(Strasbourg) The CAP reform, food and energy security, the development of biomass, and product quality. These and other issues are part of the programme for agriculture of the upcoming presidency of the European Union, which will be entrusted to Poland on 1st July. And while MEPs at the European Parliament deem it necessary to freeze at the current level the European funds for this sector, Polish Minister Marek Sawicki suggests other ways. It is not only farmers who can benefit from money spent on agriculture, environmental protection and stock breeding, he told SIR Europe. Such funds are aimed at the protection of consumers, of their health and of the environment. Indeed, the current problems related to the E. coli epidemic call for more frequent checks, even for the products imported from third countries. But dont you think that European agriculture is over-protected, even with respect to a fair competition for the products coming from outside Europe? Outside the European borders, farmers often receive higher subsidies than the ones granted by the EU to its farmers and stock breeders, Mr. Sawicki pointed out. Other priorities of the Polish semester will include: the development of rural areas, support to young farmers, livestock health, the revision of direct payment, the quality package, and the dairy sector.
(Strasbourg) The European Parliament is the first EU institution assuming a clear and concrete position with respect to financial perspectives for the period 2014-2020. I am really satisfied. Now we are waiting for a clear response from the Council. German MEP Jutta Haug, president of the Special Commission on political challenges and budget resources for sustainable European Union after 2013, commented the voting through which the budget long-term resolution was passed while exiting the Hemicycle. A remarkable majority upheld the work of Haug and the speaker, Spanish Salvador Galliga Polledo: the Parliament asks for the EU budget to grow 5%, so as to comply with the commitments and projects started by the EU - said Polledo - and to carry out the tasks assigned to the EU by the Lisbon Treaty. The EPP MEP added: Our position is concrete. In short, we are not asking to increase expenses, but just for the simple transfer of some state budget items to the EU budget, in order to spend European taxpayers money in a better way. Through the resolution approved at the Hemicycle, the European Assembly asks also for a remarkable revision of the EU budget loan, creating own resources. The system - said MEPs - should be simpler, fairer and more transparent.
(Strasbourg) Carry out a comprehensive study on corruption cases in European sport; emphasise links between organised crime activities and legal or illegal betting, sports agents, referees, club managers and sportspersons, whose goal is to fix European sports event results in advance. It is asked in a written declaration on fight against European sport corruption, which is going to collect the majority of MEP signatures, becoming (the announcement might be made tomorrow at the Hemicycle) the official position of the EU Assembly. The text is now particularly important with respect to a few corruption cases occurred in several countries, the latest of which happened in Italy. The text was promoted by MEPs Georgios Papastamkos, Jean-Luc Bennahmias, Gay Mitchell, Gianluca Susta and Tadeusz Zwiefka, and asked the Commission to regulate online betting through authorised operators, in the interest of integrity and sustainable development in European sport, by adopting specific measures meant to fight agreements on match results, and granting fair profit to basic sport through acknowledgement of the betting right to organisers of sports competitions.
Positive economic growth in 27 EU: it was pointed out by Eurostat through the data of first quarter 2011. From January to March, GDP in the euro zone and 27 EU GDP went actually up 0.8% in relation to the previous three years. With respect to the first quarter of 2010 - stated Eurostat - GDP went up 2.5% in both Euroland and the 27 EU countries. Consumption, export and import went up. As for single countries, situations are very different. Very positive data come from Germany (+4.8% on annual basis), Poland (4.3%), Austria (4.0%), Bulgaria (3.4%), and Belgium (3.0%). Record growths (after years of acute crisis starting from 2008) in Baltic republics: Estonia (+8.0%), Lithuania (6.8%). Sweden and Finland hinge on 6% annual growth. More modest growths in France (2.2%), United Kingdom (1.8%), Italy (1.0%), Spain (0.8%); negative data for Greece (-4.8%) and Portugal (-0.7%).
Do not be afraid of God, the God of Jesus Christ, who is Love and Truth, who takes nothing away from freedom, but restores it to what it truly is and gives it the horizon of a sure hope: for Benedict XVI, this is the challenge facing people in the Old Continent. At todays Wednesday Audience, the Pontiff recalled the highlights of his apostolic trip to Croatia and reminded the faithful that the deepest vocation of Europe is to defend and renew a humanism rooted in Christianity, one that can be called ‘catholic, that is, universal and integral. For the Pontiff, such humanism focuses on the human conscience, its transcendent openness and at the same time its historical reality, capable of inspiring different political projects aimed at achieving a substantial democracy based on ethical values that are rooted in the very nature of man. If we look at Europe from the point of view of a nation with an ancient and strong Christian tradition such as Croatia, a nation that is about to join the political Union but is already an integral part of the European civilisation, we realise the urgency of the challenge facing the peoples of this Continent: that is, not to be afraid of God, the God of Jesus Christ, who is Love and Truth, who takes nothing away from freedom, but restores it to what it truly is and gives it the horizon of a sure hope.
In todays Europe, the countries with a strong Christian tradition have a special responsibility in defending and promoting the value of the family based on marriage, which continues to play a vital role both in education and in social life. Benedict XVI said this today during his traditional Wednesday Audience in which he recalled the highlights of his recent apostolic trip to Croatia on the occasion of the first National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. Today - the Pontiff observed - as we are faced with an increasing number of separations and divorces, the faithfulness of the spouses has become in itself a significant testimony of Christs love, which makes it possible to live Marriage for what it is, that is, the union of a man and a woman who, with Christs grace, love and help each other throughout their entire lives. According to the Pope the first education in faith resides precisely in bearing faithful witness to the conjugal pact: from it, children can learn without words that God is faithful, patient, respectful and generous love. The faith in the God who is Love is transmitted, first of all, through this faithful witness to conjugal love, which is expressed in the love for the children who are the fruit of this union. But this faithfulness will never be possible without Gods grace, without the support of faith and of the Holy Spirit.
(Strasbourg) Freezing the EUs next long-term budget is not a viable solution if we want to achieve the aims outlined in the EUs policies and to pursue the programmes launched so far. This is the viewpoint of the MEPs who are discussing the EU budget 2014-2020 at the plenary session. In todays session MEPs will discuss and vote on a non-legislative resolution drafted by Spanish MEP Salvador Garriga Polledo. The Assembly (that with Member States has to jointly decide the budget as provided for in the Lisbon Treaty) calls for an increase in the budget of 5% over the 2013 level. Today the Parliament will also discuss whether Romania and Bulgaria will be allowed to join the Schengen area (consultation procedure). In yesterdays session, the Parliament, reaffirming the polluter pays principle, approved by a large majority the revision of Eurovignette, the road haulage tax rules which will provide for the introduction of a Eurotax to be paid by hauliers for air and noise pollution costs, in addition to motorway tolls. Revenue from these charges should be used to finance more efficient and less polluting transport systems and to improve infrastructure. The Directive will apply to vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes.
The first Night of Churches is taking place all over France on 2nd July; during it, all churches (about 100 thousand churches in the national territory, 45 thousand of which are Parish churches) may be open to welcome anyone wishing to enter them - it is said in a note by the French Bishops Conference. The event, set up by the BiMedia Narthex magazine of the Sacramental Liturgy and Pastoral National Service, was inspired by the Night of Cathedrals, whose fifth round took place in Strasbourg, Reims, Meaux, Munich, and several cities of Northern Europe last 14 May. The purpose is to make known and increase the value of the cultural dimension and the remarkable heritage of religious buildings. A cultural and missionary event which should help rediscover the first cultural aspect of the Church, letting the highest possible number of people become aware of its remarkable artistic and cultural heritage, stated Msgr. Jean Legris, archbishop of Albi and member of the Bishops Commission for liturgy and sacramental pastoral. According to Emmanuel Bellanger, managing editor of Narthex, art has become religious experience and rediscovery of liturgy for many people. Guided tours, conferences, organ concerts and exhibition of holy music choirs: event program at www.narthex.fr.