Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2014-11-12-Speech-3-348-000"
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"Mr President, I too would like to warmly welcome Commissioner Thyssen to Parliament here this evening on behalf of the ALDE Group in the Parliament. I too am looking forward to working with her and her secretariat for the next number of years. I tend to agree with Ms McIntyre – as I sometimes do – on the item we are discussing here this evening. I am not sure what role we play here other than for information, but nonetheless we are discussing it, so I therefore have just a few comments to make on the amendments that are in front of us. The first one is to allow the cooperation of the contracting parties to extend to social affairs. By doing this, we will ensure that Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will be able, for example, to access the Progress Microfinance Facility. As we know, this fund was set up to help microbusinesses. It provides funds of up to EUR 25 000 for small businesses, if they are either setting up or expanding. It is particularly targeted at those who have difficulty accessing credit from conventional credit lines. I am very pleased to see this and to see the good outcomes so far in a recent Commission report as to how this Progress Microfinance Facility has worked. It has given over EUR 182 million to over 20 000 entrepreneurs, and the crucial point is that 60% of those final users were unemployed or inactive, and 30% were women. So it is getting to those who are targeted and, from that perspective, not only do I think it is an excellent facility within the EU, but I am glad to see that it will be extended to the EFTA countries. The other amendment we are discussing this evening is the amendment to include cooperation concerning the free movement of workers. My only comment on that is that I – like most people in this Parliament – believe that this is a cornerstone of EU policy and I will be pleased to see that right extended to the countries in question."@en1
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