Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 8 September 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
ILO Forced Labour Convention: social policy ***
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Janusz Korwin-Mikke
 Correct application of the law on customs and agricultural matters ***II
 Trade in seal products ***I
 Cloning of animals kept and reproduced for farming purposes ***I
 Situation of fundamental rights in the EU (2013-2014)
 Commissioner hearings: lessons to be taken from the 2014 process
 Human rights and technology in third countries
 Protecting the EU's financial interests: towards performance-based controls of the CAP
 Family businesses in Europe
 Research and innovation in the blue economy to create jobs and growth
 Promoting youth entrepreneurship through education and training
 Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe
 Follow up to the European citizens' initiative Right2Water

ILO Forced Labour Convention: social policy ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 September 2015 on the draft Council decision authorising Member States to ratify, in the interests of the European Union, the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, of the International Labour Organisation with regard to matters related to social policy (06732/2015 – C8-0079/2015 – 2014/0259(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0281A8-0243/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (06732/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 153(2), in conjunction with Article 153(1)(a) and (b), Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v) and Article 218(8) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0079/2015),

–  having regard to the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, of the International Labour Organisation;

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2), and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0243/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to the draft Council decision;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Janusz Korwin-Mikke
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European Parliament decision of 8 September 2015 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Janusz Korwin-Mikke (2015/2102(IMM))
P8_TA(2015)0282A8-0229/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Janusz Korwin-Mikke, forwarded on 13 March 2015 by the Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Poland in connection with legal proceedings brought by the Chief of Municipal Police of Piotrków Trybunalski, dated 9 March 2015 (Case No. SM.O.4151-F.2454/16769/2014), and announced in plenary on 15 April 2015,

–  having heard Mr Korwin-Mikke in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1),

–  having regard to Article 105(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and Articles 7b(1) and 7c(1) in connection with Article 10b of the Polish Act of 9 May 1996 on the exercise of the mandate of Deputy and Senator,

–  having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0229/2015),

A.  whereas the Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Poland has forwarded a request from the Chief of Municipal Police of Piotrków Trybunalski for authorisation to take action against a Member of the European Parliament, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, with regard to an offence under Article 92a of the Act of 20 May 1971 establishing a Code of Petty Offences in connection with Article 20(1) of the Road Traffic Act of 20 June 1997; whereas, in particular, the alleged offence amounts to exceeding the permitted speed limit in a built-up area;

B.  whereas, according to Article 8 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament may not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties;

C.  whereas, according to Article 9 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament must enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

D.  whereas, under Article 105(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, a deputy shall not be subjected to criminal liability without the consent of the Sejm;

E.  whereas it is for Parliament alone to decide whether immunity is or is not to be waived in a given case; whereas Parliament may reasonably take account of the Member’s position in reaching its decision on whether or not to waive his or her immunity(2);

F.  whereas the alleged offence does not have a direct or obvious connection with Mr Korwin-Mikke’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament, and nor does it constitute an opinion expressed or a vote cast in the performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament within the meaning of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

G.  whereas in this case Parliament has found no evidence of fumus persecutionis, that is to say, a sufficiently serious and precise suspicion that the case has been brought with the intention of causing political damage to the Member concerned;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Janusz Korwin-Mikke;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the Republic of Poland and to Janusz Korwin-Mikke.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C‑200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C‑163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.
(2) Case T-345/05 Mote v Parliament (cited above), paragraph 28.


Correct application of the law on customs and agricultural matters ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 September 2015 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 515/97 on mutual assistance between the administrative authorities of the Member States and cooperation between the latter and the Commission to ensure the correct application of the law on customs and agricultural matters (08257/3/2015 – C8-0159/2015 – 2013/0410(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0283A8-0234/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (08257/3/2015 – C8‑0159/2015),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Court of Auditors of 25 February 2014(1),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0796),

–  having regard to Article 294(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 76 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0234/2015),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

2.  Notes that the act is adopted in accordance with the Council position;

3.  Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council, in accordance with Article 297(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

4.  Instructs its Secretary-General to sign the act, once it has been verified that all the procedures have been duly completed, and, in agreement with the Secretary-General of the Council, to arrange for its publication, in the Official Journal of the European Union;

5.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ C 94, 31.3.2014, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted of 15.4.2014, P7_TA(2014)0344.


Trade in seal products ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 September 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009 on trade in seal products (COM(2015)0045 – C8-0037/2015 – 2015/0028(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0284A8-0186/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0045),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0037/2015),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 27 May 2015(1),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 30 June 2015 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0186/2015),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 8 September 2015 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009 on trade in seal products and repealing Commission Regulation (EU) No 737/2010

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2015/1775.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Cloning of animals kept and reproduced for farming purposes ***I
PDF 203kWORD 102k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 September 2015 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the cloning of animals of the bovine, porcine, ovine, caprine and equine species kept and reproduced for farming purposes (COM(2013)0892 – C7-0002/2014 – 2013/0433(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0285A8-0216/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0892),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0002/2014),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 7 July 2010 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods, amending Regulation (EC) No 1331/2008 and repealing Regulation (EC) No 258/97 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1852/2001(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 30 April 2014(2),

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0216/2015),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 8 September 2015 with a view to the adoption of Directive Regulation (EU) 2015/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on the cloning of animals of the bovine, porcine, ovine, caprine and equine species kept and reproduced for farming purposes [Am. 1. The first part of this amendment, namely the change from Directive to Regulation, applies throughout the text]

P8_TC1-COD(2013)0433


THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 43(2),

Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,

After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(3),

Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure(4),

Whereas:

(-1) In the implementation of Union policy, and having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a high level of protection of human health and consumer protection, as well as a high level of animal welfare and environmental protection, should be guaranteed. At all times, the precautionary principle, as laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council(5), should be applied. [Am. 2]

(1)  The cloning of animals is not in line with Council Directive 98/58/EC(6), which lays down general minimum welfare standards for animals bred or kept for farming purposes. It Directive 98/58/EC calls on Member States to avoid unnecessary pain, suffering or injury of farm animals, and, more specifically, states in point 20 of its Annex that “natural or artificial breeding or breeding procedures which cause, or are likely to cause, suffering or injury to any of the animals concerned must not be practised”. If cloning causes unnecessary pain, suffering or injury, Member States have to act at national level to avoid it. Different national approaches to animal cloning or the use of products derived from animal cloning could lead to market distortion. It is thus necessary to ensure that the same conditions apply to all involved in the production and distribution of live animals and of products derived from animals throughout the Union. [Am. 3]

(2)  The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded, in its 2008 opinion on animal cloning(7), that “the health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones have been found to be adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome”. More specifically, EFSA has confirmed that surrogate dams used in cloning suffer in particular from placenta dysfunctions contributing to increased levels of miscarriages(8), with possible adverse effects on their health. This contributes, amongst other things, to the low efficiency of the technique, 6 to 15 % for bovine and 6 % for porcine species, and the need to implant embryo clones into several dams to obtain one clone. In addition, clone abnormalities and unusually large offspring result in difficult births and neonatal deaths. High mortality rates at all development stages are characteristic of the cloning technique(9). [Am. 4]

(2a)  As regards food safety, EFSA has stressed the importance of acknowledging that the database is limited, and in its 2008 opinion on animal cloning concluded: “Uncertainties in the risk assessment arise due to the limited number of studies available, the small sample sizes investigated and, in general, the absence of a uniform approach that would allow all the issues relevant to this opinion to be more satisfactorily addressed.” For example, EFSA has stated that information is limited on the immunological competence of clones and recommended in that opinion that, if evidence of reduced immunocompetence of clones becomes available, the question should be investigated as to “whether, and if so, to what extent, consumption of meat and milk derived from clones or their offspring may lead to an increased human exposure to transmissible agents”. [Am. 5]

(2b)  As regards potential impacts on the environment, EFSA has stated that limited data is available and, with regard to potential impacts on genetic diversity, EFSA has drawn attention to the fact that there could be an indirect effect due to overuse of a limited number of animals in breeding programmes, and that increased homogeneity of a genotype within an animal population may increase the susceptibility of that population to infection and other risks. [Am. 6]

(2c)  The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies in its specific report on cloning in 2008(10) expressed doubts that animal cloning for food production purposes can be justified “considering the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams and animal clones”. [Am. 7]

(2d)  One of the objectives of the Union’s common agriculture policy enshrined in Article 39 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is to “increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production”. That objective aims, inter alia, at improving production and, with regard to the rational development of agricultural production, it entails the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, namely appropriate production for marketing purposes that takes into account the interests of consumers. [Am. 8]

(2e)  In accordance with the case-law(11) of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Article 43 TFEU is the appropriate legal basis for any legislation concerning the production and marketing of agricultural products listed in Annex I TFEU which contributes to the achievement of one or more of the objectives of the common agricultural policy set out in Article 39 TFEU. Even where such legislation could be directed to objectives other than those of the common agricultural policy, which, in the absence of specific provisions, would be pursued on the basis of Article 114 TFEU, it may involve the harmonisation of provisions of national law in that area without recourse to Article 114 being necessary. Furthermore, measures taken in the context of the common agricultural policy may also affect importation of the products concerned. [Am. 9]

(2f)  As clearly and consistently shown by consumer research, the majority of Union citizens disapprove of cloning for farming purposes due to, inter alia, animal welfare and general ethical concerns(12). Cloning for farming purposes could lead to animal clones or the descendants of animal clones entering the food chain. Consumers are strongly opposed to the consumption of food from animal clones or from their descendants. [Am. 10]

(2g)  Animal cloning for food production purposes jeopardises the defining characteristics of the European farming model, which is based on product quality, food safety, consumer health, strict animal welfare rules and the use of environmentally sound methods. [Am. 11]

(3)  Taking into account the objectives of the Union's common agricultural policy, the results of the recent scientific assessments of EFSA and based on the available studies, the animal welfare requirement provided in Article 13 of the Treaty TFEU and the citizens' concerns, it is prudent appropriate to provisionally prohibit the use of cloning in animal production for farm farming purposes of certain species and the placing on the market of animals and products derived from the use of the cloning technique. [Am. 12]

(3a)  Animal clones are not produced in order to serve for meat or milk production, but rather to use their germinal products for breeding purposes. It is the sexually reproduced descendants of animal clones which become the food-producing animals. Although animal welfare concerns might not be apparent in the case of descendants of cloned animals, as they are born by means of conventional sexual reproduction, in order for there even to be a descendant, a cloned animal progenitor is required, which entails significant animal welfare and ethical concerns. Measures aimed at addressing animal welfare concerns and consumers’ perceptions relating to the cloning technique should therefore include within their scope germinal products of animal clones, descendants of animal clones and products derived from descendants of animal clones. [Am. 13]

(4)  Currently animals of bovine, porcine, ovine, caprine and equine species are likely to be cloned for farming purposes. The scope of this Directive should therefore be limited to the use of cloning for farming purposes of those five species. [Am. 14]

(4a)  With regard to the marketing of agricultural products, in connection with the ban on the use of cloning and in order to address consumer perceptions on cloning linked to, inter alia, animal welfare, the lack of adequate research and general ethical concerns, it is necessary to ensure that food from animal clones and their descendants does not enter the food chain. Less restrictive measures, such as food labelling, would not entirely address citizens’ concerns since the marketing of food produced with a technique that involves animal suffering would still be allowed. [Am. 15]

(4b)  The use of cloning in animal production for farming purposes is already taking place in certain third countries. Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, food imported from third countries for placing on the market within the Union is to comply with Union relevant requirements of food law or with conditions recognised by the Union to be at least equivalent to those requirements. Therefore, measures should be taken to avoid the import from third countries into the Union of animal clones and their descendants and of products obtained from animal clones and their descendants. The Commission should supplement or propose to amend the relevant zootechnical and animal health legislation to ensure that import certificates accompanying animals and germinal products and food and feed of animal origin indicate whether they are, or are derived from, animal clones or descendants of animal clones. [Am. 16]

(4c)  Animal clones, embryo clones, descendants of animal clones, germinal products of animal clones and of their descendants, and food and feed from animal clones and their descendants cannot be considered like products to animals, embryos, germinal products, food and feed that do not derive from the use of the cloning technique within the meaning of Article III.4 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Furthermore, the prohibition of the cloning of animals and of the placing on the market and import of animal clones, embryo clones, descendants of animal clones, germinal products of animal clones and of their descendants, and food and feed from animal clones and their descendants is a measure that is necessary to protect public morals and to protect animal health within the meaning of Article XX of the GATT. [Am. 17]

(4d)  Steps should be taken to ensure that trade agreements which are currently being negotiated do not encourage the authorisation of practices which may have an adverse effect on the health of consumers and farmers, on the environment or on animal welfare. [Am. 18]

(4e)  The application of this Regulation can be jeopardised if it is impossible to trace food obtained from animal clones and their descendants. Therefore, pursuant to the precautionary principle and in order to enforce the prohibitions set out in this Regulation, it is necessary to establish, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, traceability systems at Union level. Such systems would enable competent authorities and economic operators to collect data on animal clones, descendants of animal clones and germinal products of animal clones and of their descendants, and food from animal clones and their descendants. The Commission should endeavour to obtain commitments in this regard from trading partners of the Union in which cloning of animals is carried out for farming purposes, within the framework of ongoing and future trade negotiations, at both bilateral and multilateral levels. [Am. 19]

(4f)  In its 2010 report to the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission stated that measures to establish the traceability of imports of semen and embryos in order to set up data banks of offspring in the Union were appropriate. The Commission should therefore act accordingly. [Am. 20]

(4g)  Consistent with the implementation of the ban on cloning which is laid down in this Regulation, targeted trade promotion measures adopted by the Commission should be applied in order to support high-quality meat production and animal husbandry in the Union. [Am. 21]

(5)  It is expected that the knowledge on the impact of the cloning technique on the welfare of the animals used will increase. The cloning technique is likely to improve over time. Consequently prohibitions should only apply provisionally. This Directive Regulation should therefore be reviewed within a reasonable time, taking into account the experience gained by the Member States in its implementation application, scientific and technical progress, the evolution of consumer perceptions, and international developments, in particular trade flows and the Union's trade relations. [Am. 22]

(5a)  According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, the majority of Europeans do not consider animal cloning in food production to be safe for their health or for that their family. Furthermore, when it comes to animal cloning, there are more countries in Europe expressing a clear preference for decisions to be taken primarily from the standpoint of moral and ethical issues, rather than on the basis of scientific evidence. Therefore, before this legislation is reviewed, the Commission should carry out an official EU-Survey to reassess consumers' perceptions. [Am. 23]

(5b)  The power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of the establishment of rules for traceability systems for animal clones, descendants of animal clones and for germinal products of animal clones and of their descendants. 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. [Am. 24]

(6)  This Directive Regulation respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and notably in particular the freedom to conduct a business and the freedom of the sciences. This Directive Regulation has to be implemented applied in accordance with these rights and principles. [Am. 25]

(6a)  Since the objective of this Regulation cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States but can rather, by reason of its scale and effects, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Regulation does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective, [Am. 26]

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE REGULATION:

Article 1

Subject matter and scope

This Directive Regulation lays down rules on:

(a)  the cloning of animals in the Union;

(b)  the placing on the market and import of embryo clones and animal clones, embryo clones, descendants of animal clones, germinal products of animal clones and of their descendants, and food and feed from animal clones and their descendants. [Am. 27]

It shall apply to all species of animals of the bovine, porcine, ovine, caprine and equine species ('the animals') kept and reproduced for farming purposes. [Am. 28]

Article 1a

Objective

The objective of this Regulation is to address concerns relating to animal health and welfare and to consumers' perceptions and ethical considerations with regard to the cloning technique. [Am. 29]

Article 2

Definitions

For the purposes of this Directive Regulation, the following definitions shall apply:

(a)  "animals "kept and reproduced for farming purposes" (“animals”) means animals kept and reproduced for the production of food, feed, wool, skin or fur or for other farming purposes. It shall not include animals kept and reproduced exclusively for other purposes such as research, the production of medicinal products and medical devices, and the preservation of rare breeds or endangered species, sporting and cultural events and of rare breeds identified as such by the competent authorities of the Member States, where no alternative methods are available; [Am. 30]

(b)  "cloning" means asexual reproduction of animals with to create, by, inter alia, using a technique whereby the nucleus of a cell of an individual animal is transferred into an oocyte from which the nucleus has been removed to create, genetically identical individual embryos ("embryo clones"), that can subsequently be implanted into surrogate mothers in order to produce populations of genetically identical animals ("animal clone clones"); [Am. 31]

(ba)  “descendants of animal clones” means animals, other than animal clones, where at least one of the progenitors is an animal clone; [Am. 32]

(bb)  “germinal products” means semen, oocytes and embryos collected or produced from animals for the purpose of reproduction; [Am. 33]

(bc)  “traceability” means the ability to trace and follow a food, feed, food-producing animal or substance intended to be, or expected to be incorporated into a food or feed, through all stages of production, processing and distribution; [Am. 34]

(c)  "placing on the market" means the first making available of an animal or a product on the internal market;

(ca)  “food” means food as defined in Article 2 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002. [Am. 35]

Article 3

Provisional Prohibition [Am. 36]

Member States The following shall provisionally prohibit be prohibited: [Am. 37]

(a)  the cloning of animals;

(b)  the placing on the market of animal clones and embryo clones and import of animal clones, embryo clones, descendants of animal clones, germinal products of animal clones and of their descendants, and food and feed from animal clones and their descendants. [Am. 38]

Article 3a

Import conditions

Animals shall not be imported from third countries unless the accompanying import certificates show that they are not animal clones or descendants of animal clones.

Germinal products and food and feed of animal origin shall not be imported from third countries unless the accompanying import certificates show that they are not derived from animal clones or descendants of animal clones.

In order to ensure that import certificates accompanying animals and germinal products and food and feed of animal origin indicate whether they are, or are derived from, animal clones or descendants of animal clones, the Commission shall adopt specific import conditions under Article 48 or Article 49 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (13) by …(14) and shall, if necessary, present a proposal to amend other legislation in the field of animal health or zootechnical and genealogical conditions for imports. [Am. 39]

Article 3b

Traceability

To provide competent authorities and economic operators with the information they need for the application of point (b) of Article 3, traceability systems shall be established for:

(a)  animal clones;

(b)  descendants of animal clones;

(c)  germinal products of animal clones and of their descendants.

The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts, in accordance with Article 4a, to establish detailed rules for the inclusion of the information referred to in points (a) to (c) of the first subparagraph in the certificates provided for in animal health and zootechnical legislation or in the certificates drawn up by the Commission for those purposes. Those delegated acts shall be adopted by ...(15). [Am. 40]

Article 4

Penalties

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive Regulation and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented applied. The penalties provided for must shall be effective, proportionate and, dissuasive and shall ensure a level playing field. Member States shall notify those provisions to the Commission by [date for transposition of the Directive ] at the latest ...(16) and shall notify it without delay of any subsequent amendment affecting them.’ thereto. [Am. 41]

Article 4a

Exercise of the delegation

1.  The power to adopt delegated acts is conferred on the Commission subject to the conditions laid down in this Article.

2.  The power to adopt delegated acts referred to in Article 3a shall be conferred on the Commission for a period of five years from ...(17). The Commission shall draw up a report in respect of the delegation of power not later than nine months before the end of the five year period. The delegation of power shall be tacitly extended for periods of an identical duration unless the European Parliament or the Council opposes such extension not later than three months before the end of each period.

3.  The delegation of power referred to in Article 3a may be revoked at any time by the European Parliament or by the Council. A decision to revoke shall put an end to the delegation of the power specified in that decision. It shall take effect the day following the publication of the decision in the Official Journal of the European Union or at a later date specified therein. It shall not affect the validity of any delegated acts already in force.

4.  As soon as it adopts a delegated act, the Commission shall notify it simultaneously to the European Parliament and to the Council.

5.  A delegated act adopted pursuant to Article 3a shall enter into force only if no objection has been expressed either by the European Parliament or the Council within a period of two months of notification of that act to the European Parliament and the Council or if, before the expiry period, the European Parliament and the Council have both informed the Commission that they will not object. That period shall be extended by two months at the initiative of the European Parliament or of the Council. [Am. 42]

Article 5

Reporting and Review

1.  By [date = 5 years after the date of transposition of this Directive ] ...(18), the Member States shall report to the Commission on the experience gained by them on the application of this Directive Regulation. [Am. 43]

2.  The Commission shall present a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of this Directive Regulation taking into account:

(a)  the reports submitted by Member States in accordance with paragraph 1;

(b)  all available scientific and technical evidence of progress, in particular relating to the animal welfare aspects of cloning and food safety issues, and the progress made in establishing reliable traceability systems for clones and the descendants of clones; [Am. 44]

(ba)  the evolution of consumer perceptions on cloning; [Am. 45]

(c)  international developments;

(ca)  consumers' concerns in relation to public health and animal welfare; [Am. 46]

(cb)  ethical issues relating to animal cloning. [Am. 47]

2a.  The Commission shall make the report referred to in paragraph 2 publicly available. [Am. 48]

2b.  By means of an official EU-Survey, the Commission shall launch a public consultation aimed at assessing any new trends regarding consumers' perceptions of food products from cloned animals. [Am. 49]

Article 6

Transposition

1.  Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by [date = 12 month after the date of transposition of this Directive ]. They shall forthwith communicate to the Commission the text of those provisions.

When Member States adopt those provisions, they shall contain a reference to this Directive or be accompanied by such a reference on the occasion of their official publication. Member States shall determine how such reference is to be made.

2.  Member States shall communicate to the Commission the text of the main provisions of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive. [Am. 50]

Article 7

Entering Entry into force [Am. not concerning all languages]

This Directive Regulation shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

It shall apply from ...(19). [Am. 52]

Article 8

Addressees

This Directive is addressed to the Member States. [Am. 53]

This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States. [Am. 54]

Done at

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

(1) Texts adopted of that date, P7_TA(2010)0266.
(2) OJ C 311, 12.9.2014, p. 73.
(3)OJ C 311, 12.9.2014, p. 73
(4)Position of the European Parliament of 8 September 2015.
(5) Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1).
(6)Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes (OJ L 221, 8.8.1998, p. 23).
(7) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/scientific_output/files/main_documents/sc_op_ej767_animal_cloning_en.pdf
(8)Scientific Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food Safety, Animal Health and Welfare and Environmental Impact of Animals derived from Cloning by Somatic Cell Nucleus Transfer (SCNT) and their Offspring and Products Obtained from those Animalshttp://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/cloning.htm?wtrl=01
(9) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/2794.pdf
(10) Ethical aspects of animal cloning for food supply 16 January 2008: http://ec.europa.eu/bepa/european-group-ethics/docs/publications/opinion23_en.pdf
(11) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 23 February 1988, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland v Council of the European Communities, C-68/86, EU:C:1988:85; Judgment of the Court of Justice of 16 November 1989, Commission of the European Communities v Council of the European Communities, C-131/87, EU:C:1989:581; Judgment of the Court of Justice of 16 November 1989, Commission of the European Communities v Council of the European Communities, C-11/88, EU:C:1989:583.
(12) See e.g. Eurobarometer reports of 2008 and 2010: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_238_en.pdf and http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_341_en.pdf
(13) Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on offical controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules (OJ L 165, 30.4.2004, p. 1).
(14) 6 months from the entry into force of this Regulation.
(15) 6 months from the entry into force of this Regulation.
(16) 1 year from the entry into force of this Regulation.
(17) Date of entry into force of this Regulation.
(18) 6 years from the entry into force of this Regulation.
(19) 1 year from the entry into force of this Regulation.


Situation of fundamental rights in the EU (2013-2014)
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2013-2014) (2014/2254(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0286A8-0230/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the preamble of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), in particular its second and its fourth to seventh indents,

–  having regard, inter alia, to Article 2, the second indent of Article 3(3), and Articles 6, 7 and 9 TEU,

–  having regard to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular paragraph 7 thereof,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000 (‘the Charter’), which was proclaimed on 12 December 2007 in Strasbourg and entered into force with the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948,

–  having regard to the UN treaties on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the jurisprudence of the UN treaty bodies,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in New York on 13 December 2006 and ratified by the EU on 23 December 2010,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in New York on 20 November 1989,

–  having regard to the following General Comments of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: No 7 (2005) on implementing child rights in early childhood, No 9 (2006) on the rights of children with disabilities, No 10 (2007) on children’s rights in juvenile justice, No 12 (2009) on the right of the child to be heard, No 13 (2011) on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence and No 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration,

–  having regard to the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and to the Beijing Platform for Action, to its resolutions of 25 February 2014 with recommendations to the Commission on combating violence against women(1) and of 6 February 2014 on the Commission communication entitled ‘Towards the elimination of female genital mutilation’(2), and to the Council conclusions of 5 June 2014 on preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation,

–  having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the conventions, recommendations, resolutions and reports of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers, the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe,

–   having regard to the report by Cephas Lumina, Independent Expert of the Human Rights Council on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights (Addendum, Mission to Greece, UN A/HRC/25/50/Add.1),

–   having regard to the report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, published in April 2013, entitled ‘Management of the external borders of the European Union and its impact on the human rights of migrants’,

–   having regard to the UN Human Rights Council resolution of 26 June 2014 calling for the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the aim of drawing up ‘an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights’,

–  having regard to the strategic guidelines for establishing an area of freedom, security and justice adopted by the Council of Europe on 27 June 2014,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention),

–  having regard to the European Social Charter, as revised in 1996, and the case law of the European Committee of Social Rights,

–   having regard to the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages,

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(3),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 9 December 2013 on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States(4),

–  having regard to the package of directives on Procedural Defence Rights in the EU(5),

–   having regard to Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law(6),

–  having regard to the Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy and its accompanying Action Plan, adopted by the Council on 25 June 2012,

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(7),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Council of the European Union and the Member States meeting within the Council on ensuring respect for the rule of law, adopted on 16 December 2014,

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(8),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services(9),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(10),

–  having regard to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(11),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA(12),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents(13),

–  having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (COM(2008)0229),

–  having regard to the decisions and case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), and the case law of national constitutional courts, which use the Charter as a reference for interpreting national law,

–  having regard to the political guidelines for the new European Commission presented by President Juncker to Parliament on 15 July 2014,

–  having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation) (COM(2012)0011),

–   having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and the free movement of such data (COM(2012)0010),

–  having regard to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 (COM(2012)0286), in particular the provisions on financing the development of guidelines on child protection systems and on the exchange of best practices,

–   having regard to Commission Recommendation 2013/112/EU of 20 February 2013 entitled ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’(14),

–  having regard to the Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 24 June 2013,

–   having regard to the Commission communication on an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 (COM(2011)0173) and the European Council conclusions of 24 June 2011,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Steps forward in implementing national Roma integration strategies’ (COM(2013)0454),

–  having regard to the Commission’s EU Anti-corruption Report (COM(2014)0038),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2013 on the progress made in the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on the EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity(16),

–  having regard to its resolutions on gender equality,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on an EU Homelessness Strategy(17),

–  having regard to the US Senate report on CIA detention and interrogation programmes,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the situation of unaccompanied minors in the EU(18),

–  having regard to its resolutions on fundamental rights and human rights, in particular the latest dated 27 February 2014 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2012)(19),

–  having regard to its resolutions on migration, in particular the latest dated 17 December 2014 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration(20),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2005 on the protection of minorities and anti-discrimination policies in an enlarged Europe(21),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(22),

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2013 on the US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens’ privacy(23), in which it instructed its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to conduct an in-depth inquiry into the matter, and to its resolution of 12 March 2014 on the US NSA surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens’ fundamental rights and on transatlantic cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs(24),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 2015 on the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA(25),

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2013 on endangered European languages and linguistic diversity in the European Union(26),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2014 on seeking an opinion from the Court of Justice on the compatibility with the Treaties of the Agreement between Canada and the European Union on the transfer and processing of Passenger Name Record data(27),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 11 September 2012(28) and 10 October 2013(29) on alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA,

–  having regard to its resolutions on the Guantanamo Bay detention centre,

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2013 on the EU Charter: standard settings for media freedom across the EU(30),

–  having regard to Opinion 2/2013 delivered by the CJEU regarding the draft agreement on accession of the EU to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),

–  having regard to the judgment of the CJEU of 8 April 2014 in joined cases C-293/12 and C-594/12 (Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and Others), which annulled Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC,

–  having regard to the hearing of Frans Timmermans before Parliament on 7 October 2014, and to his appearance at its sitting of 11 February 2015,

–  having regard to the hearing of Dimitris Avramopoulos before Parliament on 30 September 2014,

–  having regard to the annual conference of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on 10 November 2014 on the theme of ‘Fundamental Rights and Migration to the EU’ and in particular to FRA focus paper ‘Legal entry channels to the EU for persons in need of international protection: a toolbox’,

–  having regard to the work, annual reports and studies of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and of the FRA and to the FRA’s large-scale surveys on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU Member States, on violence against women in the EU and on LGBT persons’ experiences of discrimination, violence and harassment,

–  having regard to the contributions by the NGOs participating in the FRA Fundamental Rights Platform,

–  having regard to the reports and research carried out by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the subject of human rights and research requested in that field by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, in particular the study by Policy Department C on the impact of the crisis on fundamental rights across the Member States of the EU,

–  having regard to its studies on the impact of the crisis on fundamental rights in the Member States,

–  having regard to the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (the ‘Paris Principles’), annexed to UN General Assembly resolution 48/134,

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2013 on the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary (pursuant to the European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2012)’(31),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on the Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union (COM(2010)0573) and the Operational Guidance on taking account of Fundamental Rights in Commission Impact Assessments (SEC(2011)0567),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on a new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law (COM(2014)0158) and the Council conclusions of 16 December 2014 entitled ‘Ensuring respect for the Rule of Law’,

–  having regard to the 2013 Commission Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (COM(2014)0224), and to the accompanying working documents,

–  having regard to the 2013 Commission Report on EU citizenship – EU citizens: your rights, your future (COM(2013)0269),

–  having regard to the Commission Report on the ‘implementation of the EU framework for national Roma integration strategies’ (COM(2014)0209), and to the Council recommendation of 9 December 2013 on ‘Effective Roma integration measures in the Member States’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the Committee on Petitions (A8-0230/2015),

A.  whereas European integration came about in part to prevent a recurrence of the tragic consequences of the Second World War and the persecution and repression by the Nazi regime, and also to avoid any decline or reversal of democracy and the rule of law by promoting, respecting and protecting human rights;

B.  whereas respect for and promotion of human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the values and principles enshrined in EU treaties and international human rights instruments (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ECHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, etc.) are obligations incumbent on the Union and its Member States and must be central to European integration;

C.  whereas those rights must be guaranteed for everyone living in the EU, including in response to abuse and acts of violence by authorities at whatever level;

D.  whereas, under Article 2 TEU, the EU is founded on respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, values which are shared by all the Member States and which must be upheld by the EU, and by each individual Member State, in all their policies, at both internal and external level; whereas, under Article 17 TEU, the Commission must ensure application of the Treaties;

E.  whereas, under Article 6 TEU, the EU has a responsibility to uphold and enforce fundamental rights in any action it takes, regardless of its powers in the area concerned; whereas Member States are also encouraged to do the same;

F.  whereas revision of the EU Treaties is necessary in order to strengthen the protection of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights;

G.  whereas in accordance with the preamble of the TEU, the Member States have confirmed their attachment to social rights as defined in the European Social Charter; whereas Article 151 TFEU also contains an explicit reference to fundamental social rights such as those set out in the European Social Charter;

H.   whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union became a fully fledged component of the Treaties when the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, and is therefore now legally binding on the institutions, agencies and other bodies of the EU and on the Member States when EU legislation is applied; whereas a genuine fundamental rights culture must be developed, fostered and strengthened in the EU institutions, but also in the Member States, in particular when they apply EU law domestically and in their relations with non-EU countries;

I.  whereas Articles 2 and 3 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognise the right to life and the right to integrity of the person;

J.  whereas Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment;

K.  whereas the importance of social fundamental rights is acknowledged in Articles 8, 9, 10, 19 and 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as it is in the case law of the CJEU, thus underscoring the fact that those rights, and in particular trade union rights, the right to strike, right of association and right of assembly, must be given the same safeguards as the other fundamental rights acknowledged by the Charter;

L.  whereas Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union obliges the Union to ‘respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity’, and Article 21 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of language and/or being a member of a national minority;

M.  whereas Article 33 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guarantees protection of the family in the legal, economic and social spheres;

N.  whereas Articles 37 and 38 of the Charter recognise the right to a high level of environmental protection intrinsically linked to the deployment of the policies of the Union;

O.  whereas Member States cannot reduce the level of guarantees offered in their own constitutions in respect of certain rights on the pretext that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union or other instruments of EU law provide for a lower level of protection;

P.  whereas it is recognised that national authorities (judicial authorities, law enforcement bodies and administrations) are key actors in giving concrete effect to the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter;

Q.  whereas establishing an area of freedom, security and justice as described in Title V TFEU requires the EU and each Member State to uphold fundamental rights in full;

R.  whereas human beings who are citizens or residents are placed at centre stage in the EU and whereas the personal, civil, political, economic and social rights recognised by the Charter not only have the aim of protecting European citizens and residents against any interference, abuse or violence but are also preconditions for ensuring their full and untroubled personal development;

S.  whereas the rule of law is the backbone of European liberal democracy, and is one of the founding principles of the EU stemming from the common constitutional traditions of all Member States;

T.  whereas the way the rule of law is implemented at national level plays a key role in ensuring mutual trust among Member States and their legal systems, hence it is of vital importance to establish an area of freedom, security and justice as described in Title V TFEU;

U.  whereas respecting the rule of law is a prerequisite for the protection of fundamental rights and is of particular importance within the EU since it is also a prerequisite for upholding all rights and obligations deriving from the Treaties and from international law;

V.  whereas the EU and its Member States are engaged in a global process of moving towards new sustainable development objectives under which human rights are universal, indivisible and inalienable;

W.  whereas the implementation of these values and principles must also be based on effective monitoring of respect for the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Charter, for example when legislative proposals are being drawn up;

X.  whereas the EU is undergoing a period of serious economic and financial crisis, the impact of which, in combination with certain measures, including drastic budget cuts, implemented to address it in some Member States, is negatively affecting the living conditions of EU citizens – increasing unemployment, poverty levels, inequalities and precarious working conditions, and limiting access to and quality of services – and hence the wellbeing of citizens;

Y.  whereas almost one third of petitions received by Parliament relate to alleged breaches of fundamental rights referred to in the Charter, touching on issues such as citizenship, the four freedoms, employment, economic circumstances, environmental and consumer protection, justice systems, voting rights and democratic participation, transparency in decision-making, disability, children’s rights, access to education or language rights; whereas some of those petitions raise questions related to health issues and access to healthcare and health services, but also questions related to the right to work as a direct consequence of the economic crisis; whereas petitions are usually the earliest indicators of the situation of fundamental rights in the Member States;

Z.  whereas the EU operates on the basis of the presumption and mutual trust that the Member States conform with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, as enshrined in the ECHR and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, notably in relation to the development of an area of freedom, security and justice and the mutual recognition principle;

AA.  whereas being unemployed, poor or socially marginalised has major consequences as regards gaining and exercising fundamental rights and means that people in such vulnerable positions must continue to have access to basic services, in particular welfare services and financial services;

AB.  whereas, following recent terrorist attacks on EU territory, certain anti-terrorism policies and measures are likely to compromise fundamental rights and freedoms in the EU; whereas it is essential to ensure that a balance is maintained between safeguarding fundamental freedoms and rights and strengthening security; whereas the EU and its Member States have the duty to protect European citizens, while ensuring respect for their fundamental rights and freedoms in the design and operation of security policies; whereas necessity and proportionality must be the overriding principles in this area so as to prevent policy actions from infringing civil liberties;

AC.  whereas thousands of lives are being lost in the Mediterranean, in an unprecedented manner, carrying a huge responsibility to the EU to act to save lives, stop human traffickers, provide legal avenues for migrants and assist and protect asylum seekers and refugees;

AD.  whereas almost 3 500 migrants died or went missing in 2014 while attempting to reach Europe, bringing the total number of dead and missing over the last 20 years to nearly 30 000; whereas, according to the International Organisation for Migration, the migratory route towards Europe has become the world's most dangerous route for migrants;

AE.  whereas about one thousand asylum applications a year relate directly to genital mutilation;

AF.  whereas the right to asylum is guaranteed under the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees (Geneva Convention) and the protocol of 31 January 1967;

AG.  whereas the manifestations of extreme nationalism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance have not yet disappeared from our communities; whereas on the contrary, especially after the recent terrorist attacks they appear to be on the rise in many Member States, affecting both traditional minorities and new national minority communities;

AH.  whereas under Article 49 TEU any European state which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union; whereas compliance with the Copenhagen criteria is an essential precondition for EU accession; whereas the obligations incumbent on candidate countries under the Copenhagen criteria are not only basic pre-accession requirements, but must also continue to apply after a country has joined the EU, on the basis of Article 2 TEU; whereas in light of this, all Member States should be assessed on an ongoing basis in order to verify their continued compliance with the EU's basic values of respect for fundamental rights, democratic institutions and the rule of law; whereas, in addition, a graduated corrective mechanism needs to be introduced so as bridge the gap between political dialogue and the 'nuclear option' of Article 7 TEU and to address the 'Copenhagen dilemma' within the current Treaties;

AI.  whereas, since there are no clear and common benchmarks, challenging the situation as regards the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights within a Member State is itself continually called into question in the light of political and institutional considerations; whereas in collusion with EU institutions, because there are no binding procedures, in too many instances there is permanent inertia and the Treaties and European values are not observed;

AJ.  whereas the right to petition has established a tight bond between the EU’s citizens and the European Parliament; whereas the European Citizens’ Initiative has introduced a new direct link between the EU’s citizens and the EU institutions and can enhance the development of fundamental rights and citizens’ rights; whereas citizens’ rights include the right to petition as a means of citizens upholding their own fundamental rights, as laid down in Article 44 of the Charter and Article 227 TFEU;

AK.  whereas women still face many forms of discrimination in the EU and are often victims of violence and abuse, especially of a sexual nature;

AL.  whereas violence against women is the most widespread violation of fundamental rights in the EU and throughout the world, and whereas it affects all levels of society, regardless of age, education, income, social position and country of origin or residence, and represents a major barrier to equality between women and men;

AM.  whereas, according to the findings of a survey conducted in 2014 by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, most women who have been subjected to violence do not report what has happened to the police;

AN.  whereas sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHRs) are grounded in basic human rights and are essential elements of human dignity(32); whereas the denial of life-saving abortion amounts to a serious breach of human rights;

AO.  whereas the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children are a clear violation of human rights, human dignity and the fundamental principles of law and democracy; whereas today women are more vulnerable to such risks owing to increased economic uncertainty and the higher risk of unemployment and poverty;

AP.  whereas violence against women as a form of gender discrimination is not explicitly included in European law, and is present as a concept in only three national legal systems (Spain, Sweden and Germany), the result being that it is not seen as a substantive equality issue; whereas the Member States adopt an ad hoc approach to defining violence against women and gender-based violence, with definitions varying widely in national legislation, thus meaning data are not comparable;

AQ.  whereas the Member States are not immune from the evil practice of genital mutilation, to which a reported 500 000 individuals have fallen victim in the EU, with a further 180 000 at risk;

AR.  whereas numerous violations of fundamental rights still occur in the EU and the Member States, as evidenced, for example, by the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and as pointed out in reports by the Commission, the FRA, NGOs, the Council of Europe and the UN, such as violation of the right to freedom of assembly and expression of civil society organisations, institutional discrimination against LGBTI persons through marriage bans and anti-propaganda legislation, and the remaining high levels of discrimination and hate crime motivated by racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, or bias against a person's disability, sexual orientation or gender identity; whereas the responses of the Commission, the Council and Member States are falling short of what is required, given the gravity of these recurrent violations;

AS.  whereas societies in which fundamental rights are fully implemented and safeguarded have more chances to develop a dynamic and competitive economy;

AT.  whereas Roma, the largest ethnic minority in Europe, continue to be the victims of severe discrimination, racist attacks, hate speech, poverty and exclusion;

AU.  whereas the European external action is based on the same principles that underpin the establishment and development of the EU, that is, democracy, solidarity, human dignity and all fundamental rights; whereas specific human rights guidelines have been developed in the external policies of the EU, but this has not been the case in its internal policies, which could lead to allegations of double standards; whereas it is essential that the promotion of fundamental rights by the EU as part of its external action be paralleled by a robust and systematic internal policy of monitoring compliance with fundamental rights within the EU itself;

AV.  whereas personal data protection provisions should uphold the principles of purpose, necessity and proportionality, including in the context of negotiations and the conclusion of international agreements, as pointed up by the European Court of Justice judgment of 6 April 2014 quashing Directive 2006/24/EC and by the opinions of the European Data Protection Supervisor;

AW.  whereas the rights to respect for private and family life and to protection of personal data are enshrined in the Charter and are therefore an integral component of primary EU law;

AX.  whereas new technologies can adversely affect fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data which are guaranteed under Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter;

AY.  whereas mass access to the internet has opened up still further opportunities for physical and psychological abuse of women, including online grooming;

AZ.  whereas the rapid pace of change in the digital world (including increased use of the internet, apps and social networks) necessitates more effective safeguards for personal data and privacy in order to guarantee confidentiality and protection;

BA.  whereas fundamental freedoms, human rights and equal opportunities must be ensured for all citizens of the EU, including persons belonging to national and linguistic minorities;

BB.  whereas in Europe, according to the WHO, at least 850 children aged under 15 die from maltreatment each year;

BC.  whereas according to an FRA survey concerning discrimination and hate crime against LGBTI persons, in addition to the discrimination and violence of which they had been victims, almost half of all the LGBTI respondents ‘believed that offensive language about LGBT people by politicians was widespread in their country of residence’;

BD.  whereas LGBTI people are victims of institutional discrimination either because civil unions are prohibited or because there are laws prohibiting assertion of sexual preference;

BE.  whereas people with a disability face many different forms of discrimination which prevent them from exercising their fundamental rights to the full;

BF.  whereas for people with disabilities the rate of poverty is 70 % higher than the average, partly owing to limited access to employment;

BG.  whereas secularism and neutrality offer the most effective guarantees that the religious communities which form part of any given state do not suffer discrimination;

BH.  whereas freedom of the press and freedom to operate for civil society groups such as NGOs are central to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights; whereas this freedom has been jeopardised by the adoption of laws or by direct intervention by the authorities in a number of Member States;

BI.  whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights states that the elderly have the right ‘to lead a life of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life’;

BJ.  whereas, while punishments proportionate to the crimes committed do act as a deterrent against fundamental rights violations, the primary goal must remain to prevent crime (by means of education and cultural measures) rather than to take action after the event;

BK.  whereas the effectiveness of specialised institutions such as national human rights institutions or equality bodies is important to help citizens better enforce their fundamental rights to the extent that Member States apply EU law;

BL.  whereas the right to vote and stand as a candidate in local elections and European Parliament elections in one’s Member State of residence is recognised in Articles 39 and 40 of the Charter; whereas exercising the right of mobility should not hamper this right;

BM.  having regard to the weakness of the response by the Commission and the Member States to the revelations by Edward Snowden of massive spying operations using the internet and telecommunications networks as part of the NSA-PRISM programme targeting European countries also, and concerned their failure to enforce measures to protect European citizens or third-country nationals living in Europe;

1.  Considers it essential to guarantee that the common European values listed in Article 2 TEU are upheld in full, in both European and national legislation, public policies and their implementation, while fully respecting the subsidiarity principle;

2.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that all EU legislation, including the economic and financial adjustment programmes, is implemented in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Social Charter (Article 151 TFEU);

3.  Notes that Article 6 TEU requires the Union to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights; notes Opinion 2/2013 of the Court of Justice of the European Union; calls on the Commission and Council to put in place the necessary instruments to ensure that the aforementioned obligation – enshrined in the Treaties – is accomplished without undue delay; considers that this needs to be done on the basis of full transparency, as it will provide an additional mechanism for increasing genuine respect and enforcing the protection of individuals against breaches of their fundamental rights, including the right to an effective remedy, and making the European institutions more accountable for their actions or failings regarding fundamental rights;

4.   Welcomes the appointment of the first Vice-President of the Commission with powers relating to respect for the rule of law and the Charter, and takes note of his commitment to properly enforce the existing framework; expects to see an internal strategy on fundamental rights adopted in the near future, in close cooperation with the other institutions and in consultation with a broad representation of civil society and other interested parties; considers that the strategy should be based on Articles 2, 6 and 7 TEU and should be consistent with the principles and objectives embedded in Articles 8 and 10 TFEU; deplores the lack of political will to invoke Article 7 TEU against Member States responsible for breaches of fundamental rights to penalise them and operate as a deterrent;

5.  Underlines the need for the full use of existing mechanisms to ensure that the fundamental rights and values of the Union referred to in Article 2 TEU and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights are respected, protected and promoted; stresses that in this regard all the instruments currently provided for in the Treaties need to be urgently applied and implemented;

6.  Stresses that full use must be made of the existing mechanisms, with objective evaluations and investigations being launched and infringement proceedings being taken out if a case is well-grounded;

7.  Underlines the need for possible treaty changes with a view to further strengthening the protection of fundamental rights in the EU Treaties;

8.  Notes the Commission's communication on a new EU framework to strengthen the rule of law, which represents a first attempt to remedy the existing shortcomings with regard to preventing and resolving fundamental rights violations and breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Member States; notes the Commission's intention to keep Parliament and the Council regularly informed of the progress made at each stage; considers, however, that the proposed framework may not be a sufficient or effective deterrent when it comes to preventing and resolving fundamental rights violations in Member States, as the Commission has presented this framework in the form of a non-binding communication that does not specify when the framework must be activated;

9.  Calls on the Commission to implement and further improve the said framework with the aim of:

   (a) making it part of the internal strategy on fundamental rights, since the rule of law is a prerequisite for the protection of fundamental rights in the European Union and its Member States;
   (b) making better use of the expertise of the Council of Europe and setting up a formal channel of cooperation in matters relating to the rule of law and fundamental rights;
   (c) defining in clear terms the criteria for its application and ensuring that its proactive and transparent implementation successfully prevents fundamental rights violations from materialising; in particular, defining the criteria for ‘clear risk of breach’ and ‘serious and persistent breach’, building inter alia on the case-law of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights; considering establishing these criteria in such a manner that any breach could automatically trigger application of the framework;
   (d) initiating infringement procedures that might also lead to financial sanctions in accordance with Article 260 TFEU, should systemic or significant violations of Article 2 TEU be identified by the FRA;
   (e) ensuring the automatic triggering of the procedure under Article 7 TEU, should the three- stage process foreseen by the framework fail to resolve the issue, specifying which rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question apart from voting rights in Council, can be suspended, so as to consider the possibility of imposing further penalties that would ensure the effective functioning of the framework in keeping with European law and fundamental rights;
   (f) stipulating that all EU legislative proposals, policies and actions, including in the economic sphere and in the field of external relations and all EU-funded measures, must comply with the Charter and undergo a detailed ex ante and ex post assessment of their impact on fundamental rights, as well as including a proactive plan of action that ensures the efficient application of existing standards and identifies areas in which reforms are necessary; in this regard, believes that the external independent expertise of the FRA should be fully used by the Commission, the Council and Parliament when legislating and developing policies;
   (g) developing, in cooperation with the FRA and national human rights bodies in the Member States, as well as with input from the broadest civil society representation, a database that collates and publishes all available data and reports on the situation regarding fundamental rights in the EU and in individual Member States;

10.  Urges the Commission to ensure that the abovementioned internal strategy is accompanied by a clear and detailed new mechanism, soundly based on international and European law and embracing all the values protected by Article 2 TEU, in order to ensure coherence with the Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy already applied in EU external relations and render the European institutions and Member States accountable for their actions and omissions with regard to fundamental rights; believes that this mechanism should enable the monitoring of the compliance of all EU Member States with regard to fundamental rights and provide for a systematic and institutionalised dialogue in case of breach of fundamental rights by one or several Member States; considers that in order to make full use of the Treaties' provisions the Commission should:

   (a) establish a scoreboard on the basis of common and objective indicators by which democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights will be measured; these indicators should reflect the Copenhagen political criteria governing accession and the values and rights laid down in Article 2 of the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and be drawn up on the basis of existing standards; in this respect, the Commission should consider broadening the scope of the EU Justice Scoreboard to cover the periodic state-by- state assessment of compliance with fundamental rights and the rule of law;
   (b) ensure constant monitoring, based on the established scoreboard and a system of annual country assessment, to be developed in cooperation with the Council and Parliament, on the compliance with the rule of law and the situation of fundamental rights in all Member States of the European Union and to be based on data supplied by the FRA, the Council of Europe and its Venice Commission, and NGOs;
   (c) propose, in that connection, a revision of the FRA Regulation in order to grant the FRA wider powers and greater human and financial resources, so that it can monitor the situation in Member States and publish an annual monitoring report containing a detailed evaluation of each Member State’s performance;
   (d) issue a formal warning if, on the basis of the established scoreboard and the above-mentioned annual monitoring report, the indicators show that Member States are violating the rule of law or fundamental rights; this formal warning should systematically be accompanied by the launching of an institutionalised dialogue involving - in addition to the Commission and the Member State concerned - the Council, the European Parliament and the parliament of the Member State concerned;
   (e) contribute towards improving coordination between the EU institutions and agencies, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and civil society organisations; intensify cooperation between the EU institutions and Member States, including between the European Parliament and national parliaments;

11.  Welcomes the fact that the Council will hold debates on the rule of law; considers, however, that such debates are not the most effective way to resolve any non-compliance with the fundamental values of the European Union; regrets the fact that Parliament is neither informed nor involved in the organisation of these debates; calls on the Council to base its debates on the results of annual and specific reports by the European Commission, the European Parliament, civil society, the Council of Europe and its Venice Commission and other parties involved, institutional or otherwise;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to conduct investigations into any allegations of infringements of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter, and to follow up those allegations should they be proven; urges the Commission, in particular, to initiate infringement proceedings should any Member State be suspected of acting in breach of those rights;

13.  Calls on the Commission to give more priority to the preparation of the Union's accession to the European Social Charter, signed in Turin on 18 October 1961 and revised in Strasbourg on 3 May 1996;

14.  Calls on the Member States to establish and strengthen National human rights Institutions in line with the 'Paris principles', so as to ensure the independent promotion and protection of human rights on the national level;

15.  Calls for a guarantee of better coordination and consistency between the activities of Parliament, the Council of Europe, the FRA and the EIGE;

16.  Expresses concern at the alarming increase in the number of violations of fundamental rights in the EU, in particular in the areas of immigration and asylum, discrimination and intolerance – especially towards certain communities – and in the number of instances of attacks being carried out and of pressure being exerted on the NGOs which defend the rights of these groups and communities; notes Member States’ unwillingness to ensure that these fundamental rights and freedoms are observed, in particular as regards Roma people, women, the LGBTI community, asylum seekers, immigrants and other vulnerable groups;

17.  Calls on the Council to find common ground on the precise content of the principles and standards stemming from the rule of law that vary at national level, and to consider the already existing definition of the rule of law of the European Court of Justice as a starting- point for debate, including: legality, implying a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws; legal certainty; prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers; independent and impartial courts; effective judicial review including respect for fundamental rights; and equality before the law;

18.  Recalls that respecting the rule of law is a prerequisite for the protection of fundamental rights and that security measures should not compromise them, in line with Article 52 of the Charter; also recalls that under Article 6 of the Charter everyone has the right to liberty and security of person;

19.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to ensure that fundamental rights and principles – as laid down, in particular, in the Treaties, the Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights – are embedded in internal security policies and measures from the outset, as suggested in the FRA Focus paper 'Embedding fundamental rights in the security agenda’; urges the EU and the Member States to mainstream social inclusion and non-discrimination measures in future internal security strategies;

20.  Calls on the Commission, with the support of the FRA, to strengthen awareness-raising, education and training measures and programmes with regard to fundamental rights; these programmes should aim to establish cohesion and trust between all social partners and involve civil society organisations, national human rights institutions and national equality and anti-discrimination offices;

21.  Stresses that the role of the Commission as the guardian of the Treaties is not limited to ensuring that legislation is transposed by the Member States, but also extends to the full and correct application of laws, in particular with a view to protecting citizens’ fundamental rights; regrets the effective limitation of the scope of application of the Charter due to an excessively restrictive interpretation of its Article 51, read as preventing it from covering the enforcement of EU law; is of the opinion that this approach should be revised to meet EU citizens’ expectations in relation to their fundamental rights; recalls that the expectations of citizens go beyond the strict interpretation of the Charter and that the objective should be to render those rights as effective as possible; regrets, therefore, that the Commission pleads lack of competence in numerous replies to petitions complaining of a possible breach of fundamental rights; in this framework, calls for the establishment of a mechanism for the monitoring, systematic evaluation and issuing of recommendations, to foster overall compliance with fundamental values in the Member States;

22.  Recalls the crucial importance of the timely and correct transposition and implementation of EU law, especially when it affects or develops fundamental rights;

Freedom and Security

Freedom of expression and the media

23.  Recalls that freedom of expression, information and the media is fundamental to ensuring democracy and the rule of law; strongly condemns violence, pressure and threats against journalists and the media, including in relation to the disclosure of their sources and information about breaches of fundamental rights by governments and states; calls on Member States to refrain from applying measures to impede those freedoms; reiterates its call on the Commission to review and amend the audiovisual media services directive along the lines indicated by Parliament in its resolution of 22 May 2013;

24.  Stresses that public, independent, free, diverse and pluralist media, together with journalists, both online and offline, are a fundamental building block of democracy; believes that media ownership and management should not be concentrated; stresses, in this regard, that transparency of media ownership is crucial for the monitoring of investments that could influence the information provided; calls for the development of adequate and fair economic rules, in order to also guarantee online media pluralism; calls on the Commission to develop an action plan to assure that all media comply with minimum standards of independence and quality;

25.  Expresses its concern over the increasing repressive measures in some Member States against social movements and demonstrations, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, particularly regarding the disproportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and the small number of police and judicial investigations in this area; calls on the Member States to protect freedom of assembly and not to adopt measures that call into question or even criminalise the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the rights to demonstrate and strike or the rights of assembly and association and freedom of expression; expresses great concern at the national laws in several Member States impacting on fundamental rights in public spaces and restricting the right of assembly; calls on the Commission to monitor and address the serious interferences with fundamental rights caused by national laws setting up restrictions in public spaces on security grounds;

26.  Notes that instances of terrorism have led the EU and its Member States to intensify anti-terrorist and counter-radicalisation measures; urges the EU and national authorities to adopt such measures in full respect of the principles of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, especially the right to a legal defence, the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial, and the right to respect for privacy and protection of personal data; calls on the Member States and the Commission to evaluate in full transparency any national drafts or proposals for antiterrorist regulatory and legislative instruments in terms of their compliance with Article 2 TEU and the Charter;

27.  Recognises that the widespread nature of transnational cybercrime and cyberterrorism creates serious challenges and concerns about protection of fundamental rights in the online environment; considers it essential for the EU to develop state-of-the-art expertise in the field of cybersecurity so as to ensure closer compliance in cyberspace with Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter;

28.  Welcomes the report by the US Senate on the CIA detention and interrogation programmes; urges the Member States not to tolerate torture or any other inhuman and degrading forms of treatment on their territory; reiterates its calls on Member States to ensure accountability for violations of fundamental rights in the context of transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA; urges Member States to conduct open and transparent investigations to find out the truth about the use of their territory and airspace and to offer full cooperation to the European Parliament´s enquiry on the matter, which has recently been reinstated, and its follow-up; calls for protection of those revealing such violations, such as journalists and whistleblowers;

29.  Expresses its concerns over repeated reports on the alleged violation of EU fundamental rights, and EU data protection legislation in particular, by the intelligence activities of Member States and of third countries that allow for the retention and accessing of electronic communications data of European citizens; strongly condemns the mass surveillance activities discovered to have been taking place since 2013 and deplores their continued existence; calls for clarification of these activities and in particular the current involvement of a number of Member States; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take full account of the requirements and recommendations of Parliament as set out in its resolution of 12 March 2014 on the US NSA surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens’ fundamental rights and on transatlantic cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs; calls on the Member States to ensure that the activities of their intelligence services are consistent with fundamental rights and subject to parliamentary and judicial scrutiny;

30.  Expresses its concern about the adoption of national legislation by Member States allowing for blanket surveillance, and reiterates the need for security instruments that are targeted, strictly necessary and proportionate in a democratic society; reiterates its call to the EU and its Member States to adopt a whistleblower protection system;

31.  Is concerned that citizens are not fully aware of their right to data protection and privacy and of the channels of legal redress available to them; underlines in this respect the role of the national data protection authorities in upholding these rights and raising awareness of them; considers it essential to familiarise the public, in particular children, with the importance of personal data protection, including in cyberspace, and the dangers to which they are exposed; calls on the Member States to launch awareness-raising campaigns in schools; stresses that in light of rapid technology developments and increasing cyberattacks, special attention needs to be given to the protection of personal data on the internet, with a strong focus on the security of processing and storing; underlines that although the right to be forgotten is not absolute and will need to be balanced against other fundamental rights, individuals need to be given the right to have their online personal data rectified; expresses serious concern at the difficulty most internet users have in ensuring that their rights are respected in the digital sphere; calls on the Council to make rapid progress on the data protection package so as to ensure a high level of data protection across the EU;

32.  Recalls that Member States must ensure that their intelligence services operate in a lawful manner and in full compliance with the Treaties and the Charter; calls in this regard on Member States to ensure that national law will only allow for the collection and analysis of personal data (including so-called metadata) with the consent of the person concerned or following a court order granted on the basis of reasonable suspicion of the target being involved in criminal activity;

33.  Stresses that unlawful data collection and processing should be penalised in the same way as violation of the traditional confidentiality of correspondence; insists that the creation of ‘back doors’ or any other techniques to weaken or circumvent security measures or exploit their existing weaknesses should be strictly prohibited;

34.   Deplores the pressure placed on private companies by both public and private bodies to hand over internet users’ data, control internet content or jeopardise the principle of net neutrality;

35.  Emphasises that safeguarding fundamental rights in today's information society is a key issue for the EU, as the growing use of information and communications technologies (ICT) poses new threats to fundamental rights in cyberspace, the protection of which should be strengthened by ensuring that they are promoted and protected online in the same way and to the same extent as in the offline world;

36.  Urges the Commission to monitor intensively the implementation of existing EU legislation in this field and considers that Member States should apply the provisions of criminal law in practice through effective investigation and prosecution in order to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of victims;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to show the utmost vigilance as regards the impact which certain new technologies, for example drones, might have on citizens’ fundamental rights and more especially the right to privacy and the protection of personal data;

38.  Underlines the crucial role of education in preventing radicalisation and the rise of intolerance and extremism among young people;

39.   Deplores the acts of discrimination, not to say brutality, perpetrated by police forces in some Member States against minority groups such as migrants, Roma, LGBTI people or people with disabilities; urges the Member States to investigate and punish such actions; believes that police forces should be made more aware of, and trained to deal with, the discrimination and violence inflicted on these minorities; calls on the Member States to restore the confidence that minorities should have in the police and to encourage them to report abuses; calls also on the authorities in the Member States to combat the discriminatory ethnic profiling carried out by some police forces;

Freedom of religion and conscience

40.  Refers to Article 10 of the Charter, which protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to practise the religion of one’s choice and to change religion or belief; considers that this also covers the freedom of non-believers; condemns any form of discrimination or intolerance and calls for a ban of any form of discrimination on these grounds; deplores, in this regard, recent instances of anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic discrimination and violence; calls on the Member States, including regional authorities to protect with all available tools freedom of religion or belief and to promote tolerance and intercultural dialogue through effective policy making, enhancing anti-discrimination policies where needed; recalls the importance of a neutral secular state in preventing discrimination against any religious, atheist or agnostic communities and guaranteeing equal treatment of all religions and beliefs; expresses its concerns over the application of blasphemy and religious insult laws in the European Union, which can have a serious impact on freedom of expression, and urges Member States to abolish them; strongly condemns attacks against places of worship and urges Member States not to allow such offences to go unpunished;

41.  Urges respect for freedom of religion or belief in the occupied part of Cyprus, where more than 500 religious and cultural monuments are on the way to collapse;

42.  Is alarmed at the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe and the increasingly widespread efforts to deny or downplay the Holocaust; is deeply concerned that many members of the Jewish community are planning to leave Europe because of the worsening climate of anti-Semitism and discrimination and violence against them;

43.  Expresses deep concern at the growth of anti-Islamic demonstrations, attacks on mosques and the widespread tendency to associate Islam with the religious fanaticism of a tiny minority; deplores discrimination and violence against the Muslim community; calls on the Member States to condemn such acts systematically and to apply zero tolerance in this connection;

Equality and non-discrimination

44.  Strongly deplores the fact that the Council has still not adopted the 2008 proposal for a directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation; welcomes the prioritisation of this directive by the Commission; reiterates its call to the Council to adopt the proposal as soon as possible;

45.  Points out that pluralism, non-discrimination and tolerance are among the founding values of the Union, in accordance with Article 2 TEU; considers that only policies designed to promote both formal and substantive equality and to combat all forms of bias and discrimination can promote a cohesive society by breaking down all forms of prejudice which harm social integration; deplores the fact that even today in the EU there are still cases of discrimination, marginalisation and even violence and abuse based, in particular, on gender, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or personal beliefs, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation;

46.  Considers that the Union and Member States should step up their efforts to combat discrimination and protect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, and promote measures to enhance gender equality, the rights of the child, the rights of older persons, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the rights of LGBTI persons and persons belonging to national minorities; urges the EU and the Member States to include multiple discrimination within equality policies;

47.  Condemns all forms of violence and discrimination within EU territory and is concerned about the increase in them; calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt specific policy commitments to combat all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Afrophobia and anti-Gypsyism;

48.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to acknowledge the need for reliable and comparable equality data to measure discrimination, disaggregated according to discrimination grounds, in order to inform policy-making, evaluate the implementation of EU anti-discrimination legislation and better enforce it; calls on the Commission to define consistent equality data collection standards, based on self-identification, EU data protection standards and consultation of the relevant communities; calls on the Member States to collect data on all grounds for discrimination;

49.  Urges the EU to adopt a directive condemning discrimination based on gender and seeking to counteract gender prejudices and clichés in education and the media;

Promotion of minorities

50.  Calls for greater consistency on the part of the European Union in the field of minority protection; strongly believes that all Member States, as well as candidate countries, should be bound by the same principles and criteria in order to avoid the application of double standards; calls, therefore, for the establishment of an effective mechanism to monitor and ensure respect for the fundamental rights of minorities of all kinds both in candidate countries and in EU Member States;

51.  Emphasises that the European Union must be an area where respect for ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity prevails; invites the EU institutions to elaborate a comprehensive EU protection system for national, ethnic and linguistic minorities in order to ensure their equal treatment, taking into account the relevant international legal standards and existing good practices, and calls on the Members States to ensure effective equality of these minorities, particularly on issues of language, education and culture; encourages the Member States that have not yet done so to ratify and effectively implement the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities; recalls also the need to implement the principles developed in the framework of the OSCE;

52.  Condemns all forms of discrimination on grounds of language use and calls on those Member States that have not yet done so to ratify and effectively implement the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages; urges the Member States and the Commission to take all necessary action to tackle any disproportionate administrative or legislative obstacles that could hinder linguistic diversity at European or national level;

53.  Stresses that the principles of human dignity, equality before the law and the prohibition of discrimination on any grounds are foundations of the rule of law; calls on the Member States to adopt a national legislative framework to address all forms of discrimination and guarantee effective implementation of the existing EU legal framework;

Situation of Roma people

54.  Deplores the increasing tendency towards anti-Roma sentiment in the European Union and expresses its concern at the situation of the Roma in the EU and the numerous instances of persecution, violence, stigmatisation, discrimination and unlawful expulsions, which are contrary to fundamental rights and European Union law; urges the Commission to continue to take action against those Member States that allow institutionalised discrimination and segregation; calls on the Member States once more to effectively implement strategies to foster real inclusion, to pursue strengthened and pertinent action to promote integration, particularly in the fields of protection of fundamental rights, education, employment, housing and healthcare, and to combat violence, hate speech and discrimination against Roma, in line with the Council recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in Member States of 9 December 2013;

55.  Stresses the importance of properly implementing the national Roma integration strategies by developing integrated policies involving local authorities, non-governmental bodies and Roma communities in ongoing dialogue; calls on the Commission to provide for monitoring and better coordination of the implementation; calls on the Member States to cooperate with representatives of the Roma population in the management, monitoring and evaluation of projects affecting their communities, using available funds, including EU funds, while strictly monitoring respect for the fundamental rights of Roma people, including freedom of movement, pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States;

56.  Deplores the existing discrimination against Roma people in national educational systems and on the labour market; stresses the increased vulnerability of Roma women and children in particular to multiple and simultaneous violations of their fundamental rights; reiterates the importance of protecting and promoting equal access to all rights for Roma children;

57.  Urges the Member States to adopt the necessary legislative changes with regard to sterilisation and to financially compensate the victims of coercive sterilisations performed on Roma women and women with mental disabilities, in line with the case-law of the ECtHR;

Violence against women and equality between women and men

58.  Urges the EU and the Member States to combat and prosecute all forms of violence and discrimination against women; calls on the Member States in particular to deal effectively with the effects of domestic violence and sexual exploitation in all its forms, including that of refugees and migrant children, and early or forced marriage;

59.  Expresses concern about the extent and forms of violence against women in the EU, as documented by the FRA's EU-wide survey which showed that one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, and that an estimated 3,7 million women in the EU experience sexual violence over the period of one year; calls therefore on the Commission and the Member States to review existing legislation and to keep the issue of violence against women high on the agenda, as gender-based violence should not be tolerated; calls on the Commission to encourage national ratifications and start the procedure for EU accession to the Istanbul Convention as quickly as possible; notes that the immediate accession of all Member States to the Istanbul Convention would lead to the development of an integrated policy and to the promotion of international cooperation in the fight against all forms of violence against women, including sexual harassment both on and off line;

60.  Calls on the Member States to set up networks of centres providing support and shelter for women who are victims of trafficking and prostitution, ensuring that they receive psychological, medical, social and legal support and encouragement in finding stable employment and the accompanying entitlements;

61.  Expresses serious concern about continuing genital mutilation practices, which are a serious form of violence against women and girls and constitute an unacceptable violation of their right to physical integrity; urges the EU and the Member States to exercise extreme vigilance with regard to such practices within their borders, and to put a stop to them as swiftly as possible; calls in particular on the Member States to adopt a firm and dissuasive approach by training people working with migrants and systematically and effectively prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of genital mutilation, for which there must be zero tolerance; insists this should be paralleled with information and awareness-raising campaigns targeting the groups concerned; welcomes the fact that EU legislation in the field of asylum views victims of genital mutilation as vulnerable persons and includes genital mutilation among the criteria for the granting of asylum;

62.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the continuity of data collection on the prevalence and nature of violence against women as a basis for robust policies to prevent violence and meet the needs of victims, including assessing the implementation of the EU Victims' Directive (2012/29/EU) and organising awareness-raising campaigns against sexual harassment; considers that data collection should build on the first EU-wide survey carried out by the FRA, and should be based on the cooperation between the Commission (including Eurostat), FRA and the European Institute for Gender Equality; reiterates the request to the Commission made in its resolution of 25 February 2014 with recommendations to the Commission on combating Violence Against Women to submit a proposal for an act establishing measures to promote and support the action of Member States in the field of prevention of violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation; and calls on the Commission to establish 2016 as the year to combat violence against women and girls;

63.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to combat and prosecute all forms of violence against women; calls on the Commission to propose a legislative initiative to prohibit violence against women in the EU;

64.  Calls on the Commission to raise awareness of the need to foster a culture of respect and tolerance with a view to putting an end to all forms of discrimination against women; calls, moreover, on the Member States to ensure the implementation of national strategies concerning respect for and safeguarding of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights; insists on the role of the Union in awareness-raising and promoting best practices on this issue, given that health is a fundamental human right essential to the exercise of other human rights;

65.  Is alarmed at the under-representation of women in decision-making processes, companies and their boards of directors, science and the political sphere, at both national and international level (large companies, national and European elections) and, in particular, at local level; calls for women to be supported in their professional development and efforts to obtain executive posts, and calls on the EU institutions to pay greater attention to the finding that a mere 17,8 % of board members of the largest publicly listed companies in the EU are women;

66.  Calls for the maternity leave directive to be unblocked in the Council, as this piece of legislation will make real and tangible gender equality possible, as well as bringing about harmonisation at EU level;

67.  Points out that more than half of all postgraduates are women and that this data is not reflected on the labour market, especially in senior decision-making positions; calls therefore on the Member States to take every step required to ensure equal participation of women and men in the labour market and to help women move into high-level posts, and especially to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the proposal for a directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures; deplores the fact that in the EU – when both do equal work – women’s income is still, on average, 16 % lower than men’s income; calls on the EU therefore to continue its work in ensuring equality between women and men in pay in line with Article 157 TFEU, in pensions and participation in the labour market, including in top management positions; considers that this action should help to combat poverty and to ensure that Europe is making full use of all available talent; deplores the fact that women’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than that of men and stresses that financial independence of women must be a component of the fight against poverty;

68.   Calls on the Commission to step up monitoring of compliance with the principle of gender equality in European legislation; calls on the Member States to undertake a similar analysis of their national legislation;

69.  Recognises that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are fundamental rights and an essential element of human dignity, gender equality and self-determination; urges the Commission to include SRHR, as basic human rights, in its next EU Health Strategy in order to ensure coherence between the EU's internal and external fundamental rights policy as called for by Parliament on 10 March 2015;

70.  Recognises that the denial of a life-saving abortion amounts to a serious breach of fundamental rights;

71.  Calls on the Member States, in liaison with the Commission, to recognise the right to access safe and modern contraceptives and sexuality education in schools; urges the Commission to complement national policies to improve public health, while keeping the European Parliament fully informed;

Children’s rights

72.  Strongly condemns any form of violence against and ill-treatment of children; calls on the Member States, as States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to take appropriate measures to protect children from all forms of physical and psychological violence, including physical and sexual abuse, forced marriages, child labour and sexual exploitation;

73.  Strongly condemns the sexual exploitation of children, particularly the growing phenomenon of child pornography on the internet; urges the Union and Member States to unite in their efforts to combat these serious infringements of children’s rights and to take due account of the recommendations made by Parliament in its resolution of 11 March 2015 on child sexual abuse online(33); reiterates its call for those Member States which have not yet done so to transpose the directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography; calls, furthermore, on the Union and those Member States that have not yet done so to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse;

74.  Calls on the Member States to implement Directive 2011/93/EU on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and to strengthen the legal ability, technical capabilities and financial resources of law enforcement authorities in order to increase cooperation, including with Europol, with a view to investigating and dismantling child sex offender networks more efficiently, while prioritising the rights and safety of the children involved;

75.  Stresses the role of professionals who work with children, such as teachers, youth workers and paediatricians, when it comes to detecting signs of physical and psychological violence against children, including cyber bullying; calls on the Member States to ensure that such professionals have their awareness raised, and receive training, to this end; calls, furthermore, on the Member States to establish hotlines where children can report any act of mistreatment, sexual violence, intimidation or harassment against them;

76.  Considers that children's personal data online must be duly protected and that children need to be informed in a child-friendly manner about the risks and consequences of using their personal data online; calls on the Member States to launch awareness-raising campaigns in schools; stresses that online profiling of children should be prohibited;

77.  Condemns any form of discrimination against children and calls on the Commission and Member States to take united action to eradicate discrimination against children; in particular, calls on the Member States and the Commission to explicitly consider children as a priority when programming and implementing regional and cohesion policies;

78.  Calls on the Member States to ensure effective access to justice for all children, whether as suspects, perpetrators, victims or parties to proceedings; affirms the importance of strengthening the procedural safeguards for children in criminal proceedings, particularly in the context of the ongoing discussions on a directive on special safeguards for children suspected and accused in criminal proceedings;

79.  Expresses its concern about the increase in the number of cases of international abduction by parents; stresses, in this context, the importance of the role of the European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction; underlines the importance of a common EU approach to finding missing children in the EU; calls on the Member States to increase police and judicial cooperation in cross-border cases involving missing children and to develop hotlines to search for missing children;

80.  Recalls that the child’s best interests as referred to in Article 24 of the Charter must always be a prime consideration in any policy and measure adopted in relation to children; recalls that the right to education is provided for in the Charter and that education is essential, not only for a child’s welfare and personal development but also for the future of society; considers the education of children from low-income families to be an essential precondition for enabling children to escape from poverty; calls on the Member States, therefore, to promote high-quality education for all;

81.  Stresses that the interests and rights of children of EU citizens should be properly protected, not just within the Union but also beyond its borders, and calls consequently for enhanced cooperation with the institutions responsible for childrenʼs well-being in non-EU Nordic countries; considers that all the EUʼs partners (including members of the EEA) should ratify the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children;

82.  Recognises that the financial and economic crisis has had a serious negative impact on the realisation of children's rights and wellbeing; calls on the Member States to step up their efforts in tackling child poverty and social exclusion through effective implementation of the Commission Recommendation 'Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage' through integrated strategies supporting access to adequate resources, enabling access to affordable, quality services and promoting children's participation in decision-making that affects them; calls on the Commission to take further measures for monitoring the implementation of the recommendation;

83.  Invites the Commission to propose an ambitious and comprehensive successor to the EU Agenda on the Rights of the Child in 2015; calls on the Commission to ensure effective mainstreaming of children’s rights across all the EU’s legislation, policies and financial decisions; calls on the Commission to report annually on the progress made on respect for the rights of children and the full implementation of the EU acquis on children’s rights; calls on the Commission to ensure that the mandate and resources of the children’s rights coordinator adequately reflect the EU’s commitment to systematically and effectively mainstreaming children’s rights; calls on the Commission to adopt the EU guidance on integrated child protection systems that has been announced;

84.  Welcomes the trend towards defining forced marriage as a criminal offence in the Member States; calls on the Member States to be vigilant and to provide training for and raise the awareness of staff who come into contact with children, such as teachers and youth workers, so as to equip them to identify children who are at risk of being abducted to their country of origin in order to be forcibly married;

Rights of LGBTI people

85.  Condemns in the strongest terms all forms of discrimination and violence on EU territory against lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex people (LGBTI), as fostered by laws and policies that restrict the fundamental rights of LGBTI people; calls on the Commission and Member States to adopt laws and policies to combat homophobia and transphobia; calls, in this regard, on the Commission to put forward an action plan or strategy at EU level for equality on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, as repeatedly called for by Parliament and as promised by Commissioner Jourová in the process of the Commission hearings; in this regard, recalls its resolution of 4 February 2014 on the EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity; emphasises, nevertheless, that this comprehensive policy must respect the competences of the European Union, of its agencies and of its Member States;

86.  Considers 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; welcomes the fact that 19 Member States currently offer these options, and calls on other Member States to consider doing so; reiterates, moreover, its call on the Commission to submit a proposal for an ambitious regulation to ensure mutual recognition of civil status documents (including legal gender recognition, marriages and registered partnerships) and their legal effects, in order to reduce discriminatory legal and administrative barriers for citizens who exercise their right to free movement;

87.  Calls on the Member States to be vigilant and firm and to impose penalties on public office holders who insult or stigmatise LGBTI people in a public forum;

88.  Encourages the EU Member States to support trade unions and employers' organisations in their efforts to adopt diversity and non-discrimination policies with a focus on LGBTI people;

89.  Considers that the authorities of the Member States should facilitate procedures enabling people who have changed sex to have their new gender recognised in official documents; reiterates its condemnation of any legal recognition procedure which imposes sterilisation on transgender people;

90.  Deplores the fact that transgender people are still considered mentally ill in the majority of Member States and calls on them to review national mental health catalogues, while ensuring that medically necessary treatment remains available for all trans people;

91.  Welcomes the initiative shown by the Commission in pushing for depathologisation of transgender identities in the review of the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases (ICD); calls on the Commission to intensify efforts to prevent gender variance in childhood from becoming a new ICD diagnosis;

92.  Strongly regrets that genital ‘normalisation’ surgery of intersex infants is widespread, despite not being medically necessary; welcomes, in this regard, the Maltese Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act of April 2015, which bans such surgery on intersex infants and reinforces the principle of self-determination for intersex people, and calls on other states to follow the Maltese example;

Rights of people with disabilities

93.  Deplores the discrimination and exclusion that persons with a disability still face today; calls on the Commission, the Member States and regional and local authorities to implement the European Disability Strategy and to monitor and apply the relevant European legislation; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to relaunch the legislative initiative on an Accessibility Act, in the form of a cross-cutting instrument that can increase the protection afforded to persons with disabilities and ensure consistency between all EU policies in this respect; also calls on the Commission to maximise synergies between the EU disability strategy and the provisions of the CEDAW and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to ensure that recognised rights are substantively enjoyed and effectively exercised, including by harmonising and implementing the legislative framework and through cultural and political action;

94.  Urges the Commission to guide Member States in making the best use of European funds in accordance with the EU's obligations under the UNCRPD Convention and to support and work closely with NGOs and organisations to ensure the proper implementation of the Convention; calls on the EU and Member States to improve access to employment and training for people with disabilities, including people with psycho-social disabilities and to support independent living conditions and de-institutionalisation programmes in line with Article 26 of the Charter;

95.  Stresses the need to respect the right of people with disabilities to political participation in elections; calls, in this regard, on the Commission to include an assessment of compatibility with the UNCRPD in its reporting on the implementation of Council Directives 93/109/EC and 94/80/EC, which set out the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament and municipal elections; regrets the fact that a large number of people with disabilities in the EU who have been deprived of their legal capacity are also deprived of the right to vote; calls therefore on the Member States to amend their national legislation in order not to systematically withdraw the right to vote from people with disabilities who have been deprived of their legal capacity but rather to perform case-by case analyses and to provide assistance to people with disabilities during voting procedures;

96.  Calls on the Commission to assess the compatibility of European legislation with the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to evaluate any future proposal in the light of that convention by means of its impact assessments;

97.  Condemns the use of forms of physical and pharmacological coercion for mental disabilities and calls on the EU and the Member States to adopt social integration policies;

98.  Deplores the fact that people with disabilities still encounter obstacles to their access to the market in goods and services within the Union; considers that these obstacles are of a nature to limit their participation in society and constitute a breach of the rights which they derive, in particular, from their European citizenship; calls on the Commission to make rapid progress with the work on accessibility in the European Union so that a legislative act can be adopted without delay;

99.  Call on the EU institutions and Member States to closely engage people with disabilities, including through their representative organisations, in decision-making processes in their respective fields of competence, in line with Article 4(3) of the CRPD;

100.  Call on the EU Member States and institutions to ensure that opportunities to participate in consultation processes are clearly and widely publicised using accessible communications, that input can be provided in other formats such as braille or Easy Read, and that public hearings and meetings discussing proposed laws and policies should be made accessible;

101.  Call on the Commission to harmonise data collection on disability through EU social surveys in line with the requirements of Article 31 of the CRPD; emphasises that such data collection should use methodologies that are inclusive of all people with disabilities, including those with more severe impairments and those living in institutions;

Age discrimination

102.  Deplores the fact that many older people face discrimination and violations of their fundamental rights every day, in particular in access to adequate income, employment and healthcare and to necessary goods and services; recalls that Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights proclaims the rights of the elderly to lead a life of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life; calls on the Commission to develop a Strategy on Demographic Change to put into effect Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

103.  Expresses concern that maltreatment, neglect and abuse of older people is widespread in the Member States; calls on the Member States to adopt measures to combat abuse and all forms of violence against the elderly and to promote their independence by supporting renovation and accessibility of housing; recalls that elderly women more often live under the poverty line because of the gender pay gap and later the pension gap;

104.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the inclusion of younger workers, particularly those affected by the economic crisis, on the labour market, including through the organisation and provision of training for the social advancement of young people;

105.  Calls for people’s dignity to be respected at the end of life, in particular by ensuring that decisions expressed in living wills are recognised and respected;

106.  Expresses concern that Member States’ cuts in public spending and pensions is contributing greatly to poverty in old age by decreasing older people’s disposable income, worsening their living conditions, creating inequalities in affordability of services and creating a growing number of older people with incomes just above the poverty threshold;

Hate crime and hate speech

107.  Deplores incidents of hate speech and hate crime motivated by racism, xenophobia or religious intolerance or by bias against a person's disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, which occur in the EU on a daily basis; calls on the Member States to protect fundamental rights and to promote understanding, acceptance and tolerance between the different communities in their territory; calls on the EU to make the fight against hate crimes a priority when drawing up European policies against discrimination and in the field of justice; calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the fight against hate crime and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours by developing a comprehensive strategy for fighting hate crime, bias violence and discrimination;

108.  Is concerned at the growing presence of hate speech on the internet and calls on the Member States to put in place a simple procedure enabling members of the public to report the presence of hate content on the internet;

109.  Expresses its concerns regarding investigations and convictions in connection with hate crimes in the Member States; calls on the Member States to take all appropriate measures to encourage the reporting of such crimes, including by ensuring adequate protection, as FRA findings from its large‑scale surveys have consistently shown that victims of crime are reluctant to come forward and report to the police;

110.  Expresses its concern that several Member States have not transposed correctly the provisions of Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA and calls on the Member States to fully transpose and implement EU standards and to ensure the enforcement of national legislation punishing all forms of hate crime, incitement to hatred and harassment, and systematically triggering the prosecution of those criminal offences; calls on the Commission to monitor the correct transposition of the Framework Decision and to launch infringement procedures against those Member States that fail to transpose it; calls, furthermore for a review of the framework decision in order for it to fully cover all forms of hate crime and crimes committed with a bias or discriminatory motive, and to clearly define consistent investigation and prosecution standards;

111.  Calls on the Commission to support training programmes for law enforcement and judicial authorities, and for the relevant EU agencies, in preventing and tackling discriminatory practices and hate crime; calls on the Member States to provide the authorities responsible for investigation and prosecution with practical tools and skills to enable them to identify and deal with the offences covered by the Framework Decision, and to interact and communicate with victims;

112.  Observes with concern the rise of political parties that base their political programmes on exclusion on ethnic, sexual orientation or religious grounds;

113.  Is deeply concerned at the growing trivialisation of racist and xenophobic acts and speech owing to the ever greater visibility in the public sphere of racist and xenophobic groups, some of which have acquired or are seeking the status of political parties;

114.  Expresses its deep concern about the rise of political parties that are using the current economic and social crisis to justify their racist, xenophobic and anti-Islamic message;

115.  Forcefully condemns the intimidation and persecution of minorities, particularly Roma and migrants, by paramilitary groups, some of which are directly linked to a political party; urges the Member States to outlaw and punish such practices;

Homeless people

116.  Expresses its concern at the number of people who have lost their homes as a result of the economic crisis; takes the view that homeless people must be kept integrated within society, and that their isolation and marginalisation need to be combated; to that end, calls on the Member States to adopt ambitious policies to help such people; stresses that homeless people are vulnerable people and reiterates its call on the Member States to refrain from stigmatising them as criminals; calls on the Member States to abolish any law or policy which presents them as such; calls on the Member States to devise national strategies seeking to combat the phenomenon of homelessness on their territories; Calls on the Commission to support the Member States in their missions to combat homelessness by facilitating the exchange of best practice and accurate data collection; calls on the Commission to monitor human rights violations in the Member States that arise as a result of homelessness; stresses that the right to housing assistance for the poorest in society is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

Rights of migrants and applicants for international protection

117.  Condemns the fact that many asylum-seekers and migrants seeking to reach the European Union are continuing to die in the Mediterranean, and the role played by smugglers and traffickers, who deny migrants their fundamental rights; points out that the EU and the Member States should take energetic and compulsory measures to prevent further tragedies at sea; calls on the EU and its Member States to put solidarity and respect for the fundamental rights of migrants and asylum seekers at the core of EU migration policies, and in particular:

   stresses the need to mainstream fundamental rights in every aspect of EU migration policies, and to carry out an in-depth assessment of the impact on migrants’ fundamental rights of all measures and mechanisms concerning migration, asylum and border control; in particular, calls on the Member States to respect the rights of vulnerable migrants;
   underlines the need for a holistic EU approach that will strengthen the coherence of the EU’s internal and external policies; encourages the EU and the Member States to put respect for the rights of migrants at the centre of any bilateral or multilateral cooperation agreement with non-EU countries, including readmission agreements, mobility partnerships and technical cooperation agreements;
   reminds Member States of their international obligation to help people in distress at sea;
   calls on the Member States to amend or review any legislation penalising people assisting migrants in distress at sea;
   underlines the fundamental right to seek asylum; encourages the EU and the Member States to open up and devote sufficient resources to create new safe and legal possibilities and channels for asylum seekers to enter the European Union, so as to reduce the risks inherent in attempting to enter illegally and to combat human trafficking and smuggling networks that profit from endangering the lives of migrants and from their sexual and labour exploitation;
   calls on all the Member States to participate in EU resettlement programmes, and encourages the use of humanitarian visas;
   urges the Member States to guarantee decent reception conditions in compliance with existing fundamental rights and asylum legislation, with special attention paid to vulnerable people and to reducing the risk of social exclusion of asylum seekers; calls on the Commission to monitor the implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), and in particular of Directive 2013/32/EU, with specific attention to asylum seekers in need of special procedural guarantees;
   calls for the establishment of an effective and harmonised EU asylum system for the fair distribution of asylum seekers among Member States;
   deplores the reported incidents of violent push-backs at the EU borders; reminds Member States of their obligation to respect the principle of non-refoulement as recognised by the Geneva Convention and by the ECtHR and of the prohibition of collective expulsions under Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; calls on the Commission, its agencies and the Member States to ensure compliance with these and other international and EU obligations;

118.  Calls on the Union and Member States to adopt the necessary legislation to put into practice the principle of solidarity as referred to in Article 80 TFEU;

119.  Roundly condemns the security protection at the EU’s borders, which now sometimes even takes the form of walls and barbed wire, and the lack of legal routes for entering the European Union, which results in many asylum seekers and migrants being forced to resort to increasingly dangerous methods, placing them at the mercy of people-smugglers and traffickers;

120.  Calls for fundamental-rights-sensitive border controls, and stresses the need for democratic oversight by Parliament of Frontex operations;

121.  Calls for the suspension of all activities identified as being in violation of fundamental rights under EU law or the Frontex mandate;

122.  Stresses the negative impact which the Dublin Regulation has on effective access to international protection in the absence of a genuine common European asylum system, particularly in light of ECJ and ECHR case law; condemns the fact that the revision of the regulation did not lead to its suspension, or at least to the abolition of return to the first country of entry into the EU, and the absence of action by the Commission and the Member States on a possible alternative based on solidarity among Member States;

123.  Calls on the Member States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;

124.  Condemns the indiscriminate recourse to unlawful detention of irregular migrants, including asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and stateless persons; calls on Member States to comply with the provisions of the ‘Return Directive’, including respect for the right to dignity and for the principle of a child’s best interest, and with international and EU law; recalls that the detention of migrants must remain a measure of last resort and urges the Member States to implement alternative measures; condemns the appalling detention conditions in some Member States and urges the Commission to address them without delay; reiterates the need to ensure that irregular migrants are granted the right to an effective remedy in the event of violations of their rights;

125.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to take the necessary measures to provide information and ensure transparency concerning the detention of migrants and asylum seekers in numerous Member States, and urges the Commission to propose a revision of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 so that it will include statistical data on the operation of detention systems and facilities;

126.  Stresses the importance of democratic control of all forms of deprivation of liberty pursuant to the laws on immigration and asylum; calls on Members of the European Parliament and of national parliaments to pay regular visits to reception and detention centres for migrants and asylum seekers, and calls on the Member States and the Commission to facilitate access to these centres for NGOs and reporters;

127.  Calls for closer monitoring of migrant reception and detention centres, of the treatment of migrants and of asylum formalities in the Member States; expresses concern at 'hot return' procedures and at the violent incidents occurring in various 'hotspots' in southern Europe, necessitating the immediate launch by the Commission within this framework of political dialogue with countries engaging in such practices with a view to upholding the rule of law;

128.  Calls on the European Union and its Member States to establish concrete measures and best practices aimed at promoting equality of treatment and social inclusion so as to improve the integration of migrants into society; recalls in this regard that it is essential to fight against negative stereotypes and misinformation about migrants by developing counter-narratives, primarily at school and directed towards young people, to enhance the positive impact of migration;

129.  Considers that migrant children are particularly vulnerable, especially when they are unaccompanied; calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement Parliament’s resolution of 12 September 2013 on the situation of unaccompanied minors in the EU; calls on the Member States to fully implement the CEAS package in order to improve the condition of unaccompanied minors in the EU; welcomes the Court of Justice judgment in Case C-648/11, which stated that the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application made in more than one Member State by an unaccompanied minor is the state in which the minor is present after having lodged an application there; recalls that unaccompanied minors are above all children and that child protection, rather than immigration policies, must be the leading principle for Member States and the EU when dealing with them;

130.  Calls for an evaluation of how funds earmarked and used for home affairs are spent, in particular funds granted for the reception of asylum seekers; calls on the EU to take action should it emerge that funds have been used for activities that do not comply with fundamental rights;

131.  Calls for assistance to be provided to those Member States situated at the external borders of the Union to help them address systematic weaknesses in reception conditions and asylum procedures, which are aggravated by the increase in the number of asylum seekers;

132.  Calls on the EU to hold its own agents liable for any infringements of fundamental rights they might commit; in particular, calls for assurances to be given that an investigation will be opened, following allegations that infringements were committed during operations coordinated by the Frontex agency, and that appropriate measures, of a disciplinary or other nature, will be taken against those who are shown to have committed such infringements; to that end calls for an internal Frontex redress mechanism as requested by the European Ombudsman in his investigation into Case OI/5/2012/BEH-MHZ and for the conclusions of investigations into allegations of human rights infringements to be made public; calls, moreover, for Frontex operations to be halted where infringements of human rights have been committed during such operations, as provided for in Article 3(1)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1168/2011;

133.  Calls on the Member States to ratify without further delay the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings;

134.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that women victims of gender-based persecution have genuine access to international protection; calls on the Member States to follow the Commission guidelines for the implementation of Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification, including the immediate issue of a residence permit valid in its own right to family members who have entered for reasons of family reunification when there are particularly difficult circumstances, such as domestic violence;

135.  Welcomes the fact that EU legislation on asylum treats victims of genital mutilation as vulnerable persons and includes genital mutilation among the criteria to be taken into account when asylum is sought; calls on the Member States to train people working with migrants to screen for women and girls likely to be subjected to genital mutilation in their home country;

136.  Stresses that the right to freedom of movement and residence of European citizens and their families laid down in the Treaties and guaranteed by Directive 2004/38/EC on freedom of movement is one of the most concrete fundamental rights of European citizens; condemns any attempt to review this acquis, in particular the reintroduction of Schengen border controls outside the Schengen border code, and calls for any breach of the rules to result in action before the Court of Justice; expresses its concerns about the growing trend of quick expulsions of EU citizens from their Member States of residence as a result of the loss of their jobs and income in breach of the existing framework; considers that this is contrary to the spirit of freedom of movement;

Solidarity in the economic crisis

137.  Deplores the way in which the financial, economic and sovereign debt crisis, together with the budgetary restrictions imposed, has negatively affected economic, civil, social and cultural rights, often resulting in increasing unemployment, poverty, and precarious working and living conditions, as well as exclusion and isolation, particularly in the Member States in which economic adjustment programmes have been adopted, and underlines that a recent Eurostat note points out that one European in four is now at risk of poverty and exclusion;

138.  Notes that the economic crisis and measures implemented to address it have affected the right to access to basic necessities such as education, housing, healthcare and social security, as well as having a negative impact on the overall health condition of the population in some Member States; stresses the need to respect the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion as stated in Article 30 of the European Social Charter; calls on all Member States to introduce support measures, in accordance with national practices, to provide their citizens with decent living conditions and to combat social exclusion;

139.  Stresses that the EU institutions, as well as Member States which implement structural reforms in their social and economic systems, are always under an obligation to observe the Charter and their international obligations, and are therefore accountable for the decisions taken; reiterates its call to align economic adjustment programmes with the EU objectives set out in Article 151 TFEU, including the promotion of employment and improvement of living and working conditions; reiterates the need to ensure that there is full democratic oversight through the effective involvement of parliaments over the measures taken by the EU institutions and Member States in reaction to the crisis;

140.  Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to look into the impact on fundamental rights of austerity measures, proposed or implemented, in a gender-sensitive manner, taking into account the disproportionate impact of austerity measures on women; calls on the EU institutions to take remedial action immediately where austerity measures have had a negative impact on women’s economic, social and cultural rights;

141.   Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to look into the impact on fundamental rights and freedoms, including social and labour rights, of the measures proposed or implemented to deal with the crisis and to take remedial action if necessary should it emerge that the protection of rights is regressing or that international law, including ILO conventions and recommendations, is being infringed;

142.  Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States, when adopting and implementing corrective measures and budget cuts, to conduct an impact assessment on fundamental rights and to guarantee that sufficient resources are still made available to safeguard respect for fundamental rights and to ensure minimum essential levels of civil economic, cultural and social rights, with special attention to the most vulnerable and socially disadvantaged groups;

143.  Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to recognise that long-term investment in social inclusion is beneficial, as it tackles the high cost of discrimination and inequality; calls on the Member States for appropriate public investment to sustain education and healthcare and ensure that access to justice and redress in cases of discrimination are not put in danger by drastic funding cuts in equality bodies’ budgets; calls on EU and national institutions not to undermine social inclusion by budgetary measures affecting the functioning of community-based organisations working for equality;

144.  Calls on the Commission to consider proposing accession to the European Social Charter, in order effectively to safeguard the social rights of European citizens; calls on the Member States to promote the extension of the social rights in the EU Charter to other social rights mentioned in the revised Social Charter of the Council of Europe such as the right to work, the right to fair remuneration, and the right to be protected from poverty and social exclusion;

Criminality and the fight against corruption

145.  Reiterates that corruption crime, in particular organised crime, represents a serious fundamental rights violation and a threat to democracy and the rule of law; stresses that corruption by diverting public funds from the public use for which they are intended reduces the level and quality of public services, thereby seriously harming the fair treatment of all citizens; urges the Member States and European institutions to devise effective instruments for preventing, combating and sanctioning corruption and crime and to continue regularly to monitor the use made of public funds, be they European or national; to that end, calls on the Member States and the institutions to facilitate the rapid establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, thus providing appropriate guarantees of independence and efficiency;

146.  Stresses that corruption represents a serious fundamental rights violation; calls on the Member States and institutions to devise effective instruments for combating corruption and to regularly monitor the use of public funds, be they European or national; underlines that increased transparency and access to public documents by citizens and journalists is an efficient way to expose and combat corruption;

147.  Urges the European Commission to adopt an anti-corruption strategy that is complemented by effective instruments; calls on all Member States and the EU to join the Open Government Partnership and to devise concrete strategies to promote transparency, empower citizens and fight corruption; calls on the Member States to follow up on the recommendations of the European Commission’s Anti-Corruption Report and on Parliament’s resolution of 23 October 2013 on organised crime, corruption and money laundering: recommendations on action and initiatives to be taken(34), and to strengthen police and judicial cooperation in fighting corruption;

148.  Urges the Member States to step up their fight against all kinds of serious organised crime, including trafficking in human beings, sexual abuse and exploitation, torture and forced labour, in particular involving women and children;

149.  Calls on the Commission to provide for offences to thwart environmental crimes committed by individuals or organised criminal groups which have an impact on the rights of human beings – the right to health, life and the enjoyment of a healthy environment –, as well as on the economy and on the use of public resources; urges the Commission to examine the effective implementation in the EU of the right of access to justice in the context of the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment conducive to his or her health and wellbeing;

150.  Proposes the launching of a European anti-corruption code and a transparent system of indicators regarding corruption levels in the Member States and progress made in eradicating corruption, as well as an annual comparative report on the extent to which this major problem has taken hold at European level;

151.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to put an end to tax competition and effectively combat harmful tax practices, and tax evasion and avoidance in the EU, which harm Member States’ capacity to harness to a maximum their available resources in order fully to realise economic, social and cultural rights;

152.  Condemns the growing phenomenon of human trafficking, especially for sexual exploitation, and calls on the EU and its Member States to take measures, in accordance with the EU directive, to combat the demand for exploitation that is fuelling trafficking in all its forms;

Conditions in prisons and other custodial institutions

153.  Points out that the fundamental rights of prisoners must be guaranteed by the national authorities; deplores the conditions in the prisons and other custodial institutions of numerous Member States including prison overcrowding and ill-treatment of prisoners; regards it as essential that the EU adopt an instrument which guarantees that the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CPT) and the judgments of the ECtHR are implemented;

154.  Recalls that the abuse of custodial measures results in prison overcrowding across Europe which violates the fundamental rights of individuals and compromises the mutual trust necessary to underpin judicial cooperation in Europe; reaffirms the need for Member States to honour the commitments made in international and European fora to making more frequent use of probation measures and sanctions which offer an alternative to imprisonment, and to making social reintegration the ultimate aim of a period of custody; calls on the Member States, therefore, to adopt strategies to promote the training and employment of persons serving terms of imprisonment;

155.  Reiterates the recommendations to the Commission made in its resolution of 27 February 2014 on the review of the European Arrest Warrant(35), notably as regards the introduction of a proportionality test and a fundamental rights exception in the European Arrest Warrant or mutual recognition measures more generally;

156.  Regrets that the three framework decisions covering the transfer of prisoners, probation and alternative sanctions and the European Supervision Order, which have great potential for reducing prison overcrowding, have only been implemented by some Member States;

157.  Calls on the Commission to assess the impact of detention policies and criminal justice systems on children; points out that across the EU children’s rights are directly affected in the case of children living in detention facilities with their parents; underlines the fact that an estimated 800 000 children in the EU are separated from an imprisoned parent each year, which impacts on the rights of children in multiple ways;

Justice

158.  Points out that developing a European area of justice based on mutual recognition and legal safeguards, thus harmonising the different justice systems of the Member States, especially in criminal matters, should remain among the high priorities of the European institutions for the EU Justice Agenda 2020; considers that the effective application of the Charter and the secondary EU legislation on fundamental rights is crucial to the trust of citizens in the proper functioning of the European area of justice;

159.  Points out that the right of access to justice and to an independent and impartial tribunal is vital for the protection of fundamental rights, which are effective only if they are judiciable, for democracy and the rule of law; reiterates the importance of ensuring that both the civil and the criminal justice systems are efficient and that the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed;

160.  Welcomes the European e-Justice portal, which is operated by the Commission and provides professionals and the public with information on justice systems and is a practical tool to improve access to justice, with a separate section on fundamental rights which aims at informing citizens where to turn in cases of violations of their fundamental rights;

161.  Welcomes the steps already taken at European level to harmonise Member States’ safeguards in criminal proceedings and their benefits for citizens; reiterates the importance of adopting EU legislation on procedural rights which complies with the highest standard of protection enshrined in the Charter, international human rights treaties and the constitutional law of the Member States;

162.  Deplores the lack of access to legal aid in many Member States and the fact that this affects the right of access to justice of those who lack sufficient resources; regards it as essential that the EU adopt a strong and comprehensive directive on legal aid;

163.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to provide for measures to support and protect whistleblowers who denounce illegal actions;

Citizenship

164.  Considers that active and participatory EU citizenship should be encouraged through access to documents and information, transparency, good governance and administration, and democratic participation and representation, with decision-making as close as possible to Union citizens; points to the need to enable civil society to participate fully in decision-making at European level, this being guaranteed by Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union, and stresses the importance of the principles of transparency and dialogue; notes that the right of citizens to access documents held by public institutions empowers citizens and allows them to scrutinise and evaluate public authorities and hold them to account; deplores in this context the deadlock in the revision of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 and renews its call on the Commission and Council to resume work, taking Parliament’s proposals into consideration;

165.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that information campaigns are conducted on European citizenship and the rights connected with it: the rights to diplomatic and consular protection, the right of petition, the right to submit complaints to the European Ombudsman, the right to vote and stand in European elections and the right to submit citizens’ initiatives;

166.  Applauds the European Ombudsman for her determination to ensure good administration and transparency in EU institutions and bodies;

167.  Condemns the fact that more than 15 million nationals of non-EU countries and 500 000 stateless persons are being discriminated against on account of the refusal to recognise their citizenship; calls on the EU and its Member States to respect the fundamental right to citizenship and in particular calls on the Member States to ratify, and give full effect to, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1997 European Convention on Nationality;

168.  Points out that informing citizens about their fundamental rights is an integral part of the right to good governance as set out in the Charter; calls on the Member States to pay particular attention to the most needy, to ensure that their rights are explained to them, to support them and to ensure that those rights are respected;

169.  Requests the Commission to take a step forward in consolidating the right to good administration by turning the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour of the EU into a legally binding regulation;

170.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure through their policies that fundamental rights are properly respected, guaranteed, protected and developed further within the EU; calls on the Member States to renew their efforts to recognise the right of petition and the right of recourse to the Ombudsman as a means for citizens to uphold their rights;

171.  Expresses its concern, on the basis of hundreds of petitions received yearly, at the shortcomings in the actual implementation, both in letter and spirit, in Member States of the provisions of EU environmental legislation, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment directives; asks the Commission to undertake closer oversight of the substance of such procedures, particularly when specific cases are the subject of petitions;

172.  Reiterates the importance of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), as a new citizens’ right introduced by the Lisbon Treaty which aims at increasing participatory democracy in the EU; notes the importance of the ECI as a powerful tool providing European citizens with a direct democratic right to contribute to the decision-making process of the EU, in addition to European citizens’ right to submit petitions to the European Parliament (EP) and their right of appeal to the European Ombudsman;

173.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen the role of the European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECIs) by adopting a citizen-friendly approach to tackling all the deficiencies of this instrument in the upcoming revision of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 whilst at the same time improving information campaigns to citizens on the use of the ECI and its power to influence the EU policy-making process;

Victims of crime

174.  Considers the protection of victims of crime a priority; calls on the Member States to properly implement, without delay, the EU Victims’ Directive (2012/29/EU), so as to meet the transposition deadline of 16 November 2015, and on the Commission and the Member States to ensure, in compliance with its Article 28, collection of comparable data on its transposition, in particular on how victims, including victims of crimes committed with a discriminatory motive, have accessed their rights; considers that much remains to be done to support victims of crime, informing them of their rights and ensuring effective referral systems and training for police officers and legal practitioners to establish a relationship of trust and confidence with victims, as shown by FRA research on victim support; welcomes the adoption, in 2013, of a regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters;

175.  Calls on the Commission and the EU Member States to ensure the highest quality of comparable data collection on the transposition of the EU Victims’ Directive (2012/29/EU) and on how victims, including victims of crimes committed with a bias and discriminatory motive, have accessed their rights as required under Article 28 of the Directive;

176.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take account of demographic developments and changes in the size and composition of households when designing their policies; urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure that their social and employment policies do not discriminate on the basis of the size and composition of households;

177.  Points to the legal vacuum as regards citizens’ access to legal redress when Member States have not, or have only belatedly, transposed EU legislation that concerns them directly; stresses the need for coordination of actions at all levels to protect and promote fundamental rights encompassing EU institutions, Member States, regional and local authorities, NGOs and civil society;

178.  Stresses the need to strengthen institutional transparency, democratic accountability and openness in the EU and urges the competent EU institutions and all Member States to:

   step up their efforts with a view to revising without delay Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents in order to ensure maximum transparency and simplified procedures for public access to information and documents; calls on the Commission, in this context, to relaunch the legislative initiative on an Accessibility Act, in the form of a cross-cutting instrument that can increase the protection afforded to persons with disabilities, and ensure cohesion between all EU policies in this respect;
   bring forward a revision of the European Citizens’ Initiative Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 211/2011) during this parliamentary term in order to improve its functioning, incorporating amendments so as to remove any administrative, organisational and financial obstacles as a result of which not all European citizens can properly exercise their democratic influence through the ECI as provided for in the Treaties; urges the Commission also to include in its proposal the necessary provisions to stop certain groups of citizens, such as those who are blind or living abroad, from being prevented from exercising their right to support citizens’ initiatives, as such exclusion limits equality and engagement among citizens;
   bring forward a revision of Directive 93/109/EC laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals, in order to help EU citizens who are resident in a state other than their own to participate in the European elections in their country of residence; calls on the Member States to enable all their citizens to vote in European elections, including those living outside the EU, particularly by means of an information campaign carried out in good time;
   give due consideration to the growing segment of the population that is completely disenfranchised as regards national elections because they can vote neither in their home country nor in their country of residence;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0126.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0105.
(3) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.
(4) OJ C 378, 24.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) Directive 2010/64/EU of 20 October 2010, Directive 2012/13/EU of 22 May 2012, Directive 2013/48/EU of 22 October 2013.
(6) OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 55.
(7) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(8) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(9) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(10) OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(12) OJ L 335, 17.12.2011, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.
(14) OJ L 59, 2.3.2013, p. 5.
(15) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0594.
(16) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0062.
(17) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 101.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0387.
(19) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0173.
(20) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0105.
(21) OJ C 124 E, 25.5.2006, p. 405.
(22) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0070.
(23) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0322.
(24) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0230.
(25) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0031.
(26) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0350.
(27) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0058.
(28) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 1.
(29) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0418.
(30) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0203.
(31) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0315.
(32) ICPD Programme of Action § 7.2 and 7.3.
(33) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0070.
(34) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0444.
(35) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0174.


Commissioner hearings: lessons to be taken from the 2014 process
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on procedures and practices regarding Commissioner hearings, lessons to be taken from the 2014 process (2015/2040(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0287A8-0197/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Article 246 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to its resolution of 1 December 2005 on guidelines for the approval of the Commission(1),

–  having regard to its decision of 20 October 2010 on the revision of the framework agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(2),

–  having regard to its decision of 14 September 2011 on amendment of Rules 106 and 192 of, and Annex XVII to, Parliament’s Rules of Procedure(3),

–  having regard to the code of conduct for European Commissioners, particularly Articles 1.3 to 1.6 thereof,

–  having regard to Rules 52 and 118 of, and Annex XVI to, its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0197/2015),

Whereas:

A.  hearings of Commissioners-designate, first used in 1994, are now a well-established practice which increases the democratic legitimacy of the European Union institutions and brings those institutions closer to European citizens;

B.  the hearings are indispensable in enabling Parliament to make an informed judgement on the Commission when it holds its vote of confidence allowing the Commission to take office;

C.  the hearing process gives Parliament and EU citizens the opportunity to discover and evaluate the candidates’ personalities, qualifications, preparedness and priorities as well as their knowledge of their designated portfolio;

D.  the hearing process increases transparency and enhances the democratic legitimacy of the Commission as a whole;

E.  equality between women and men must be ensured in all areas, including employment; whereas this requirement must be reflected in the composition of the European Commission; whereas despite repeated requests from Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014 the governments proposed a far greater number of male rather than female candidates; whereas the women who were proposed primarily come from Member States with smaller populations and the larger Member States largely ignored this requirement; whereas the only fair solution is to ask each Member State to propose two candidates, one male and one female, so that the President-designate is able to propose a high quality College with an equal number of men and women;

F.  the hearing process, while having demonstrated its effectiveness, can always be improved, in particular by means of more flexible and dynamic exchanges between the Commissioner and members of the committee responsible for the hearing;

G.  the hearing of Commissioner-designate for Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, highlighted the need to adapt Parliament’s procedures in the event that future Commissions have a special status for one or more Vice-Presidents;

H.  Article 3(3) of the TEU states that the Union ‘shall promote [...] equality between women and men’ and Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that ‘equality between women and men must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay’;

1.  Considers that public hearings of Commissioners-designate present an important opportunity for the European Parliament and EU citizens to assess the priorities of each candidate and their professional suitability for the role;

2.  Considers that it would be useful to set a deadline by which all Member States have to put forward their candidates, so as to leave adequate time for the Commission President-elect to allocate the portfolios taking into account the work experience and background of the candidate, and for Parliament to conduct its hearings and evaluations, and asks its President to enter into discussion with the other institutions with a view to achieving this objective;

3.  Considers also that each Member State should henceforth put forward at least two candidates – male and female on a footing of equality – for consideration by the Commission President-elect; considers it important that the Union should also attain within its own institutions the gender equality objectives which it has set;

4.  Considers that checks on declarations of the financial interests of Commissioners designated by the Committee on Legal Affairs should be improved; considers that, to this end, declarations of financial interests should include family interests as provided for by Article 1.6 of the code of conduct for Commissioners; considers that confirmation by the Committee on Legal Affairs of the absence of any conflict of interests, based on a substantive analysis of the declarations of financial interests, constitutes an essential precondition for the holding of the hearing by the committee responsible;

5.  Recalls that it is the committees which are responsible for conducting the hearings; considers, however, that when a vice-president of the Commission has responsibilities which are primarily horizontal, the hearing could exceptionally be carried out in a different format such as a meeting of the Conference of Presidents or a meeting of the Conference of Committee Chairs, provided that such a meeting enables dialogues and includes the respective committees responsible in order to allow them to hear its Commissioner-designate;

6.  Considers that the written questionnaire sent ahead of each hearing should allow for 7 questions instead of 5, but that there should not be several sub-questions under each question;

7.  Considers that it would be better to have around 25 questions, but with each questioner allowed immediate follow-up, so as to enhance the effectiveness and inquisitorial nature of the hearings;

8.  Considers that procedures for monitoring replies by Commissioners-designate during hearings could help improve control and increase the responsibility of the Commission as a whole; calls therefore for a periodic review of the priorities referred to by Commissioners-designate following the start of their term of office;

9.  Considers that the following guidelines should apply for the coordinators’ evaluation meeting after the hearings:

   if the coordinators unanimously approve the candidate – letter of approval;
   if the coordinators unanimously reject the candidate – letter of rejection;
   if coordinators representing a clear majority approve the candidate – letter stating that a large majority approve (minorities may request that it be mentioned that their group does not share the majority view);
   if there is no clear majority, or there is a majority (but not a consensus) against the candidate, and if the coordinators consider it necessary:
   first request additional information through further written questions;
   if still dissatisfied – request for a further 1,5-hour hearing, with the approval of the Conference of Presidents;
   if there is still no consensus or overwhelming majority among the coordinators – vote in committee;
   a clear majority in this context should be coordinators who together represent at least two-thirds of the committee membership;

10.  Notes that the 2014 hearings generated more media and public interest than previous hearings, partly because of the evolution of social media; believes that the impact and influence of social media is likely to grow in the future; considers that provision should be made to use social media and networks to include EU citizens more effectively in the hearing process;

11.  Considers that:

   there should be a specific section of Parliament’s website where the CVs of the Commissioners-designate and responses to written questions are made available, in advance of the public hearings, in all the official languages of the Union;
   there should be a specific and visible place on Parliament’s website where the evaluations are placed within 24 hours;
   the rule should be changed to refer to 24 hours after the evaluation, given that some evaluations are completed only following further procedures;

12.  Considers that horizontal issues affecting the composition, structure and working methods of the Commission as a whole, which cannot be adequately addressed by an individual Commissioner-designate, are a matter for the Commission President-elect; considers that such issues should be addressed at meetings between the President-elect and the Conference of Presidents (one before the hearing process has started and one after it has ended);

13.  Considers that the scrutiny of Commissioners’ declarations of interests should remain the competence of the Committee on Legal Affairs; considers, however, that the current scope of Commissioners’ declarations of interests is too limited, and invites the Commission to revise its rules on this as soon as possible; considers it important, therefore, that the Committee on Legal Affairs should, in the coming months, issue guidelines in the form of a recommendation or initiative report, with a view to facilitating reform of the procedures relating to Commissioners’ declarations of interests; considers that the declarations of interests and financial interests of the Commissioners should also cover family members living with them in the same household;

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

(1) OJ C 285 E, 22.11.2006, p. 137.
(2) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 98.
(3) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 152.


Human rights and technology in third countries
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on ‘Human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries’ (2014/2232(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0288A8-0178/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular Article 19 thereof,

–  having regard to the European Union’s Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy, adopted by the Council on 25 June 2012(1),

–  having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, adopted by the Council (Foreign Affairs) on 12 May 2014(2),

–  having regard to the ‘ICT Sector Guide on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’, published by the Commission in June 2013,

–  having regard to the report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) of 15 December 2011 entitled ‘Freedom of Expression on the Internet’(3) and to the regular report of the OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of the Media to the OSCE Permanent Council of 27 November 2014(4),

–  having regard to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, 23 September 2014 (A/69/397)(5),

–  having regard to the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 30 June 2014 entitled ‘The right to privacy in the digital age’(6),

–  having regard to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur of 17 April 2013 on the right to freedom of expression and opinion (A/HRC/23/40), analysing the implications of states’ surveillance of communications on the exercise of the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 26 January 2015 on ‘Mass surveillance’(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2014 on the United States National Security Agency surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens’ fundamental rights and on transatlantic cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs(8),

–  having regard to the report by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, of 21 March 2011, entitled ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework’(9),

–  having regard to the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises(10) and the 2014 annual report on the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises(11),

–  having regard to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Annual Report 2013(12),

–  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 12 February 2014 entitled ‘Internet Policy and Governance: Europe’s role in shaping the future of Internet Governance’(13),

–  having regard to the NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement adopted on 24 April 2014(14),

–  having regard to the Chair’s summary of the ninth Internet Governance Forum held in Istanbul on 2-5 September 2014,

–  having regard to the European Union restrictive measures in force, some of which include embargoes on telecommunications equipment, information and communication technologies (ICTs) and monitoring tools,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 599/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items(15),

–  having regard to the Joint Statement by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the review of the dual-use export control system of 16 April 2014(16),

–  having regard to the decisions of the 19th Plenary Meeting of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, held in Vienna on 3-4 December 2013,

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 April 2014 entitled ‘The review of export control policy: ensuring security and competitiveness in a changing world’(17),

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 21 November 2014 on the review of export control policy,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of press and media in the world(19),

–  having regard to its resolutions on urgent cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, where they raise concerns regarding digital freedoms,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the EU’s priorities for the UN Human Rights Council in 2015(20),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 2015 on the renewal of the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum(21),

–  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(22),

–  having regard to Edward Snowden’s written statement to the LIBE Committee of March 2014(23),

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and the ongoing negotiations on the EU’s accession to the Convention,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0178/2015),

A.  whereas technological developments and access to the open internet are playing an increasingly important role in enabling and ensuring the fulfilment and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, exerting a positive effect by expanding the scope of freedom of expression, access to information, the right to privacy and freedom of assembly and association across the world;

B.  whereas technological systems can be misused as tools for human rights violations through censorship, surveillance, unauthorised access to devices, jamming, interception, and the tracing and tracking of information and individuals;

C.  whereas this is done by public and private actors, including governments and law enforcement bodies as well as criminal organisations and terrorist networks, to violate human rights;

D.  whereas the context in which ICTs are designed and used determines, to a great extent, the impact they can have as a force to advance – or violate – human rights; whereas information technology, especially software, is rarely single-use and usually dual-use as far as the potential to violate human rights is concerned, while software is also a form of speech;

E.  whereas ICTs have been key instruments helping people organise social movements and protests in various countries, especially in countries with authoritative regimes;

F.  whereas the assessment of the implications for human rights of the context in which technologies will be used is determined by the strength of national and regional legal frameworks to regulate the use of technologies and the ability of political and judicial institutions to oversee such use;

G.  whereas, in the digital domain, private actors play an increasingly significant role in all spheres of social activities, but safeguards are still not in place to prevent them from imposing excessive restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms; whereas, as a result, private actors play a more active role in assessing the legality of content and in developing cyber-security systems and surveillance systems, which can have a detrimental impact on human rights all over the world;

H.  whereas the internet represents a revolution in terms of the possibilities it offers for exchanging data, information and knowledge of all kinds;

I.  whereas encryption is an important method that helps to secure communications and the people using them;

J.  whereas internet governance has benefitted from a multi-stakeholder decision-making model, a process ensuring meaningful, inclusive and accountable participation of all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, technical and academic communities, the private sector and users;

K.  whereas intelligence agencies have systematically undermined cryptographic protocols and products in order to be able to intercept communications and data; whereas the US National Security Agency (NSA) has collected vast numbers of so called ‘zero-day exploits’, that is, IT security vulnerabilities that are not yet known to the public or the product vendor; whereas such activities undermine global efforts to improve IT security;

L.  whereas EU-based intelligence services have engaged in activities that harm human rights;

M.  whereas in the light of the rapid technological developments that are taking place, judicial and democratic oversight and safeguards are largely underdeveloped;

N.  whereas (cyber-)security and counter-terrorism measures involving ICTs, and the monitoring of the internet, can have a significant detrimental effect on the human rights and individual freedoms of people all over the world, including EU citizens when residing or travelling abroad, and especially in the absence of a legal basis that rests on the precepts of necessity, proportionality, and democratic and judicial oversight;

O.  whereas internet filters and communication surveillance undermine the ability of human rights defenders to take advantage of the internet and to communicate sensitive information, and are in breach of several articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guaranteeing each person’s right to privacy and to freedom of expression;

P.  whereas digital security and digital freedom are both essential and cannot replace one another, but should reinforce one another;

Q.  whereas, when it comes to digital freedoms, the European Union can only lead by example when these freedoms are safeguarded in the EU itself; and whereas adopting the EU data protection package is therefore crucial;

R.  whereas what is at stake are far-reaching social interests – such as the protection of fundamental rights – that should not be determined by the market alone, and that need regulation;

S.  whereas respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law, and effective parliamentary oversight of intelligence services using digital surveillance technology, are important elements of international cooperation;

T.  whereas EU-based companies have an important share of the global market in ICTs, in particular when it comes to exporting surveillance, tracking, intrusion and monitoring technology;

U.  whereas the introduction of export controls should not harm legitimate research into IT security issues, or the development of IT security tools, where there is no criminal intent;

1.  Recognises that human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal and need to be defended globally in every dimension of their expression; stresses that the surveillance of communications, as such, interferes with the rights to privacy and expression, if conducted outside an adequate legal framework;

2.  Calls on the Commission to ensure coherence between the EU’s external actions and its internal policies related to ICTs;

3.  Believes that the active complicity of certain EU Member States in the NSA’s mass surveillance of citizens and spying on political leaders, as revealed by Edward Snowden, has caused serious damage to the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy and has undermined global trust in the benefits of ICTs;

4.  Reminds the Member States and the EU agencies concerned, including Europol and Eurojust, of their obligations under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in keeping with international human rights law and with the EU’s external policy objectives, not to share intelligence data that may lead to human rights violations in a third country, nor to use information obtained by means of human rights violations, such as unlawful surveillance, outside the EU;

5.  Stresses that the impact of technologies on the improvement of human rights should be mainstreamed in all EU policies and programmes, if applicable, to advance the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, and peaceful conflict resolution;

6.  Calls for the active development and dissemination of technologies that help protect human rights and facilitate people´s digital rights and freedoms as well as their security, and that promote best practices and appropriate legislative frameworks, while guaranteeing the security and integrity of personal data; urges, in particular, the EU and its Member States to promote the global use and development of open standards, and of free and open-source software and cryptographic technologies;

7.  Calls on the EU to increase its support for actors who work on strengthening security and privacy protection standards in ICTs at all levels, including hardware, software and communication standards, as well as on developing the hardware and software in privacy-by-design frameworks;

8.  Calls for a human rights and technology fund to be established under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights;

9.  Urges the EU itself, and in particular the EEAS, to use encryption in its communications with human rights defenders, to avoid putting defenders at risk and to protect its own communications with outsiders from surveillance;

10.  Calls on the EU to adopt free and open-source software, and to encourage other actors to do so, as such software provides for better security and for greater respect for human rights;

11.  Draws attention to the importance of developing ICTs in conflict areas to promote peacebuilding activities with a view to providing secure communication between parties involved in peaceful resolution of conflicts;

12.  Calls for the implementation of conditions, benchmarks and reporting procedures so as to ensure that EU financial and technical support to the development of new technologies in third countries is not used in ways that infringe on human rights;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to engage actively with third country governments, and to further support, train and empower human rights defenders, civil society activists and independent journalists using ICTs in their activities in a safe manner, by means of the existing European support mechanisms and policy instruments, and to promote related fundamental rights of privacy, such as unrestricted access to information on the internet, the right to privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of the press and publication online;

14.  Draws attention to the plight of whistleblowers and their supporters, including journalists, following their revelations of abusive surveillance practices in third countries; believes that such individuals should be considered human rights defenders and that, as such, they deserve the EU’s protection, as required under the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders; reiterates its call on the Commission and the Member States to examine thoroughly the possibility of granting whistleblowers international protection from prosecution;

15.  Deplores the fact that security measures, including counterterrorism measures, are increasingly used as pretexts for violations of the right to privacy and for clamping down on the legitimate activities of human rights defenders, journalists and political activists; reiterates its strong belief that national security can never be a justification for untargeted, secret or mass surveillance programmes; insists that such measures be pursued strictly in line with the rule of law and human rights standards, including the right to privacy and data protection;

16.  Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to promote the democratic oversight of security and intelligence services in its political dialogue with third countries, as well as in its development cooperation programmes; urges the Commission to support civil society organisations and legislative bodies in third countries that seek to enhance the scrutiny, transparency and accountability of domestic security services; calls for specific commitments thereon to be included in the future EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democratisation;

17.  Urges the Council and the Commission to promote digital freedoms and unrestricted access to the internet in all forms of contact with third countries, including in accession negotiations, trade negotiations, human rights dialogues and diplomatic contacts;

18.  Recognises that the internet has become a public space as well as a marketplace, for which the free flow of information and access to ICTs are indispensable; stresses, therefore, that digital freedom and free trade must be promoted and protected simultaneously;

19.  Calls for the inclusion of clauses in all agreements with third countries that refer explicitly to the need to promote, guarantee and respect digital freedoms, net neutrality, uncensored and unrestricted access to the internet, privacy rights and the protection of data;

20.  Urges the EU to counter the criminalisation of human rights defenders’ use of encryption, censorship-bypassing and privacy tools, by refusing to limit the use of encryption within the EU, and to challenge third-country governments that level such charges against human rights defenders;

21.  Urges the EU to counter the criminalisation of the use of encryption, anti-censorship and privacy tools by refusing to limit the use of encryption within the EU, and by challenging third-country governments that criminalise such tools;

22.  Stresses that an effective EU development and human rights policy will require the mainstreaming of ICTs, and the bridging of the digital divide, by providing basic technological infrastructure, by facilitating access to knowledge and information to promote digital skills, and by promoting the use of open standards in documents and the use of free and open-source software, where appropriate, to ensure openness and transparency (especially by public institutions) – including the safeguarding of data protection in the digital realm all over the world – as well as a better understanding of the potential risks and benefits of ICTs;

23.  Calls on the Commission to support the elimination of digital barriers for people with disabilities; considers it extremely important that EU policies on the development of and promotion of human rights in the world should aim at mitigating the digital divide for people with disabilities, and to provide a broader framework of rights, particularly as regards access to knowledge, digital participation and inclusion in the new economic and social opportunities created by the internet;

24.  Underlines that the lawful digital collection and dissemination of evidence of human rights violations can contribute to the global fight against impunity and terrorism; considers that such material should be admissible, in duly justified cases under international (criminal) law, as evidence in court proceedings, in line with international, regional and constitutional safeguards; recommends that mechanisms be created in the field of international criminal law for the introduction of procedures through which such data is authenticated and collected for use as proof in court proceedings;

25.  Deplores the fact that some EU-made information and communication technologies and services are sold, and can be used, in third countries by private individuals, businesses and authorities with the specific intent of violating human rights by means of censorship, mass surveillance, jamming, interception and monitoring, and by tracing and tracking citizens and their activities on (mobile) telephone networks and the internet; is concerned about the fact that some EU-based companies may provide technologies and services that can enable such human rights violations;

26.  Notes that threats to the security of the European Union and its Member States, and to third countries, often come from individuals or small groups using digital communication networks to plan and carry out attacks, and that the tools and tactics required to defeat such threats need to be reviewed and updated constantly;

27.  Considers mass surveillance that is not justified by a heightened risk of terrorist attacks and threats to be in violation of the principles of necessity and proportionality, and, therefore, a violation of human rights;

28.  Urges the Member States to promote full democratic scrutiny of the operations of intelligence services in third countries, to verify that these services operate in full respect of the rule of law, and to hold to account those services and individuals operating in unlawful ways;

29.  Encourages the Member States, in the light of the increased cooperation and information exchange between Member States and third countries (including through the use of digital surveillance), to ensure democratic scrutiny of these services, and of their activities, through appropriate internal, executive, judicial and independent parliamentary oversight;

30.  Stresses that corporate social responsibility principles and human rights by design criteria, which are technological solutions and innovations protecting human rights, should be adopted in EU law to ensure that internet service providers (ISPs), software developers, hardware producers, social networking services/media, mobile phone carriers and others consider the human rights of end users globally;

31.  Urges the EU to ensure greater transparency in the relationship between mobile phone carriers or ISPs and governments, and to call for it in its relations with third countries, by demanding that carriers and ISPs publish yearly detailed transparency reports, including reports on requested actions by authorities, as well as on financial ties between public authorities and carriers/ISPs;

32.  Reminds corporate actors of their responsibility to respect human rights throughout their global operations, regardless of where their users are located and independently of whether the host state meets its own human rights obligations; calls on ICT companies, notably those based in the EU, to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including through the establishment of due diligence policies and risk management safeguards, and the provision of effective remedies when their activities have caused or contributed to an adverse human rights impact;

33.  Stresses the need to implement and monitor EU regulations and sanctions relating to ICTs more effectively, including the use of catch-all mechanisms, so as to ensure that all parties, including the Member States, comply with legislation and that a level playing field is preserved;

34.  Stresses the fact that respect for fundamental rights is an essential element in successful counter-terrorism policies, including the use of digital surveillance technologies;

35.  Welcomes the December 2013 Wassenaar Arrangement decision on export controls in the areas of surveillance, law enforcement and intelligence-gathering tools and network surveillance systems; recalls the still very incomplete nature of the EU dual-use regime, namely the EU dual-use regulation, when it comes to the effective and systematic export control of harmful ICT technologies to non-democratic countries;

36.  Urges the Commission, in the context of the forthcoming dual-use policy review and renewal, swiftly to put forward a proposal for smart and effective policies to limit and regulate the commercial export of services regarding the implementation and use of so-called dual-use technologies, addressing potentially harmful exports of ICT products and services to third countries, as agreed in the Joint Statement of the European Parliament, Council and Commission of April 2014; calls on the Commission to include effective safeguards to prevent any harm of these export controls to research, including scientific and IT security research;

37.  Stresses that the Commission should swiftly be able to provide companies that are in doubt as to whether to apply for an export licence with accurate and up-to-date information on the legality or potentially harmful effects of potential transactions;

38.  Calls on the Commission to submit proposals for a review of how EU standards on ICTs could be used to prevent the potentially harmful impacts of the export of such technologies or other services to third countries where concepts such as ‘lawful interception’ cannot be considered equivalent to those of the European Union, or, for example, that have a poor record on human rights or where the rule of law does not exist;

39.  Reaffirms that EU standards, particularly the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, should prevail in assessments of incidents involving dual-use technologies used in ways that may restrict human rights;

40.  Calls for the development of policies to regulate the sales of zero-day exploits and vulnerabilities to avoid their being used for cyber-attacks, or for unauthorised access to devices leading to human rights violations, without such regulations having a meaningful impact on academic and otherwise bona fide security research;

41.  Deplores the active co-operation of certain European companies, as well as of international companies trading in dual-use technologies with potential detrimental effects on human rights while operating in the EU, with regimes whose actions violate human rights;

42.  Urges the Commission publicly to exclude companies engaging in such activities from EU procurement procedures, from research and development funding and from any other financial support;

43.  Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to human rights aspects in the public procurement processes for technological equipment, especially in countries with unreliable practises in this domain;

44.  Calls on the Commission and Council actively to defend the open internet, multi-stakeholder decision-making procedures, net neutrality, digital freedoms and data protection safeguards in third countries through internet governance fora;

45.  Condemns the weakening and undermining of encryption protocols and products, particularly by intelligence services seeking to intercept encrypted communications;

46.  Warns against the privatisation of law enforcement through internet companies and ISPs;

47.  Calls for a clarification of the norms and standards used by private actors to develop their systems;

48.  Recalls the importance of assessing the context within which technologies are used, in order to fully appreciate their human rights impact;

49.  Calls explicitly for the promotion of tools enabling the anonymous and/or pseudonymous use of the internet, and challenges the one-sided view that such tools serve only to allow criminal activities, and not to empower human rights activists beyond and within the EU;

50.  Urges the Council, the Commission and the EEAS to develop smart and effective policies to regulate the export of dual-use technologies, addressing potentially harmful exports of ICT products and services, at international level and within multilateral export control regimes and other international bodies;

51.  Stresses that any regulatory changes aimed at increasing the effectiveness of export controls of intangible technology transfers must not inhibit legitimate research, or access to and exchange of information, and that any potential measures, such as the use of EU General Export Authorisations for dual-use research, should not have a ‘chilling effect’ on individuals or SMEs;

52.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that existing and future export control policies do not restrict the activities of legitimate security researchers, and that export controls are applied in good faith, and only to clearly defined technologies intended to be used for mass surveillance, censorship, jamming, interception or monitoring purposes, or for tracing and tracking citizens and their activities on (mobile) telephone networks;

53.  Recalls that mesh-based, ad hoc wireless technologies offer great potential in providing backup networks in areas where the internet is unavailable or blocked, and can help the advancement of human rights;

54.  Calls on the Commission to appoint an independent group of experts that can perform a human rights impact assessment on existing EU standards for ICTs, with the goal of making recommendations for adjustments that will increase the protection of human rights, particularly when systems are exported;

55.  Recognises that technological development poses a challenge to legal systems, requiring them to adjust to new circumstances; underlines the importance of law makers paying more attention to issues pertaining to the digital economy;

56.  Calls on the Commission to involve civil society as well as independent experts, including security researchers, in the ICT field in third countries, to ensure up-to-date expertise that should result in future-proof policy making;

57.  Underlines the need to avoid unintended consequences, such as restrictions or chilling effects on scientific and other types of bona fide research and development, on the exchange of and access to information, on the development of security knowledge or on the export of technologies that are in the interest of acquiring the requisite digital skills and of advancing human rights;

58.  Believes that cooperation between governments and private actors worldwide in the digital domain, including the Internet Governance Forum, calls for clear checks and balances and must not lead to the undermining of democratic and judicial oversight;

59.  Notes that a voluntary approach is not enough, and that binding measures are required to encourage companies to take into account a country’s human rights record before selling their products there, and to carry out an assessment of the effect their technologies will have on human rights defenders and government critics;

60.  Is of the opinion that the export of highly sensitive goods must be checked before they leave the EU, and that penalties are necessary in the event of violations;

61.  Calls for each individual to be entitled to encryption, and for the conditions needed to allow encryption to be created; takes the view that controls should be a matter for the end user, who will need the skills required to carry out such controls properly;

62.  Calls for the introduction of ‘end to end’ encryption standards as a matter of course for all communication services, so as to make it more difficult for governments, intelligence agencies and surveillance bodies to read content;

63.  Emphasises the special responsibility of government intelligence services to build trust, and calls for an end to mass surveillance; considers that the monitoring of European citizens through domestic and foreign intelligence services must be addressed and stopped;

64.  Is opposed to the sale and distribution of European surveillance technology and censorship tools to authoritarian regimes under which the rule of law does not exist;

65.  Calls for the scope for international protection of whistleblowers to be extended, and encourages the Member States to table laws to protect whistleblowers;

66.  Calls for a UN envoy for digital liberties and data protection to be appointed, and for the brief of the EU Commissioner for Human Rights to be extended, such that technology is also considered from a human-rights angle;

67.  Calls for measures to ensure that the privacy of activists, journalists and citizens is protected everywhere in the world and that they are able to network via the internet;

68.  Insists that internet access should be recognised as a human right, and calls for measures to eliminate the digital divide;

69.  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, and the EEAS.

(1) http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/un_geneva/press_corner/focus/events/2012/20120625_en.htm
(2) http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/documents/eu_human_rights_guidelines_on_freedom_of_expression_online_and_offline_en.pdf.
(3) http://www.osce.org/fom/80723?download=true
(4) http://www.osce.org/fom/127656?download=true
(5) http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N14/545/19/PDF/N1454519.pdf?OpenElement
(6) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session27/Documents/A-HRC-27-37_en.doc
(7) http://website-pace.net/documents/19838/1085720/20150126-MassSurveillance-EN.pdf/df5aae25-6cfe-450a-92a6-e903af10b7a2
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0230.
(9) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf?v=1392752313000/_/jcr:system/jcr:versionstorage/12/52/13/125213a0-e4bc-4a15-bb96-9930bb8fb6a1/1.3/jcr:frozennode
(10) http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/48004323.pdf
(11) http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/2014091e.pdf?expires=1423160236&id=id&accname=ocid194994&checksum=D1FC664FBCEA28FC856AE63932715B3C
(12) https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/annual-report-2013-en.pdf
(13) COM(2014)0072.
(14) http://netmundial.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NETmundial-Multistakeholder-Document.pdf
(15) OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, p. 79.
(16) OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, p. 82.
(17) COM(2014)0244.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.
(19) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274.
(20) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0079.
(21) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0033.
(22) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0076.
(23) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201403/20140307ATT80674/20140307ATT80674EN.pdf


Protecting the EU's financial interests: towards performance-based controls of the CAP
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on protecting the European Union’s financial interests: towards performance-based controls of the Common Agricultural Policy (2014/2234(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0289A8-0240/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Opinion No 1/2012 of the European Court of Auditors on certain proposals for regulations relating to the common agricultural policy for the period 2014-2020,

–  having regard to Opinion No 2/2004 of the European Court of Auditors on the single audit model,

–  having regard to Special Report No 16/2013 of the European Court of Auditors, entitled ‘Taking stock of ‘single audit’ and the Commission’s reliance on the work of national audit authorities in cohesion’,

–  having regard to the 2013 annual activity report of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0240/2015),

A.  whereas over the two rounds of common agricultural policy (CAP) reforms the rules have become more diverse and complex;

B.  whereas more complex rules lead to more errors on the ground;

C.  whereas the objectives of the CAP have to be fulfilled, while mutual understanding and trust between all the EU institutions and national and regional bodies must be ensured for the effective implementation of the CAP;

D.  whereas a more effective and efficient CAP reform requires simplification and less bureaucracy in order to meet the CAP’s objectives;

E.  whereas the cost of controls and of providing advice to stakeholders and farmers is currently estimated at EUR 4 billion annually at Member State level, and is likely to rise, as could error rates, with the implementation of the latest CAP reform, in particular the introduction of ‘greening’ measures;

F.  whereas the 2013 reform has resulted in significant changes in the data required from farmers to accompany applications and justify claims, with new requirements which risk bringing about a higher error rate in the initial learning and adaptation phase;

G.  whereas it is important that operators are not burdened with a disproportionate number of inspections;

H.  whereas the objectives of the CAP have to be fulfilled, while the mutual understanding and trust between all EU institutions, national and regional bodies have to be ensured for the effective implementation of the CAP;

I.  whereas farmers are incentivised to provide services such as landscapes, farmland biodiversity and climate stability even though they have no market value;

J.  whereas the cost of controls and providing advice to stakeholders and farmers may be currently estimated at EUR 4 billion at Member State level; emphasises the need to minimise the cost of controls and their bureaucratic burden;

K.  whereas performance-based controls may become a useful methodology, while stability and an enabling approach are needed on the part of administrative bodies in order to build trust with final beneficiaries; recalls however that a one-size-fits-all system cannot be imposed on the diverse types and scale of agricultural holdings in the EU;

L.  whereas greening measures introduced by the last reform of the common agricultural policy aim to achieve improved agricultural sustainability through the effect of various instruments:

   simplified and more targeted cross-compliance;
   the Green Direct Payment and voluntary measures that are beneficial for the environment and climate change in rural development;

M.  whereas the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development(1) judged it was necessary to issue 51 reservations for some paying agencies;

1.  Shares the opinion expressed by the European Court of Auditors that ‘the arrangements for the common agricultural policy spending for the period 2014-2020 continue to be complex’(2); recalls nonetheless that the complexity of the CAP is due to the diversity of farming in Europe, and that simplification must not result in a dismantling of the instruments that have been adopted;

2.  Calls for a less bureaucratic CAP with a view to reducing the error rate and for instruments to be established which will make it possible to distinguish between error and fraud;

3.  Calls for a distinction to be drawn, when use is made of the findings of checks and as regards the possible imposition of penalties, between unintentional omissions and cases of fraud, as omissions do not as a rule cause any financial damage to the taxpayer;

4.  Calls for a less bureaucratic CAP that can be implemented and interpreted clearly, with a view to reducing the error rate and to establishing instruments that will make it possible to distinguish between error and fraud, while ensuring that farmers are still able to deliver the vital food production which is at the heart of the policy; believes that continuing to tackle complexity and that streamlining the CAP is one of the key elements for attracting new entrants to agriculture and also for retaining them and their skills so as to ensure a thriving EU agricultural sector in the future; expects strong measures from the better regulation programme in this respect; welcomes the Commission’s decision to extend the deadline for direct payment requests by one month and considers it a step towards reducing the CAP error rate;

5.  Urges that clearer guidance be given to both national authorities and farmers in order to reduce the error rate;

6.  Supports the Commission’s initiative of simplifying the CAP with immediate examination of measures which can be implemented quickly, as this would benefit farmers, paying agencies, EU institutions and taxpayers; urges also that at the mid-term review, proposals for amendments to the basic legislative act be brought forward for consideration for the reform for the next funding period;

7.  Fears that the most likely error rate determined by the Court of Auditors will increase in the common agricultural policy direct payments area during the period 2014-2020, owing in particular to the fact that the next framework for cross-compliance does not yet correspond to a reduction in the level of needless complexity of this policy for the managing authorities or for the beneficiaries;

8.  Recalls that Parliament and the Court of Auditors have often stressed the necessity of striking the right balance between less administrative burden and effective financial control;

9.  Notes that the costs of the common agricultural policy controls already amount to EUR 4 billion a year and that they concern 50 million transactions with a budget for agriculture of around EUR 58 billion;

10.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is giving priority to a new CAP simplification exercise and that it is proposing, firstly, to simplify a number of delegated and implementing acts;

11.  Favours strongly an improvement in the quality and consistency of inspections rather than an increase in the number of controls in agriculture by the Member States, the Commission and the Court of Auditors;

12.  Emphasises also that controls are a guarantee that money from the EU budget earmarked for the funding of CAP instruments is being properly spent;

13.  Recalls that the objective of the single audit scheme is to put in place a single chain of audits from the final beneficiaries to the European Union institutions;

14.  Finds regrettable that the single audit scheme is not yet effective and that control systems set up by the Member States do not function to their full potential; reminds the Member States of their responsibility to provide the effective first level of controls while minimising the burden on farmers, and of the existing options for introducing flexibility when organising controls;

15.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States, as a guideline, to find ways to optimise and combine CAP-related inspections so that chosen beneficiaries would, whenever possible, be subjected to only one round of controls annually;

16.  Stresses that according to the annual report of the European Court of Auditors for the financial year 2013:

   (a) the most likely error in the direct payments area would have been 1,1 % lower, and thus relatively close to the materiality threshold of 2 %, if national authorities had used the information available to them to prevent, detect and correct those errors at least partially(3);
   (b) the most likely error rate would have been reduced to 2 % in rural development if the national authorities had used all the information available to them to prevent, detect and correct errors(4);

17.  Deplores the fact that the Commission had to correct upwards the error rates communicated by 42 out of 68 paying agencies with a residual error rate above 2 %, despite the fact that almost all the paying agencies for the direct payments were accredited and certified by the certifying authorities and despite the fact that 79 of the 82 statements of assurance made by the paying agencies received an unqualified opinion from the certification bodies in 2013;

18.  Expects that the new mission assigned to the certification bodies by Regulations (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 and (EU) No 1306/2013 will improve the reliability of the data communicated by the Member States as regards their management of the EU agricultural funds;

19.  Calls on the Commission to amend the guidelines for certification bodies in order to verify more closely the compilation of statistical reports;

20.  Reiterates its demand to the Commission to draft proposals with a view to sanctioning false or incorrect reporting by paying agencies, including the three following dimensions, namely inspection statistics, statements by the paying agencies, and the work carried out by the certification bodies; asks that the Commission be empowered to withdraw the accreditation of the paying agencies in cases of grave misrepresentations;

21.  Expects the Commission to urgently make full use of the process of simplification of the CAP, especially with regard to the burdensome and complex regulations governing cross-compliance and greening which ultimately impacts upon farmers across Europe;

22.  Supports the Commission’s initiative of simplifying the CAP through the immediate consideration of measures which can be implemented quickly, as this would benefit farmers, paying agencies, EU institutions and taxpayers; urges also that proposals for amendments to the basic legislative act be brought forward; calls on the Commission to come forward with concrete proposals for simplifying the CAP, taking into consideration the feedback from stakeholders in the agricultural sector;

23.  Advocates the reinforcement and stronger implementation of the single audit through the coordination of the control activities carried out by the various institutions, and calls for the administrative burden arising from audits to be lightened so that farmers are not subjected to different visits on separate occasions by the bodies responsible or to excessive or multiple controls by the Commission and the Court of Auditors in the same year, under any and all regulations, which would thus reduce the burden on farmers by decreasing the number of inspections; calls for the bundling of the audit tasks and controls carried out by certifying bodies and other Member State bodies; notes that the advice given by both national authorities and the Commission in guidelines to farmers for implementing the CAP is often contradicted by the assessment criteria used by the Court of Auditors, resulting in fines that are both disproportionate and unexpected;

24.  Favours an integrated approach to controls, whereby all the controls required on a given farm are carried out at the same time wherever possible, so that the number of onsite visits is kept low and the concomitant financial and time cost and burden for administrations and farmers can be reduced and the control process streamlined;

25.  Reminds the Commission that the risk of unintentional errors owing to complex regulation is in the end borne by the beneficiary; calls for a reasonable, proportional and effective policy on sanctions to support this approach, such as avoiding double sanctioning for the same error under both the payment scheme and cross-compliance;

26.  Believes that, in order to ensure smooth project implementation, payments should not be interrupted when minor and/or clerical errors are identified;

27.  Requests that the Commission, the Member States and the Court of Auditors further develop risk-based audit strategies factoring in all relevant data, including prior identification of the best/worst performers per policy area;

28.  Emphasises that criteria should be developed in order to define which Member States are identified as best/worst performers;

29.  Recalls that a large spectrum of Member States can be considered as ‘worst performing’ as regards EU funds management, depending on the policy area concerned;

30.  Insists that the definition of performance in respect of controls should be based on a checklist and primarily entail the quality of the Member States’ checks and administrative systems, i.e. the efficiency, consistency and reliability of the managing and certifying authorities;

31.  Considers that the best performing Member States in each policy area should be rewarded by a reduction in Union controls;

32.  Believes that the development and administration of performance-based controls should in no way become a source of increased uncertainty as regards the security of the EU’s food supply;

33.  Calls the best performing Member States to share their experience with the worst performing Member States;

34.  Requests that the Commission encourage the exchange of best practices, so as to ensure the smoothest possible controls and the least possible disturbance to farmers;

35.  Notes that, in accordance with Article 59(5) of Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy, ‘Member States shall ensure a minimum level of on-the-spot checks needed for an effective management of the risks, and shall increase that minimum level where necessary. Member States may reduce that minimum level where the management and control systems function properly and the error rates remain at an acceptable level’;

36.  Asks the Commission to further define the acceptable level referred to in Article 59(5) of Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 and to initiate a dialogue with Parliament and the European Court of Auditors in this regard;

37.  Encourages the Member States to develop further e-government initiatives aimed at reducing the error rate by preventing mistakes in the application phase as a mid- to long-term objective; calls upon the Commission and the Member States to respect the target date, as provided for in Article 122(3) of the Common Provision Regulation, to switch to e-cohesion in project application, management and control; believes that full data transparency and accessibility are essential to prevent and combat any abuse; calls in this connection on the Commission to make mandatory the publication of documentation provided by all beneficiaries;

38.  Believes that complete fast broadband coverage of rural areas, with significant awareness‑raising and training in its use, will be an essential tool in enabling all farmers to benefit from the newest CAP application and claims systems;

39.  Calls for further efforts to reduce the complexity of application systems and forms for farmers, and favours the increased use of e-government technology by the Member States in order to forestall errors in the application process, which will require broadband internet access for beneficiaries; encourages the Commission to create a programme to help educate older farmers; stresses the robust investments in broadband networks in rural areas and calls on the Member States to strive towards the digitisation of the application process; recalls that the reliable implementation of e-government technologies requires the Member States to develop, finance or co-finance such technology;

40.  Calls on the Member States to implement digitisation programmes as regards the relationship between government and agricultural holdings, with a view to obtaining a ‘single farm file’ involving the integrated and synchronous management of crop data; takes the view that such a simplification would aggregate items that are currently managed separately (crop plans, individual insurance plans and logbooks), as farms would make a single declaration that would then be shared between government departments, which would lead to greater efficiency in checks by those departments and thus to a reduced risk of payment errors and to the streamlining of controls;

41.  Calls on Member States to ensure that the governmental/regional bodies dealing with the new CAP implementation communicate and work together effectively to the benefit of farmers implementing the policy on the ground;

42.  Considers the long-term potential benefits of developing and adopting industrial internet -based solutions in both farming and controls, especially as regards integrated solutions for beneficiaries and paying agencies, to be numerous; expects this to impact positively on the consistency, reliability and cost-efficiency of controls; urges the Commission to adopt and execute pilot projects in this field; recalls that this approach is dependent on Member State commitment to delivering fast broadband connections to rural areas throughout the EU;

43.  Invites the Commission to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, including, but not limited to, the Court of Auditors, the Member States and the beneficiaries’ organisations, in preparing a long-term strategy that would seek to address non-policy related ways of keeping the burden on beneficiaries and inspectors from increasing further following future CAP reforms and changes to the basic acts;

44.  Asks the Commission to respect the principle of controllability already in force in rural development when drafting, in accordance with Article 46 of Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013, a proposal for a legislative act relating to the Ecological Focus Area;

45.  Asks the Commission to address the issue of the reduction of the minimum level of controls foreseen in Article 59 of Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 in the evaluation report foreseen in Article 110 of this same regulation on monitoring and evaluation of the CAP;

46.  Asks the Commission to draft a communication on the possibility of introducing performance-based management systems in all areas of the CAP, especially in the investment part of rural development, in order to initiate a debate with all the stakeholders with a view to introducing this principle in EU legislation;

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

(1) 2013 Annual Activity Report Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development.
(2) Opinion No 1/2012 of the European Court of Auditors on certain proposals for regulations relating to the common agricultural policy for the period 2014-2020.
(3) See 2013 ECA annual report, point 3.8.
(4) See 2013 ECA annual report, point 4.8.


Family businesses in Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on family businesses in Europe (2014/2210(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0290A8-0223/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the criteria set by the Commission in 2003 for defining small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),

–  having regard to the Commission’s ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan’ (COM(2012)0795),

–  having regard to the 2009 Report of the Group of Experts for the European Commission ‘Overview of family-business-relevant issues: research, policy measures and existing studies’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2013 on improving access to finance for SMEs(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on reindustrialising Europe to promote competitiveness and sustainability(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Think Small First’: A ‘Small Business Act for Europe’ (COM(2008)0394),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0223/2015),

A.  whereas property is protected under Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

B.  whereas family businesses in general have in the past made a large contribution to a surge in the European economy and play a significant role in economic growth and social development, in reducing unemployment, particularly among young people, and in investment in human capital; whereas the multi-generational character of family businesses reinforces the stability of the economy; whereas family businesses usually play a vital role in regional development, in terms of employment, transmission of know-how and regional organisation; whereas family-business-targeted policies could encourage entrepreneurship and motivate European families to start their own family businesses;

C.  whereas, according to the Ernst and Young Family Business Yearbook 2014, 85 % of all European companies are family businesses and these account for 60 % of jobs in the private sector;

D.  whereas family businesses are of various sizes, which exposes them to different difficulties and problems;

E.  whereas, while most family businesses are SMEs, family businesses can be small, medium-sized or large, listed or unlisted; whereas they have been widely equated to SMEs, neglecting the fact that there are also very large multinational corporations that are family businesses; whereas in some EU Member States a few family businesses account for a large share of the total turnover of all businesses and thus make a significant contribution to job retention, including in times of crisis, to creation and growth and to the economic success of the country concerned; whereas many family businesses that no longer meet the definition of SMEs, but are also far from being major corporations, are ineligible for specific funding opportunities and some administrative exemptions; whereas this inevitably leads to unnecessary red tape, which is a great burden, especially for these mid-cap family businesses;

F.  whereas a considerable number of family businesses are active in more than one country, meaning that the family business model has a transnational dimension;

G.  whereas, direct taxation and succession law are Member State competences, and whereas some Member States have adopted measures to support family businesses and address their concerns;

H.  whereas family businesses are perceived as exhibiting high integrity and values that guide their business operations, and introduce high standards of corporate social responsibility towards their employees and the environment, which also creates a favourable environment for work-life balance; whereas family businesses usually guarantee that knowledge and skills will be passed on and in some cases play an important role in social links;

I.  whereas in agriculture family farms are the most common business model and make a major contribution to the prevention of rural depopulation, and in many cases provide the only source of employment in the regions of Europe where development is lagging behind, particularly in less industrialised regions; whereas family farms can offer a template for success because in general they put the principle of the environmentally and socially sustainable circular-flow economy into practice, and because in that context women as leaders contribute not only entrepreneurial thinking, but also specific communication and social skills;

J.  whereas the Commission’s group of experts on family businesses completed its work more than five years ago, and no new European initiative has been launched since then at EU level; whereas there is still a lack of research and data at national and European level to understand the special needs and structures of family businesses;

K.  whereas there is no legally binding, concrete, simple and harmonised Europe-wide definition of ‘family business’;

L.  whereas it is impossible, owing to the lack of a definition, to gather comparable data in the EU Member States in order to draw attention to the special situation, needs and economic accomplishment of family businesses; whereas this lack of reliable and comparable data can hinder policy decision-making and may mean that the needs of family businesses are not being met;

M.  whereas family businesses, beyond their economic significance, also play an important role in social terms;

N.  whereas not all 28 EU Member States have interest group associations or other structures that specifically cater for the needs of family businesses;

O.  whereas EU-level efforts in stimulating entrepreneurship and start-ups should be enhanced and complemented with greater consideration for facilitating and stimulating the long-term survival of family businesses;

P.  whereas the family business model is unevenly spread across the Member States; whereas a significant share of family businesses in Europe have a transnational dimension and carry out their activities in different Member States;

Q.  whereas in the EU women earn, on average, 16 % less per hour than men and there is a dearth of women in high‑level and leadership positions, and whereas the labour practices and wage systems applied to men are not the same as those applied to women, making it more difficult for the latter to be financially independent, participate fully in the job market and achieve a work‑life balance;

R.  whereas women often play an invisible role, or act as figureheads, and do not have their job or salary status appropriately recognised, which has serious repercussions in terms of social security contributions, pensions and welfare entitlements and also in terms of recognition of their skills, as demonstrated by the data on the gender pay gap and pension gap(3);

Importance for the economy

1.  Emphasises that family businesses tend to demonstrate a high degree of social responsibility towards their staff and manage resources actively and responsibly, and that they generally take a sustainable and long-term approach to the economic future of the business (by acting as ‘honourable merchant’, responsible owner or steward) and thus make an important contribution both to their local communities and to Europe’s competitiveness, and create and maintain high-quality jobs;

2.  Stresses that, because of their history, family businesses are strongly rooted in a particular location and thus also create and maintain jobs in rural and less-favoured areas, contributing to the fight against the process of ageing and depopulation by which many areas in the EU are affected; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to provide the necessary cost-efficient infrastructure in order to ensure the competitiveness, renewal, growth and sustainability of such businesses, in particular micro-entities and start-ups, and to facilitate cross-sectoral and cross-border collaboration, thus helping them to grow and internationalise;

3.  Recognises that family businesses are the single biggest source of employment in the private sector and that therefore what is beneficial to continuity, renewal and growth in the family business sector is conducive to continuity, renewal and growth in the European economy;

4.  Notes that highly specialised family businesses in particular play an important role as suppliers to, and innovators for, larger companies and that, given their long-term and intergenerational approach to business, they provide the companies they supply with material security and thereby make a significant contribution to economic growth;

5.  Reminds the Commission of the fact that the majority of family businesses are SMEs(4) and that applying the ʽthink small firstʼ principle is therefore essential in order to better adapt EU legislation to the realities and needs of these businesses, and to enable them to benefit from funding programmes and a reduction in red tape;

6.  Notes that family businesses can play an important role in encouraging minorities and under-represented groups to participate in their local economies;

7.  Points out that the higher level of trust between family members makes family businesses very flexible and able to adapt quickly to changes in the eco-social environment; at the same time, operating in niche markets for long periods of time enables family businesses to excel in identifying new opportunities and innovation;

Funding

8.  Notes that family businesses often have a significantly higher equity ratio than non-family businesses and that this high equity ratio results in the economic stability of such businesses and of the economy as a whole, while at the same time providing scope for further investment in the business, which should not therefore be restricted;

9.  Calls on the Member States, with this in mind, to ensure that national rules on the taxation of inheritance and gifts, on debt and equity and on corporate taxation support, rather than discriminate against, equity financing, which is so vital for family businesses; recalls that direct taxation and succession law are Member State competences; calls on the Member States, therefore, to examine the debt bias within their tax codes by assessing its impact on the financing structure of companies and the level of investment, and to ensure equal treatment of equity financing as compared to debt financing in order not to impede the succession of ownership and the long-term prospects of family businesses; calls on the Commission and the Member States to examine any tax-driven discrimination vis-à-vis equity financing against the background of fair competition;

10.  Stresses that ensuring the long-term security of corporate funding has become a key competitive factor; emphasises, in this connection, the importance of internationally stable financial market structures; calls on the Commission to ensure that it does not create any unnecessary burdens for businesses as part of financial market regulation;

11.  Calls on the Commission to consider extending the beneficiaries of all existing instruments for SMEs and/or entrepreneurs, particularly COSME, to mid-cap family businesses;

12.  Underscores that because of the financial crisis and the adverse economic cycle many of the functions of family businesses are underfinanced and that it is important for family business to have open and easy access to alternative sources of financing;

13.  Notes in this context the importance of promoting alternative forms of lending to family businesses, such as credit unions;

Challenges

14.  Notes that 35 % of those companies that do not invest in foreign markets fail to do so because of their lack of knowledge of those markets and lack of experience with internationalisation; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to provide smaller family businesses in particular with information about opportunities for internationalisation via the SME Internationalisation portal and the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) and ensure that they have access to a better exchange of experience and best practice, including possibilities of internationalisation via the internet; calls on the Member States, furthermore, to provide support services for businesses that intend to invest internationally, for example by providing them with information or export credit guarantees, removing trade barriers and promoting specific education for an entrepreneurship and business family culture;

15.  Notes that increased internationalisation of family businesses provides more opportunities for economic growth and increased job creation; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to provide smaller family businesses with assistance to enable them to make better use of the digital infrastructure;

16.  Recognises that the fiscal, legal and administrative environment in which family businesses (and owner-managed businesses) operate is defined by the combined effect of corporate legislation and private law;

17.  Notes that 87 % of family businesses are convinced that maintaining control of the business is one of the key factors of success(5); notes that, according to the Commission’s ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan’(6), the transfer of business ownership, together with the transfer of management from one generation to the next, is the greatest possible challenge facing family businesses;

18.  Notes that small and medium family businesses are continuously challenged by a need for innovation and for attracting the right skills and talent; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to provide smaller family businesses with incentives to take risks for growth and incentives to implement staff training and to access external knowledge;

19.  Calls on the Member States to simplify administrative procedures and taxation systems, taking particular account of the specific challenges of small and medium-sized enterprises and family businesses;

20.  Urges the Commission and Member States to take action to develop digital entrepreneurship and digital skills in order for family businesses to take full advantage of digital technologies;

21.  Calls on the Member States, therefore, to improve the legal framework for the transfer of family businesses and create special financing instruments for transfers and thus prevent liquidity shortages so as to ensure the survival of family businesses and prevent distress sales; calls on the Commission and Member States to promote family-business‑specific education in business transfers, governance structures, owner strategies and innovation strategy, in particular in countries where, for historical reasons, the family business concept is not as well established, which would contribute to their long-term success, especially in terms of business transfer;

22.  Underscores the need for family businesses to have a direct link with educational activities that keep them constantly informed of state-of-the-art practices of good business management; stresses in this regard that family businesses make a vital contribution to the success of vocational training reforms and to increasing the number of apprenticeships; notes that, in the long term, well-functioning vocational-training systems could be instrumental in combating the skilled-worker shortage and youth unemployment; points out that the Commission and the Member States should foster an exchange of best practice with regard to how vocational training systems could provide the best possible environment for family businesses to invest in apprenticeships;

23.  Notes the need to address other challenges that family businesses face, such as difficulties in finding and retaining a skilled workforce, and the importance of strengthening entrepreneurship education and family-business-specific management training;

24.  Highlights the importance of the EU-funded training schemes for small business entrepreneurs, which allow family business owners to adapt their companies to a fast-changing environment driven by increasing global economic integration, the appearance of new technologies and a focus on a low-carbon and greener economy;

25.  Notes that promoting entrepreneurship in schools and other educational settings is of key importance to developing more entrepreneurial mindsets; notes further that education should include specific family-business issues such as ownership, succession and family governance, together with more general information such as the importance of innovation as a means of reinventing businesses;

26.  Urges the Member States to take into account the formal and informal occasional and invisible work carried out by family members, including in family businesses, and encourages Member States to provide a clear legal framework;

27.  Stresses that family businesses’ contribution to innovation could be enhanced by promoting their participation in private-public partnerships and clusters and by fostering their collaboration with research institutions;

Outlook

28.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of better regulation, to undertake an analysis of existing legislation which impacts on family businesses in order to identify problems and barriers to growth;

29.  Calls on the Commission to commission regular and adequately financed studies that analyse the importance of ownership for the success and survival of a business and highlight the specific challenges facing family businesses, and to propose to the European Parliament and the Member States a statistically workable Europe-wide definition of ‘family business’ – developed together with Eurostat –, taking into account the different circumstances in the Member States; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to use the existing "task force small and medium-sized enterprise data" to collect enough data, including on family businesses in all the Member States, to allow a comparison of the situation and needs of family businesses of different sizes, as well as a comparison of family businesses and non-family businesses, to promote information and exchanges of examples of know-how and good practice throughout the EU, for example by establishing a family business contact point at the Commission and by making the best use of programmes such as "Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, and to allow for more targeted assistance;

30.  Calls on the Commission to conduct an impact assessment of the extent to which a broadening of the European SME definition from 2003 would be possible, to include, in addition to purely quantitative criteria, qualitative criteria that also take into account ownership of a company, bearing in mind the interdependence of ownership, control and management, the fact that risk and liability are borne solely by the family itself, the social responsibility of a company and, generally, the personal aspect of running a business, also in relation to the participation of employees in the management of business activities, and the consequences this could have for family businesses, for example with regard to state aid and the eligibility of such businesses;

31.  Calls on the Commission in the meantime, as part of its regulatory impact assessment, to carry out a feasibility study of a ‘family business test’ (for policies concerning, for example, property, governance structures or privacy) modelled on the SME test, and to introduce it as soon as possible, should the study prove its feasibility, in order to be able to determine the effect of certain legal acts on family businesses in advance and thereby avoid unnecessary red tape and burdensome hurdles for family businesses, focusing particularly on the combined effects of company law and private law;

32.  Observes that disparities in, for example, tax legislation, subsidy schemes or the implementation of European legislation in neighbouring countries can cause problems in the border region for entrepreneurs, for example those with family businesses; calls on Member States, therefore, to review proposed national legislation and the proposed method of implementation of European legislation to ascertain the impact on entrepreneurs, such as those with family businesses, in border regions;

33.  Calls on the Commission to set up, and define the remit of, an internal permanent working group that specifically addresses the needs and characteristics of family businesses, regularly reports to Parliament and the Member States, encourages exchanges of best practices between Member States’ family business organisations and disseminates guidelines and standard texts and solutions for family businesses on overcoming their specific problems; calls also on the Commission to create a one-stop shop for businesses which can act as a contact at European level for family businesses and family business interest groups and to assist in specific issues relating in particular to European legislation and access to EU funding;

34.  Highlights the entrepreneurial role of women in family businesses; calls on the Commission to launch a study on the presence of women in family businesses in Europe and to evaluate the opportunities offered by family businesses for empowerment of women, equal opportunities and work-life balance; stresses the need to protect women’s right to succession in family businesses, on a par with men, by promoting a culture of equal rights for men and women which fosters female entrepreneurship in family businesses, including in leadership positions; emphasises also that family businesses should comply with the legal provisions relating to social insurance, pension contributions and safe working conditions standards;

35.  Reminds the Member States and local and regional authorities once again of the importance of there being sufficient provision of high‑quality and affordable care services for children, the elderly and other dependent persons, of tax incentives for companies and of other compensation to help women and men working as employees, on their own account or as managers in family businesses to balance their family and work commitments;

36.  Stresses the need for separate and duly remunerated periods of maternity, paternity and parental leave which meet the needs of employees, the self‑employed and business employers;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors and the European Network of Mentors for Women Entrepreneurs in order to raise their profile;

38.  Notes that, because land is owned, family farms are rooted in a particular location; calls therefore on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the survival of family farms is not jeopardised by, in particular, excessive red tape; draws attention to the important role which women play in running family farms, and calls on the Member States to support business training aimed specifically at women farmers, in order to strengthen women’s involvement in family farming even further;

39.  Calls on the Commission to strive to strengthen entrepreneurship throughout the EU, keeping in mind the importance of the family businesses in the EU economy, and to create an environment for business excellence;

40.  Calls on the Commission to draw up a communication as a matter of urgency analysing the role of family businesses with a view to boosting the competitiveness and growth of the EU economy by 2020, and to produce a road map listing the measures likely to strengthen the economic environment and development of family businesses in the EU and raise awareness on the family-business-specific challenges to be addressed and to improve their competitiveness, international outlook and job creation potential;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0036.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0032.
(3) http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/gender_pay_gap/140319_gpg_en.pdf
(4) Final report of the European Commission's expert group "OVERVIEW OF FAMILY–BUSINESS–RELEVANT ISSUES", November 2009.
(5) European Family Business Barometer, June 2014.
(6) COM(2012)0795.


Research and innovation in the blue economy to create jobs and growth
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on untapping the potential of research and innovation in the blue economy to create jobs and growth (2014/2240(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0291A8-0214/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 May 2014 entitled ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’ (COM(2014)0254),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/89/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 October 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union’ (COM(2010)0546),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 October 2007 on ‘An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union’ (COM(2007)0575),

–  having regard to the Limassol Declaration of 8 October 2012 on a marine and maritime agenda for growth and jobs,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 September 2012 entitled ‘Blue Growth opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth’ (COM(2012)0494),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 May 2013 on an ‘Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic area. Delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2013)0279),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 29 August 2012 entitled ‘Marine Knowledge 2020 from seabed mapping to ocean forecasting’ (COM(2012)0473),

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 July 2013 on Blue Growth: enhancing sustainable growth in the EU’s marine, maritime transport and tourism sectors(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on marine knowledge 2020: ‘Seabed mapping for promoting sustainable fisheries’(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 February 2014 on specific actions in the Common Fisheries Policy for developing the role of women(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) and repealing Decision No 1982/2006/EC(6),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1292/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 amending Regulation (EC) No 294/2008 establishing the European Institute of Innovation and Technology(7),

–  having regard to Decision No 1312/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT): the contribution of the EIT to a more innovative Europe(8),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee, delivered on 15 October 2014, on ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’(9),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions, delivered on 3 December 2014, on ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’(10),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 February 2014 on ‘A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism’ (COM(2014)0086),

–  having regard to the Competitiveness Council conclusions of 4 December 2014 entitled ‘Strengthening tourism by leveraging Europe’s cultural, natural and maritime heritage’,

–  having regard to the final declaration adopted at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June 2012,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0214/2015),

A.  whereas the concept of the blue economy covers a wide range of economic sectors linked to the seas and oceans, spanning traditional or established and emerging sectors including fisheries, aquaculture, (seagoing) shipping and inland waterway transport, ports and logistics, tourism, pleasure sailing and cruising, shipbuilding and ship-repairing, maritime works and protection of the coastline, prospecting for, and exploitation of, offshore mineral resources, exploitation of offshore wind and marine energy, and biotechnology;

B.  whereas the development of the blue economy should focus on sustainable economic activities that meet the needs of current and future generations and generate prosperity for society;

C.  whereas the development of the blue economy needs firmly embedded scientific knowledge, this being the starting point for research and innovation, and whereas the scientific and technological fields related to the blue economy are widely diverse;

D.  whereas the protection and safeguarding of natural marine environments are fundamental to maintain, support and develop the blue economy and, furthermore, viable marine ecosystems are a precondition for exploiting the resources of the seas and oceans; whereas innovation and sustainability should be the key pillars of the blue economy to generate growth and jobs;

E.  whereas there is a serious lack of data, information and knowledge about the seas and oceans, their resources and biodiversity, and the ways in which these interact with human activities, and the environmental and cumulative impacts of the latter activities – whether taking place or still to be developed – and whereas inadequate knowledge on those points severely inhibits sustainable use of the resources concerned, poses an obstacle to innovation and restricts the full potential of the seas and oceans, in the context of an increasing world population whereby our seas and oceans will be increasingly used for food, space, energy and minerals and thus need a more systematic approach for their sustainable use;

F.  whereas marine ecosystems are fragile biodiversity hotspots that are sensitive to human activities, and it is becoming increasingly important to obtain and share accurate information on the location and extent of habitat types to facilitate the sound management, development and protection of sensitive areas;

G.  whereas barriers to success in innovation in the blue economy lie not just in the scientific knowledge gap, which universities, businesses and research institutions are seeking to address through cutting-edge research, but also lie significantly in barriers to funding from both public and private resources;

H.  whereas the potential for exploiting marine resources to develop sustainable renewable energy resources could significantly contribute to the EU’s energy security strategy by reducing Member States’ reliance on non-EU sources of energy;

I.  whereas sustainably developing the blue economy could greatly boost growth and economic development, as well as job creation, especially for coastal regions, outermost regions and island countries, whilst taking into account the specific and diverse needs and differences of each geographical area;

J.  whereas increased investment in research and innovation associated with the seas and oceans may be a useful tool to support the goals of economic, social and territorial cohesion, tackling the asymmetries and growing differences between Member States, as well as strengthening the global position of the EU in the field of maritime policy and blue economy (for example through export of environmental technology), having regard to the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and family businesses to innovation and jobs;

K.  whereas different adequate levels of competence are to be considered in blue economy activities, namely international, European and Member State levels; whereas the sectoral priorities for the development of the blue economy may differ from Member State to Member State, depending, on the one hand, on the respective development record of traditional or established sectors and, on the other hand, on existing resources and the development potential of emerging sectors in each Member State;

L.  whereas taking advantage of innovation opportunities in the blue economy requires a skilled, educated and adequately trained workforce; whereas there is currently a skills gap that must be tackled;

M.  whereas the fact of exploiting the potential of the blue economy must not serve as a pretext for subjecting the seas and oceans to forms of unsustainable exploitation of resources and growth models which have already shown themselves to be unsustainable, and whereas marine and ocean resources must be exploited strictly in accordance with the need for their sound management and conservation, without altering marine ecosystem balances and by restoring degraded ones, for example by using innovative methods to address marine pollution, especially the increasing volumes of plastic waste, plastiglomerate and disintegrating plastic micro particles, and recycling the waste without depleting resources;

N.  whereas numerous coastal and marine environmental management tools are supported by seabed mapping, including planning monitoring surveys by identifying areas likely to support a particular habitat of interest, or providing information to assist in locating and planning offshore projects, such as pier and marina development, coastal protection works, offshore wind farms and land reclamation, in an environmentally sustainable way;

O.  whereas, in accordance with Article 190 of the Lisbon Treaty and the Rio+20 declaration, the precautionary principle and the ecosystem-based approach should be at the core of the management of any activities having an impact on the marine environment;

P.  whereas the EU has been producing a set of programmes and guidelines providing a framework for blue economy-related activities and innovation; whereas that framework should be judged according to its practical usefulness in supporting the efforts of Member States and regional and local authorities to develop the blue economy;

Q.  whereas support for, and the development of, a new, sustainable blue economy must be included in EU development policy, foreign policy and the policy of the Union for the Mediterranean and the African countries bordering the Mediterranean, the East African island states in the Indian Ocean and the island states party to the ACP Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) must be seen as partners in the effort to establish a sustainable blue economy;

R.  whereas coastal and island communities and local and regional authorities are indispensable stakeholders in the debate on the potential of the blue economy and the manner of realising it;

S.  whereas coastal areas have specific characteristics which set them apart and determine their opportunities for development in the medium and long term;

T.  whereas European oceans and seas are very diverse, varying from the depths of the Atlantic off Ireland to the depths of the Black Sea off Romania and from the cold seas in the Arctic to the warm waters of the Mediterranean;

U.  whereas tourism accounts for 5 % of the EU’s GDP, 12 million jobs and 2,2 million enterprises; whereas cultural tourism accounts for almost 40 % of pan-European tourism; whereas sea and coastal tourism accounts for one third of all tourist activities in Europe, employing 3,2 million workers;

V.  whereas it is currently estimated that between 3 and 5 % of the EU’s GDP comes from the overall maritime sector, which employs around 5,6 million people and generates EUR 495 billion for the European economy;

W.  whereas it is currently believed that the number of molecules in the sea is considerably greater than the number of molecules on land, and that they offer incredible potential for research in the fields of healthcare, cosmetics and biotechnology;

X.  whereas the integrated maritime policy acts as a strong lever for blue economy activities, especially when it comes to finding an integrated response to all the challenges now facing Europe’s seas;

Y.  whereas under the previous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), fisheries development groups proved to be very useful as tools for creating employment and wealth and social and territorial cohesion, as well as in taking decisions and playing an active role in their own development;

1.  Takes note of the Commission communication entitled ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’; points out that the communication is of limited scope and does not cover all sectors making up the blue economy; calls on the Commission to adopt an integrated and more comprehensive approach encompassing the challenges of innovation and job creation over the whole varied range of interacting sectors;

2.  Maintains that the blue economy should be defined in specific and embracing terms covering all sectoral and inter-sectoral activities connected with oceans, seas, coastal ecosystems, the connected hinterland and coastal areas, including forms of direct and indirect support; draws attention to the cross-cutting importance of innovation for all these activities, be they traditional or emerging;

3.  Advocates the need for strategic planning of activities in the blue economy, direct methods of funding, targeting of priorities and an action plan in order to boost this sector by 2020, including specific ideas on cooperation mechanisms and investment in infrastructure;

4.  Urges the Member States to carry out an analysis and quantification of the extent of their existent blue economy activities and calls for the development of a strategy which should bring together initiatives on all maritime-related sectors; calls on the Commission to carry out a census of the numerous projects that it has financed in the past that were relevant to the blue economy and to launch a comprehensive study on the importance and weight of the blue economy;

5.  Underlines that seas and oceans are already under considerable anthropic pressure and are suffering the related consequences (pollution, environment and climate change, overexploitation of resources, overfishing, etc.), but that seas and oceans still retain important ecosystem reserves that are inaccessible and thus intact; believes that the blue economy should therefore consider protecting, restoring and maintaining seas’ and oceans’ ecosystems, biodiversity, resilience and productivity, including the services associated with marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; believes that the precautionary principle and the ecosystem approach should be at the core of the blue economy;

6.  Stresses the important role of new technology in counteracting the degradation of marine ecosystems and stresses the links between the blue economy and the green economy, especially with regard to innovative methods to clean up the seas, including recycling of environmentally-damaging plastic in a cost-effective manner;

7.   Points out that a better understanding of the seas and oceans, including the seabed and sea life, along with environmental impact assessments, will make it possible to exploit marine resources sustainably, improving the scientific foundations on which the EU’s various maritime policies are based;

8.  Calls on the Commission, in close coordination with Member States (following the completion of the abovementioned scientific analysis and census), to gauge the financing needs of the blue economy (at sectoral, regional, national and European level) with a view to realising its sustainable growth, development and job-creating potential, with a particular focus on regions which are highly dependent on fishing and taking particular account of start-ups, SMEs and family businesses;

9.  Stresses that the sustainable development of the blue economy requires greater investment in knowledge and research; deplores the short- and long-term impact that cuts in public R&D investment are having on national research programmes; takes the view that, in order to improve understanding of the marine environment and its economic potential, the EU and the Member States must provide substantial funding under arrangements making for continuity and predictability over the long term, while not jeopardising the financing of already existing and running programmes;

10.  Urges the Commission to encourage the compilation of periodic, up-to-date scientific data on the state of marine populations both within and outside of EU waters in collaboration with other international organisations; reiterates the multi-disciplinary nature of marine and maritime research and stresses the importance of supporting a cross-cutting endeavour which affects the various sectors and disciplines of marine and maritime research;

11.  Urges that clear-cut objectives and time frames be laid down with a view to making data – whether relating to the sea floor or to the water column and living resources – transparent, more accessible and fully interoperable and harmonised; calls for information about seas and oceans to be supplied to the public, with a view to fostering innovation, while ensuring that funds are not wasted and projects are not duplicated; believes that investing in data acquisition projects will also contribute to productivity and increased innovation;

12.  Calls for the findings of publicly funded research to be placed in the public domain for non-commercial uses (safeguarding data of strategic importance to Member States) and for that principle to be binding on partners in EU research programmes; calls for the provision of open access to the data supporting the results of said research; calls for an EU initiative to encourage private companies in the maritime sector to share economically insensitive data for research purposes and urges the Commission to set up the Horizon 2020 research information platform as quickly as possible;

13.  Calls for the European Marine Data and Observation Network (EMODnet) project to explicitly include the survey of data relating to cumulative impacts, marine litter, marine noise and dissolvable endocrine disruptors in its human impact section;

14.  Rejects the cuts in the budget for the Horizon 2020 research framework programme proposed by the Commission;

15.  Urges the Commission to bring regular assessment to bear on the implementation of the Horizon 2020 programme in fields related to the blue economy and to publicise the findings; supports the establishment of a specific partnership for the maritime industry under the framework of Horizon 2020 and calls for it to be included in the work programme of Horizon 2020 for 2016-2017; considers that more efforts should be made to improve the link between research and industry in the development of new products and processes, growth and jobs;

16.  Points out that the Member States and regional authorities have a key role to play in developing the blue economy and urges the Commission to support and encourage all forms of cooperation between Member States and regional authorities (addressing current shortcomings in this domain), for example joint programming initiatives, while also involving maritime clusters, the fisheries sector and local communities; stresses the role of macro-regional strategies as a way of addressing shared challenges and exploiting joint opportunities (e.g. the Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region) and calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue to build on successful regional research projects (e.g. BONUS);

17.  Calls for cooperation and partnerships between Member States to contribute to targeting more effectively the funding available through EU and national instruments; stresses that, when targeting priorities, the direct impact of funding on, and direct input to, the blue economy should be taken into account;

18.  Underlines the interest of Member States in expanding cooperation with Southern Mediterranean countries and invites Member States to consider the blue economy as an additional field of cooperation; encourages forms of cooperation with non-EU countries (e.g. Union for the Mediterranean, Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation) and calls on the Commission to include support for the development of a sustainable blue economy as an objective of EU development policy;

19.  Calls on the Commission to establish favourable regulatory and legal conditions for investing in renewable energy in the blue economy, and to bring forward a clear and stable framework of support for research, businesses and government that will allow for increased investment in innovative projects to develop renewable energy;

20.  Emphasises that the European oceans and seas are very diverse and that it is therefore essential that the Commission does not adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; draws attention to the need to promote an integrated approach to different sectors of the blue economy, based on common principles such as sustainability, recognising and respecting the specificities and needs of the different regions and the priorities of the different Member States, and supporting them in developing these priorities;

21.  Calls on the Commission and its agencies to support Member States in the formulation and implementation of national and regional strategies for the development of the maritime economy;

22.  Draws attention to the negative development and clear deterioration of some of the more traditional sectors of the blue economy (such as fisheries and shipbuilding and repair), especially in areas where they functioned as authentic anchor activities, boosting economic activities either upstream or downstream, creating jobs and promoting development; considers that any EU strategy on the blue economy should not forget these activities and regions, and should highlight the potential of innovation and take advantage of the European know-how (e.g. ship retrofitting) in reversing this decline;

23.  Stresses the importance of sea and maritime research and of stronger cooperation on these sectors among researchers, among Member States and among regions in order to overcome the existing gap between Member States and the geographical concentration in some areas and to boost the competitiveness of coastal areas and the creation of quality and sustainable local jobs;

24.  Considers the shortage of qualified professionals in various fields of study and activity – including researchers, engineers, technicians and workers – to be a huge hurdle that could prevent the blue economy from fully realising its potential; maintains that this shortcoming is closely bound up with the growing disengagement and disinvestment by Member States in the spheres of science and education and with the lack of valorisation of existing professionals, especially in those Member States which suffered the most from the economic crisis, and therefore calls for these two trends to be reversed without delay; urges Member States and regional authorities to invest in an ambitious social dimension of blue growth and maritime literacy in order to promote training and access for young people to maritime professions; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support both higher education and professional and continuous training programmes, and to ensure that these programmes incorporate blue economy perspectives;

25.  Urges Member States, regional authorities, educational institutions and the industry to coordinate, create synergies and identify cross-cutting research issues in the blue economy area, in order to promote training and access for young people to blue growth related professions;

26.  Considers that proper development of the blue economy requires the dignity of the professions associated with it and the creation of quality employment with rights, including health and safety rights for maritime workers, and an awareness of these rights to ensure that the sector remains attractive; furthermore, considers that, as the blue economy has traditionally been and still is very much dominated by men, it is now opportune for the EU to acknowledge that this is the ideal time to entice women into this economic niche; urges the Commission and the Member States to incorporate gender perspectives at all stages of the development of the blue economy and to foster and increase women’s genuine participation therein;

27.  Urges the Commission to promote the rights of workers and guarantee safe working conditions in all sectors within the blue economy, whether already established or newly emerging;

28.  Calls on the Commission to gather and analyse data related to maritime careers at all levels (from law to engineering and environmental management, from diving instructors to seamen and maritime technicians) and use such data to explore job opportunities at various levels – traditional, emerging and completely new ones which may come into existence;

29.  Calls on the Commission to specify all the European funds available to finance blue economy activities and to concentrate them under a single platform accessible to citizens; also calls on the Commission to earmark funding for innovation and blue growth to finance fundamental research, R&D, training, job creation, business start-ups, SMEs, social enterprises, cooperatives, education and apprenticeships, reducing coastal poverty, biotechnological development, transport links, energy interconnectivity, shipbuilding and ship repairs, coastal access to broadband, environmental protection and the sale of innovative products, services and processes;

30.  Believes that investment in the blue economy should focus, among others, on ‘eco-innovation’ which does not rely on finite resources, resource efficiency, the circular economy, nature conservation, marine and coastal protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable use of resources (ensuring that their rates of use do not, in the long term, exceed their natural regeneration rates); urges the Commission to incorporate these principles into present and future support programmes;

31.  Calls for an appropriate financial framework to be established in order to stimulate innovation, the sustainable development of the blue economy and job creation, combining, coordinating and facilitating the access to the financial instruments available – structural and investment funding (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF), Cohesion Fund), the research framework programme, the possible creation of a future knowledge and innovation community (KIC) focused on the blue economy, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and so forth; points out that the instruments should be better geared to the needs of individual stakeholders – public institutions, local authorities, businesses, especially SMEs, non-governmental organisations, etc. – and the opportunities being offered widely publicised;

32.  Deeply regrets the programming delays relating to the EMFF in certain Member States;

33.  Considers that public investment, especially in some Member States, plays a decisive role in promoting the development and full exploitation of the potential of the blue economy, while not forgetting the role of private investment; emphasises that investment in the blue economy requires a mix of project focuses, from infrastructure projects to diverse, small-scale investments in SMEs, which require additional assistance in accessing funding;

34.  Emphasises that the onshore industries which support the offshore blue economy are the vital link to ensuring marine innovation and calls on the Commission to provide for greater support for these onshore industries;

35.  Urges the Commission to support the efforts of Member States to promote smart specialisation strategies with a view to creating and exploiting value chains linked to the many and varied blue economy activities; considers that the development of clusters or ‘hyperclusters’ implies that Member States must play an active role in fostering synergies within and between sectors; considers that strategies for maritime research and technological development could pilot at first and hence serve for the wider blue economy as a best practice example;

36.  Considers that the implementation of strategies, plans and programmes, as well as specific national legislation, may provide a political and institutional framework which is more favourable to the development of the blue economy in the various Member States; stresses that these strategies, plans and programmes, together with specific national legislation, should contribute to harmonious and sustainable interaction between human activities and the marine and coastal environment; stresses the importance of maritime spatial planning for the sustainable and coordinated development of maritime activities, taking all concerned sectors’ interests into account in an equitable manner, as well as land-sea interactions and Integrated Coastal Zone Management; recalls the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Integrated Maritime Policy at EU and sea-basin levels;

37.  Draws attention to the importance of public or majority-owned state companies in areas such as merchant shipping, port management, the shipping industry and maritime and coastal defence works; rejects the vision that tends only to focus on the private sector and believes that the strengthening and modernisation of the public sector can be an important driving force behind the promotion of the blue economy;

38.  Believes that in order to ensure sustainable development of the blue economy a better integration and coordination of efforts and competencies should be pursued at EU level, with cohesive and coherent actions; calls for the need to bring together the relevant agencies and dispersed competencies that already exist under an existing agency having maritime competencies, as a way of strengthening coordination, cooperation and support to Member States in the development and full use of the blue economy’s potential;

39.  Considers that coastal and island communities should be fully involved at every stage in the development of the blue economy, this being a sine qua non for realising its potential in terms of innovation, jobs, prosperity and sustainable development; acknowledges the potential and the need for innovative solutions regarding floating city expansion;

40.  Acknowledges the diversity and particularity of coastal and island communities and calls for the adoption of exceptional measures in order to efficiently promote the development of the blue economy in these areas by alleviating investment barriers and creating favourable conditions for growth;

Sector-based approaches

41.  Calls for more active support for modernisation and sustainable development of the fisheries sector and processing of fishery products, aiming at the creation of higher value added, laying emphasis on small-scale fisheries and seeking to make fishing gear more selective, reduce energy consumption and reduce the environmental impact of fishing, in addition to providing more effective ways to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; recalls that mapping and classification of resource habitats are essential for the establishment of a viable, sustainable and well managed fisheries sector; maintains that scientific fisheries-related data forming a basis for political decision-taking should be made public in their entirety;

42.  Calls on the Commission to take the necessary steps to strengthen the role of fisheries development groups within the new CFP, providing them with more resources so that they can press ahead in order to develop their role and promote such interterritorial cooperation;

43.  Advocates the need for cultural and natural attractions to be identified and promoted; stresses the role of ‘no-go’ zones to help pristine areas survive and over-exploited areas of seabed to regenerate, and thus contribute to the future sustainability of our seas;

44.  Considers that the sustainable development of European aquaculture requires stronger support for scientific research and technological development related to the breeding of new species, especially indigenous species, ensuring sustainable sourcing of feed, avoiding escapes, minimising biodiversity impacts and reducing the impact of chemicals and medicine use, as well as in the field of the development of new or significantly improved products, in order to enable production and the supply of foodstuffs to be diversified and their quality enhanced while raising the level of environmental safety; points out that accurate knowledge of bathymetry and seabed composition are essential in the selection of the most appropriate sites for the expansion of the local aquaculture industry, in estimating their carrying capacity and in modelling pollution arising from aquaculture activities;

45.  Advocates the integration of environmental and wider sustainability criteria into production standards and labelling, to reward responsible producers and to enable consumers to make better informed choices as this sector expands; calls for proper regulation related to aquaculture and for measures to mitigate alteration of water quality; calls for support for the transition from conventional aquaculture production methods to organic aquaculture;

46.  Believes that, for reasons to do with energy consumption and technical ease of conversion into liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), merchant and fluvial shipping, compared with other ways of carrying goods, is increasingly assuming decisive importance; calls for resources to be channelled in order to support innovation in this sector with a view to improving energy efficiency, diversifying primary energy sources, and reducing noxious emissions;

47.  Reiterates the need to take immediate action with regard to maritime transport in terms of efficiency improvements and speeding up the decarbonisation of the sector, and that the development and use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), as a cleaner transitional fuel, should be encouraged for this sector;

48.  Points to the strategic importance of shipbuilding and ship-repairing and their links to other sectors – including the steel industry, merchant shipping, fisheries, and cruise tourism; considers that a commitment to technological innovation and a high degree of specialisation, which could lead to gains in added value, could create contexts less exposed to international competition by aspiring towards a reverse in the downturn that the sector has been undergoing; maintains that specific support should be provided to revitalise and modernise the European shipbuilding and special steels industries in their different forms;

49.  Calls on the Commission to fully re-examine its policy towards the European shipbuilding industry and strongly endorses special aid intended for the restart and modernisation of shipbuilding in Europe;

50.  Believes that there should be a stronger focus on the role of the sea in tourism and on its sustainability; notes that European sea and coastal tourism is facing competition from third countries; points out that the EU should capitalise on its cultural richness to offer sustainable and high quality maritime and coastal tourism services; considers that cultural heritage and maritime and coastal tourism can play a distinctive role in attracting more consumers and businesses by diversifying the tourism offer; emphasises the positive contribution of cultural heritage, sea and coastal tourism to Europe’s goals of sustainable economic growth and job creation; calls for increased support for SMEs, which constitute the vast majority of the aqua tourism sector, in ensuring that existing and new jobs are sustainable, high quality, and all year round;

51.  Emphasises the importance of promoting socially, economically and environmentally sustainable forms of tourism that can constitute a significant source of added value for maritime areas;

52.  Believes that it is imperative that underwater cultural heritage is given its due importance within the blue economy, particularly since underwater cultural heritage can teach present-day societies about past exploitation of the sea, and about human reactions to climate change and sea-level rises among others, and also since underwater cultural heritage is a resource for tourism;

53.  Stresses the fact that while the EU remains a global leader in the blue economy, international competition in this sector is fierce and only a global level playing field can further secure sustainable growth and European job creation in this complex sector;

54.  Considers that studies on the degradation of coastal systems (pollution and loss of biodiversity), ecosystem resilience and restoration, coastal erosion, mitigation of its causes and maritime works to protect the coastline (including natural-based solutions such as Green Infrastructures) are key blue economy areas that are becoming more important in the light of climate change; calls for greater EU support for these areas and flexibility for areas with distinct coastline profile and repeated occurrences of disasters due to coastal erosion;

55.  Points out that energy from the seas and oceans has great potential from the point of view of utilising domestic resources, diversifying energy sources and contributing to climate and energy objectives; stresses that renewable marine energies are an industrial sector for the future and draws attention, in this respect, to the importance of developing innovative sources of clean energy and ‘blue’ energy, such as tidal stream energy, wave energy and osmotic energy, as referred to by the Commission in its communication of 20 January 2014 on blue energy; points out that offshore grids between the Member States are of great importance; underlines the need to take into consideration and to further study the carbon capture and storage (CCS) potential;

56.  Stresses that prospection for, and the exploitation of, seas’ and oceans’ energy resources have to allow for technology transfer requirements, especially as regards the training of skilled and highly qualified workers, as well as meeting stringent environmental sustainability criteria; draws attention to the potential multiplier effect of these activities in terms of jobs and related activities, both upstream and downstream;

57.  Stresses the important role of new technology, for example in counteracting the degradation of marine ecosystems, or in capturing and storing carbon emissions; calls on the Commission to further analyse how the technology and its accompanying infrastructure to transport CO2 safely and in a cost-effective manner can be applied in an economically viable way;

58.  Points out that the optimal location of power generators to harness blue energy, such as wind, wave or solar energy, ocean currents, osmotic power and thermal energy conversion, can depend on a number of factors, including water depth, seabed conditions, oceanographic characteristics and distance from shore; believes, therefore, that harmonising the data collected in the different national programmes on bathymetry, seabed characteristics or vertical ocean profiles can assist in site selection and licensing policies for renewable energy developments; stresses also that further research into marine energy solutions is a must to be able to develop affordable, cost-effective and resource-efficient energy technology solutions;

59.  Considers that prospection and mining on the continental shelf require uninterrupted State involvement, especially as regards information, the identification of areas off limits from mining, environmental impact assessment, analysing and minimising risks, and the exercise of sovereignty; calls on the Commission to propose and update a non-exhaustive list of maritime activities (e.g. offshore energy production, deep-sea mining, sand and gravel exploitation at sea, etc.) requiring prior environmental and socio-economic impact assessments; calls for attention to be paid to the reuse and recycling of minerals as an alternative option to deep sea mining and the potential offered by these activities for embedding scientific knowledge and development and technology transfer;

60.  Advocates a coordinated and strong EU involvement in the International Seabed Authority to ensure an effective and precautionary environmental regulatory framework to prevent adverse impacts of deep-sea mining exploration and exploitation, including Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEIs), as well as societal impacts of deep-sea mining and bioprospecting on local communities, and to guarantee full data transparency;

61.  Considers marine- and ocean-related biotechnology to be a highly diversified sector which, taken as a whole, has immense potential from the point of view of engendering and applying new knowledge and creating new products and processes with high added value (new materials, foods, pharmaceutical ingredients, etc.); draws attention to the education and training requirements related to this sector, implying a need for Member States to shoulder a large measure of responsibility together with the private sector, and for international cooperation to be pursued on a similarly comprehensive scale;

62.  Stresses the importance of social dialogue and considers that all the social partners involved in the blue economy should be represented; highlights the importance of stakeholder consultations on the development of the blue economy in general, including consultations with civil society and regional and local authorities;

63.  Strongly supports the Commission’s initiative included in its communication to promote a Skills Alliance and a Knowledge Innovation Centre on Blue Economy;

64.  Believes that a maritime safety ‘Erika IV’ package should be launched to prevent further major maritime disasters; considers that this package should recognise the ecological damage to marine waters in European legislation;

65.  Highlights the need to increase civil society’s awareness of the sea’s importance as an economic, cultural and social resource and the role of research and dialogue in reaching integrated sustainability between stakeholders and citizens;

66.  Feels that seas and coastlines are a valuable resource that should form one of the pillars of the EU’s industrial renaissance policy; points out that steps should be taken towards revitalising blue industry while supporting the cohesiveness of the European economy and sustainable development, particularly in those regions where this potential has been marginalised as a result of the processes of globalisation;

67.  Takes the view that the exchange of information and best practice could contribute to the sector’s rapid and sustainable development;

o
o   o

68.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the Member States.

(1) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 135.
(2) OJ L 164, 25.6.2008, p. 19.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0300.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0438.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0178.
(6) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 104.
(7) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 174.
(8) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 892.
(9) OJ C 12, 15.1.2015, p. 93.
(10) OJ C 19, 21.1.2015, p. 24.


Promoting youth entrepreneurship through education and training
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on promoting youth entrepreneurship through education and training (2015/2006(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0292A8-0239/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 165 and 166 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Article 14 thereof,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 December 2014 on entrepreneurship in education and training(1),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 May 2014 on promoting youth entrepreneurship to foster social inclusion of young people(2),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(3),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee(4),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning(5),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 28 June 2011 entitled ‘Youth on the Move – promoting the learning mobility of young people’(6),

–  having regard to the Council resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)(7),

–  having regard to Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning(8),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 June 2013 entitled ‘Working together for Europe’s young people: A call to action on youth unemployment’ (COM(2013)0447),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 January 2013 entitled ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan: Reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe’ (COM(2012)0795),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2012 entitled ‘Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes’ (COM(2012)0669),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 December 2011 entitled ‘Education and Training in a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe’ (COM(2011)0902),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 28 January 2015 entitled ‘Entrepreneurship Education: A road to success’,

–  having regard to the Commission Social Europe guide of March 2013 on ‘Social Economy and Social Enterprises’ (ISBN: 978-92-79-26866-3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2015 on follow-up on the implementation of the Bologna Process(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2012 on Education, Training and Europe 2020(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 1 December 2011 on tackling early school leaving(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on early years learning in the European Union(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2010 on key competences for a changing world: implementation of the Education and Training 2010 work programme(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 December 2008 on delivering lifelong learning for knowledge, creativity and innovation – implementation of the ‘Education & Training 2010 work programme’(14),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0239/2015),

A.  whereas youth entrepreneurship needs to be an important integral part of the political strategy to support today’s generation of youth in terms of EU goals for growth, employment, education and social inclusion and to reduce youth unemployment in the EU;

B.  whereas entrepreneurship should be understood in its broader sense as the ability to turn ideas into actions;

C.  whereas in February 2015, 4,85 million young people were unemployed in the EU-28, which is unacceptably high, and although youth unemployment is diminishing – it has decreased by 494 000 compared with February 2014 – this is taking place at too slow a pace;

D.  having regard to the high rates of youth unemployment and to the fact that the fiscal consolidation of the Member States mainly affected by the crisis should not be carried out at the expense of jobs occupied by young people; whereas, as a result of such high youth unemployment, young people are experiencing increased levels of poverty and social exclusion, especially in the case of those from disadvantaged and vulnerable groups; recognises and welcomes, however, the fact that commitments have been made to speed up the delivery of Youth Employment Initiative funds to Member States, but calls for even stronger commitments from the Commission to tackle this serious problem;

E.  whereas the gap between education and training and the job market is one of the causes of youth unemployment and of the large number of unfilled vacancies in the EU. and should be addressed also by empowering young people with the key competences, including a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, that are needed if they are to participate confidently in today’s knowledge-based economy and society;

F.  whereas the European Union, via the Europe 2020 strategy and its flagship initiatives on ‘New skills and jobs’, ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’, ‘Innovation Union’ and ‘Youth on the move’, as well as its targeted support for women entrepreneurs and disadvantaged and disabled people, promotes the sense of initiative and entrepreneurship by fostering entrepreneurial mindsets and related knowledge, skills and competences that can boost competitiveness and growth which will be smart, sustainable and inclusive;

G.  whereas entrepreneurship is an important driver of economic growth and job creation as it creates new companies and jobs, opens up new markets, strengthens competitiveness, improves productivity and innovation, strengthens European competitiveness and creates wealth, and should therefore be equally accessible for all;

H.  whereas entrepreneurship, and in particular social entrepreneurship, are important drivers of social cohesion and sustainability that can boost the economy whilst simultaneously alleviating deprivation, social exclusion and other societal problems;

I.  whereas entrepreneurship and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the EU economy and represent the most important and primary source of new employment; whereas women’s entrepreneurial potential is an underexploited source of economic growth and jobs;

J.  whereas cultures that value and reward entrepreneurship competences and entrepreneurial behaviours such as creativity, innovation, initiative, calculated risk-taking, independent thinking and the identification of opportunities, as well as leadership qualities, promote a propensity to develop new solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges by integrating knowledge components within education that bring together theory and practice, thus diminishing barriers between the business experience and education; whereas it is therefore of paramount importance that these personal competencies are embedded in the educational system and are part of daily life at all levels;

K.  whereas in certain Member States business start-ups (of all types, including social entrepreneurship or business for personal profit) are not sufficiently recognised or included as a career path, and there is little support for aspiring entrepreneurs within the educational system;

L.  whereas young entrepreneurs face numerous challenges and difficulties, including a lack of experience, of the right skills and of access to finance and infrastructure;

M.  whereas recent studies suggest that entrepreneurship competences can be learned and that entrepreneurship education, if correctly designed, implemented and accessible for all, can have a very positive impact on people’s lives and employability, as well as on start-up rates and survival rates of enterprises;

N.  whereas in order to lead to robust conclusions, the measurement of the impact of entrepreneurship education must be carried out with a critical approach, as well as being based on sound evidence and relying on established statistical tools and techniques;

O.  whereas entrepreneurship education should incorporate a social dimension including teaching about fair trade, social enterprises and alternative business models such as cooperatives, with a view to achieving a social, inclusive and sustainable economy;

P.  whereas an entrepreneurial mindset enhances a young person’s employability, engenders in that person qualities that are essential for overcoming challenges in both professional and private life, and helps prevent an increase in poverty and social exclusion; whereas easier access to microfinance mechanisms can help achieve these goals;

Q.  whereas education and vocational training as a whole are of primordial importance with regard to each individual’s personal development, and therefore have to be both sufficiently broad in order to lay foundations for lifelong development and deepening of knowledge and for the acquisition of transversal skills, and sufficiently practical, thus allowing individuals to have real careers and a valuable professional and private life; whereas there is a direct correlation between the successful combination of these two aspects of education and a reduction in the risk of youth unemployment;

R.  whereas the spirit and skills of entrepreneurship can be acquired, learned and developed by every individual; whereas each type and level of education corresponds to a specific window of opportunity for building certain skills and capacities for entrepreneurship as part of the general acquirement of key competences;

S.  whereas entrepreneurship skills are linked to other sets of skills such as ICT skills, problem-solving skills and financial literacy, which should be promoted;

T.  whereas education and training are of paramount importance in terms of motivation and possibilities for young people to start their own entrepreneurial projects;

U.  whereas education, as a public good, has to be fully inclusive and integrated, placing special emphasis on providing equal access to students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds;

V.  whereas young people will be better qualified to engage in business on a transnational scale if they are proficient in foreign languages;

W.  whereas under-represented and disadvantaged groups need special attention and support throughout their education, also by engaging parents and communities in the educational process, as well as requiring help in order to start, run or grow a business or enterprise;

X.  whereas young people benefit from entrepreneurial training and education as well as from practical entrepreneurial experience, which help develop their skills and talent, enabling them to develop confidence, and contribute to the creation of new businesses, employability and innovation; whereas entrepreneurship is a hugely underutilised option for many young people with disabilities;

Y.  whereas social and inclusive businesses participate actively in innovative sustainable growth, promote greater cohesion within society and local communities, and can create employment opportunities for young people, including those who are socially vulnerable and those furthest from the labour market;

Z.  whereas not enough people follow through on their ideas to set up a business, and there are, disproportionately, even fewer female than male entrepreneurs (even more so in case of women coming from vulnerable social groups and facing double discrimination), and, whilst women entrepreneurs are on average higher educated than male entrepreneurs, they are also more often active in less innovative, less fast-growing sectors, with smaller companies than those of male entrepreneurs; whereas ways to overcome the factors which particularly discourage women from taking up, or benefiting more from, the option of entrepreneurship must be actively promoted(15);

AA.  whereas chambers of handicrafts, industry and commerce offer targeted programmes in some Member States to support business start-ups;

AB.  whereas education and training are mainly national competencies and some Member States have yet to develop a cross-cutting policy or a strategic approach to entrepreneurship education or entrepreneurial curricula and teaching methods; whereas not all teachers and education leaders in Europe are sufficiently trained in entrepreneurship education, either through continuous professional development or through their initial training, which might have an impact on the potential for entrepreneurship becoming sufficiently embedded in education systems(16);

AC.  whereas teachers should be able to liaise with entrepreneurs and define learning objectives in partnership with them, and be provided with the right support and resources, in order to implement learner-centred strategies and adapt their teaching methods to the needs of their vulnerable students;

AD.  whereas non-formal and informal learning activities complement and enrich formal learning by offering various kinds of empowering learning experience, and should therefore be recognised as privileged sources for acquiring and developing entrepreneurship competences;

AE.  whereas formal and informal learning can play a key role in developing and sustaining entrepreneurial skills, especially amongst marginalised groups;

AF.  whereas non-formal and informal learning activities are particularly relevant to young people with fewer opportunities, providing them with an additional source of learning and a possible route into formal education and training;

AG.  whereas teaching by experienced entrepreneurs creates a positive image of entrepreneurship and facilitates the step towards entrepreneurship;

AH.  whereas entrepreneurship, including social entrepreneurship, should be integrated in the training of teachers and career advisers;

AI.  whereas national education systems have been evolving at different paces in reaction to changes on the labour market;

AJ.  whereas the Erasmus+ programme, which runs from 2014 to 2020, aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe and is open to education, training, youth and sports organisations across all sectors of lifelong learning; whereas it will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad;

AK.  whereas entrepreneurship already plays a role in the Erasmus+ programme, being one of the expected results of mobility actions;

AL.  whereas it is important to promote and encourage mobility of young entrepreneurs, through programmes, such as Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (2009-2015), that enable young entrepreneurs to take part in cross-border exchanges and to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses, as well as creating opportunities to address gender inequalities in entrepreneurship; whereas more funds need to be allocated to such programmes in order to increase young people's participation;

AM.  whereas younger people are inclined to express a preference for self-employment, and as many as 45 % of young people aged between 15 and 24 say they would prefer to be self-employed(17);

AN.  whereas the business community at local, national and European level could make more considerable contributions in the form of skills-based volunteering, partnerships with educational institutions, and collaboration with policymakers;

AO.  whereas considerable contributions are made by civil society organisations (non-governmental groups such as trade unions, employers’ associations and other social groups), among them the Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Europe initiative, which provides informal and lifelong entrepreneurship education and training; whereas these contributions stand in need of further recognition, although they may not lead to a certified formal diploma; whereas such contributions are also made by enterprises providing training for themselves;

Emphasis on entrepreneurial skills and competences

1.  Acknowledges the role of lifelong learning and international mobility as constituting a key measure in Europe’s response to globalisation and the shift to knowledge-based economies; notes, specifically, the importance of the ‘sense of initiative and entrepreneurship’, as included among the eight ‘Key Competences for Lifelong Learning ‒ A European Reference Framework’, considered to be needed by all individuals for personal fulfilment and development, active European citizenship and participation, social inclusion and employment;

2.  Calls on the Member States to promote entrepreneurial skills for young people through legislative action aimed at ensuring quality traineeships focusing on quality learning and adequate working conditions as tools to foster employability, as put forward by the Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships;

3.  Emphasises the need for a broad and clear definition of the key competence ‘a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship’, which involves fostering an entrepreneurial mindset characterised by proactiveness, creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives, and even the idea that the individual is aware of the context of his or her work and is able to seize opportunities that arise, with regard to both entrepreneurship and employment activity (in the latter case referred as ‘intrapreneurship’); has faith in the creative industry sectors and enterprises relating to culture, which can highlight business opportunities, especially for young people;

4.  Recalls that the creative industries are amongst the most entrepreneurial sectors, developing transferable skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and resourcefulness;

5.  Stresses the need for a broad approach to entrepreneurship as a set of transversal key competences for personal and professional purposes;

6.  Stresses the importance of organisational monitoring and auditing skills; encourages in particular the development of social and environmental audit, as an innovative monitoring tool;

7.  Is convinced that entrepreneurial skills and competences as well as transversal, cross-sector, occupation-specific and job-specific skills and competences should be promoted in order to increase the rates of youth self-employment and to provide the young generation with a real opportunity to start their own businesses and to help both themselves and society in general;

8.  Is convinced that the next step needed is to specify in detail how the key competences framework can be further implemented appropriately at each level of education for entrepreneurship competence, by including entrepreneurship knowledge, skills and attitudes as a learning outcome of each specific educational and apprenticeship programme;

9.  Stresses that at all levels and types of education the teaching of practical entrepreneurship skills and the fostering of motivation, sense of initiative and readiness should be provided, along with a sense of social responsibility; believes that modules in basic finance, economics and business environment should be integrated into school curricula, and should be accompanied by mentoring, tutoring and career guidance for students, including disadvantaged learners, in order to underpin and facilitate their understanding of the entrepreneurial process and develop an entrepreneurial mindset; highlights the role of informal and independent learning, including volunteering, in endowing young people with entrepreneurial spirit and skills;

10.  Calls on the Commission to emphasise the importance and role of different forms of social entrepreneurship, which are often a good way for young Europeans to gain initial experience in business;

11.  Emphasises the need to develop innovative pedagogies that are more participative and learner-centred, in order to encourage the acquisition of a set of transversal competences needed for the development of entrepreneurial mindsets;

12.  Recommends encouraging entrepreneurship as part of higher education and in alumni projects, also including social entrepreneurship models;

13.  Points out that promoting entrepreneurship through education can only succeed in a meaningful way if economic and social aspects appear in a balanced way in educational strategies;

14.  Emphasises that social inclusion and the fight against poverty can succeed notably via social entrepreneurship, which can boost employment, and by setting an entrepreneurial mindset which will be substantially beneficial for disadvantaged people;

15.  Stresses that dual training and company-sponsored study programmes have proved to be key in imparting the core competences of companies in those Member States where such programmes operate;

16.  Encourages full engagement and partnership among all stakeholders, and in particular local entrepreneurial organisations, businesses and educational institutions, in order to share best practices and experiences and improve young people’s entrepreneurial skills and education across the Member States;

17.  Stresses that a close link between company training and mainstream education is a successful model which should be strengthened and promoted, throughout Europe and beyond;

18.  Calls for closer collaboration with the private sector and the social partners with a view to encouraging a risk-taking, entrepreneurial and innovative culture (e.g. through structural commitments such as facilities for innovation and the exchange of ideas);

19.  Is convinced that the successful deployment of entrepreneurship competence is more and more dependent on accompanying media and digital competence, and that this interrelationship should receive a greater focus in education and training; emphasises the importance of equipping all young people with ICT competences and with transversal and entrepreneurial skills enabling them to fully exploit the potential of the digital world in order to help them create new forms of developing, imparting and promoting entrepreneurship, thus becoming more able to compete for jobs, become self-employed, learn to better understand their prospective employers’ behaviour and needs, and contribute to the innovative and competitive capability of employer organisation;

20.  Stresses that entrepreneurship competence should be developed and improved by a lifetime approach, including via work experience and non-formal and informal learning, and that its validation should be enhanced and supported since it contributes to career development;

21.  Recognises that a key element in the teaching of entrepreneurship is the proper preparation of teachers, and in particular the urgent need for high-quality training in order to ensure the authenticity of the educational process;

22.  Calls on the Member States to combat barriers to young entrepreneurs with disabilities, through the provision of training for service providers whose responsibilities include supporting people with disabilities, and through the adaptation of the premises on which support is provided in order to make them accessible to those with mobility challenges;

23.  Notes that promoting cooperation between secondary and tertiary education would allow increased dialogue among young people and encourage innovation;

24.  Stresses the need to improve the entrepreneurial culture within tertiary education by supporting and facilitating the creation of new companies by young people on the basis of academic research (spin-offs), reducing the bureaucratic burden involved in establishing such companies, and creating a clear and supportive regulatory framework for student entrepreneurs; considers that, in this context, schools and universities should allow time and space for, and grant recognition of, initiatives by young people so as to give them the necessary confidence to undertake new projects that may prove useful in setting up independent businesses; welcomes initiatives which reward young people for successful business ventures (e.g. an award for the best student company of the year); further emphasises the importance of companies giving young people the chance to obtain their first direct in-house work experience; reiterates the need to promote company visits and traineeship schemes with such objectives, so as to give young people an overview of the business world;

25.  Highlights that the business community has a key role to play in entrepreneurship education and training, providing an experienced-based learning that complement youth´s theoretical education;

26.  Stresses the crucial role played by various associations of young businesspeople in fostering entrepreneurship among young people, providing them with the opportunity to develop innovative projects and obtain business experience, and giving them the tools and the necessary confidence to set out as entrepreneurs;

Role of the EU institutions – coordination, methodology and financial tools

27.  Calls on the Council and the Commission, within their respective competences and in full compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, to develop methodological support and tools to made be available to national education systems in the area of entrepreneurship education and training, including social entrepreneurship, and to follow a coordinated approach calling on the Member States’ public administrations to cooperate more closely with companies in order to disseminate the key factors needed to improve entrepreneurship; calls on the Commission to increase the amount of support for young entrepreneurs under the European Structural and Investment Funds;

28.  Calls on the Council and Commission to apply a gender perspective in respect of methodology, communication and financial tools, in order to encourage greater engagement in entrepreneurship by girls and young women;

29.  Calls on the Commission to establish and boost entrepreneurial traineeships and exchange programmes, in order to give young people opportunities to gain hands-on experience and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience;

30.  Calls on the Commission to elaborate a comprehensive strategy for developing transversal skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, initiative, collaboration, cooperation, self-direction, planning, leadership and team-building, at all levels and in all types of education and training, taking into account that they are beneficial for a broad range of occupations and sectors;

31.  Calls on the Commission to increase the focus on improving the development and assessment of transversal skills, including entrepreneurship and digital competence, within the Erasmus+ programme, while underlining that this programme should not be unilaterally oriented towards considerations of employability and that the low-threshold access to entrepreneurial activities should be maintained, particularly in the area of non-formal and informal education; also calls on the Commission to promote education policy reforms in Member States creating a coherent policy framework for Member States and the EU in this regard;

32.  Calls on the Commission to support the monitoring of ICT skills, problem-solving skills and financial literacy; calls on the Commission to carry out longitudinal research in this area;

33.  Calls on the Commission to support partnerships between educational institutions and companies via the use of the European Fund for Strategic Investment and, in particular, the European Social Fund, in order to encourage work-based learning in companies and foster entrepreneurship competences at national and local level;

34.  Calls on the Commission to support a European Entrepreneurship Education Network, on lines such as those of the European Entrepreneurship Education NETwork (EE-HUB), established in May 2015 and supported by European organizations and other stakeholders at European, national and local levels, as well as by national education authorities, which will gather and exchange best practices to be shared by educational institutions, educational organisations, vocational training institutions, businesses, authorities and social partners;

35.  Calls on the Commission to ensure coherent and effective coordination in the area of entrepreneurship education in the context of its broader EU lifelong learning strategy, the EU’s global strategies and the Juncker Commission’s plan;

36.  Proposes that the Commission maintain entrepreneurship education and training as one of the objectives of a future Erasmus+ programme in the next financial period (post-2020) in all its actions, including mobility, to contain the following elements:

   (i) careful assessment of the impact of existing measures promoting entrepreneurship through education and training and potentially adapt them, while paying special attention to the impact on under-represented and disadvantaged groups;
   (ii) promotion of better-defined learning contents and tools for formal and non-formal education targeting all students – both theoretical modules and practical modules, such as student entrepreneurial projects;
   (iii) support for the initial qualifications of teachers, educators, youth workers, coaches and education leaders, and their continuing professional development and empowerment in the entrepreneurship education area;
   (iv) promotion of partnerships between educational institutions, enterprises, non-profit organisations, regional and local authorities and non-formal education providers, in order to devise suitable courses and provide students with the requisite practical experience and models;
   (v) development of skills in the areas of entrepreneurial processes, financial literacy, ICT literacy and skills, creative thinking, creativity, creative utility, problem- solving and an innovative mindset, self-confidence, confidence in one’s ideas, adaptability, team-building, project management, risk assessment and risk-taking, as well as specific business skills and knowledge;
   (vi) removal of all the physical and digital obstacles which people with a disability still have to contend with, since their full integration into the job market could be of key importance to the promotion of a sustainable and cohesive business culture;
   (vii) highlighting of non-formal and informal learning as a privileged environment to acquire entrepreneurship competences;

37.  Calls on the Commission to investigate and address the factors that discourage women from taking up the option of entrepreneurship, whilst specifically promoting access to funding and support services for young female entrepreneurs;

38.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate and promote the exchange of best practices between Member States;

39.  Calls on the Commission to encourage better cooperation and exchange of good practices between Member States that have already integrated entrepreneurship education into their curricula and have achieved better progress in promoting youth entrepreneurship and those Member States that are still at the beginning of this process;

40.  Calls on the Commission to compile, by the end of 2017, a ‘best practice’ for disseminating entrepreneurial ability and promoting youth entrepreneurship in the Member States, submit a report on this to Parliament, and take the results of this work into account when evaluating its own funding procedures;

41.  Calls on the Member States to promote entrepreneurship education as a way to foster transversal competences for a better management of learners’ personal and professional lives;

42.  Calls on the Commission to monitor closely the concrete measures implemented by Member States to support entrepreneurship among young people, to devote special attention to the promotion and publication of information on results, and to encourage and support institutions and organisations in exchanging good practices, sharing ideas, knowledge and experience and forming cross-sectoral strategic partnerships; encourages the Commission and the Member States to develop benchmarks, models and common instruments and projects in order to promote youth entrepreneurship;

43.  Urges the Commission to ensure that no measures taken by the Member States impede the free movement of workers, so that young people who have chosen business careers are able to conduct their activities wherever they wish to in the European Union;

Role of the Member States

44.  Calls on the Member States, as well as regional and local authorities, to endeavour to promote the development of training for launching and managing start-ups, including expert mentorship, incubators and accelerators, social enterprise projects working with local communities, and all entrepreneurship-friendly environments which will facilitate young people’s start-ups and enable quick recovery in the event of dropping out of school or from initial failures, thereby helping to create a positive business culture, prevent negative perception of business failure and encourage reattempt, with, additionally, special attention being paid to reaching out to disadvantaged young people;

45.  Urges the Member States to ensure that our young entrepreneurs have the access to finance that they require and that they are supported at every stage;

46.  Calls on the Member States, as well as regional and local authorities, to make use of the resources of the EU Structural Funds, in particular the European Social Fund, to the full in order to promote entrepreneurship education and training and the development of digital skills at national, regional and local level;

47.  Calls on the Member States, together with regional and local authorities, to use all existing EU-level funding resources, such as the European Social Fund, the European Youth Employment Initiative, the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI), the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme and the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (COSME), to encourage and support initiatives which pursue more effective and better-targeted links between businesses and the education sector;

48.  Calls on the Member States to foster sharing of best practice, encourage both domestic and cross-border partnerships, and support fledgling enterprises and the work of relevant small and medium enterprises networks and development agencies;

49.  Encourages the Member States to provide specific innovative methods to train teachers and mentors in entrepreneurship so as to enable them to foster and encourage entrepreneurial skills, and to consider including entrepreneurship as part of the educational curriculum;

50.  Calls on the Member States to further develop their systems for the recognition and validation of competences acquired in non-formal and informal learning so that their commitment for 2018 is respected, in order to give individuals reorientation and second chance opportunities, as well as boosting self-recognition and further learning;

51.  Calls on the Member States to encourage the involvement of private partners in entrepreneurship education, through funding or providing training, as an aspect of their corporate social responsibility;

52.  Calls on the Member States to eliminate bureaucracy regarding the implementation of business plans by young people, and to consider tax relief measures and measures to encourage them to create their own business ideas; stresses the need for safety valves for start-ups that fail;

53.  Stresses the need to address the financial difficulties affecting young entrepreneurs, to facilitate their access to credit and special grants, to reduce existing administrative burdens, and to put in place a regulatory environment and fiscal incentives that encourage the development of youth entrepreneurial initiatives and boost job creation, in order to facilitate the start-up and stabilisation of young entrepreneurs’ business projects;

54.  Calls on the Member States to be proactive in improving regulatory frameworks and streamlining administrative procedures for businesses, in particular SMEs and social enterprises, and to promote and monitor the quality of the employment practices of such businesses; points out that social and inclusive businesses create sustainable jobs, contribute to community development, and help promote a sustainable environment and ensure social resilience in times of crisis;

55.  Calls for public employment services to be more proactive in providing assistance and advice to businesses, and to young entrepreneurs in particular;

56.  Calls on the Member States, and regional and local authorities, to offer innovative students increased access to scholarships and micro-loan schemes, together with support, information, mentoring, multidisciplinary assistance and peer‑to‑peer evaluation platforms, in order to enable them to start their own ventures or projects, such as those supported under the Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis of EaSI; calls on the Member States to facilitate access to and return of loans, to promote the use of crowdfunding, to develop partnerships between the local economy, businesses and universities, to enhance the role of businesses in integrating young people into the labour market, and to consolidate the entrepreneurial skills pass (ENP) at various levels of school and university education, especially in partnership with SMEs; urges the Member States to encourage the establishment within universities of business incubators dedicated to sustainable development and future-oriented branches of study;

57.  Calls on the Member States to simplify procedures for non-fraudulent exits and to create a supportive exit environment, so as to send young people a clear message that a failure will not result in a setback with lifelong consequences;

58.  Calls on the Member States to encourage young people into entrepreneurship by facilitating project-based studies within the education system which cut across disciplines and are delivered in cooperation with companies;

59.  Calls on the Member States to promote entrepreneurship as a positive career option in the career advice provided within secondary and tertiary education, and to tackle the negative stigma surrounding entrepreneurship as a career option which is prevalent in some Member States;

60.  Calls on the Member States to increase awareness of self-employment and business creation for young people with disabilities, through actions such as promoting the career paths of people with disabilities who have already been integrated into the labour market and giving public recognition to entrepreneurs with disabilities;

Subsequent follow-up steps

61.  Urges the Commission to follow up and further develop its work on Entrepreneurship360 (Schools and VET) and on HEInnovate (higher education);

62.  Calls on the Commission to include measures related to entrepreneurship education into the European Semester evaluation indicators, starting in 2016;

63.  Calls on the Commission to submit an evaluation report to Parliament by the end of its term on the progress achieved in promoting youth entrepreneurship through education and training and how much it managed to reach out to members of vulnerable social groups;

64.  Calls on the Commission to ensure coordination and cooperation at European level in the systematic evaluation of the entrepreneurship programmes and activities in order to allow the comparability of results – for instance. to compare the different patterns of youth entrepreneurship across Member States and the characteristics of youth entrepreneurs in terms of socio-demographic variables such as age, gender and education;

65.  Calls on the Commission to promote cooperation on policies across the EU and invite Member States to engage in exchanges of good practices;

o
o   o

66.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the EEA countries, and the Council of Europe.

(1) OJ C 17, 20.1.2015, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 183, 14.6.2014, p. 18.
(3) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(4) OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(6) OJ C 199, 7.7.2011, p. 1.
(7) OJ C 311, 19.12.2009, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, p. 10.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0107.
(10) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 56.
(11) OJ C 165 E, 11.6.2013, p. 7.
(12) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 89.
(13) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 8.
(14) OJ C 45 E, 23.2.2010, p. 33.
(15) Commission Report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2013 (SWD(2014)0142), Commission Publication on Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe, September 2014.
(16) Budapest and Istanbul, European Training Foundation symposium – conclusions.
(17) Commission: Eurobarometer FL354, ‘Entrepreneurship in the EU and beyond’, 9 January 2013.


Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe (2014/2149(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0293A8-0207/2015

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to the Preamble to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) which states that the signatories draw ‘inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe’ and to Article 3(3) TEU,

—  having regard to Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

—  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Article 22 thereof,

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

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1295/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Creative Europe Programme (2014 to 2020) and repealing Decisions No 1718/2006/EC, No 1855/2006/EC and No 1041/2009/EC(1),

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(2),

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Regional Development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the Investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006(3),

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) and repealing Decision No 1982/2006/EC(4),

—  having regard to Directive 2014/60/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012(5),

—  having regard to Directive 2013/37/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information(6),

—  having regard to the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention) of 13 October 2005(7),

—  having regard to the Council conclusions of 21 May 2014 on cultural heritage as a strategic resource for a sustainable Europe(8),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 25 November 2014 on participatory governance of cultural heritage(9) and on the Work Plan for Culture for the period 2015-2018(10) and to the European Year of Cultural Heritage mentioned in the conclusions,

—  having regard to the Commission recommendation 2011/711/EU of 27 October 2011 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation(11),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2014 entitled ‘An Investment Plan for Europe’ (COM(2014)0903),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 July 2014 entitled ‘Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe’ (COM(2014)0477),

—  having regard to the Committee of the Regions’ opinion of November 2014 on the Commission communication ‘Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europeʼ,

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

—  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinions of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0207/2015),

A.  whereas culture and cultural heritage are shared resources and are common goods and values that cannot be subject to an exclusive use, and their full potential for sustainable human, social and economic development has yet to be fully recognised and properly exploited, both at the level of EU strategies and the UN post-2015 development goals;

B.  whereas the multiple impacts of culture in societies must be taken into account in the decision-making process;

C.  whereas cultural heritage is naturally heterogeneous, reflects cultural and linguistic diversity and pluralism, and affects regional development, social cohesion, agriculture, maritime affairs, the environment, tourism, education, the digital agenda, external relations, customs cooperation and research and innovation;

D.  whereas the promotion of culture, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue acts as a catalyst for cooperation between Member States;

E.  whereas enhancing European cultural and linguistic diversity, promoting Europe’s cultural heritage, and strengthening the competitiveness of the European cultural and creative sectors aim to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;

F.  whereas heritage resources are long-term assets which have a role of creating value and contribute to skills development and economic growth, through the promotion of tourism, as well as creating jobs;

G.  whereas cultural heritage projects are often examples of innovative and sustainable economic activities which develop the business and research capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);

H.  whereas cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, plays a significant role in creating, preserving and promoting European culture and values and national, regional, local and individual identity, as well as the contemporary identity of the people of Europe;

I.  whereas policies for the maintenance, restoration and conservation, accessibility and exploitation of cultural heritage are primarily national, regional or local responsibilities, but cultural heritage also has a clear European dimension and is directly addressed in several EU policies, including those concerning agriculture, the environment, and research and innovation;

J.  whereas Article 167 TFEU stipulates that Union action shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time ‘bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore’;

K.  whereas Article 167 TFEU states that Union action shall be aimed at improving the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and history of the European peoples, encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, supporting and supplementing their action in the area of the conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European significance;

L.  whereas the Work Plan for Culture adopted by the Council on 25 November 2014 includes heritage as one of the four priorities for EU work on culture for the period 2015-2018;

M.  whereas the lack of sex-disaggregated cultural data, including in the field of cultural heritage, is a factor concealing the existing gender gaps and challenges from policy-makers and decision-makers;

N.  whereas information on funding opportunities through EU programmes in areas related to cultural heritage – such as local and regional development, cultural cooperation, research, education, support for SMEs and civil society, and tourism – is, while available, fragmented;

O.  whereas the cultural and touristic value of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Routes in promoting a common European cultural heritage and developing sustainable cultural tourism should be strengthened;

P.  whereas the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards promote excellence, inspire through the ‘power of example’, and stimulate the exchange of best practices in the heritage field across Europe;

Q.  whereas the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, the Granada Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe, and the Valletta Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage clearly define internationally recognised standards for cultural heritage restoration and archaeological works(12);

Integrated approach

1.  Considers it of paramount importance to use the available resources for supporting, enhancing and promoting cultural heritage on the basis of an integrated approach, while taking into account the cultural, economic, social, historical, educational, environmental and scientific components;

2.  Believes that, with regard to the cultural heritage, an integrated approach is necessary if one wishes to achieve cultural dialogue and mutual understanding; is convinced that such an approach can lead to enhanced social, economic and territorial cohesion, while also contributing to the fulfilment of the goals set in the Europe 2020 strategy;

3.  Addresses, in the context of the development of the new integrated approach to cultural heritage, the following specific recommendations to the Commission:

   (a) to establish, in line with the current Commission working methods of working across sectors and in a flexible manner, a common approach within the Commission through improved cooperation between the different policy areas dealing with cultural heritage, and to report back to Parliament on the results of this closer cooperation;
   (b) to communicate to potential beneficiaries, in a straightforward and accessible way such as through a single information platform and exchange of best practices in the EU, concerning the existing European funding lines for cultural heritage;
   (c) to designate, preferably for 2018, a European Year of Cultural Heritage, with an adequate budget and with the aim, amongst other things, of disseminating and increasing awareness and education among future generations in respect of the values of the European cultural heritage and its protection, and to submit the draft programme for the European Year to Parliament no later than 2016;
   (d) to acknowledge, within its political and transversal approach, cultural heritage as both movable and immovable, tangible and intangible, and as a non-renewable resource whose authenticity must be preserved;

4.  Asks that a policy framework be set out for the historic environment – known as immovable heritage – in the near future, containing a regulatory framework for monuments, archaeology and historic landscapes in line with Article 4 TFEU;

5.  Promotes creative contemporary innovation in architecture and design on a basis of respect for both past and present and at the same time ensuring high quality and coherence;

European funding for cultural heritage

6.  Notes the Union’s commitment to preserving and enhancing Europe’s cultural heritage through various programmes (Creative Europe, Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens), funding (the European Structural and Investment Funds), and actions such as the European Capitals of Culture, the European Heritage Days and the European Heritage Label; proposes even greater EU and Member State involvement in promoting research;

7.  Asks the Commission to:

   (a) set up a single EU portal dedicated to tangible and intangible cultural heritage, bringing together information from all the EU programmes funding cultural heritage and structured around three main aspects: a database of tangible and intangible cultural objects, including examples of best practices in preservation and promotion with all relevant references; funding opportunities for cultural heritage, as well as data on the state of European cultural heritage and data of importance with regard to conservation, such as, for instance, climate data and details of restoration projects already carried out; and news and links concerning cultural heritage-related policy developments, actions and events;
   (b) support, with dedicated funding, studies, research and pilot measures specifically designed to analyse the impacts of cultural heritage promotion processes, develop specific indicators and benchmarks in relation to the direct and indirect contribution of that heritage to economic and social development processes, and directly support cultural and social innovation integrated into local settings in which cultural heritage can drive development and help improve people’s quality of life;
   (c) strengthen the newly established principle of multifunding, which allows the complementary use of different European funds within the same large-scale project;
   (d) encourage public-private partnerships;
   (e) adapt the project management timing requirements for the Structural Funds in order to better accommodate the specific requirements of conservation, restoration and preservation projects;
   (f) review the EUR 5 million benchmark in relation to cultural heritage projects submitted in the framework of the small-scale infrastructure action(13), bringing it to at least the same level as UNESCO projects, i.e. EUR 10 million;

8.  Notes that the spirit behind the revision of the ERDF Regulation and, in particular, the principle of integrated funding can, in specific cases, also be put into practice by supporting large-scale projects; recognises, however, the need to promote and support small-scale cultural initiatives, which are of particular importance for endogenous development and can help conserve the cultural heritage and promote local and regional development and socio-economic growth in general;

9.  Urges the Commission to include in the guidelines governing the next generation of structural funds for cultural heritage a compulsory quality control system, to apply throughout a project’s life-cycle;

10.  Emphasises the role of the Member States in ensuring both a high level of skill and professional know-how among operators and a business structure that is able to ensure that best practices are implemented in terms of safeguarding cultural heritage, also by using appropriate quality control systems as required by the international charters;

11.  Asks the Commission to ensure that innovative heritage conservation measures and low-impact energy efficiency solutions for historic buildings are treated as eligible in delegated acts, calls for expression of interest and initiatives to develop cohesion policy regulations over the period 2014-2020;

12.  Invites the Member States to look into possible fiscal incentives in relation to restoration, preservation and conservation work, such as reductions in VAT or other taxes, given that European cultural heritage is also managed by private bodies;

13.  Urges the Commission to take stock of best practices in fiscal policies in Europe and recommend the appropriate ones to the Member States; calls on the Member States to follow those recommendations and exchange best practices between themselves in order to ensure maximum encouragement of private support for tangible and intangible cultural heritage projects and maximise economic development and social cohesion impacts in the relevant local environment;

New governance models

14.  Welcomes the Council’s initiative of drafting guidelines for the new participatory governance models for the field of cultural heritage, by promoting the ‘shared resource’ aspect and strengthening links between local, regional, national and European plans;

15.  Asks the Member States to ensure the development of legal tools that allow alternative funding and administration models, such as community involvement, the participation of civil society and public-private partnerships, with a view to implementing actions related to cultural heritage (conservation, restoration, preservation, development and promotion);

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to initiate a Europe-wide dialogue between policymakers across all levels of governance, together with cultural and creative industries, networks of tourism operators, partnerships between private and public actors, and NGOs;

17.  Encourages all stakeholders participating in the governance of cultural heritage to strike a balance between sustainable conservation and development of the economic and social potential of cultural heritage;

18.  Highlights the fact that ERDF cultural heritage projects are a practical example of multi-level governance and of the principle of subsidiarity and represent an important element of ERDF spending; stresses the importance of cross-border cultural projects that contribute to increasing economic and social cohesion and encourage inclusion; calls in this context for measures to be taken to strengthen and expand support for funding through public-private partnership agreements;

19.  Stresses the need for new governance models to include a system of quality control in all alternative forms of funding and administration of cultural heritage;

20.  Urges the Member States to step up controls over expenditure of culture heritage-related components and to foster cooperation in fighting fraud, corruption and any other irregular activity encountered in this area;

21.  Proposes that European legislative proposals should be complemented by an impact assessment regarding cultural heritage, and that where the assessment reveals a negative impact cultural heritage should be excluded from the scope of the legislative proposal as an exception;

The economic and strategic potential of cultural heritage

22.  Notes that cultural heritage contributes to innovative jobs, products, services and processes and can be a source of creative ideas, nurturing the new economy whilst – through appropriate management – having a relatively low impact on the environment;

23.  Recognises that cultural heritage plays a vital role in several of the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives, such as the Digital Agenda, the Innovation Union, the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs and the industrial policy for the globalisation era; calls, therefore, for greater recognition of the role of European cultural heritage as a strategic resource for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth in the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy;

24.  Notes that the field of cultural heritage has the capacity to create high-skilled jobs; urges the Member States to relay initiatives on developing management and conservation training for workers and researchers in the field of cultural heritage; welcomes, in particular, long-term funding perspectives for networks of researchers, as in the case of the Marie Sklodowska Curie grants;

25.  Stresses the importance for European tourism of UNESCO-designated tangible or intangible cultural heritage and natural heritage;

26.  Underlines the possibility of focusing more strongly on cultural tourism in developing macro-regional strategies designed to make it a more integral part of the strategic framework for European cooperation;

27.  Calls on the European institutions and the Member States to promote and support ‘soft travel’ (walking, horse-riding and cycling tours) as a way of opening up new opportunities for cultural and nature-based tourism;

28.  Encourages Member States to work together with regional and local authorities in order to maximise the value of cultural heritage in our societies and its contribution to jobs and growth in the EU;

29.  Points out that cultural tourism, which accounts for 40 % of European tourism, is a key economic sector in terms of potential for growth and employment, whose development should be further enhanced by the use of new technologies; stresses, however, the importance of preserving cultural and natural heritage by shaping sustainable, less invasive and higher value-added forms of tourism, in which the tourism sector is integrated into local development strategies;

30.  Expresses its concern regarding the state of conservation, restoration, preservation and promotion policies for cultural heritage, which is of the greatest importance for European identity; stresses that funding for the safeguarding of cultural heritage has been drastically reduced in some Member States as a consequence of the economic and financial crisis; to this end, calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that adequate funds and initiatives are directed to the valorisation of Europe’s cultural heritage;

31.  Invites the Commission to promote excellence, innovation and competitiveness in the cultural and creative sectors by supporting the work of artists, creators and cultural professionals;

32.  Affirms the urgent need to give cultural heritage its clear place in the Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe;

33.  Draws attention to the need to improve the methodological framework in order to have better statistics related to the field of cultural heritage; calls on the Commission to propose a set of indicators that could be used for monitoring and evaluation of the situation of cultural heritage and that would be uniform for all Member States; underlines the need to obtain, to a greater extent, research findings covering all aspects of cultural heritage and to link them so as to counter fragmentation in this area; points in this connection to the potential of ‘big data’ as regards deriving more knowledge from research projects; stresses that in order to assess the actual and potential economic value of the cultural heritage it is essential to collect statistics more systematically;

34.  Considers that the Commission should classify companies and entities involved in the various aspects of heritage conservation as constituting a specific sector, using traditional methods with added value that facilitate ecological and sustainable conservation;

35.  Recognises the urgent need to address youth unemployment, and stresses that cultural heritage is an area with potential for more and better employment, where the bridge between education and working life can be strengthened, for example through the development of quality apprenticeships, traineeships and start-ups in SMEs and the social economy; encourages Member States in this respect to develop new and innovative funding opportunities to support management and conservation training and education and mobility for workers and researchers in this sector;

36.  Urges the Commission to promote joint cultural heritage and tourism programmes on an integrated and scientific basis, to serve as a benchmark and an example of best practice;

37.  Invites the Member States to strategically plan cultural heritage-related projects that can lead to overall regional and local development, international and interregional cooperation programmes, the creation of new jobs, sustainable rural and urban regeneration, and the preservation and promotion of traditional skills related to cultural heritage restoration;

38.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to draw up an economic and statistical survey of businesses, management entities and specialist professional activities in the cultural heritage conservation and promotion sector and their specific contribution in terms of production and job creation;

39.  Draws attention to the need to create, develop and promote opportunities for mobility and exchange of experiences for those working in the cultural heritage sector, by ensuring that there is genuine professional reciprocity, in line with Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications, through the identification and sharing among Member States of minimum skills levels (ability and knowledge), in particular for the occupation of restorer-curator; calls on the Commission, in this context, to put forward a proposal to extend the appropriate programmes to include mobility of cultural heritage managers and employees (e.g. castle managers) with a view to exchange experiences and best practices;

40.  Calls on the Member States to emphasise the value of their heritage assets by promoting studies to determine the cultural and economic value of the cultural heritage so as to transform the ‘cost’ of its preservation into an ‘investment’ in its value;

41.   Invites the Commission to consider the possibility of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) establishing, under its next Strategic Innovation Agenda, a Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) in the field of cultural heritage and creative industries, thus directly supporting a holistic vision of research and innovation;

42.  Reiterates the importance of promoting in school curricula the inclusion of art, music, theatre and film education as a key to developing knowledge of cultural heritage, artistic practice and expression, and soft skills geared to creativity and innovation;

43.  Encourages the Member States to introduce transdisciplinary themes relating to cultural heritage at various levels of education;

44.  Emphasises the significant potential existing for the development of entrepreneurial activity and of a participative approach in the tourism sector, in particular for tourism SMEs but also for start-ups, the non-profit sector and other organisations that contribute to the preservation, protection and promotion of Europe’s cultural heritage; stresses that, in addition to cultural assets, quality of service and high-level professional skills, the existence of well-trained specialists in the field and online presence are key factors for the success and competitiveness of the European tourism sector; stresses that research, innovation and new technologies, especially in telecommunications, are essential for bringing the cultural heritage closer to the people; also considers that unnecessary burdens on SMEs should be abolished for the sake of their competitiveness, and that legislation which has negative effects on SMEs in the tourism industry should be revised;

Opportunities and challenges

45.  Highlights the potential of the digitisation of cultural heritage, both as a tool for preserving our past and as a source for education research opportunities, quality job creation, better social inclusion, wider access for disabled people or people living in remote areas, and sustainable economic development; stresses that the digitisation of heritage requires a consequent financial effort for small and medium-sized or isolated cultural institutions, and that adequate funding is key to ensuring a larger audience and wider dissemination of this heritage; emphasises that the opportunities afforded by digitisation and new technologies, which would never replace access to the original heritage or the associated social benefits of traditional forms of participation in culture, should not lead to negligence in the conservation of originals or disregard for traditional forms of promoting culture, whether during or after digitisation;

46.  Supports digital innovation in the arts and heritage sector, and notes that the use of e‑infrastructures can engage new audiences and ensure better access to and exploitation of the digital cultural heritage; stresses the relevance of existing tools such as the Europeana website and encourages the improvement of that site’s search criteria with a view to greater user-friendliness;

47.  Underlines the need to improve the level of digitisation, preservation and online availability of cultural heritage, in particular the European film heritage;

48.  Stresses the importance of developing a true democratic and participative narrative for European heritage, including that of religious and ethnic minorities; draws attention to the presence of heritage sites which embed different or contested pasts, and highlights that reconciliation processes should not lead to a suppression of historical consciousness of communities; invites the Member States to reflect on the ethics and methods of presentation of the cultural heritage and to take diversity of interpretations into account;

49.  Affirms that religious heritage constitutes an intangible part of European cultural heritage; stresses that the importance of places, practices and objects linked to religious practices should not be disregarded in a discourse of European cultural heritage or be subjected to any form of discriminatory treatment;

50.  Considers that historical religious heritage, including architecture and music, must be preserved for its cultural value, regardless of its religious origins;

51.  Emphasises the importance of intercultural dialogue both within and outside Europe, and believes the Union should promote such dialogue as an appropriate tool against radicalism of whatever origin;

52.  Draws attention to the specific characteristics of national minorities in the Member States regarding cultural heritage; calls, accordingly, for the preservation of their cultural heritage and for the promotion and protection of cultural diversity;

53.  Stresses that cultural discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities should be avoided;

54.  Stresses the importance of supporting cultural activities of migrant communities;

55.  Reaffirms the important contribution of cultural heritage to the cultural and creative industries as well as to social inclusion through culture;

56.  Highlights the importance of improving accessibility to cultural heritage sites for people with disabilities;

57.  Points out the importance of preserving cultural landscapes and, in particular, intangible cultural heritage which represents a living culture and fuels traditional crafts, and calls on the Commission to include this to a larger extent in the respective programmes;

58.  Stresses the importance of the gastronomic heritage, which must be protected and supported; considers that the resources allocated to this area can be optimised through interaction with other EU policies, such as the common agricultural policy and consumer protection policy;

59.  Points out that the cultural heritage and tourism are mutually beneficial since, on the one hand, the cultural heritage generates substantial earnings for the tourism industry, while, on the other hand, tourism is good for culture, encouraging the display and conservation of cultural assets and generating revenue needed for their preservation;

60.  Stresses that cultural tourism has a major role to play in preserving and realising the value of our cultural heritage, which includes not only the physical heritage and landscape, but also the intangible heritage, such as languages and religious and culinary traditions;

61.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to continue to cooperate with a view to implementing, at all the respective levels, the actions aimed at the promotion of cultural heritage and cultural tourism included in the Commission communication of 30 June 2010 entitled ‘Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe’ (COM(2010)0352

62.  Points to the significance – in the light of what are profound demographic and societal changes – of our common European cultural heritage and of the planned European year with regard to citizens’ identification with the European Union and to strengthening a sense of community within the Union;

63.  Is of the opinion that, for the coming generations in particular, an appreciation of Europe’s common cultural heritage provides direction and scope for developing a European identity, and values such as getting along and respecting each other, beyond Member State borders; therefore also recommends that, inter alia when the European Year of Cultural Heritage is being structured, particular account be taken of the younger generation;

64.  Welcomes the great success of the European Capitals of Culture; calls for these cities to be linked as part of a network so as to extend the focus on the areas concerned, to provide for an exchange of experience and good practice, including with a view to helping future candidates, and to facilitate the organisation of events and specific circuits;

65.  Encourages the use of cultural heritage as an educational tool to deal with societal issues in order to bring people living in Europe closer together;

66.  Draws attention to the environmental threats affecting an important number of heritage sites within the EU, and urges that the consequences of climate change and human pressure should be takes into account by Member States in their long-term funding strategies for heritage preservation and restoration methods; recommends, in addition, that the Member States and the EU should promote research to a greater extent in this area, inter alia in order to investigate the multiple effects of climate change on cultural heritage in greater detail and to develop counter-measures;

67.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to build on ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ initiative, launched by Europa Nostra in conjunction with the European Investment Bank, by identifying further examples of European heritage which are in danger, drawing up action plans and seeking possible sources of funding; points out that developing this initiative is one way to attract private investment in heritage enhancement;

68.  Calls on the Commission to better coordinate and support Member States’ efforts to fight the stealing, smuggling and illegal trafficking of cultural heritage assets inside and outside the EU; asks for the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State;

69.  Recalls the importance of protecting and conserving cultural heritage, not only from the ravages of time but also from hooliganism and despoliation; points out that many archaeological sites are still at risk of despoliation by organised relic hunters, particularly underwater sites where access and surveillance by the authorities is difficult; calls, in this connection, for more effective cooperation between Member States in the identification and recovery of cultural goods and the prevention of illegal trafficking in such items;

70.  Emphasises the role that cultural heritage plays in the Union’s external relations through policy dialogue and cooperation with third countries, and calls on the Member States, the Commission and the Council to revitalise cultural diplomacy; in addition, points to the potential afforded by interdisciplinary research projects with regard to preserving cultural heritage involving Member States and non-EU countries;

71.  Calls for a strong commitment on the part of the Member States, the EU and the international community to prevent, protect, document and restore in cases in which EU cultural heritage or that of non-member countries is intentionally threatened and damaged as an act of war and violation of cultural and religious identity, also by cooperating with international organisations such as ICCROM, ICBS (International Committee of the Blue Shield), civil and military authorities, cultural institutions and professional associations;

72.  Encourages the adoption of international agreements to prevent illicit trafficking of cultural heritage; highlights the need for the EU, together with the UN and UNESCO, to defend heritage in danger and fight looting and destruction of cultural objects in conflict areas;

73.  Points to the potential stemming from the know-how available in the EU as regards the preservation of cultural artefacts damaged or destroyed as a result of terrorism and war;

74.  Supports the creation of transnational cultural tourism products which reflect common European values and heritage; calls on the Commission to seek greater cooperation with Member States and other organisations which formulate culture and tourism policies, such as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and UNESCO, and to continue to co-finance and promote networks, cross-border regional projects and, in close cooperation with the Council of Europe, the European Cultural Routes, which are the best example of transnational pan-European thematic tourism projects;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 221.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 104.
(5) OJ L 159, 28.5.2014, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 175, 27.6.2013, p. 1.
(7) Adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 13 October 2005; opened for signature to member states in Faro (Portugal) on 27 October of the same year; entered into force on 1 June 2011.
(8) OJ C 183, 14.6.2014, p. 36.
(9) OJ C 463, 23.12.2014, p. 1.
(10) OJ C 463, 23.12.2014, p. 4.
(11) OJ L 283, 29.10.2011, p. 39.
(12) Venice Charter adopted by ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites) in 1965; Granada Convention adopted by the Council of Europe in 1985; Valletta Convention adopted by the Council of Europe in 1992.
(13) See: Article 3(1)(e) of Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013.


Follow up to the European citizens' initiative Right2Water
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European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 on the follow-up to the European Citizens’ Initiative Right2Water (2014/2239(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0294A8-0228/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption(1) (hereinafter ‘the Drinking Water Directive’),

–  having regard to Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy(2) (hereinafter ‘the WFD’),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on the citizens’ initiative(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/23/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the award of concession contracts(4),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 November 2012 entitled ‘A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources’ (COM(2012)0673),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 March 2014 on the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!’ (COM(2014)0177) (hereinafter ‘the communication’),

–  having regard to the Commission’s ‘Synthesis Report on the Quality of Drinking Water in the EU examining the Member States’ reports for the period 2008-2010 under Directive 98/83/EC’ (COM(2014)0363),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the aforementioned Commission communication of 19 March 2014(5),

–  having regard to the report of the European Environment Agency (EEA) entitled ‘The European environment – state and outlook 2015’,

–  having regard to the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 28 July 2010 entitled ‘The human right to water and sanitationʼ(6), and the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 18 December 2013 entitled ‘The human right to safe drinking water and sanitationʼ(7),

–  having regard to all the resolutions on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 on addressing the challenge of water scarcity and droughts in the European Union(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2012 on the implementation of EU water legislation, ahead of a necessary overall approach to European water challenges(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2014 on the EU and the global development framework after 2015(10),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Petitions (A8-0228/2015),

A.  whereas ‘Right2Water’ is the first European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to have met the requirements set out in Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 on the citizens’ initiative and to have been heard by Parliament after receiving the support of almost 1,9 million citizens;

B.  whereas the human right to water and sanitation encompasses the dimensions of availability, accessibility, acceptability, affordability and quality;

C.  whereas the full implementation of the human right to water and sanitation, as recognised by the UN and supported by the EU Member States, is essential for life, and whereas the proper management of water resources plays a crucial role in guaranteeing sustainable water use and safeguarding the world’s natural capital; whereas the combined effects of human activity and climate change mean that the whole of the EU’s Mediterranean region and some Central European regions are now classified as water-scarce, semi-desert regions;

D.  whereas, as stated in the EEA’s 2015 report on the state of the environment, loss rates owing to leakages from pipes in Europe currently amount to between 10 % and 40 %;

E.  whereas access to water is among the keys to achieving sustainable development; whereas focusing development assistance on improving the supply of drinking water and sanitation is an efficient way of pursuing fundamental poverty eradication objectives, as well as promoting social equality, public health, food security and economic growth;

F.  whereas at least 748 million people do not have sustainable access to safe drinking water, and a third of the world population lacks basic sanitation; whereas, as a result, the right to health is threatened and diseases spread, causing suffering and death and posing major impediments to development; whereas about 4 000 children die daily from water-borne diseases or due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene; whereas the lack of access to potable water kills more children than AIDS, malaria and smallpox combined; whereas there is, however, a clear downward trend in these numbers and their decline can and must be accelerated;

G.  whereas access to water also has a security dimension which requires improved regional cooperation;

H.  whereas lack of access to water and sanitation has consequences for the realisation of other human rights; whereas water challenges disproportionately affect women, given that in many developing countries they are traditionally responsible for domestic water supply; whereas women and girls suffer most from the lack of access to adequate and decent sanitation, which often limits their access to education and makes them more vulnerable to diseases;

I.  whereas every year, three and a half million people die of water-borne illnesses;

J.  whereas the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entered into force in 2013, created a complaint mechanism allowing individuals or groups to file formal complaints on violations of the human right to water and sanitation, among other rights;

K.  whereas in developing countries and emerging economies, demand for water is increasing from all sectors, in particular for energy and agriculture; whereas climate change, urbanisation and demographic developments may pose a serious threat to water availability in many developing countries, and an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in water-stressed countries by 2025;

L.  whereas the EU is the largest donor in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, with 25 % of its annual global humanitarian funding dedicated solely to supporting development partners in this area; whereas, however, a 2012 European Court of Auditors’ Special Report on European Union development assistance for drinking-water supply and basic sanitation in sub-Saharan countries pointed out the need to improve aid effectiveness and the sustainability of the projects supported by the EU;

M.  whereas the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe declared that ‘access to water must be recognised as a fundamental human right because it is essential to life on earth and is a resource that must be shared by humankind’;

N.  whereas the privatisation of basic utilities in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s has, inter alia, hampered the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on both water and sanitation, as the focus of investors on cost recovery has, among other things, intensified inequalities in the provision of such services, at the expense of low-income households; whereas in light of the failure of water privatisation, the transfer of water services from private companies to local authorities is a growing trend in the water sector all around the world;

O.  whereas water provision is a natural monopoly and revenues from the water management cycle should cover and at all times be earmarked for both the costs and the protection of water services and improvement of the water management cycle, on condition that the public interest is safeguarded;

P.  whereas the absence of adequate water and sanitation has a serious impact on health and social development, especially for children; whereas the contamination of water resources is a major cause of diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, and leads to other major diseases such as cholera, schistosomiasis, and trachoma;

Q.  whereas water has social, economic and ecological functions and managing the water cycle correctly for the benefit of all will safeguard its continued and stable availability in the current context of climate change;

R.  whereas Europe is particularly sensitive to climate change and whereas water is one of the first sectors to be affected;

S.  whereas the ECI was set up as a mechanism of participatory democracy with the aim of encouraging debate at EU level and citizens’ direct involvement in EU decision‑making, and is an excellent opportunity for the EU institutions to re-engage with citizens;

T.  whereas Eurobarometer surveys have consistently shown very low levels of trust in the EU among EU citizens in recent years;

The ECI as an instrument of participatory democracy

1.  Takes the view that the ECI is a unique democratic mechanism which has significant potential to help bridge the gap between European and national social and civil society movements, and to promote participatory democracy at the EU level; believes, however, that in order to be able to develop the democratic mechanism even more, an evaluation of past experience and a reform of the citizens’ initiative are indispensable, and that the Commission’s actions – which can include, where appropriate, the possibility of introducing suitable elements into legislative revisions or new legislative proposals – must better reflect the demands of the ECI when these are within its competence, and especially when they express human rights concerns;

2.  Stresses that the Commission should ensure the utmost transparency during the two-month analysis phase, that a successful ECI should receive proper legal support and advice from the Commission and should be properly publicised, and that promoters and supporters should be kept fully informed and updated throughout the ECI process;

3.  Insists that the Commission implement the ECI Regulation effectively and proceed with the removal of all administrative burdens encountered by citizens when submitting or supporting an ECI, and urges it to consider implementing a common ECI registration system for all Member States;

4.  Welcomes the fact that the support of almost 1,9 million EU citizens from all Member States for this ECI concurs with the Commission’s decision to exclude water and sanitation services from the Concessions Directive;

5.  Calls on the Commission to maintain and confirm the exclusion of water and sanitation services from the Concessions Directive in any eventual review of this directive;

6.  Considers it regrettable that the communication lacks ambition, does not meet the specific demands made in the ECI and limits itself to reiterating existing commitments; stresses that the response given by the Commission to the Right2Water ECI is insufficient, as it does not make any fresh contribution and does not introduce all the measures that might help to achieve the goals; asks the Commission, with regard to this particular ECI, to lead a comprehensive information campaign on the measures that have already been taken in the field of water and how these measures could contribute to the achievements of the objectives of the Right2Water ECI;

7.  Considers that many of the petitions concerning water quality and management come from Member States which are not well-represented in the EU-wide public consultation launched in June 2014, and stresses that there may therefore be some inconsistency between the results of the public consultation and the situation highlighted by petitions;

8.  Hopes that the Commission and the Vice‑President responsible for sustainability will make a clear political commitment to ensuring that appropriate action is taken in response to the concerns raised by this ECI;

9.  Reiterates the commitment of its Committee on Petitions to give a voice to petitioners on issues concerning fundamental rights, and recalls that the petitioners presenting the Right2Water ECI have expressed their agreement with declaring water a human right that is guaranteed at EU level;

10.  Calls on the Commission, in line with the primary objective of the Right2Water ECI, to come forward with legislative proposals, and, if appropriate, a revision of the WFD, that would recognise universal access and the human right to water; advocates, moreover, that universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation be recognised in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

11.  Stresses that if the Commission neglects successful and widely supported ECIs in the framework of the democratic mechanism established by the Lisbon Treaty, the EU as such will lose credibility in the eyes of citizens;

12.  Calls on the Commission to introduce information and education measures at EU level to promote the culture of water as a common asset, measures to raise awareness and promote more mindful individual behaviour (to save water), measures relating to the conscious development of policies concerning the management of natural resources, and support for public, participatory and transparent management;

13.  Considers it necessary to frame water policies that encourage the rational use, recycling and reuse of water resources, which are vital issues for integrated management; believes that this will enable costs to be reduced, help save the natural resource and ensure that the environment is properly managed;

14.  Calls on the Commission to discourage the practices of water grabbing and hydraulic fracturing and make them subject to environmental impact studies;

The right to water and sanitation

15.  Recalls that the UN affirms that the human right to water and sanitation entitles everyone to water for personal and domestic uses which is of good quality, safe, physically accessible, affordable, sufficient and acceptable; points out that in accordance with a further UN recommendation, 3 % of household income should be seen as a maximum for water payments where payments apply;

16.  Backs the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and stresses the importance of his work and that of his predecessor on recognition of this right;

17.  Deplores the fact that in the EU-28 more than 1 million people still lack access to a safe and clean drinking water supply and nearly 2 % of the population lacks access to sanitation, according to the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), and therefore urges the Commission to act immediately;

18.  Calls on the Commission to recognise the importance of the human right to water and sanitation and of water as a public good and a fundamental value for all EU citizens and not as a commodity; expresses its concern that since 2008, due to the financial and economic crisis and to the austerity policies which have increased poverty in Europe and the number of low-income households, an increasing number of people have been facing difficulties in paying their water bills and that affordability is becoming a matter of growing concern; rejects water cut-offs and the enforced switching-off of the water supply, and asks Member States to put an immediate end to these situations when they are due to socioeconomic factors in low-income households; welcomes the fact that in some Member States ‘water banks’ or minimum water quotas are being used in an effort to help the most vulnerable with their utility costs, to guarantee water as an inalienable component of fundamental rights;

19.  Calls on the Commission, given the effects of the recent economic crisis, to collaborate with the Member States and regional and local authorities to conduct a study on water poverty issues, including issues of access and affordability; urges the Commission to further support and facilitate cooperation amongst water operators to aid those in less developed and rural areas, in order to support access to good quality water for all citizens in those areas;

20.  Calls on the Commission to identify areas in which water shortage is an existing or potential issue, and to help the Member States, regions and areas concerned, in particular rural areas and deprived urban areas, to address this issue properly;

21.  Stresses that the Commission’s alleged neutrality regarding water ownership and management is in contradiction with the privatisation programmes imposed on some Member States by the Troika;

22.  Recognises that, as stated in the WFD, water is not a commodity but a public good that is vital to human life and dignity, and reminds the Commission that Treaty rules require the EU to remain neutral in relation to national decisions governing the ownership regime of water undertakings, therefore it should by no means promote the privatisation of water undertakings in the context of an economic adjustment programme or any other EU procedure of economic policy coordination; given that these are services of general interest and are thus mainly in the public interest, calls on the Commission to permanently exclude water and sanitation and wastewater disposal from internal market rules and from any trade agreement, and to provide them at affordable prices, and calls on both the Commission and the Member States to ensure that they are managed technically, financially and administratively in an efficient, effective and transparent manner;

23.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to review the governance of water policy and to re-establish it on the basis of active participation, i.e. transparency of the decision-making process and openness towards citizens;

24.  Takes the view that, with regard to regulation and control, the public ownership of water needs to be protected by encouraging public, transparent and participatory management models in which, in certain cases only, the public ownership authority would be able to concede some management tasks to private initiatives, on strictly regulated terms and always guaranteeing the right to the resource and to adequate sanitation;

25.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure a comprehensive water supply characterised by affordable prices, high quality and fair working conditions and subject to democratic controls;

26.  Calls on the Member States to support the promotion of education and awareness-raising campaigns for citizens in order to preserve and save water resources and to ensure greater civic participation;

27.  Calls on the Member States to ensure non-discrimination in access to water services, ensuring their provision to all, including marginalised user groups;

28.  Calls on the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the Member States to support municipalities in the EU which lack the necessary capital to access technical assistance, available EU funding and long-term loans at a preferential interest rate, particularly for the purpose of maintaining and renewing water infrastructure in order to ensure the provision of high quality water and extend water and sanitation services to the most vulnerable population groups, including the poor and residents of the outermost and remote regions; stresses the importance of open, democratic and participatory governance to ensure that the most cost-effective solutions with regard to water resources management are implemented for the benefit of society as a whole; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure transparency of the financial resources generated through the water management cycle;

29.  Recognises that water and sanitation services are services of general interest and that water is not a commodity but a common good, and therefore should be provided at affordable prices that respect people’s right to a minimum quality of water and provide for the application of a progressive charge; asks the Member States to ensure that a fair, equitable, transparent and adequate system for water and sanitation charges is applied so that all members of the public are guaranteed access to high quality services irrespective of their income;

30.  Notes that water needs to be understood as an eco-social asset instead of as a mere production element;

31.  Recalls that access to water is essential for agriculture in order to realise the right to adequate food;

32.  Calls on the Commission to support strongly efforts by Member States to develop and upgrade infrastructure that provides access to irrigation, sewerage and drinking water supply services;

33.  Considers that the Drinking Water Directive has greatly contributed to the availability of high-quality drinking water across the EU and calls for decisive action by the Commission and the Member States in order to realise the environmental and health benefits available from favouring tap water consumption;

34.  Reminds the Member States of their responsibility in implementing EU law; urges them to fully implement the Drinking Water Directive and all related legislation; reminds them to identify their spending priorities and to make full use of the opportunities for EU financial support in the water sector afforded by the new financial programming period (2014‑2020), in particular through an investment priority specifically centred on water management;

35.  Recalls the conclusions of the European Court of Auditors’ Special Report on the integration of EU water policy objectives with the Common Agricultural Policy, which state that ‘the instruments currently used by the CAP to address water concerns have not so far managed to achieve sufficient progress towards the ambitious policy targets set as regards water’; believes that better integration of water policy with other policies, such as those on agriculture, is essential in order to improve water quality across Europe;

36.  Highlights the importance of full and effective implementation of the WFD, the Groundwater Directive, the Drinking Water Directive and the Urban Wastewater Directive, and considers it vital to better coordinate their implementation with that of the directives on marine environment, biodiversity and flood protection; is concerned that the Union’s sectoral policy instruments do not sufficiently contribute to achieving the environmental quality standards for priority substances and the phasing-out objective for discharges, emissions and losses of priority hazardous substances in accordance with Article 4(1)(a) and Article 16(6) of the WFD; calls on the Commission and the Member States to bear in mind that water management has to be incorporated as a cross-cutting factor in legislation on other fields quintessential to it, such as energy, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, etc., in order to prevent pollution for example from illegal and unregulated hazardous waste sites or oil extraction or exploration; recalls that cross-compliance under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) sets out statutory management requirements based on existing EU laws relevant to farmers and rules of good agricultural and environmental conditions, including on water; recalls that farmers must abide by these rules in order to receive full CAP payments;

37.  Calls on the Member States to:

   Impose an obligation on water suppliers to indicate the physicochemical characteristics of the water on water bills;
   Draft urban plans according to the availability of water resources;
   Increase controls and monitoring of pollutants, and plan immediate actions aimed at the removal and sanitisation of toxic substances;
   Take action to reduce the considerable leakages from pipes in Europe and to renew the inadequate water supply networks;

38.  Considers it necessary to establish a priority order or hierarchy for sustainable water use; calls on the Commission to come forward with an analysis and proposals as appropriate;

39.  Emphasises that Member States have committed themselves to the human right to water through their backing for the UN Declaration and that this right is supported by the majority of citizens and operators in the EU;

40.  Stresses that support for the Right2Water ECI and its objectives has been further demonstrated by the large numbers of citizens in countries such as Germany, Austria, Belgium, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg, Italy and Ireland who have spoken out on the issue of water and its ownership and provision;

41.  Notes that since 1988 its Committee on Petitions has received a significant number of petitions from EU citizens in many Member States expressing their concerns about water supply and quality and wastewater management; draws attention to a number of negative factors deplored by petitioners – such as waste landfills, failure by authorities to control water quality effectively, and irregular or unlawful agricultural and industrial practices – which are responsible for poor water quality and thus have an impact on the environment and on human and animal health; considers that these petitions demonstrate a genuine interest on the part of citizens in the thorough enforcement and further development of sustainable water-related EU legislation;

42.  Strongly urges the Commission to take the concerns and warnings expressed by citizens in such petitions seriously and to act on them, in particular given the urgent need to address the problem of diminishing water resources as a result of overuse and climate change, while there is still time to prevent pollution and mismanagement; expresses its concern about the number of infringement procedures concerning water quality and management;

43.  Calls on the Member States to complete their River Basin Management Plans as a matter of urgency and as a key element in the enforcement of the Water Framework Directive, and to implement them properly with full respect for the overriding ecological criteria; draws attention to the fact that certain Member States are increasingly confronted with damaging floods which have a severe impact on the local population; points out that the River Basin Management Plans under the Water Framework Directive, and the Flood Risk Management Plans under the Floods Directive, afford a great opportunity to exploit synergies between these instruments, thereby helping to provide clean water in sufficient quantities while reducing flood risks; recalls, furthermore, that each Member State should have a central webpage to provide information on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, so as to facilitate an overview of water quality and management;

Water services and the internal market

44.  Notes that countries across the EU, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Germany and Italy, have seen the potential or actual loss of public ownership of water services become a major issue of concern to citizens; recalls that the choice of method of water management is based on the subsidiarity principle, as laid down in Article 14 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in Protocol (No 26) on services of general interest, which highlights the special importance of public services for social and territorial cohesion in the Union; recalls that water supply and sewerage enterprises are services of general interest and have the general mission of ensuring that the entire population is provided with high quality water at socially acceptable prices and minimising the negative environmental impacts of waste water;

45.  Stresses that, in line with the principle of subsidiarity, the Commission should remain neutral regarding Member States’ decisions relating to the ownership of water services and should not promote the privatisation of water services either through legislation or in any other way;

46.  Recalls that the option of re-municipalising water services should continue to be ensured in the future without any restriction, and may be kept under local management if so chosen by the competent public authorities; recalls that water is a basic human right that should be accessible and affordable to all; highlights that Member States have a duty to ensure that water is guaranteed to all regardless of the operator, while making sure that the operators provide safe drinking water and improved sanitation;

47.  Stresses that the special character of water and sanitation services, such as production, distribution and treatment, makes it imperative that they be excluded from any trade agreements the EU is negotiating or considering; urges the Commission to grant a legally binding exclusion for water services, sanitation services and wastewater disposal services in the ongoing negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement; stresses that all future trade and investment agreements should include clauses on genuine access to drinking water for the people of the third country to which the agreement pertains in line with the Union’s long-lasting commitment to sustainable development and human rights, and that genuine access to drinking water for the people of the third country to which the agreement pertains must be a precondition for any future free trade agreements;

48.  Recalls the significant number of petitions opposing the inclusion of essential public services such as water and sanitation in the negotiations for the TTIP; calls on the Commission to increase the accountability of water suppliers;

49.  Calls on the Commission to act as a facilitator to promote cooperation amongst water operators via sharing of best regulatory and other practices and initiatives, mutual learning and common experience, and by supporting voluntary benchmarking exercises; welcomes the call in the Commission’s communication for increased transparency in the water sector and acknowledges efforts made thus far, whilst noting that any benchmarking exercise should be voluntary given the wide variation amongst water services and regional and local specificities across Europe; further notes that any such exercise which includes only financial indicators should not be considered equivalent to transparency measures and that other criteria crucial for citizens should be included, such as water quality, measures to mitigate affordability problems, information on what proportion of the population has access to adequate water supplies and the levels of public participation in water governance, in a manner comprehensible to both citizens and regulators;

50.  Stresses the importance of national regulatory authorities in ensuring fair and open competition between service providers, facilitating faster implementation of innovative solutions and technical progress, promoting efficiency and quality of water services, and ensuring the protection of consumers’ interests; calls on the Commission to support initiatives for regulatory cooperation in the EU in order to accelerate benchmarking, mutual learning and exchange of best regulatory practices;

51.  Believes that there should be an assessment of European water and sanitation projects and programmes from the perspective of human rights, with a view to developing appropriate policies, guidelines and practices; invites the Commission to set up a benchmarking system (for water quality, affordability, sustainability, coverage, etc.) in order to improve the quality of public water supply and sanitation services across the EU, and as a way of empowering citizens;

52.  Recalls that water and sanitation services concessions are subject to the principles laid down in the Treaty and must therefore be awarded in accordance with the principles of transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination;

53.  Stresses that production, distribution and treatment of water and sanitation services must remain excluded from the Concessions Directive also in any future revision thereof;

54.  Recalls that Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market attracted strong opposition from civil society in many respects, including matters relating to services of general economic interest such as water distribution and supply services and wastewater management;

55.  Highlights the importance of public-public and public-private partnerships exchanging best practice on the basis of non-profit cooperation among water operators, and welcomes the Commission’s recognition for the first time, in the communication, of the importance of public-public partnerships;

56.  Welcomes the successful efforts of some municipalities to enhance public participation in improving water service provision and the protection of water resources, and recalls that local institutions play an important role in the decision-making process regarding water management;

57.  Calls on the Committee of the Regions to be more involved in this ECI with a view to encouraging greater involvement in the issue on the part of regional authorities;

58.  Recalls the obligation to guarantee access to justice and information in environmental matters, and public participation in decision-making, as laid down in the Aarhus Convention; calls, therefore, on the Commission, the Member States and their regional and local authorities to respect the principles and rights enshrined in the Aarhus Convention; recalls that citizens’ awareness of their rights is fundamental to achieving the widest possible participation in the decision-making process; urges the Commission, therefore, to proactively set up a campaign to inform EU citizens about the achievements of the Aarhus Convention in the field of transparency and about the effective tools already at their disposal, and to comply with the provisions referring to the EU institutions; calls on the Commission to develop transparency, accountability and participation criteria as a means to improving the performance, sustainability and cost‑effectiveness of water services;

59.  Urges the Member States and regional and local authorities to move towards a genuine Social Agreement for Water, with the aim of guaranteeing the availability, stability and safe management of the resource, in particular by enacting policies such as the establishment of water solidarity funds and other mechanisms for social action to support people who are unable to afford access to water and sanitation services so as to meet security of supply requirements and not to endanger the human right to water; encourages all the Member States to introduce social action mechanisms such as those that already exist in some EU countries to safeguard the provision of drinking water for citizens in genuine hardship;

60.  Calls on the Commission to organise sharing of experiences between Member States concerning the social aspect of water policy;

61.  Condemns the fact that denial of the provision of water and sanitation to disadvantaged and vulnerable communities is being used in a coercive manner in some Member States; reiterates that in some Member States the closure of public wells by the authorities has made it difficult for the most vulnerable groups to have access to water;

62.  Notes that Member States should pay special attention to the needs of vulnerable groups in society and also to ensuring that those in need have access to affordable quality water;

63.  Calls on each Member State to appoint a water services Ombudsman in order to ensure that water-related issues such as complaints and suggestions on water service quality and access can be processed by an independent body;

64.  Encourages water companies to reinvest economic revenues generated from the water management cycle in maintaining and improving water services and protecting water resources; recalls that the principle of cost recovery of water services includes environmental and resource costs whilst respecting both the principles of fairness, transparency and the human right to water and the obligations of the Member States to implement their cost recovery obligations in the best way possible as long as this does not compromise the purposes and the achievement of the objectives of the WFD; recommends putting an end to practices where economic resources are diverted from the water sector to finance other policies, including when water bills contain concession fees that have not been earmarked for water infrastructure; recalls the worrying state of infrastructure in some Member States where water is being wasted owing to leaks from unsuitable and obsolete distribution networks, and urges the Member States to reinforce investment in improving infrastructure as well as other water services as a premise to guarantee the human right to water in the future;

65.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that all information on water quality and water management is made available by the competent authorities to the citizens concerned in an easily accessible and understandable form, and that citizens are fully informed and consulted in good time about all water management projects; notes, moreover, that in the public consultation launched by the Commission, 80 % of the participants considered it essential to improve the transparency of water quality monitoring;

66.  Calls on the Commission to monitor carefully the use of direct and indirect EU funding for water management projects and to ensure that such funding is used only for the projects for which it was intended, bearing in mind that access to water is pivotal in reducing disparities between EU citizens and enhancing economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU; calls on the Court of Auditors, in this connection, to verify that the criteria relating to efficiency and sustainability are fulfilled satisfactorily;

67.  Calls on the Commission to take into consideration the current lack of investment in balanced water management, bearing in mind that water is one of the shared assets of EU citizens;

68.  Calls, therefore, for increased transparency among water operators, in particular through the development of a private and public governance code for water companies in the EU; takes the view that this code should be based on the principle of efficiency and should always be subject to the environmental, economic, infrastructure and public participation provisions of the WFD; also calls for the creation of a national regulator;

69.  Calls on the Commission to respect the principle of subsidiarity and powers and responsibilities in relation to water, with regard to both the various levels of government and to local water associations which manage water services (springs and their upkeep);

70.  Regrets that the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive is still not fully implemented in the Member States; calls for Union financial resources to be deployed as a priority in areas where EU environmental legislation is not respected, including wastewater treatment; notes that compliance rates have proven to be higher where costs were recovered and the ‘polluter pays’ principle has been implemented and calls for the Commission to review the adequacy of current instruments to deliver a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment;

71.  Points out that, in the case of water, the services sector offers a huge potential for creating jobs through environmental integration, and for fostering innovation through technology transfer between sectors and through research, development and innovation applied to the entire water cycle; calls, therefore, for particular attention to be paid to boosting the sustainable use of water as renewable energy;

72.  Encourages the Commission to draw up a European legislative framework for the reuse of treated effluent in order, in particular, to protect sensitive activities and areas; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to promote sharing of experience between the health agencies of different Member States;

73.  Urges the Commission, in any revision of the WFD, to ensure that quantitative assessments of water affordability problems become a mandatory requirement of reporting exercises by Member States as regards the implementation of the WFD;

74.  Asks the Commission to explore the possibility for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) to monitor and report on any water affordability issues in the 28 Member States;

75.  Points out that sound water management is shaping up to be a priority, both ecologically and environmentally, for the decades to come, as it fulfils energy and agriculture requirements and responds to economic and social imperatives;

Internalisation of the cost of pollution

76.  Recalls that, through water bills, EU citizens are bearing the cost of purification of water and water treatment, and stresses that enacting policies that effectively combine and reconcile water resource protection objectives with cost savings, such as ‘control at source’ approaches, are more efficient and financially preferable; recalls that according to the EEA’s 2015 report on the state of the environment, more than 40 % of rivers and coastal waters are affected by diffuse pollution caused by agriculture, while between 20 % and 25 % are subjected to pollution deriving from point sources such as industrial structures, sewage systems and wastewater management networks; highlights the importance of effective implementation of the WFD and the Drinking Water Directive, better coordination as regards their implementation, more coherence when drafting legislation and more proactive measures for saving water resources and substantially increasing water use efficiency across all sectors (industries, households, agriculture, distribution networks); recalls that ensuring sustainable protection of natural areas such as freshwater ecosystems is also key to development and crucial for providing drinking water supplies, and reduces costs for citizens and operators;

EU external policy and development policy in the water sector

77.  Stresses that EU development policies should fully integrate universal access to water and sanitation via the promotion of public-public and public-private partnerships based on solidarity between water operators and workers in different countries, and make use of a range of instruments to promote best practices by sharing of knowledge, as well as development and cooperation programmes in this sector; reiterates that the development policies of the Member States should recognise the human rights dimension of access to safe drinking water and sanitation and that a rights-based approach requires support for legislative frameworks, financing and the strengthening of the voice of civil society in order to realise these rights in practice;

78.  Reaffirms that access to drinking water in a sufficient quantity and of a sufficient quality is a basic human right and considers that national governments have a duty to carry out this obligation;

79.  Highlights, in accordance with current EU legislation and its requirements, the importance of regular evaluation of the quality, purity and safety of water and water resources within the EU, as well as outside its borders;

80.  Underlines that assistance in providing safe drinking water and sanitation should be given high priority in the allocation of EU funds and in assistance programming; calls on the Commission to ensure adequate financial support to capacity-development actions in the water domain, relying on and cooperating with existing international platforms and initiatives;

81.  Insists that the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in developing countries should be given high priority in both official development aid (ODA) and national budgets; recalls that water management is a collective responsibility; favours open-mindedness in relation to different aid modalities, but strict adherence to development effectiveness principles, to policy coherence for development and to an unwavering focus on poverty eradication and the maximisation of the development impact; supports, in this regard, the involvement of local communities in the realisation of projects in developing countries, as well as the principle of community ownership;

82.  Stresses that although progress towards the Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water is on track, 748 million people worldwide lack access to an improved water supply and it is estimated that at least 1.8 billion people drink water that is faecally contaminated, and the sanitation target is far from being met;

83.  Recalls that ensuring sustainable management of groundwater is indispensable to poverty reduction and shared prosperity, as groundwater has the potential to provide an improved source of drinking water for millions of urban and rural poor people;

84.  Calls on the Commission to include water as part of the Agenda for Change, together with sustainable agriculture;

85.  Considers that water should be at the heart of the work in preparation of two major international events in 2015, namely the post-2015 agenda summit and COP21 on climate change; strongly supports, in this context, the inclusion of ambitious and far-reaching targets for water and sanitation, such as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030, to be adopted in September 2015; reiterates that ending poverty through the post-2015 process is only possible if we ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene; stresses that realisation of all SDGs requires mobilisation of much more financing for development than is currently provided, from both developed and developing countries; calls for the creation of a global monitoring mechanism to track progress in achieving universal access to safe drinking water, the sustainable use and development of water resources and the strengthening of equitable, participatory and accountable water governance in all countries; urges the Commission to ensure that aid is spent effectively and that it is better targeted to the WASH sector in the perspective of the post-2015 development agenda;

86.  Underlines the increased risk of water scarcity due to climate change; urges the Commission and the Member States to include among the topics of COP21 the strategic management of water resources and long-term adaptation plans, in order to incorporate a climate-resilient water approach into the future global climate agreement; emphasises that climate-resilient water infrastructure is key for development and poverty reduction; reiterates that without continuous efforts to mitigate climate change consequences, as well as improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environmental dimensions, could be jeopardised;

87.  Notes with concern that the lack of access to water and sanitation in the developing world can have a disproportionate effect on girls and women, especially those of school-attending age where absenteeism and drop-out rates have been linked to the lack of clean, safe and accessible sanitation;

88.  Calls for the allocation of Union and Member State funds to reflect the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, in particular regarding favouring small-scale infrastructure and allocating more funds to operation and maintenance, capacity building and awareness-raising;

89.  Notes with concern that, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, people living in slums generally have to pay more than those living in formal settlements to receive unregulated, poor quality services; urges developing countries to prioritise budget allocations for services for disadvantaged and isolated people;

90.  Recalls that the World Health Organisation has stated that, in the initial situation, without the application of the latest innovative water treatment and saving technologies, between 100 and 200 litres of water per day per person is optimal, while noting that 50 to 100 litres is required to ensure that basic needs are met and few health concerns arise; points out that, according to the recognised fundamental human rights, establishing a minimum quota per person is indispensable to satisfy the basic water needs of populations;

91.  Stresses that access to a basic water requirement should be a non-debatable fundamental human right implicitly and explicitly supported by international law, declarations and state practice;

92.  Calls on governments, international aid agencies, non-governmental organisations and local communities to work to provide all humans with a basic water requirement and to guarantee that water is a human right;

93.  Calls on the Member States to introduce, in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, a pricing policy that respects people’s right to a minimum quantity of water for living and cracks down on waste, providing for the application of a progressive charge that is proportional to the amount of water used;

94.  Encourages measures to be taken to ensure the rational use of water consumption, in order to avoid squandering;

95.  Commends certain water operators which dedicate a percentage of their annual turnover to water partnerships in developing countries, and encourages the Member States and the EU to create the necessary legal framework for putting such partnerships in place;

96.  Calls for effective monitoring of projects carried out through external aid; stresses the need to monitor financing strategies and budgets to ensure that allocated funds address existing disparities and inequalities in access to water and respect the human rights principles of non-discrimination, access to information and participation;

97.  Calls on the Commission to make renewal of ageing drinking water networks a priority in the Investment Plan for Europe by placing these projects on the list of Union projects; stresses the leverage effect which these projects would have on non-relocatable employment, thus helping to stimulate the green economy in Europe;

98.  Calls on the Commission to promote the sharing of knowledge in order for the Member States to conduct surveys of the state of networks, which should make it possible to begin renewal work to put an end to waste;

99.  Calls for greater transparency, in order to inform consumers more fully about water and to contribute to more economical management of water resources; to this end, encourages the Commission to continue its work with Member States in order to share national experiences relating to the establishment of water information systems;

100.  Calls on the Commission to study the desirability of extending to European level the financial support instruments in the sector of international cooperation relating to water and sanitation;

101.  Underlines that efficient and equitable management of water resources relies on the capacity of local governments to deliver services; calls, therefore, on the EU to further support the strengthening of water governance and infrastructure in developing countries, while addressing in particular the needs of vulnerable rural populations;

102.  Supports the Global Water Solidarity Platform launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in order to engage local authorities in finding solutions to water challenges; also welcomes the ‘1 % solidarity for water and sanitation’ and other initiatives taken by citizens and authorities in some Member States in order to support projects in developing countries with funds from consumption fees; notes that such initiatives have been put into practice by several water utilities; reiterates its call on the Commission to encourage solidarity arrangements in this and other areas, for example through dissemination of information, facilitation of partnerships and exchanges of experience, including through a potential partnership between the Commission and Member States, with supplementary EU funding being provided for projects implemented via that initiative; in particular, encourages the promotion of public-public partnerships in water facilities in developing countries, in line with the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) coordinated by UN Habitat;

103.  Calls on the Commission to relaunch the ‘Water Facility’ instrument, which has proved to be effective in fostering better access to water services in developing countries by promoting capacity‑building measures for local communities;

104.  Welcomes the fact that there is considerable support across Europe for the UN resolution on recognising access to clean water and sanitation as a human right;

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

(1) OJ L 330, 5.12.1998, p. 32.
(2) OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 65, 11.3.2011, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 12, 15.1.2015, p. 33.
(6) A/RES/64/292.
(7) A/RES/68/157.
(8) OJ C 9 E, 15.1.2010, p. 33.
(9) OJ C 349 E, 29.11.2013, p. 9.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0059.

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