Robert Sturdy's Strasbourg report - March 2014

Ukraine was very much at the forefront of everybody’s thoughts this past week in Strasbourg.

While it was not the most important file adopted during the plenary session, the Parliament did adopt a cross-party resolution on the situation in Crimea. It stated that the Russian invasion of Crimea is a breach of international law and the referendum held on March 16 is illegal.

Parliamentarians expressed their concern that the actions taken by Russia could be a threat to EU security.

Online data security

Security was increased this week for the use of your data online. A major overhaul of the EU’s Data Protection laws were completed, which aim to give citizens more control over their personal data and to make it easier for firms to work across the EU.

It should improve your privacy while also limiting unnecessary bureaucracy, burden and complication.

Privacy vs TTIP

The Parliament also commented on some of the breeches of privacy made by the US National Security Agency (NSA).  Luckily, this disapproving report didn’t go one step too far and adopt an amendment calling for the immediate suspension of the EU-US trade negotiations on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

While I agree that our American partners were in the wrong when they decided to bug Chancellor Merkel’s telephone, this is a completely separate issue to trade.  We would be cutting off our nose to spite our face if we didn’t continue to work towards the economic benefits TTIP could provide.

In parallel to the trade negotiations, the European Commission and the European Parliament are working with US counterparts to resolve the on-going issues around transatlantic data protection.

Universal phone chargers and road safety

In addition to the bigger, high-profile regulations voted on this week, the Parliament also passed some smaller files that have a large impact on our daily lives – it called on mobile phone manufacturers to introduce a universal charger to simplify technology and reduce waste.

Another piece of legislation also updated was the EU rules for vehicles testing.  After extensive negotiations with the Council and Commission, the Parliament gave final consent to a package of laws aimed at improving road safety and ensuring cross-border recognition of roadworthiness certificate.

This will drive up standards of road safety across Europe, while giving Member States some flexibility in the implementation.

And another thing...

In other news, the first week of April will see the first mini-plenary in almost two years.

This is no April Fool’s joke.  You may remember in August of 2012 the Brussels plenary chamber was closed due to structural problems with the roof. This will finally be re-opened and we will have one mini-plenary session before the end of the legislative term.

Contact Robert Sturdy

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