Opening of Brussels plenary session

At the start of this week's Brussels session of the European Parliament, EP President Jerzy Buzek expressed sympathy for victims of the Belgian rail disaster of 15 February and the Madeira floods of 21 February.

"To my deepest regret I must inform you that Mrs Claudia Candeago, one of our colleagues from the Communication Directorate-General, was among the victims of the train crash near Brussels. Mrs Candeago had been working in the European Parliament since December 2008. On behalf of us all, I express our sympathy and condolences to her family".

Mr Buzek also voiced Parliament's sympathy for victims of catastrophic floods on the island of Madeira, where the biggest storm since 1993 had taken the lives of more than 30 people. "In these difficult days we convey our sympathy to their families and join them in our prayers", he said. The President then asked everyone present to stand and observe a minute's silence in memory of victims of both disasters.

Mr Buzek welcomed Council President Hermann Van Rompuy to his first plenary session, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and two guests from Belarus: Ms Andzelika Borys, leader of the Union of Poles in Belarus and Mr Aleksander Milinkevich leader of Belarusian democratic opposition and a Sakharov prize-winner.

"Unfortunately, Belarus is again hitting the headlines by repressing a non-governmental organisation. The European Parliament defends the universal values, in which we all believe and which are close to our hearts. We shall be condemning all authoritarian regimes which use violence toward citizens and repress democratic organisations that do not share their convictions", said the President.

Agenda changes

The House decided on the following agenda changes:

Council and Commission statements on the situation in Belarus will be added on Wednesday, directly after the debate on the Goldstone recommendations on Israel/Palestine. Parliament will vote a resolution on this topic at its March session.

A European Commission statement on the major natural disaster in the autonomous region of Madeira will be added on Wednesday, after the one-minute speeches. Parliament will vote a resolution on this topic at the March plenary session.

A European Commission statement on railway safety, including the European signalling system, will be added on Thursday, after the debate on the fisheries green paper. There will be no resolution.

At the request of the S&D group, the plenary vote on the Lehne report on the annual accounting requirements for micro-companies was postponed to March.


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