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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee 22nd - 23rd April 2013

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee 22nd - 23rd April 2013

A great number of votes in one day, most concerning money. European Funds, budget priorities, Social housing, Aid to the deprived and so on.

Among these were the European Social Fund and the Globalisation Adjustment Fund. These had gone to a Trilogue because there was no agreement as to the amounts of money to be put aside from the budget. The Trilogue is the Commission, The Council and Parliament meeting to thrash it out. Parliament is always represented in such trilogues by members of the committee concerned, in this case Employment. Council is represented by some of the appropriate Ministers of member states.

There was no agreement in these trilogue discussions. That simply means that Parliament (ie MEPs) wanted to spend more, the Council (Elected MPs of Member States) wanted to spend less. The representative from employment committee told us that the division became discord as the Council wanted to operate the European Social Fund themselves. This was totally unacceptable to the Parliament reps who promptly walked out. Back to square one.

It means of course that member states are, at last, beginning to watch the pennies more closely and are trying to hang on to taxpayers cash more than they used to. Well, its a step in the right direction. Cameron need not claim a victory yet, the issue is still up in the air.

All of this, austerity and cut backs, spells unemployment. Figures given today show 27 million out of work in the EU, of which youth unemployment is 5.7 million. Hence the other half of the debates this week, furthering youth employment. Many fine words, but that's all it is, no actual plans but with "Erasmus" freely quoted. I am sure you know what that is. No?, its the EU program to enable to students to travel abroad for University Education. But that costs money because the EU is to help with the extra costs involved by each student! Where that will come from is another matter,- 8 member states have cut education budgets by 8% this year.

Meanwhile another spending plan, the European Fund for Aid to the Most deprived is to get 3.5 billion Euros this year. Will that include our money when we already have food banks for the needy? That itself is a matter of shame for us in the 21st century.

Away from money a green MEP is promoting, "Gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on the stock exchange." That mean more women on the boards but no quota. She proposes sanctions on Companies who do not make the effort, or do not explain why there is still an imbalance, but there is to be no compulsion! And the sanctions are not specified.

Derek Clark MEP Brussels 23rd April 2013

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