05/04/2012 European Parliament plenary session – November 14th to 17th 2011
During the November plenary session, MEPs had the opportunity to debate and vote on deepening relations between the European Union and Georgia, how to support European cinema, the solutions to enable citizens’ professional qualifications be recognised across all Member States as well as more effective regulation of the insolvency regimes for companies in the Union among other issues.
Simplifying recognition of professional qualifications for European citizens
In a draft resolution, the European Parliament recommends simplifying the rules for recognising professional qualifications in the interest of citizens. This would increase EU citizens’ professional mobility leading to the development of EU-wide markets. Although more than 50% of young Europeans would be willing to work in another EU country according to a Eurobarometer survey, professional mobility is still weak. The Parliament is calling for the development of strategies to deal with the problem.
MEP Emma McClarkin (European Conservatives and Reformists, UK) also recommends in her proposal that temporary professional mobility, particularly the idea of temporary and occasional provision of services, be clarified in the next revision of the directive on recognising professional qualifications. In the absence of a coherent approach that facilitates evaluation of the temporary and occasional nature of a service, it is extremely difficult to control the activities of service providers on the ground. This is particularly problematic for professions involved in public health and safety, explained Ms. McClarkin in her resolution.
The Parliament believes that an update of the existing provisions on minimum training requirements for professions on the basis of sector is necessary. Consumer protection and patient safety are among the factors to be considered when revising the directive. In fact, many professionals continue to practice throughout the European Union even though they have been suspended or struck off. Health professionals should also be able to prove that they have kept their knowledge and skills up to date.
The draft resolution highlights the success of pilot projects on the professional card which could be a useful tool in encouraging mobility among certain professions, simplifying administrative procedures and increasing safety.
Vote on the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement with Jordan
Rapporteur Olga Sehnalová (S&D, Czech Republic) believes that concluding the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement with Jordan is in the interests of the EU’s citizens and businesses and is also in keeping with the European Neighbourhood Policy. She therefore is recommending that the Parliament give its approval to concluding the agreement.
Insolvency procedures in European company law
National differences in the provisions for insolvency are a source of competitive advantage or disadvantage for companies doing cross-border business and they hinder restructuring of insolvent companies. In light of this and to harmonise insolvency procedures at European level, four possible ways forward should be studied, according to rapporteur Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, Germany).
Firstly, greater harmonisation is required in the area of setting deadlines, opening insolvency procedures, lodging claims, concerning avoidance claims and restructuring plans. The regulations on insolvency should be broadened to include the procedures in which management reserves the right to control the company.
The rapporteur also highlighted the problem of the lack of legislation at European level on insolvency for company groups. The ideal solution would be to establish a single jurisdiction to deal with the insolvency of company groups. This jurisdiction would enable coordination and transmission of information thereby reducing costs.
The final area requiring consideration is creation of a register at European level so that creditors and jurisdictions can find out if insolvency procedures have already been opened in another Member State.
Strengthening relations between the European Union and Georgia
This plenary session will also represent an important step in the development of relations between the European Union and Georgia with negotiations taking place on an association agreement and an agreement on creating a common airspace between the EU and Georgia.
- 1992: beginning of relations when the country gains its independence following the fall of the Soviet Union.
- 1999: Partnership agreement (PCA).
- 2003: Intensification of bilateral relations in the wake of the rose revolution with a new government determined to introduce an ambitious new programme of political and economic reforms.
- 2004: Georgia becomes a part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
According to European Commission estimates, gradually establishing common airspace between the EU and Georgia would increase passenger numbers by 2,000 and generate up to €17 million in gains for consumers in the first year.
Negotiations on the association agreement with Georgia are ongoing. While the European Parliament has noted the progress made in Georgia in terms of democratic reforms (strengthening democratic institutions, fighting corruption, reforming the judicial system and economic liberalisation), rapporteur Krzysztof Lisek (EPP, Poland) stresses that the these efforts need to be continued.
The Parliament is calling on the Georgian government to support media freedom and freedom of expression, to improve conditions in prisons and to continue supporting Georgia’s Public Defender’s Office (Mediator).
As such, Georgia should include clauses in the association agreement on protecting and supporting human rights that meet the highest European and international standards. The European Parliament recommends opening negotiations as soon as possible on establishing a full and complete free-trade zone.
This could be instigated as soon as Georgia has implemented the recommendations imposed by the Commission and approved by the Member States so that Georgia can become more integrated with its main trading partner. The Parliament also stresses the need to intensify discussions with the Russian Federation to ensure that it respects all the provisions of the ceasefire agreed between Russian and Georgia on August 12th 2008.
European cinema and the digital age
The MEDIA programme
For over twenty years, this programme has been supporting and developing the film and audiovisual (fiction, creative documentary and animation) industry in Europe as well as interactive works through providing financial aid to the different stakeholders in different sectors : producers, distributors, sales agents, training organisations, event organisers.
The film sector has enormous potential in financial terms, in growth terms and in employment terms as demonstrated by the sale of over one billion cinema tickets in 2010 in the 30,000 theatres across the European Union that employ more than 30,000 people. It still plays a significant role in Europe’s cultural development and identity.
However, with the move to digital, many small independent and arthouse cinemas are experiencing difficulties. In order to avoid closure, these cinemas have to adapt to the demands of modern technology.
Rapporteur Piotr Borys (EPP, Poland) recommends providing financial support for the digitisation of cinema, using structural funds in particular. New initiatives should be taken within the MEDIA programme with the aim of improving and supporting translation, dubbing, subtitling as well as training programmes for representatives of the film and audiovisual sector so that they can adapt their expertise to digital technology.
Finally, Member States and European Institutions are encouraged to promote and distribute the most worthwhile films by organising special events and festivals. The European Parliament’s LUX Prize is an excellent example of promoting multiculturalism and multilingualism.