Tag Archives: EP

An Evening with Sofi Oksanen and Indrek Tarand

On the 19th of Nobember 2009 the Goethe Institute in Brussels together with the Finnish Cultural Institute for Benelux organised a literary evening with Sofi Oksanen, a Finnish-Estonian writer and Indrek Tarand.

The event marked the translation of Ms Oksanen’s “Purge” to Dutch, which talks about the events and lives during the Soviet Occupation in Estonia. The book has been “a No. 1 bestseller in Finland with sales exceeding 140 000 copies, Puhdistus has won its author numerous literary prizes, including Finland’s premier literary award, The Finlandia Award, and biggest literary award in Nordic countries, Nordic Council Literature Prize 2010. Oksanen is the youngest author ever to win either one of these prestigious prizes.”

For more information, please visit:

Homepage of Sofi Oksanen
Wikipedia: “Sofi Oksanen”

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About my activities


The European Parliament is directly elected institution, which represents about 500 million citizens and their interests which are of course very differing. The EP is in close co-operation with the European Commission and European Council; together they produce legislation on issues affecting our daily lives, for example environment protection, consumer rights, equality, transport and the free movement of people, capital and services. Not to mention human rights.

The subjects or topics I am engaged in are mainly connected to the committees and delegations I sit at, although these are rather close to my heart as well.

Among them is, for instance, Iceland, the country that 1st recognised the restoration of the independence of Estonia in 1991. Currently the negotiations on Iceland’s possible accession to the EU are being held. But does the small island-state itself event want to join? Recent polls have showed that people are rather sceptical, even the political groups in Althingi have been said to debate on the issue quite seriously. If Iceland were a Member State, its economic prospects might look better than they do currently in view of the so-called Icesave case, although the latter will not be tied to the negotiations. The EU on the other hand may have a stronger voice in the Arctic region. And this is a region that will attract very much attention in the years to come…

As former Chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Estonia, I was appointed the Green shadow rapporteur in AFCO regarding the European External Action Service report. Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium, EPP) and Elmar Brok (Germany, S&D) were jointly writing the report on how the new “Ministry of Foreign Affairs EU” must be constructed. This involved months of work on when and where to emphasise Human Rights, how to set up crisis prevention and management, who should be in charge of the delegations, how to deploy development aid, how much and in what areas should the EP have control over their budget and so on.

Of course having such an institution as the EEAS is vital if the EU will want to speak with one voice on a global level – or with its neighbours, for that matter. The issue of energy security is the first practical challenge that comes to mind…

This autumn the European Parliament adopted the Alejo Vidal-Quadras (Spain, EPP) resolution on security of gas supply, which calls for the EU to introduce a regulation in order to further secure gas and energy supply in Europe. The document contains several methods and ideas on how to prevent future gas conflicts as seen in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian problems in recent years. This regulation would provide preventive safety measures to ensure that nobody would be left in to the cold.

This reminds that one has to think beyond (but not excluding) its national borders in Europe. Internet freedom and intellectual property rights are issues that affect us all, especially when EU will introduce reforms in this field in the near future regardless whether you are a consumer or a provider of Internet content, be it written articles, music or videos. How should the EU respond to illegal file sharing? We are living in the 21st century and we all download a variety of things from the net. But what about the people that provide the content? If we chose to restrict downloading in today’s form, what measures can be taken? To what extent can we monitor peoples’ activities online? As anyone may guess, these questions affect us all.

Should there be introduced any directives or regulations on a EU level that the citizens will regard unsuitable, lacking or simply bad and they wish to change it – or even call for creating an entirely new EU policy – they have the chance to do so with the European Citizen Initiative. This is a project going to be launched next year, with the aim of giving EU’s citizens the right to introduce an idea for new legislation by the Commission; the latter has to respond and justify its answer and action that will or will not follow.

This is undoubtedly a big step in the development of the citizen society, moreover that all people from all Member States can have a say. This all will have to follow strict rules that are currently in the making. For example, according to the latest state of play, at least 1 million signatures have to be collected from at least 1/3 of the Member States, plus the number of signatures has to be proportionate to the population of that state. This opens up an even greater window of opportunity for small countries. As for now, the setting up of the system continues.

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European External Action Service (EEAS)


The European External Action Service (EEAS) will be taking the role of an EU diplomatic service, including also the third country delegation’s role.

The creation of the EEAS is one of the most significant changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. Its aim is to make EU’s external policy more consistent and efficient, thereby strengthening EU’s political and economic influence in the world.

This new service is aimed at assisting the High Representative of the Union of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, in fulfilling her mandate.

EEAS shall include officials from the Council and the Commission, as well as staff from the national diplomatic services of the 27 EU Member States. It will work in close cooperation with the national diplomatic services of the member states and its delegations outside EU, playing a supporting role regarding diplomatic and consular protection and help of EU citizens in third countries.

Jointly with the European Parliament the service is expected to get up and running as soon as possible. The Council shall adopt the launching of the EEAS on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the EP and getting an approval from the Commission. The necessary financial and staff regulations, as well as the draft amending budget shall be adopted by co-decision with the EP.

From the 1st of January, 2011, 1525 officials from the office of the Secretary General of the Commission and Council shall be sent to the external action service. There is also an additional 100 newly created posts. In the EEAS there are 1625 posts altogether. The service shall comprise one central administrating unit and 136 formal European Commission’s delegations. The Service headquarters is in Brussels.

Despite the fact that the “double-hatted” HR promised that “the recruitment will be based on merit, with the objective of securing the services of staff of the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, while ensuring adequate geographical balance”, it is now clear that in reality so far there is no such balance regarding the appointment of officials. Naturally it has created a lot of disapproval among the MEPs and debates on the matter are ongoing.

Indeed, it is in the member state’s interest to, for example, present more female candidates for the senior overseas jobs. At the moment, only 11 out of the 115 ambassadors are female. 11 member states are over-represented while 16 are under-represented.

Only two of the newly appointed 115 ambassadors are from EU new member states, and sadly enough, no Estonians among them. Candidates’ language skills, diplomatic job experience just did not reach the threshold of requirements for the posts. Also, alas, the new member states’ geographic position might have not been of advantage.

Catherine Ashton has voiced her criticism about this, talking about the creation of a “Western European old boys club” diplomatic service.

For more information please visit:

EEAS

EUROPA: “EEAS decision – main elements”

Telegraph: “EU diplomatic service a ‘Western European old boys club'”

European Council on EEA

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ACTA


ACTA or Anti Counterfeit Trade Agreement is an international framework for combating trading with counterfeit goods and piracy in all of its commercial forms. The ongoing negotiation talks have been widely criticized for its secrecy regarding both its content and the negotiation process itself. The first issue was raised because according to leaked documents and other sources, ACTA was beginning to pose a threat to civil rights by interfering in their daily lives through checking their e-mails and monitoring their activity on the Internet.
The European Parliament got involved in the end of 2009, although the negotiations began in 2007. The European Commission, representing the EU as one of the 27 stakeholders had to succumb to the pressure of the European Parliament and make the negotiations public. The EC thus violated the Lisbon Treaty, according to which it has to consult with the EP regarding multilateral international agreements. It was concluded that one of the parties wanted the EC to keep quiet until the agreement was reached. The countries currently involved are Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. The latter was said to have told the EC to keep quiet after the last round of talks held in August.

However, the European Commission claims that the process has been public, although only to the extent such international agreement talks can be. The European Parliament hasn’t quite agreed with this and has tabled a resolution that demands transparency and respect for civil rights. Furthermore, it is clearly stated that the European Parliament is willing to go to court, if needed.

Nonetheless the EP suggested to continue the talks – and with a good reason. The OECD estimates that infringements of intellectual property in international trade (excluding domestic production and consumption) accounts for more than €150 billion per year (higher than the GDP of more than 150 countries). Also, there was growth in seizures of fakes dangerous to health and safety since last year: e.g. cosmetics and personal care products (+264%), toys (+98%), foodstuff (+62%), computer equipment (+62%) and medicines (+51%) show a remarkable percentage increase compared to earlier years. Fake medicines are thought to account for almost 10% of world trade in medicines.

Currently none of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are involved in the talks. Luckily the agreement is said to be constructed in a way that is open to new parties at any stage and special mechanisms will be created for the smooth transition period.

As for now the MEPs are working in order to publish the negotiation texts and stand against the possible breach of civil rights and intellectual property rights. Namely, ACTA consists of three parts, one of which focuses on IPR infringements. Of course such regulation is necessary in order to avoid counterfeit goods, but this cannot be done at the expense of peoples’ privacy and rights. As the EP resolution on ACTA adopted in March this year states:

” H. whereas it is crucial to ensure that the development of IPR enforcement measures is accomplished in a manner that does not impede innovation or competition, undermine IPR limitations and personal data protection, restrict the free flow of information or unduly burden legitimate trade,”

In the beginning of October it was announced by the Commission that the talks were finished. This info has yet to be verified by other parties as well.

For more information, please read:

Info on ACTA

La quadrature: “ACTA”

European parliament:ACTA resolution”

The European Commission ACTA page

“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – Summary of Key Elements Under Discussion (PDF)”

Euractiv: “US told EU to hide ACTA from public”

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The European Green Council takes place in Tallinn, Estonia

For the first time, a Pan-European party congress will be held in Estonia and the Baltic Region in general.

From the 8th to the 10th of October this year the European Green Party will organise its annual council to discuss different economic and social topics related to Estonia and Europe and also how to reduce unemployment – Green Collar Jobs! Energy security and the European Citizen Initiative are also on the agenda as are the newly created European External Action Service and the question on how to further develop the citizen society.

The European Citizen Initiative is a project currently in its last preparatory phase that creates a possibility for the EU citizens to present new legislation proposals to the European Commission. The latter has to take notice and give an official justified response to the proposals. At least 1 million signatures from (currently) 9 Member States are needed. The respective European Parliament report (by A.Lamassoure, G.Häfner, D.Wallis, Z.Gurmai ) will be voted in December in Strasbourg.

Experts from different countries will be taking the floor at the European Green Council. Among others, General Director Strategy Bureau of Government of Estonia Keith Kasemets, Green Economics Institute director and founder Miriam Kennet, Green Budget Europe chairman Dr Anselm Görres, Member of the European Parliament and Co-spokesperson of the European Green Party Philippe Lamberts, Estonian Greens Co-spokesperson and Member of Parliament Aleksei Lotman and Member of the European Parliament Indrek Tarand.

Seminars, fringe meetings for networks and topical workshops will be held during the 2-day conference. Everybody is welcome to join! More information, the program and registration form can be found here.

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Volinike vaikimistasu ja Euroopa ülekulu

Euroopa Parlament on tõstatanud küsimuse, mis eesmärki teenib endiste volinike topelttasustamine. Nimelt on Euroopa Komisjonis olemas nn vaikimistasu. See tähendab, et eksvolinikud saavad lisaks oma uuelt tööandjalt saadavale põhipalgale ka Euroopa Liidult igakuist tasu, mis on 40-65% endisest palgast (keskmine volinikupalk on 20 278 €) ja sõltub ametiaja pikkusest.

Vaikimistasu süsteem on loodud selleks, et vältida võimalikke huvide konflikte, kui endised volinikud läheksid Komisjoni palgalt lahkudes otse lobbyde või eraettevõtete manu tööle. Seda tasu on endistel volinikel õigus saada kuni 3 aastat pärast Komisjonis töötamist. Vaikimistasu, mis tingib Euroopa Liidule ülekulu, on sellisel kitsal ajal täiesti lubamatu. Parlamendiliikmed nõuavad, et Komisjon muudaks oma käitumiskoodeksit, mille praegune versioon pärineb aastast 1967 ja vajab kindlasti uuendamist.

EP saadikud on ähvardanud külmutada Komisjoni eelarverea, mis käsitleb volinike lisatoetusi juhul, kui tasustamissüsteemi ei muudeta. Parlamendi eelarvekomisjon võttis 29. septembril vastu Ingeborg Grässle (Saksamaa, EPP) poolt tehtud muudatusettepanekud, mis käsitlesid Komisjoni 2011 halduseelarvet ja millega pandaks 460 000 € reservi kuniks Komisjon ei ole oma käitumiskoodeksit muutnud.

Grässle leiab, et regulatsioonid võiksid karmimad olla. Nii mõnigi 2004-2010.a volinik on peale ametiaja lõppu läinud uuele tööpostile, saades seejuures Euroopa Liidult endiselt kõnealust vaikimistasu. Hüvitis peaks neil väidetavalt aitama kohaneda eluga pärast Brüsselis veedetuid aastaid, isegi kui nad siirduvad tööle erasektorisse (või mujale). Sellist tasu makstakse kõikidele endistele volinikele. Kui neil endil selle vastu just midagi pole. Võib eeldada, et see and võetakse nii mõnegi poolt vastuvaidlemata vastu…

Väljaandes The Financial Times Deutschland kirjutati, et Brüssel maksab siiamaani 17le endisele volinikule vähemalt 96 000 € aastas, isegi kui nad on juba saanud uue, hästitasustatava töökoha peale. Palk, mida endine volinik saab erasektorist kombineeritult ELi kompensatsiooniga ei tohi ületada voliniku endist palka: EL ei maksa muidu midagi kui erasektoris teenitav palk ületab voliniku endise palga.

Praegune diskussioon on tõstatatud endise Regionaalarengupoliitika voliniku ja praeguse parlamendiliikme Danuta Hübneri topelttasustamise pärast. Tuli välja, et ta saab siiani Euroopa Liidult “vaikimistasu”. Ka Leedu president proua Dalia Grybauskaite saab siiani kõnealust hüvitist. On ju naeruväärne kui iseseisva riigi president saab sellist tasu. Niisamuti ka Itaalia välisminister Franco Frattini  ja endine iirlasest siseturuvolinik Charlie McCreevy. Viimane kuulub praegu odavlennufirma Ryanair nõukokku ning saab oma põhipalgale 47 000 € ELilt veel “vaikimistasu” 11 000 € kuus, kogudes aastas lisa ligi 2,04 miljonit Eesti krooni.

Kindlasti ei saa mainimata jätta ka endist Saksamaa volinikku Günter Verheugenit, kes lõi oma lobby firma kaks kuud peale volinikukohalt lahkumist ja seda otseloomulikult kaasavõetud kontaktide-ja teadmistepagasiga. Ettevõtte nimi on iroonilisel kombel “The European Experience Company”.

Nüüd on kogu asi aga päevavalgele taritud ning parlamendiliikmed asunud Komisjonilt aru pärima. Käitumiskoodeksi läbivaatamise ja muutmise protsess venib aga teosammul ning saadikud seisavad hea selle eest, et asjale parem hoog sisse saada.

Eelarvekomisjonis hääletati ka selle poolt, et vähendada Euroopa Parlamendi 2011. aasta halduseelarvet 10 miljoni euro võrra. Ja seda vastuseks kriitikale, mille kohaselt siin ei võeta üle-Euroopalist kokkuhoidu tõsiselt. Samas plaanitakse aga kahekordistada esinduskulude eelarvet 2 miljoni euroni.

Muuseas, ka parlamendiliikmed saavad volituste lõppedes 6 kuud kuni 2 aastat hüvitist, mis on ekvivalentne nende parlamendiaegse palganumbriga. Parlamendiliikme brutopalk kuus on 7 807,12 €. Maksmise kestvus sõltub samuti ametisoldud ajast. Vahe on aga selles, et hüvitise maksmine lõpetatakse kohe kui endine saadik on asunud tööle uuele ametikohale.

Nagu ilmneb ei ole kuskil maailmas leiutatud perfektseid reegleid ega täiuslikke inimhingi, kes suudaksid JOKK-kiusatustest loobuda. Tõenäoliselt toob Komisjon parlamendi vaevale vastutasuks fokusseeritult välja Euroopa Parlamendi liikmete eelarveread ja osutab, et sealgi oleks ruumi kokkuhoiule.  Mis kavakohaselt peaks sellesuunalise keskustelu vaststikku vaigistama. Tõenäosus, et ei vaigista, on 3: 7 vastu

Lisainfot:

Le Monde –

http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2010/09/23/polemique-autour-d-ex-commissaires-europeens-qui-touchent-toujours-des-indemnites_1414928_3214.html

Financial Times Deutschland – http://www.ftd.de/politik/europa/:uebergangsgeld-eu-kommissare-kassieren-doppelt/50173338.html

European Voice  – http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2010/10/mccreevy-quits-bank-post-after-ethics-ruling/69135.aspx

The Independent – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/brussels-pays-top-eurocrats-16397000-a-year-ndash-after-they-leave-2088128.html

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Kirjalikest Deklaratsioonidest Europarlamendis

Europarlamendi kodukorra artikkel 123 defineerib kirjalike deklaratsioonide mõiste ja menetlemise korra. Praktikas on nii, et kui kolme kuu jooksul õnnestub deklaratsioonile saada rohkem kui poolte parlamendiliikmete allkirjad, loetakse see deklaratsioon vastuvõetuks ja saadetakse Komisjonile ning teistele asjaomastele institutsioonidele, et nood taipaksid, missugused probleemid parlamendiliikmete enamust vaevavad. Deklaratsiooni alusel võib, kuid ei pruugi tekkida mingi seadusandlik dokument.

Hetkel on allkirju võimalik anda järgmistele kirjalikele deklaratsioonidele:

1. Omavalmistatud jäätise Euroopa päeva tähistamine, mille tagajärjel iga aasta 24. märtsil hakataks tähistatama sellist päeva. Mõeldes kuulsale Tartu jäätisemeistrile Eevald Roomale (sünd.6.juulil 1911.a) ja itaalia meistritele, kavatsen seda algatust toetada.

2. UFOsid käsitlevate salajaste dokumentide salastatuse kaotamine. Ma loodan et Tunne Kelam on juba alla kirjutanud. Ise pooldan küll dokumentidelt salastatuse kaotamist, kuid ma pole veendunud, et alustama peab just UFOdega seostuvast.

3. EL pingutused metsade raadamise vastu võitlemisel.

Väidetakse et ebaseaduslikku puidukaubanduse tõttu raadavad inimesed Euroopa Liidus koguni 7 miljonit hektarit metsa aastas. Pean seda arvu kontrollima. Muidu olen üldiselt metsade poolt ja nende mõistliku ning seadusliku majandamise poolt. Võimalik, et toetan seda deklaratsiooni.

4. Joogivesi kui põhiõigus (Rosario Crocetta, Sotsiaaldemokraadid, Itaalia). See on natuke Mowgli raamatut meenutav deklaratsioon, et kõik peavad joogikohale pääsema, mitte ainult Shere-Khan…

5. Kiropraktika kohta, mis väljendab muret, et kiropraktikat kõikjal ELis ei tunnustata ja nõuab selle olukorra lõpetamist. Käesolevaga EI kuulu Euroopa Kiropraktikute Liitu järgmised EL liikmesriigid: Austria, Bulgaaria, Tšehhi, Läti, Leedu, Malta, Rumeenia, Slovakkia ja Sloveenia.

6. Seoses murega Hispaania rannikuseaduse alusel sundvõõrandatud ja lammutatudkinnisvara pärast.See on trikiga küsimus, sest pole selge, kas nimetatud kinnisvara oli ikkagi seaduslikult omandatud ja kui me mõtleme Eestiski kehtivale igamehe õigusele rannaribal, siis äratab Hispaania valitsuse tegevus vaat et sümpaatiatki. Esmapilgul ei kavatse ma brittide kinnisvaravaidlusse hispaanlastega sekkuda.

7. Creutzfeldt-Jakobi tõve kohta, mis kutsub üles suurendama selle haiguse ravimiseks tarviliste uuringute rahastamist. Esialgu olen ükskõikne.

8. Euroopa haigusuuringute päeva sisseseadmine, mis on eelmisega veidi seotud, sest nõuab haigusuuringute, eriti haruldaste haiguste uuringute rahastamise suurendamist. Ka autorid on samad (Aldo Patriciello ja Alfredo Pallone, Itaalia Euroopa Rahvapartei saadikud).

9. Inimõiguste rikkumised Iraanis alates 2009. aasta juuni presidendivalimistest, mis muuhulgas nõuab, et kehtestataks EL reisimise keeld inimõiguste rikkumises osalejatele ja külmutataks nende varad. Kindlasti on Iraanis inimõigustega probleeme, ja ehk on Iraani opositsionääridel sellest deklaratsioonist kaudset abi? Mõtlen veel veidi, aga esitajad on usaldusväärsed, sestap pigem kaldun toetama.

10. Kava rajada Valgevene Hrodna rajooni tuumaelektrijaam (esitajaiks lätlased ja leedulased), osutab ohtudele, et vaid 55 kilomeetri kaugusele Vilniusest tuleks tuumajaam ning nõuab Rahvusvahelise Aatomienergia Agentuuri ehk IAEA sekkumist ohutusstandardite ülevaatamisse. Samas – kuidas mõjuks selline deklaratsioon Eesti Energia suurejoonelistele tuumaplaanidele Leedus eneses? Peab natuke targemate inimestega arutama, enne kui oskaks seisukohta võtta.

11. Meediasektori rahastamine sõnavabaduse ja teabeõiguse tagamiseks. See lausa nõuab meediaväljaannete riiklikku rahastamist, sest “paljud meediaettevõtjad on pankrotistumise äärel ja tuhanded ajakirjanikud on vallandatud.” Oleme kuulnud Le Monde’i saatusest. Antud juhtumil oleks ehk huvitav teada, kuidas sellisesse riigi abisse ajalehtede väljaandmisel suhtuvad Hans Luik ja Mart Kadastik. Kaarel Tarandi seisukohta usun teadvat….

Esmapilgul tunduvad kõik kirjalikud deklaratsioonid positiivset alget kandvat, aga pahatihti on ka peidetud lobistide huvisid neisse ning mõnikord on nad vastuolulised. Nii näiteks andsime Alexander Alvaroga (Euroopa Demokraatide ja Liberaalide Liidu fraktsioon, Saksamaa) oma allkirjad ka pedofiiliaga võitlemise deklaratsioonile (tuntud kui deklaratsioon nr 29), kuid hiljem, nähes sellesse kätketud ohte Internetivabadustele ning eraelu puutumatusele, olime sunnitud oma allkirjad tagasi võtma, mida ka siinne kodukord võimaldas. See omakorda muidugi ei tähenda, et me pedofiile salliksime. Lihtsalt meede polnud täpselt sihitud.

Nende ridade kirjutamise aegu lisandus veel üks deklaratsioon: “European Year of combating violence against women“.

Tegelikult on hetkel allakirjutamiseks avatud 47 deklaratsiooni. Vastutulelik ametnik selgitas mulle, et tavaliselt saab vajaliku hulga allkirju kokku umbes 10% esitatud deklaratsioonidest.

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