Parliament Agenda: EPP priorities for the week of 05 March 2012
Jennifer Baker is joined by Robert Fitzhenry, EPP Group Spokesperson, to discuss the EU Agenda for this week in the latest issue of ‘previEUws’.
The upcoming week will be marked by the 20th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s collapse (00:40). EPP spokesman Robert Fitzhenry states that the Russian Federation is a not a perfect successor, but that it is a massive improvement over the USSR in any case. Since the breakup economic perspectives in Europe have improved and 10 countries were freed from Soviet rule, some of which are now at the very heart of the European Union.
Most prominent point on last week’s agenda was the European Council meeting. Attention primarily went out to the Stability Treaty, which was signed by 25 out of 27 Member States (03:20). Only the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic chose to opt out. Fitzhenry believes that the measures taken are constructive. Even with small economic growth it should be possible to reduce debts over the timespan of 20 years that was set out in the treaty. Further attention is paid to the Irish Referendum, which has to produce a positive outcome before the Stability Treaty can be ratified in Ireland.
Second topic of discussion at the Council meeting was enlarging the Schengen area with Romania and Bulgaria (05:49). According to the EPP spokesman both Member States have fulfilled all criteria and it is only the government of the Netherlands that objects to expansion. Nevertheless, Fitzhenry is convinced that both countries will join Schengen later this year in September.
The European Council granted candidacy status upon Serbia (07:46) last week. The EPP spokesperson believes that there is still a long road to go when it concerns the Western Balkans. Most states are still troubled by problems with minorities, economic growth, democracy and the rule of law. Then again, progress reports in these fields are moderately positive. Therefore the Serbian accession process will be a long and difficult one, but the EPP deems it helpful to send out positive signal.
As a final point, attention is paid to the reappointment of Herman van Rompuy as President of the European Council (10:18).