VoteWatch Europe EP Plenary newsletter
December 2014 European Parliament plenary round-up
(click on the links for details)

In this edition:

1. Large EP majority adopts the resolution on recognition of the Palestinian State

2. Resolution against tar sand oil in Europe rejected by a small margin

3. Vast EP majority ratifies the Association Agreement with Georgia 


1. Large EP majority adopted the resolution on recognition of the Palestinian State  

An overwhelming majority of MEPs adopted a resolution supporting in principle the recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution on the basis of 1967 borders, by 498 votes in favour to 88 votes against and 111 abstentions.
The EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups approved the recognition. The ECR and the EFDD groups were highly split with the majority of their members voting against.

Palestine statehood has been recognised by Sweden in October 2014, as well as by other Member States before joining the EU. Moreover, in the last months, motions on the recognition of the State of Palestine have been approved in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, the Irish Senate, the Spanish Parliament, the French National Assembly, and the Portuguese Assembly.
The text underlines that only individual Member States have the competence to recognise the State of Palestine and not the European Union.
The resolution also calls for the resumption of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestine as a precondition to the recognition of the State of Palestine and stresses the importance of the consolidation of the authority of the Palestinian government and of its administration in the Gaza strip for the achievement of the goal.
The text urges all Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to end internal divisions and to commit to the peaceful existence of both countries. Finally, the resolution reiterates that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and strongly condemns all acts of terrorism and violence. 
Click here to see how each MEP voted on the resolution.

2. Resolution against tar sand oil in Europe rejected by a small margin

The European Parliament rejected a resolution by the ENVI committee against the new controversial fuel quality rules proposed by the EU Commission, by 337 votes in favour to 325 votes against and 48 abstentions. Not enough for the qualified majority of 376 needed to adopt the resolution.
The resolution was supported by the left-leaning groups (S&D, Greens/EFA, GUE/NGL) together with a majority of the ALDE group. The EPP, ECR and the majority of the EFDD group voted against it.

The EP groups opposing the adoption of the proposed new Fuel Quality Directive argued that it failed to include a separate methodology for assessing greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil, which in their opinion should not be part of the European fuel mix. This is because the exploitation of tar sand oil causes more pollution than conventional drilling the ENVI committee has stressed.
Moreover, the question is controversial because critics of the new proposal believe its weakening was linked to talks over the EU-Canada free trade agreement CETA.
Click here to see how each MEP voted on the resolution.


3. Vast EP majority ratified the Association Agreement with Georgia 

The European Parliament gave its consent to the ratification of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement by 490 votes in favour, 76 against and 57 abstentions. All the EP political groups supported the conclusion of the deal with the exception of the radical left group GUE-NGL, that mainly abstained, and the far right group EFDD, with the British delegation UKIP opposing the ratification and the Italian 5-stars Movement abstaining.
The accompanying resolution approved by 491 votes in favour to 84 against, with 63 abstentions, welcomes the signature of the Association Agreement as a step forward in EU-Georgia relations and as a commitment to further political association and economic integration.
In the resolution, the members of the EU Parliament also reiterated their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and called on Russia to fully respect the inviolability of the internationally recognised borders of the country. Therefore, MEPs claimed that Russia should end the occupation of Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia.
The resolution notes the progress made by Georgia towards democratic reform but recalls that the countries still needs to advance the reform of its judiciary system. 
After those with Ukraine and Moldova, the deal is the third in a new series of association agreements ratified by the European Union.
Click here to how the MEPs voted on the ratification of the Association Agreement.
Click here to see how each MEP voted on the accompanying resolution.

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VoteWatch Europe is an independent organisation set up to promote better debates and greater transparency in EU decision-making, by providing easy access to, and analysis of, the votes and other activities of the European Parliament (EP) and the EU Council of Ministers (Council). VoteWatch uses the EU Institutions' own attendance, voting and activity data - available through their websites - to give a full overview of MEP and Member State activities.

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