Seven Days in Europe

The Court of Justice of the European Union has announced that it is changing its procedural rules in order to cope with the constant rise in cases brought before it. 60% of the Court’s caseload is dealing with references for a preliminary ruling from the courts and tribunals of the Member States, and under the new scheme these references will have a separate title and description in order to improve clarity. Other changes are to the timeframe of cases to encourage them to be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. The former rules had not been changed in any fundamental way since their original adoption in 1953.

Denmark is leading a labelling scheme to identify products that are from Israeli settlements which the EU has deemed illegal. An event sponsored by Denmark’s foreign ministry in Brussels on 23 October will press for EU-level regulation on guidelines for consumers.

Nuclear “stress tests” carried out at the EU’s 143 atomic reactors have identified safety flaws which will require significant investment in order to achieve proper safety levels. The tests, designed to assess whether nuclear plants could stand up to earthquakes and flooding, were commissioned in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.  The EU press release states that the results confirm a high safety standard and puts forward positive action plans, but press on the full leaked report indicates that there are fears about causing alarm to residents living in the vicinity of nuclear reactors and the findings indicate a more grave situation than the summary would suggest.

This week’s summary of European Parliament business states that the budget committee met to vote on proposals for the 2013 EU budget. Although Member States are pushing for drastic cuts, MEPs are siding for a robust budget. On Wednesday MEPs debated on promoting gender equality through legislation, with the justice commissioner fighting to impose gender quotas on the boards of publicly listed companies. In related news, the nomination of Yves Mersch to the ECB board will result in an all-male executive board at the ECB until 2018.

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