23/01/2012 A new president in charge of the European Parliament

At the first plenary session in 2012, which takes place from the 16th to the 19th January, Euro-deputies will need to replace their president. The issue of food wastage, recycling electric waste or European space policy will also be dealt with.

Martin Schulz replaces Jerzy Buzek as President

On Tuesday 17 January Euro-deputies will vote to elect their new president, to replace Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL) who has been in the job since 14 July 2009. There is a tacit agreement that Martin Schulz (S&D) will win the election, as there is an agreement between EPP and S&D that allows for the sharing of a five year mandate for the president of the parliament. The 14 vice-presidents will also be designated at the same time.

Appointments in the institutions will continue the next day with the election of 5 administrators of the European Parliament.

Euro-deputies will also discuss the program for the Danish presidency on the follow up of the Durban conference on climate change.

Visas, agreement between the European Union and Georgia, and security for pedestrians

Among the subjects to be voted on Thursday is the modification of regulation (CE) NO 810/2009 on 13 July 2009 with regard to the establishment of a community –wide code for visas, with a view to clarify the rules relative to transit through the international zone in airports (VTA).

According to the rapporteur Louis Michel (BE ALDE) the modification of the regulation is only a technical correction of the regulation regarding the VTA. It would mean that nationals of third countries that have a visa or a valid permit from a member state that does not apply (or not yet apply) all of the Schengen rules (United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania) be exempt from the obligation of applying for an airport transit visa.

Euro-deputies will also vote on an agreement between the European Union and Georgia related to the protection of geographical indicators on farm produce and food stuff. For the raporteur Vital Moreira (PT - S&D) this agreement could be perceived as a positive step forward along the path to wider commercial relations between the Union and Georgia. The Union began to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Georgia in July 2010, and the commercial aspect of this has an important role. Also, the agriculture sector constitutes a source of revenue for half of the Georgian population, and the country is a significant exporter of agricultural products.
On Thursday, Euro-deputies will vote on legislation negotiated with member states that looks to improve the collection and recycling of electric and electronic waste, while reducing administrative formalities for producers though are financially responsible for waste management.

The rapporteur Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP-DE) has established that consumers can be authorised to return very small objects to medium or large shops. Producers will now have simplified declarations and measures that ensure that there is no double-application of costs. Illegal dumping in countries where e-waste is treated in certain conditions is dangerous for workers and for the environment.

Fight against food wastage

On Thursday 19 January European deputies will look at deputy Salvatore Caronna’s (IT – S&D) report, that presents solutions to cut down on food wastage. According to him, this problem has become a global problem (food wastage in the world has increased by 50% since 1974) and it should be a priority on the European agenda, and citizens should be informed about the issue.

What Space policy for the European Union?

It is the key element in the Europe 2020 strategy and the flagship initiative for industrial policy, however the European space policy  still needs to be defined. The rapporteur Aldo Patriciello (IT – EPP) recommends the establishment of a coherent European approach, in collaboration with industry, and the implementation of financial and legislative mechanisms to stimulate the European economy and allow the necessary continuity to support ambitious projects, and for them to be competitive in the international community.

The rapporteur highlights the importance of international cooperation in this domain, and invites the Commission to create an international strategy for cooperation. He also recommends exploring the possibility of creating a dialogue with emerging powers such as China, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, India and South Africa.

The rapporteur also asks the commission to fill out the relevant legislation regarding the Galileo and GMES projects (European initiative for global surveillance for the environment and security, also called Copernicus).
The creation of a system, "Space Situational Awareness" (SSA) would help to reduce quantifiable loses that are caused by collisions with debris, and space storms, that according to available information, cause damage that is increasing by 332 million euro on average per year.

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