Polar Bears, Iran, Women & Gambling: A Strasbourg Part-Session Round-up - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Polar Bears, Iran, Women & Gambling: A Strasbourg Part-Session Round-up

Monday, 15 February 2010
It was an incredible part-session in Strasbourg last week, not just because the new Commission was finally voted into office after a long wait.

MEPs made history in refusing to give their consent to the SWIFT agreement negotiated by the Commission and Council with the US to share citizen's bank data, and also voiced their continued concerns over the lack of common EU initiative to house former inmates of Guantánamo Bay.

The progress reports of Croatia, FYROM and Turkey were all formally adopted, after having already been adopted by the Parliamentary Committees, and a Commissioner-elect created a Twitter account.

But in addition to all this, there were several other important issues tackled which deserve a mention. A short summary of each follows below:

Blue Fin Tuna and Polar Bears

Blue Fin TunaMEPs voiced their support for a ban on the trade in endangered animals such as blue fin tuna and polar bears as well as products derived from these animals. They called for financial compensation for the tuna fishing sector that would be affected and expressed their desire to also keep the ban on trade in African elephants and forbid any trade in ivory until 2028.

Male/Female Equality

In its annual report on the equality between men and women in the EU, Parliament called for greater efforts to tackle violence against women, for paternity leave to be addressed at an EU level and for equal pay legislation to be revised. MEPs also said women must have control over their sexual and reproductive rights, through "easy access to contraception and abortion" - a phrase so controversial that it never made it into previous reports.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaParliament commemorated the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison, recalling his role in the dismantling of apartheid and that he was the first winner of Parliament's Sakharov Prize. Exceptionally, the floor was given to Michael Cashman (UK, S&D), delegation chair for relations with South Africa, who paid a tribute on behalf of the Parliament.

Online Gambling

Online GamblingSome MEPs urged the new Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier to introduce common rules to regulate cross border online gambling in Europe. In the debate, organised in response to an Oral Question, MEPs also expressed their concerns about the effects of gambling on minors, addiction and money laundering.

Iran

Iran Nuclear ProgrammeMembers deplored the Iranian government's latest rejection of a compromise over the nuclear issue. Parliament said that Tehran "was apparently seeking to use this issue both as a means of distracting attention from the crisis within the country and as tactics to win time".


Credit for SMEs

MEPs voted to give the green light for EU funding to be used to help Europe's unemployed start up small businesses. Credit will now be made available to budding entrepreneurs through a "microfinance facility" which will be funded partly from the existing Progress programme and partly from unallocated monies in the EU budget.

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