Plans to offer EU-wide protection to victims of domestic violence will share the limelight with the eurozone’s debt crisis and victims of human trafficking when the European Parliament meets for its final plenary session of the year, in Strasbourg next week (13-16 December).
MEPs are on Tuesday (14 December) expected to back a compromise on the European protection order (EPO). On 29 November, the Parliament’s civil liberties and women’s rights committees overwhelmingly endorsed a version drafted by the Belgian presidency of the Council of Ministers in a bid to win support from member states. The EPO is designed to offer EU-wide protection to actual or potential victims of abuse from “a criminal act of another person which may, in any way, endanger” them either physically or psychologically.
A strong backing in plenary will “send out a strong signal” to member states to agree to the measure in January, according to Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, a Spanish centre-right MEP, who, along with Carmen Romero López, a Spanish centre-left MEP, is guiding the proposal through the Parliament.
But member states have yet to agree on the concept. It is backed by 12 countries, but is opposed by Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and, most recently, the Netherlands. The Belgian presidency admits that the necessary majority is not yet there to pass the proposal. Opponents – including the European Commission – do not see the EPO as a matter of criminal law and are unhappy with the definition of victims in the proposal.
More immediate success is expected with an update of EU rules on human trafficking. The Parliament is expected to give its approval on Wednesday (15 December) to a compromise that has already been reached with the Council of Ministers.
The deal, approved by EU justice and interior ministers earlier this month, envisages minimum jail sentences of five years for offenders, better protection of victims and an expanded definition of offences.
On the eurozone’s debt crisis, MEPs will on Wednesday debate the latest efforts to stabilise the euro with José Manuel Barroso, the Commission president, ahead of the 16-17 December European Council. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), has led calls for the EU to pursue much closer fiscal co-ordination to solve the crisis.
The Parliament has also scheduled a vote to ensure MEPs give their final say to the EU’s 2011 budget. Negotiations between MEPs and the Council were close to completion as European Voice went to press (see Page 2).
Click Here: cheap INTERNATIONAL jersey
MEPs are also expected to endorse the deal reached with the Council on Monday (6 December) on the operational rules for the European Citizens’ Initiative, a direct democracy tool introduced by the Lisbon treaty.
? This year’s Sakharov Prize will be awarded on Wednesday to Cuban political dissident and journalist Guillermo Fariñas. However, it is not yet clear if the Cuban will be allowed to leave his country to collect his €50,000 award in person.