Tag Archives: enlargement

AFCO


The Constitutional Affaires Committee, aka AFCO (Affaires Constitutionnelles) is responsible in the EP first and foremost for dealing with inevitable and essential EU issues. Among other things, the committee is also responsible for the implementation of the EU Treaty and the assessment of its operations, for the institutional aspects regarding the enlargement negotiations of the Union, for legal aspects regarding the creation and administration of new institutions, and for the inter-institutional relations.

Currently, the new common electoral law is being discussed in the committee, with discussions dating back to 1976. The committee also executes institutional supervision of the existence of serious and persistent breaches by any Member State.

At first glance, these might not be the most interesting subjects, but yet they are of great significance.

For instance, the framework and principles for the newly established European External Action Service (EEAS), introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, were set also in the Parliament’s AFCO committee in the first half of 2010 (with the so-called Brok-Verhofstadt report).

It was made possible by the new co-decision procedure, also introduced by the new Lisbon Treaty, meaning that the EP had the same legislative role to play together with the European Commission and the Council.

For more information, please read:

European Parliament committees.

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The Arctic

The Arctic is a vast area covering more than a sixth of Earth’s inland, covering all 24 time zones and over 30 million square kilometres. Most of the Arctic is a vast 14 million square kilometre ocean surrounded by treeless permafrost. The Arctic is a truly unique, yet vulnerable region.

There are now approximately 4 million people living permanently in the Arctic, including over 30 indigenous nations. The Arctic region includes the northern territories of the eight Arctic states- the United States (Alaska), Iceland, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland (a territory of Denmark) and the Russian Federation. Five of the Arctic states are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), three of which are also Member States of the EU.

All eight states are members of an institution known as the Arctic Council (AC), founded in 1996. It is a high-level intergovernmental forum, and while not a law-making or resource-distributing body, the AC has produced important analyses and recommendations on environment protection, resource management and guidelines for shipping among others.

The Arctic region is still not regulated by multilateral agreements, because it was never considered that it would become a navigable waterway or that the region would be exploited for business purposes. However, today it can be said that the Arctic region’s geopolitical and strategic importance is growing. This is symbolised by the planting of a Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole in August 2007.

Although scientists are still arguing over exactly how fast the Arctic’s ice will melt, one thing is clear- the effects of climate change are impacting the region more than anywhere else in the world. Arctic average temperature has risen by twice the global average rise in the past 50 years. The old, thick, permanent ice cap is retreating. In 2007, for the first time in modern history, the deeper-water, northern, more direct route opened for navigation by non-icebreaking vessels.

Such impacts threaten to destroy the already rapidly changing and fragile ecosystem network. The situation with a retreating icecap is perhaps the most worrying, as it affects directly the natural habitat of the region, e.g. posing problems for polar bears’ feeding habits.

Arctic is economically attractive for the AC member states in four main aspects:

  • the exploitation of newly accessible oil and gas deposits (and maybe other minerals)
  • Transit shipping
  • Fisheries
  • Tourism

In November 2008, the European Commission adopted a document (“The European Union and the Arctic Region”). In addition to setting out EU interests and policy objectives in the region, the text also proposes measures and suggestions for EU Member States and EU institutions to respond to the challenges. It is the first step towards an EU-Arctic policy. EU’s main policy objectives are as follows:

  • Protecting and preserving the Arctic in unison with its population;
  • Promoting sustainable use of resources;
  • Contributing to enhanced Arctic multilateral governance.

The Iceland’s EU accession negotiations are currently on. As EU’s presence in the AC would increase with Iceland becoming a Member State of the EU, it is a strategically great chance to play a more active and constructive role in the Arctic region, also contributing to the multilateral governance. It could also help to solve collective environmental problems and increase EU’s interest for the Arctic and for its protection on both regional and international levels.

For more information, please read:

EU Maritime Affairs: “The EU and the Arctic region – Overview”
“European Parliament resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic governance” (PDF)
Europa: “The Arctic merits the European Union’s attention – first step towards an EU Arctic Policy”
Arctic Council homepage

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Islandi liitumine ELiga

Hetkel on käimas ELiga liitumise läbirääkimised Islandiga. Ühinemine oleks, tugevdades Euroopa kohaleolekut Arktika Nõukogus veel enam, ELi strateegiliseks võimaluseks etendada Arktika piirkonnas aktiivsemat ja konstruktiivsemat rolli ja anda oma panus selle mitmepoolsesse haldamisse. Ühtlasi aitaks see lahendada ühiseid keskkonnaprobleeme ning suurendada ELi huvi Arktika ja selle kaitse vastu piirkondlikul ning rahvusvahelisel tasandil.

Juulikuu täiskogul Strasbourgis võeti 7. juulil vastu resolutsioon, millega Parlament tervitab Islandi võimalikku ELi 28ndaks liikmesriigiks. Saadikud tervitasid ELi liidrite hiljutist otsust alustada liitumisläbirääkimisi Islandiga, kes esitas Euroopa Liidu liikmeks astumise avalduse 2009. aastal. Parlament nõuab samas, et Island lõpetaks täielikult ELi seadusandlusega vastuolus oleva vaalapüügi ja loobuks kõikidest Rahvusvahelisele Vaalapüügikomisjonile esitatud reservatsioonidest.

Islandi liitumine võimaldaks ELil osaleda aktiivsemalt Arktika piirkonna tegevuses, öeldakse Cristian Dan Preda (EPP, RO) koostatud resolutsioonis, mis rõhutab ka riigi “tugevat demokraatlikku kultuuri”. Island kuulub juba praegu Schengeni alasse, on NATO liige ning tal on ELiga vabakaubandusleping alates 1973. aastast.

Icesave’i küsimuses rõhutab resolutsioon, et Island on kohustatud tagama miinimumhüvitised Icesave panga hoiustajatele Ühendkuningriigis ja Hollandis, nagu EFTA järelvalveamet ütles oma märgukirjas 26. mail. Peale Icesave panga kokkuvarisemist panid Islandi valijad 6. märtsil toimunud referendumil veto tagasimakse plaanile.

Kuigi Island on Euroopa majanduspiirkonna (EMP) liige ja järgib enamikku ELi õigusaktidest (eelkõige ühisturu valdkonnas), peab riik siiski oluliselt reformima oma finantsjärelvalvesüsteemi ülesehitust ja toimimist, ning ka seda, kuidas määratakse ametisse kohtunikud, prokurörid ja kõrgemad kohtuametnikud.

Islandiga tuleb põhjalikke läbirääkimisi pidada veel põllumajanduse, kalanduse, maksustamise, majandus-ja rahapoliitika ning välissuhete poliitika osas. Islandi jaoks on kõige murettekitavam teema kalandus, kuna vaalapüük  on Islandi kultuuris väga tähtis.

Islandi avalikkuse toetus ELi liikmelisusele on alates 2009. aasta suvest vähenenud, ning on karta, et see väheneb veelgi.. Islandi võimudelt palutakse seetõttu avaliku arutelu algatamist, et selgitada välja Islandi kodanike mured ELi liikmelisuse osas

Üks põhjuseid, miks Islandi avalikkuse toetusveelgi väheneda võib, on vaalapüüki puudutav muudatusettepanek eelmainitud resolutsioonis. Muudatusettepaneku autoriteks olid kaks Roheliste fraktsiooni Parlamendiliiget, Indrek Tarand ja Heidi Hauttala. Muudatusettepanek võeti juuli plenaaril ka vastu. Autorid ise kommenteerisid seda nii: “Nüüdsest panevad vaalad oma poegadele nimeks Indrek ja Heidi”.

Lisainfo:

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/press_corner/key-documents/opinion-iceland_2010_et.htm

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/1011&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/186&format=HTML&aged=0&language=

http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/eu-kick-starts-iceland-accession/article-184391

Lisainfo ELi laienemise kohta:

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/index_et.htm

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/enlargement/default_en.htm

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