25/05/2011 Europe and You: leather, high-speed Internet and mobility

Each week, brings you the highlights of what the European Union is doing for you... for your rights, for your health and for your daily life. This week, Europe and You is reviewing the European Parliament’s actions from the plenary session which include new rules on labelling textiles, developing broadband Internet and promoting mobility among young people

New rules for labelling textiles

On Wednesday May 11th, MEPs approved new rules for the labelling of textiles.

Going forward, the use of animal derivatives in textiles – from real fur to leather – will be indicated on labels with the phrase ‘non-textile parts of animal origin’. The consumer is thus informed whether a product is, for example, real fur or high-quality fake fur. A transition period of two and a half years is planned to give the industry time to adapt.

With this agreement we take a big step towards completing the internal market for textile products, Toine Manders (ALDE NL), the Parliament rapporteur

However, the Parliament did not succeed in convincing Member States to make origin labelling obligatory. The Commission, nonetheless, was invited to present a study on September 30th to evaluate this proposed system of origin labelling.

More frequencies for mobile Internet

The European Union wants to provide citizens with broadband Internet access including in rural areas. To achieve this, MEPs hope to decide on common rules for sharing frequencies between operators and users. The first step that Member States have to take is to make the 800 MHz frequency band available for harmonised use of wireless broadband services by 1 January 2013.

“I want Europe to have the best broadband capacity and the highest speeds, because then we will be home to the development of all the new services that will be crucial to the modern economy”, Gunnar Hökmark (EPP SE), EP rapporteur on the subject.

In time, European Union policy wants to be seen as more ambitious as MEPs also plan to reserve the 1.5-2.3 GHz frequency bands for broadband Internet.

Parliament’s legislative proposal has yet to be examined by EU ministers; this will happen on May 27th.

Education and mobility

MEPs want to promote mobility among young Europeans and to expand the possibilities for education and training. For this reason, they approved an increase in financing for the EU programmes for young people that promote training (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Erasmus Mundus etc.). Work still needs to be done however, particularly in the area of mobility, as MEPs criticised the fact that there are still many practical obstacles such as restricting access to university students.  

MEPs also want to promote integration onto the labour market through, for example, more flexible university calendars to enable students to fit in their work commitments and internships to be integrated into the curriculum.

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