13 Mar 2014
Stand-up John on Good day and welcome to our round-up of the European Parliament's plenary sessions here in Strasbourg.
The week saw the EPP Group welcome sanctions against Russia and aid to the new pro-EU government in Ukraine...a robust EPP defence of the ways and means used to save several EU member states from default...new reforms to protect EU holidaymakers... and upgraded personal data and privacy protection for EU citizens.
We begin though with Parliament´s response to Russia´s threatened annexation of Ukraine´s Crimean peninsula.
European Parliament vote on Ukraine
Barosso pix in session
John off Political and military crisis...reaching its climax in the Crimea. Russian sabre rattling...threats to annex the largely Russian speaking territory within Ukraine.
With an annexation referendum only days away, the EU and European Parliament response has been to offer 11 billion Euros in aid to the near bankrupt Ukraine and its new pro-EU reformist government.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, summed up the stakes.
Jose Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission The present situation directly challenges us in many ways and forms. It challenges our conscience and individuals. It challenges our unity as Europeans. It challenges our policies and decision-makers. And it challenges some of the values that we hold dear, such as peace and democracy.
Pix Ukraine John off
Elmar Brok, Chairman of Parliament´s Foreign Affairs Committee, was blunt in his assessment of Russia´s recent actions in Ukraine.
Interview Elmar Brok, Chairman EP Foreign Affairs Committee Russia has violated international law. For that there is no excuse. And that must be made clear. The referendum on Crimea is illegal and violates the Ukrainian constitution. Therefore it can´t be legitimate. And there is no justification for Russia´s actions.
(From the original German)
Russland hat ein Voelkerrechtsbruch begangen. Und dafuer gibt es keine Entschuldigung. Und das muss deutlich zum Ausdruck gebracht werden. Das Referendum auf der Krim is Voelkerrechtswidrig und widerstoesst gegen die ukrainische Verfassung. Dewegen kann es nicht legitim sein. Und es gibt auch keine Begruendung fuer die russische Vorgehen.
Pix Ukraine John off
Brok called for European and international solidarity to bring Ukraine into the European family of nations and halt threatened Russian aggression.
Pix from Ukraine Elmar Brok, Chairman EP Foreign Affairs Committee
We need to quickly sign the Association Agreement and help Ukraine.
I welcome sanctions so that Russia is shown where our limits of tolerance are.
(From the original German)
Das schnell das Assoziations Vertag unterzeichnet wird, und das ist die einseitige pro-Ukraine Umsetzung des Verhandlungsvertrages gibt.
Ich begruesse Sanktionen damit Russland Grenzen gezeigt hat.
European leaders in Kiev John off With Europe still supporting early national elections and pro-western reform, the question is who will blink first, Russia or the EU?
John on It was a highly controversial rescue package for several ailing Member States...the largest financial state rescue package in fact in history...
This week the often second guessed actions of the Group that saved these countries, the so-called Troika, were strongly defended in Parliament by the EPP Group and others.
Troika pix John off Critics have tried to make the Troika, comprised of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the EUs Euro Group, responsible for the economic malaise Europe finds itself in.
Hit hardest by subsequent austerity measures were Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and Ireland. Many jobs were lost...much under construction was halted.
But its defenders say that without the Troika, several of those countries would have suffered a disorderly default and been forced to leave the Euro area.
Setup Karas John off Othmar Karas is the EPP Group´s rapporteur on the issue and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
Interview Othmar Karas, EP Vice President, Austrian MEP
One has to say here very clearly that without the Troika, several countries would have gone bankrupt. The political responsibility for the work of the Troika lies primarily with the finance ministers of the Eurozone. (from the original German)
Man muss hier sehr deutlich sagen, dass
ohne die Troika, mehrere Staaten bankrott gewesen waere. Das die politische Verantwortung fuer die Arbeit der Troika primaer bei der Finanzministern der Eurozone liegt.
Pix John off
Karas said the roots of the crisis and the Troika´s hastily created supervisory role, under huge time pressure and financial market instability, makes the need for an E-M-F, or European Monetary Fund, all the more pressing.
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