Procedure : 2014/2829(RSP)
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Document selected : B8-0035/2015

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PV 15/01/2015 - 11.9
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to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 37(3) of the Rules of Procedure and the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission

on the Commission Work Programme for 2015 (2014/2829(RSP))

Gianni Pittella, Enrique Guerrero Salom on behalf of the S&D Group

European Parliament resolution on the Commission Work Programme for 2015 (2014/2829(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2014 entitled ‘Commission Work Programme 2015 – A New Start’ (COM (2014)0910),

–       having regard to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission,

–       having regard to the commitments made by Commission President Juncker before the plenary sitting of Parliament on 15 July 2014 and to those made by all the commissioners-designate during their parliamentary hearings,

–       having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas after too many years of imposed austerity, high and rising unemployment, increasing inequality and poverty, and the lowering of social standards, the EU faces the risk of a long-term decline and a loss of citizens’ trust and confidence;

B.     whereas the EU as a political concept is at a turning-point in its history, and whereas the economic and financial crisis has plunged it into a political crisis with the rise of extremism in almost all the Member States;

C.     whereas the EU’s highest priority should consequently be to revive the hopes of its citizens, to deliver sustainable growth and quality jobs, and to lay the foundations for a new post-crisis sustainable model within which economic, social and environmental progress are equally ensured and mutually reinforcing;

D.     whereas, as a matter of principle, social rights cannot be subordinated to economic freedoms, and economic and social progress must be closely linked and mutually supporting;

E.     whereas tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance by companies and individuals, and aggressive tax planning by governments, distort the internal market and undermine cohesion and solidarity;

F.     whereas the recent terrorist attacks in France have painfully reminded Europe and the entire world of the importance of tolerance, freedom of expression, intercultural understanding and efforts to prevent radicalisation of any kind;

General political considerations

1.      Notes the Commission’s agenda for change focused on jobs and growth, but deplores the failure of its Work Programme to address Parliament’s concerns adequately; calls on the Commission, therefore, to make full use of its powers and to take the lead and lay the foundations for sustainable economic development to reduce unemployment, especially among the young; invites the Commission to launch a broad reflection on the future of Europe in all its dimensions, with a view to achieving a fully fledged political union which would restore its democratic legitimacy;

2.      Supports a massive investment programme to close Europe’s dramatic investment gap and increase its growth potential; calls on the Commission to ensure that private investments are also made in those EU regions strongly affected by the economic crisis; recalls the importance of investment-friendly budgetary rules so as to encourage Member States’ participation in the forthcoming European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in particular through the neutralisation in the context of the Stability and Growth Pact of their paid-in capital and public co-financing of investment projects, including where financing from the Structural Funds is involved; insists on the need to develop an EFSI investment strategy based on more ambitious projects and aimed at creating quality jobs, accompanying the transition to a low-carbon economy and ensuring social and territorial cohesion within the EU;

3.      Calls for community-based management and adequate governance for the EFSI; asks the Commission to use all the existing margins available under the Stability and Growth Pact to ensure investments, growth and jobs;

4.      Expresses its grave concern over the lack of a substantial social dimension in the Commission Work Programme (CWP), which demonstrates a serious failure to understand the effects of the crisis in many Member States; calls on the Commission to rectify this shortcoming by taking action and making proposals that will complete its Work Programme during 2015; takes note of the principle of political discontinuity, but is concerned that, unless sensitively and pragmatically applied, this principle may lead to some crucial goals being weakened or abandoned without proper political debate; emphasises that the social and environmental acquis should not fall victim to the REFIT programme;

5.      Considers that the structural reforms needed must be guided by a progressive vision (for example through increased provision of education and lifelong training, which generate economic performance, or through social and health security acting as a shock absorber for those hit by the crisis) and must not make people worse off or deflation more likely; takes the view that these reforms should lead to the convergence of social and fiscal policies aimed at reducing unfair competition between EU workers and Member States;

6.      Calls for an effective change in EU taxation policy and urges the Commission to fight tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning at the EU and global levels; welcomes the Commission’s intention to launch an action plan and expects bold and swift measures shortly; calls on the Commission to prepare additional proposals in key areas, including legislation on the application of country-by-country reporting for cross‑border companies in all sectors and in all countries in which they operate;

7.      Calls on the Commission to make legislative proposals for an energy union with energy efficiency, renewables and smart infrastructure as its backbone, with a sustainable and competitive EU industrial sector;

8.      Asks the Commission to put forward concrete proposals for a more proactive and flexible EU migration policy which would develop and safeguard legal routes into the EU for refugees and asylum seekers, on the one hand, and for economic migrants, on the other, as well as addressing the challenges posed to the EU in the field of migration by criminal smugglers and human traffickers;

9.      Strongly opposes the Commission’s announced intention to withdraw a number of legislative proposals, in particular the air quality legislation (given that 400 000 Europeans die every year as a result of air pollution) and the waste package, on which the co‑legislators have only recently started work; strongly rejects the withdrawal of the Maternity Leave Directive;

10.    Asserts that if, in due course, any other current legislative proposals under discussion are withdrawn or delayed, they should be submitted for an assessment of their European added value and a thorough political analysis of the pitfalls encountered, and followed by alternative proposals within six months; believes that the Commission is failing to comply with the Treaty by proposing to withdraw and replace initiatives if no agreement is reached within a certain timeframe (for instance in the case of the proposal for a regulation on production and labelling of organic products and the proposal concerning the scheme for the supply of fruit, vegetables and milk to schools);

11.    Stresses the need to link EU internal policies to global challenges for climate change and sustainable development (2015 being the European Year for Development) and to promote a public debate on the trade negotiations with the United States (concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)); recalls that 2015 should be the year for the EU to take an active role in re-launching the Middle East peace process;

12.    Expresses its outrage at recent terrorist atrocities in France and threats to freedom of expression; voices its solidarity with the victims of these attacks; insists that any Commission proposals to enhance citizens’ security must demonstrate added value and respect the need to maintain unity and to uphold fundamental rights and the European values of democracy, solidarity and tolerance; calls on the Commission to propose measures to further enhance cooperation between law enforcement authorities in order to better prevent such crimes, as well as steps to prevent radicalisation of any kind and improve intercultural understanding and the socioeconomic integration of minorities in Europe;

Social dimension

13.    Takes the view that the key ambition of the new Commission should be to strengthen the European social model, a way of life on which the EU has had a proud record of being the world leader, and to make it stronger and sustainable in the long term;

14.    Recalls that 25 million Europeans, including 5 million young people, are unemployed and that poverty and social exclusion have skyrocketed, bringing misery to the most vulnerable groups in society, and in particular to women, young people, children, the elderly and disabled people; calls on the Commission to address, as a matter of priority and urgency, the issues of growing inequality within and between Member States and regions, labour market discrimination, precarious employment, rising in-work poverty and child poverty, and social dumping, which fly in the face of European values and undermine Europe’s growth potential and competitiveness;

15.    Invites the new Commission to make the principles of labour rights, social dialogue, social protection, decent wages, health and safety in the workplace, fair taxation, and equal conditions for all, regardless of gender or ethnic origin, core pillars of the CWP; asks the Commission to introduce mandatory social impact assessments for all future legislative proposals; considers it regrettable that the CWP fails to recognise that equal opportunities and gender equality are crucial in this context, in particular as regards maternity leave and the gender composition of company boards;

16.    Warns of the risk of social dumping and a ‘race to the bottom’ among European workers and social systems, and demands that the Commission present a coherent and sustainable concept for EU company law, and honour the commitment it made during the confirmation hearings before Parliament to present a proposal for a full revision of the Posting of Workers Directive;

Economic, budgetary and environmental challenges

17.    Believes that, as regards the new Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe (which includes the European Fund for Strategic Investments as one of the responses required in order to tackle the disastrous economic situation in the EU), transport infrastructure, energy infrastructure, the digital, cultural and creative industries, telecommunication infrastructure, education, vocational training, research, science and innovation should be the priority targets for this new investment package, with a broad emphasis on energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the economy; expects the Commission, in close cooperation with the co-legislators, to design the detailed architecture of the investment plan in such a way as to maximise its impact on smart investment with strong socioeconomic added value and support for entrepreneurship, growth and quality job creation; calls for a biannual assessment of the implementation of the investment plan;

18.    Recalls the ambitious objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy and underlines the need to bring forward ambitious legislative proposals to implement the 2030 Climate and Energy Package, in particular for inclusive growth and the transition to a sustainable and energy-efficient economy; calls on the Commission to design the EU’s new investment agenda around these objectives; expects, in view of the forthcoming mid‑term review of the strategy, social and environmental policy priorities to be more broadly reflected and put on a par with economic and financial considerations, and political and operational coherence to be achieved between the strategy and the new investment plan; wants the EU to play a leading role in the Paris COP 21 climate negotiations at the end of 2015;

19.    Expects the Commission to deliver rapidly on a higher carbon price in the EU Emissions Trading System in order to promote and guarantee long-term private investments in decarbonisation, and to limit the list of exceptions in the free allocation scheme for carbon leakage sectors in order to promote investments in a new sustainable energy model;

20.    Highlights its forward-looking resolution on the 2030 energy-climate package, and calls on the Commission to frame its legislative proposals around three binding targets for CO2 emissions, energy efficiency and renewable production;

21.    Calls for an ambitious EU industrial policy enabling the development of new goods and services and the restructuring of industrial processes through innovation, with a view to modernising EU industry and making the transition to a knowledge-based, digital, low‑carbon, resource-efficient economy; asks the Commission to reinforce support measures for the establishment of a European Research Area, to translate research results into commercialised manufactured goods and services and to promote the digital transition;

22.    Calls on the Commission to ensure that the principle of sustainable development, as outlined in the Treaties and included in the portfolio of the Commission First Vice‑President, is properly reflected in the CWP and underpinned by concrete legislative proposals;

23.    Underlines the enormous potential of the waste package and the air quality directive to have far-reaching and long-term positive effects on sustainable development and job creation, as well as major health and environmental benefits; reminds the Commission that the circular economy proposals should stay high on the agenda and be further implemented, inter alia by setting binding targets for resource efficiency and introducing indicators in respect of carbon footprints and land, water and material use; reminds the Commission that the entire air quality package, including the proposal for a new national emissions ceiling directive, is of the utmost importance and will bring important health, economic and environmental benefits for citizens;

24.    Calls on the Commission to reflect on current challenges in the environment and health fields, where the state of the environment negatively influences human health, and to table the planned strategies, in particular the endocrine disruptor strategy, referred to in the 7th Environment Action Programme;

25.    Deplores the absence of any educational and cultural dimension in the CWP which would emphasise the creative dimension of growth, employment and the competitiveness of the European system and industry; calls on the Commission to adopt a stronger, cross-sectoral approach to promoting digital and cultural industries with a view to developing the human rights and the creativity, culture and education of EU citizens;

26.    Considers it essential that the Commission continue its proposals and the work conducted during its previous term on the role and recognition of the social economy and social entrepreneurship within the EU; urges the Commission to submit proposals for European statutes for mutual societies and associations and a revised proposal on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society, and to maintain its proposal on the European Foundation Statute;

27.    Supports the Commission’s intention to design a system at EU level which would ensure that taxes are paid in the country where profits are generated; believes that fair taxation will boost the real and sustainable economy, generating growth and creating jobs, and recalls that the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance should be linked to national budgets but also to the EU own resources debate; calls on the Commission to take the lead in establishing common EU measures to fight tax havens, including a proposal on the 14th Company Law Directive in which it explicitly excludes the division of company seats, defines tax havens, sets out an EU blacklist and introduces concrete measures aimed at eradicating tax havens;

28.    Insists that a new system of corporate taxation is not only a fiscal justice measure but should also be aimed at collecting new resources to strengthen a European fiscal capacity; recalls that the current limitation and weakness of the European budget have led to substantial sacrifices each year as far as Parliament’s priorities are concerned, at a time when sufficient funds for an EU stimulus plan are needed;

29.    Is concerned about the continuing payments crisis in the EU budget and the steadily increasing level of unpaid bills; calls on the Commission to come forward with a concrete proposal to put the EU budget on a sound and sustainable footing, reforming in particular the EU’s own resources system with the aim of reducing the vulnerability of EU finances to national disputes;

30.    Recalls that the revision of the multiannual financial framework is urgently needed in order to make real reforms and find increased resources to implement the proposed investment plan, and should be in line with the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy and with the investment plan;

31.    Asks the Commission to carry out an impact assessment on the potential benefits linked to an unemployment insurance scheme at the European and/or eurozone level;

32.    Calls on the Commission to ensure the necessary deepening of economic and social coordination within the framework of economic and monetary union (EMU), not least in order to overcome the growing divergences between eurozone Member States, which are undermining the sustainability of EMU, and expects the full involvement of Parliament, possibly through an interinstitutional agreement; recalls that the completion of EMU must also lead to a significant strengthening of its democratic dimension;

33.    Underlines the need to achieve the banking union, namely through the implementation of the rules already adopted on the single supervisory and resolution mechanisms, especially by developing the necessary arrangements to ensure sufficient borrowing capacity for the Single Resolution Fund; expects, in this context, further initiatives, in particular for a European deposit guarantee mechanism;

34.    Stresses the importance of continuing to strengthen the regulatory framework for financial and banking services, with particular emphasis on shadow banking;

35.    Insists that the simplification of technical measures for the protection of marine organisms should be carried out via regionalisation, but warns that this should not imply a step backwards to national decision-making; urges the Commission not only to evaluate the impact of the Fisheries Control Regulation on the newly adopted common fisheries policy but also to strive for a recast by the end of 2015;

36.    Calls on the Commission to propose measures to guarantee a balanced milk market when milk quotas end on 31 March 2015, so as to prevent negative social and economic consequences, and risks to long-term investment in the sector;

Migration and justice, fundamental rights, consumers, Digital Europe

37.    Calls on the Commission to adopt a holistic approach to migration and asylum policy by establishing reliable mechanisms for solidarity and the sharing of financial and other responsibilities among the Member States; expects the Commission not only to enhance existing European instruments but also to explore and propose new means of safe and legal access to the EU; takes the view that this policy must include partnerships with third countries in support of secure mobility, democratisation processes, joint border management, the fight against smuggling and trafficking of human beings and joint protection of people in distress;

38.    Is concerned about the Commission’s failure to respond to the growing challenges to democracy and fundamental freedoms in some Member States; calls for action on these issues, in particular the monitoring of fundamental rights in the Member States, media freedom and the rule of law throughout the EU; expects the Commission to present initiatives to strengthen the fight against discrimination on grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or identity, religion or belief, disability or age;

39.    Finds it unacceptable that the situation of the European Roma community is constantly worsening; calls for a distinct action plan on ways to diminish the social exclusion of Roma by mainstream society while simultaneously increasing their social inclusion; underlines the need for a European Roma strategy that goes beyond the current national strategies; calls for a fundamental revision of the national Roma strategies in order to apply benchmark goals and effective parameters for measuring levels of anti‑gypsyism and its effects across the Member States;

40.    Calls on the Commission to intensify its efforts to ensure early accession to the European Convention on Human Rights in a way that is compatible with fundamental rights and European values as set out in the Treaties;

41.    Considers it regrettable that the CWP has little to say about EU citizens as consumers; insists that Digital Europe is a much wider concept than just the digital single market, and that any proposals must guarantee consumer and data protection, taking into account the social dimension, universal access, inclusion of all parts of the population, net neutrality and cultural diversity; recalls the need to put in place an effective redress mechanism for consumers in the EU and to tackle fraud prevention and tax evasion in the context of digital activities;

42.    Calls on the Commission to develop a comprehensive European response to the fundamental rights problems of LGBTI persons, in the shape of an EU strategy or roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, as repeatedly called for by Parliament and Member States;

European External Action Service, enlargement, neighbourhood policy

43.    Takes note of the organisational efforts within the new Commission which should give its Vice-President / the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) powers extending beyond the common foreign and security policy and ensure better integration of the external dimension of EU policies with the expertise of the European External Action Service; insists on the need for better communication between trade and neighbourhood policy and asks the Commission to ensure that migration policy is no longer formulated without reference to development policy;

44.    Firmly believes that the Commission should demonstrate its commitment to keeping the enlargement policy alive by working hard on the opening of certain negotiation chapters with Turkey, Montenegro and Serbia and adequately addressing the challenges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Albania and Kosovo, in order to make concrete progress in 2015 on the path to EU integration;

45.    Notes that the Commission will start assessing the National Economic Reform Programmes of the enlargement countries as of January 2015, with the aim of adapting their economic governance to the changing European model; warns the Commission not to repeat in the enlargement countries the mistake of government austerity undermining economic growth;

46.    Challenges the Commission to step up its engagement with eastern neighbours and help countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to stabilise by enlarging the sphere of democracy and social justice; stresses that only democratic and inclusive governments can build the sense of citizenship necessary to make themselves resilient against attempts to undermine their sovereignty;

47.    Calls for the stepping-up of EU efforts to assist in bringing an end to the conflict in Ukraine and re-launching the dialogue with Moscow; takes the view, in this connection, that the sanctions are aimed at getting the Russian Government to change its policy; considers that the maintenance, reinforcement or reversibility of the sanctions depends on Russia’s own attitude and on the situation in Ukraine;

48.    Expresses its full support for the VP/HR’s efforts to facilitate a common EU approach to the recognition of the State of Palestine; calls on the VP/HR to fulfil her responsibility as an influential player and to take a bold and comprehensive peace initiative for the Middle East region, in particular on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative;

49.    Calls on the VP/HR to actively engage with all regional and international actors (in particular Iran and Russia) with influence over parties to the Syrian conflict in order to defeat the Islamic State terrorists and end the conflict in Syria;

50.    Welcomes the VP/HR’s commitment to pay more attention to the southern Mediterranean region; recalls the crucial dimension of the southern neighbourhood policy; reaffirms that the policy must be based on co-development in order to promote stability and prosperity in the region; insists on the need to strengthen political and economic cooperation; calls on the Commission to support the democratic aspirations of civil society;

51.    Is convinced that the VP/HR should strengthen the EU’s role in Latin America and improve and broaden its political and commercial agreements with Latin American countries, as well as the regional and bi-regional integration processes currently in progress;

52.    Calls on the Commission to encourage and develop a genuine foreign policy for security and defence in order to fight conflicts, political instability and corruption and to promote security, respect for human rights, stability and conflict resolution;

Trade, human rights, development policy

53.    Shares the Commission’s views on the need to work towards a balanced trade agreement with the USA as a tool to boost growth and jobs, while safeguarding the EU’s health, social, environmental and data protection standards and its cultural diversity; believes that the TTIP should ensure meaningful market access and promote high environmental and social standards; considers that there should be no investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in the agreement;

54.    Considers it regrettable that the CWP does not include a reform of the EU’s regime for dual-use exports; calls on the Commission to deliver a strategy paper outlining the EU’s wider trade policy objectives beyond the TTIP; insists that all trade agreements include binding clauses on labour and environmental standards;

55.    Recalls that human rights is one of the overarching priorities for the VP/HR; reiterates the need to work with all the Commissioners to mainstream human rights in other policy areas, in particular migration, development, the environment, internet governance, trade, investment, technology and business;

56.    Expresses serious concerns about the humanitarian situation of Syrian refugees; recalls that asylum policies and assistance to refugees are key human rights instruments, especially in the case of people fleeing from a conflict, and calls on the Commission to launch a common European strategy to guarantee the necessary assistance to Syrian refugees by means of an European plan for providing shelter and distributing refugees among the Member States on a proportional basis;

57.    Encourages the Commission to take the opportunity afforded by the importance of 2015 for international development to ensure full policy coherence for development across its Work Programme; demands that the Commission be coherent and serious about its commitment to fighting the Ebola epidemic, which has highlighted the urgent need for the Programme for Action on Global Health to be presented and implemented;

58.    Remains seriously concerned about the constraints, in particular of a budgetary nature, that the Commission faces in addressing the historic number of simultaneous humanitarian crises, and calls for immediate follow-up to the EU Action Plan of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid;

Transparency and working relationship between Parliament and the Commission

59.    Reminds the Commission President of his commitment to work transparently with Parliament in a spirit of loyalty, mutual trust and cooperation, and to respect the equality between the EU co-legislators;

60.    Expresses its disappointment at the way the Commission has been communicating, in particular in the run-up to the presentation of its Work Programme to the plenary sitting of 16 December 2014; considers regrettable the Commission’s lack of transparency and deplores the confusion and lack of relevant information prior to the publication and presentation of the CWP; calls on the Commission, therefore, to restore the trust between the Commission and Parliament, which has regrettably been damaged;

61.    Welcomes the Commission’s proposal to establish a mandatory lobby register on the basis of an interinstitutional agreement and expresses its willingness to begin negotiations, but also recalls its demand that the Commission submit a legislative proposal for the establishment of a mandatory register on the basis of Article 352 TFEU and include a proposal allowing a mandatory register to be set up in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure;

62.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council.

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