Written by Richard Freedman
Returning to March 2016, the Plenary podcasts focussed on the reformed scheme for fruit and milk in schools and market access to port services and financial transparency of ports.
Reformed scheme for fruit and milk in schools
To promote healthier lifestyles and combat obesity among school children, the European Commission has proposed to merge two separate EU schemes for the distribution of milk and fruit in schools under a joint framework. Children across the EU should get the benefit of better-funded school milk, fruit and vegetable schemes, along with better education on healthy eating. A draft new law to this end, provisionally agreed with EU ministers in December 2015 and approved by Parliament in March, will merge today’s separate EU school milk and fruit schemes and boost their combined annual budget by €20 million to €250 million a year.
Listen to the Plenary podcast Reformed scheme for fruit and milk in schools [Plenary podcast]
Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports
In a third attempt to liberalise the EU’s port services, the European Commission has set sail for an long-awaited modernisation of port services offered by the EU’s 329 main seaports. Draft rules designed to boost the efficiency and cut the cost of services supplied at EU maritime ports, such as mooring and towage, were voted by Parliament in March 2016. Ensuring transparency in the setting of fees for using port services and infrastructure, and in any public funding that ports receive, should help to prevent price abuse and market distortions and thus boost trade, MEPs say. But current port service arrangements could remain, provided they meet minimum requirements, they add.
Listen to the Plenary podcast Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports [Plenary podcast]
The longer Policy podcasts of March 2016 focussed on The Digital Single Market and the situation in Syria.
Digital Single Market
Recent estimates by the European Parliament suggest that moving from 28 national markets to a single one could contribute €415 billion per year to our economy and create millions of new jobs. The EU’s single market is one of the greatest successes of European integration. But switch from the physical to the online, and you’ll see the picture is not quite the same.
Listen to the Policy podcast on the Digital Single Market
Situation in Syria
What started as local anti-government protests in south-western Syria in 2011 has evolved into a fully-fledged war whose end is not yet in sight. The conflict has forced over 4.5 million Syrians to flee the country, many of them seeking refuge in Europe. In this EPRS policy podcast, we analysed the roots, evolution and international response to an external conflict that became EU business.
Listen to the Policy podcast on the situation in Syria