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05/04/2012 What does June’s mini-plenary session have in store for us ?

On the agenda for the mini-session that will take place in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday are two of the EU’s most important policies: Cohesion policy and agricultural policy. Among other issues, the plenary will also discuss Mario Draghi’s possible appointment as head of the European Central Bank which already has the support of the Economic Affairs Committee. Cohesion policy will be subject to three different votes.

MEPs will be stating their position in particular on the M.-T. Sanchez-Schmid report which is about the future of cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation (also known as “objective 3”). 

Territorial cooperation under discussion

This report aims to increase the weight of objective 3 in several ways: improve its visibility, make implementation more flexible, and simplify the steps that project leaders need to take to receive funding. This would start with an increase in the budget for this part of cohesion policy and would require a slight change to how it works. European funds would be allocated directly in response to border issues and they would no longer be subject to Member State arbitration.

The report also makes proposals pushing for greater flexibility in certain areas such as the geographical limits of cooperation and through using tools such as the EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation). These structures which are potentially open to stakeholders outside the EU should simplify the implementation of projects and enable administrative continuity to exist on each side of the border.

The agricultural policy of tomorrow ?

With the report presented by Albert Dess, an MEP from the EPP group, the Agriculture Committee hopes to influence future legislation regarding Europe’s agriculture sector. Agriculture remains one of the biggest parts of the EU budget. Three objectives have been decided upon for the future CAP: greener agriculture, fairer agriculture, stable markets.

The post-2013 agriculture policy should encourage farmers to make greater strides towards using renewable energy and techniques that are environmentally friendly and light on natural resources. As such, measures taken by farmers should be compensated using the direct payment mechanism that is fully funded by the EU.

The report calls for new distribution criteria for fairer division of aid. Each country should receive a minimum percentage of payments but direct payments per farmer would have an upper limit. Several criteria have been proposed such as taking into account impact on employment, size of farms and their impact on the environment.

Lastly, the report looked at the problem of price volatility on the market for agricultural products and proposed supply management tools to avoid overproduction. If a crisis on the market should occur, the Agriculture Committee proposes that a dedicated budget line be planned for to facilitate rapid intervention.

Mario Draghi, the Parliament’s candidate?

The race to replace Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the ECB is on and for now, Italy’s Mario Draghi is in the lead. While he has already been endorsed by several Member States, on June 14th he also gained the support of the Economic Affairs Committee chaired by the UK’s Sharon Bowles at a hearing in Parliament.

The ECON Committee’s positive position will be put to plenary vote, where Mr. Draghi’s candidacy will be debated.

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