karel de Gucht, EU Commissioner for Trade. Russia is the EU’s third largest trading partner. In a resolution adopted during last October’s plenary session, the European Parliament stressed that its accession to the WTO should accelerate reforms in Russia, including the fight against corruption and application of the rule of law. Read More Guy Verhofstadt: “We strongly support the Commission’s blueprint but believe the Redemption Fund is possible with the current Treaty” Commenting on the Commission’s blueprint for full economic and monetary union November 29th, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader stated: “We strongly welcome the paper produced by the Commission and agree with the overall assessment made of the crisis. ” Read More ADLE welcomes the launch of free trade negotiations with Japan The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe welcomed the Council’s decision to authorise the launch of free trade negotiations with Japan. ALDE MEPs were instrumental in drafting the Parliament’s position in favour of free trade talks which was adopted in October.Read More An EU Single Supervisor needed without delay On November 29th the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs committee adopted the legislative package establishing a Single Supervisory Mechanism, a key element for the creation of a European Banking union. For the ALDE Group, the transfer of supervisory powers to the European level has long been overdue as the European single market for financial services cannot be effectively supervised from the national level. Read More More focus on innovation and SMEs in Horizon 2020 The European Parliament’s Industry, Research & Energy Committee (ITRE) voted on November 28th on its negotiation position for Horizon 2020, the upcoming EU multi-annual programme for research and innovation. It is the eighth RTD framework programme and is set to comprise 80 billion Euros for the seven years between 2014 and 2020. Read More A European border surveillance system will enhance detection of irregular migration and help save lives Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee approved on November 27th legislation to improve surveillance at the external borders of the Schengen area. In 2011, the European Commission presented a proposal to further develop the European border surveillance system by setting up a common technical framework to facilitate the exchange of information and cooperation among EU border agencies, Member States and FRONTEX that would help save lives of vulnerable migrants and to protect and combat irregular migration and cross-border crime. Read More Liberals secure a modern and streamlined future for the Erasmus for all programme On November 27th a majority of the European Parliament’s Culture Committee voted in favour of a more streamlined and simplified version of the mobility programme Lifelong learning, or “Erasmus for All”. Read More EU leaders’ budget squabble is like a Turkish bazaar On the margins of the November 23rd EU summit on the long-term budgetary needs of the European Union, Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE group leader) characterised the negotiations as a Turkish bazaar with more symbolic than financial value.Read More European elections should determine make-up of next European Commission European political parties should nominate candidates for the position of Commission President according to a resolution adopted on November 23rd by the European Parliament by a margin of 316 to 90 votes. Read More Council approval of Yves Mersch appointment to ECB executive an affront to Parliament Commenting on the decision taken during the November 22nd European Council meeting in Brussels, to confirm the nomination of Luxembourg central banker, Yves Mersch, as a member of the European Central Bank’s executive board, despite the negative opinion of the European Parliament demanding that a female candidate be proposed, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader said: “This is not a very democratic reading of current Treaty provisions. By ignoring the opinion of the Parliament, EU Heads of State also insulted half of the population of Europe made up of women by suggesting that there is no-one suitable to occupy such a senior banking role. The family photo of the ECB looks as absurdly anachronistic as that of the ruling presidium of the Chinese communist party.” Read More EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE European Court of Justice annuls the votes of the European Parliament concerning the Parliament’s calendar of periods of part-sessions for 2012 and 2013 The periods of plenary part-sessions for October 2012 and 2013, split into two parts by the Parliament, cannot be regarded individually as periods of monthly plenary part-sessions The Treaties require the European Parliament, whose seat is established in Strasbourg, to meet in 12 monthly plenary part-sessions per year in Strasbourg, including the budgetary session, but do not prescribe the length of those periods of plenary part-sessions. It is traditional for two periods of plenary part-sessions to be held in Strasbourg in October to compensate for the lack of a plenary part-session in August. In accordance with the Parliament’s practice, the periods of ordinary plenary part-sessions, which last four days, are held in Strasbourg while the additional periods of part-sessions are held in Brussels. Following two amendments tabled by Mr Fox MEP, the Parliament, by two votes adopted on 9 March 2011, amended the calendar of periods of part-sessions for 2012 and 2013. Firstly, one of the two periods of plenary part-sessions of four days to be held in October 2012 and October 2013 in Strasbourg was cancelled. Secondly, the remaining period of plenary part-sessions of October 2012 and October 2013 were split in two: two separate periods of plenary part-sessions of two days were thus to be held during the week of 22 to 25 October 2012 and two during the week of 21 to 24 October 2013 to be held in Strasbourg. France brought an action before the Court of Justice seeking annulment of those two votes of the Parliament. Supported by Luxembourg, it submits that those votes infringe the Treaties and the case-law of the Court. It alleges, inter alia, that the Parliament has broken the regularity of the rhythm of the periods of plenary part-sessions by scheduling additional part-sessions in Brussels when only 11 periods of plenary part-sessions were scheduled for Strasbourg. In today’s judgment, the Court annuls the votes of the European Parliament of 9 March 2011. The Court reiterates its case-law on the interpretation of the Edinburgh Decision1, the wording of which was adopted verbatim in the protocols concerning the seats of the institutions. In a judgment which it delivered in 19972, the Court set out the relationship between the competence of the Member States to determine the Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg and the Parliament’s power to determine its own internal organisation. Thus, the Court found that the Member States intended the seat of the Parliament (Strasbourg) to be the place where 12 periods of ordinary plenary part-sessions must take place on a regular basis, including those during which the Parliament is to exercise the budgetary powers conferred upon it by the Treaty. Equally, the Court held that additional periods of plenary part-sessions cannot be scheduled for any other place of work unless the Parliament holds 12 periods of ordinary plenary part-sessions in Strasbourg. The Member States have not, by so defining its seat, encroached upon the competence of the Parliament to determine its own internal organisation. It is not disputed that the Parliament departed, by the contested votes of March 2011, from the draft calendars adopted by the Conference of Presidents in so far as concerns the periods of monthly plenary part-sessions scheduled for October 2012 and 2013. It is apparent from those votes that the periods of monthly plenary part-sessions, each lasting four days, scheduled for October 2012 and 2013, were replaced by two periods of part-sessions lasting two days each. The Court finds that the periods of plenary part-sessions as provided for in the contested votes for October 2012 and 2013 do not satisfy the requirements resulting from the Treaties concerning the seats of the institutions. Read More ALDE Reaction to ECJ JUDGEMENT ON PARLIAMENT’S CALENDER MEPs to press for treaty change for Single Seat following ECJ ruling On December 13 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in Case C-237/11 (Joined Cases C-237/11, C-238/11), France v European Parliament against MEPs’ decision to reduce their Strasbourg sittings. Edward McMillan Scott (UK, Lib Dem), EP Vice President, co-founder of the Single seat campaign and member of the cross-party Single Seat Steering Group said in a statement: “The ruling is regrettable, but we expected it. There is now a compelling case for a change to the Treaty to remove this wasteful obligation imposed by EU governments. We urge governments to respond to MEPs’ recent overwhelming vote for a single seat as well as public demand. MEPs, who are facing elections in 2014, will now examine their new powers to initiate the treaty change necessary to achieve a single seat. Meanwhile Single Seat’s pro bono legal advisors are studying the full judgement.” Alexander Alvaro (FDP, Germany), also an EP Vice-President and co-founder of the campaign, added:”On 23 October 88 per cent of MEPs voted for a single seat. MEPs also invited EU governments to produce a roadmap for change by 30 June 2013. It is indefensible – especially in this economic climate – that governments waste some €180 million each year by forcing the European Parliament to meet for four days a month at its official ‘seat’ in Strasbourg and keep half its staff in Luxembourg, not to speak of the extra 19,000 tonnes of CO2. MEPs want to provide an efficient oversight of the EU’s political institutions – which are all based in Brussels, which is also the parliament’s principle place of work. Parliament is about to examine its new powers to initiate treaty change.”So far 1.27 million European have signed a petition to base the European Parliament only in Brussels. MEPs are preparing to reply to that petition.During the same week the French government is halving its three-year subsidy to Strasbourg’s European activities from €117 million to €47 million. Note to editors: Protocol 6 of the Treaty of Amsterdam defines that “the European Parliament shall have its seat in Strasbourg where the 12 periods of monthly plenary sessions, including the budget session, shall be held. The periods of additional plenary sessions shall be held in Brussels. The committees of the European Parliament shall meet in Brussels. The General Secretariat of the European Parliament and its departments shall remain in Luxembourg.” On 9 March 2010, the European Parliament voted by +357 -255 and 41 abstentions (2012 calendar) and +356 – 253 and 35 abstentions (2013 calendar) respectively in a secret ballot for amendments to the two calendars of its monthly four-day sessions at its official ‘seat’ in Strasbourg. These amendments allowed two of the Parliament’s sessions to be held during the same week in October – sessions of two days each. France – joined by Luxembourg – challenged the decision in the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The oral hearing was held in Luxembourg on 5 June 2012. On 6 September 2012, the ECJ’s Advocate-General Paolo Mengozzi produced his 78-paragraph Opinion which on the one hand sustained France’s contention that 12 sessions a year in Strasbourg “were in the Treaty”, but said that the length of the sessions was not stipulated, pointing out however that any modification of their length needs to be “coherent”. He also invited the parliament to invoke its powers under article 48 of the EU Treaty to seek treaty change and noted the strong opposition of the Parliament to its current arrangements. Single Seat’s pro bono legal advsiers Sidley Austin LLP’s analysed the legal cases here. The additional cost of the two meeting places, plus maintaining some 50 per cent of its administrative staff in Luxembourg, amounts to €180 million and 19.000 tonnes of CO2. Since 2006, 1.27 Europeans have signed the OneSeat online petition calling for MEPs to meet only in Brussels. An increasing number of ministers are backing this move.In the last two years, MEPs have voted consistently and with increasing majorities for a Single Seat, reflecting the economic climate. Follow Single Seat on Facebook and Twitter! Read More ALDE’s SME BOOST Campaign ALDE Boost SME Campaign Update In the Parliament….In JURI, Cecilia Wikström and Alexandra Thein worked very hard and successfully to break the stalemate on the European Patent deal which was finally adopted in plenary this week. SMEs, universities and research centres alongside ordinary citizens and entrepreneurs will benefit greatly from less red tape, reduced costs (in particular in the field of translation), and increased legal certainty created by a unitary patent. Theodoros Skylakakis and Wolf Klinz hosted a seminar on “Success Stories made in Greece” to look beyond the current crisis and to discuss potential ways to encourage and develop entrepreneurship in Greece. Among the different case studies presented was a packaging business, a mattress producer and a natural cosmetics company. In order to avoid competition with cheap products from China, participants in the seminar highlighted the need for Greek businesses to invest in research and venture into niche sectors that are not under threat from low-cost countries. At the end of November, ITRE adopted its position on Horizon 2020, the new multi-annual programme for research and innovation. For ALDE, Jürgen Creutzmann fought particularly hard to ensure that the programme woud improve access to funding and cut red tape for SMEs. A new ‘SME instrument’ is set to receive €3.3bn and is tailored to the specific needs of SMEs. ITRE also voted on Jürgen Creutzmann’s COSME report which sets out to increase the competitiveness of Europe’s SMEs by improving their access to financing and promoting entrepreneurship under the EU’s next multi-annual financial framework. Amongst other things, the report calls for a reduction of the number of days to set up a new SME to three, a cut of start-up costs to €100 and one-stop shops for business start-ups in all Member States. MEPs also asked for at least 0.5% of the total long-term budget for 2014-2020 to be allocated to the implementation of COSME (up from 0.2% proposed by the Commission). Coming up….Next week, ECON will vote on Philippe de Backer’s “Access to Financing for SMEs” report to which Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (IMCO) and Rebecca Taylor (JURI) contributed opinions from their respective committees. The report underlines the importance of encouraging economic growth through an improved access to financing for all European SMEs, Also next week IMCO will vote on the Public Procurement Directive, which is shadowed for ALDE by Jürgen Creutzmann. ALDE fought hard to achieve a good framework for SME participation but the two big groups, EPP and S&D, are preparing to introduce more burdensome regulation. Read More NETWORKING ACP-EU meeting in Paramaribo November 24-19th – ALDE Members the vanguard of the debates Intense debatesThe debates between MEPs and counterparts from ACP ranged from political dialogue, the effects of the EU agricultural policy, healthcare in ACP countries, the preservation of elephants to the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) replacing the preferential trade tariffs (the WTO stated that they were against the trade rules). Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE, FR) hoped that “an extension of the negotiations beyond the current deadline would lead to better agreements, beneficial to both sides”. Crises in Congo, Mali and SomaliaThe crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Somalia need structural solutions involving neighbouring countries. Therefore the EU and the UN should actively support ECOWAS to restore peace. In a compromise between the RDC and the Rwandese delegations, made possible by the exceptionally clever diplomacy of JPA Co-President Louis Michel (ALDE B), the M23 aggression was condemned, but the DRC was urged to increase state authority and the rule of law, and to reform its armed forces. On Somalia the JPA agreed that military means should be used together with support for its institutions in the transition towards democracy and reconciliation. ElephantsIn a debate on the poaching of African elephants, Catherine Bearder (ALDE, UK) pointed out that “wildlife crime has never been more profitable” and “contributes to the financing of terrorist organisations”. She proposed a ban on the trade in ivory. Future of the ACP-EU partnershipThe JPA also launched a debate on the future of the ACP-EU partnership, based on the Cotonou Agreement, which expires in 2020. Niccolò Rinaldi (ALDE – I) underscored that the partnership should be continued but adapted content-wise, as well as regarding the territorial representation. More decentralised access to energyThe JPA called for more decentralisation to deliver more and cleaner energy to people who now go without electricity or rely on burning biomass. An estimated 1.3 billion people currently have no electricity and another 3 billion rely on burning biomass, which is detrimental to health. Digital divide in ACP countries: free the energiesAs access to information is critical for empowerment and knowledge, the digital divide between developed and developing countries in terms of access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) must be bridged. ICT is a fundamental tool to promote democracy, peace and development, the JPA underlined. ALDEPACIn the fringe of the JPA, ALDEPAC, the network of Liberals and Democrats within the ACP-EU held a successful working lunch with numerous interventions on the political situation in the different ACP member countries. As a gesture of friendship the whole Suriname delegation was invited as guest of honour. ALDEPAC Co-President Niccolò Rinaldi revealed the two next venues for the 2013 and 2014 summits which will be held in Lilongwe (Malawi) and Abuja (Nigeria). ALDE Winter Academy December 5-6th 2012 This year’s ALDE Academy, entitled ‘The Democratisation process in the Mediterranean Region after the Arab Spring’ took place on the 5th and 6th December in the European Parliament. The annual ALDE Academy offers young people a chance to come together, to listen to and discuss with Members of the European Parliament, representatives from EU Institutions and experts on a certain topic area. The Academy was attended by more than 100 young liberal and democrats coming from all over Europe, as well as from Armenia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.There was a distinguished panel comprised of guest speakers such as, Kerim Bouzouita, a blogger and cyber activist from Tunisia and Mahmoud Salem, (Sandmonkey) blogger and activist from Egypt, both of whom were instrumental in the uprisings in their respective countries. Rabih Fakhreddine, vice president of ILFRY and Muhammad Atef Fares, a Syrian Journalist currently in exile in Sweden also participated. The young participants were given the unique opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of the panellists’ personal involvement in the Arab Spring and of their ongoing struggles as unrest continues to dominate the region. Read More ALDENEST-Liberal Academy seminar in Brussels, 3-4 December 2013The Inter-institutional Relations & Networking Unit initiates an ALDE- network in EURONEST countries in the steps of successful networks in other regional parliamentary assemblies such as ALDEPAC and ALDELAT.This December, Commissioner Siim Kallas, EURONEST Vice-Chair Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Vice-President of the ALDE Group Anneli Jaatteenmaki, and MEPs Kristiina Ojuland and Norica Nicolai, welcomed in Brussels 15 young liberals from Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, and Armenia, to mark the first ALDENEST networking event.The event brought together young liberals politically active in youth movements across the EURONEST region or affiliated with ALDE Member-parties. With special contribution from a delegation of the Academy of Liberalism, an ALDE affiliated think-tank from Estonia, which has been engaged for years with youth training and capacity building in the Eastern Neighbourhood, the participants debated for one and a half days on liberal issues and the challenges that the Eastern Partnership countries face in their transition to democracy and integration with Europe.This first ALDENEST event invested in the youth, aiming at creating an energetic team of liberal activists with the vision of establishing a full fledged political network that, functioning in the fringe of EURONEST activities, will complement ALDE work in the Assembly and integrate the liberals in the region. Coinciding almost with the recent elections in Georgia, ALDENEST gives ALDE every opportunity to boost the liberal presence in the Eastern Neighbourhood. Profiles of MEPs in the News Giommaria Uggias MEP (Italia dei Valori, Italy) Mr. Giommaria Uggias (Italia dei Valori, Italy) achieved his Master Degree in Law and worked as a lawyer and the beginning of his career. He was also involved in social work in schools, universities on a voluntary basis. At 33 years old Giommaria was elected in 1995 as mayor of Olbia, a city in the north east of Sardinia. He was also elected to the provincial council of Sassari. He was a member of the Regional Council of Sardinia from 2004 to 2009. During his term he was a member of the Healthcare and Social Services Commission; and later he became a member of the Autonomy and Relations with the Government Commission and subsequently of the Committee on Agriculture and Environmental Protection.In 2009 Giommaria was elected as Member of the European Parliament from the lists of “Italia dei Valori” in the constituency Sardinia/Sicily. He was previously a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and in the Special Committee on budgetary challenges (SURE). He was a proponent of the Written Declaration on “water as a public good” and of the Written Declaration on the Pact of Islands as a permanent European initiative.He is currently a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN), and of the Committee for Regional Development (REGI). He is also a member of the Delegation for relations with Japan. He is the rapporteur on the common rules on slots allocation at EU airports and shadow rapporteur of the opinion on the future of regional airports and air services in the European Union. He was also shadow rapporteur on a series of reports: the report on “Europe as world tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe”; the report on the “Green Paper on preparing forests for climate change”; the report on EU macro-regional strategies (current practice and future prospects in particular in the Mediterranean). He spoke out several times against the 2009 Berlusconi measure of Italian tax amnesty, and about freedom of the press in Italy. Giommaria’s work continues to focus on economic and territorial policies. For more information, please contact:ALDE Press Service and Inter-institutional relations unitneil.corlett@europarl.europa.euwillem.vandenbroucke@europarl.europa.euALDEJoin ALDE on FacebookFollow ALDE on TwitterEventsCO2 emissions from vans – reaching the 2020 target2013-01-09 Videos Marietje Schaake on A digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy Frédérique Ries on Jurisdictional system for patent disputes . George Lyon on New general budget of the EU for 2013 . .Giommaria Uggias on noise-related operating restrictions at EU airports . Verhofstadt calls for Berlusconi to be thrown out of EPP family . Sharon Bowles on Preparations European Council meeting (13-14 December 2012) .LinksAlliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party – ALDE Party European Democratic Party – EDP Liberal International Friedrich Naumann Stiftung LYMEC European Parliament

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ALDE Newsletter November 2012


23 November 2012 Headlines ALDE NewsALDE’s SME BOOST Campaign EUROPEAN COMISSION STATEMENT ON QUOTASProfiles of MEPs in the News ALDE News MFF 2014-2020: EU leaders must match budget needs to policy ambitions Speaking ahead of the November EU summit seeking agreement on the long-term budgetary needs for the European Union between 2014 and 2020, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader in the European Parliament argued for a budgetary deal that was consistent with the political ambitions and policy commitments necessary to ensure economic growth and competitiveness in the years ahead. Read More Tonio Borg must not allow his personal views to influence the public health portfolio Tonio Borg, Commissioner-designate for Health and Consumer Protection has obtained enough support from MEPs to be confirmed as the EU’s next Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner, despite a number of political groups rejecting his candidacy. The ALDE Group rejected the candidacy of Tonio Borg as commissioner for public health, expressing serious concerns about Mr. Borg’s past record which suggested a discriminatory attitude on homosexuality, divorce and abortion which would be incompatible with his responsibilities as EU public health and consumer policy commissioner as well as with respect to fundamental rights. Read More ALDE calls for more ambition ahead of Doha climate talks The European Parliament has adopted during the November Strasbourg plenary session, a Resolution which calls for more concerted action in climate funding commitments in the upcoming international talks in Doha (COP 18), Qatar (26 November – 7 December). The Doha Summit faces a number of significant challenges for moving ahead towards a new legally-binding climate change treaty that can be agreed by 2015 and brought into effect from 2020. Read More Failing to recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian National Coalition benefits the extremists The announcement by jihadist groups to install a caliphate in the Syrian enclave of Aleppo, must be a signal to the international community to clarify its support for the legitimate Syrian rebellion. The aim of overthrowing the criminal Bashar al-Assad regime must in no way be seen as encouraging the emergence of an Islamist state. However the reluctance to recognize the Syrian National Coalition only jeopardizes the victory of democratic forces in Syria. Read More Home-made explosives: tougher rules to access high-risk chemicals The European parliament during the November Strasbourg plenary session signed off on a regulation limiting the scourge of home-made explosives by tightening up and further regulating the sales of certain chemicals to legal public use (private users) due to their dual purposes as key components for manufacturing (DIY) explosives. Read More Budget Control Committee should have access to OLAF dossier on Dalli Michael Theurer (FDP, Germany), chairman of the Budget Control Committee, considered “unacceptable” that the request of the European Parliament to have access, under appropriate conditions, to the OLAF file that led to the resignation of commissioner Dalli was refused. “It is Parliament’s duty to control the actions of the Commission. In such circumstances it is not possible to conduct a democratic check of decisions,” complained Theurer. “The rules may need to be reviewed so that any case of this kind should be communicated immediately to the presidents of the Commission and Parliament at the same time as the judicial authorities.” Read More Council must not ignore Parliament and absence of women on ECB board Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader, maintained political pressure on Council to rectify the embarrassing absence of women at the top of the governing bodies of the European Central Bank as ministers attempted to seal a deal on the appointment of Yves Mersch by written procedure over the bank holiday weekend. Read More Is new legislation on medical devices sufficient to protect patients? ALDE MEPs Corinne Lepage (CAP 21, France) and Rebecca Taylor (LibDem, UK) hosted a conference on November 14th in the European Parliament on the issue of medical devices. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is examining the new legislative rules on the safety and performance of medical devices proposed by the European Commission, following a request by Resolution of the European Parliament, notably following the discovery of the fraudulent use of silicone in breast implants (manufactured by the Poly Implant Prothèse – PIP – Company in France). Read More Liberals and Democrats call for better control on spending of EU funds On November 6 the European Court of Auditors (ECA) presented its report on the spending of EU funds in 2011 to the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament. For the eighteenth consecutive year, the ECA can not guarantee that European funds are spent according to the rules. The reasons are obvious: On average the error rate went up from 3.7% in 2010 to 3.9% in 2011, although the error rate for the Structural Funds dropped from 7 to 5 percent. However 5 percent is still too high. Read More Allocation of slots: clearer regulation to increase airport capacity On November 6th the European Parliament’s Transport Committee (TRAN) voted on a new Regulation on common rules for the allocation of slots at European Union airports, presented last year by the Commission to deal with an expected doubling of air traffic by 2030 and with the consequent possible substantial increase in delays for passengers and cargo airlines. Read More Member States should rescue the EU Support Fund for redundant workers A report drafted by ALDE MEP Marian Harkin (Independent, Ireland) calling for the post-2013 continuation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) received on November 6 the cross-party support in the Employment Committee of the European Parliament. “Today we send a clear signal to Member States to secure the future of this European ‘fund for redundant workers’ during the negotiations on the new multiannual budget until 2020.” Read More Obama’s re-election optimism clouded by concern over partisan feuding European Liberals and Democrats welcome the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, whose initiatives during the first term helped stabilize the international financial system. However concerns remain over the ability of the two parties to work together to get the economy back on track. Read More Migration situation in Greece: improvements made but more needs to be done From 28 to 31 October ALDE MEP Jan Mulder (VVD, the Netherlands) led an EP fact-finding delegation to Greece on the migratory situation in the Evros region at the Greek-Turkish borders and in Athens. Members visited the detention centres for migrants in Fylakio, Feres, Poros, Vena, Amygdaleza and Ellinikon, and the new asylum service. Read More Scandal Labour teams up with Tory Europhobes Reacting to the October 31 vote in the House of Commons on the EU budget, Guy Verhofstadt President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament said, “It is a scandal that the Labour party has sided with the most anti-European wing of the Conservative party to reduce Cameron’s proposed EU budget freeze by an all out reduction. The Labour party has demonstrated that it has no shame in shedding what little European credentials it may have had for short-term political point scoring.” Read More EUROPEAN COMISSION STATEMENT ON QUOTAS Women on Boards: Commission proposes 40% objective On November 14th the European Commission took action to break the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from top positions in Europe’s biggest companies. The Commission has proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises. Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively. Despite an intense public debate and some voluntary initiatives at national and European level, the situation has not changed significantly in recent years: an incremental average increase of the number of women on boards of just 0.6 percentage points per year has been recorded since 2003. It is for this reason that the Commission has proposed EU legislation to accelerate progress towards a better gender balance on the corporate boards of European companies. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said: “With this proposal, the European Commission is answering the strong call of the European Parliament for EU action to bring about gender equality in corporate boardrooms. We are asking large listed companies across Europe to show that they are serious when it comes to gender equality in economic decision-making. At my initiative, the Commission has significantly strengthened the presence of female Commissioners among its members, with one third of Commissioners being women.”Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, added: “The European Union has been successfully promoting gender equality for over 50 years. However, there is one place where we have not seen any progress: company boardrooms. The example set by countries such as Belgium, France and Italy, who have recently adopted legislation and are starting to show progress, clearly demonstrates that time-limited regulatory intervention can make all the difference. The Commission’s proposal will make sure that in the selection procedure for non-executive board members priority is given to female candidates – provided they are under-represented and equally qualified as their male counterparts.””I am indebted to the numerous members of the European Parliament who have fought tirelessly for this cause and who have been instrumental in helping me get this proposal on the table.” Read More ALDE Reaction to Commission Statement on Quotas for Women Women on Boards: Liberals and Democrats back EU gender quota plan Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament (ALDE) firmly support Commissioner Reding with regard to her EU-wide gender quota plan to increase the number of women in leadership roles presented November 14th. In March 2012 ALDE called for such binding measures to reverse the insufficient progress made towards better gender-balance in corporate management boards. The liberals acknowledge that quotas are a very blunt instrument but a necessary evil at the same time because voluntary measures have proven unsuccessful in addressing the equality gap. The new legislation put forward includes clear quotas to increase female representation in companies’ boards to 40% by 2020. “Women in the EU account for 60% of new university graduates, but too many women are still missing in top jobs”, says Antonyia Parvanova (NMSP, Bulgaria), ALDE coordinator on the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committee. “There is a clear business case for stronger female presence in corporate boards. Better gender balance contributes to better business performance, improved competitiveness and economic gains. The time is now to go ahead with EU-wide measures to ensure that women are better represented at every level in society . We welcome the Commission’s ambitious proposal and are committed to making it a reality as discussions move to the European Parliament.” Sophie in ‘t Veld (D66, Netherlands) Parliament’s rapporteur on the annual report on the state of gender equality adopted in March 2012, commented: ” I commend Commissioner Reding for her courage to keep this issue firmly on the agenda. Although liberals have a natural dislike of quotas, doing nothing and leaving it to chance is not an option. We have tried that approach the last four decades, with pathetic results The number of women in boardrooms is still shockingly low. We have to act now with binding measures and clear targets to boost women at the top, otherwise equal participation by women in senior positions will be put off indefinitely. “Silvana Koch-Mehrin (FDP, Germany) is pleased with the introduction of clear quotas in the legislation. “Congratulations to Commissioner Reding! The EU needs radical change to stop wasting female talent, to boost participation of women in decision-making. Self-regulation proved to be neither sufficient nor effective to achieve gender balance. We may not like quotas as an instrument, but the results are convincing: Progress is only visible in countries where quotas were introduced. Regardless of gender, Europe’s economy needs the best heads and hands.”Read More ALDE’s SME BOOST Campaign Reporting back…In this edition we want to start the Campaign Manifesto – result tracker, checking how much we have already achieved with regard to one of the 22 points of the ALDE SME Manifesto. Starting with…Point 1: Intensify use of SME Test when preparing and implementing new EU laws:The SME test was introduced in the Small Business Act, together with the “Think Small First principle”: When drafting, amending and implementing legislation, the effects of the proposals on SMEs should be considered and proposals revised if necessary. In the ITRE Committee, Jürgen Creutzmann included the “SME test” into his report on a regulation establishing the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME). In line with the first point of the Campaign Manifesto, the relevant amendment calls upon considering the effects of new policy proposals on the SMEs, at any stage of the legislative process, and furthermore, the rapporteur asks the Commission to introduce a separate section in its impact assessment for measuring these effects. At a national level, ALDE Ministers & Secretaries of State from Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden (Stefan Kapferer FDP, Vince Cable LibDem, Annie Lööf Centerpartiet, Henk Kamp VVD) recently wrote to the Commission to commit to rigorous application of the ‘Think Small First’ principle and bring forward further proposals to reduce unnecessary EU regulatory costs for small businesses in its forthcoming Smart Regulation Communication.In the Parliament….Talking about COSME – negotiations have progressed well with the other political groups ahead of the vote in Committee the week of November 26th. It is envisaged that after the Committee vote we will move towards a first reading agreement. This will be a key dossier for the Irish Presidency and has the potential to be an excellent result for rapporteur Jürgen Creutzmann and the ALDE SME campaign. Most of the ALDE points have been included in the agreed compromises; the most noteworthy probably are the ambitious targets for the future, for example a reduction of number of days to set-up a new SME: 3 working days by 2020, and a target to reduce the cost of setting up a new business to €100.At home….Again, these Germans… On November 16, the German Liberal SME organisation held their annual conference (Liberaler Mittelstandstag) in Hamburg in the north of the country. On the agenda were topics important for SMEs situated in the region where the shipping industry and wind energy play an important rule. Furthermore, delegates decided to create a European liberal SME umbrella organisation with liberal SME organisations from other EU Member States. MEPs Gesine Meißner and Jürgen Creutzmann attended the conference along with the FDP Secretary General Patrick Döring. Coming up…Phil Bennion will meet representatives from the House of Lords Special Committee on SMEs, to discuss what the EU is doing to help SMEs access export markets within the EU and globally. In these tough UK/EU times he will be re-emphasising the importance of the single market, the EU’s international free trade agreements and harmonisation of national rules to allow SMEs to trade efficiently within the EU and beyond. It is vital that national governments and regional actors help SMEs understand and identify these opportunities and make sure that information and finance available through the Commission is joined up to local businesses on the ground.Read More Profiles of MEPs in the News Chris Davies (LibDem, United Kingdom) Chris Davies has represented the North West of England in the European Parliament since 1999, and serves as the only Liberal Democrat amongst the region’s 8 MEPs. He has been the Liberal Democrat spokesman on the environment throughout this time and is currently the ALDE co-ordinator on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.During his time in the Parliament he has concentrated particularly on climate change issues, and is recognised as having particular knowledge of carbon capture and storage technology. Chris was rapporteur for the ‘CCS Directive’ in 2008, and played a key role in introducing the principal funding mechanism used to support development of CCS demonstration projects. He has followed this subject through to implementation and is currently monitoring developments around the use of NER300.Chris has also been closely involved in the shaping of legislation dealing with emissions from vehicles, chemicals, waste, and the pollution of air and water. Within the Parliament he also campaigns for policies to promote sustainable fisheries and to protect biodiversity. He insists that MEPs should be transparent in all matters relating to finance and expenses. Chris has been outspoken in his condemnation of the occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, and of the human rights abuses and injustice practised by that country.In the current mandate Chris is actively campaigning for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. As a founder of the cross party Fish for the Future group of MEPs, he is working with others to ensure that fishing is viable in the long term and that fish stocks are allowed to recover to biologically sustainable levels.On social issues he campaigns in favour of making medically assisted suicide legal, and takes a libertarian position with regard to drugs policies. In 2002 he was found guilty in Manchester Crown Court of possession of cannabis having taken part in a demonstration in favour of drugs law reform. He has never used an illegal drug.Married to Carol, a Drama and English teacher, since 1979, by which time she was already a councillor in Liverpool having beaten him to become the first of the pair to win an election. They have a daughter, Kate (born 1991), and live in Greenfield, Saddleworth where urban Greater Manchester meets the South Pennine hills. When free from injury he is a competitive fell runner and takes part in a number of ultra distance events each year.Read More For more information, please contact:ALDE Press Service and Inter-institutional relations unitneil.corlett@europarl.europa.euwillem.vandenbroucke@europarl.europa.euALDEJoin ALDE on FacebookFollow ALDE on TwitterEventsEU-Russia trade – will the WTO change business ?2012-12-05 Videos Chris Davies on Industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas & oil Guy Verhofstadt’s response to Nigel Farage Corinne Lepage on Climate change conference in Doha Phil Bennion on Question Time “Commission” Guy Verhofstadt on Preparations for the European Council meeting (22-23 November 2012) Sylvie Goulard on Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union LinksAlliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party – ELDR European Democratic Party – EDP Liberal International Friedrich Naumann Stiftung LYMEC European Parliament

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ALDE Newsletter October 2012


26 October 2012 Headlines ALDE NewsNETWORKINGProfiles of MEPs in the News EUROPEAN COUNCIL CONCLUSIONSALDE’s SME BOOST Campaign ALDE News MEPs step up campaign for a Single Seat During the week of October 22nd when Parliament held two back-to-back plenary sessions in Strasbourg, the ALDE group hosted a cross-party conference to examine all issues related to the current practice of operating Europe’s directly elected Parliament in three different locations (Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg). Read More Parliament makes a stand for gender balance in ECB The European Parliament decided on October 25, following last Monday Economic and Monetary Affairs committee’s recommendation, to confirm a negative opinion to the only candidate nominated by the Council last July to fill the last vacant post – until 2018 – as member of the ECB Executive Board. Read More Human rights prize awarded to Iranians in recognition of their struggle for freedom Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh and Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi have won the Sakharov Prize 2012 which is the annual human rights prize of the European Parliament. They were nominated for the award by the ALDE group and other MEPs in recognition of their exceptional courage in exposing state-sponsored persecution and Human Rights abuses. Read More Parliament approves stronger protection for investors in financial products On October 26th the European Parliament signed off the review of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), proposed by the Commission in 2011 to take into account developments in the trading environment and to respond to the financial crisis. Read More 2013 Budget: The EU must honour its commitments The European Parliament meeting for the October Strasbourg plenary session, sent a strong political signal to the Council during the vote on the 2013 budget. The vast majority of parliamentarians, like those in ALDE support restoring the level of payments that the Commission has included in its draft budget, and suggest some targeted increases. They will strengthen budget lines related to research, entrepreneurship and youth employment which were undermined by the cuts made by the Council. In addition, to protest the refusal for the development of a new mechanism for evaluating the functioning of the Schengen area, the Parliament should freeze 75% of all expenses related to Schengen, until codecision is restored. Read More Member States must not delay benefits of a Single European Sky The European Parliament voted on during the October Strasbourg plenary session on a report on the implementation of the Single European Sky (SES) legislation, confiming its increasing concerns at the consequences of Member States failure to accelerate a full and timely delivery. Most Member States in fact still have failed to meet core targets to complete the SES, namely the “functional airspace blocks” which were supposed to be operational by 4 December 2012 and the “EU performance scheme” such as shorter flight routes, fewer delays and lower costs for air traffic control services. Read More European Parliament calls for 2015 to be designated European Year of Development A report by ALDE MEP Charles Goerens (Democratic Party, Luxembourg) addressing the future of EU development policy was agreed on during the October plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This report is the European Parliament’s response to the European Commission’s Agenda for Change: the future of EU development policy. The principles contained in this Agenda for Change will guide the design and implementation of external action instruments (notably the new Development Cooperation Instrument) currently under negotiation under the MFF 2014-2020. Read More Multi-annual Financial Framework: There are no sacred cows The European Parliament meeting during the October Strasbourg plenary session, has expressed concern about the progress of negotiations in the Council on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF 2014-2020). The European Parliament understands that given the current financial context, expenditure must be stabilized, but it refuses to freeze all prospects for the coming seven years and insists on reassessing the situation during the course of the next MFF. Moreover, in their resolution MEPs stress that they can not give their approval to the limited budget if it is not accompanied by a reform of the own resources system. During the debate, the Liberal and Democrat speakers argued that it was necessary to do away with taboos and other sacred cows. Read More “Peace Prize is well deserved but we cannot rest on our laurels” Reacting to the Nobel peace prize being awarded to the European Union, Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader in the European Parliament said: “We strongly welcome the recognition by the Nobel Peace committee of the contribution that the European Union has made over the last 70 years to turn a previously war ridden continent into a peace project.”Read More International Trade: ALDE pushes for free trade agreements with Japan and the United States The Parliamentary Committee on International Trade (INTA) on October 11th sent a clear signal to the Council for the early opening of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations by adopting by a large majority the report of Metin Kazak (Movement for Rights and Freedom, Bulgaria) on trade relations between the European Union and Japan. The EU Commission estimates that the completion of its free trade policy could lead to an increase of 2% in EU GDP (over €250 billion) and 2 million extra jobs. Two thirds of these gains would come from agreements with Japan and the USA. Read More Belgrade must maintain its ambition for EU accession after limited progress in past year Jelko Kacin (LDS, Slovenia), European Parliament’s rapporteur on Serbia, reacted to the 2012 progress report on Serbia released October 10th by the European Commission. He points out that the relationship with Kosovo remains one of the biggest challenges ahead for Serbia and also protection of minorities underlined by the recent banning of the gay pride March in Belgrade. Read More Time to identify concrete steps to cut red tape for SMEs Ahead of the European Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) Week (15-21 October), ALDE MEP Jürgen Creutzmann (FDP, Germany) took part in the EuroCommerce SME Day 2012 to discuss the competitiveness of SMEs through smart regulation. Mr Creutzmann, who is the rapporteur for the Programme for Competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME) in the European Parliament and co-founder of ALDE’s ‘Boost SMEs’ campaign, said: “Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament are committed to the Think Small First principle, cutting red tape for small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs as part of our ongoing Boost SME campaign. “Read More Tougher rules against market manipulation The European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee voted on October 9th on a revised EU legislation on market abuse, including criminal sanctions. The text which is comprised of a Directive and a Regulation, was proposed by the Commission in 2011 and updated in July of this year following the Libor scandal, to strengthen the fight against market abuse and to reinforce regulators’ investigative and sanctioning power. Read More ALDE MEPs honoured in 2012 Parliament Magazine Awards Edward McMillan-Scott MEP (UK, Lib Dem) and a Vice-President of the European Parliament, was on September 26 presented with the “Outstanding Achievement” award in the MEP 2012 awards by the Parliament magazine, primarily in recognition of his achievements in highlighting the costs and difficulties of Parliament maintaining multiple seats. Read More Guy Verhofstadt: a historic alliance of secular Arab Leaders is launched in Cairo On Sunday 23 September the inaugural meeting of a network of “Arab Leaders for Freedom and Democracy” was held. This unique network connects Arab leaders who are determined to make the Arab spring and its aspirations succeed. They will support each other in order to make as many Arab countries as possible free and democratic states ruled by good governance. This network will look for partners who share the same convictions in the entire world. Read More EP takes steps towards concrete actions on human rights abuses in Russia Kristina Ojuland, ALDE Spokesperson on Russia and the rapporteur on ‘Magnitsky Law’ for the European Parliament welcomed broad support from the Foreign Affairs Committee given on September 20th for her report recommending to the Council establishing common visa restrictions for Russian officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case. This report also received suport of the European Parliament during the October plenary session. Read More Common consular protection: no EU citizens should be left behind The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) voted on September 19th on a report to strengthen consular protection for EU citizens abroad. ALDE welcomes this proposal to overcome the grave flaws exposed at the time of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, when some Member States’ representations rescued their own citizens whilst ignoring the plight of other EU citizens who did not have any consular representation in the country, and who de facto were denied their European citizenship. Read More Verhofstadt: Sovereignty is better pooled at EU level than lost in a global world On September 19th, the same day as the EU reform proposals of eleven foreign ministers and one week after the positive verdict of the German Constitutional Court in on the legitimacy of the European Stability Mechanism, ALDE group leader Guy VERHOFSTADT made new proposals on how to shape the future of Europe. Read More LIFE programme needs bigger budget to preserve biodiversity Members of the European Parliaments Environment Committee approved on September 19th a report on the Commission´s legislative proposal for the LIFE programme for 2014-2020, which underlines the importance of funding and implementation of EU environmental policies. Read More Liberals and Democrats welcome EU permanent humanitarian volunteer initiative On September 19th Liberal MEP Marian Harkin (Ireland, Independent) warmly welcomed the European Commission’s plan for a global programme that will allow thousands of Europeans to volunteer worldwide in humanitarian operations. Read More Guy Verhofstadt now on twitter @VerhofstadtGuy On October 1st Guy Verhofstadt opened a Twitter account as an additional and valuable means of communicating about the EU directly to citizens, stakeholders and representatives of the media. Read More EUROPEAN COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS October 19 Summit Conclusions The European Council reiterated today its firm commitment to take resolute action to address financial market tensions, restore confidence and stimulate growth and jobs. It closely reviewed the implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs. It welcomed progress made so far but also called for swift, determined and result-oriented action to ensure its full and rapid implementation.Further to the presentation of the interim report on EMU, the European Council called for work to proceed on the proposals on the Single Supervisory Mechanism as a matter of priority with the objective of agreeing on the legislative framework by 1st January 2013 and agreed on a number of orientations to that end. It also took note of issues relating to the integrated budgetary and economic policy frameworks and democratic legitimacy and accountability which should be further explored. It agreed that the process towards deeper economic and monetary union should build on the EU’s institutional and legal framework and be characterised by openness and transparency towards non-euro area Member States and respect for the integrity of the Single Market. It looked forward to a specific and time-bound roadmap to be presented at its December 2012 meeting, so that it can move ahead on all essential building blocks on which a genuine EMU should be based. The European Council discussed relations with the EU’s strategic partners and adopted conclusions on Syria, Iran and Mali. Read More ALDE Reaction to Council Conclusions on Banking Supervision Banking supervision is just the first building block in the eurozone’s urgently needed global architectureCommenting on the agreement reached today by the European Council on banking supervision, one of the pillars of a banking union which should help stabilize the financial system in the eurozone and in the wider EU, Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, said: “The European Parliament has been pleading for three years for a single supervisor while the Council has preferred a simple coordination system. Therefore I can only welcome that by 2014, all 6400 European banks will finally be placed under the supervision of a single control mechanism, which is the only way to apply the same rules everywhere.” “The details of progress remain to be worked out but we can only regret in this regard that the European debates on these issues are so dependent on domestic electoral calendars. Much remains to be done, not only to complete the banking union starting with how to ensure its democratic control, but also to build a global architecture for the eurozone. ” “Significant progress has been made on budgetary discipline and from this point of view the appointment of a super-commissioner in charge of the coordination and budget oversight is a logical development. However, before going further in multilateral surveillance, real progress must be made in the area of solidarity. ” “We must establish rules for active solidarity. The question of a eurozone budget must be raised. For years I myself have been pleading for sovereign debt to be mutualised. Because today, we are asking that Greeks, Spaniards or Italians make extraordinary efforts, but if their sacrifice serves only to pay high interest rates, it is totally pointless. Only the creation of a European bond market will stabilize the eurozone in the long-term “. Read More NETWORKING The Pan-African Liberal Manifesto was launched during the LI Congress in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire October 17-21st The 58th Congress of Liberal International returned to sub-Saharan Africa after nearly a decade, being held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; from 17-21 October 2012. The Congress focused on ‘The Politics of Economic Development’, in particular on promoting private investment and enhancing social responsibility.During this congress ALDEPAC, the network of Liberal and Democratic Parliamentarians of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly; presented their “Pan-African Liberal Manifesto”, a new vision for Africa. The manifesto is a novel idea from ALDEPAC, yet again distinct from other partisan approaches. The ambition is not only to illustrate the significance of liberal democratic principles for the development in Africa but to provide, at last, enduring and sustainable solutions to the problems of Africa. The Pan-African Liberal Manifesto was launched during a lunch for all parliamentarians present and was available throughout the whole duration of the Congress for all participants to add their signature of endorsement. The first signatories were H.E. Alassane OUATTARA President of the Republic of Côte d’Yvoire, Minister of State and former European Commissioner Louis MICHEL MEP and both the Co-Presidents of ALDEPAC Niccolò RINALDI MEP and Celou Dalein DIALLO. The document was formally handed over to LI President Hans Van Baalen during the closing session. ALDE’s SME BOOST Campaign Monthly update on the ongoing efforts to implement our SME Manifesto Reporting back…ALDE took its “Boost SME’s campaign to Bucharest this month! On 17 October, we held a conference with 150 Romanian entrepreneurs in order to promote the aims of our campaign and to learn more about the needs of local SMEs. The event focused on the access to finance, widely considered as a major problem for SMEs. Several speakers on the first panel on the regulatory action to improve access to finance gave a positive outlook on a better funding of programmes for SMEs, namely the EU Commissioner in charge Antonio Tajani, his DG’s expert for financial instruments, Julien Guerrier, and the Romanian SME minister Mihai Voicu. The second panel on the access to finance in practice unveiled, in a lively exchange with the entrepreneurs, some major deficits on the practical side.ALDE is also pleased to report back that the Commission’s recent proposals on the Single Market Act II (SMAII) show that it has taken on board our ALDE SME manifesto. This is true in particular for our aim to give honest entrepreneurs a second chance to restart another business if they have suffered bankruptcy (point 9 of our manifesto). Under Action Point 7 in the SMAII proposals, the Commission wants to “modernise EU insolvency rules to facilitate the survival of businesses and present a second chance for entrepreneurs”. In the plenary debate (25 Oct) on the 20 main concerns of citizens and business with the functioning of the Single Market, ALDE discovered that 12 out of its 22 SME manifesto points relate directly to the concerns detected in the EU-wide survey. We got our “To do’s” right!In the Parliament….On the REGI Committee, Ramona Mănescu took the lead to initiate a public hearing on the support of the cohesion policy to SMEs. All participants agreed that cohesion funding could be an important source of funding for many SMEs but access to finance must be simplified substantially. The message to ALDE MEPs was: SMEs need harmonised, simple rules and digitalised procedures. Small money projects need quicker and easier access to funds.Jürgen Creutzmann took up the theme of better access to finance for SMEs when he spoke at the EuroCommerce SME Day. He then went on to highlight some of what he has proposed as rapporteur for the Programme for COSME: reducing the time and cost it takes to set up a new business to three days and €100 by 2020; creating “one-stop-shops” for entrepreneurs in each member state and enabling companies to get all necessary licences and permits for their operations within one month. Rebecca Taylor’s office has blogged about this event on our ALDE4SME blog. At home….Many ALDE members have been active in the SME campaign on the occasion of the two SME conferences held in mid-October in Eastern Europe. The above mentioned Bucharest conference united Guy Verhofstadt, Philippe De Backer, Jürgen Creutzmann and Cristian Busoi as speakers. Phil Bennion, Norica Nicolai and Jan Mulder also attended the event. On 13 October, Group leader Guy Verhofstadt and Olle Schmidt attended the Polish SME congress in Krakow organised by the Palikot party. The congress with over 1.000 participants drew up a “prescription” to help boost Polish SMEs in line with the ALDE campaign manifesto on reducing red tape.Coming up…Philippe de Backer has drafted an ECON report on improving access to finance for SMEs. The aim of the Report is to explore innovative tools and alternative funding mechanisms for SMEs financing. After having consulted with numerous stakeholders, five main solutions have been identified: professionalization of the sector; better cooperation and information exchange between SMEs and creditors; more regular monitoring the financial situation of the SME; establishing clear rules on the use of guarantees; establishing clear rules on early repayment of credit, possible fines and the calculation of profit loss. Rebecca Taylor is shadowing the report for REGI and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis is drafts person for the opinion in IMCO. Read More Profiles of MEPs in the News Ramona Mănescu (PNL, Romania) Ramona Nicole Mănescu is a Romanian politician and lawyer and has been a Member of the Liberal Party since 1990. From 2003 to 2005, she held the position of Vice-President of the ILFRY, the International Organization of Liberal Youth. She also worked as a Parliamentary Expert in the Romanian Parliament, serving as adviser to the Vice-President of the Commission of Defense, Internal Affairs and National Security in the Chamber of Deputies.Before becoming a member of the European Parliament in 2007, Ramona was involved in projects that aim to support young people, which lead to her becoming a Vice-President of the National Authority for Youth, with the rank of Under Secretary of State (2005–2007).As a member of the ALDE Group and coordinator for the Regional Development Committee (REGI), Ramona Manescu is very involved, acting as a strong ambassador for the local authorities with regard to accessing EU funds and a promoter of their direct involvement in the decision making process. In particular, this year she has worked on public procurement and guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks as Parliament’s rapporteur.Ramona is also a member of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee where she works to support SMEs, promote growth and sustain employers throughout Europe.In 2008 Ramona was awarded MEP of the Year for Culture and Education by The Parliament Magazine.On a personal note, Ramona has been married for 18 years and has two boys. Her husband is also involved in politics, as a vice-president of the Liberal Party in Romania and was recently elected mayor of District 6 in Bucharest. Despite both working in the same field, they still manage to combine their private and professional lives. Although, as MEP, Ramona has a very busy agenda, she manages to spend quality time with her family, sharing her sons’ love for nature and spending holidays together hiking and camping in the Romanian mountains.Being born in Constanta City on the Black Sea Coast, and raised by a family with a strong naval tradition, Ramona loves to go sailing and never misses an opportunity to enjoy this hobby. Read More For more information, please contact:ALDE Press Service and Inter-institutional relations unitneil.corlett@europarl.europa.euwillem.vandenbroucke@europarl.europa.euALDE Join ALDE on FacebookFollow ALDE on TwitterEventsEU-Investment Protection Policy – The Way Forward2012-11-14 Medical devices: is the new legislation sufficient to protect patients ?2012-11-14 Quotas for the Boardroom2012-11-07 Sustainable futures for fisheries2012-11-06 Videos Towards 2014: A Single Seat and the European Parliament Elections SEMINAR Guy Verhofstadt on Conclusions of the European Council meeting Jürgen Creutzmann on EU citizens & business with the Single Market Anne E. Jensen on Multiannual financial framework for the years Sharon Bowles on Conclusions of the European Council meeting LinksAlliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party – ELDR European Democratic Party – EDP Liberal International Friedrich Naumann Stiftung LYMEC European Parliament

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