An appeal for the continued use of the herbicide asulam, the only marketed herbicide that can control the spread of bracken, was thrown out by an appeals committee in Brussels today. Sale and supply of asulam will end on the 31st December 2011 and stocks of the herbicide must be consumed by the 31st December 2012. Without the ability to control bracken, many farmers will be unable to use their land effectively. Richard Ashworth MEP, the Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, said in response to the news: “Banning the use of asulam on bracken makes no sense whatsoever. “Simply banning the product in all areas of use, simply because the European Commission decreed it wasn’t to be used on foodstuffs such as spinach, shows a complete lack of foresight and I will now be supporting emergency contingencies for it’s continued use. “There are no practical alternatives to asulam for controlling bracken so we could well see large portions of our countryside rendered useless at great cost to our farmers.”
The Week Ahead in Strasbourg
State of the Union
President Barroso will deliver his third ‘State of the Union’ speech setting out the commission’s agenda. ECR group chairman Martin Callanan MEP will argue that the EU needs fundamental reform and a change of direction in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century and restore its relevance.
Debate: Wednesday @ 09.00
MEPs will vote on several aspects of reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, including proposals led through the parliament by ECR MEP Struan Stevenson regarding the organisation of markets in fishery and aquaculture products.
Struan’s proposals set out conditions to incentivise fishermen to support sustainable fishing practices, help Producer Organisations deal with day to day resource management and market issues and improving the market position of the EU. Mr Stevenson is proposing an enhanced role for Producer Organisations to ensure the smooth running of the markets, to help fishermen minimise discards and to have an EU wide eco-label to help consumers make informed choices. Increased labelling on where and when the fish was caught will also be important parts of the reform.
Vote: Wednesday @ 12.30
A report containing proposals on how the EU can produce less burdensome legislation, authored by ECR MEP Sajjad Karim, will be put to the vote. In his report Sajjad calls for the smallest businesses to be exempted from regulation unless the commission can prove the benefits to them. The report is critical of the commission for failing to fully respect the subsidiarity principle when drawing up impact assessments for new legislation. It also supports efforts to increase transparency in national transposition, so as to prevent ‘gold-plating’ of legislation. Finally, the report continues to press the Commission on the need to reduce the overall regulatory burden imposed by European legislation, and for a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy to be put in place for future legislation.
Vote: Thursday @ 12.00
The parliament will vote on an agreement reached with national governments that will help consumers to make ambitious but realistic energy savings that form part of the EU’s goal to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020.
ECR shadow rapporteur on the proposal Vicky Ford MEP believes that the deal represents a fair compromise, particularly considering the often rigid approach taken by some MEPs. Countries have agreed to establish strategies for renovating buildings, with three percent of central government buildings to be renovated each year. Countries will need to set up energy efficiency obligation schemes requiring energy distributors or retail companies to help consumers by saving 1.5 percent of their energy sales each year. Companies will also have improved access to energy audits, which in particular help SMEs to cut the costs of their energy bills.
Vote: Tuesday @ 12.00
Syria and Russia
The EU’s High Representative Baroness Ashton will debate the situation in Syria, and the recent concerning judicial cases in Russia. ECR foreign affairs spokesman Charles Tannock MEP believes that the international community must continue to exert maximum diplomatic pressure on Syria, and on those countries, such as Russia, that have refused to suitably condemn the regime. On Russia itself, Dr Tannock will argue that the Pussy Riot case is one of a growing number of concerning apparent abuses of the judicial system, following on from the Khodorkovsky case, which undermine the perception that Russia is governed by the rule of law.
Debate: Tuesday from 15.00
Pakistan flood assistance
Following the devastating Pakistani floods in 2010 the EU proposed a temporary trade waiver that would give preferential access on 75 tariff lines – mostly textiles – to assist the country with its reconstruction.
Despite being proposed in 2010, the waiver has been blocked in the World Trade Organisation by, amongst others, India and Bangladesh. Successful EU lobbying and improved bilateral ties between the countries has encouraged them to drop their objections. Now the parliament will finally vote on the proposals. ECR international trade spokesman Robert Sturdy MEP has been a strong advocate of the measure, which helps Pakistan through trade instead of solely aid.
Vote: Thursday @ 12.00