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Migration: MEPs debate EU response

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20150520PHT57454_originalEuropean Parliament President Martin Schulz opened the debate on migration

MEPs discussed on 20 May European Commission plans to tackle the large numbers of migrants seeking to reach the European Union, often risking their lives at sea. Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos announced a number of measures, including an emergency mechanism for relocating migrants, a resettlement scheme to take in migrants from countries outside the EU and more funds for securing borders.

Council Presidency representative Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica welcomed the Commission’s initiative and the tripling of ressources for the EU's external border agency Frontex. She added that governments have also decided to establish an EU military operation aimed at "breaking the business model of human smugglers”. Meanwhile Timmermans announced that next week the Commission will propose a temporary relocation mechanism “to help release the pressure off frontier countries". "This is not about migration in general, but about the extreme crisis situation that demands a clear response," he said, adding: “Tackling illegal migration in the roots means securing our borders and saving lives, but also applying correctly our common asylum rules, and we need the commitment of member states."“Our immediate neighbourhood is on fire and Europe is seen as a refuge in times of instability,” said migration commissioner  Avramopoulos. German EPP member Manfred Weber said that "we are collectively as Europeans called upon to respond to the challenge" of migration. He welcomed "the solidarity mechanism" and added "we are willing to continue to work on the good job initiated by the Commission".

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"Europe is often accused of not doing anything. With these measures, we are showing that Europe can act," said Italian S&D member Gianni Pittella. "We have to put an end to the smugglers' networks, but we don't want any military action or violence."
UK ECR member Timothy Kirkhope criticised the plans to redistribute asylum seekers in Europe: “We have a moral duty to assist one another, but  true solidarity is offering assistance because it is the right thing to do, not because we have been compelled."

Belgian ALDE member Guy Verhofstadt called for common European action addressing the crisis in neighbouring countries: “We did nothing in Libya, we did nothing in Syria and that's one of the reasons why so many refuges are seeking to enter the European Union."

German GUE/NGL member Gabriele Zimmer criticized what she saw as a repressive approach towards refugees: “These are people in enormous difficulties and repressing refugees does not make a contribution to solving their problems. It only creates more terrorists.”

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“The only approach by the Council, which everyone agrees on, is more frontier checks, more people being sent back and more military operations being launched. Yesterday we heard about the Hungarian refugees in 1956, who were welcomed with open arms by other countries in Europe - where are the open arms now?” asked Dutch Greens/EFA member Judith Sargentini.

UK EFDD member Nigel Farage reminded that he had warned the Commission that the common EU asylum policy had no security checks: “That was a real genuine threat of ISIS using this policy to infiltrate our countries and to pose great dangers to our societies.” Vicky Maeijer, a Dutch non-attached member from the Netherlands,  expressed her concerns with "every country receiving a proportion of illegals and terrorists", adding: "We are making the migrants traffickers rich and this is not the way."

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Agriculture

Common Agricultural Policy: How does the EU support farmers?

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From supporting farmers to protecting the environment, the EU's farm policy covers a range of different goals. Learn how EU agriculture is funded, its history and its future, Society.

What is the Common Agricultural Policy?

The EU supports farming through its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Set up in 1962, it has undergone a number of reforms to make agriculture fairer for farmers and more sustainable.

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There are about 10 million farms in the EU and the farming and food sectors together provide nearly 40 million jobs in the EU.

How is the Common Agricultural Policy funded?

The Common Agricultural Policy is funded through the EU budget. Under the EU's budget for 2021-2027, €386.6 billion has been set aside for farming. It is divided into two parts:

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  • €291.1bn for the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, which provides income support for farmers.
  • €95.5bn for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, which includes funding for rural areas, climate action and the management of natural resources.

How does EU agriculture look today? 

Farmers and the agriculture sector were affected by COVID-19 and the EU introduced specific measures to support the industry and incomes. Current rules on how CAP funds should be spent run until 2023 due to delays in budget negotiations. This required a transitional agreement to protect farmers’ incomes and ensure food security.

Will the reform mean a more environmentally-friendly Common Agricultural Policy?

EU agriculture accounts for about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. The reform should lead to a more environmentally friendly, fairer and transparent EU farm policy, MEPs said, after a deal was reached with the Council. Parliament wants to link CAP to the Paris agreement on climate change, while increasing support to young farmers and small and medium-sized farms. Parliament will vote on the final deal in 2021 and it will come into effect in 2023.

Agriculture policy is linked to the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy from the European Commission, which aims to protect the environment and ensure healthy food for everyone, whilst ensuring farmers’ livelihoods.

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Agriculture

Proposed lift on USA lamb ban welcome news for industry

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The FUW met with the USDA in 2016 to discuss lamb export opportunities. From left, US agricultural specialist Steve Knight, US Counselor for agricultural affairs Stan Phillips, FUW senior policy officer Dr Hazel Wright and FUW President Glyn Roberts

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed news that the long standing ban on importing Welsh lamb into the United States is to be lifted soon. The announcement was made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday 22 September. 

The FUW has long discussed the prospect of lifting the unjustified ban with the USDA in various meetings over the past decade. Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales have highlighted that the potential market for PGI Welsh Lamb in the USA is estimated to be worth as much as £20 million a year within five years of the export restrictions being removed.

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Speaking from his Carmarthenshire sheep farm, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman, said: “Now more than ever we need to explore other export markets while also protecting our long established markets in Europe. The US market is one we are keen to develop much stronger relationships with and the news that this ban could soon be lifted is most welcome news for our sheep industry.”

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Economy

Sustainable urban transport takes centre stage for European Mobility Week

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Around 3,000 towns and cities across Europe are participating in this year's European Mobility Week, which started yesterday and will last until Wednesday, 22 September. The 2021 campaign has been launched under the theme ‘Safe and healthy with sustainable mobility', and will promote the use of public transport as a safe, efficient, affordable, and low-emission mobility option for everyone. 2021 is also the 20th anniversary of car-free day, from which the European Mobility Week has grown.

“A clean, smart and resilient transport system is at the core of our economies and central to people's lives. This is why, on the 20th anniversary of the European Mobility Week, I am proud of the 3,000 cities across Europe and beyond for showcasing how safe and sustainable transport options help our communities to stay connected during these challenging times,” said Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean.

For this landmark year, the European Commission has created a virtual museum showcasing the history of the week, its impact, personal stories, and how it links with the EU's broader sustainability priorities. Elsewhere, activities around Europe include bicycle festivals, exhibitions of electric vehicles and workshops. This year's event also coincides with a public consultation on the Commission's ideas for a new urban mobility framework, and the European Year of Rail with its Connecting Europe Express train.

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