Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 30 April 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Suspension of exceptional trade measures with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina ***I
 Persecution of the Christians around the world, in relation to the killing of students in Kenya by terror group Al-Shabaab
 Destruction of cultural sites perpetrated by ISIS/Da'esh
 Situation in the Maldives
 2014 Progress Report on Albania
 2014 Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina
 European Investment Bank annual report 2013
 Expo Milano 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life
 Situation in Nigeria
 The case of Nadiya Savchenko
 The situation of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria
 Imprisonment of human and workers' rights activists in Algeria

Suspension of exceptional trade measures with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina ***I
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Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 30 April 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union's Stabilisation and Association process and suspending its application with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina (COM(2014)0386 – C8-0039/2014 – 2014/0197(COD))(1)
P8_TA(2015)0177A8-0060/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 2
(2)  Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 does not provide any possibility to temporarily suspend the grant of exceptional trade measures in case of serious and systematic violations of the fundamental principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law by its beneficiaries. It is appropriate to introduce such possibility, so as to ensure that swift action can be taken in case serious and systematic violations of the fundamental principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law would occur in one of the countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union's Stabilisation and Association process.
(2)  Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 does not provide any possibility to temporarily suspend the grant of exceptional trade measures in case of serious and systematic violations of the fundamental principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law by its beneficiaries. It is appropriate to introduce such possibility, so as to ensure that swift action can be taken in case serious and systematic violations of the fundamental principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law would occur in one of the countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union's Stabilisation and Association process. Respect for democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights and the protection of minorities are required to achieve progress in the accession process.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 5
(5)  Since the launch of the Stabilisation and Association Process, Stabilisation and Association Agreements have been concluded with all concerned Western Balkan countries, with the exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo3. In June 2013, the Council authorised the Commission to start negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo.
(5)  Since the launch of the Stabilisation and Association Process, Stabilisation and Association Agreements have been concluded with all concerned Western Balkan countries, with the exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo3. In May 2014, the negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo were completed and the Agreement was initialled in July 2014.
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3 This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
3 This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 7
(7)  However, Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet accepted to adapt trade concessions granted under the Interim Agreement in order to take into account the preferential traditional trade between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). In case, by the time of the adoption of this Regulation, an agreement on the adaptation of the trade concessions set out in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and in the Interim Agreement has not been signed and provisionally applied by European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the preferences granted to Bosnia and Herzegovina should be suspended as from 1 January 2016. Once Bosnia-Herzegovina and the European Union will have signed and provisionally applied an agreement on the adaptation of trade concessions in the Interim Agreement, those preferences should be re-established.
(7)  However, Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet accepted to adapt trade concessions granted under the Interim Agreement in order to take into account the preferential traditional trade between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). In case, by the time of the adoption of this Regulation, an agreement on the adaptation of the trade concessions set out in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and in the Interim Agreement has not been signed and provisionally applied by European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the preferences granted to Bosnia and Herzegovina should be suspended as from 1 January 2016. Once Bosnia-Herzegovina and the European Union will have signed and provisionally applied an agreement on the adaptation of trade concessions in the Interim Agreement, those preferences should be re-established. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Commission should redouble efforts to find, before 1 January 2016 and in line with the Interim Agreement, a mutually acceptable solution, especially in terms of cross-border trade,
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 7 a (new)
(7a)  It is necessary to take into account the constant progress towards European Union membership by the concerned countries and territories of the Western Balkans, as well the accession of Croatia to the Union and the consequent need to adapt the Interim Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this context, it is also necessary to take into account the Union's unequivocal commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU perspective, as set out in the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council of 15 December 2014. In those conclusions, the need was reiterated for the political leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina to anchor the reforms needed for EU integration in the work of all relevant institutions, and the need to establish the functionality and efficiency at all levels of government in order to allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to prepare for future EU membership,
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 7 b (new)
(7b)  The European Union remains committed to support Bosnia and Herzegovina's European perspective and expects the political leadership of the country to pursue reforms aimed at promoting functional institutions as well as ensuring equal rights for the three constituent peoples and all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – point -1 (new)
Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009
Recital 14 a (new)
(-1) The following recital is inserted:
"(14a) In order to allow for a proper democratic oversight of the application of this Regulation, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of necessary amendments and technical adjustments to Annexes I and II following amendments to CN codes and to the TARIC subdivisions, in respect of necessary adjustments following the granting of trade preferences under other arrangements between the Union and the countries and territories covered by this Regulation, and in respect of the suspension of benefits under this Regulation in the event of non-compliance with the condition of effective administrative cooperation in order to prevent fraud, the condition of respect for human rights and the rule of law principles as well as the condition of engaging in effective economic reforms and in regional cooperation. It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level. The Commission, when preparing and drawing up delegated acts, should ensure a simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to the European Parliament and to the Council. The Commission should provide full information and documentation on its meetings with national experts within the framework of its work on the preparation and implementation of delegated acts. In this respect, the Commission should ensure that the European Parliament is duly involved, drawing on best practices from previous experience in other policy areas in order to create the best possible conditions for future scrutiny of delegated acts by the European Parliament;"
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – point 1 a (new)
Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009
Article 2 – paragraph 3
(1a)  In Article 2, paragraph 3 is replaced by the following:
3.  In the event of non-compliance by a country or territory with paragraphs 1 or 2, the Commission may, by means of implementing acts, suspend, in whole or in part, the entitlement of the country or territory concerned to benefits under this Regulation. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 8(4).
3.  In the event of non-compliance by a country or territory with points (a) or (b) of paragraph 1, the Commission may, by means of implementing acts, suspend, in whole or in part, the entitlement of the country or territory concerned to benefit under this Regulation. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 8(4).
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – point 1 b (new)
Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009
Article 7 – point c (new)
(1b)  In Article 7, the following point is added:
(c)  the suspension, in whole or in part, of the entitlement of a country or territory concerned to benefits under this Regulation, in the event of non-compliance by that country or territory with the conditions set out in points (c) and (d) of Article 2(1) and in Article 2(2) of this Regulation.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – point 1 c (new)
Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009
Article 10 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1– introductory wording
(1c)  In Article 10(1), the introductory wording is replaced by the following:
1.  Where the Commission finds that there is sufficient evidence of fraud or failure to provide administrative cooperation as required for the verification of evidence of origin, or that there is a massive increase of exports into the Community above the level of normal production and export capacity or a failure of compliance with the provisions of Article 2(1) by countries and territories referred to in Article 1, it may take measures to suspend in whole or in part the arrangements provided for in this Regulation for a period of three months, provided that it has first:
1.  Where the Commission finds that there is sufficient evidence of fraud or failure to provide administrative cooperation as required for the verification of evidence of origin, or that there is a massive increase of exports into the Community above the level of normal production and export capacity or a failure of compliance with the provisions of points (a) and (b) of Article 2(1) by countries and territories referred to in Article 1, it may take measures to suspend in whole or in part the arrangements provided for in this Regulation for a period of three months, provided that it has first:

(1) The matter was referred back to the committee responsible for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 61(2), second subparagraph (A8-0060/2015).


Persecution of the Christians around the world, in relation to the killing of students in Kenya by terror group Al-Shabaab
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the persecution of Christians around the world, in relation to the killing of students in Kenya by terror group Al-Shabaab (2015/2661(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0178RC-B8-0382/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Kenya,

–  having regard to the second revised Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (‘the Cotonou Agreement’), in particular Articles 8, 11 and 26 thereof,

–  having regard to the statements of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, of 23 November 2014 on the massacre of 28 civilian travellers, and of 3 April 2015 on the Garissa University butchery,

–  having regard to the press statement issued by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) at its 497th meeting, held on 9 April 2015, on the terrorist attack perpetrated in Garissa, Kenya,

–  having regard to the raid by the Kenyan Air Forces on Al-Shabaab training camps in Somalia in response to the carnage at Garissa University,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of 1981,

–  having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on International Humanitarian Law,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the latest terrorist attack in Garissa, Kenya, targeted young people, education and, therefore, the future of the country; whereas young people represent promise and peace, and are the future upholders of the country’s development; whereas education is vital for the fight against violent extremism and fundamentalism;

B.  whereas the number of attacks on religious minorities, in particular Christians, around the world has risen tremendously in recent months; whereas Christians are being slaughtered, beaten and arrested every day, mostly in some parts of the Arab world by jihadist terrorists;

C.  whereas Christians are the most persecuted religious group; whereas extremism and persecution of this nature is emerging as a significant factor in the growing phenomenon of mass migration; whereas according to data the number of Christians killed every year is more than 150 000;

D.  whereas on 15 February 2015 ISIS/ Da’esh beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya;

E.  whereas the attackers in Garissa intentionally targeted non-Muslims and singled out Christians in order to brutally execute them; whereas Al-Shabaab has been openly and publicly claiming to wage a war against Christians in the region;

F.  whereas protecting the rights of children and young people, and reinforcing skills, education and innovation, is essential in order to enhance their economic, social and cultural opportunities and to enhance the country’s development;

G.  whereas Al-Shabaab has regularly targeted students, schools and other education facilities; whereas, inter alia, in December 2009 a suicide bomber killed 19 people at a graduation ceremony for medical students in Mogadishu, Somalia, and in October 2011 the terrorist group claimed responsibility for a bombing which killed 70, including students awaiting exam results at the Somali Ministry of Education, also in Mogadishu;

H.  whereas on 25 March 2015 at least 15 people lost their lives in an attack perpetrated by Al‑Shabaab in a Mogadishu hotel, and whereas Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, Somalia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, was among those killed in the attack;

I.  whereas Kenya has been facing an increased number of attacks targeting civilians since October 2011, when its troops entered southern Somalia to take part in a coordinated operation with the Somalian military against an Al-Shabaab-controlled area after the terrorist group took four hostages;

J.  whereas since November 2011 Kenyan troops have been part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), established on 19 January 2007 by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council and authorised on 20 February 2007 by the UN Security Council (resolution 1744 (2007)), which has recently given the AU the green light to continue its mission until 30 November 2015 (resolution 2182 (2014));

K.  whereas one of the main contributors to the fight against terrorist group Al-Shabaab has been the Ethiopian army, as well as, to a lesser extent, the Ugandan army;

L.  whereas Al-Shabaab has formed links with other Islamist groups in Africa, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb;

M.  whereas the terrorist group Al-Shabaab regularly bombs and kills mostly civilians in Somalia, as well as in neighbouring countries, for instance in Kampala, Uganda, in July 2010, and a great deal more often in Kenya, where only the large-scale actions have gained international attention but smaller attacks have been a steady feature;

N.  whereas Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the raids conducted in July 2014 on the villages of Hindi, Gamba, Lamu and Tana River on the Kenyan coast, in which more than 100 people were executed, and for two attacks in Mandela county in late 2014, in which 64 people were killed;

O.  whereas after the terrorist attack on Garissa University the Kenyan Government threatened the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with closure of the Dadaab refugee camp within three months; whereas the UNHCR has warned that this would have ‘extreme humanitarian and practical consequences’; whereas the UN Refugee Convention prohibits the forcing of refugees back to areas where their life or freedom is threatened;

P.  whereas the African Standby Force (ASF) is not yet operational, and whereas the EU has stated its willingness to support African peacekeeping capabilities as part of its Security Strategy for Africa;

Q.  whereas according to Article 11 of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, ‘activities in the field of peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution shall in particular include support for balancing political, economic, social and cultural opportunities among all segments of society, for strengthening the democratic legitimacy and effectiveness of governance, for establishing effective mechanisms for the peaceful conciliation of group interests, [...] for bridging dividing lines among different segments of society as well as support for an active and organised civil society’;

1.  Condemns in the strongest terms the deliberate terrorist attack perpetrated by Al-Shabaab on 2 April 2015 in Garissa, in which it assassinated 147 young, innocent university students and injured 79 others; condemns forcefully all violations of human rights, especially when people are killed on the basis of their religion, beliefs or ethnic origin;

2.  Condemns once more the raids conducted by Al-Shabaab during the summer of 2014 on several coastal Kenyan villages, including Mpeketoni, where 50 people were executed; condemns vigorously the foray in the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi on 24 September 2013, where 67 dead bodies were discovered; condemns the Al-Shabaab attack of 25 March 2015 in Mogadishu, in which Ambassador Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, Somalia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, lost his life;

3.  Expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of the Republic of Kenya; stands by the people of Kenya in the face of these despicable acts of aggression;

4.  Recalls that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and strongly condemns any violence or discrimination on the basis of religion;

5.  Condemns the recent attacks on Christian communities in various countries, notably with regard to the throwing overboard of 12 Christians during a recent crossing from Libya and the massacre of 30 Ethiopian Christians on 19 April 2015, and expresses its solidarity with the families of the victims;

6.  Expresses its grave concern over the abuse of religion by the perpetrators of terrorist acts in several areas of the world, and its deep concern at the proliferation of episodes of intolerance, repression and violence directed against Christians, particularly in some parts of the Arab world; denounces the instrumentalisation of religion in various conflicts; condemns the increasing number of attacks on churches around the world, notably the attack that killed 14 people in Pakistan on 15 March 2015; strongly condemns the incarceration, disappearance, torture, enslavement and public execution of Christians in North Korea; confirms and supports the inalienable right of all religious and ethnic minorities living in Iraq and Syria, including Christians, to continue to live in their historical and traditional homelands in conditions of dignity, equality and safety; notes that for centuries members of different religious groups coexisted peacefully in the region;

7.  Urges the EU institutions to comply with their obligation under Article 17 TFEU to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and with religious, philosophical and non- confessional organisations, in order to ensure that the issue of the persecution of Christian communities and other religious communities is an EU priority;

8.  Condemns the use of an ancient law (‘dhimmi pact’) by ISIS/Da’esh in Syria and Iraq to extort from Christians by religious tax obligations and restrictions under the threat of death;

9.  Reaffirms its solidarity with all Christians persecuted in different parts of Africa, with special regard to recent atrocities in Libya, Nigeria and Sudan;

10.  Condemns and rejects any misinterpretation of the message of Islam to create a violent, cruel, totalitarian, oppressive and expansive ideology legitimising the extermination of Christian minorities; urges Muslim leaders to fully condemn all terrorist attacks, including those targeting religious communities and minorities, and in particular Christians;

11.  Calls for a thorough, prompt, impartial and effective investigation to be carried out in order to identify those responsible and bring the perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice;

12.  Acknowledges that the real answer must be organised around coordinated actions with other African countries, and calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Council to address security and terrorist threats in this regional area in cooperation with the African Union, in support of its crucial efforts to fight Al-Shabaab through AMISOM; urges the European Union to strongly support the implementation of continental and regional mechanisms for conflict management, mainly the African Standby Force (ASF);

13.  Calls on the Kenyan Government to take responsibility and to address both the violence of Al‑Shabaab and its root causes; deems that security can only be achieved if divisions within Kenya’s political and civil societies and regional imbalances in development are properly addressed; considers regrettable the belated response of the police forces; in particular, urges the government to refrain from using the terrorist attacks as a pretext for cracking down on civil liberties; calls on the Kenyan authorities to base their strategy for combating terrorism on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights; insists on the need for democratic and judicial oversight of counter-terrorism policies;

14.  Urges the Kenyan authorities to ensure that any division between faiths, together with the drawing of parallels between the Muslim community and Al-Shabaab, is prevented, and to take all measures to ensure that the unity of the country is preserved for the good of its social and economic growth and stability and the dignity and human rights of its people; invites the Kenyan Government, opposition leaders and religious faith leaders to address historical grievances of marginalisation, regional divides within the country and institutional discrimination, and to ensure that counter-terrorism operations target only the perpetrators and not wider ethnic and faith communities;

15.  Reminds the European External Action Service and the Member States of their commitment, under the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy adopted in June 2012, to ensure that human rights are raised in all forms of counter-terrorism dialogue with third countries;

16.  Calls for the EU to implement a military training mission programme in Kenya and to provide modern equipment, collaborating with and training Kenya’s military and police forces to fight terrorism and prevent the expansion of Al-Shabaab;

17.  Urges the Kenyan Government to make every effort to conform to the rule of law, human rights, democratic principles and fundamental freedoms, and calls for the EU to lead its international partner in this direction, and to pull together a financial contribution to enhance existing governance programmes, in order to ensure national security and bring peace and stability to the country and the region; insists that the spiralling violence of Al-Shabaab must be addressed in conjunction with neighbouring countries; asks the EU to provide all the necessary financial, logistical and expert support in this regard, including the possibility of recourse to the African Peace Facility and EU crisis management tools;

18.  Calls on the Kenyan security forces to ensure lawful responses to counter the terrorist threat; calls on the Kenyan Government to ensure the security and protection of the refugee camps in its territory, in accordance with international law;

19.  Stresses that international terrorism is financed by illegal money-laundering, ransoms, extortion, drug trafficking and corruption; calls on the Commission and the Member States to enhance cooperation with third countries on sharing intelligence relating to money‑laundering and the financing of terrorism;

20.  Reiterates its support for all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect between religious and other communities; calls on all religious authorities to promote tolerance and to take initiatives against hatred and violent and extremist radicalisation;

21.  Denounces the targeting of educational institutions and premises for terrorist attacks, as a means of undermining the education and dignity of all citizens as well as causing mistrust and division between communities; recalls the abduction and disappearance of Christian girls in the Nigerian town of Chibok by the jihadist terror group Boko Haram in 2014, which attracted worldwide condemnation;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of Kenya, the institutions of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations General Assembly and the Co-Chairs of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.


Destruction of cultural sites perpetrated by ISIS/Da'esh
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the destruction of cultural sites perpetrated by ISIS/Da’esh (2015/2649(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0179RC-B8-0375/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Questions for Oral Answer to the Council and the Commission on the destruction of cultural sites perpetrated by ISIS/Da’esh (O-000031/2015 – B8-0115/2015 and O‑000032/2015 – B8-0116/2015),

–  having regard to Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which provides that ‘action by the Union shall be aimed at encouraging cooperation between Member States’, notably in the area of ‘conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European significance’ and that ‘the Union and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of culture’,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 of 18 December 2008 on the export of cultural goods(1),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1210/2003 of 7 July 2003 concerning certain specific restrictions on economic and financial relations with Iraq and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2465/96(2),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 1332/2013 of 13 December 2013 amending Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria(3), adopted on the basis of Council Decision 2013/760/CFSP of 13 December 2013 amending Decision 2013/255/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria(4), and in particular Article 11c thereof concerning import, export or transfer of Syrian cultural property goods,

–  having regard to Council Joint Action 2001/555/CFSP of 20 July 2001 on the establishment of a European Union Satellite Centre(5), amended by Council Joint Action 2009/834/CFSP(6),

–  having regard to the Council Resolution of October 2012 on the creation of an informal network of law enforcement authorities and expertise competent in the field of cultural goods (EU CULTNET) (14232/2012)

–  having regard to the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, of 1999,

–  having regard to the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 14 November 1970,

–  having regard to the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 16 November 1972,

–  having regard to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 17 October 2003,

–  having regard to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions of 20 October 2005,

–  having regard to the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects of 1995,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 2199 of 12 February 2015 on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts by Al-Qaida(7),

–  having regard to the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites of 1964 that provides an international framework for the preservation and restoration of ancient buildings,

–  having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on 17 July 1998, and in particular to Article 8(2)(b)(ix) thereof, which recognises the act of ‘intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives’ as a war crime,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union’s policy on the matter (8),paragraph 211 of which states that ‘intentional forms of destructions of cultural and artistic heritage, as it is currently occurring in Iraq and in Syria, should be prosecuted as war crimes and as crimes against humanity’

–  having regard to the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 6 February 2015, entitled ‘Elements for an EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da’esh threat’ (JOIN(2015)0002), in which the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy recognised the seriousness of destruction and looting of cultural heritage in tackling the crises in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by Da’esh,

–  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas numerous archaeological, religious and cultural sites in Syria and Iraq have recently been subject to targeted destruction perpetrated by groups of extremists linked particularly to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/Da’esh) and whereas these systematic attacks against cultural heritage were described by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as ‘cultural cleansing’;

B.  whereas according to UNESCO the term ‘cultural cleansing’ refers to an intentional strategy that seeks to destroy cultural diversity through the deliberate targeting of individuals identified on the basis of their cultural, ethnic or religious background, combined with deliberate attacks on their places of worship, memory and learning, and whereas the strategy of cultural cleansing that can be witnessed in Iraq and Syria is reflected in attacks against the cultural heritage, i.e. both against physical, tangible and built expressions of culture such as monuments and buildings, and against minorities and intangible expressions of culture such as customs, traditions and beliefs(9);

C.  whereas some acts of destruction of the cultural heritage have been considered, under certain circumstances, as crimes against humanity(10); whereas, in particular, when directed against members of a religious or ethnic group, they can be assimilated to the crime of persecution, as set out in Article 7(1)(h) of the Statute of the International Criminal Court;

D.  whereas such acts of destruction of cultural and historical sites and objects are not new and are not confined to Iraq and Syria; whereas, according to UNESCO, ‘cultural heritage is an important component of the cultural identity of communities, groups and individuals, and of social cohesion, so that its intentional destruction may have adverse consequences on human dignity and human rights’(11); stressing that, as stated by UNESCO and others, the product of looting and smuggling of cultural and religious sites and objects in Iraq and Syria by ISIS/Da’esh, is being used to help fund ISIS/Da’esh terrorist activities, with the result that artistic and cultural goods are becoming ‘war weapons’;

E.  whereas, on 1 March 2014, thanks to the funding provided by the European Union, UNESCO with other strategic partners launched a three-year project called ‘Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Heritage’, aimed in particular at ensuring emergency protection of the Syrian cultural heritage;

F.  whereas the European Union has ratified the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted on 20 October 2005, the first international instrument to recognise the dual economic and cultural nature of cultural goods, which ‘must therefore not be treated as solely having commercial value’;

G.  whereas the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, adopted on 17 November 1970, and the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, adopted on 24 June 1995, are essential instruments for strengthening protection of the global cultural heritage;

H.  whereas illicit trade in cultural goods is now the third most significant illegal trade after drugs and arms, whereas this illicit trade is dominated by organised criminal networks, and whereas current national and international mechanisms are neither adequately equipped nor supported to tackle the issue(12);

I.  whereas, although combating the illicit trade in cultural goods is not a specific competence of the European Union, insofar as it is not defined as such in the treaties, it nevertheless comes under several EU fields of competence, such as the internal market, the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ), culture and the common foreign and security policy (CFSP);

J.  whereas there is an urgent need to better coordinate the fight against the illicit trade in cultural artefacts and to work closely together in order to promote awareness raising and information sharing and to achieve a strengthening of legal frameworks; recalling in this context that, in December 2011, the Council conclusions on preventing and combating crime against cultural goods recommended, inter alia, that the Member States strengthen cooperation between law enforcement officials, cultural authorities and private organisations;

K.  whereas, in October 2012, a Council resolution created an informal network of law enforcement authorities and expertise competent in the field of cultural goods (EU CULTNET), whose main objective is to improve the exchange of information related to the prevention of illicit trade in cultural goods and to identify and share information on criminal networks suspected of being involved in illicit trade;

L.  whereas, on Saturday, 28 March 2015, Director-General Irina Bokova launched in Bagdad the campaign #Unite4Heritage, which is aimed at mobilising global support for the protection of cultural heritage, using the power of social networks;

1.  Strongly condemns the intentional destruction of cultural, archaeological and religious sites perpetrated by ISIS in Syria and Iraq;

2.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to take appropriate action at political level, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2199 of 12 February 2015, in order to put an end to the illegal trade in cultural property from the territories of Syria and Iraq during periods of conflict in those territories, thereby preventing them from being used as a source of financing;

3.  Calls on the VP/HR to use cultural diplomacy and intercultural dialogue as a tool when it comes to reconciling the different communities and rebuilding the destroyed sites;

4.  Calls on the VP/HR, the EU and its Member States to implement security measures at the EU’s external borders to prevent cultural goods from Syria and Iraq from being smuggled into the Union and to effectively cooperate in a joint action against the trading of artefacts of Syrian and Iraqi origin in Europe, since a high concentration of the trade in Middle Eastern art is destined for the European market, together with the United States and the Gulf area;

5.  Suggests in this context that the Commission, in line with paragraph 17 of UN Security Council Resolution 2199 of 12 February 2015, focus on the fight against illicit trade in cultural artefacts, specifically as regards items of cultural heritage illegally removed from Iraq since 6 August 1990 and from Syria since 15 March 2011; calls on the Commission to devise a coordinated approach for combating that illegal trade, working together with those responsible at national level in the investigation services and in close cooperation with UNESCO and other international organisations such as ICOM (International Council of Museums), ICOM’s International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS), Europol, Interpol, UNIDROIT (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law), the WCO (World Customs Organisation), ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property);

6.  Calls on the VP/HR to involve the European Union Satellite Centre in Torrejón, which supports the decision making of the Union in the context of the CFSP by providing material resulting from the analysis of satellite imagery, for the purpose of monitoring and listing archaeological and cultural sites in Syria and Iraq and supporting the activities of Syrian archaeologists, with the aim of preventing further lootings and preserving the lives of civilians;

7.  Calls on the Commission to set up a rapid and secure exchange of information and sharing of best practices between the Member States to effectively combat the illicit trade in cultural artefacts illegally removed from Iraq and Syria and to urge the Member States to use international tools against illicit trafficking in cultural goods for police and custom officers, such as Interpol’s dedicated database ‘I-24/7’ on stolen works of art and the online communication tool of the ARCHEO programme of the World Customs Organisation (WCO);

8.  Calls for consideration to be given to putting in place European training programmes for judges, police and customs officers, government administrations and market players more generally in order to enable those involved in combating illicit trade in cultural goods to develop and improve their expertise and to support initiatives such as the e-learning course for Syrian Heritage Professionals promoted by ICOMOS in January 2013, teaching information on disaster risk management, first aid measures for cultural collections and documentation technique;

9.  Asks the Commission to link up with international projects from civil society on protecting and reporting on cultural goods in danger, such as the AAAS geospatial technologies project, and to continue to support research communities’ activities such as Project Mosul, developed by the Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage (funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions grant);

10.  Calls on the Commission to provide stronger support to ICOM’s International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods, which has produced an emergency red list of Syrian and Iraqi antiquities at risk, designed as a tool for museums, customs officials, police officers, art dealers and collectors and which plans to use satellite imagery to monitor the situation on the ground, in cooperation with UNITAR;

11.  Calls for the EU and the Member States to develop awareness-raising campaigns in order to discourage the purchase and sale of cultural goods coming from illicit trade from war areas;

12.  Calls on the Member States to take the necessary steps to involve universities, research bodies and cultural institutions, inter alia through codes of ethics, in the fight against illicit trade in cultural goods from war areas;

13.  Calls on the Commission to support UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage campaign by initiating an information campaign focused on Iraq and Syria, with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of their cultural heritage, of the way the product of looting is used to finance terrorist activities, and of the possible penalties associated with the illegal import of cultural goods coming from these countries, or from other third countries;

14.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen and improve the functioning of the informal network of law enforcement authorities and expertise competent in the field of cultural goods (EU CULTNET), created by the Council Resolution of October 2012, whose objective is to improve the exchange of information related to the prevention of illicit trade in cultural goods, and to envisage the creation of an additional instrument to control the import of cultural goods unlawfully removed by Syria and Iraq into the EU;

15.  Calls on the Council to strengthen the Eurojust and Europol units devoted to supporting the ongoing investigations, prevention and exchange of intelligence regarding illegal trade in cultural goods;

16.  Encourages the relaunching of the actions of ICOM’s International Committee of the Blue Shield;

17.  Calls on the European Union to take the necessary steps, in collaboration with UNESCO and the International Criminal Court, to extend the international law category of crimes against humanity so that it encompasses acts which wilfully damage or destroy the cultural heritage of mankind on a large scale;

18.  Calls on the Member States which have not already done so to ratify the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970, the UNIDROIT Convention of 1995, the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954 and the Second Protocol thereto of 1999;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the UNESCO Director-General, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 39, 10.2.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 169, 8.7.2003, p. 6.
(3) OJ L 335, 14.12.2013, p. 3.
(4) OJ L 335, 14.12.2013, p. 50.
(5) OJ L 200, 25.7.2001, p. 5.
(6) OJ L 297, 13.11.2009, p. 18.
(7) http://www.refworld.org/docid/54ef1f704.html
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0076.
(9) http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/conference_report_heritage_and_cultural_diversity_at_risk_in_iraq_and_syria/
(10) International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, Kordić & Čerkez, 26 February 2001, IT-95-14/2; paragraphs 207-8.
(11) UNESCO Declaration on Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage, 2003.
(12) http://www.africa-eu-partnership.org/newsroom/all-news/morocco-africa-eu-workshop-fight-against-illegal-trafficking-cultural-goods


Situation in the Maldives
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the situation in the Maldives (2015/2662(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0180RC-B8-0392/2015

The European Parliament,

–  – having regard to its previous resolutions on the Maldives,

–  having regard to the Joint Local European Union Statement on recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest of a criminal court judge, of 20 January 2012,

–  having regard to the Joint Local European Union Statement on Threats to Civil Society and Human Rights in the Maldives, of 30 September 2014,

–  having regard to the Joint Local European Union Statement on the rule of law in the Maldives, of 24 February 2015,

–  having regards to the statement by the Spokesperson of the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on the activation of the death penalty in the Maldives, of 30 April 2014,

–  having regards to the statement by the Spokesperson of the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on the conviction of former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, of 14 March 2015,

–  having regard to the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, of 18 March 2015,

–  having regard to the statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, entitled ‘No democracy is possible without fair and independent justice in the Maldives’, of 19 March 2015,

–  having regard to the final report of the EU Election Observation Mission to the Parliamentary Elections in the Republic of Maldives, of 22 March 2014,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Maldives is a party,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas, on 13 March 2015, Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment under charges of terrorism for the arrest in January 2012 of the then chief judge of the criminal court, about which the EU expressed its concern;

B.  whereas the controversial trial failed to meet national and international standards of justice, notwithstanding the call from the United Nations and the EU for fairness and transparency in the legal proceedings against former President Nasheed;

C.  whereas Mohamed Nasheed, who has a long personal record of non-violent action for human rights and pluralistic democracy, was incarcerated several times during the 30-year dictatorship of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoon and left power in disputed circumstances four years after becoming the first democratically elected president of the Maldives;

D.  whereas the lack of political independence and training of the Maldivian judiciary undermines the domestic and international credibility of the country’s judicial system;

E.  whereas former Ministers of Defence Tholhath Ibrahim and Mohamed Nazim have recently been sentenced to 10 and 11 years’ imprisonment respectively, and former Deputy Speaker of the Majlis Ahmed Nazim has been condemned to 25 years in prison in the Maldives; whereas these trials, too, were reportedly marred with irregularities;

F.  whereas opposition politicians continue to be routinely intimidated and whereas a recent report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians identified the Maldives as one of the worst countries in the world for attacks against, and the torture and intimidation of, opposition MPs;

G.  whereas on 30 March 2015 the Maldivian Parliament adopted an amendment to the Maldives Prison and Parole Act disqualifying those serving a prison term from holding membership of a political party, and whereas this will de facto remove Mohamed Nasheed from active politics and bar him from contesting the presidential elections in 2018;

H.  whereas at least 140 peaceful protesters have been arrested since February 2015, and were only released on conditions that severely limited their right to take part in further demonstrations;

I.  whereas civil society organisations and human rights defenders have increasingly faced harassment, threats and attacks, including the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), which was brought before the Supreme Court on charges of high treason and undermining the constitution for submitting a report on the state of human rights in the Maldives to the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review; whereas NGOs have been threatened with deregistration;

J.  whereas press freedom has been severely inhibited in recent years, three journalists have been arrested while covering political demonstrations calling for the release of Mohamed Nasheed, and Ahmed Rilwan, a journalist critical of the government who disappeared in August 2014, is still missing and feared dead;

K.  whereas the political turmoil comes amid worry about increasing Islamist militancy in the Maldives and about the number of radicalised young men alleged to have joined ISIS;

L.  whereas, on 27 April 2014, the Parliament of the Maldives voted to end the moratorium on the death penalty in place since 1954, thus allowing the sentencing of minors as young as seven, who can be held responsible and executed as soon as they reach 18 and are left to languish in jail until then; whereas this goes against the international human rights obligations of the Maldives as a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child;

M.  whereas immigrant workers suffer forced labour, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages and debt bondage, and were threatened by the Maldivian authorities with expulsion over their protest against discrimination and violence following a series of attacks on immigrant workers;

N.  whereas a small number of women from Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, China, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, former Soviet countries, Bangladesh and the Maldives are subject to sex trafficking in the Maldives and some Maldivian children are reportedly subjected to sexual abuse and may be victims of forced labour;

1.  Expresses its grave concern about increasing tendencies towards authoritarian rule in the Maldives, the crackdown on political opponents and intimidation of media and civil society, which could jeopardise the gains which have been made in recent years in establishing human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the country; calls on all parties to refrain from any action that may further aggravate this crisis, and to respect democracy and the rule of law;

2.  Deplores the serious irregularities in the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed; insists that he should be immediately released and that, should his conviction be appealed, his rights must be fully respected in line with the Maldives’ international obligations, its own constitution and all internationally recognised fair trial guarantees; urges the EU delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives to insist to be allowed to follow closely the appeal process;

3.  Underlines the fact that respect for the rule of law, the right to a fair trial, due legal process and independence of the judiciary, in accordance with the provisions of the ICCPR, are central elements of the democratic process; emphasises that all Maldivian citizens, including former President Nasheed, are to be treated in accordance with these principles, which are themselves important for a pluralistic society;

4.  Calls for a credible and inclusive political process, with the participation of all democratic forces, with the aim of restoring and preserving stability in the Maldives and putting the country back on the track of transition to democracy; calls for an immediate end to the intimidation of political opponents; calls on the Government of the Maldives to take the necessary steps to restore confidence in its commitment to democracy, judicial independence, and the rule of law, including respect for the freedoms of expression and of assembly and respect for due process;

5.  Calls for an immediate end to political interference in, and for the de-politicisation of, the judicial system in the Maldives; calls for urgent reforms to ensure the independence and the impartiality of the Maldivian judiciary with the aim of restoring domestic and international confidence in its functioning; underlines that these reforms should be approved and implemented without any further delay;

6.  Reminds the Government of the Maldives that the country’s constitution guarantees the right to protest and that release conditions preventing people from engaging in peaceful demonstration are unlawful;

7.  Calls for an immediate end to all forms of violence, including violence against peaceful protesters, and reminds the security forces of their duty to protect peaceful demonstrators against violent gangs; calls on the Government of the Maldives to end impunity for vigilantes who have used violence against people promoting religious tolerance, peaceful protesters, critical media and civil society; calls for the perpetrators of such violent attacks to be brought to justice;

8.  Calls on the Government of the Maldives to allow a proper investigation into the disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan;

9.  Condemns the reintroduction of the death penalty in the Maldives and urges the Government and Parliament of the Maldives to re-establish the moratorium on the death penalty;

10.  Encourages all actors in the Maldives to work together constructively in all areas, and especially on the subject of climate change, which has the potential to destabilise the country;

11.  Asks local authorities to fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; praises the ongoing efforts to tackle the problem and the progress made, but insists that the provisions of the anti-trafficking law should be swiftly put into practice as serious problems remain as regards the enforcement of this law and victim protection;

12.  Calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to issue warnings about the Maldives’ human rights record on their travel advice websites;

13.  Urges the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the EEAS to continue to monitor closely the political situation in the Maldives and to play a proactive role in the EU’s bilateral relations with the country and in international multilateral fora in order to achieve stability, strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the parliament and government of the Republic of Maldives.


2014 Progress Report on Albania
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the 2014 Progress Report on Albania (2014/2951(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0181B8-0358/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council of 19-20 June 2003 concerning the prospect of the Western Balkan countries joining the EU,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 26-27 June 2014 and of the General Affairs Council of 16 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Opinion on Albania’s application for EU membership of 9 November 2010 and to the Commission Report of 4 June 2014 entitled ‘Albania’s Progress in the Fight Against Corruption and Organised Crime and in the Judicial Reform’ (COM(2014)0331),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2014-2015’ of 8 October 2014 (COM(2014)0700), accompanied by Commission Staff Working Document SWD(2014)0304 entitled ‘Albania 2014 Progress Report’, as well as to the Indicative Strategy Paper for Albania (2014-2020), adopted on 18 August 2014,

–  having regard to the resolution of the Albanian Parliament of 24 December 2014 on the political agreement between the ruling majority and the opposition,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions concerning Albania,

–  having regard to the work of Knut Fleckenstein as the standing rapporteur on Albania of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Albania has made impressive progress over the last few years on its path to EU accession and was therefore granted candidate country status in June 2014; whereas challenges still persist and need to be addressed swiftly and efficiently in order to make further progress on the path to EU membership;

B.  whereas consistent adoption and effective implementation of sustainable reforms on the five key priorities are serving Albania’s democratic transformation and paving the way for the opening of EU accession negotiations; whereas the EU accession process has become a driving force for EU-related reforms in Albania, and whereas its timetable will be determined by the speed and quality of such reforms; whereas the opening of accession negotiations would be an incentive that would boost further reforms by offering a tangible and credible EU perspective;

C.  whereas EU accession is an inclusive process that belongs to the whole country and all its citizens; whereas constructive and sustainable political dialogue on EU-related reforms, conducted in a spirit of cooperation and compromise between major political forces, is vital to further progress in the EU accession process; whereas there is a political consensus and wide public support for the EU integration process; whereas the success of the reform agenda strongly depends on the existence of a democratic political environment;

D.  whereas the European Parliament has played an important role in efforts to establish a healthy political climate in the country;

E.  whereas the EU has put the rule of law at the core of its enlargement process; whereas tangible progress in the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption and organised crime is essential for the EU integration process to advance; whereas strong political support is the key to achieving progress in these areas;

F.  whereas significant steps in reforming and implementing reforms of the judicial system need to be made; whereas, despite the progress achieved, the fight against corruption and organised crime remains a serious challenge; whereas freedom of expression and independence of the media still need to be guaranteed;

G.  whereas the existence of a professional, effective and merit-based public administration is the backbone of the integration process for any country that aspires to become an EU member;

H.  whereas Albania’s relations with its neighbours are constructive and its alignment with EU foreign policy exemplary;

1.  Commends Albania for obtaining candidate country status; stresses that this should be seen as an encouragement to intensify the reform efforts even more; expresses its continuous support for Albania’s EU integration process; believes that concrete measures and sustained political commitment to implementing them are necessary to address the challenges of successfully consolidating democratic transformation and pursuing EU-related reforms; encourages Albania to establish a solid track record with regard to such reforms;

2.  Considers it essential to sustain and support genuine political cooperation among all political parties, which includes fair competition for better political ideas and concepts, and to work towards a democratic political culture that is based on the understanding that democratic political processes are built on dialogue and the ability to search for and accept compromises; is convinced that this will increase citizens’ trust in public institutions; urges the ruling coalition to facilitate the exercise of the opposition’s right of democratic control, and urges the opposition to exercise this right fully and responsibly;

3.  Welcomes the establishment of joint working groups within the High Level Dialogue on the Key Priorities with the aim of building a comprehensive platform for smooth delivery of reforms and monitoring progress on the five key priorities, notably in reforming public administration, reinforcing the judiciary, combating corruption and organised crime, and reinforcing the protection of human rights; encourages the authorities to intensify their work on these priorities and to establish a track record for their implementation;

4.  Calls for the prompt establishment of an inclusive National Council for European Integration, to include also representatives of civil society and independent institutions with the aim of ensuring broad national consensus on EU-related reforms and in the EU accession process; calls on the appropriate bodies to inform stakeholders and the wider public fully and in due time about the progress of the EU integration process;

5.  Underlines the role of the parliament as a key democratic institution and calls therefore for a strengthening of its oversight role and for ensuring a more institutionalised consultation process on draft legislation; welcomes in this regard the adoption on 5 March 2015 of the reviewed law ‘On Parliament’s role in the European integration process of Albania’ as well as the consensual parliamentary resolution of 24 December 2014 in which it was agreed that the opposition would return to parliamentary work while the governing majority would seek consensus with the opposition on important reforms, that the decisions of the Constitutional Court (CC) would be respected and the issue of people with criminal records holding or running for public office addressed; calls for its proper and timely implementation in a constructive manner; calls on all political parties to improve democratic consensus-building, which is the key to advancing in the accession process; considers it important that Albania’s civil society, media and citizens hold their leaders accountable for specific policy outcomes;

6.  Is concerned about the continuous and ongoing political polarisation in Albania, which could jeopardise further EU integration efforts; reminds the ruling coalition and the opposition of their shared responsibility towards the citizens for a sustainable, constructive and inclusive political dialogue that allows for the adoption and implementation of the key reforms; calls on the ruling majority and the opposition to pursue further efforts to establish genuine political dialogue and to cooperate in a constructive manner;

7.  Stresses that a professional public administration is instrumental in the successful implementation of all other reforms; therefore welcomes the fact that the Civil Service Law has started to be implemented, and calls for its proper implementation to be pursued in order to enhance administrative capacities, depoliticise public administration and fight corruption in the civil service, to strengthen meritocracy in appointments, promotions and dismissals, to increase the efficiency, transparency, accountability, professionalism and financial sustainability of the civil service, and to enhance good governance at all levels; calls for a strengthening of human resources management, an evaluation system for civil servants and independent monitoring of the implementation of civil service legislation; encourages the finalisation of a comprehensive public administration reform strategy and the continued promotion of depolarisation and knowledge of EU law and decision-making processes; stresses the need to enhance public integrity, to improve public services and to manage public resources more effectively; calls for improved public access to services and information; welcomes in this regard the new law on access to information; calls for a strengthening of the institution of the Ombudsman by giving appropriate follow-up to its findings and recommendations;

8.  Stresses the need to tackle the fragmented system of local government and to create a functional local governance system able to respond to citizens’ needs by the efficient provision of public services; calls for a strengthening of the administrative capacity of local governments, enabling them to exercise their authority and implement legislation in a financially sustainable way; calls for the transparency, effectiveness and inclusiveness of local governments to be enforced; notes the CC’s ruling on the legal challenge to the reform on administrative and territorial division of the country;

9.  Stresses the importance of upcoming local elections and invites the competent authorities to implement the recommendations made by the ODIHR and the Central Election Commission; calls for the independence and capacities of electoral bodies to be enhanced;

10.  Stresses the need to strengthen the rule of law and reform the judiciary in order to foster the trust of citizens and the business community in the justice system; welcomes Albania’s commitment to judicial reform but still deplores the persistent shortcomings in the functioning of the judicial system, such as politicisation and limited accountability, the high level of corruption, insufficient resources and backlogs; reiterates the need to make further substantial efforts to ensure the independence, efficiency and accountability of the judiciary and to improve the appointment, promotion and disciplinary system for judges, prosecutors and lawyers; invites the authorities to pursue reforms in constructive cooperation with all stakeholders, including relevant civil society organisations (CSOs), and through engagement with the Venice Commission by elaborating and implementing a long-term judicial reform strategy;

11.  Recalls the Albanian Parliament’s resolution of November 2013 on Albania’s European integration, which endorsed a number of important measures, mainly on the rule of law; underlines the importance of strong respect for the rule of law and the independence and transparency of judicial institutions such as the High Council of Justice (HCJ); stresses the need to comply with decisions of the CC on this matter; invites the competent authorities to foster the integrity and independence of key democratic institutions and the depoliticisation of the judiciary; invites the competent authorities to proceed without undue delay to deliver justice for the victims of the events of 21 January 2011;

12.  Points out the unsatisfactory state of the juvenile justice system; calls on the competent authorities to put forward plans to improve the situation;

13.  Is concerned that corruption, including within the judicial system, remains a serious problem; urges Albania to seriously strengthen its efforts to fight corruption at all levels and to enhance the legislative framework, institutional capacity and interinstitutional information exchange and cooperation; welcomes the appointment of a National Anti-Corruption Coordinator, who will coordinate efforts and monitor implementation at central level, and calls for the adoption of a comprehensive and strict anti-corruption strategy and action plans for the period 2014-2020; reiterates the need for the development of a more robust anti-corruption framework, which should include a wide range of institutions; notes positively the steps towards increased transparency, including the publication of asset declarations by senior officials and the establishment of anti-corruption focal points in all line ministries;

14.  Reiterates the need to develop a solid track record of investigations, prosecutions and convictions at all levels, including in high-level corruption cases; considers it essential to improve the efficiency of investigations and to provide sufficient resources, training and staff specialised in combating corruption, especially in the fields of public procurement, health, taxation, education, police, customs and local administration; encourages the participation and monitoring role of CSOs in the fight against corruption; calls for the systematic use of confiscation of criminal assets and convictions for money laundering and for the systematic use of financial investigations; invites the competent authorities to strengthen the existing legislation on the protection of whistleblowers;

15.  Is concerned that, despite a positive trend in the fight against organised crime, particularly in the fight against the trafficking and production of narcotics, this fight remains an important challenge; invites Albania, while recognising the success of recent police operations, to develop a comprehensive strategic approach and to take measures to remove barriers to the efficiency of investigations with a view to building up a track record of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in all areas and at all levels; encourages a stepping-up of intra-agency coordination, including at local level, and regional and international police and judicial cooperation; recommends strengthening cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking with partner agencies in the Western Balkans and with the services of EU Member States;

16.  Commends efforts to fight trafficking of human beings, which continues to be a serious challenge; invites the competent authorities to develop a comprehensive and victim-oriented approach, to improve interinstitutional coordination and to build the capacities of prosecutors, judges and police; reiterates the need for continuous specialised joint training activities involving prosecutors, judges and police officers; welcomes the cooperation between the Albanian police and the prosecutor’s office with EU Member States, which has led to good results;

17.  Commends the Ombudsman for his work in promoting human rights, his openness towards vulnerable people and his cooperation with CSOs; deplores the fact that the Ombudsman’s annual and special reports have not been debated in the parliament, and therefore cannot be published and are not officially acknowledged; calls on the government and the parliament to strengthen the independence, efficiency and effectiveness of human rights institutions, to improve cooperation with the Ombudsman’s Office and to further support it politically and financially;

18.  Underlines security concerns over foreign fighter returnees; welcomes measures to prevent radicalisation and to address the phenomenon of foreign fighters; emphasises the need to implement the strategy and action plan on the fight against terrorism; welcomes the increase in staff in the police anti-terrorism unit, and encourages an intensification of regional cooperation in combating terrorism; welcomes the new operational agreement signed with Europol and calls for its efficient implementation;

19.  Stresses the need to enhance civic participation in public life and policy- planning and ‑making as well as in the European integration process in order to foster a broad national consensus on reforms and on the EU accession process; recommends further development of consultation mechanisms with (and between) civil society and local communities; is concerned that politicisation of CSOs may weaken their potential role in strengthening the culture of democracy;

20.  Commends the religious harmony and the climate of religious tolerance and overall good inter-ethnic relations in the country; calls on the competent authorities to continue improving the climate of inclusion and tolerance for all minorities in the country; urges the government to adopt, following a broad consultation process, a comprehensive law on minorities to remedy existing legal gaps in line with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities, and to efficiently implement the Law on Protection from Discrimination and build solid anti-discrimination case-law; commends the contribution of the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination to fighting discrimination, including on grounds of gender, especially in employment, education and access to social services; encourages further steps to improve the living conditions of Roma by improving their access to registration, housing, education, the labour market and social and healthcare services; stresses that the living conditions of Roma also need to be improved via better coordination between central and local government and interministerial cooperation;

21.  Welcomes the setting up of the National Council on Gender Equality and the appointment of gender coordinators in all line ministries; calls for further measures to tackle domestic violence, cases of inadequate access to justice for women, and gender bias in employment; welcomes the inclusion of the LGBTI community in the 2015-2020 strategy on social inclusion, the setting up of a working group on LGBTI rights in the Ministry of Social Affairs and the opening of the first LGBTI residential shelter; commends the amendments to the Criminal Code punishing hate crime and hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;

22.  Encourages the government, furthermore, to work on a gender recognition bill, and to ensure that gender recognition conditions will meet the standards set in Recommendation CM/Rec(2010) by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; believes that LGBTI people’s fundamental rights are more likely to be safeguarded if they have access to legal institutions such as cohabitation, registered partnership or marriage, and encourages the Albanian authorities to consider these options;

23.  Calls on the Albanian authorities to respond to the demand by the United Nations and the recommendations of the Ombudsman to create a homogeneous and reliable database, to activate the Coordinating Council for the Fight Against Blood Feuds set up in 2005 and to develop an action plan focusing on the rule-of-law aspects in the fight against blood feuds;

24.  Emphasises the critical importance of a professional, independent and pluralist public service broadcaster and private media as a cornerstone of democracy; is concerned about the lack of genuine media independence and the lack of transparency of media ownership and financing; encourages Albania to ensure a free working environment for journalists; stresses that further efforts are needed to guarantee the independence of the media regulatory authority and of the public broadcaster; is concerned about the lack of transparency of media ownership and financing, media polarisation and self-censorship; calls for a strengthening of the professional and ethical standards of journalists; urges proper implementation of defamation legislation; notes that the election of the new chair and board members of the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) has been called into question by the opposition; encourages the government to guarantee its independence and support, so that the AMA can take up its functions fully, including as regards facilitating the digital switchover process and the efficient implementation of the Audiovisual Media Law;

25.  Welcomes the improvement of the business climate and the pursuit of a functioning market economy, but calls on the government to continue addressing weaknesses in contract enforcement and the rule of law and tackling the large informal economy; calls for further reforms in order to cope with the competitive pressure on the common European market; invites the government to strengthen the protection of property rights and accelerate the establishment of a sustainable and coherent policy of property legalisation, restitution and compensation; underlines the importance of creating favourable conditions for private-sector development and foreign direct investment;

26.  Stresses the need to improve education and training in order to address skills mismatches and increase employability, particularly among young people; calls on the Commission to work in close cooperation with the government to address weaknesses in labour market conditions, including growing unemployment, and provide solutions in line with the Europe 2020 strategy; welcomes the Indicative Strategy Paper for Albania 2014-2020, which recognises that education, employment and social policies require support through the IPA;

27.  Calls on the competent authorities to draft a national energy strategy with a particular emphasis on renewable energies and energy security, including diversification of energy sources; takes the view that Albania should invest more in renewable energy projects and related infrastructure; invites Albania to consider the ecological impact of hydropower projects on the national natural heritage; calls for compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive, which aims to achieve good ecological and chemical status for all natural surface-water bodies;

28.  Urges the Albanian authorities to develop comprehensive management plans for existing national parks in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission of Protected Areas quality and management guidelines for protected area category II; urges the authorities to abandon any development plans that undermine the country’s protected area network and calls for the abandonment of small- and large-scale hydropower construction plans, particularly inside all national parks; demands, in particular, that the plans to build hydropower plants along the Vjosa River and its tributaries be rethought, since these projects would harm one of Europe’s last extensive, intact and near-natural river ecosystems;

29.  Welcomes Albania’s continued constructive and proactive stance in regional and bilateral cooperation; stresses its instrumental role in strengthening regional stability; commends the political will to improve relations with Serbia; encourages Albania and Serbia to take further actions and make statements which promote regional stability and cooperation and good neighbourly relations; is disturbed by statements made by the Albanian Prime Minister in which he speculated about the unification of Albanians from Albania and Kosovo; encourages Albania to maintain its constructive position in the region and exchange with the other Western Balkan countries the knowledge and experience gained during their EU accession process, with the aim of intensifying cooperation and further stabilising the region; welcomes Albania’s full alignment with EU foreign policy positions, including the EU restrictive measures on Russia, and its participation in CSDP crisis management operations; notes its ambitions as the current Chairman-in-Office of the South-East European Cooperation Process to further promote dialogue between participating countries; invites Albania to actively participate in the implementation of the European Union’s Adriatic-Ionian strategy;

30.  Calls for EP-Albania interparliamentary cooperation to be enhanced; recommends harmonising, as far as possible, the future calendar of meetings of the EU-Albania Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee and that of the High Level Dialogue on the Key Priorities in order to strengthen parliamentary oversight of the EU accession process;

31.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Government and Parliament of Albania.


2014 Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the 2014 Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014/2952(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0182B8-0359/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), of the other part, signed on 16 June 2008 and ratified by all EU Member States and Bosnia and Herzegovina,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 19-20 June 2003 on the Western Balkans and to the annex thereto entitled ‘The Thessaloniki Agenda for the Western Balkans: moving towards European integration’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 October, 17-18 November, 15 and 16 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2014-2015’ of 8 October 2014 (COM(2014)0700), accompanied by Commission Staff Working Document SWD(2014)0305 entitled ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina 2014 Progress Report’, and to the Indicative Strategy Paper on Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014-2017), adopted on 15 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Written Commitment to EU Integration adopted by the BiH Presidency on 29 January 2015 and endorsed by the BiH Parliamentary Assembly on 23 February 2015,

–  having regard to the Council decision of 19 January 2015 appointing Lars-Gunnar Wigemark as EU Special Representative and Head of Delegation for Bosnia and Herzegovina,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the country,

–  having regard to the work of Cristian Dan Preda as the standing rapporteur on Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the EU has repeatedly stated its unequivocal commitment to BiH’s European perspective and to its territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity;

B.  whereas the EU has offered a new opportunity to BiH based on a coordinated approach designed to help the country to resume its reform process, to improve its social and economic situation and to draw closer to the European Union; whereas an equally unequivocal commitment and engagement is now requested from the country’s political elites; whereas EU accession is an inclusive process that belongs to the whole country and all its citizens, and requires a national consensus on the reform agenda;

C.  whereas the overly complex and inefficient institutional architecture, the lack of sufficient cooperation and coordination between the BiH political leaders and all levels of government, the absence of common vision and political will, and ethnocentric attitudes have seriously hampered progress in the country; whereas disagreements along political and ethnic lines have had a major negative effect on the work of the assemblies at state level;

D.  whereas the prolonged political stalemate represents a serious impediment for the country’s stabilisation and development and is depriving citizens of a secure and prosperous future; whereas political inertia, unemployment, the very high levels of corruption and dissatisfaction with political elites have led to civil unrest, which spread from Tuzla throughout the country in February 2014;

E.  whereas the EU has put the rule of law at the core of its enlargement process; whereas strong political support is the key to achieving progress in these areas;

F.  whereas corruption is widespread, public administration is fragmented, the many different legal systems pose a challenge, cooperation mechanisms with civil society remain weak, the media landscape is polarised, and equal rights are not ensured for all constituent peoples and citizens;

G.  whereas over 50 % of BiH state revenues are spent on maintaining the administration at numerous levels; whereas, according to World Bank indicators, BiH is the lowest-rated European country for ease of doing business and one of the lowest-ranked on the Corruption Perception Index; whereas BiH has the highest rate of youth unemployment in Europe (59 % of the active population aged 15-24);

1.  Welcomes the fact that the Council has responded to its call for a rethinking of the EU’s approach towards BiH; urges the new BiH leaders to commit fully to carrying out the necessary institutional, economic and social reforms in order to improve the lives of BiH citizens and enable progress on the path to EU membership; points out that meaningful progress on the implementation of the agenda for reforms, including the Compact for Growth and Jobs, will be necessary for a membership application to be considered; underlines the fact that BiH, like all other (potential) candidate countries, should be judged on its own merits, and that the speed and quality of the necessary reforms should determine the timetable for its accession;

2.  Stresses that the Commission should pay particular attention to the implementation of the Sejdić-Finci ruling when asked by the Council to prepare an opinion on an EU membership application; invites the Commission to be ready to facilitate an agreement on its implementation in order to guarantee equal rights for all citizens and to be instrumental in implementing the objectives of the EU agenda, including a functional system of good governance, democratic development and economic prosperity and respect for human rights;

3.  Strongly supports the European integration of BiH and believes that the EU’s reinforced engagement should focus, inter alia, on socio-economic issues, the business environment, the institutional framework, the rule of law and governance, law enforcement policy, an independent judiciary, the fight against corruption, public administration reform, civil society and youth, while keeping EU conditionality for accession unchanged; calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States to maintain a coordinated, consistent and coherent EU position and to demonstrate that BiH’s EU integration is a priority of EU foreign policy; stresses that the EU should seek to bring together all financial donors in order to support the efficient implementation of the EU´s renewed approach and the Written Commitment;

4.  Welcomes the Written Commitment to EU Integration, adopted by the BiH Presidency, signed by the leaders of all political parties and endorsed by the BiH Parliament on 23 February 2015, on measures to establish institutional functionality and efficiency, to launch reforms at all governance levels, to accelerate the process of reconciliation and to strengthen administrative capacity; acknowledges that the Commitment paved the way for the agreement in the Council on 16 March 2015 to proceed with the conclusion and entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA); welcomes the entry into force of the SAA, scheduled for 1 June 2015, which will allow BiH and the EU to work together more closely and to deepen their relationship; calls for the full collaboration of all political leaders in the thorough and efficient implementation of the Commitment, especially in strengthening the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organised crime; recalls that political commitment and genuine ownership of the reform process is key; invites the new leaders of BiH to agree with the EU on a concrete roadmap for a broad and inclusive reform agenda to advance the country on its path towards the EU; calls for transparency in the process of planning and implementing reforms and urges that civil society be included in the reform process;

5.  Expresses its deep concern regarding the declaration adopted on 25 April 2015 by the congress of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) in Eastern Sarajevo, calling inter alia for a referendum on the independence of Republika Srpska in 2018; underlines the fact that under the Dayton Agreement Republika Srpska has no right to secession; recalls that, with the adoption of the Written Commitment, all political forces, including the SNSD, have committed to respecting the ‘sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina’; urges the new political leaders to refrain from divisive nationalistic and secessionist rhetoric that polarises society and to seriously engage in reforms that will improve the lives of BiH citizens, create a democratic, inclusive and functioning state and move the country closer towards the EU;

6.  Calls on the political leaders to give priority to establishing an effective EU coordination mechanism, efficiently linking institutions at all governance levels, in order to ensure alignment with and enforcement of the EU acquis throughout the country in the interest of the overall prosperity of its citizens; stresses that without such a mechanism the EU accession process will remain deadlocked, as the current organisation of the country is too inefficient and dysfunctional; stresses that the establishment of such a mechanism would open the way for BiH to benefit fully from the funding available; stresses the need to take concrete reform steps and provide the country and its citizens with a clear direction;

7.  Stresses that addressing the socio-economic needs of citizens must be the priority; considers it also crucial, however, to continue, in parallel, with political reforms and democratisation of the political system; underlines the fact that economic prosperity is only possible if it is based on a democratic and inclusive society and state; stresses also that BiH will not be a successful candidate for EU membership until appropriate institutional conditions have been established; notes that constitutional reform aimed at consolidating, streamlining and strengthening the institutional framework remains key to transforming BiH into an effective, inclusive and fully functional state; recalls that the future constitutional reform should also take into account the principles of federalism, decentralisation, subsidiarity and legitimate representation to ensure the efficient and smooth integration of BiH into the EU; urges all political leaders to work on introducing the necessary changes;

8.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiatives to accelerate the implementation of projects under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and strengthen economic governance; regrets that inaction may have implications for the allocation of EU funds for political and socio-economic development under IPA-II; urges the competent authorities to agree on countrywide sector strategies, particularly in the priority fields of transport, energy, the environment and agriculture, as key requirements to be able to fully benefit from IPA funding;

9.  Commends the orderly conduct of the October 2014 elections; notes, however, that for the second time in a row the electoral process took place without every citizen being able to stand for every office; underlines the crucial importance of establishing all new parliamentary organs and governments at all levels as a matter of urgency; urges the new leaders to observe the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage, reach out to the people, engage with civil society and provide responsible and immediate answers to their legitimate concerns; calls on the competent authorities to investigate the very serious allegations against the Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska (RS) of being involved in buying the votes of two MPs not belonging to her party in order to gain a majority in the RS National Assembly (RSNA);

10.  Welcomes the overwhelming national and international solidarity, including within the EU Floods Recovery Programme, in response to the 2014 natural disasters; welcomes the fact that the EU took immediate and substantial rescue and relief measures, at the request of BiH, and organised a donors’ conference in July 2014, which was hosted by the Commission and co-organised with France and Slovenia; stresses that the Commission invited BiH to join the EU Civil Protection Mechanism; calls for effective and coordinated preventive measures at all levels to address the consequences of the current disasters and to prevent such disasters in the future; welcomes the many positive examples of very close inter-ethnic cooperation and support following the floods as a sign that reconciliation is possible; believes that regional cooperation and close relations with neighbouring countries are essential factors in responding to such disasters in the future;

11.  Recalls that a professional, effective and merit-based public administration forms the backbone of the integration process of BiH and of any country that aspires to become an EU Member State; is seriously concerned that the public administration, which is supposed to help BiH advance towards EU membership and improve living conditions for its citizens, continues to be fragmented, politicised and dysfunctional; remains preoccupied about its financial sustainability and the fact that the lack of political will to reform the administration may impact on the provision of public services; urges all competent actors to adopt a new public administration reform strategy and action plan beyond 2014 in order to simplify the complex institutional structure, rationalise costs and make the state more functional;

12.  Urges the authorities to make the fight against corruption an absolute priority, given that it has not yet resulted in satisfactory improvements and that corruption affects all sectors, including health and education, exploiting the most vulnerable people, and causing pessimism to grow, and more and more citizens to lose faith in their institutions; calls for effective anti-corruption mechanisms, independent judicial follow-up and inclusive consultations with all stakeholders, which should guarantee timely adoption of a renewed strategic framework for 2015-2019; calls, in general, for the efficient implementation of anti-corruption measures; welcomes the adoption of a set of anti-corruption laws, including on promoting the protection of whistleblowers at state level and the creation of prevention bodies at federation level; condemns attempts to undermine the existing rule of law principles and is concerned that the new law on conflicts of interest weakens the legal framework and represents a setback in the prevention of conflicts of interest in that it increases the risk of political interference and offers no incentive for officials to comply; calls for the strengthening of parliamentary bodies for the prevention of conflicts of interests; urges the competent authorities to improve the track record as regards effective investigation, prosecution and convictions in high-profile corruption cases, especially in the framework of public procurement and privatisation;

13.  Remains seriously concerned about the inefficiency of the judicial system, the risk of political interference in court proceedings, the politicisation of appointment procedures, a fragmented judiciary and prosecution budgeting process and the risk of conflicts of interest in the judiciary; urges the new leaders of the country to undertake structural and institutional reforms addressing inter alia the harmonisation of the four different legal systems; invites them to address the Commission’s recommendations, such as institutional reform of the state-level judiciary, including on the adoption of a law on the courts of BiH; urges the incoming Council of Ministers to adopt the already prepared new Justice Reform Strategy; reiterates its support for the office of the Ombudsman; notes that a moratorium on capital punishment is still in place under the Constitution of the RS and urges the authorities of the RS to abolish the death penalty without further delay;

14.  Is concerned that access to free legal aid is very limited and that the right to the provision thereof is still not entirely legally regulated throughout BiH, thereby restricting the right to justice for the most vulnerable; urges the competent authorities to adopt a law on free legal aid at state level and clearly define the role of civil society in the provision thereof;

15.  Welcomes the broadening of the EU-BiH Structured Dialogue on Justice to include additional rule-of-law matters, especially corruption and discrimination, and the fact that it is delivering some positive results in regional cooperation, the processing of war crimes, and the professionalism and efficiency of the judiciary; welcomes the inclusion of civil society in the process; notes that conditions in several courts in the Entities have improved, including on witness protection;

16.  Is concerned that certain statements have questioned the legitimacy of ICTY convictions, thereby undermining the court in The Hague; calls for steps to be taken to strengthen the protection of victims and improve the work of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office by reviewing the processing of Category II war crimes cases; welcomes the progress made in reducing the backlog in war crimes cases; notes that the prosecution of war crimes cases involving sexual violence has improved and requests that this process continue in the future; stresses the need for the competent authorities to adopt the long‑pending state-level programme to improve the status of victims of such war crimes, including their right to compensation, to ensure their effective access to justice and to bring the provisions of BiH criminal law regarding sexual violence into line with international standards;

17.  Is concerned at the persistently high number of missing persons and the slow progress in this respect; calls on the authorities to embark on intensive cooperation between the two entities, and to step up efforts in the search for missing persons;

18.  Remembers all victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide and expresses its deep condolences to the families and survivors; expresses its support for organisations such as the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa Enclaves in view of their pivotal role in raising awareness and building a broader basis for reconciliation among all citizens of the country; calls on all citizens of BiH to use the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre as an opportunity to enhance reconciliation and cooperation, which are key prerequisites for all the countries of the region to move forward on their European path;

19.  Notes with concern that there are still 84 500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 6 853 refugees in BiH; is concerned at the violation of the rights of returnees in the RS; welcomes, however, the new measures adopted by the Federation Parliament allowing returnees from the RS to access pension benefits and healthcare in the Federation, while suggesting that equal access to social welfare benefits for all citizens is important; calls on all levels of government, particularly the RS authorities, to facilitate and accelerate the return of IDPs and refugees by introducing and implementing all the necessary legislative and administrative measures; urges cooperation on this matter and that appropriate conditions be established for their peaceful and sustainable reintegration; calls for the effective implementation of the Revised Strategy regarding Annex VII to the Dayton Peace Agreement; calls for continued good regional cooperation in the framework of the Sarajevo Declaration Process; urges a comprehensive approach to addressing the remaining challenges as regards clearing the country of mines by 2019;

20.  Reaffirms its support for visa liberalisation, which has brought about visible positive effects for BiH’s citizens; reiterates its commitment to safeguarding the right of visa-free travel for the citizens of the Western Balkans; calls, at the same time, for measures at national level, in particular socio-economic measures for more vulnerable groups, for active measures aimed at enhanced cooperation and information exchange to crack down on organised crime networks, for strengthened border controls and for awareness campaigns; calls on the Commission to adopt measures to maintain the integrity of the visa-free scheme and to address potential abuses of the EU asylum system in cooperation with the Member States;

21.  Notes that fighting organised crime and corruption is fundamental to countering attempts at criminal infiltration of the political, legal and economic systems; notes that some progress has been made in the fight against organised crime and terrorism; recalls the importance of meeting GRECO recommendations; is concerned about reports of growing radicalisation among young people in BiH, of whom a relatively high number, compared to other countries in the region, are joining the ISIL terrorist fighters; urges the authorities to amend the Criminal Code in order to strengthen the criminalisation of the financing of terrorism; welcomes the amendment to the Criminal Code seeking to ban and punish membership of foreign paramilitary groups, in order to prevent religious radicalisation; stresses, in addition, the importance of preventing all forms of extremism and violent radicalisation; welcomes also large-scale police operations throughout BiH which have resulted in the arrest of people suspected of organising, supporting and financing terrorist activities, including foreign fighters; calls for the inclusion of a provision on hate crime in the Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH; commends the relevant BiH agencies for the professionalism shown in their efforts and determination to combat growing security threats; invites the Commission to provide the competent authorities with assistance in suppressing all security and terrorist threats;

22.  Strongly condemns the terrorist attack perpetrated on April 27th 2015 on a police station in the Eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik, which claimed the life of one policeman and injured two others; expresses its solidarity with the victims and their families; condemns in the strongest terms the violent extremist ideology behind this attack; calls on the competent authorities, responsible security agencies and judicial institutions to cooperate in conducting a swift and thorough investigation and preventing future attacks; expresses hope that the institutions and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina will come together in combatting the threat of terrorism and extremist violence;

23.  Notes that BiH remains a country of origin, transit and destination for the trafficking of human beings; recommends that the authorities take effective measures, including legislative measures, to combat trafficking in drugs and human beings and provide protection for the victims of human trafficking;

24.  Considers it essential to enhance the role of civil society by enabling it to articulate citizens’ interests, particularly with regard to young people, as was shown last year during the ‘plenums’; recalls that civil society can complement the development of a socially cohesive and democratic society by delivering vital social services; notes that civil society representatives should play an important role in facilitating the accession process; urges the Commission to continue making European funds accessible to civil society organisations; notes that the institutional mechanisms for cooperation with civil society remain weak and hamper the development of a more participatory, inclusive and responsive democracy throughout the country; calls, therefore, for transparent and inclusive public consultation mechanisms involving all public stakeholders, for the establishment of a framework for public discussion of important legislative decisions and for the adoption of a national strategy for civil society; is concerned about the reported cases of intimidation during last year’s social unrest;

25.  Considers it essential to foster an inclusive and tolerant society in BiH, protecting and promoting minorities and vulnerable groups; recalls that failure to implement the Sejdić-Finci ruling results in open discrimination against BiH citizens; urges that steps be taken to strengthen the Human Rights Ombudsman’s role and to develop, in cooperation with civil society, a state-level strategy against all forms of discrimination; calls on the competent authorities to further harmonise the country’s laws with the acquis, paying particular attention to discrimination on grounds of disability and age, as highlighted in the Structured Dialogue; calls on the BiH Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees to establish a working group on drafting amendments to the BiH Anti-Discrimination Law without further delay; is concerned at the fact that hate speech, hate crimes, threats, harassment and discrimination against LGBTI people continue to be widespread; encourages the authorities to implement awareness-raising actions on the rights of LGBTI people among the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the general public; is concerned that cases of discrimination on religious grounds continue to be reported;

26.  Deeply deplores the continued marginalisation of and discrimination against Roma; commends the progress made with regard to the housing needs of Roma, encourages, however, further steps to be taken to improve their living conditions by improving access to employment, health and education;

27.  Notes that, while the legal provisions guaranteeing women’s rights and gender equality are in place, only limited progress has been made in implementing such provisions; calls on the competent authorities to pursue proactively their efforts to increase the participation of women in politics and the workforce, to combat maternity-related labour market discrimination, to improve women’s social and economic situation, to promote, protect and strengthen women’s rights and, in general, to raise public awareness and people’s understanding of women’s rights; urges the authorities to adopt a strategy for the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and to establish a harmonised system for the monitoring and collection of data on cases of violence against women;

28.  Urges BiH to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity into the law on hate crimes as soon as possible and thus make it possible to convict persons who engage in various forms of oppression based on sexual orientation or gender identity;

29.  Notes that legal provisions on freedom of expression are in place; is concerned, however, about political and financial pressure on the media and cases of threats and intimidation against journalists and editors, including during the pre-electoral period; condemns attempts to undermine the existing rules, which could have damaging implications for freedom of expression and media freedom, including on line; stresses that events such as the police raid on the offices of Klix.ba in Sarajevo and the recent adoption by the RSNA of the controversial Law on Public Order and Peace raise serious concerns about freedom of expression and freedom of the media, including in social media; stresses that the ability of the media to operate without fear is essential to a healthy democracy; urges that freedom of expression and media freedom be fully respected and that journalists be allowed to obtain information on matters of public interest; stresses that stable and sustainable financing, editorial independence, broadcasting in all official languages and pluralism are essential to public-service media; calls on the authorities to close all legislative loopholes which systematically hamper the full transparency of media ownership and to prepare a regulation to ensure that no undue political influence is exerted; urges the competent authorities to safeguard the political, institutional and financial independence of public-service broadcasters and to harmonise entity laws on public broadcasting with state-level legislation; urges the merit-based appointment of the Director of the BiH Communication Regulatory Agency Council;

30.  Remains concerned about the continuing segregation of children in public schools on the basis of ethnicity; notes that three different curricula impede a common, inclusive and objective study of common history and recent historical events; urges the authorities to effectively implement inclusive education principles, including with regard to children with disabilities; urges the new leaders of the country to promote an inclusive and non-discriminatory education system without any further delay in both entities and the Brčko District, to eliminate the segregation of different ethnic groups and to advance education reform aimed at improving education standards and the introduction of a common curriculum; calls also for the implementation of the action plan on the educational needs of Roma children and their integration in the education system to be stepped up;

31.  Recalls that the February 2014 protests showed a clear popular demand among BiH citizens for socio-economic reforms in the country; strongly believes that the implementation of measures in the six key reform areas of the Compact for Growth and Jobs will re-stimulate stalled socio-economic reforms, including on growth and employment and public procurement reforms; calls on the new governments at state, entity and cantonal levels to work in close cooperation in order to make economic governance and the Compact a key priority of reforms; stresses the need to further develop and implement an economic reform programme;

32.  Considers that BiH has made little progress towards becoming a functioning market economy; emphasises the importance of coping with competitive pressures and market forces; is concerned that considerable weaknesses in the business environment continue to negatively affect private-sector development and foreign direct investment; urges the competent authorities to address the weak enforcement of the rule of law, the large informal sector and high levels of corruption, which hamper the business environment; urges harmonisation with the Solvency II Directive;

33.  Stresses the need to reform and harmonise the fragmented social protection systems on the basis of citizens’ needs in order to provide equal treatment for all, mitigate poverty and develop a social safety net that is better targeted towards the poor and socially excluded; highlights the fact that economic prosperity and job prospects , especially for young people, are essential to the development of the country; calls on the governments to implement labour market reforms in order to tackle the very high unemployment rate, focusing on young people, women and long-term unemployment; notes that labour and trade union rights are still limited; calls on the authorities to further enhance and harmonise the relevant laws across the country; stresses the need to improve education and training in order to address skills mismatches and increase employability, particularly among young people;

34.  Stresses the importance of harmonising and improving existing trade union rights and rules on working conditions, which at present are not identical across all sectors; notes also that welfare benefits and pensions are not equally distributed;

35.  Notes that there has been little progress in the fields of the environment and climate change and calls on the authorities to enhance environmental protection in line with EU standards; calls on BiH to honour all its contractual obligations under the Energy Community Treaty and the SAA, and to ensure adequate and swift approximation towards the EU environmental acquis, including in preventing excessive air pollution from the oil refinery in Bosanski Brod; emphasises the need for BiH to fully implement its obligations regarding the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo, 1991) and the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Kiev, 2003), including with regard to activities in the Neretva and Trebišnjica River Basin;

36.  Welcomes BiH’s constructive and proactive stance in promoting regional cooperation; commends its frequent joint border patrols with neighbouring countries; stresses the crucial importance of good neighbourly relations; invites the new leaders to continue and enhance efforts to resolve outstanding border and property issues with neighbouring countries; encourages BiH to finalise the demarcation process with Montenegro in good faith, on the basis of the agreement reached in May 2014;

37.  Regrets that BiH foreign policy has remained subject to divergent positions, resulting in a low rate of alignment with EU positions (52 %); recalls the crucial importance of a unified foreign policy for BiH; is concerned about the implications of Russia’s rejection of the Peace Implementation Council’s standard language on BiH’s territorial integrity and its negative narrative on BiH’s EU aspirations; welcomes the continued presence of Operation Althea, as part of a renewed UN mandate, focusing on capacity building and training;

38.  Calls on the newly elected institutions of BiH to use the opportunity of the EU’s renewed approach to conclude the Agreement on the adaptation of the Interim Agreement/SAA, taking into account Croatia’s accession to the EU and the maintenance of traditional trade;

39.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the VP/HR, the Council, the Commission, the Presidency of BiH, the Council of Ministers of BiH, the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH and the Governments and Parliaments of the Federation of BiH and the Republika Srpska and the governments of the 10 counties/cantons.


European Investment Bank annual report 2013
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the European Investment Bank - Annual Report 2013 (2014/2156(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0183A8-0057/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the 2013 Activity Report of the European Investment Bank,

–  having regard to the 2013 Annual Financial Report of the European Investment Group,

–  having regard to Articles 15, 126, 175, 208, 209, 271, 308 and 309 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and to Protocol No 5 thereto on the Statute of the EIB,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2012 on innovative financial instruments in the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 February 2013 on the 2011 Annual Report of the European Investment Bank(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on the European Investment Bank (EIB) – Annual Report 2012(3),

–  having regard to the report by the President of the European Council of 26 June 2012, entitled ‘Towards a genuine economic and monetary union’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2012 on the attractiveness of investing in Europe(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on long-term financing of the European economy(5),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication on Long-Term Financing of the European Economy (COM(2014)0168) of 27 March 2014,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 28 and 29 June 2012, which notably proposed to increase the EIB capital of EUR 10 billion,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 27 and 28 June 2013, which call for the creation of a new investment plan to support SMEs and boost the financing of the economy,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 22 May 2013, which set out the objective of mobilising all EU policies in support of competitiveness, jobs and growth,

–  having regard to the Commission communications on innovative financial instruments: ‘A framework for the next generation of innovative financial instruments’ (COM(2011)0662) and ‘A pilot for the Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative’ (COM(2011)0660),

–  having regard to the capital increase of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), notably in relation to the question of relations between the EIB and the EBRD,

–  having regard to the decision on extending the scope of the EBRD to the Mediterranean area(6),

–  having regard to the new Memorandum of Understanding between the EIB and the EBRD signed on 29 November 2012,

–  having regard to Decision No 1080/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011(7) on the EIB External Mandate 2007-2013,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication on An Investment Plan for Europe (COM(2014)0903) of 26 November 2014,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0057/2015),

A.  whereas all possible resources from the Member States and the EU, including those of the EIB, need to be efficiently mobilised without delay to encourage and enhance public and private investments, boost competitiveness, re-establish sustainable and inclusive growth and promote the creation of quality jobs and infrastructure, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and taking into account that the EIB is an instrument designed to support social cohesion and is able to provide valuable assistance to Member States facing difficulties in the critical social and economic situation currently confronting us;

B.  whereas the economic and financial crisis, coupled with austerity policies, has seriously undermined economic growth in many Member States, leading to rapidly worsening social conditions, steadily growing inequalities and imbalances between European regions and failure to achieve the objective of social cohesion and real convergence, thereby destabilising European integration and democracy;

C.  whereas the EIB is not a commercial bank and should continue to play the essential role of catalyst for financing sound public and private long-term investments, while continuing to implement best prudential banking practices in order to maintain its very strong capital position, with subsequent positive impacts on lending conditions;

D.  whereas particular efforts should be made to expand joint interventions (combining EIF or other guarantee tools) for financing SMEs or tangible and intangible sustainable infrastructures, recognising that one of the reasons for the fall in investment and credit is the loss of competitiveness of the economies of Member States;

E.  whereas the EIB should continue to fulfil its mandate for the financing of projects which are part of EU external action, while respecting high social and environmental standards;

F.  whereas the selection of EIB investments should be made independently and on the basis of their viability, added value and impact on economic recovery;

G.  whereas the EIB should evolve towards the development bank model in the context of improved macroeconomic coordination with the Member States;

H.  whereas the EIB should be not only a financial institution but also a bank of knowledge and good practice;

I.  whereas the relatively small and highly concentrated European Union securitisation market, providing limited SME loan securitisation, has shrunk still further as a result of the crisis;

Investment

1.  Takes note of the 2013 EIB Annual Report, the increase in the Group’s financing activities by 37 % to EUR 75,1 billion and the implementation of the capital increase of the EIB which took place in 2013; is concerned at the current situation of economic stalling in the EU, and in particular the significant decline in public and private investment – around 18 % below 2007 levels – and by the staggering 35 % drop in lending to SMEs between 2008 and 2013; underlines that such a decline represents a massive hurdle for a sustainable recovery as well as for genuine progress towards the Europe 2020 objectives;

2.  Points out, in that perspective, that national projections demonstrate that nearly half of all Member States will not achieve their national targets on education schemes and greenhouse gas reductions by 2020 and that trends regarding employment and poverty reduction are even worse;

3.  Concludes that the enhancement of EIB financing instruments is no substitute for national economic policy and structural reforms oriented towards sustainable growth and job creation;

4.  Takes note of the Commission Communication on an Investment Plan for Europe (COM(2014)0903) which involves existing funds and seeks to leverage private capital at a ratio of 1:15; notes the aim to revitalise the EU economy through the mobilisation of EUR 315 billion over the next three years under the new European Fund for Strategic Investments; draws attention to the fact that implementation of the Investment Plan will require the EIB to take on additional human resources in order to fulfil its mandate;

5.  Takes note in that context of the establishment of a Task Force, led by the Commission and the European Investment Bank, and takes note of the legislative proposals to be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure to establish the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI); underlines the need to specify in these legislative proposals a high quality governance and selection process as well as a democratically accountable monitoring and evaluation framework underpinning the fund, which should be as transparent as possible in setting out the criteria that it will use to determine the projects that will be deemed suitable for inclusion in the pipeline;

6.  Expects the Commission’s investment plan to foster and facilitate access to finance in Member States and regions; recalls that it is essential that the EIB cooperate with the European funds in these Member States and regions in particular, so that productive public investments and essential infrastructure projects can be carried out;

7.  Believes that projects with European added value and a positive cost-benefit analysis should be prioritised; stresses the importance of implementing projects which could have a maximum impact in terms of job creation; underlines the need to focus on higher-risk projects that do not easily qualify for finance by banks; warns that the Task Force could face political pressure to foster projects favoured by special interest groups, leading to funds being misallocated to unprofitable investments that are not in the public interest;

8.  Emphasises that guarantees which the Commission foresees for the EFSI do not correspond to new money but to reallocated resources; underlines that it is of paramount importance to identify the opportunity costs of such reallocation and therefore to establish explicitly to what extent the overall returns from the foreseen additional investments to be co-financed by the EFSI are expected to exceed those that would have been generated had the reallocated resources been allocated as originally planned;

9.  Points out that the project selection process should aim at avoiding crowding-out and reshuffling effects and should therefore focus on projects of European added value with a high innovation-based potential, which meet the additionality criterion; emphasises the need to take into account the employment potential of the projects selected in those EU countries suffering from mass unemployment;

10.  Asks the Commission, in this respect, to carefully assess in its forthcoming legislative proposal the parts of the EU budget framework which are expected to provide guarantees to the EFSI, with a view to minimising the opportunity costs related to the redeployment of such resources; also calls on the Council, the Commission and the EIB Board of Governors to duly assess the redistribution effects the investment plan entails, namely a possible increase in investor profits at the cost of customers who have to pay for the use of new infrastructure in order to ensure an appropriate return on investment; calls on the EIB and the Commission to further assess the investment gap in the EU in terms of its composition, namely whether private or public investments are lacking, and to specify what kind of investments, private or public, are intended to be the subject of support and the expected scale of productive effects of the investment;

11.  Notes that the European Central Bank has expressed its readiness to purchase, on the secondary market, bonds issued by the EFSI, if the Fund should issue such bonds itself or if the EIB should do so on its behalf;

12.  Points out that it is necessary to strike a new balance between better evaluation and the best possible investment, and to steer the economy towards a path of sustainable growth and a job-rich recovery;

13.  Recalls the importance of the Europe 2020 strategy; underlines that the future ‘package’ of investments should better take into account the general objectives of cohesion policy, sustainability and energy efficiency; calls on the Commission and the EIB Council of Governors to enhance their performance indicators for quality investments with that perspective;

14.  Underlines that the EIB is called on to play an instrumental role in financing the Investment Plan for Europe by committing EUR 5 billion to the establishment of the new European Fund for Strategic Investments; calls, therefore, on the Council, the Commission and the EIB Board of Governors to duly assess the consistency between the new tasks assigned to the EIB within such a plan and the resources of the EIB;

15.  Is of the opinion that, in this respect, appropriate EIB involvement in the Investment Plan will require a substantial increase in EIB lending and borrowing ceilings within the next five years with a view to significantly increasing its balance sheet size; believes that an excessive level of leverage will undermine the objectives of the investment plan;

16.  Believes that promotion of the institutional framework for the operation of the single capital market will contribute positively to the faster implementation of the investment plan;

17.  Points out, however, that the current EIB operational corporate plan foresees a reduction in lending flows to EUR 67 billion in 2014 and 2015, while the middle of the targeted range for 2016 is expected to be EUR 58,5 billion;

18.  Stresses that the extra lending capacity resulting from the recent EUR 10 billion EIB capital increase has been underused; urges stakeholders involved to promote as far as possible actions to extend EIB lending;

19.  Calls on the Commission to encourage multilateral cooperation between the EIB and the national promotional banks in order to foster synergies, share risks and costs, and ensure appropriate lending to EU projects with a positive impact on productivity, job creation, environmental protection and quality of life;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB to foster the inclusion of investment with a clear social benefit, including increased levels of employment, within its scope of action, to boost, by lending, activities designed to reduce unemployment, with a particular focus on creating employment opportunities for young people, and to support public and productive investments and indispensable infrastructure projects, especially in Member States with high levels of unemployment and below-average GDP;

21.  Reiterates its cautious support to the development of public-private partnerships (PPPs) which, if well designed, can play an important role in long-term investment, the digital economy, research and innovation, human capital, and European transport, energy or telecommunications networks; regrets that flawed PPPs have turned into an expensive system of public financing of the private sector, generating public debt; points out, moreover, that such operations often face problems of opacity as well as asymmetric information in the execution clauses between the public and private agents, normally in favour of the private sector;

22.  Suggests that the EIB enhance its sectoral analysis capacities and its macroeconomic analytical work;

Risk-sharing instruments and project bonds

23.  Points out that risk-sharing instruments ultimately involving the provision of public subsidies should only be foreseen where there are market failures generating external costs or for the execution of missions of general interest such as the provision of public goods and services of general economic interest, bearing in mind that such a take always bears the risk of the socialisation of losses and the privatisation of returns; notes that in the event of failure this will lead to the public sector having to cover the losses;

24.  Points out that any involvement of public resources in risk-sharing instruments and more specifically in first-loss tranches of investment vehicles should either be explicitly linked to the reduction of measurable external negative costs, the generation of measurable positive external costs or the implementation of public services obligations and services of general economic interest; points out that Article 14 TFEU provides a legal basis for establishing such a link by means of an ordinary legislative proposal;

SMEs

25.  Emphasises that SMEs are the backbone of the European economy, and as such should be a principal target for investment; is concerned that access to finance remains one of the most pressing difficulties facing SMEs in Europe; stresses the need for more efficient allocation of SME funding, with a broad spectrum of private investors for the provision of such funding;

26.  Urges the EIB to fully analyse the drop in funding to SMEs and to come forward with a comprehensive plan to ensure SMEs across Europe are encouraged to apply for funding under the auspices of the EIB wherever possible; calls on the Commission and the EIB to assess the effect of the economic crisis on the banking system and the final recipients of EIB funding, in particular regarding SMEs, the social economy sector and public companies; asks the EIB to evaluate and report in detail on the impacts of its support to SMEs in Europe on the real economy and results for the years 2010-2014;

27.  Draws attention to the high proportion of microenterprises in the European economy and welcomes the steps taken by the EIB towards microfinance lending in Europe; calls for further investment in this sector in view of the importance of microenterprises in creating jobs;

28.  Highlights, in particular, the real benefits of using the risk-sharing mechanism in the promotion of funding for SMEs and innovation in Europe;

29.  Takes note of the increased support for SMEs in the European Union which amounted to EUR 21,9 billion, thus providing access to financing for more than 230 000 SMEs;

30.  Calls on the EIB to further increase its lending capacities to SMEs and innovative start-ups; stresses the importance of strengthening other EIB instruments, such as the European Progress Microfinance Facility;

31.  Welcomes the implementation and development of new activities in the trade finance area in the countries impacted by the economic crisis, especially with the SME Trade Finance Facility or tailor-made financial solutions such as the European Progress Microfinance Facility dedicated to financial inclusion; encourages the EIB to extend the benefits of these new instruments to new beneficiaries at European level;

32.  Insists that the evaluation carried out by the Commission in December 2014 take into account both the negative and the positive impacts of projects in the Project Bond Initiative (PBI) Pilot Phase; considers it regrettable that the EIB has supported some infrastructure projects that turned out to be unviable and unsustainable; considers that the EIB should invest in projects which bring tangible economic benefits, are climate-friendly and meet the needs and interests of the population they are intended to serve;

33.  Regrets the role played by the EIB and the Commission in the Castor project, which is funded in the framework of the PBI, involving a risk assessment which did not take account of the risk of increased seismic activity associated with the injection of gas, despite the existence of studies clearly warning of the potential dangers(8); urges the Commission and the EIB to take action in order to avoid Spanish citizens having to pay, through a higher public deficit or by raising energy costs, EUR 1 300 million in compensation over a disastrously assessed project; asks the Commission to follow the recommendations of the European Ombudsman and investigate whether the Spanish Government decisions on Castor could be considered prohibited state aid;

34.  Regrets that the EIB financed the highway bypass ‘Passante di Mestre’, after the Italian authorities publicly announced the arrest of the CEO of its main subcontractor for fiscal fraud; in light of the still ongoing investigations by the Italian authorities into the corruption scandal related to the construction and management of the ‘Passante di Mestre’, calls on the EIB not to finance the ‘Passante di Mestre’ project through the PBI or any other financial instrument, and to ensure that it implements its zero tolerance to fraud policy when considering the use of project bonds;

35.  Calls on the EIB to increase its risk-taking capacity by promoting lending towards those sectors of the economy which have the potential to generate growth and jobs but have difficulties in obtaining financing without proper guarantees;

36.  Calls, therefore, for a comprehensive evaluation of the pilot projects on the basis of an inclusive and open consultation process involving public, national and local bodies; also highlights the need for funded projects to be evaluated in terms of added value, the environment, productivity and jobs; points out that the PBI is still only at the pilot stage; also calls on the Commission to submit, via the ordinary legislative procedure, a legislative proposal which will better frame the future project bond strategy, including an enhancement of the EIB performance indicators framework for quality investment, so as to identify and measure both the impact of the funded projects in terms of external costs and their social and environmental returns as broadly as possible;

37.  Is concerned by the potential generalisation of PBIs as a means to reduce costs for private investment, either through lower interest rates or socialisation of losses, rather than the more limited scope of providing support to investments of public interest where private investment can be shown to provide indispensable expertise or know-how that is not available to the public sector;

Energy and climate

38.  Calls on the EIB to ensure proper implementation of its new energy lending criteria and to periodically and publicly report on their implementation;

39.  Calls on the EIB to step up its investment efforts with a view to reducing significantly its carbon footprint, and to work on policies which would help the Union to reach its climate targets; welcomes the fact that the EIB will be carrying out and requesting the publication of a climate assessment and review of all its activities in 2015, which may lead to a renewed climate protection policy; hopes that the EIB energy policy will be concretely supported by its Emissions Performance Standard, to be applied to all fossil fuel generation projects in order to screen out investments with projected carbon emissions exceeding a threshold level; calls on the EIB to keep the Emissions Performance Standard under review and to apply stricter commitments;

40.  Welcomes all steps taken by the EIB towards a shift to renewable energy; calls for the rectification of regional imbalances in renewable energy lending, particularly with a view to supporting projects in Member States which are reliant on non-renewable energy sources and taking into account differences in the economies of Member States, and for more attention to be paid in the future to smaller-scale, off-grid decentralised renewable energy projects involving citizens and communities; considers that these energy sources would reduce Europe’s high level of external energy dependency, improve security of supply and stimulate the creation of green growth and jobs; stresses the importance of funding for energy efficiency, energy networks and related R&D;

41.  Calls on the EIB to increase its lending volume to energy efficiency projects in all sectors, notably where relating to process optimisation, SMEs, buildings and the urban environment; calls on the EIB to give more priority to very deprived areas in line with cohesion policy;

42.  Urges the EIB to present an evaluation of the possibility of phasing out its lending to non-renewable energy projects;

Infrastructure

43.  Stresses that investment in sustainable infrastructure projects is key to improving competitiveness and restoring growth and jobs in Europe; calls, therefore, for EIB financing to be deployed towards the areas most affected by high unemployment; points out that EIB financing should focus primarily on those countries which are lagging behind in terms of infrastructure quality and development;

44.  Encourages an increased focus on social sustainability in the EIB’s urban investment activities; acknowledges the improvement in EIB funding for social housing but emphasises the need to further develop research and activity on social sustainability in the context of sustainable urban regeneration;

Research and innovation

45.  Welcomes the launch of the first Growth Financing Initiative (GFI) operations and stresses the importance of adequate financing for research and innovation projects and innovative start-ups;

Employment and social affairs

46.  Notes the launch of the ‘Skills and jobs – Investing for Youth’ initiative and urges the EIB to accelerate implementation of this initiative and consider its broadening;

Governance, transparency and accountability

47.  Calls on the EIB to monitor more closely the implementation of projects in cooperation with Member States, in order to ensure greater efficiency and sound management of the allocated resources;

48.  Points out that the geographical distribution of the financing provided by the EIB reveals significant discrepancies in lending to various Member States; calls, therefore, on the EIB to assess the reasons for such discrepancies and to ensure that financial institutions in all Member States are fully capable of managing and implementing EIB programmes; calls, furthermore, for specific information campaigns in all Member States with the aim of raising awareness about specific EIB programmes; also calls for stronger cooperation between the EIB and national authorities in order to address the bottlenecks that hinder the signing and implementation of EIB projects;

49.  Recalls that the Council and Parliament agreed that the time was ripe to study the rationalisation of the system of European public financial institutions(9);

50.  Urges the EIB to improve the independence and effectiveness of its Complaint Mechanism Office; calls on the EIB Management Committee to take on board the recommendations of that office; calls on the EIB to act on the opinions of the European Ombudsman and to practise greater cooperation in order to avoid situations like the inquiry into complaint 178/2014/AN against the European Investment Bank(10);

51.  Believes that there are still considerable margins for manoeuvre for improving transparency, and assessing the economic and social impact of the loans and the effectiveness of the implementation of due diligence; reiterates its demand to the Bank to provide details on its approach to accelerate measures addressing these issues and asks for a stringent list of criteria for selection of these financial intermediaries to be established by the EIB jointly with the Commission and be made publicly available;

52.  Regrets the outcome of the transparency policy review of the EIB; the new transparency policy is weaker than the original policy and does not fully overcome the EIB’s past culture of secrecy, and urges the EIB to operate on the basis of the ‘presumption of disclosure’ rather than the ‘presumption of confidentiality’; draws attention to the fact that the EIB is required to make sure that its transparency policy is consistent with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents; regrets the fact that the 2013 aid transparency index(11) shows that the EIB fares poorly on transparency and accountability;

53.  Calls on the EIB to refrain from cooperation with financial intermediaries having a negative track record in terms of transparency, tax evasion or aggressive tax planning practices, or use of other harmful tax practices such as ‘tax rulings’ and abusive transfer pricing, fraud, corruption or environmental and social impacts, or with no substantial local ownership, and to update its policies on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism; highlights the need for more comprehensive transparency regarding global loans, to ensure rigorous scrutiny of the impact of this type of indirect lending; encourages the EIB to make both direct funding and funding via intermediaries contingent upon the disclosure of both country-by-country tax-relevant data along the lines of the CRD IV provision for credit institutions, and beneficial ownership information; to this end, calls on the EIB to establish a new responsible taxation policy, starting from the review of its policy on non-cooperative jurisdictions (NCJ policy) in 2015;

54.  Urges the EIB not to cooperate with entities operating out of secrecy jurisdictions ‘characterised notably by no or nominal taxes, a lack of effective exchange of information with foreign tax authorities and a lack of transparency in legislative, legal or administrative provisions, or as identified by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development or the Financial Action Task Force’(12);

55.  Urges the EIB to take a leading and exemplary role on issues of tax transparency and responsibility; calls in particular on the EIB to collect precise data on the tax payments resulting from its investment and lending operations, especially on taxation of corporate profits and particularly in developing countries, and to analyse and publish this data annually;

56.  Welcomes the creation of a public register of documents in 2014 in line with Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006;

57.  Regrets the fact that in the context of a recent case (Mopani/Glencore), the EIB is refusing to publish the findings of its internal inquiry; notes with attention the recommendations of the European Ombudsman in complaint 349/2014/OV(13) for the EIB to reconsider its refusal to grant access to its report on the investigation into the Glencore tax evasion allegations in relation to the financing of the Mopani copper mine in Zambia; asks the EIB to follow the recommendations of the European Ombudsman;

58.  Regrets the lack of diversity in the management committee, the board of governors and the board of directors of the EIB, in particular with regard to gender; calls upon the EIB to implement the spirit of the Capital Requirements Directive, Article 88(2) of which obliges banks to ‘decide on a target for the representation of the underrepresented gender in the management body and prepare a policy on how to increase the number of the underrepresented gender in the management body in order to meet that target. The target, policy and its implementation shall be made public’;

59.  Recalls that it was agreed that the Governor of the EBRD for the Union shall ensure annual reporting to Parliament on the use of capital, on measures to ensure transparency with regard to how the EBRD has contributed to the Union’s objectives, on risk taking, and on cooperation between the EIB and the EBRD outside the Union; regrets that the Governor and the Commission have not been proactive regarding the implementation of this legal provision(14);

60.  Welcomes the fact that the EIB signed the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and started disclosing information in accordance with this framework about its lending outside of the European Union;

External policies

61.  Recalls that the external policy of the EIB, and in particular the regional technical operational guidelines, should be consistent with the external action goals of the EU as defined in Article 21 TEU; calls for full respect of the legislation of the beneficiary countries;

62.  Welcomes the establishment of the Results Measurement Framework (REM) for activities outside the EU and the reports on its implementation;

63.  Calls on the EIB to assess the possibility of increasing external financing towards the EU’s Eastern and Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood within the current mandate;

64.  Welcomes the fact that the new External Lending Mandate for 2014-2020 requires the EIB to publish project completion reports; expects the EIB to deliver on this requirement as early as 2015;

65.  Reiterates its request that the European Court of Auditors (ECA) produce a special report on the performance and alignment with EU policies of EIB external lending activities before the mid-term review of the EIB’s external mandate, and to compare their added value with regard to the own resources used by the EIB; asks the ECA, furthermore, to differentiate in its analysis between the guarantees granted by the EU budget, the investment facility guaranteed by the EDF, the various forms of blending used in the EU-Africa infrastructural trust fund, the Caribbean investment fund and the investment facility for the Pacific, and the usage of reflows for these investments; also asks the European Court of Auditors to include in its analysis the management by the EIB of funds derived from the EU budget in the context of the investment facility via the European Development Fund and through the various forms of blending via EU blending facilities, and the usage of reflows for these investments;

Further recommendations

66.  Calls for the EIB and Parliament to set up a platform for dialogue between the EIB and the relevant Parliament Committees; asks, on this basis, for the EIB to come to Parliament to report and discuss on EIB progress and activities on a quarterly basis; proposes that regular structured dialogue between the President of the EIB and Parliament, similar to the quarterly monetary dialogue between the ECB and Parliament, be set up to ensure increased parliamentary oversight of the EIB’s activities and facilitate enhanced cooperation and coordination between the two institutions;

67.  Notes that complaints, especially from small businesses, persist regarding the lack of access to funding originating from the EIB’s external lending capacities, and to funding supported by the EIF; requests, therefore, an annual survey of how many SMEs, and in particular microenterprises, have benefited from these facilities and what measures the EIB has taken in respect of the policies of intermediaries used by the EIB to improve effective access to funding for SMEs;

68.  Calls for a thorough assessment and a report on risks and control systems associated with blended finance with the European Commission, considering the impact of blending activities not only in terms of oversight but also in terms of governance options;

69.  Welcomes the strong asset quality of the EIB, with a rate of impaired loans close to 0 % (0,2 %) of the total loan portfolio; considers it essential to ensure that the EIB keeps its triple-A credit rating in order to preserve its access to international capital markets under the best funding conditions, with subsequent positive impacts on project life and for stakeholders and the EIB’s business model;

70.  Notes that the Tripartite Agreement mentioned in Article 287(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, governing cooperation between the EIB, the Commission and the Court of Auditors with respect to the methods for controls exercised by the Court regarding the EIB’s activity in managing Union and Member State funds, is up for renewal in 2015; calls upon the EIB to update the remit of the European Court of Auditors in this respect, by including any new EIB facilities involving public funds from the EU or the European Development Fund;

71.  Welcomes the approval by the EIB Board of an updated anti-fraud policy in 2013, confirming the bank’s zero tolerance approach;

72.  Calls for greater effectiveness, less regulation and more flexibility in the allocation of EIB funds;

73.  Calls on the EIB to engage in a structured communication process with parliaments, governments and social partners in order to pinpoint on a regular basis those job creation initiatives that could help achieve a sustainable increase in Europe’s competitiveness;

74.  Welcomes the support provided to SMEs in areas with youth unemployment rates of above 25 %;

75.  Welcomes the focus on mid-caps (companies with between 250 and 3 000 employees), through the Mid Cap Initiative and the Growth Finance Initiative, both of which stimulate loans, in particular to innovative mid-caps;

76.  Welcomes the EIB’s new ‘Skills and Jobs - Investing for Youth’ initiative, focusing on financing facilities for vocational training and student/apprentice mobility to provide young people with lasting employment opportunities, and calls for an even greater focus on vocational training and increased investments in this lending programme in the coming years; believes, however, that this programme should not divert funding away from the current grants system, in particular as regards the Erasmus+ programme; stresses that mobility must be treated as an opportunity and remain voluntary, and not become an instrument which contributes to the depopulation and marginalisation of areas affected by unemployment; calls for attention to be paid to those projects which will enable quality jobs creation, with a special focus on projects related to youth employment creation, increasing the share of the labour market held by women, reducing long-term unemployment and improving the possibilities of disadvantaged groups to secure jobs;

77.  Welcomes the extensive experience of the EIB in financing education and training through student loans operations conducted in Europe, especially in view of the rendering operational by the EIB Group of the Erasmus Master Mobile Student Loans Guarantees in 2015; stresses the importance of advantageous repayment rules in order to ensure complete ease of access to loans by students, irrespective of their economic background;

78.  Calls on the EIB to pay special attention to the first pillar criterion of contribution to growth and employment, and in particular to youth employment, when selecting its projects under the three-pillar assessment method; stresses the importance of jobs, training and apprenticeships for young people as part of a move towards a sustainable, job-creating model;

79.  Recalls Vice-President Katainen’s commitment to increase the EIB’s potential in relation not only to infrastructure but also to youth employment and education, and calls on the EIB to report on progress made in this area in its next annual report; believes that youth employment measures already initiated should be implemented more rapidly and expanded progressively;

80.  Believes that the EIB should invest substantially in measures that create sustainable jobs for the younger generations, in addition to those already launched under the Youth Employment Initiative;

o
o   o

81.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the EIB, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 72 E, 11.3.2014, p. 51.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0057.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0201.
(4) OJ C 349 E, 29.11.2013, p. 27.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0161.
(6) OJ L 177, 7.7.2012, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 280, 27.10.2011, p. 1.
(8) See: Observatori de l’Ebre (CSIC, URLL). Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental (SGEA/SHG; Ref.: GAD/13/05) - ‘Almacenamiento subterráneo de gas natural Amposta (Permiso Castor) Tarragona); IAM 2109-07 - Estudio elaborado por la Dirección General de Política Ambiental y Sostenibilidad del Departamento de Medio Ambienta y Vivienda de la Generalitat de Catalunya sobre el estudio de impacto ambiental del Proyecto de almacén subterráneo de gas natural Castor’; and Simone Cesca, Francesco Grigoli, Sebastian Heimann, Álvaro González, Elisa Buforn, Samira Maghsoudi, Estefania Blanch y Torsten Dahm (2014): ‘The 2013 September–October seismic sequence offshore Spain: a case of seismicity triggered by gas injection?’, Geophysical Journal International, 198, 941–953.
(9) Recital 8 of Decision No 1219/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 concerning the subscription by the European Union to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as a result of the decision to increase this capital (OJ L 313, 26.11.2011, p. 1).
(10) Decision of the European Ombudsman closing the inquiry into complaint 178/2014/AN against the European Investment Bank - http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/cases/decision.faces/en/58171/html.bookmark
(11) http://newati.publishwhatyoufund.org/2013/index-2013/results/
(12) Recital 13 of Decision No 1219/2011/EU ).
(13) http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/cases/draftrecommendation.faces/en/58471/html.bookmark
(14) Article 3 of Decision No 1219/2011/EU.


Expo Milano 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on Milano Expo 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life (2015/2574(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0184B8-0360/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the decision of the International Exhibitions Bureau to organise a universal exhibition in Milan from 1 May to 30 October 2015 on the theme ‘Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life’,

–  having regard to the Commission decision of 3 May 2013 on the participation of the Commission in the World Expo 2015 in Milan (C(2013)2507),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 3 May 2013 entitled ‘EU Participation at the World Expo 2015 in Milan “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life”ʼ (COM(2013)0255),

–  having regard to the work of the European Union Scientific Steering Committee, supported by the Commission and Parliament and launched on 21 March 2014 to provide expert advice on the challenges of food and nutrition security and to give guidance on the programme of events for Expo 2015,

–  having regard to the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in September 2000 and the draft Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted by the next United Nations General Assembly in September 2015,

–  having regard to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) publication ‘World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision’,

–  having regard to the 2014 FAO International Year of Family Farming,

–  having regard to the 2015 FAO International Year of Soils,

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2011 on recognition of agriculture as a strategic sector in the context of food security(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2012 on how to avoid food wastage: strategies for a more efficient food chain in the EU(2),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, in particular to Article 25 thereof, which recognises the right to food as part of the right to an adequate standard of living,

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on Expo Milano 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life (O-000016/2015 – B8-0109/2015),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development,

–  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the theme of Milan Expo 2015 is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ and the event could provide a serious boost to the debate on improving food production and food distribution, tackling food waste, promoting and developing already-existing positive approaches to face the challenge of food insecurity, malnutrition and poor diets and striking a balance between supply and consumption;

B.  whereas the theme of Expo Milano 2015 provides an opportunity to consider and discuss various approaches to resolving the paradoxes of a globalised world where, according to FAO data, on the one hand 898 million people are undernourished and going hungry while, on the other, 1.4 billion are overweight, including 500 million who are obese, a situation which is causing social and economic damage and in some cases is having a dramatic impact on human health;

C.  whereas Milan Expo 2015 coincides with the target year of both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the UN International Year of Soils, and should be inspirational to the debate on the new Sustainable Development Goals, whose final draft is going through the negotiation phase, and whereas agriculture, food and nutrition security are at the heart of this exercise;

D.  whereas the themes of Milan Expo 2015, which principally concern food, also include fisheries which, like agriculture, is connected to the issues of food, food autonomy and sustainability;

E.  whereas Expo 2015 is drafting a ‘Milan Charter’, a document to be submitted to the UN Secretary-General as a legacy of Expo 2015 and a contribution to the international debate on the Millennium Development Goals;

F.  whereas the Expo 2015 themes primarily concern the agriculture sector, which remains a keystone for the Union’s economy, given that agricultural exports represent two thirds of its total external trade, that the Union remains the biggest agricultural exporter in the world and that the EU’s food sector generates an annual turnover of almost EUR 1 trillion and employs more than 4 million people;

G.  whereas, like agriculture, fishing is a key element of the economy, firstly in terms of imports, given that the EU is the world’s leading importer of fishery and aquaculture products and that the value of exports is EU 4.1 billion a year, and secondly because 116 094 people work in the fisheries sector, 85 000 in aquaculture and 115 651 in the fish processing sector;

H.  whereas ‘Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life’ is a global theme, which involves all the economic and productive activities that contribute to guaranteeing nutrition and sustainability;

I.  whereas the fishery sector needs to be involved in the debate about how to feed the planet in so far as it provides seafood, striking a balance between supply and consumption of resources;

J.  whereas the EU Scientific Steering Committee for Expo 2015 foresees the need to pursue new knowledge in some specific areas and to promote better public understanding of food and food production within the agricultural, blue economy and fisheries sectors through education and communication, so that people recognise the global impact of their individual food choices;

K.  whereas the experience of civil society and its contribution to the debate on the Expo 2015 issues are crucial and its experience and initiatives should be encouraged to develop a substantial international debate and guidelines aimed at mitigating the global crises surrounding food and nutrition;

L.  whereas healthy soils are not only a fundamental requirement for the production of food, fuel, fibre and medicines, but also essential for our ecosystems, since they play a major role in the carbon cycle, while they also store and filter water and help to tackle flooding and drought;

M.  whereas our oceans, seas and internal waterways are valuable in terms of healthy nutrition, and whereas their protection is essential for our survival; whereas fisheries and aquaculture ensure the livelihoods of 10-12% of the world’s population;

N.  whereas, in order to ensure full transparency for Expo 2015, the Open Expo platform is openly publishing all information regarding the management, organisation and conduct of the event, thereby setting what may be regarded as a good example of transparency;

O.  whereas the FAO estimates that global population growth from 7 billion to 9,1 billion will require a 70 % increase in food supply by the year 2050, while the same projections suggest that production increases alone would not be sufficient to ensure food security for everyone;

P.  whereas the number of people suffering from hunger amounted to 925 million in 2010, according to the FAO; and more than one third of the deaths of under-five-year-olds are attributable to under nutrition;

Q.  whereas the FAO estimates an increase of only 4,3 % in arable land in use in 2050;

R.  whereas growth in per capita income in emerging countries is driving a shift in diets towards products with a higher protein content, including animal-based proteins, and processed products, thus promoting a process of dietary convergence worldwide as experienced by richer populations;

S.  whereas protein production is one of the major challenges for food security, and whereas fishing therefore has a key role to play in this respect, as does the blue economy as a whole, particularly as regards algae research;

T.  whereas fish is a critical source of dietary protein and micronutrients for impoverished communities that may not have ready access to other sources of nutrition; whereas, in many parts of the world, livelihoods and the nutritional benefits of marine resources are derived locally, within communities that fish in coastal and inland waters near their homes;

U.  whereas diets containing a high proportion of animal products require the consumption of significantly more resources than diets containing a high proportion of vegetable products;

V.  whereas agriculture provides employment and a livelihood for more than 70 % of the labour force, mainly women, in developing countries; whereas the World Bank estimates that growth in the agricultural sector is twice as effective at reducing poverty as growth in other sectors;

W.  whereas, according to the FAO, some 58.3 million people were engaged in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture in 2012; whereas women accounted for more than 15 % of all people directly engaged in the fisheries primary sector in 2012; whereas, overall, fisheries and aquaculture ensure the livelihoods of 10-12 % of the world’s population;

X.  whereas areas of food insecurity exist in the EU and 79 million people in the EU still live below the poverty line, while 124,2 million people, or 24,8 %, are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared with 24,3 % in 2011;

Y.  whereas only half of all developing countries (62 out of 118) are on track to achieve the MDG target;

Z.  whereas the universal right to food and good nutrition is paramount to achieving the MDGs; whereas nutrition is linked to most, if not all, of the MDGs, which are themselves closely interrelated;

AA.  whereas various international legal instruments link the right to food to other human rights, including people’s rights to life, livelihood, health, property, education and water;

AB.  whereas the share of official development assistance (ODA) allocated to agriculture internationally has fallen dramatically over the last three decades;

AC.  whereas the concept of food and nutrition security (FNS) does not only mean the availability of food supplies, but also includes the right to food, accurate information about what we eat and universal, sustainable access to healthy nutrition, which includes other factors such as sanitation, hygiene, vaccination and deworming;

AD.  whereas hunger and malnutrition are the main causes of human mortality and the greatest threats to world peace and security;

AE.  whereas volatile food prices have negative consequences for food security and the food supply chain;

AF.  whereas the global economic downturn and rising food and fuel prices have worsened the food situation in many developing countries, especially the least developed countries, thus partly setting back the last decade’s progress on poverty reduction;

AG.  whereas fragile agricultural and fish product markets in developing countries make food supplies excessively vulnerable to natural disasters, conflict and public health crises;

AH.  whereas the food system both contributes to and is affected by climate change, which has implications for the availability of natural resources and on conditions for agricultural, fisheries and industrial production;

AI.  whereas natural disasters caused by climate change have a severe impact on EU Member States and overseas, threatening food security and food sovereignty, especially in already vulnerable situations;

AJ.  whereas the Commission estimates that 30 % of food worldwide is lost or wasted and that by 2020 annual food waste in the European Union, currently approximately 89 million tonnes (179 kg per capita), will rise to approximately 126 million tonnes – a 40 % increase – unless preventative actions or measures are taken;

AK.  whereas better management of the food sector would mean more efficient land use, better water resource management, and positive effects on the whole agricultural and fisheries sector worldwide, while also furthering the fight against undernourishment and poor diets in the developing world;

AL.  whereas the discard of fish constitutes a purposeless waste of valuable living resources and plays an important role in the depletion of marine populations; whereas discarding may have a number of adverse ecological impacts on marine ecosystems due to changes in the overall structure of trophic webs and habitats, which in turn could jeopardise the sustainability of current fisheries;

AM.  whereas hunger, poor diets and undernutrition coexist with paradoxical levels of obesity and diseases attributable to unbalanced diets, which have social and economic consequences with a sometimes dramatic impact on human health;

AN.  whereas investment trade agreements could have a detrimental effect on food security and malnutrition if the leasing or selling off of arable land to private investors results in depriving local populations of access to production resources indispensable to their livelihoods, or in large portions of food being exported and sold on international markets, thereby making the host state more dependent on – and more vulnerable to – fluctuation in commodity prices on international markets;

AO.  whereas hunger cannot be sustainably ended by simply supplying enough food for everybody; whereas this will only be achieved by allowing small-scale farmers and fisheries to be able to keep and work the land and waters, maintaining fair-trade systems, and sharing knowledge, innovation and sustainable practices;

AP.  whereas it is appropriate to recognise the key role of farmers and fishermen and in particular that of family farming and fishing in ensuring global food security;

AQ.  whereas it is particularly important to recognise the essential role of fishermen and fish farmers on our European coastal territories and islands;

AR.  whereas it is appropriate to recognise the multiple functions fulfilled by agriculture, forestry and fisheries, which, in addition to producing food, are of key importance to public wellbeing in terms of landscape quality, biodiversity, climate stability, ocean quality and the mitigation of natural disasters such as flooding, drought and fires;

1.  Stresses that the following are vital to meeting the food security challenge: a strong and sustainable agricultural and fisheries sector across the EU, a thriving and diversified rural economy, a clean environment, and family farms, supported by a robust, fairer, internationally sustainable and appropriately financed common agricultural policy;

2.  Underlines the fact that it is also important to implement a sustainable and appropriately financed CFP and to guarantee coherence between EU trade and fisheries policies;

3.  Considers that environmental sustainability will only be possible and efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change will only succeed if farms are economically sustainable and farmers are given access to land, credit and training;

4.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to leverage the theme of Milan Expo 2015 ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ to set commitments to fulfilling the right to adequate, healthy, sustainable and informed food consumption;

5.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the ‘EU pavilion’ at Expo 2015 raises awareness of the need to address urgent problems in the entire food supply chain, including the long-term sustainability of food production, distribution and consumption, to tackle food waste and to combat the problem of malnutrition, poor diets and obesity;

6.  Stresses that the right to food is a basic human right and can only be achieved when all people have access to suitable, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life;

7.  Underlines the fact that access to food is a prerequisite for reducing poverty and inequality and achieving the MDGs;

8.  Stresses that the fight against undernutrition and the provision of universal access to adequate nutritious food should remain one of the most important targets of the post-2015 agenda under the goal of ending hunger, with a specific call to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030;

9.  Believes that increased volatility in food markets poses problems for sustainability and requires us to step up measures to boost security of food supply and the environmental sustainability of food production by tackling the scarcity of natural resources and promoting research and innovation in agriculture and fisheries;

10.  Believes that appropriate institutional, regulatory and monitoring frameworks can promote an environment for developing robust, sustainable, equitable, affordable and diversified agricultural and fisheries market systems;

11.  Insists that the Commission ensure consistency between the political decisions of its directorates-general for trade, agriculture and fisheries, in order to ensure reciprocity in hygiene and sustainability standards;

12.  Is of the opinion that small-scale farming and organic, high nature value (HNV) or tree-based agriculture should be promoted as models particularly effective in delivering sustainability in global food production;

13.  Calls on the Commission to encourage more efficient agronomic practices, such as agroecological and diversification approaches and improved sustainable agriculture resource management, in order to: reduce the input costs of agricultural production and nutrient wastage, enhance knowledge and innovation transfer, foster resource efficiency, and increase the diversity of crops and sustainability in farming systems;

14.  Calls on the Commission to support research on the quality of coastal waters, land management and sustainable intensification by promoting a more efficient use of nutrients, water and energy; increasing the focus on the conservation of water and soil resources; further adapting biological measures for pest control (integrated pest management, or IPM); and promoting research with a view to improving yields while reducing the environmental impact;

15.  Is concerned about the emergence of land grabbing and its implications for food security in developing countries and the future of agriculture and farmers;

16.  Is concerned about the emergence of illegal fisheries all over the world, with highly detrimental effects on the environment, biodiversity and the economy;

17.  Calls on the Commission to raise awareness among Member States and encourage them to use the land ‘resource’ with a view to sustainability, which is necessary in order to achieve food security and proper nutrition, to adapt to and mitigate climate change, and for sustainable development in general;

18.  Underlines the importance of tackling land degradation, which is further exacerbating poverty and food insecurity;

19.  Calls on the Commission to encourage the worldwide implementation of the UN-FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, both on the side of the investors and on the side of target countries;

20.  Calls on the Italian Government to propose and develop projects for sustainable reuse of the Expo 2015 sites;

21.  Calls on the Commission to help achieve, at global level, the goals of the FAO in order to support the development of agricultural, environmental and social policies that encourage sustainable family farming;

22.  Stresses that the current imbalances in the food supply chain threaten the sustainability of food production, and calls for increased transparency and fairness in the chain and the elimination of unfair trading practices and other market distortions in order to ensure a fair return for farmers, fair profits and pricing along the food supply chain and a viable agricultural sector that will deliver food security; calls, therefore, on the Commission to take all necessary steps to ensure that these goals are achieved as soon as possible;

23.  Takes the view that the Commission and the Member States should promote policies aimed at combating unfair practices, the existence of which has been recognised by the Commission’s High Level Forum, for a better functioning food supply chain;

24.  Stresses that in order to deliver food security, it is necessary to vigorously combat land loss and the abandonment of marginal farming areas;

25.  Stresses that, in order to deliver food security, it is necessary to vigorously combat illegal fisheries;

26.  Highlights the key role of rural development for the economic and social growth of the land and calls for support for young farmers;

27.  Calls on the Commission to work towards an ambitious international agreement that includes food for climate change mitigation, in view of the international discussions of the Paris 2015 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;

28.  Calls on the Council to recognise the role of the whole agricultural sector in both mitigating and adapting to climate change;

29.  Calls on the Commission to fight against food waste with ambitious, clearly defined, binding targets to encourage the Member States to take action against food waste at every level of the food supply chain, from field to fork;

30.  Encourages the Member States to educate citizens, promote and disseminate best practices, conduct analyses and initiate social and educational campaigns in schools on food waste and on the importance of a healthy, balanced diet, giving priority to local farm produce, designating 2016 as the European Year against Food Waste;

31.  Considers that it is important to initiate a dialogue with stakeholders to ensure that unsold and safe edible food is systematically made available to charitable organisations;

32.  Urges the Member States and the Commission to further promote, starting in schools at the earliest age, healthy food, mindful nutrition and quality and sustainability standards in nutrition in terms of research and education – encouraging responsible and healthy lifestyles – and to further develop policy aimed at eradicating malnutrition and poor diets and preventing obesity;

33.  Stresses the importance of encouraging education about healthy, balanced nutrition and raising awareness of and promoting local products and traditional diets;

34.  Strongly suggests that the whole food system, of which agriculture is a part, together with trade, health, education, climate and energy policies, function under a human-rights-based approach, which should be championed by the Union;

35.  Calls, therefore, for inclusion of the gender dimension and the promotion of women’s empowerment in all policies aimed at fighting food insecurity;

36.  Reiterates the importance of promoting agriculture and fisheries in the developing world and the importance of allocating an appropriate share of EU overseas development assistance (ODA) to the agriculture sector; considers it regrettable that there has been a dramatic reduction in the level of development aid allocated to agriculture since the 1980s and welcomes the recognition of the need to reverse this trend;

37.  Considers that it is important to improve the conditions of women in agriculture, especially in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, as empowering and investing in rural women has been shown to significantly increase productivity and reduce hunger and malnutrition;

38.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to give priority to cooperation programmes based on microcredit, with a view to supporting small, environmentally sustainable farms in feeding local populations;

39.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and Council and to the commissioners of the participating Member States responsible for Expo 2015 Milan.

(1) OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 8.
(2) OJ C 227 E, 6.8.2013, p. 25.


Situation in Nigeria
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the situation in Nigeria (2015/2520(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0185RC-B8-0370/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria and in particular to its most recent plenary debate on the matter, of 14 January 2015,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including those of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, and 14 and 15 April 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 9 February 2015,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 583/2014 of 28 May 2014(1), which added Boko Haram to the list of persons, groups and entities covered by the freezing of funds and economic resources,

–  having regard to the fifth Nigeria-EU ministerial dialogue, held in Abuja on 27 November 2014,

–  having regard to the preliminary conclusions of the EU and European Parliament election observation missions,

–  having regard to the regional conference on security held in Niamey on 20 January 2015,

–  having regard to the statements made by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on the continuing violence and deteriorating security situation in north‑eastern Nigeria,

–  having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of 1981,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, adopted on 29 May 1999, and in particular the provisions of Chapter IV thereof,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the optional protocol thereto,

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part (the Cotonou Agreement),

–  having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which establishes taking into account the principle of policy coherence for development in all EU external policies,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Nigeria is the most populous and ethnically diverse country in Africa, and is marked by regional and religious cleavages and a north-south divide characterised by severe economic and social disparities;

B.  whereas Nigeria is the biggest economy in the African continent and a major EU trading partner, but whereas despite its vast resources, Nigeria ranks among the most unequal countries in the world, with more than 70 % of its population living on less than USD 1,25 per day and 10 % of the country’s population controlling over 90 % of its wealth and resources;

C.  whereas the attacks carried out by Boko Haram between 3 and 8 January 2015 targeted Baga and 16 surrounding towns and villages, destroying nearly 3 700 structures, according to satellite images, and killing thousands of people;

D.  whereas Boko Haram has taken and held a number of towns in north-east Nigeria and continues to forcibly recruit civilians to its ranks, including many children; whereas the violence caused by Boko Haram has resulted in more than 22 000 deaths since 2009, indiscriminately targeting Christians, Muslims and anyone who does not adhere to its dogmatic and extreme beliefs; whereas in March 2015 Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group; whereas on 27 March 2015 hundreds of bodies were found in the north-eastern town of Damasak, apparently victims of the Boko Haram insurgency;

E.  whereas in April 2014 more than 270 girls were kidnapped from a government school in Chibok (Borno state); whereas the majority remain missing and are at serious risk of sexual violence, enslavement and forced marriage; whereas since then hundreds more people have been abducted by Boko Haram; whereas on 28 April 2015 almost 300 girls and women were rescued in Sambisa Forest;

F.  whereas the UN estimates that the violence in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has displaced 1,5 million people, including 800 000 children, while more than 3 million people have been affected by the insurgency;

G.  whereas more than 300 000 Nigerians have fled to north-western Cameroon and south‑western Niger to escape the violence, and whereas hundreds of Nigerians are risking their lives on the migration routes to the EU in hope of living in better economic, social and security conditions;

H.  whereas Boko Haram aims to establish a fully Islamic state in northern Nigeria, including the implementation of criminal sharia courts, and to forbid Western education;

I.  whereas owing to worsening insecurity, farmers are no longer able to cultivate their lands or harvest their products for fear of being attacked by Boko Haram, a situation that is further exacerbating food insecurity;

J.  whereas the number of attacks, including the use of children as suicide bombers, is increasing, and whereas attacks are being perpetrated across large areas and also in the neighbouring countries of Chad and Cameroon;

K.  whereas the initial response of the Nigerian authorities was extremely insufficient and has ignited a sentiment of distrust among the population towards the country’s institutions; whereas under the former government the Nigerian authorities carried out mass incarcerations and detentions, together with extrajudicial killings and a large number of other violations of international law;

L.  whereas the spillover of the Boko Haram insurgency into neighbouring countries highlights the importance of greater regional cooperation and response;

M.  whereas Nigeria plays a key role in regional and African politics and is a driving force of regional integration through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS);

N.  whereas oil revenues have been steadily decreasing and an economic crisis is looming, and whereas, by some estimates, between USD 3 billion and USD 8 billion in Nigerian oil is stolen annually; whereas decades of economic mismanagement, instability and corruption have hindered investment in Nigeria’s education and social services systems;

O.  whereas education, literacy, women’s rights, social justice and a fair distribution of state revenues in society through tax systems, reducing inequality, and the fight against corruption and tax evasion are key to fighting fundamentalism, violence and intolerance;

P.  whereas terrorism is a global threat, but whereas the global community’s efforts to do more against Boko Haram in Nigeria depended to some degree on the full measure of credibility, accountability and transparency of the election;

Q.  whereas Nigeria is still a young and fragile democracy, which faced extreme violence following the results of the 2011 elections and accusations of vote rigging;

R.  whereas the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the elections from 14 and 28 February 2015 to 28 March and 11 April 2015, in order to enable the government to launch military actions against Boko Haram, and whereas a regional response was launched in March 2015;

S.  whereas the Chadian army, together with Niger and Cameroon, is the main force fighting against Boko Haram, and whereas its full involvement against Boko Haram terrorists in Gamboru Ngala, Malam Fatori and Kangalam in Nigeria is acknowledged; whereas the great price paid by this army in the war against terrorism is recognised; whereas the European Parliament expresses its full solidarity with the wounded and the families of the victims;

T.  whereas the electoral campaign took place in a tense environment, with incidents of election-related violence reported in all parts of the country, especially in the south and south-west, together with Boko Haram attacks to discourage voters, breaches of campaign regulations and inducement of voters;

U.  whereas systemic weaknesses, notably at the collation, together with the misuse of incumbency and the use of violence, were noted by local and international observers, including EU observers; whereas, however, no systematic manipulation was observed;

V.  whereas the EU deployed a long-term election observation mission at the invitation of the government, which included a delegation from the European Parliament; whereas such missions were also deployed by the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations and ECOWAS;

W.  whereas on 31 March 2015 the presidential candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, was declared the winner of the elections, and the incumbent president peacefully conceded his defeat; whereas the opposition APC won the majority of the presidential, Senate and House of Representatives votes in four of the six geopolitical zones;

X.  whereas fewer women were elected than in 2011, which already displayed a negative trend;

Y.  whereas 17 % of girls are married before they turn 15, with child marriage figures as high as 76 % in the North-West region; whereas Nigeria has the highest absolute number of female genital mutilation (FGM) victims worldwide, accounting for about a quarter of the estimated 115-130 million victims in the world;

1.  Strongly condemns the ongoing and increasingly disturbing violence, including the continuing wave of gun and bomb attacks, suicide bombings, sexual slavery and other sexual violence, kidnappings and other violent acts committed by the terrorist sect Boko Haram against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria, which have led to thousands of deaths and injuries and have displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and which could constitute crimes against humanity;

2.  Deplores the massacre of innocent men, women and children, and stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Nigeria in their determination to fight all forms of terrorism in their country; praises the work of all journalists and human rights defenders in seeking to bring the world’s attention to Boko Haram’s extremism and to the innocent victims of its violence;

3.  Recalls that one year has passed since the abduction of 276 girls from a school outside Chibok, and that according to human rights groups at least another 2 000 girls and women have been taken; asks the government and the international community to do everything in their power to find the abductees and free them;

4.  Asks the newly elected president to keep his campaign promises and to put all resources into bringing an end to the violence of Boko Haram, re-establishing stability and security across the whole country and addressing the root causes of this terrorism, and in particular to take firmer action to fight internal corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies within the public institutions and the army, which have rendered it incapable of dealing with the scourge of Boko Haram in the north of the country, and to adopt measures to starve Boko Haram of its sources of illegal income through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking;

5.  Asks Nigeria’s religious authorities and leaders to cooperate actively with civil society and public authorities in order to combat extremism and radicalisation;

6.  Calls on the new Nigerian authorities to adopt a roadmap for the social and economic development of the northern and southern states in order to address the issues of poverty, inequality, educational opportunities and access to healthcare, promoting fair distribution of oil revenues in the context of decentralisation, which are a cause of spiralling violence; also calls on the Nigerian authorities to take serious action to bring an end to female genital mutilation, child marriage and child labour; asks the EU to use all its tools to promote these measures, and to efficiently curb illicit financial flows and tax evasion and avoidance and boost democratic international cooperation in tax matters;

7.  Welcomes the determination expressed at the Niamey Regional Summit of 20 and 21 January 2015 by the 13 participating countries, in particular the military commitment of Chad, together with Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria, to the fight against the terrorist threats of Boko Haram; encourages a strengthening of this regional response, using all existing tools and in full compliance with international law; calls on ECOWAS, in particular, to continue to make its new Counter-Terrorism Strategy operational, paying particular attention to the containment of cross-border illicit flows of arms, weapons, fighters and contraband; further insists that without such cooperation the violence is likely to continue, undermining peace and stability across the region; points, in this regard, to the pledge of allegiance made by Boko Haram to Islamic State, and to the necessity of impeding any further coordination or cooperation between the two terrorist organisations and the expansion of this threat;

8.  Welcomes the initiatives of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, and calls on the African Union to engage, as a matter of urgency, in concrete action, together with all the countries involved, to coordinate the fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel region; urges the European Union to support the development of regional mechanisms for conflict management, such as the African Standby Force, as well as the possibility of recourse to the African Peace Facility and EU crisis management tools;

9.  Urges the international community to do more to help the Nigerian Government fight Boko Haram and address the root causes of terrorism, as only a global response can ensure a permanent end to violence and fundamentalism;

10.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to fulfil their commitment to providing a comprehensive range of political, development and humanitarian support to Nigeria and its people in tackling the Boko Haram threat and ensuring the development of the country; urges the EU to continue political dialogue with Nigeria under Article 8 of the revised Cotonou Agreement, and in that context to address issues relating to universal human rights, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and non‑discrimination on any grounds, as enshrined in universal, regional and national human rights instruments;

11.  Calls on the international community also to help the Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries; urges the EU Member States to set up immediately a credible and holistic European system for managing the migration routes from sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East and northern Africa, to offer sustainable development solutions to countries of origin, such as Nigeria, and to bring an end to the human tragedies taking place on these routes;

12.  Urges the EU to investigate the financing of Boko Haram and to address the transparency of trade in all natural resources, including oil, in order to avoid any fuelling of conflicts by any company; calls on the Nigerian authorities and foreign companies to help strengthen governance in the extractives sector by abiding by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and publishing what companies pay to the Nigerian Government;

13.  Believes that the Nigerian Government has the right and responsibility to defend its people from terrorism, but insists that such actions must be conducted with respect for human rights and the rule of law;

14.  Calls for thorough investigations into allegations of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and extortion-related abuses, and believes that such actions cannot be justified as a means of combating the threat posed by Boko Haram or other terrorist organisations; believes that reforms of Nigeria’s judicial system are urgently needed in order to provide effective criminal justice with a view to combating terrorism, as are reforms of the Nigerian state security forces;

15.  Urges that wounded soldiers receive the appropriate treatment, and that girls and women who are victims of rape in the context of armed conflict be offered the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, in EU-funded humanitarian facilities, in accordance with common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which guarantees all necessary medical care required by the condition of the wounded and sick, without making adverse distinctions;

16.  Congratulates General Muhammadu Buhari as the successful presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), and all those who have gained seats in the Senate or the House of Representatives, or been voted in as Governors or members of the State Houses of Assembly, from all parties; commends those candidates who have conceded defeat gracefully, starting with the incumbent presidential candidate Goodluck Jonathan, welcomes the continued commitment of all political parties and candidates to peaceful elections and urges them to continue to accept the results without any violence;

17.  Congratulates the Nigerian people on their democratic enthusiasm and mobilisation throughout the electoral process, and asks the Nigerian authorities to reinforce good governance and to promote more accountable democratic institutions; believes that the transition of power through the ballot box demonstrates a deepening democracy in Nigeria, which could serve as a model for other African nations;

18.  Welcomes the INEC’s determination in undertaking a reasonably credible (as far as possible), transparent and fair electoral process despite the internal and external constraints and pressure it faced, and in particular its inclusion of people with disabilities;

19.  Encourages victims to address their grievances through official dispute resolution mechanisms, and asks the Nigerian authorities to respond to each of them with a full and credible investigation and redress under the law; asks the EU to support the development of such mechanisms;

20.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to promote women’s participation in public and political life;

21.  Reiterates its calls for the abolition of the anti-homosexuality law and of the death penalty;

22.  Asks the Nigerian authorities to take emergency measures in the Niger Delta, including actions to end illegal oil-related activities and to help people exposed to pollution; asks the EU and its Member States to provide technical expertise and resources to assist in restoring the area; asks all companies operating in the region to comply with the highest international standards and to refrain from any action that may take a toll on the environment and on the local communities;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of Nigeria, and the representatives of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union.

(1) OJ L 160, 29.5.2014, p. 27.


The case of Nadiya Savchenko
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the case of Nadiya Savchenko (2015/2663(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0186RC-B8-0406/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia and Ukraine, in particular its resolutions of 12 March 2015 on the murder of the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and the state of democracy in Russia(1) and of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Ukraine(2),

–  having regard to the statement of 4 March 2015 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on the continued detention of Nadiya Savchenko,

–  having regard to the ‘Complex of measures for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements’, adopted and signed in Minsk on 12 February 2015 and endorsed as a whole by UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015) of 17 February 2015,

–  having regard to the EU statement of 16 April 2015 on abduction and illegal detention of Ukrainian citizens by the Russian Federation,

–  having regard to the provisions of international humanitarian law and, in particular, the Third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949,

–  having regard to the joint statement by the President of Ukraine, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission as a result of the 17th EU-Ukraine Summit, calling for the urgent release of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, including Nadiya Savchenko,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the pro-Russian militants of the so-called ‘People’s Republic of Luhansk’ in the territory of eastern Ukraine illegally kidnapped Lieutenant Nadiya Savchenko, military pilot and former officer of the Ukrainian armed forces, on the territory of Ukraine on 18 June 2014, detained her, and then illegally transferred her to the Russian Federation;

B.  whereas Ms Savchenko, born in 1981, has a distinguished military career behind her, having been the only female soldier in the Ukrainian peacekeeping troops in Iraq and the first female to enrol at Ukraine’s Air Force Academy, and volunteered to take part in the fighting in eastern Ukraine as part of the Aidar Battalion, where she was then captured;

C.  whereas the Investigative Committee of Russia brought final charges against Nadiya Savchenko on 24 April 2015 (aiding and abetting the murder of two and more persons, aiding and abetting an attempt on the lives of two and more persons and illegal crossing of the Russian Federation border);

D.  whereas Nadiya Savchenko is a member of the Verkhovna Rada and of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE); whereas the PACE Committee on rules of procedure, immunities and institutional affairs has confirmed her immunity; whereas the Russian Federation rejects the diplomatic immunity granted to Nadiya Savchenko as a member of Verkhovna Rada; whereas the international community has undertaken numerous efforts to ensure the release of Nadiya Savchenko, including PACE Resolution 2034 (2015) asking for her immediate release and for her parliamentary immunity as a member of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE to be respected;

E.  whereas the Russian Federation has agreed to the exchange of all political hostages and illegally detained people under the Minsk Agreements on the basis of the all-for-all principle, which was supposed to be completed no later than on the fifth day following the withdrawal of heavy weapons; whereas Nadiya Savchenko was, on numerous occasions, offered amnesty on the condition that she admitted her guilt;

F.  whereas Nadiya Savchenko has been on hunger strike for over three months in protest against her unlawful detention; whereas she has been subjected to involuntary psychiatric examinations and treatment; whereas Moscow-based courts rejected Nadiya Savchenko’s appeals against her pre-trial detention; whereas in the meantime, her state of health has deteriorated; whereas the EU and several Member States have expressed genuine humanitarian concern in this respect; whereas several appeals have been made to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Red Cross to secure Nadiya Savchenko’s release;

1.  Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Nadiya Savchenko; condemns the Russian Federation for the illegal kidnapping, the detention in prison for nearly one year and the investigation of Nadiya Savchenko; demands that the Russian authorities respect their international commitment in the framework of the Minsk Agreements and in particular the agreed ‘Complex of measures for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements’; considers that Russia has no legal basis or jurisdiction to take any action against Nadiya Savchenko, such as detention, investigation or bringing charges against her;

2.  Is of the opinion that Nadiya Savchenko’s detention as a prisoner of war in a prison in Russia is a violation of the Geneva Convention; underlines that those responsible for her illegal detention in Russia may face international sanctions or legal proceedings for their actions;

3.  Reminds the Russian authorities that Ms Savchenko remains in an extremely fragile state of health and that they are directly responsible for her safety and well-being; calls on the Russian authorities to allow impartial international doctors access to Ms Savchenko, while ensuring that any medical or psychological examinations are done only with Ms Savchenko’s consent and taking into consideration the consequences of her being on hunger strike for a very long period; calls on Russia to allow international humanitarian organisations to have permanent access to her;

4.  Calls for the immediate release of all other Ukrainian citizens, including Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and Khaizer Dzhemilev, illegally detained in Russia;

5.  Urges the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany, as well as the relevant Foreign Ministers, to raise the question of the release of Nadiya Savchenko at the next meetings of the Contact Group on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in the Normandy format; calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to continue to follow closely the case of Nadiya Savchenko, to raise it in different formats and meetings with the Russian authorities, and to keep Parliament informed about the outcome of these efforts;

6.  Points out that the release of Nadiya Savchenko is not only a necessary step towards improvement of the relations between Ukraine and Russia, but will show respect for recognition of fundamental human rights on the part of the Russian authorities;

7.  Recalls that Nadiya Savchenko was elected as a member of the Ukrainian Parliament in the October 2014 Ukrainian general parliamentary election and is part of Ukraine’s delegation to PACE, and as such has been granted international immunity; reminds Russia of its international obligation to respect her immunity as a member of PACE;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the President, Government and Parliament of Ukraine and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0074.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0011.


The situation of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the situation of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria (2015/2664(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0187RC-B8-0373/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to international humanitarian law,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria,

–  having regard to the statement of 10 April 2015 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management on the situation in Yarmouk, Syria,

–  having regard to the declaration of 18 April 2015 by the VP/HR on behalf of the European Union on the situation in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191(2014),

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas IS/Da’esh attacked the Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk on 1 April 2015; whereas the Assad regime continued the shelling and aerial bombardment of the camp in response to the IS attack and intensive street battles between anti-Assad armed opposition groups, Aknaf Bait al-Makdis on the one hand and IS/Da’esh and Jabhat al-Nusra on the other occurred throughout the camp; whereas on 16 April 2015 Palestinian military units, with the assistance of Syrian rebels, forced IS/Da’esh fighters to retreat from the camp; whereas IS/Da’esh’s withdrawal leaves al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra largely in control of the camp;

B.  whereas Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, formed in 1957 to accommodate people fleeing the Arab-Israeli conflict, has been engulfed in fighting between the Syrian government and armed groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army; whereas before the Syrian conflict more than 160 000 civilians lived in the camp, while today only 18 000 remain;

C.  whereas the 480 000 Palestinian refugees remain a particularly vulnerable group in the crisis in Syria; whereas they are scattered in over 60 camps throughout the region; whereas 95 % of Palestinian refugees currently rely on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to meet their daily food, water and healthcare needs;

D.  whereas the civilian population in the Yarmouk camp have been besieged since December 2012 and subjected to indiscriminate bombing and shelling by the Assad regime, and continue to be trapped inside the camp; whereas, according to UNRWA, 18 000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians in Yarmouk, including 3 500 children, are in need of the most basic humanitarian aid;

E.  whereas there is a permanent health crisis in the camp, with a typhoid epidemic having occurred in 2014 and Hepatitis A and water-related illnesses being endemic, as well as malnutrition, with all the known consequences;

F.  whereas the UN Security Council has called on all parties to the Syrian civil war to permit humanitarian access to the Yarmouk camp and allow humanitarian aid to reach it without obstruction;

G.  whereas the Commission has released immediate emergency funding of EUR 2,5 million for UNRWA’s operations to deliver life-saving assistance to Palestinian refugees in Syria through cash and emergency relief items;

H.  whereas in addition, and as part of the EU’s 2015 humanitarian funding for Syria, support will facilitate a rapid humanitarian response to meet the needs of vulnerable families; whereas this funding extends to all parts of Syria affected by the conflict, with specific focus on the recent violence in Yarmouk, Idlib, Dara’a and Aleppo;

I.  whereas the ongoing denial of humanitarian access to the refugees living in the Yarmouk camp by the Syrian regime and other belligerents is against international humanitarian law; whereas the capacity of UNRWA to sustain life-saving emergency interventions, responding to urgent developments such as that impacting Yarmouk, is gravely undermined by chronic underfunding for humanitarian interventions inside Syria;

1.  Expresses its deep concern at the continued deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Syria, and in particular in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp and other Palestinian camps; reiterates its strong commitment to supporting the victims of the Syrian conflict;

2.  Condemns the takeover of the Yarmouk camp and the acts of terrorism perpetrated by IS/Da’esh and Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as the siege laid to Yarmouk by the Assad regime and the bombardment of the camp, including through barrel bombs, which cause horrific suffering to the affected population; calls for an immediate lifting of the siege and an end to all attacks on the civilian population;

3.  Expresses its concern regarding all human rights defenders detained in the Yarmouk camp and those currently held in custody by the Syrian security forces; calls on all armed groups in the Yarmouk camp to end their targeting of human rights defenders;

4.  Urges respect for the neutral status of Yarmouk and the protection of the civilians inside the camp, particularly women and children, as well as the safeguarding of medical facilities, schools and places of refuge;

5.  Stresses that the ongoing war in Syria and the threat posed by IS/Da’esh constitute a serious danger to the people of Syria and to the broader Middle East; calls for the EU to contribute to joint efforts to mitigate the humanitarian crisis and play a role in helping neighbouring countries provide shelter for refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, many of whom are losing their lives on boats in the Mediterranean;

6.  Calls for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014) throughout the territory of Syria; urges all parties involved in the conflict to allow UNRWA, ICRC and other international aid organisations unhindered access to the Yarmouk refugee camp, to enable immediate and unconditional humanitarian access, to evacuate wounded civilians and provide safe passage for all civilians wishing to leave the camp; calls for the establishment of humanitarian corridors that are controlled neither by the Syrian regime nor by IS/Da’esh and Jabhat al-Nusra, in light of their gross and continuous violations of international humanitarian law;

7.  Welcomes the release by the Commission of immediate emergency funding to the sum of EUR 2,5 million for UNRWA’s operations to deliver life-saving assistance to Palestinian refugees in Syria; commends UNRWA for the important work it is doing and expresses its strong commitment to continuing to work together with UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl and all other partners to help alleviate the suffering of those in greatest need; stresses the need for the EU and its Member States to increase their support for UNRWA for the emergency relief effort for civilians in Yarmouk and other parts of Syria, ensuring that all Palestine refugees, host communities and others have the assistance they need; urges the EU to participate in the funding of the USD 30 million UNRWA emergency appeal and to provide diplomatic and political support for UNRWA;

8.  Strongly condemns the abuses against children, massacres, torture, killings and sexual violence to which the Syrian population is victim; stresses the importance of taking appropriate steps to ensure the safety of innocent civilians, including women and children; acknowledges that women and girls are frequent victims of war rape in the Syrian conflict, including in regime prisons; underlines the Geneva Conventions’ common Article 3 guaranteeing the wounded and sick all the necessary medical care required by their condition without adverse distinction; urges humanitarian aid providers to provide the full range of health services in EU-funded humanitarian facilities;

9.  Expresses its full support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura in aiming for local ceasefires and the implementation of humanitarian pauses by all sides to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance; reiterates its calls on the EU to take the initiative for diplomatic efforts to that end;

10.  Reiterates its call for a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process on the basis of the Geneva communiqué of June 2012, leading to a genuine political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future; welcomes the announcement that renewed Geneva talks will be held in May between the Assad regime, the opposition, UNSC members and regional powers including Iran;

11.  Remains convinced that there can be no sustainable peace in Syria without accountability for the crimes committed by all sides during the conflict, including in relation to the Yarmouk camp; reiterates its call for the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court; calls on the EU and its Member States to seriously consider the recent recommendation by the UN Commission of Inquiry to explore the setting-up of a special tribunal for the crimes committed in Syria;

12.  Believes Parliament must carry out an ad hoc visit to the Yarmouk refugee camp in order to independently assess the humanitarian situation, as soon as security conditions allow, in coordination with the UN and independently of the Assad regime or any other party to the conflict;

13.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, the Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the President of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Legislative Council and all the parties involved in the conflict in Syria.


Imprisonment of human and workers' rights activists in Algeria
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European Parliament resolution of 30 April 2015 on the imprisonment of workers and human rights activists in Algeria (2015/2665(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0188RC-B8-0418/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Algeria, in particular those of 9 June 2005 concerning freedom of the press in Algeria(1) and of 10 October 2002 on the conclusion of an association agreement with Algeria(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(3), and to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on ‘The European Neighbourhood Policy, working towards a stronger partnership: EP’s position on the 2012 progress reports’(4),

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 20 April 2015 on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy,

–  having regard to the statement of the European Union of 13 May 2014 following the eighth meeting of the EU-Algeria Association Council,

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of 15 May 2012 of the European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Delivering on a new European Neighbourhood Policy’ (JOIN(2012)0014),

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2013 European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) memo of March 2014 on Algeria,

–  having regard to the Declaration of June 2011 of the European Council on the Southern Neighbourhood,

–  having regard to the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, during her visit to Algeria in September 2012,

–  having regard to the EU-Algeria Association Agreement, which entered into force on 1 September 2005,

–  having regard to Article 2 of the abovementioned Association Agreement, which stipulates that respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights is to inspire the domestic and international policies of the parties to it and shall constitute an essential element of that Agreement,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Algeria, adopted by referendum on 28 November 1996, and in particular Articles 34-36, 39, 41 and 43 thereof,

–  having regard to the final report of 5 August 2012 released by the EU Election Observation Mission to the parliamentary elections in Algeria,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Algeria is a party,

–  having regard to International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise of 1948 and ILO Convention No 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining of 1949,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas protests against unemployment have recently taken place in Algeria; whereas the Algerian authorities acknowledge that demonstrators’ demands are legitimate; whereas, nonetheless, in the past four years, and with renewed intensity since the beginning of 2015, human rights defenders, including labour rights activists, especially in the southern regions of Algeria, have been threatened, verbally abused and subjected to ill-treatment and judicial harassment against a backdrop of escalating economic, social and environmental protests;

B.  whereas Mohamed Rag, a labour rights activist from the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed (Comité National pour la Défense des Droits des Chômeurs, CNDDC) in the town of Laghouat, was arrested on 22 January 2015 and sentenced to 18 months in prison and a fine of DZD 20 000 for ‘assaulting a security force agent in the exercise of his duties’, and whereas his sentence was confirmed upon appeal on 18 March 2015;

C.  whereas on 28 January 2015 in the town of Laghouat, eight labour rights activists, members of the CNDDC – Khencha Belkacem, Brahimi Belelmi, Mazouzi Benallal, Azzouzi Boubakeur, Korini Belkacem, Bekouider Faouzi, Bensarkha Tahar and Djaballah Abdelkader – were arrested when they assembled in front of the city court to demand that Mohamed Rag be released; whereas these eight activists were subsequently sentenced last March to one year in prison with a 6-month suspended sentence and a fine of DZD 5 000 each for ‘unauthorised/illegal gathering’ and ‘exercising pressure on the decisions of magistrates’;

D.  whereas, in Laghouat, during the hearing of the abovementioned CNDDC activists, held on 11 March 2015, an unusually high number of police officers were deployed, thereby preventing the public and the witnesses for the defence from entering the courtroom, and whereas outside the courtroom the police arrested and subsequently released almost 50 peaceful demonstrators who were expressing their solidarity with the nine prisoners;

E.  whereas, although the state of emergency was lifted in February 2011 in response to the wave of pro-democracy mass protests, restrictions, in law and in practice, on peaceful assemblies have remained in place, in particular a decree dated 18 June 2001 which continues to prohibit public demonstrations in the city of Algiers, and Law 91-19 of 2 December 1991 on public meetings and demonstrations, which makes any public event subject to prior authorisation; whereas the Interior Ministry rarely authorises public gatherings;

F.  whereas anyone taking part in unauthorised demonstrations can be prosecuted and risks a prison sentence ranging from two months to five years, according to Articles 99 and 100 of the Algerian Penal Code; whereas in January 2014 – the closing date for the registration of new associations – all associations that were not accepted were made illegal; whereas peaceful protests forcibly dispersed by police, sometimes violently, and peaceful protesters may be arrested in advance of demonstrations to prevent them from taking place;

G.  whereas in 2014 the Algerian Government introduced pro-democratic constitutional revisions and promised further reforms to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; whereas the implementation of those reforms has so far been unsatisfactory;

H.  whereas in March 2015 four other labour rights activists, Rachid Aouine, Youssef Sultani, Abdelhamid Brahimi and Ferhat Missa, members of the CNDDC in the town of El Oued, were arrested and charged for instigating a gathering; whereas two of them were acquitted, but Rachid Aouine was sentenced and Youssef Sultani is free facing trial;

I.  whereas in January 2012 a new law on associations (12-06) entered into force, which imposes restrictions on non-governmental organisations and civil society groups as regards their creation, functioning, registration and access to foreign funding; whereas it also criminalises members of unregistered, suspended and dissolved associations, who can be subject to six months’ imprisonment and a heavy fine, thereby impeding freedom of association;

J.  whereas, although Law 90-14 of 2 June 1990 on the conditions for exercising trade-union rights allows workers to form unions without seeking permission by notifying the authorities in writing, the authorities have refused in several cases to issue a receipt, without which the union cannot legally represent workers;

K.  whereas Algeria, which is under examination for its application of ILO Convention 87 in June 2014, has been scrutinised by ILO experts in several of their reports for violating workers’ rights to strike and to form unions of their own choosing;

L.  whereas negotiations on the Action Plan between the EU and Algeria in the framework of the ENP started in 2012; whereas, while recognising the interest of both sides in strengthening dialogue and cooperation on security and regional issues, in March 2014 the Commission nevertheless expressed concerns at the lack of judicial independence and the deterioration of the situation with respect to freedom of association, assembly and expression in Algeria;

M.  whereas Algeria has been a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations since January 2014;

1.  Expresses its concern at the arrest and detention of activists Rachid Aouine, Mohamed Rag, Khencha Belkacem, Brahimi Belelmi, Mazouzi Benallal, Azzouzi Boubakeur, Korini Belkacem, Bekouider Faouzi, Bensarkha Tahar and Djaballah Abdelkader, as they are being detained in spite of the fact that their activities are fully permissible under Algerian law and in line with the international human rights instruments which Algeria has ratified;

2.  Recalls that Algeria is bound by Article 2 of the Association Agreement, which stipulates that an essential element thereof is respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and that Algeria therefore has an obligation to respect universal human rights, including freedom of assembly and association;

3.  Considers that harassment and intimidation of labour rights activists and human rights defenders, including at judicial level, is not a practice in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;

4.  Considers that a right to a fair trial and ensuring a minimum guarantee for the rights of the defence for all detainees, including human rights defenders and labour rights activists, is in compliance with Article 14(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Algeria;

5.  Calls also on the Algerian authorities to ensure and guarantee the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of civil society activists and human rights defenders and their freedom to pursue their legitimate and peaceful activities;

6.  Recalls the recommendation to the Algerian Government by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to revoke the decree of 18 June 2001 banning peaceful protests and all forms of public demonstration in Algiers and to establish a system of simple notification rather than prior authorisation for public demonstrations;

7.  Calls on the Algerian authorities to repeal Law 12-06 on associations and to engage in a genuine dialogue with civil society organisations in order to frame a new law that is in conformity with international human rights standards and the Algerian Constitution;

8.  Welcomes the fact that since 2012, twelve trade union organisations have received their licences; recalls that administrative manoeuvres must not be designed to withhold legal status from independent unions that attempt to operate outside the existing trade union organisation; calls on the Algerian authorities to allow new trade unions to register legally and to comply with the conventions implemented by the ILO that have been ratified by Algeria, particularly Convention No 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and Convention No 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining;

9.  Appreciates that Algeria has ratified most of the international human rights treaties; encourages increased engagement and improved cooperation by the Algerian authorities with the United Nations, in particular the International Labour Organisation and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; calls on the Algerian authorities to cooperate with UN special procedures, including by inviting special rapporteurs to visit, and to take into consideration their recommendations; also calls on Algeria to actively cooperate with the African Union human rights mechanisms, notably the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders;

10.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) and the EU Member States to ensure that there is a clear and principled EU policy vis-à-vis Algeria that includes a human rights dialogue, in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to ensure that a political, security and human rights dialogue with Algeria is given substance in all three dimensions and calls, therefore, on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to set up clear benchmarks and indicators to monitor EU objectives and assess progress in the fields of human rights, impunity, the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression, the rule of law and the situation of human rights defenders in Algeria;

11.  Urges the Algerian authorities, the VP/HR and the EEAS to include a strong chapter on human rights in the future EU-Algeria Action Plan, which expresses a firm political will to jointly advance de jure and de facto the promotion and protection of human rights in line with the Algerian Constitution and the international human rights treaties and the African regional human rights instruments to which Algeria is a party; takes the view that specific human rights objectives should be adopted in the EU Algeria Action Plan, combined with a schedule for reforms to be undertaken by Algeria, with the meaningful involvement of independent civil society; calls for indicators for an objective and regular assessment of the human rights situation in Algeria to be defined;

12.  Calls on the EEAS and the Member States to monitor closely all trials and judicial proceedings against human rights defenders and labour rights activists through the presence of representatives of the EU delegation and the embassies of the Member States in Algiers and to report on the matter to Parliament;

13.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the EU Delegation in Algiers, the Government of Algeria, the UN Secretary-General and the UN Human Rights Council.

(1) OJ C 124 E, 25.5.2006, p. 567.
(2) OJ C 279 E, 20.11.2003, p. 115.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0076.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0446.

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