Lisbon Treaty and Europe 2020 are the two main themes addressed by MEPs gathered in Strasbourg March 8-11. The enforcement of the new treaty reforms, notably those regarding innovations in the area of EU-27 foreign policy, and the economic strategy for the next decade occupied centre-stage during the plenary meeting that also addressed a number of other items such as low-carbon technology, funds for Roma emancipation projects, competitiveness policies, Atlantic Coasts protection and consumer protection.Modality and tools. MEPs stress the need to increase the democratic legitimacy of common foreign and security policy (CFSP) to comply with the Lisbon Treaty. The EP calls for a stronger voice on the subject and a “systematic” consultation on the part of the States Councils. At the same time, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton from the UK, is requested to consult with the relevant parliament commission on the actions that need to be undertaken for the enforcement of the European External Action Service, that is called to act as EU diplomatic seat in the world. MEPs equally demand their participation in external action budget expenses along with “greater access to sensitive information”, classified as top secret or confidential.A global player. One of the proposals approved by MEPs was presented by Gabriele Albertini from Italy, President of the Foreign Affairs commissions. MEPs are concerned about under-funding of EU budget Heading IV (“The EU as a global player”) and hence the EU’s ability to conduct a “credible and proactive” foreign policy. A separate paragraph in the section on relations with Third countries focuses on EU energy supplies. The EP put on paper fears based on past experiences, that there could be a new gas crisis. At the same time, MEPs underlined the positive advancement of the Nabucco project. The report, approved with large majority-vote urges to “ensure EU energy with the promotion of a South-European raw oil supply line by means of the pan-European oil pipeline Costanza-Trieste”.Protecting Europe. Another report illustrated by French rapporteur Arnaud Danjean, demands the establishment of a Defense Council in the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council, and advances the request of “creating a permanent EU operative centre, under the authority of the High representative, tasked with operative planning, military and peacekeeping operations” that involve Member States. Danjean’s resolution, adopted with a large majority vote, states “The proposed US anti-missile system should take account of a common European approach to protecting Europe against ballistic threats”, and must be developed “with efforts being made to involve the European defence industry in the realization of the shield”. With regard to Iran and North Korea, MEPs point out that the Union has “undertaken to use every means at its disposal to prevent, deter, halt and, where possible, eliminate proliferation programs, rising concerns at global level”. The situation of Gaza. During the plenary meeting MEPs addressed other foreign politics issues. In a resolution focused on the Middle-East conflict the respect of human rights is deemed an “essential components of long-lasting peace in the area”. The resolution reiterates the need to pursue the peace process in the region. MEPs also call for accountability on alleged war crimes in Gaza and Southern Israel conflicts, which broke out December 27 2008 and ended January 18 2009. Like on previous occasions, MEPs called for an immediate opening of all border crossings as the blockade has further worsened the humanitarian crisis of the Palestinian populations. With a resolution endorsed by Socialists, Democrats, Liberal-Democrats, Green and united Left groups the EP calls upon the High Representative and the Member States “to work towards a strong EU common position on the follow-up” to the Fact-Finding Goldstone report on the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.
Political and economic strategies for the next decade