Presidencies, food, traffic, new VPs in July Strasbourg plenary session | Topics

The Parliament launched the mobile version of its website this week, allowing smart phone users to get news, on holiday on the beach, even in the metro. Explanations about the Parliament’s work, meetings, agendas and an easy-to-use MEP search engine are now available on your mobile phone.

Among the big news items during the July plenary, Prime Minster Viktor Orbán evaluated the Hungarian Presidency Tuesday. He won praise for the conclusion of Croatia’s EU accession negotiations, the Roma strategy and progress on the economic governance package but some group leaders said controversy over the Hungarian media law and the new constitution had overshadowed the results. In a resolution adopted on Tuesday, MEPs called for more explicit protection of fundamental rights in the new Hungarian constitution.  

MEPs could literally taste the Polish Presidency on Wednesday when Mr Tusk presented the priorities and his team distributed Polish strawberries. He said Warsaw wants to focus on economic issues and strengthening the political community. He sees the answer to the crisis as “more Europe”.

There was lots of fruit around this week. On Tuesday apples were handed out to focus attention on two important pieces of legislation – a vote Tuesday on GMOs, allowing countries to ban or restrict their cultivation and new food labelling rules to help consumers make more conscious, healthy and informed choices, adopted Wednesday.

On Tuesday MEPs elected Greek Socialist Anni Podimata and British Conservative Giles Chichester as vice-presidents for 6 months until the mid-term re-election of senior EP posts. They replaced Greek and German vice-presidents

All drivers are equal under the law, no matter where they may be in Europe thanks to new rules on cross-border traffic offences. The new rules make it easier for countries to exchange information about drivers and vehicles meaning drivers who commit offences in an EU country other than their own will no longer be able to avoid penalties.

MEPs gave the green light Wednesday to the use of body scanners in airports. However, they said such devices should be used only if they don’t pose risks to health and don’t breach passengers’ legal rights. 

Mad cows were in the chamber Wednesday as MEPs warned that the sharp fall in cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) must not lead to a slackening of surveillance. However, they said the ban on feeding animal protein to non-ruminants, like pigs, could gradually be lifted if further safeguards are put in place.

A vote on EP election reform was postponed Thursday and the report referred back to the committee. The main proposal is the creation of transnational lists from which citizens could choose 25 MEPs. 

Facebook (r)evolution. Follow your MEP on Facebook. The EP Facebook page has created an intuitive, comprehensive tool to track your MEP on the web. The “MEP tab” gives the Facebook, Twitter and website/blog of MEPs.

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