March 19th, 2013
March 19th and the European Parliament turned green as we joined with fellow Irish MEPs and colleagues and friends in the European institutions to mark our national day.
It was a privilege to host the event and we were delighted to welcome Minister Brian Hayes and Commissioner Geoghegan to the event.
It was an occasion to celebrate all that is good about Irish food and drink and to spend time with colleagues discussing EU issues.
Mairead welcomes Ceolteoir Carolan to the European Parliament
I was delighted to welcome Ceolteoir Carolan to the event – the group of three harpists Rachel McGuinness, Fiona Gryson and Caoimhe Harte entertained and enthralled the gathering.
I was also every greatful to the many companies who joined us in making the event so successful – Ferdia Fine Foods, Largo Foods, The Irish Dairy Board, Dawn farm Foods, Greenisle foods, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, First Ireland Spirits, Cooley Distillery and The Wild Geese Wine and Spirit Company.
Tourism Ireland showed a fabulous video of Ireland and its many attractions. It would make me want to holiday there!
Reviewing the Food Chain
The horsemeat DNA scandal has served to increase an awareness and interest amongst consumers as to the complexities of the food chain. It is far more intricate than many ever realised and includes many ‘middlemen’ so to speak, before the product reaches the customer.
We consume more and more processed foods which undergo a long journey along the food chain before reaching the kitchen table. It is essential to look at the food chain from the perspectives of health and quality control.
EU policymakers are also examining the food chain with regard to its commercial practices and the issue of retailer power over producers.
I was very interested to attend an exchange of views with the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, with fellow members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture yesterday (Monday).
Commissioner Barnier addressed MEPs on commercial practices in the food chain. It follows the recent publication of the European Commission’s Retail Action Plan and consultation on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain.
‚ā¨227m Health Booster
Health research across the EU received a welcome boost with a cash injection of ‚ā¨227 million, available for the Marie Curie fellowship grants under the current seventh Framework Programme for Research (2007-13).
According to the European Commission, it is the single biggest amount to be provided under the Marie Curie Actions fund and will be awarded to around 1,000 experienced researchers this year.
It is vital that the EU continues to support and encourage innovative and effective health research so that our medical industry can grow and adapt to meet the future needs of our citizens. Recent Marie Curie grant beneficiaries have carried out ground-breaking research related to Hepatitis C and malaria.
The total 2007-2013 budget for the Marie Curie Actions is ‚ā¨4.7 billion, almost half of which (48%) supports PhD training for researchers, with 24% allocated to fellowships for researchers with more than four years of post-Masters’ experience.
Individual fellowships will continue to be provided under the new Marie SkŇāodowska-Curie Actions as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, which starts in 2014.
eTwinning offers a platform for 100,000 schools in 33 European countries to communicate, collaborate, develop projects, share and, in short, feel and be part of the most exciting interactive learning community in Europe.¬†
As part of the new Erasmus for All programme from 2014, schools that wish to cooperate across borders¬†will be able to do so with¬†support¬†from the European Commission.
The eTwinning scheme does not finance individual projects but offers tools and support to teachers and pupils such as the eTwinning portal and seminars for teachers. The scheme presents a cost-effective way for schools to take part in international cooperation and for pupils to experience other cultures and develop interpersonal skills.
It is really important that future generations understand the value of international relationships and respect for other cultures, as Europe continues to become more integrated. It can also spark an interest in languages and international affairs in young people.
The best school twinning projects for 2013 were honoured recently at the eTwinning Awards in Lisbon. The top prize went to the Rainbow Village project which brought together young people aged 12 to 15 years from France, Greece, Romania, the UK, Turkey, Italy, Slovakia and Poland. The pupils created a virtual post-Armageddon world and explored themes such as survival, conservation and citizenship.
I would encourage schools in my constituency to find out how they can get involved in eTwinning.
L√©argas is the eTwinning reference point in Ireland. Find out more about eTwinning in Ireland at the L√©argas website.
Click here for more information¬†from the Commission’s eTwinning portal.