La Treizième Étoile: 22/11/09 - 29/11/09 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
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Welcome wins 2009 LUX Film Prize

Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Welcome, the story of a young Iraqi Kurd attempting to immigrate to the United Kingdom, a production under the direction of Frenchman Philippe Lioret, has scooped the 2009 European Parliament LUX Film Prize.

Director of Welcome Philippe Lioret receives the 2009 LUX prize (Photo: EP Press Service)

Prior to awarding the prize during an interruption to the Strasbourg Plenary Session on Wednesday (25th), EP President Jerzy Buzek said that "the LUX prize is a young and forward-looking initiative.”

“We want the medium of film to spark debate on subjects that attract public attention in the EU Members,” he said “and give rise to questions that can be of relevance to us all, questions that are also relevant to this Parliament.”

Graciously accepting the award Mr Lioret told the members in the hemicycle that “the impact the film had on French society made me change. We started as filmmakers and then turned into citizens.”

In the film, 18-year old Bilal (played by Firat Ayverdi) arrives in Calais attempting to cross to England to rejoin his girlfriend. However, he has no permit to enter England and has failed in his attempt to smuggle his way in illegally in the back of a haulage truck.

While hopelessly gazing across the Channel one morning, he formulates a new plan; to swim, immediately uses his limited money to take up swimming lessons at the local pool. It is there that he meets Simon (Vincent Lindon), an instructor, lifeguard and a former national swimming champion, who has problems of his own. In the process of being divorced by his wife, he is depressed and in light of the young Kurd's determination for love decides to take a big risk and try to train Bilal to enable him to swim the Channel.

The film, which has seen huge success at the French box office and Mr Loiret commented had “resonated with the French people”, has even led to the French Government to reconsider its own ruling on assistance to such people in ‘precarious situations’.

DVD in 23 languages

The €87,000 prize will help to finance the subtitling of the winning film into the 23 official EU languages and contribute to the production of a 35 mm print per EU country and DVD release. The hope is that it will be more accessible to viewers throughout the Union.

Since 2007, the European Parliament has supported the European film industry by awarding the prize annually.

Barroso's EuroParl Question Time #2: Barroso II Commission and Energy

Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Is what was originally conceived as an opportunity for MEPs to pose direct questions to the President of the Commission not becoming a monthly parliamentary press conference for Mr Barroso? Indeed, he used this months' Question Hour in Strasbourg on 24th November to announce significant developments concerning the next Commission.

It was with great delight that he was able to add to a reply that nine women will be included in his next Commission (one more than currently), and that "just today I received the final names of all 27 Commissioner designates".

Barroso addresses the Parliament in Strasbourg

As for the questions addressed by the parliamentary group leaders, EPP leader Joseph Daul (FR) asked whether President Barroso believed there would be another gas crisis this winter and if there were measures in place to protect the public. Mr Barroso replied that the early warning system agreed with Russia should help to identify problems in time.

Martin Schulz (S&D, DE) used his one-minute to request the Commission's view on the Bulgarian Prime Minister's comments regarding whether the Bulgarian Socialist party should be banned. President Barroso, declining to comment on the precise question, said he believed "all democratic parties have their place in democratic countries".

Guy Verhofstadt
(ALDE, BE) chose to ask about the structure of the new Commission stating that he is "not convinced" by the idea of splitting the Environment portfolio. He also wondered about the future distribution of the present Justice and Home Affairs areas of competence, saying he did not want security to be linked to immigration. "Climate change is a cross-cutting remit, the aim is to mainstream it in all policies", came the response from Mr Barroso.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit (DE), co-chair of the Greens/EFA, enquired too about the new Commission asking whether it would be decided by Mr Barroso or if Member States would impose their desires on who should be awarded which portfolio. Quoting an article from the Lisbon Treaty, Mr Barroso replied that it is the Commission President who decides on the organisation and the distribution of portfolios, and that was what he is going to do.

Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR, PL), said the EU needed to strengthen its internal market and competition laws and asked what the Commission will do about this. Mr Barroso said the Commission had launched a public consultation on the internal market and confirmed that Mario Monti, a former Competition Commissioner, would be in charge of the final report.

Lothar Bisky (EUL/NGL, DE), referring to the deep economic crisis and its long-term effects, asked the President whether he was prepared "to get the new Commission to draw lessons from false market economics". Mr Barroso stressed that the emphasis would be placed on education, life-long learning, worker mobility and fighting exclusion and poverty.

Then to conclude the leaders' questions, Rolandas Paksas (LT) on behalf of the EFD spoke about nuclear energy situation in Lithuania. Mr Barroso replied that he had discussed this issue with Russian President Medvedev and that the Commission was working actively with the Lithuanian authorities and other partners on the issue.

Despite all of these questions, the main points to emerge from this lively session in the chamber surrounded the new composition of the new Barroso Commission. Who knows: the December Question Hour might perhaps be dominated by the choices of portfolios? Are the hearings of five years ago still lurking in people's minds?…

EuroParl finally passes Telecoms Package with commanding majority

A long hard-fought round of applause echoed around the chamber at the Strasbourg as parliamentarians greeted the overwhelming majority vote that will now see the revised Telecoms Package enter into EU law. In stark contrast, only a ripple of reaction flowed across the (crowded) public gallery, unaware of what was just voted…

Rapporteur Catherine Trautmann (left) after the result (Photo: EuroParl Press Service)

Rapporteur Catherine Trautmann (S&D, FR) looked notably relieved when the result of the roll call vote appeared on the large electronic screens at the head of the chamber; 510 votes in favour, 40 against, 24 abstentions.

This final vote on the package, taken on Tuesday (24th) in Strasbourg, became possible following an agreement reached on 4 November in conciliation committee which aimed to dispel the controversy surrounding the now infamous amendment 138 regarding the process of a user having his Internet access rescinded.

The agreement reached by the Conciliation Committee, whose EP delegation was chaired by Vice-President Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP, ES), was the addition of the clause that restrictions on users’ Internet access may “only be imposed if they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society” and are the result of a “prior, fair and impartial procedure”.

After congratulating Mme Trautmann on her success, EP President Jerzy Buzek said: "This legislative package is a prime example of how the work we are doing as European legislators has an impact on the daily life of citizens. I am delighted that we have contributed to strengthening the rights of users of electronic communications and the internet".

Speaking to the press that afternoon, Mme Trautmann said: "We wanted to ensure that citizens' rights would never be scorned or ignored."

"This is the first time that a legal text refers to the use of internet as the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms... this is a very positive signal from the Parliament," she said.

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding was impressed with the majority vote it achieved, and was caught exclaiming before the start of the press conference "510, c'est énooooorme" ("510, that's huuuuuuuuuge"). She later declared it "a victory for the internal market, for EU consumers, and for the European Parliament."

The directive will significantly improve consumer rights with the possibility now of customers to have their mobile telephone number transferred within one working day when changing operators and steps taken to strengthen personal data and privacy protection when surfing the Internet.

In addition, it also features rules for the harmonisation of the radio spectrum management across the EU, and for improving co-operation among Member States' telecoms regulators.

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