Speech by Guy Verhofstadt - New Years Reception January 2012
2012 is going to be yet another 'make or break' year for the European Union.
Commission confirms Hungary may face further infringements for breaches of fundamental rights
"I welcome Commissioner Reding's confirmation that further cases of infringement will be examined if the answers from Hungary are not satisfactory," said ALDE group Leader Guy Verhofstadt during the January 18th debate on recent developments in Hungary, in the presence of the other EU institutions and Prime Minister Orban.
A greater effort for E-waste recycling needed
Electrical and electronic waste is a major global environmental problem given our society's growing dependence on such goods and the high turnover rate as new products come to market. Although it is difficult to quantify e-waste, we do know that large amounts are ending up in places where processing occurs at a very unprofessional level. This raises concerns about resource efficiency and also the concerns of the dangers to humans and the environment. ALDE insists on high standards for collection, recycling, treatment and re-use of electronic waste (mobiles, computers, TVs).
Time to tackle food wastage
New measures for controlling hazardous biocides approved
On January 19th the European Parliament will vote on the second reading agreement of the Regulation concerning the placing on the market and use of biocidal products. Biocides are commonly used in households, hospitals and various industries. They are used as additives, wood preserving products, insecticides and other products. ALDE considers the future regulation as a positive development for maintaining a level of human health and environmental protection.
Rating downgrade shows that redemption fund is the only solution to avoid dramatic rise in interest rates
Reacting to the announcement from Standard & Poor’s that it was downgrading the credit ratings of several European countries, including two AAA countries (France and Austria), Guy Verhofstadt, Liberal and Democrat group leader in the European Parliament said:
Verhofstadt: EU must support early presidential elections in Egypt
The behaviour of the Egyptian security forces has gone from bad to worse over recent months to the extent that they have now betrayed the democratic revolution itself.
Verhofstadt : with Havel dies a part of the European conscience
Vaclav Havel Vaclav Havel is one of the most important figures of the last forty years in European history.
Yanukovich denies Ukrainian citizens the benefits of closer EU Association
Hans van Baalen (VVD, Netherlands), ALDE Shadow on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement made the following statement before the December EU Ukraine Summit in Kiev.
EU pledges to crackdown on double taxation
On December 20th the Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs committee approved a report by Olle Schmidt (Folkpartiet, Sweden) on the EU's Annual Tax report. The report focuses on the tax initiatives taken by the Commission during 2011 and on areas where further initiatives are necessary in order to improve the functioning of the Single market and to create a more competitive Europe. It focus on removing cross-border tax obstacles for EU citizens and businesses, as well as preventing tax fraud and increasing tax transparency.
European Commission State on infringement proceedings against Hungary
European Commission launches accelerated infringement proceedings against Hungary over the independence of its central bank and data protection authorities as well as over measures affecting the judiciary
ALDE Response to Commission's Statement on Infringement proceedings against Hungary
Hungary: Commission infringements don't go far enough - article 7 TEU should be applied
The ALDE Group takes note of the Commission's January 17th decision to launch infringement proceedings against Hungary on three issues, namely the independence of the national central bank, the retirement age of judges and the independence of the data protection authority. Nevertheless ALDE expresses its concern that the core issue of a breach of fundamental rights is occurring in Hungary and has been ignored so far by European institutions.
"By deciding to begin infringement procedures only on three specific issues that may breach European law, the Commission has missed the broader picture. The case of Hungary is not just about technical breaches of EU legislation, but a wider concern of gradual but persistent erosion of EU values, as spelled out in Article 2 - eg. concerning freedom of expression, of the media and of religion'", said ALDE Leader Guy Verhofstadt.
"It is stated in Article 7 that when there 'is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2' the EU institutions shall take action. If not the EU, then who? If not now, when?"
"This should not be perceived as an attack on Hungary or the Hungarian people but a warning to the Hungarian government, and other governments who may pursue similar changes undermining civil liberties", Verhofstadt concluded.
Vladko Todorov PANAYOTOV (Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Bulgaria)
Vladko Panayotov's is a member of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms Party of Bulgaria, has been a member of the European Parliament since Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, and was elected to his seat in the 2009 elections.
In order to promote his parliamentary activities, Professor Panayotov frequently organises seminars and conferences in Brussels as well as in Bulgaria on topics such as hydrogen, solar energy and responsible mining.
Prof. Panayotov's is also naturally focussed on his region of origin: the Balkans. His idea is to ensure that the Balkan region will be able to fully take part in Europe's environmental modernisation and benefit from EU legislation. His aim is to highlight the advantages of waste management in the region, and to use the conclusion taken out of the Raw Materials report and the WEEE Directive to boost waste collection, recycling, reuse, prevention and investments in environmentally friendly equipment and infrastructures.
Professor Panayotov is married and has a son and a granddaughter who live in Bulgaria. He is passionate about traditional Jazz and plays the tenor saxophone as a hobby. He shares his talent every year with his colleagues during the ALDE Christmas party performing Jazz covers on his Saxophone. His performances are always warmly welcomed by his colleagues which has earned him the nickname: "the Bill Clinton of the Parliament"