Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 9 September 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Questions for written answer (interpretation of Rule 130(3) of the Rules of Procedure)
 Suspension or closure of a sitting (interpretation of Rule 191 of the Rules of Procedure)
 Denomination of an interparliamentary delegation
 Fisheries partnership agreement with Guinea-Bissau: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (consent) ***
 Fisheries partnership agreement with Guinea-Bissau: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (resolution)
 Fisheries partnership agreement with Cape Verde: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (consent) ***
 Fisheries partnership agreement with Cape Verde: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (resolution)
 Fisheries partnership agreement with Madagascar: fishing opportunities and financial contribution ***
 Protocol amending the Marrakesh agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (consent) ***
 Protocol amending the Marrakesh agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (resolution)
 Authorisation for Austria, Belgium and Poland to ratify, or to accede to, the Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterways (CMNI)***
 Provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece *
 Urban dimension of EU policies
 Investment for jobs and growth: promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU
 Assessment of the 2012 European Year for active ageing and solidarity between generations
 Implementation of the 2011 White paper on transport
 Women's careers in science and university
 Empowering girls through education in the EU
 EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market

Questions for written answer (interpretation of Rule 130(3) of the Rules of Procedure)
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European Parliament decision of 9 September 2015 concerning the questions for written answer (interpretation of Rule 130(3) of the Rules of Procedure) (2015/2152(REG))
P8_TA(2015)0295

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the letter of 4 September 2015 from the Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs,

–  having regard to Rule 226 of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Decides to append the following interpretation to Rule 130(3) of the Rules of Procedure:

"The expression "by way of exception" is to be interpreted as meaning that the additional question concerns a matter of urgency and that the submission of that question cannot wait until the following month. Furthermore, the number of questions tabled under the second subparagraph of paragraph 3 must be smaller than the norm of five questions per month."

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and the Commission, for information.


Suspension or closure of a sitting (interpretation of Rule 191 of the Rules of Procedure)
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European Parliament decision of 9 September 2015 concerning the suspension or closure of a sitting (interpretation of Rule 191 of the Rules of Procedure) (2015/2153(REG))
P8_TA(2015)0296

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the letter of 4 September 2015 from the Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs,

–  having regard to Rule 226 of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Decides to append the following interpretation to Rule 191 of the Rules of Procedure:" "If a request to suspend or close the sitting is presented, the procedure to vote on that request is to be initiated without undue delay. The usual means of announcing plenary votes should be used and, in line with existing practice, sufficient time should be given for Members to reach the Chamber.By analogy with the second subparagraph of Rule 152(2), if such a request has been rejected, a similar request cannot be tabled again during the same day. In accordance with the interpretation to Rule 22(1), the President has the right to put an end to excessive use of requests presented under this Rule.""

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and the Commission, for information.


Denomination of an interparliamentary delegation
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European Parliament decision of 9 September 2015 on the denomination of an interparliamentary delegation (2015/2842(RSO))
P8_TA(2015)0297

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal of the Conference of Presidents,

–  having regard to its decision of 12 March 2014 on the number of interparliamentary delegations, delegations to joint parliamentary committees and delegations to parliamentary cooperation committees and to multilateral parliamentary assemblies(1),

–  having regard to Rule 212 of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Decides that its delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council shall be renamed "Delegation for relations with Palestine";

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and the Commission, for information.

(1) Texts adopted of that date, P7_TA(2014)0217.


Fisheries partnership agreement with Guinea-Bissau: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (consent) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (11667/2012 – C8-0278/2014 – 2012/0134(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0298A8-0233/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (11667/2012),

–  having regard to the draft protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (11671/2012),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0278/2014),

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(1) on the draft Council decision,

–  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 Fisheries and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0233/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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

(1) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2015)0299.


Fisheries partnership agreement with Guinea-Bissau: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (resolution)
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European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea Bissau (11667/2012 – C8-0278/2014 – 2012/0134(NLE)2015/2119(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0299A8-0236/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (11667/2012),

–  having regard to the draft protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (11671/2012),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and (7), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0278/2014),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2012 on the EU 2011 Report on Policy Coherence for Development(1),

–  having regard to the ex post evaluation report on the Protocol implementing the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Guinea-Bissau (Contrat cadre FISH/2006/20, Specific Convention No 27, September 2010),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(2) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0236/2015),

A.  whereas the overall aim of the Protocol is to enhance fisheries cooperation between the EU and Guinea-Bissau in the interest of both parties by establishing a partnership framework within which to pursue a sustainable fisheries policy while exploiting fishery resources in a responsible and sustainable way in the Guinea-Bissau exclusive economic zone, and to obtain an appropriate share, corresponding to the interests of the EU fleets, of the fishing surpluses available;

B.  whereas the European Union should do everything in its power to ensure that sustainable fisheries agreements concluded with third countries are in the mutual interests of both the EU and the third countries concerned, including their local population and their fishing industry;

C.  whereas the first fisheries agreement between the EEC and Guinea-Bissau dated back to 1980 and whereas from that time until 15 June 2012 the fleets of EEC/EU Member States had access to fishing opportunities in Guinea-Bissau waters for as long as the series of protocols implementing the agreement continued in force;

D.  whereas the fishing opportunities granted to EU fleets under the present Protocol are as follows: 3 700 GRT (gross registered tonnage) for freezer trawlers (shrimp) and 3 500 GRT for freezer trawlers (fin-fish and cephalopods), 28 freezer tuna seiners and longliners, and 12 pole-and-line tuna vessels; whereas the EU–Guinea-Bissau Fisheries Agreement is of great importance as it is one of the EU’s few fisheries agreements allowing access to mixed fisheries;

E.  whereas transfers of funds to Guinea-Bissau under the Agreement, not least in return for access to resources, account for a substantial portion of Guinea Bissau’s budget; whereas, however, transfers under the heading of sectoral cooperation were suspended at one time, because of certain difficulties with the uptake of aid in Guinea-Bissau;

F.  whereas Guinea-Bissau faces shortcomings with regard to socio-economic development in general and the fisheries sector in particular, in significant areas including vocational training, the structure of the sector and recognition of the role played by women in the sector;

G.  whereas, to date, the performance of sectoral cooperation has not been globally satisfactory; whereas, notwithstanding, progress has been recorded in fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance, sanitary inspection capacity and the participation of Guinea Bissau in regional fisheries bodies; whereas there is still room for improvement in terms of ensuring that the agreement does more to promote transparency and accountability in sectoral cooperation and to foster the sustainable development of the Guinea-Bissau fisheries sector and of related industries and activities, so as to ensure that the a greater proportion of the added value created by the exploitation of the country’s natural resources remains in Guinea-Bissau itself;

H.  whereas the fact that industrial shipowners trans-ship or land their catches outside Guinea-Bissau (in Dakar or on the Canary Islands, for example) is one reason why the economic benefits of industrial fishing are minute and limited to modest job creation (148 local crew members under the previous Protocol); whereas in 2010 there was only one fish-processing plant operating in Guinea-Bissau;

I.  whereas although there has recently been some progress, trade in fishery products with the EU has been hampered by Guinea-Bissau’s inability to comply with EU health requirements;

J.  whereas IUU fishing (illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing) in Guinea-Bissau waters is a long-running problem; whereas in 2008 and 2009 the national authorities found 58 vessels operating in breach of the rules, of which 11 had been fishing without a licence and 7 had been fishing in prohibited zones; whereas although some progress has been made and Guinea-Bissau clearly has some means of controlling fishing – including an observer corps and high-speed patrol boats – there are still shortcomings in the fisheries surveillance and control system in Guinea-Bissau’s territorial waters;

K.  whereas the gaps in knowledge that have been found to exist, both as regards the impact of the Agreement on the marine ecosystem and ensuring that access is limited to the surplus stocks that cannot be caught by local fleets, and owing to the dearth of up-to-date biological data (especially after EU fleets ceased to operate in Guinea-Bissau, in 2012) should be treated as a cause for concern and must be remedied as soon as possible;

L.  whereas Parliament must be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedures concerning the Protocol or its renewal;

1.  Considers the Agreement to be a matter of great importance both for Guinea-Bissau and for the EU fleets operating in Guinea-Bissau’s waters; believes, therefore, that the results achieved to date in the field of sectoral cooperation have been unsatisfactory and calls on the Commission to take every step required – by installing mechanisms for increased transparency, accountability and participation of beneficiaries in particular small-scale artisanal fishing communities and, if need be by revising and increasing the sectoral support component of the Agreement, as well as finding better and different ways to increase the take-up rate for that support – in order to reverse the trend seen in recent decades;

2.  Maintains that the Agreement has to promote more genuinely sustainable development of Guinea-Bissau’s fisheries sector and of related industries and activities, in particular small scale fisheries that greatly contribute to food security and local livelihoods, increasing the added value that stays in Guinea-Bissau as a result of exploitation of the country’s natural resources; recognises that advances have been made in recent years, but considers that determined and lasting efforts are needed in order to produce noticeable results; believes that the areas to support, not least with technical assistance, could include institutional capacity building, training of fishing professionals, partnerships with artisanal small-scale fisheries, and stronger emphasis on gender policies so as to confer recognition on, and take advantage of, the role of women (distribution and marketing of fish, storage, first-stage processing, etc.);

3.  Considers that employment possibilities for local seamen on board EU vessels provided for by the Protocol should be fully exploited;

4.  Considers that measures to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the exclusive economic zone of Guinea Bissau should be reinforced, including by means of improved monitoring, control and surveillance through the extensive use of the satellite-based vessel monitoring system, logbooks, inspectors and the implementation of decisions by regional fisheries organisations;

5.  Maintains that sectoral support under the Fisheries Agreement needs to be dovetailed more effectively with development cooperation instruments, especially the European Development Fund (EDF);

6.  Calls on the Commission, despite the efforts that have been made, to continue helping the Guinea-Bissau authorities improve the fisheries surveillance and control system in Guinea-Bissau waters with a view to intensifying measures to combat IUU fishing;

7.  Stresses that this agreement contains a non-discrimination clause; is pleased to see that, in the context of the negotiations, Guinea Bissau has made public the fisheries agreements it has concluded with third countries and that they may be consulted; calls on the Commission to follow closely developments in these agreements and in fishing activities in Guinean waters;

8.  Considers it desirable to improve the quantity and accuracy of data on all catches (targeted and bycatch) and, more generally, the conservation status of fishery resources so that the impact of the Agreement on the marine ecosystem and on fishing communities can be gauged more accurately; and believes that Guinea-Bissau should be helped to develop its own means of obtaining such data; calls on the Commission to ensure that the bodies supervising the implementation of the Agreement, including the Joint Scientific Committee, operate on a more regular and transparent basis;

9.  Calls on the Commission to send Parliament the minutes and conclusions of meetings of the Joint Committee provided for in Article 9 of the Agreement, the multi-annual sectoral programme referred to in Article 3 of the new Protocol and the findings of the related annual assessments, and the minutes and conclusions of the meetings provided for in Article 4 of the new Protocol; calls on the Commission to enable representatives of Parliament to attend Joint Committee meetings as observers and to promote the participation of Guinea Bissau fishing communities; and requests that, during the final year of application of the Protocol and before negotiations are opened for its renewal, the Commission submit a full report to Parliament and the Council on its implementation, without imposing unnecessary restrictions on access to that report;

10.  Considers that the Commission should endeavour to include in the multiannual sectoral programme provided for in Article 3 of the Protocol objectives leading to the actual development of local fisheries, in particular of artisanal fisheries and of the fish processing industry, including by means of more landings in Guinea-Bissau, and other economic activities and partnerships in the fisheries sector;

11.  Considers that the Joint Committee provided for in the Partnership Agreement should ensure that the soundness of all the mechanisms provided for by this Protocol is unquestionable, given the problem of corruption;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Council, within the limits of their powers, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedures concerning the new Protocol and its renewal, pursuant to Article 13(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 218(10) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

13.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

(1) OJ C 72 E, 11.3.2014, p. 21.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0298.


Fisheries partnership agreement with Cape Verde: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (consent) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Protocol between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde (15848/2014 – C8-0003/2015 – 2014/0329(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0300A8-0201/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (15848/2014),

–  having regard to the draft protocol between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde (15849/2014),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0003/2015),

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(1) on the draft Council decision,

–  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 Fisheries and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0201/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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

(1) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2015)0301.


Fisheries partnership agreement with Cape Verde: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (resolution)
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European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Protocol between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde (15848/2014 – C8-0003/2015 – 2014/0329(NLE)2015/2100(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0301A8-0200/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (15848/2014),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde (15849/2014),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0003/2015),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/948/EU of 15 December 2014 on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, and provisional application of the Protocol between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde(1),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(2) on the draft decision,

–  having regard to the evaluation and analysis of the previous Protocol,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0200/2015),

A.  whereas the general aim of the Protocol is to enhance cooperation between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde, thereby creating a partnership framework within which to develop a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of fishery resources in the fishing zone of the Republic of Cape Verde, in the interests of both parties;

B.  whereas in the Protocol, the parties agreed to implement a strict monitoring mechanism in order to ensure sustainable exploitation of the resource; whereas this mechanism shall, in particular, be based on a quarterly exchange of data on shark catches;

C.  whereas both parties committed to fully respect all recommendations made by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT);

D.  whereas both the ICCAT and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) defined shark species as a healthy stock, as corroborated by the scientific meeting of both parties to this Protocol;

E.  whereas the new monitoring mechanism, linked with thresholds of 30 % and 40 % of shark catches which trigger additional measures, is, in particular, a step in the right direction;

F.  whereas the implementation of sectoral support faces delays; whereas the level of achievement is satisfactory, though it is also difficult to determine the impact of European sectoral support compared with other actions carried out in the context of support programmes initiated by other development partners;

G.  whereas the need is to establish a logical intervention framework to better guide and standardise protocol assessments; whereas this should be carried out notably with regard to sectoral support;

1.  Welcomes this new fisheries protocol between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde, adopted in accordance with the sustainability measures of the new common fisheries policy (CFP), from both the environmental and the socioeconomic point of view;

2.  Calls on the Commission to forward to Parliament the minutes and conclusions of the meetings of the Joint Committee provided for in Article 9 of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement, as well as the multiannual sectoral programme provided for in Article 3 of the new protocol;

3.  Calls on the Commission to submit to Parliament and the Council, within the last year of application of the protocol and before the opening of negotiations for its renewal, a full report on its implementation;

4.  Stresses its concern that there was a significant increase in the catch of shark species during the final years of the previous Protocol ; calls on the Commission to report to Parliament on the actions taken by the Joint Committee in response to the science-based study to be carried out as described in Article 4, paragraph 6 of the Annex to the Protocol, in order to have guarantees that this fishery is exploited in a sustainable and responsible way; stresses that Parliament should also be informed about the data obtained as regards shark stocks;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Council, acting within the limits of their respective powers, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedures related to the protocol and its renewal, pursuant to Article 13(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 218(10) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

6.  Requests that the Commission evaluate whether the vessels operating under the provisions of this protocol have complied with the relevant reporting requirements;

7.  Asks the Commission to communicate annually with Parliament on the additional international agreements of Cape Verde so that Parliament may monitor all fishing activities in the region, including those that may be contrary to European fisheries policy, for example, shark finning;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Cape Verde.

(1) OJ L 369, 24.12.2014, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2015)0300


Fisheries partnership agreement with Madagascar: fishing opportunities and financial contribution ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the Republic of Madagascar and the European Community (15225/2014 – C8–0002/2015 – 2014/0319(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0302A8-0196/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (15225/2014),

–  having regard to the draft protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the Republic of Madagascar and the European Community (15226/2014),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(7), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8–0002/2015),

–  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 Fisheries and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0196/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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


Protocol amending the Marrakesh agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (consent) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (06040/2015 – C8-0077/2015 – 2015/0029(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0303A8-0237/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (06040/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (06041/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207(4) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) (v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0077/2015),

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(1) on the draft decision,

–  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 International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0237/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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

(1) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2015)0304.


Protocol amending the Marrakesh agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (resolution)
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European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (06040/2015 – C8-0077/2015 – 2015/0029(NLE)2015/2067(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0304A8-0238/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (06040/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207(4) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0077/2015),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 November 2013 on the state of play of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and preparations for the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference(1),

–  having regard to the ACP-EU JPA resolution on regional integration and modernisation of customs for sustainable development in ACP countries, in cooperation with the EU(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015’(3),

–  having regard to the results of the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Indonesia in December 2013 and the agreement reached there on trade facilitation(4),

–  having regard to the statement by the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council of 27 November 2014(5),

–  having regard to the OECD report of February 2014 entitled ‘The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement – Potential Impact on Trade Costs’,

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(6) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0238/2015),

A.  whereas facilitating trade is primarily a matter for the national authorities, but there is no doubt that in many areas multilateral cooperation can increase gains and reduce costs;

B.  whereas two thirds of the WTO membership need to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA/agreement) before it can enter into force; whereas, in this regard, it calls for all WTO members to ensure that the agreement can enter into force as soon as possible and in particular before the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi in December 2015;

C.  whereas some of the large emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India will not ask for technical assistance; whereas this is to be welcomed as it shows that the assistance available will go to those who are most in need of it;

D.  whereas the EU is working actively to ensure coherence between its various policies (in the areas of trade, cooperation, humanitarian aid, etc.); whereas these policies should be cross-sectoral and be assessed on the basis of impact studies;

E.  whereas the EU is committed to promoting free, fair and open trade which is balanced and of mutual benefit for all; whereas the WTO is the natural framework for the continuation and reaffirmation of these principles;

F.  whereas the EU and its Member States are the largest aid donors in the world; whereas financial assistance for the implementation of the TFA is a measure under the initiative ‘Aid for Trade’ and should have no impact on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) share for Official Development Aid (ODA);

1.  Welcomes the results of the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2013, where negotiations were concluded by the 160 WTO members on the TFA; considers the TFA an important milestone, as it is the first multilateral agreement since the establishment of the WTO in 1995 and will create a blueprint for customs modernisation amongst the 161 WTO members;

2.  Emphasises that the EU remains in favour of the Bali Package decisions being fully and faithfully implemented by all WTO Members which would enable attention to be turned towards the successful conclusion of the negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA);

3.  Acknowledges the benefits that the implementation of this agreement will bring for developing countries given the contribution it will make to a more business-friendly environment, in particular for SMEs; emphasises, in particular, that the agreement ought to reduce uncertainty regarding market entry conditions and the costs of trade by between 12,5 % and 17,5 % (according to estimates – such as those by the OECD) if fully implemented, thus allowing consumers to access a larger and cheaper range of products and businesses to access new markets and improve their competitiveness by increasing efficiency and reducing unnecessary red tape and associated costs;

4.  Stresses that implementation of the agreement, in particular by developing countries, will result in the standardisation and simplification of trade-related procedures; points out that the agreement can provide new opportunities to expand the use of innovative technologies and electronic systems, including electronic payment systems, national trade portals and one-stop shops;

5.  Urges all members of the WTO to try to find a solution without delay for implementing the Bali Package in all its aspects, including the reduction of trade-distorting subsidies, so that the DDA can be concluded for the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference;

6.  Stresses the importance of this agreement from a development perspective, taking into account that special and differential treatment applies whereby developing and least developed countries can decide when the different provisions will be implemented and for which ones technical assistance will be required;

7.  Emphasises that the degree and the timing of implementation of the agreement will determine the benefits that will be derived therefrom; believes that full and faithful implementation that reflects the priorities and concerns of developing countries within the remit of the DDA will be of greatest benefit to all signatories;

8.  Draws attention to the fact that the agreement contains binding provisions and non-binding guidelines; urges all WTO members to do their utmost to implement both the binding provisions and the guidelines, with a view to bringing trade costs down as far as is possible;

9.  Emphasises that a number of requirements under the agreement, notably on transparency and the automated entry and payment of duties, can be a powerful means of addressing border corruption; calls for better cooperation between custom authorities and stresses that greater transparency will lead to a higher level of security and will be a strong incentive for the intensification of trade, in addition to ensuring more effective customs controls;

10.  Fully supports the EU initiative of targeting EUR 400 million in funding over five years for supporting trade facilitation reforms and projects such as improving the customs systems of developing and least developed countries; recalls that this funding, which will mostly be provided through the Regional Indicative Programmes allocations for regional economic integration, is part of the much wider EU ‘Aid for Trade’ initiative (EUR 3,5 billion EU grants in 2013) and requests regular information be provided to the European Parliament and the Member States in this regard;

11.  Highlights, however, that this funding should be very well coordinated with the funding coming from other international donors such as UNCTAD, the WTO and the World Bank; stresses that duplication should be avoided as should excessive bureaucracy for requesting countries, which could act as a deterrent for those seeking assistance;

12.  Calls also for close cooperation with specialist organisations such as the World Customs Organization (WCO) which can provide valuable practical and technical expertise on a case-by-case basis facilitating development and capacity building within this scope; stresses that the least developed countries in particular can take full advantage of the trading opportunities created by the TFA;

13.  Underlines the key role that can be played by EU delegations around the world which can work with developing and least developed countries on the ground and asks for the largest possible involvement of these delegations in the disbursement of technical assistance;

14.  Calls on the Commission to do its utmost to support developing and least developed countries in the implementation of their commitments, taking into account the need for flexibility for the implementation of obligations under the agreement; stresses that funding for capacity building should be recipient-driven and based on proper needs assessments;

15.  Recommends that international organisations and the partners of developing and least developed countries collaborate closely in the implementation of category C provisions in order to implement them within the shortest possible time;

16.  Recognises the wide gap that still remains between developed and developing countries’ border procedures, and that poor infrastructure, inefficient customs management, cases of corruption and excessive red tape slow down trade; acknowledges that the TFA and the trade liberalisation process share the same objective of reducing trading costs in order to stimulate economic activity;

17.  Recalls that for many developing countries trade facilitation will be the main source of gains in the DDA; welcomes the extensive provisions on special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries; suggests that the novel approach of making commitments and their scheduling commensurate with countries’ capacities should serve as a benchmark for future agreements;

18.  Recognises that private sector expertise can play a central role in promoting trade facilitation measures and in providing assistance and support for the implementation of the agreement in developing countries; takes note of a planned USAID initiative for a public-private alliance to this end; calls on the Commission to encourage private sector involvement and to explore possibilities for partnerships with European industries in support of implementing the agreement;

19.  Acknowledges that the implementation of trade facilitation reforms has broader development benefits; notes in this context the key role that customs can play in facilitating the expeditious movement of consignments of disaster relief items; stresses that emergency humanitarian assistance should benefit from simplified customs clearance procedures in order to speed up aid deliveries, and, should moreover be exempt from duties and taxes;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the World Trade Organization.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0511.
(2) OJ C 345, 2.10.2014, p. 28.
(3) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 5 February 2015 (COM(2015)0044).
(4) The Bali Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(13)/DEC); Bali Ministerial Decision on Trade Facilitation Agreement (WT/MIN(13)/36 or WT/L/911 of 11 December 2013). https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/mc9_e/balipackage_e.htm
(5) Protocol amending the Marrakesh Agreement establishing The World Trade Organization WT/L/940 of 28 November 2014.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0303.


Authorisation for Austria, Belgium and Poland to ratify, or to accede to, the Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterways (CMNI)***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision authorising the Kingdom of Belgium and the Republic of Poland, respectively, to ratify, and the Republic of Austria to accede to the Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterways (CMNI) (08223/2015 – C8-0173/2015 – 2014/0345(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0305A8-0231/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (08223/2015),

–  having regard to the Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterways (08223/15/ADD1),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 81(2) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0173/2015),

–  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 Legal Affairs (A8-0231/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to the draft Council decision authorising the Kingdom of Belgium and the Republic of Poland, respectively, to ratify, and the Republic of Austria to accede to the Budapest Convention on the Contract for the Carriage of Goods by Inland Waterways;

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


Provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece *
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the proposal for a Council decision establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (COM(2015)0286 – C8-0156/2015 – 2015/0125(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0306A8-0245/2015

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2015)0286),

–  having regard to Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0156/2015),

–  having regard to the letter of the Council of 30 July 2015 by which it informed Parliament of its general approach,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Budgets,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0245/2015),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Approves its statement annexed to this resolution;

3.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

4.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

5.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the Commission proposal;

6.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a decision
Citation 3 a (new)
Having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Chapter I and Articles 18 and 19 thereof,
Amendment 2
Proposal for a decision
Recital 2 a (new)
(2a)  In line with Article 78(3) and Article 80 of the Treaty, the solidarity measures envisaged in this Decision are binding.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a decision
Recital 4 a (new)
(4a)  The temporary measures for emergency relocation are only one part of the holistic approach to migration as outlined in the Commission’s communication of 13 May 2015 entitled, ‘A European Agenda on Migration’ and the forthcoming own-initiative report by the European Parliament. The European Parliament stresses that all dimensions of the holistic approach are important and should be advanced in parallel. At its meeting of 25 and 26 June 2015, the European Council agreed, in particular, in the light of the current emergency situation and of the commitment to reinforce solidarity and responsibility, on the temporary and exceptional relocation over two years from Italy and Greece to other Member States of 40 000 persons in clear need of international protection. Member States should agree on binding quota for the distribution of such persons.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a decision
Recital 5
(5)  In its resolution of 29 April 2015, the European Parliament reiterated the need for the Union to base its response to the latest tragedies in the Mediterranean on solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility and to step up its efforts in this area towards Member States which receive the highest number of refugees and applicants for international protection in either absolute or proportional terms.
(5)  In its resolution of 29 April 2015, the European Parliament reiterated the need for the Union to base its response to the latest tragedies in the Mediterranean on solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility and to step up its efforts in this area towards Member States which receive the highest number of refugees and applicants for international protection in either absolute or proportional terms on the basis of the criteria for establishing the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council1a. The European Parliament called for binding quota for the distribution of asylum seekers among all the Member States.
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1a Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 31).
Amendment 5
Proposal for a decision
Recital 7
(7)  Among the Member States witnessing situations of particular pressure and in light of the recent tragic events in the Mediterranean, Italy and Greece in particular have experienced unprecedented flows of migrants, including applicants for international protection who are in clear need of international protection, arriving on their territories, generating a significant pressure on their migration and asylum systems.
(7)  Among the Member States witnessing situations of particular pressure and in light of the recent tragic events in the Mediterranean, Italy and Greece in particular have experienced unprecedented flows of migrants, including applicants for international protection who are in clear need of international protection, arriving on their territories, generating a significant pressure on their migration and asylum systems, thus indicating the negative impact of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 for the first country of entry into the Union, which regrettably has not yet led to the suspension of that regulation or at least the removal of the reference to the first country of entry into the Union. However, other Member States within the Union are also experiencing large increases in the number asylum seekers they receive.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a decision
Recital 7 a (new)
(7a)  The expert forecast shows an increased migratory pressure in the short- and mid-term on the external maritime and land borders of the Union.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a decision
Recital 8
(8)  According to data of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex), the Central and Eastern Mediterranean route were the main areas for irregular border crossing into the Union in 2014. In 2014, more than 170 000 migrants arrived in Italy alone in an irregular manner, representing an increase of 277% compared to 2013. A steady increase was also witnessed by Greece with more than 50 000 irregular migrants reaching the country, representing an increase of 153% compared to 2013. Statistics for the first months of 2015 confirm this clear trend in respect of Italy. In addition, Greece has faced in the first months of 2015 a sharp increase in the number of irregular border crossings, corresponding to more than 50% of the total number of irregular border crossings in 2014 (almost 28 000 in the first four months of 2015 in comparison to a total number of almost 55 000 in 2014). A significant proportion of the total number of irregular migrants detected in these two regions included migrants of nationalities which, based on the Eurostat data, meet a high Union level recognition rate (in 2014, the Syrians and the Eritreans, for which the Union recognition rate is more than 75%, represented more than 40% of the irregular migrants in Italy and more than 50% of them in Greece). According to Eurostat, 30 505 Syrians were found to be irregularly present in Greece in 2014 compared to 8 220 in 2013.
(8)  According to data of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex), the Central and Eastern Mediterranean route were the main areas for irregular border crossing into the Union in 2014. In 2014, more than 170 000 migrants arrived in Italy alone in an irregular manner, representing an increase of 277% compared to 2013, including more than 26 100 children, of whom around 13 000 were unaccompanied minors, representing 7,6% of the total migrants. A steady increase was also witnessed by Greece with more than 50 000 irregular migrants reaching the country, representing an increase of 153% compared to 2013. Statistics for the first months of 2015 confirm this clear trend in respect of Italy. From January to June 2015, Italy witnessed a 5 % increase of irregular border crossings as compared to the same period in the previous year. In addition, Greece has faced in the first months of 2015 a sharp increase in the number of irregular border crossings, corresponding to a more than six-fold increase in comparison with the same period in the previous year and an increase of nearly 140% compared to the previous year as a whole (76 293 from January to June 2015, according to Frontex data, in comparison to a total number of almost 55 000 in 2014). A significant proportion of the total number of irregular migrants detected in these two regions included migrants of nationalities which, based on the Eurostat data, meet a high Union level recognition rate (in 2014, the Syrians and the Eritreans, for which the Union recognition rate is more than 75%, represented more than 40% of the irregular migrants in Italy and more than 50% of them in Greece; from January to June 2015 Syrians and Eritreans represented 30 % of arrivals to Italy and nearly 60 % to Greece). According to Eurostat, 30 505 Syrians were found to be irregularly present in Greece in 2014 compared to 8 220 in 2013.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a decision
Recital 10
(10)  According to Frontex data, another important migration route into the Union in 2014 was the Western Balkan route with 43 357 irregular border crossings. However, the majority of migrants using the Balkan route are not prima facie in need of international protection, with 51% of the arrivals being made up only of Kosovars.
(10)  According to Frontex data, another important migration route into the Union in 2014 was the Western Balkan route with 43 357 irregular border crossings. The number of irregular border crossings has increased dramatically in 2015. From January to June 2015, 67 444 migrants and refugees used the route through the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria and the land borders of Hungary. This amounts to an increase of 962 % compared to the same period in the previous year. The route is now increasingly also used by persons fleeing war and persecution. From January to June 2015, 17 955 refugees from Afghanistan, 13 225 refugees from Syria, 3 021 refugees from Iraq and 196 refugees from Eritrea entered the Union via this route.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a decision
Recital 13 a (new)
(13a)  There should be a rapid and full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System by all participating Member States, thereby ensuring common Union standards, including reception conditions for asylum seekers and respect for fundamental rights, as provided for in existing Union law.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a decision
Recital 15
(15)  If a Member State other than Italy or Greece should be confronted with a similar emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, and after consulting the European Parliament, may adopt provisional measures for the benefit of the Member State concerned, in line with Article 78(3) of the Treaty. Such measures may include, where appropriate, a suspension of the obligations of that Member State provided for in this Decision.
(15)  Taking into account the ongoing instability and conflicts in the immediate neighbourhood of the Union and the changing nature of migratory flows, if a Member State other than Italy or Greece should be confronted with a similar emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, and after consulting the European Parliament, may adopt provisional measures for the benefit of the Member State concerned, in line with Article 78(3) of the Treaty. Such measures may include, where appropriate, a suspension of the obligations of that Member State provided for in this Decision.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a decision
Recital 17
(17)  The measures foreseen in this Decision entail a temporary derogation from the criterion laid down in Article 13(1) of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council1 and the procedural steps, including the time limits, laid down in Articles 21, 22 and 29 of that Regulation.
(17)  The measures foreseen in this Decision entail a temporary derogation from the criterion laid down in Article 13(1) of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 and the procedural steps, including the time limits, laid down in Articles 21, 22 and 29 of that Regulation. Relocation measures should not prevent Member States from making full use of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, including a proactive and efficient use of all criteria, such as family reunification, special protection of unaccompanied minors, and the discretionary clause on humanitarian grounds.
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1 Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p.31).
Amendment 12
Proposal for a decision
Recital 18
(18)  A choice had to be made in respect of the criteria to be applied when deciding which and how many applicants are to be relocated from Italy and Greece. A clear and workable system is envisaged based on a threshold of the average rate at Union level of decisions granting international protection in the procedures at first instance as defined by Eurostat out of the total number at Union level of decisions on asylum applications for international protection taken at first instance, based on the latest available statistics. On the one hand, this threshold would have to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that all applicants who are most likely in need of international protection would be in a position to fully and swiftly enjoy their protection rights in the Member State of relocation. On the other hand, it would prevent, to the maximum extent possible, applicants who are likely to receive a negative decision to their application from being relocated to another Member State and therefore prolong unduly their stay in the Union. Based on Eurostat data for 2014 first instance decisions, a threshold of 75%, which corresponds in that year to decisions on applications for Syrians and Eritreans, should be used in this Decision.
(18)  A choice had to be made in respect of the criteria to be applied when deciding which and how many applicants are to be relocated from Italy and Greece. A clear and workable system is envisaged based on a threshold of the average rate at Union level of decisions granting international protection in the procedures at first instance as defined by Eurostat out of the total number at Union level of decisions on asylum applications for international protection taken at first instance, based on the latest available statistics. On the one hand, this threshold would have to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that all applicants who are most likely in need of international protection would be in a position to fully and swiftly enjoy their protection rights in the Member State of relocation. On the other hand, it would prevent, to the maximum extent possible, applicants who are likely to receive a negative decision to their application from being relocated to another Member State and therefore prolong unduly their stay in the Union. Based on Eurostat data for 2014 first instance decisions, a threshold of 75%, which corresponds in that year to decisions on applications for Syrians and Eritreans, should be used in this Decision. In order to take into account the changing nature of migratory flows, the targeted group of beneficiaries for relocation should be assessed on a quarterly basis.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a decision
Recital 19
(19)  The provisional measures are intended to relieve the significant asylum pressure from Italy and Greece, in particular by relocating an important number of applicants in clear need of international protection who have arrived in the territory of Italy and Greece following the date on which this Decision becomes applicable. Based on the overall number of third-country nationals who have entered irregularly Italy and Greece in 2014 and the number of those who are in clear need of international protection, a total of 40 000 applicants in clear need of international protection should be relocated from Italy and Greece. This number corresponds to approximately 40% of the total number of third country nationals in clear need of international protection who have entered irregularly in Italy and Greece in 2014. Thus, the relocation measure proposed in this Decision constitutes fair burden sharing between Italy and Greece on the one hand and the other Member States on the other hand. Based on the same overall available figures in 2014 and in the first four months of 2015 in Italy compared to Greece, 60% of these applicants should be relocated from Italy and 40% from Greece.
(19)  The provisional emergency measures are intended to set up a fair and equitable relocation mechanism, to relieve the significant asylum pressure from Italy and Greece, in particular by relocating an important number of applicants in clear need of international protection who have arrived in the territory of Italy and Greece following the date on which this Decision becomes applicable. Based on the overall number of third-country nationals who have entered irregularly Italy and Greece in 2014 and the number of those who are in clear need of international protection, a total of 40 000 applicants in clear need of international protection should be relocated from Italy and Greece. This number corresponds to approximately 40% of the total number of third country nationals in clear need of international protection who have entered irregularly in Italy and Greece in 2014. Thus, the relocation measure proposed in this Decision constitutes fair sharing of responsibility between Italy and Greece on the one hand and the other Member States on the other hand. Based on the same overall available figures in 2014 and in the first four months of 2015 in Italy compared to Greece, 60% of these applicants should be relocated from Italy and 40% from Greece. Within six months after the date of entry into force of this Decision, the Commission should evaluate the share of persons to be relocated from Italy and Greece, based on latest available data, with a view to adapting it to changing refugee flows. The emergency relocation mechanism is not a solution to the long-term challenge of asylum pressure on the external borders of the Union, but, rather, a test case with a view to the upcoming legislative proposal on a permanent emergency relocation scheme based on Article 78(2) of the Treaty and is therefore initially restricted to a total of 40 000 applicants. However, a further increase of relocation places should be considered, if necessary, to adapt to rapidly changing refugee flows and trends in the course of the application of this Decision. Any proposal for a permanent emergency relocation mechanism must be based on a more substantial contribution to solidarity and responsibility-sharing among Member States, including a significant increase in the number of available relocation places to adapt to rapidly changing migratory flows and trends. It should be built on clearly defined criteria, including on sudden inflow of nationals of third countries and exceptional asylum pressure, allowing for its triggering on the basis of transparent and objective indicators.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a decision
Recital 20 a (new)
(20a)  When drafting the permanent mechanism for relocation under Article 78(2) of the Treaty, the Commission should include the territory of a Member State as a criterion for determining the distribution key of migrants.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a decision
Recital 21
(21)  The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) set up by Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council1 provides support to burden-sharing operations agreed between Member States and is open to new policy developments in that field. Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 foresees the possibility for Member States to implement actions related to the transfer of applicants for international protection as part of their national programmes, while Article 18 of Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 foresees the possibility of a lump sum of EUR 6 000 for the transfer of beneficiaries of international protection from another Member State.
(21)  The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) set up by Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council1 provides support to the fair sharing of responsibility operations agreed between Member States and is open to new policy developments in that field. Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 foresees the possibility for Member States to implement actions related to the transfer of applicants for international protection as part of their national programmes, while Article 18 of Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 foresees the possibility of a lump sum of EUR 6 000 for the transfer of beneficiaries of international protection from another Member State
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1 Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, amending Council Decision 2008/381/EC and repealing Decisions No 573/2007/EC and No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Decision 2007/435/EC (OJ L 150, 20.5.2014, p. 168).
1 Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, amending Council Decision 2008/381/EC and repealing Decisions No 573/2007/EC and No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Decision 2007/435/EC (OJ L 150, 20.5.2014, p. 168).
Amendment 16
Proposal for a decision
Recital 21 a (new)
(21a)  The Commission should control the spending of the sum of EUR 6 000 for the relocation of each applicant.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a decision
Recital 25
(25)  When deciding which applicants in clear need of international protection should be relocated from Italy and Greece, priority should be given to vulnerable applicants within the meaning of Article 22 of Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council10. In this respect, special needs of applicants, including health, should be of primary concern. The best interests of the child should always be a primary consideration.
(25)  When deciding which applicants in clear need of international protection should be relocated from Italy and Greece, priority should be given to vulnerable applicants, - and among those, special attention should be given to unaccompanied minors - within the meaning of Articles 21 and 22 of Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council10. In order to take into account the specific situation of vulnerable persons, Member States are required under Directive 2013/33/EU and Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council1a to conduct an individual evaluation of the vulnerabilities of individuals in terms of their special reception and procedural needs. Therefore, Member States must take active steps to assess the individual needs of asylum seekers and cannot rely solely on their self-identification to effectively guarantee their rights under Union law. In this respect, special needs of applicants, including health, should be of primary concern. The best interests of the child should always be a primary consideration in all procedures put in place following this Decision and the key principles established in judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 June 2013 in Case C-648/111b should never be put at stake.
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10 Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 96).
10 Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 96).
1a Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 60).
1b Judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 June 2013, MA and others, C-648/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:367.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a decision
Recital 26
(26)  In addition, in order to decide which specific Member State should be the Member State of relocation, specific account should be given to the specific qualifications of the applicants concerned which could facilitate their integration into the Member State of relocation, such as their language skills. In the case of particularly vulnerable applicants, consideration should be given to the capacity of the Member State of relocation to provide adequate support to those applicants.
(26)  In addition, in order to decide which specific Member State should be the Member State of relocation, specific account should be given to the preferences and specific qualifications of the applicants concerned which could facilitate their integration into the Member State of relocation, such as their language skills, family ties beyond the definition of family members in Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, social relations, cultural ties, previous stay in a Member State, previous study and previous work experience with a company or an organisation of a specific Member State as well as specific qualifications that could be relevant for the integration of applicants into the labour market of the Member State of relocation. Member States should therefore facilitate the effective recognition of diplomas, qualifications and skills of applicants. In addition, Member States may inform applicants of their labour market opportunities. In the case of particularly vulnerable applicants, consideration should be given to the capacity of the Member State of relocation to provide adequate support to those applicants. While applicants do not have a right to choose the Member State of their relocation, their needs, preferences and specific qualification should be taken into account to the extent possible.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a decision
Recital 26 a (new)
(26a)  Based on the lessons learned from the pilot project on relocation from Malta (EUREMA), expectations and preferences should be taken into account to the extent possible. As an initial step, applicants should be given the opportunity to express their preferences. They should rank Member States by order of preference and support their preferences by elements such as family ties, social ties and cultural ties such as language skills, previous stay, previous studies and previous work experience. This should take place in the course of the initial processing. As a second step, the respective Member States should be informed about the applicants’ preferences. They should then be given the opportunity to indicate their preferences for applicants among those applicants who had expressed their preference for the Member State concerned. Member States should support their preferences by aspects such as family, social and cultural ties. Liaison officers appointed by Member States could facilitate the procedure by conducting interviews with the respective applicants. Applicants should also have the opportunity to consult other actors such as non-governmental organisations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Finally, Italy and Greece, with the assistance of EASO, should take a decision to relocate each of the applicants to a specific Member State by taking the preferences into account to the extent possible. The UNHCR should be consulted on their best practices developed in resettlement including on the management of preferences and specific qualifications.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a decision
Recital 26 b (new)
(26b)  The principle of non-discrimination laid down in Article 10 of the Treaty should be fully respected during the whole relocation procedure. Discrimination on grounds of sex, age, ethnicity, disabilities and religion is a clear infringement of the Treaty.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a decision
Recital 28
(28)  The legal and procedural safeguards set out in Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 remain applicable in respect of applicants covered by this Decision. In addition, applicants should be informed of the relocation procedure set out in this Decision and notified with the relocation decision. Considering that an applicant does not have the right under EU law to choose the Member State responsible for his/her application, the applicant, should have the right to an effective remedy against the relocation decision in line with Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, only in view of ensuring respect of his/her fundamental rights.
(28)  The legal and procedural safeguards set out in Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 remain applicable in respect of applicants covered by this Decision. In addition, applicants should be informed of the relocation procedure set out in this Decision and notified with the relocation decision. The applicant should have the right to an effective remedy against the relocation decision in line with Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a decision
Recital 30
(30)  Measures should be taken in order to avoid secondary movements of relocated persons from the Member State of relocation to other Member States. In particular, applicants should be informed of the consequences of onward movement within the Member States and of the fact that, if the Member State of relocation grants them international protection, in principle, they are only entitled to the rights attached to international protection in that Member State.
(30)  Measures should be taken in order to avoid secondary movements of relocated persons from the Member State of relocation to other Member States. Taking the preferences of applicants, including family ties beyond the provisions regarding family in Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, social and cultural ties, as much as possible into account is a straightforward measure for applicants to develop a sense of belonging to the Member State of relocation. Applicants should be provided with all necessary information, in a language they understand or are reasonably supposed to understand, about their destination and, where their preference cannot be fully taken into account, of the reasons for this. To further avoid secondary movements, applicants should be informed of the consequences of onward movement within the Member States as provided for in Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 and of the fact that, if the Member State of relocation grants them international protection, in principle, they are only entitled to the rights attached to international protection in that Member State.
Amendment 23
Proposal for a decision
Recital 30 a (new)
(30a)  Consent of applicants or beneficiaries of international protection to relocation is an established principle in Union secondary law, enshrined in Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 and, by analogy, in Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council1a and in Article 17(2) of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, whereas on the basis of Article 78(3) of the Treaty, derogations from Union law are possible under very restricted conditions. The effective implementation of the emergency relocation mechanism needs to be ensured, whereas consent is of particular importance to prevent secondary movement and should therefore, in principle, be required before relocation. Where a person does not consent, he or she should not, in principle, be relocated, but another person should be offered that opportunity.
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1a Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office (OJ L 132, 29.5.2010, p. 11).
Amendment 24
Proposal for a decision
Article 1
This Decision establishes provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece in view of enabling them to cope with an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries in those Member States.
This Decision establishes binding provisional emergency measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece in view of enabling them to cope with an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries or stateless persons in those Member States.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point b
(b)  ‘applicant’ means a third-country national or a stateless person who has made an application for international protection in respect of which a final decision has not yet been taken;
(b)  ‘applicant’ means a third-country national or a stateless person who has made an application for international protection in respect of which a final decision has not yet been taken as referred to point (i) of Article 2 of Directive 2011/95/EU;
Amendment 26
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point d
(d)   ‘family members’ means family members as defined in point (g) of Article 2 of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(d)   'close relatives' means the spouse, children, parents, persons exercising parental authority, grandparents and grandchildren;
(Horizontal amendment. Applies throughout the text of the Commission proposal.)
Amendment 27
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point f a (new)
(fa)  ‘preference’ means the preference expressed by an applicant for a certain Member State or the preference expressed by a Member State for a certain applicant supported by elements such as family ties beyond the definition of family members as defined in point (g) of Article 2 of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, social ties such as ties to ethnic and cultural communities, and cultural ties to the preferred Member State such as language skills, former stay in a Member State or former study or work relations with companies or organisations of that Member State.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a decision
Article 3 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.  Given the changing nature of migratory flows, the targeted group of beneficiaries for relocation should be assessed on a quarterly basis.
Amendment 47
Proposal for a decision
Article 4
-1. In order to relieve the significant asylum pressure from Italy and Greece, but also to act as an important test case with a view to the upcoming legislative proposal on a permanent emergency relocation scheme based on Article 78(2) of the Treaty, an initial total of 110 000 applicants shall be relocated from Italy and Greece. A further increase shall be considered, if necessary, to adapt to rapidly changing refugee flows and trends in the course of the application of this Decision.
1.  24 000 applicants shall be relocated from Italy to the territory of the other Member States as set out in Annex I.
1.  Initially, 40 000 applicants shall be relocated from Italy to the territory of the other Member States.
2.  16 000 applicants shall be relocated from Greece to the territory of the other Member States as set out in Annex II.
2.  Initially, 70 000 applicants shall be relocated from Greece to the territory of the other Member States.
2a.  By [six months after the entry into force of this Decision] the Commission shall evaluate the respective share of persons to be relocated from Italy and Greece with a view to adapting it to changing refugee flows, on basis of the latest available Frontex data.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a decision
Article 4 a (new)
Article 4a
Consent
The consent of the applicant to his or her relocation should, in principle, be required.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a decision
Article 5 – paragraph 2
2.  Italy and Greece shall, at regular intervals during the period of application of this Decision, with the assistance of EASO and, where applicable, of Member States' liaison officers referred to in paragraph 8, identify the individual applicants to be relocated to the other Member States and communicate to the contact points of those Member States and to EASO the number of applicants that can be relocated. Priority shall be given for that purpose to vulnerable applicants within the meaning of Article 22 of Directive 2013/33/EU.
2.  Italy and Greece shall, at regular intervals during the period of application of this Decision, with the assistance of EASO and other relevant agencies, identify the individual applicants to be relocated to the other Member States and communicate to the contact points of those Member States and to EASO the number of applicants that can be relocated. Priority shall be given for that purpose to vulnerable applicants within the meaning of Articles 21 and 22 of Directive 2013/33/EU, and particular attention should be given to unaccompanied minors.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a decision
Article 5 – paragraph 3
3.  As soon as possible after receiving the information referred to in paragraph 2, Member States shall indicate the number of applicants who can be relocated immediately to their territory and any other relevant information, within the numbers set out in Annex I and Annex II respectively.
3.  As soon as possible after receiving the information referred to in paragraph 2, Member States shall provide information about the available capacity for reception of migrants and indicate the number of applicants who can be relocated immediately to their territory and any other relevant information, within the numbers set out in Annex I and Annex II respectively.
Amendment 33
Proposal for a decision
Article 5 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.  Italy and Greece shall, with the assistance of EASO, provide applicants with information, in a language that they understand or are reasonably supposed to understand, about the Member States involved in the emergency relocation. Applicants shall also have access to information provided by other actors such as non-governmental organisations, the UNHCR and IOM. During the initial processing applicants shall be asked to rank Member States by order of preferences and to support their preference.
Amendments 34 and 48
Proposal for a decision
Article 5 – paragraph 5
5.  Applicants whose fingerprints are required to be taken pursuant to the obligations set out in Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 may only be relocated if their fingerprints have been taken.
5.  Applicants whose fingerprints are required to be taken and transmitted pursuant to the obligations set out in Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 may only be relocated if their fingerprints have been taken, in full respect of their fundamental rights without recourse to any coercion or detention measure.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a decision
Article 5 – paragraph 8
8.  For the implementation of all aspects of the relocation procedure described in this Article Member States may decide to send to Italy and Greece liaison officers.
deleted
Amendment 36
Proposal for a decision
Article 6 – paragraph 4
4.  When the decision to relocate an applicant has been taken and before the actual relocation, Italy and Greece shall notify the person concerned of the decision to relocate him in writing. That decision shall specify the Member State of relocation.
4.  When the decision to relocate an applicant has been taken and before the actual relocation, Italy and Greece, with the assistance of EASO and other actors such as liaison officers, if available, shall inform the person concerned of the Member State of relocation in a comprehensive manner and in a language that the applicant understands or is reasonably supposed to understand or, if the applicant’s preferences are not taken into account, of the reasons for that decision. Italy and Greece shall also notify the person concerned of the decision to relocate him in writing. That decision shall specify the Member State of relocation.
Amendment 37
Proposal for a decision
Article 7 – paragraph 1 – point b
(b)  the initial processing of the applications;
(b)  the initial processing of the applications, including the identification of vulnerabilities and preferences, for the purpose of identifying potential applicants for relocation and the screening of applicants, including their clear identification, fingerprinting and registration of the applications for international protection;
Amendment 38
Proposal for a decision
Article 7 – paragraph 1 – point d
(d)  the implementation of the transfer of the applicants to the Member State of relocation.
(d)  the implementation of the transfer of the applicants to the Member State of relocation. The transfer costs to the Member State of relocation should not be an additional burden to Greece and Italy.
Amendment 39
Proposal for a decision
Article 8 – paragraph 2
2.  If Italy or Greece does not comply with the obligation referred to in paragraph 1, the Commission may decide to suspend this Decision with regard to that Member State for a period of up to three months. The Commission may decide once to extend such suspension for a further period of up to three months.
2.  If Italy or Greece does not comply with the obligation referred to in paragraph 1, the Commission may decide, having given the Member State concerned the opportunity to present its views, to suspend this Decision with regard to that Member State for a period of up to three months. The Commission may decide once to extend such suspension for a further period of up to three months.
Amendment 40
Proposal for a decision
Article 9
In the event of an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries in a Member State of relocation, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may adopt provisional measures for the benefit of the Member State concerned, pursuant to Article 78(3) of the Treaty. Such measures may include, where appropriate, a suspension of the obligations of that Member State provided for in this Decision.
In the event of an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries in a Member State of relocation, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may adopt provisional measures for the benefit of the Member State concerned, pursuant to Article 78(3) of the Treaty. Such measures may in addition include, where appropriate, a suspension of the obligations of that Member State provided for in this Decision.
Amendment 41
Proposal for a decision
Article 11
Italy and Greece shall report to the Council and the Commission on the implementation of this Decision, including on the roadmaps referred to in Article 8, every three months.
Italy and Greece shall report to the Council and the Commission on the implementation and the proper use of the funds received in the framework of this Decision, including on the roadmaps referred to in Article 8, every three months.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a decision
Article 11 a (new)
Article 11a
Evaluation
By July 2016 the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a mid-term evaluation on the application of this Decision and, where appropriate, shall propose the necessary recommendations for a permanent relocation mechanism, including in perspective of the announced Dublin fitness check.
By…* the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a final evaluation report on the application of this Decision.
Member States shall submit to the Commission all information appropriate for the preparation of that report in due time.
____________
* OJ: please insert the date: 30 months after the date of entry into force of this Decision.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a decision
Annex II a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Annex IIa

The Relocation Procedure

Procedure as envisaged in the Commission proposal; additional procedural steps inserted by the European Parliament are underlined

1 – Initial processing of persons seeking international protection

—  Identification of persons for which another Member State is (or should be) responsible under the Dublin Regulation

→ Dublin transfers

—  Identification of vulnerable applicants

—  Identification of close relatives for joint relocation

—  Identification of the preferences of applicants for certain Member States

2 – Selection of applicants for relocation

—  Italy/Greece determine the applicants to be relocated.

—  They inform Member States of the number of places needed as well as of the preferences of the applicants

3 – Involvement of Member States

—  Member States inform Italy/Greece of the number of available relocation places

—  Liaison officers can conduct interviews with applicants who expressed a preference for their Member State

—  Member States indicate their preferences for applicants

4 – Relocation decision

—  Italy/Greece decide which applicant is to be relocated to which Member State by taking the preferences of applicants and Member States into account

5 – Information and consent

—  Applicants are informed comprehensively about their Member State of relocation

—  In principle, applicants give their consent to be relocated to that Member State

6 – Transfer

Transfer of applicants to the Member State of relocation within one month

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

STATEMENT BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Parliament, in light of the need to adopt immediate measures for the benefit of Member States confronted with an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries, has agreed to the legal basis of Article 78(3) TFEU as proposed by Commission for the Council Decision establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece. Nevertheless, the European Parliament can accept Article 78 (3) TFEU as a legal basis only as an emergency measure, which will be followed by a proper legislative proposal to structurally deal with any future emergency situations. It insists that Article 78 (2) TFEU requiring the ordinary legislative procedure for measures for determining which Member State is responsible for considering an application for international protection jointly with Article 80, second sentence TFEU giving in its provisions effect to the principle of solidarity as expressed in Article 80, first sentence, is the correct legal basis. The European Parliament further underlines the fact that the adoption of this Decision is strictly without prejudice to the range of legal bases available to the co-legislator in the future, in particular with regard to Article 78 jointly with Article 80 TFEU. The European Parliament urges the Commission to table a legislative proposal on a permanent relocation scheme based on Article 78(2) and Article 80 by the end of 2015, as announced by the Commission in its European Agenda on Migration. The European Parliament reserves its right to prepare a legislative own-initiative report in case the Commission does not come forward with such a legislative proposal in due time.


Urban dimension of EU policies
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European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on the urban dimension of EU policies (2014/2213(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0307A8-0218/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in particular Title XVIII thereof,

–  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(1),

–  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(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 June 2011 on the European urban agenda and its future in cohesion policy(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 February 2008 on the follow-up of the Territorial Agenda and the Leipzig Charter: Towards a European Action Programme for Spatial Development and Territorial Cohesion(5),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 18 July 2014 on the urban dimension of EU policies – key features of an EU urban agenda (COM(2014)0490),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 18 June 2014 on the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook (COM(2014)0368),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 3 March 2010 on Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 10 July 2012 entitled ‘Smart cities and communities – European innovation partnership’ (C(2012)4701),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 28 October 1998 on Sustainable Urban Development in the European Union: A Framework for Action (COM(1998)0605),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 6 May 1997 entitled ‘Towards an urban agenda in the European Union’ (COM(1997)0197),

–  having regard to the Commission’s sixth report on ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion: Investment for jobs and growth – Promoting development and good governance in EU regions and cities’, July 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission’s report entitled ‘Cities of tomorrow: Investing in Europe’, Brussels, 17-18 February 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission’s report entitled ‘Digital Futures – a journey into 2050 visions and policy challenges, cities, villages and communities’, 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission’s report entitled ‘Cities of tomorrow: Challenges, visions, way forward’, Brussels, October 2011,

–  having regard to the Declaration of Ministers towards the EU Urban Agenda, adopted at the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers Responsible for Territorial Cohesion and Urban Matters of 10 June 2015 in Riga,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions adopted in Brussels on 19 November 2014 on the sixth report on ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion: Investment for jobs and growth’,

–  having regard to the Presidency Conclusions adopted at the Informal Meeting of Ministers responsible for cohesion policy of 24-25 April 2014 in Athens,

–  having regard to the Polish Presidency Conclusions on the territorial dimension of EU policies and the future cohesion policy, adopted at the Informal Meeting of Ministers responsible for EU cohesion policy, territorial and urban development of 24-25 November 2011 in Poznan,

–  having regard to the Territorial agenda of the EU 2020, agreed at the Informal Ministerial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development of 19 May 2011 in Gödöllő,

–  having regard to the Toledo Declaration, adopted at the Informal Council Meeting of Ministers on urban development of 22 June 2010 in Toledo,

–  having regard to the Leipzig Charter on sustainable European cities, adopted at the Informal Council Meeting of Ministers on urban development of 24-25 May 2007 in Leipzig,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 25 June 2014 on ‘Towards an Integrated Urban Agenda for the EU’,

–  having regard to the opinion of 23 April 2015 of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the Communication from the Commission entitled ‘The urban dimension of EU policies – key features of an EU urban agenda’ (COM(2014)0490),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0218/2015),

A.  whereas in 2014 half the world population(6) and 72 % of the European population were living in urban areas(7), and by the year 2050 nearly 80 % of the earth’s population will reside in urban areas(8);

B.  whereas functional urban areas in the EU comprise a unique polycentric structure built around large, medium-sized and small towns, cities and their surrounding areas, thus going beyond the traditional administrative borders to encompass various territories linked by their economic, social, environmental and demographic challenges;

C.  whereas cities, towns and functional urban areas, such as metropolitan areas, not only play an important role in participatory democracy but are also key economic pillars and drivers of jobs for the EU given that innovation and new economic activities often have their origins in the city; whereas they are therefore a major asset for the EU in its relations with other parts of the world but they are also the key areas in which barriers to growth and employment need to be overcome and social exclusion (for example, poorly trained young people in the labour market), lack of accessibility and the degradation of the environment need to be tackled;

D.  whereas cities, towns, functional urban areas and regions are responsible for the biggest proportion of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the EU; whereas, on the other hand, they play a key role in the achievement of improved energy efficiency and self-sufficiency and in the development of new initiatives (such as new forms of economic activity) to encourage urban mobility and competitive, environmentally friendly transport systems, thus promoting growth, employment, social and territorial cohesion, health, safety and security;

E.  whereas some cities are seeing their population age and decline, and face problems due to the scale of the facilities and public services they provide, and others have a growing population, which increases pressure on existing facilities and public services (for example, education) and exacerbates other problems such as (youth) unemployment, social exclusion, traffic congestion, urban sprawl and pollution, which significantly increase commuting time and reduce the quality of life of many Europeans;

F.  whereas some of the main challenges which cities face, relating to economic and social development, climate change, transport and demographic change, can only be tackled through partnerships between the cities and their surrounding areas; whereas the expansion of interlinked areas in recent years, due to developments in the fields of transport and communications in particular, creates a need for the development of tools to promote connectivity;

G.  whereas European policy initiatives have a direct or indirect impact on the sustainable development of cities and urban policy;

H.  whereas around 70 % of European policies and legislation are implemented at local and regional level;

I.  whereas more consistency should be ensured at EU level between different EU policy initiatives and subsidy programmes by making full use of the Common Strategic Framework (Title II, Chapter I, Article 10 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 – Common Provision Regulation) and through better political coordination among and with stakeholders and tiers of government, as the sectoral approach of EU policy can lead to policies and legislation that may not favour functional urban areas;

J.  whereas in 1997 the Commission published a Communication on an urban agenda for the EU(9), but the role of Europe’s cities in EU policymaking is still under discussion;

K.  whereas in the past, Parliament supported the Commission’s proposal to present an ‘Urban Agenda’ as a framework for future urban policy at European level;

L.  whereas subsidiarity, as defined in the TFEU, as well as multi-level governance, based on coordinated action by the EU, the Member States and regional and local authorities, and the partnership principle, are essential elements for the correct implementation of all EU policies, and whereas engagement of the resources and competences of local and regional authorities should be reinforced accordingly;

M.  whereas the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013) reinforces the urban dimension of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) by allocating at least 5 % of its financial support to integrated actions for sustainable urban development through the delegation of management tasks to urban authorities, in particular giving them more responsibilities for tasks related at least to the selection of operations by creating tools such as integrated territorial investments (ITIs) and community-led local development (CLLD), by allocating a specific budget for ‘innovative actions’ in order to test new solutions in relation to sustainable urban development, and by establishing an urban development network;

N.  whereas the partnership principle laid down in the Common Provision Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013) and the European Code of Conduct obliges the Member States to ensure the early involvement of urban authorities in the EU policymaking process;

The urban dimension of EU policies

1.  Is of the opinion that EU policies should support and enable towns, cities and functional urban areas to express and attain their full potential as motors of economic growth, employment, social inclusion and sustainable development; believes, therefore, that these towns, cities and functional urban areas need to be more closely associated with the entire European policymaking cycle;

2.  Asks the Commission and, where appropriate, the Member States to propose ways to introduce an early warning mechanism by adapting available tools and in accordance with Article 6 of the Protocol on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality, giving the subnational government the possibility to observe whether the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality have been taken into account, allowing subnational governments to be involved in the policy processes from an early stage and allowing for well-informed territorial development strategies and more efficient implementation of future legislation;

Towards an integrated European Urban Agenda

3.  Welcomes the initiative of the Commission to work towards a European Urban Agenda; supports its establishment as a coherent framework for EU policies with an urban dimension aiming to better link urban solutions with EU challenges, to better adjust sectoral policies and levels of governance, to better target EU funding to the relevant urban challenges and to better assess the territorial impact of sectoral policies; believes that the European Urban Agenda should in particular promote the development of governance solutions best geared to successfully meeting the challenges and objectives of sustainable, economic and socially inclusive development of towns, cities and functional urban areas in Europe;

4.  Recognises that although there is no explicit EU competence on urban development, a broad range of EU initiatives impact directly/indirectly on towns, cities and functional urban areas; is therefore of the opinion that well-developed and established national and regional urban policies are a prerequisite for a European Urban Agenda; considers that the latter should constitute a strategy addressing towns, cities and functional urban areas in the EU that, in the long term, would develop into an urban policy at EU level; underlines in this context that urban territorial development should be based on balanced territorial organisation with a polycentric urban structure in line with the EU Territorial Agenda 2020;

5.  Is convinced that the European Urban Agenda should be a joint effort by the Commission, the Member States, the local authorities and other stakeholders to rationalise, coordinate and implement EU policies with an urban dimension through a practical, integrated and coordinated, yet flexible, approach, ‘in and with’ the towns, cities and functional urban areas, taking account of the local territorial specificities and respecting each Member State’s institutional architecture;

6.  Believes that a European Urban Agenda should be fully in line with the EU’s overall objectives and strategy, particularly Europe 2020, and the objectives of territorial cohesion; stresses that administrative borders are becoming less and less pertinent when trying to address development challenges at regional and local level; believes, therefore, that the European Urban Agenda should be inclusive and take clear account of the diversity of territorial entities in the EU and the cross-border and rural-urban linkages, including the services that functional urban areas provide for their surrounding countryside;

7.  Urges the Commission to come up with a communication detailing the features of the future European Urban Agenda, based on the ‘urban acquis’ and the extensive consultation with various stakeholders, including economic and social partners and civil society organisations; asks the Commission to include the European Urban Agenda in its annual work programme;

Mainstreaming of an integrated territorial development approach into EU policymaking and legislation

8.  Calls on the Commission to apply a more place-based integrated territorial approach when conceptualising new policy initiatives aimed at urban areas, in order to ensure consistency and to empower towns, cities, and functional urban areas to deliver the Europe 2020 objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, by, inter alia, implementing an integrated EU approach to support smart and sustainable projects in European cities, helping to promote social and economic development;

9.  Asks the Commission to introduce, as a general rule, a territorial impact assessment on the urban dimension in order to ensure the practical feasibility of all relevant EU policy initiatives at regional and local level, to be receptive to the input from decentralised levels of government when drawing up impact assessments and new policies (‘bottom-up approach’) and to make sure that all relevant sectoral EU policies adequately address the challenges that towns, cities and functional urban areas face; calls on the Commission to concentrate these territorial impact assessments on the following elements: balanced territorial development, territorial integration, aspects of governance, regulation, implementation at local level, and coherence with other policy objectives;

10.  Urges the Commission to systematise and analyse all available data and shared conceptual frameworks (‘urban acquis’) in order to prevent duplication and inconsistencies and provide a clear definition of integrated sustainable urban development and thus identify the common coherent and transparent EU objectives in this area;

11.  Is convinced that in order to be able to assess urban areas more accurately than just on the basis of the GDP indicator, sufficient data must be made available; believes, therefore, that Eurostat should provide and compile more detailed local data and that work should continue on the Urban Audit and similar surveys; calls also on the Commission to work on instruments that could measure the progress and impact of an integrated urban agenda at EU level;

12.  Encourages the Commission to reduce the red tape related to the implementation of current EU legislation at local level, and to ensure that all future regulation thoroughly analyses the consequences of its implementation at local level;

The urban dimension of EU policy instruments and funding

13.  Recalls that the EU’s Cohesion Policy and its financial instruments are better equipped to support complex integrated territorial strategies for functional urban areas through shared strategic planning and rules; encourages Member States to make full use of the available new instruments such as ITIs and CLLD, as well as of the new flexible operational programmes (OPs), in order to successfully support the implementation of integrated urban development plans; encourages Member States and the Commission to draw up a coherent set of appropriate indicators to better assess the urban dimension of the implemented operations and initiatives funded by European Structural and Investment Funds;

14.  Highlights the need to exploit to a maximum extent the potential of the macro-regional strategies for successful implementation of the integrated urban approach; calls on the Commission to adequately include and integrate aspects of the European Urban Agenda and to stress the urban dimension within EU macro-regional strategies which represent a model for planning and multi-level governance;

15.  Regrets that, although the new cohesion policy has legally binding urban-related aspects, especially regarding involvement of cities in the programming phase, the actual participation of city and urban representatives in the shaping of the policy is weak, and believes it can be improved by an early involvement in the policy processes, for example through consultation, evaluation and exchange of best practices and experiences; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the application of the partnership principle (also taking into account the European code of conduct on partnership (Article 5.3 of the Common Provision Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013)) when implementing programmes and projects supported by EU funding, with particular attention being given to the involvement of cities, towns and functional urban areas in the preparation, management and governance of the programmes, including at cross-border level;

16.  Calls for greater involvement of towns and cities in the Structural and Investment Funds’ programmes; believes that the lessons drawn from this could feed into an important policy recommendation for the development of cohesion policy after 2020; in this context, calls on the Commission to test the implementation of the European Urban Agenda in selected thematic fields, reflecting the challenges of urban areas (‘urban pilot projects’), in particular by ensuring the cross-sectoral coordination of different EU policies, removing existing overlaps and applying the multi-level governance model and conducting territorial impact assessments; asks the Commission to report to Parliament on the progress and results in this respect on a regular basis;

17.  Asks for better coordination and integration of EU investment policies having the potential to ensure sustainable, integrated and socially inclusive urban development; urges the Commission and the Member States to make full use of the regulatory framework to create synergies between the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), the EU subsidised programmes (such as LIFE, Horizon 2020, Intelligent Energy Europe, etc.) and cohesion policy funds, as well as public (i.e. national) investments, private capital and financial instruments in order to obtain the greatest leverage effect of invested funds; underlines the need to ensure complementarity of all investment policies and enhanced synergy, and to avoid double financing and overlaps;

A new model of multi-level governance

18.  Recalls that today’s key economic, social and environmental challenges transcend traditional administrative boundaries, and the growing mismatch between administrative and territorial structures (urban and peri-urban cooperation, urban-rural cooperation, etc.) requires new forms of flexible governance in order to continue the integrated territorial development of functional areas;

19.  Believes that the European Urban Agenda should be based on a new multi-level governance method, involving the local level more closely at all stages of the policy cycle, thus bringing the policies closer to the realities and making them more consistent with and responsive to the constant transformations in functional urban areas; takes the view, in that connection, that the Committee of the Regions, as the body representing regional and local authorities, should play a role in that process;

20.  Urges the Commission to suggest elements for a new model of multi-level governance based on partnerships and genuine collaboration, going beyond simple stakeholder consultations, a model combining formal governmental structures with informal flexible governance structures that correspond to the new realities of the digitalised ‘network’ society, and which is adapted to the scale at which the challenges exist, a model which improves multi-level cooperation, both vertical and horizontal, with governmental and non-governmental actors at local, regional, national and European level, thus bringing government closer to the citizens and improving the democratic legitimacy of the European project; recommends that this ‘sui generis’ tailor-made model become the working method of the future European Urban Agenda after its acceptance by the partners and after consulting all relevant stakeholders;

Knowledge management and data sharing

21.  Is of the opinion that urban platforms and networks (such as URBACT, the Urban Development Network) and other programmes for knowledge-sharing between cities (such as Civitas, the Covenant of Mayors, Mayors Adapt, Smart Cities and Communities Initiative, Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities, ManagEnergy) have provided an excellent opportunity for the engagement of local regional and cross-border actors in urban development and knowledge-sharing between actors; urges the Commission to consolidate and ensure better coordination between these platforms in order to allow local actors to better understand them and engage with them in a more efficient way;

22.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to make the most out of the knowledge-sharing and capacity-building activities that EU-funded projects and other networking activities between cities provide; encourages the Commission to develop mechanisms for better project result sharing throughout its services and to make sure that the results feed into both national and EU-level policy developments;

23.  Believes that in order to formulate better-tailored policies the Urban Audit Database needs to be updated and improved; encourages Eurostat and the Commission to provide and compile more detailed data, collected where policies are implemented – in many cases at local level; underlines that the collection of flow data – measuring the relationships between cities and their surrounding areas and within functional urban areas – is also becoming increasingly important in order to improve the understanding of these complex functional areas, and therefore urges the Commission to gather and analyse that data; turning it into evidence for policy developments;

Implementing the future European Urban Agenda

24.  Believes that in order for the European Urban Agenda to be an effective tool it should be a shared and regularly updated conceptual framework with a thematic focus on a limited number of challenges in the larger context of the Europe 2020 goals of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth;

25.  Strongly believes that these challenges should respond to the following criteria: (1) are in line with the shared conceptual framework; (2) are major urban challenges with significant impact on cities, towns and functional urban areas in and between Member States; (3) cannot be solved by Member States unilaterally; (4) where an EU approach has a clear added value; asks the Commission to start working on mapping such challenges, but also identifying remaining bottlenecks, policy incoherencies or capacity and knowledge gaps, in close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, particularly those at local level;

26.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to make sure that a higher degree of cross-sector coordination of policies with an urban dimension is ensured at all levels of government to allow better mainstreaming of integrated urban development; calls on the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), responsible for the EU’s urban policies, in close cooperation with the Commission’s existing Inter-service Group on ‘Urban Development’, to drive this process and to make sure that the urban dimension is taken into account in all relevant new initiatives; asks the President of the European Commission to appoint a political lead within the College of Commissioners to give strategic direction to the Urban Agenda of European policies and to report annually to Parliament on the Urban Agenda;

27.  Asks the Commission to designate a special EU urban coordinator, based on already existing services or bodies within the Commission, to monitor and evaluate the practical implementation of such coordination in a horizontal (engaging all relevant policy sectors) and vertical (engaging all levels of government) manner; is of the opinion that the special EU urban coordinator should, with the help of the Commission’s Inter-service Group on ‘Urban Development’, establish a ‘one-stop shop’ on urban policies within the Commission and ensure the proper collection, management and dissemination of data on urban policies within and between Commission services and with various stakeholders in such a way as to establish an awareness-raising mechanism for early warning and early stage involvement of local and regional authorities in policy processes with an impact on towns, cities and functional urban areas;

28.  Encourages the Commission to develop, while using the existing structures and, for example, as part of the ‘urban pilot project’, single points of information in Member States on the urban dimension of EU policies (Urban One-Stop Shops), with the aim of providing comprehensive information in particular on different EU initiatives, guidelines and financial possibilities in relation to urban development;

29.  Calls on the Commission to hold a regular urban summit drawing on the ‘Cities of tomorrow’ forum, bringing stakeholders from all levels of governance and different sectors together; believes that such summits should provide a real opportunity for cities to engage in a constructive dialogue with policymakers across the relevant policy areas and should help assess the impact of EU policies on towns, cities and functional urban areas and how best to involve them in the forthcoming initiatives;

30.  Urges Member States to fully associate cities and functional urban areas with, and involve them in a binding manner in, strategic policy development and programming (such as national reform programmes, partnership agreements and operational programmes); calls on the Member States to strengthen their exchange of experience on national programmes for urban development, which empowers cities to deliver the Europe 2020 objectives, by setting regular informal Council meetings of ministers in charge of urban development;

External dimension of the European Urban Agenda

31.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to take full account of the ongoing preparatory works for the Habitat III agenda and to ensure that the future European Urban Agenda is fully compatible and coordinated with the goals and objectives of this global urban agenda; asks the Commission to regularly inform Parliament about the external dimension of the European Urban Agenda and believes that the urban agenda could become the EU contribution to the international debate on the United Nations’ ‘New Urban Agenda’ and the Habitat III conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in 2016;

32.  Believes that there should be a clear, coherent and open engagement of the EU and the Member States, with consultation and contribution of local and regional authorities, at the International Standards Organisation (ISO) regarding the development of new standards for sustainable urban development, respecting the work on UN universal guidelines for urban and territorial planning; stresses that the new ISO standards should be seen as a supportive and not a normative tool;

o
o   o

33.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.
(4) OJ C 390 E, 18.12.2012, p. 10.
(5) OJ C 184 E, 6.8.2009, p. 95.
(6) Parag Khanna, Beyond City Limits, Foreign Policy, 6 August 2010.
(7) Eurostat – City Statistics, 2014.
(8) The Vertical Farm, www.verticalfarm.com.
(9) Communication from the Commission of 6 May 1997, ‘Towards an urban agenda in the European Union’ (COM(1997)0197).


Investment for jobs and growth: promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on ‘Investment for jobs and growth: promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in the Union’ (2014/2245(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0308A8-0173/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission’s sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion entitled ‘Investment for jobs and growth: promoting development and good governance in EU regions and cities’ of 23 July 2014 (hereinafter ‘the Sixth Cohesion Report’),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in particular Articles 4, 162, 174 to 178 and 349 thereof,

–  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 (hereinafter ‘the Common Provisions Regulation’)(1),

–  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(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1302/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 amending Regulation (EC) No 1082/2006 on a European grouping of territorial cooperation (EGTC) as regards the clarification, simplification and improvement of the establishment and functioning of such groupings(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1300/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the Cohesion Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1084/2006(6),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(7),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(8),

–  having regard to the ‘Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020: Towards an Inclusive, Smart and Sustainable Europe of Diverse Regions’, agreed on at the Informal Ministerial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development meeting in Gödöllő, Hungary, on 19 May 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission’s eighth progress report on economic, social and territorial cohesion entitled ‘The urban and regional dimension of the crisis’ of 26 June 2013,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2014 on smart specialisation: networking excellence for a sound Cohesion Policy(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2014 on EU Member States preparedness to an effective and timely start of the new Cohesion Policy Programming period(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on the European Commission’s 7th and 8th progress reports on the EU Cohesion Policy and the Strategic Report 2013 on programme implementation 2007-2013(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on optimising the potential of outermost regions by creating synergies between the Structural Funds and other European Union programmes(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on delays in the start-up of Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020(13),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 19 October 2011 entitled ‘A framework for the next generation of innovative financial instruments – the EU equity and debt platforms’ (COM(2011)0662),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 26 November 2014 entitled ‘An Investment Plan for Europe’ (COM(2014)0903),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 13 January 2015 entitled ‘Making the best use of the flexibility within the existing rules of the stability and growth pact’ (COM(2015)0012),

–  having regard to the Special Report of the European Court of Auditors entitled ‘Financial Instruments for SMEs co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund’ (Special Report No 2/2012),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion: investment for jobs and growth, adopted by the General Affairs (Cohesion) Council on 19 November 2014,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 3 December 2014 on the sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion(14),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 21 January 2015 on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion: investment for jobs and growth(15),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 9 March 2015 on the 2015 EU Justice Scoreboard (COM(2015)0116),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 20 January 2015 entitled ‘Draft Amending Budget No 2 to the General Budget 2015’ (COM(2015)0016),

–  having regard to the Annual report 2013 on the protection of the EU’s financial interests – Fight against fraud,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0173/2015),

A.  whereas the determining role of EU cohesion policy in reducing regional disparities, promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion among the regions of Member States, and supporting job creation is incontestable; whereas cohesion policy represents the main EU-wide investment policy in the real economy and is an established tool for growth and jobs in the EU, with a budget of over EUR 350 billion until 2020; whereas, during the economic crisis, cohesion policy is proving to be an essential instrument for maintaining investment levels in the various Member States; whereas in some Member States it forms the principal source of public investment; whereas the concrete and visible nature of the results of cohesion policy has been confirmed by many different evaluation methods;

B.  whereas the latest figures for 2013 portray long-term unemployment in the Union at a historically high level of 5,1 % of the labour force; whereas long-term unemployment has crucial consequences for individuals throughout their lives and can become structural, particularly in peripheral regions;

C.  whereas there has recently been a 15 % decline in public investment in the Union in real terms, and whereas many regions, especially those facing demographic challenges, have been unable to contribute adequately to the Europe 2020 targets, in particular the headline target of reaching 75 % employment by 2020, the target of decreasing poverty by 20 million people and the target of limiting early-school leaving;

D.  whereas it is justifiable that the goals of cohesion policy have evolved over time, in response to the new challenges and threats facing the EU, and that the policy itself has become more closely linked to the overall policy agenda of the EU; whereas, nevertheless, the original role of cohesion policy – the strengthening of economic, social and territorial cohesion in all EU regions, and particularly of less developed and the least favoured regions – should be reinforced; whereas cohesion policy ought not to be regarded as merely an instrument to attain the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy and other EU development strategies but also as an investment policy in the territories;

E.  whereas, according to the Sixth Cohesion Report, the economic crisis has had a negative effect on the long-term trend towards a narrowing of regional disparities and, despite some positive tendencies, at the beginning of the new programming period disparities between regions of many different kinds remain wide;

F.  whereas through thematic concentration, cohesion policy resources are targeted at a limited number of strategic goals with growth-enhancing, job creation, social inclusion, environmental and climate change potential;

G.  whereas high rates of growth and regional economic convergence cannot be achieved without good governance, given the need for more effective involvement of all partners at national, regional and local level, in line with the principle of multitier government and including the social partners and civil society organisations;

H.  whereas the Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes are strategic tools to guide investments in Member States and regions, provided for in Articles 14, 16 and 29 of the Common Provisions Regulation with a timeline for their submission and adoption, according to which Partnership Agreements should have been adopted by the end of August 2014, and Operational Programmes by the end of January 2015, at the latest;

I.  whereas the informal Council that met in Gödöllő, Hungary, in 2011 has asked the successive Council presidencies of 2015 and 2016 to evaluate and consider whether the EU Territorial Agenda 2020 should be reviewed, taking account of how it works in practice, and then eventually lead any such review;

J.  whereas, according to Article 175 TFEU, Member States shall conduct their economic policies and shall coordinate them in such a way as to attain the objectives of overall harmonious development and strengthening of economic, social and territorial cohesion, and whereas the new Investment Plan for Europe shall therefore also contribute to these objectives;

Achievements and challenges of cohesion policy in the context of the economic and financial crisis (programming period 2007-2013)

1.  Underlines that cohesion policy is the main instrument of the European Union aimed at reducing the economic, social and territorial disparities across European regions, boosting their competitiveness, tackling climate change and energy dependence, while at the same time contributing to the achievement of the Europe 2020 strategy goals; underlines that even though they have been difficult for some Member States and regions to co-finance, cohesion policy investments have cushioned significantly the negative effects of the economic and financial crisis, and have given stability to regions by ensuring the flow of funding when national and regional public and private investments have fallen sharply; underlines that cohesion policy funding was equivalent to 21 % of public investment in the EU as a whole and to 57 % in the cohesion countries taken together;

2.  Highlights that cohesion policy has proven its capacity to react quickly with flexible measures to tackle the investment gap for Member States and regions, such as reducing national co-financing and providing additional advance payments, as well as redirecting 13 % of total funding (EUR 45 billion) to support economic activity and employment with direct effects; considers it essential, therefore, to carry out a substantial in-depth medium-term review of objectives and funding levels in line with any developments affecting the social and economic situation of the Member States or any of their regions;

3.  Underlines that the Treaty on European Union includes the objective of promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among Member States (Article 3 TEU);

4.  Welcomes the recent reform of cohesion policy aimed at tackling these challenges, based on a coherent strategic framework for 2014-2020 with clear objectives and incentives for all Operational Programmes; calls on all actors, especially the main authorities involved, to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation of the new legislative framework for cohesion policy by strongly focusing on achievement of better performance and results; calls on all actors involved to establish properly functioning, multilevel governance and coordination mechanisms to ensure consistency between programmes, support to the Europe 2020 strategy and the Country Specific Recommendations;

5.  Stresses that a stable fiscal and economic – as well as an efficient regulatory, administrative and institutional – environment is crucial for the effectiveness of cohesion policy, but this must not undermine the achievement of its aims and objectives; recalls, in this respect, that a suspension of payments, as provided for in Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation, could undermine national, regional and local authorities’ capacity to plan effectively and implement the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for the 2014-2020 period; emphasises that, in order to achieve both the cohesion and Europe 2020 objectives, the policy must be aligned closely with sectoral policies and synergies shall be achieved with other EU investment schemes; recalls, however, that in line with Article 175 TFEU all economic policies shall pursue the attainment of the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion;

6.  Underlines that increasing administrative capacity for programming, implementation and evaluation in the Member States is crucial for timely and successful performance of cohesion policy;

7.  Points out that although cohesion policy has softened the impact of the crisis, regional disparities remain high and that the cohesion policy objective to reduce economic, social and territorial disparities, providing special support to less developed regions, has not yet been reached everywhere;

8.  Points out that, despite the crisis and the fact that local finances have been put under great pressure, local and regional authorities have had to continue to meet the demands of citizens for more accessible public services of higher quality;

9.  Underlines the importance of reindustrialising the EU in order to ensure that industrial production represents a share of at least 20 % of Member States’ GDP by 2020; recalls, therefore, the importance of proactively supporting and strengthening the principles of competitiveness, sustainability and regulatory reliability in order to promote jobs and growth within Europe;

Implementation and payment problems

10.  Expresses its serious concern about the significant structural delays in the start-up of the cohesion policy programming periods, resulting from delay in the adoption of Operational Programmes, including through the carry-over procedure; notes that this delay may increase the pressure on payments, especially in 2017 and 2018, and thereby add to concerns over the regrettable backlog in payments, amounting to ca EUR 25 billion for the 2007-2013 programming period; notes that even though – when seen in a wider context – the situation in the cohesion policy is better than in rural development or fisheries, this concern remains as, for several Member States, a significant number of programmes have yet to be adopted; stresses that these delays may undermine the credibility of the EU budget and the cohesion policy, its effectiveness and sustainability, challenging national, regional and local authorities’ capacity to finalise implementation of the 2007-2013 period and to plan effectively and implement the ESIF for the 2014-2020 period; welcomes the recent efforts of the Member States and the Commission in this respect, but calls on the Commission to do its utmost to make sure that all remaining Operational Programmes are adopted without further delays, since the multiannual financial framework (MFF) revision necessary to use unallocated 2014 resources, and the accompanying Draft Amending Budget, have already been approved by Parliament;

11.  Recalls that the issue of the persistent payments backlog concerns cohesion policy more than any other EU policy area, with EUR 24,8 billion of unpaid bills at the end of 2014 for the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) 2007-2013 programmes, i.e. a 5,6 % increase compared with 2013; encourages the Commission to use all available means to cover these outstanding bills; underlines that this situation hits first and foremost the smallest and most vulnerable beneficiaries of cohesion policy, such as SMEs, NGOs and associations, as their capacity to pre-finance expenditure is limited;

12.  Welcomes the fact that the Council, the Commission and Parliament have arrived at an agreement to reduce the level of unpaid bills, particularly in cohesion policy, at year-end down to its structural level in the course of the MFF, as laid down in the joint statement accompanying the 2015 budgetary agreement, and takes note of the Commission’s ‘Elements of a payment plan to bring the EU budget back onto a sustainable track’ received on 23 March 2015; reminds the Commission of its commitment to put forward a payment plan as soon as possible, and in any event before the presentation of the 2016 draft budget; furthermore, reminds all institutions of their commitment to agree on and implement such a plan as of 2015 and by the mid-term revision of the current MFF;

13.  Underlines the fact that the proposed revision of the MFF ceilings(16) transferring EUR 11,2 billion in commitments for sub-total heading 1b under Article 19(2) of the MFF Regulation, and the carryover(17) of EUR 8,5 billion in commitments under Article 13(2)(a) of the Financial Regulation from 2014 to 2015, avoid cancelling these appropriations in heading 1b, but neither genuinely address the underlying problem of the delays in programming, nor change the fact that chronically delayed implementation and systematic late payment can pose significant challenges to final beneficiaries;

14.  Underlines that the aforementioned backlog under Heading 1b of the EU budget is in fact the most important immediate factor endangering the implementation of cohesion policy, both in the previous and, prospectively, in the current 2014-2020 programming period; reiterates that the impact of this backlog is felt forcefully by the cohesion policy actors on the ground, sometimes to the extreme; calls, therefore, on the Commission to elaborate a roadmap envisaging a specific timeline of concrete, step-by-step policy actions, backed up by singled-out budgetary means, in order to reduce, and then eliminate, the backlog; hopes the Council will finally realise the seriousness and unsustainability of the situation, and be ready to contribute actively to finding a stable solution to the problem; is convinced that the first objective of these actions ought to be making 2015 the year in which this backlog reduction is felt in a tangible manner;

15.  Stresses that it is imperative to start the implementation of the Operational Programmes as soon as they are adopted, in order to maximise the results of the investments, boost job creation, raise productivity growth and contribute to the Union’s climate and energy targets, and that the Commission and the Member States should do their utmost to speed up their adoption, without any prejudice to their quality; demands that the Commission – while keeping a high focus on the need to keep up the fight against fraud – analyses all possible ways of streamlining its internal procedures in order to speed up procedures based on the two scenarios envisaged for the adoption of Operational Programmes, to avoid any further delays in the start of implementation;

16.  Asks the Commission, in view of the above: to present to Parliament the measures it envisages to facilitate, as soon as possible, the implementation of the Operational Programmes, especially in order to avoid decommitments of funds in 2017, together with a proposed timeline; to explain the impact of the delay in payments on the start of implementation of the new Operational Programmes; and to put forward solutions to limit the damage as far as possible; demands, furthermore, that the Commission, in the context of the report on the outcome of the negotiations provided for in Article 16(3) of the Common Provisions Regulation, analyses the possible impact of the belated start-up of the 2014-2020 cohesion policy on growth and jobs, and that it provides recommendations based on the lessons learnt;

17.  Considers that the 2014-2020 MFF resulting from the Commission’s proposed modification of the MFF Regulation, carrying over to 2015 alone appropriations not allocated in 2014, significantly increases the risk of de-commitment in 2018 in respect of programmes not adopted in 2014, and hence fails to encourage the full take-up of EU resources or effective support for EU investment in growth and jobs; calls on the Commission, in drawing up the 2017 strategic report provided for in Article 53 of the Common Provisions Regulation, to propose, sufficiently well in advance, appropriate legislative and other measures, so as to avoid the risk of decommitment;

18.  Is concerned about the low absorption of funds in the 2007-2013 programming period in certain Member States and warns that the underlying reasons should be tackled in order to avoid recurrence of the same problems in the next period; underlines that administrative capacity is essential for the effective and efficient implementation of cohesion policy; stresses that instability in the civil service, combined with weak policy coordination, may undermine the successful implementation of the ESIF and pose a threat to effective policy management overall;

19.  Suggests that, for the preparation of the next programming period, regulatory provisions concerning programming could be introduced separately and in advance of budgetary proposals, thus decoupling debates about content and money and leaving enough time for thorough preparations of programmes; recalls that even though the regulatory provisions are very extensive, this would not provide Member States and regions with complete assurances and may be a source of differing interpretations; notes that there is still room for simplifying regulatory provisions;

20.  Calls on the Commission to consider carefully – taking into account the possible repercussions for growth and jobs – the application of financial corrections or suspension of payments;

Cohesion policy at the core of smart, sustainable and inclusive investments 2014-2020

21.  Reiterates the original role of cohesion policy to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion and reduce regional disparities, providing particular support to less developed regions; underlines that by its nature and original set up, as stipulated in the Treaty, the policy contributes inherently to the objectives of the Union, in particular to the Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as to the fundamental Treaty objective of strengthening territorial cohesion;

22.  Welcomes the new European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) and its potential leverage effect; underlines that the EFSI’s main objective should be to ensure economic, social and territorial cohesion, and that it should therefore benefit all the regions of the EU; highlights the need to ensure the additionality of EFSI’s resources – and, hence, the complementarity and synergy between it and ESIF, while keeping each financially separate from the other – and, in the same vein, advises the parties concerned to build on the experiences gained from the implementation of the European Economic Recovery Plan in 2008, in particular regarding smart investments;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure enhanced coordination and consistency among all EU investment and development policies, and in particular the cohesion policy, as well as among ESIF, other EU funds and the national and regional funding instruments, in order to ensure complementarity and enhanced synergy, avoid overlaps and duplication of support, and guarantee a high European added value of EU funding; invites the Commission to report on synergies in the forthcoming Cohesion Reports; suggests that the implementation of the new EU investment plan builds on the experiences of the three joint initiatives JEREMIE, JESSICA and JASMINE, which allowed an increase in the delivery of Structural Funds from EUR 1,2 billion in 2000-2006 to EUR 8,4 billion in 2007-2012; calls for a broad and detailed analysis to be undertaken in consultation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF);

24.  Underlines that cohesion policy legislation provides for the extended use of financial instruments – in order to double their contribution to about EUR 25-30 billion in 2014-2020 – by extending their thematic scope and offering more flexibility to Member States and regions; highlights the role of financial instruments in mobilising additional public or private co-investments in order to address market failures in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and with cohesion policy priorities; supports, in particular, the risk-sharing ‘SME initiative’, and calls on the Commission to make all efforts to make financial instruments easily usable and tempting for Member States and regions, thus ensuring that the doubling of contributions to financial instruments is achieved on its own merits and that stakeholder ownership of this target is well established; emphasises the need to ensure transparency, accountability and scrutiny for financial instruments that involve EU money;

25.  Warns, however, that the EFSI should not undermine the strategic coherence and long-term perspective of cohesion policy programming; stresses that a re-direction of Structural Funds would be counterproductive and can therefore not be accepted, as it would put their effectiveness – and the development of the regions – at risk; points out that the financial allocations to Member States agreed on under Heading 1b in the MFF for 2014-2020 cannot be modified for the purposes of the EFSI; emphasises that the replacement of grants by loans, equity or guarantees, while having certain advantages, must be carried out with caution, taking into account regional disparities and the diversity of practices and experiences between regions concerning the use of financial instruments; points out that the regions most in need of investment stimuli often have low administrative and absorption capacities;

26.  Warns that the flexibility allowed in selecting projects for EFSI funding poses a risk that investments are channelled to more developed Member States, undermining the economic, social and territorial cohesion; asks the Commission to monitor closely the relationship between EFSI and ESIF;

Effectiveness, efficiency and performance orientation of cohesion policy 2014-2020

27.  Highlights the importance of all measures aimed at increasing the effectiveness, simplification, efficiency, and result and performance orientation of cohesion policy that should ensure a shift from funds absorption criteria towards quality of spending and high added value of the co-financed operations; suggests in this respect to come forward with technical adjustments of the ESIF regulations concerned;

28.  Welcomes the thematic concentration in support of investments in smart, sustainable and inclusive growth aimed at creating growth and jobs, tackling climate change and energy dependence, and reducing poverty and social exclusion, as well as the enhanced focus on results and measurability in the 2014-2020 programmes, which should contribute to further increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of cohesion policy; maintains, at the same time, the requirement of greater flexibility for the regions, depending on local and regional specificities, especially in the context of the severe crisis, in order to reduce the development gaps between the various regions of the Union; calls for a genuinely integrated and territorial approach to target programmes and projects that address the needs on the ground;

29.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure coherence between National Reform Programmes and Operational Programmes with the aim of addressing the Country Specific Recommendations adequately and of providing alignment with the economic governance procedures, thus limiting the risk of early reprogramming;

30.  Recalls, in this context, Parliament’s initial opposition, and emphasises its responsibility to be fully involved, to control and to scrutinise; demands that the Commission and the Council provide full, transparent and timely information on the criteria for, and on the entire procedure that could trigger reprogramming or a suspension of commitments or payments of, the ESIF in accordance with Article 23(15) of the Common Provisions Regulation; points out that the decision on the suspension of commitments or payments should be taken as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted and after assessments have been made of possible repercussions on growth and jobs, because suspending commitments or payments could have serious consequences for national, regional, and local authorities, as well as for the achievement of cohesion policy goals as a whole; considers that the aim of macroeconomic conditionality should be to make cohesion policy more sustainable and efficient, and rejects the idea that regions, localities or citizens should be penalised for macroeconomic decisions taken by national governments; draws attention to the possibly considerable administrative workload entailed in reprogramming of funds; recalls that a proposal for re-programming submitted in accordance with Article 23(4) of that regulation requires the prior consultation of the monitoring committee concerned as referred to in Article 49(3) of the same regulation;

31.  Points out that irregularities stem to a considerable degree from complex requirements and regulations; underlines that the number of irregularities in the implementation of cohesion programmes could be reduced through the simplification of management and procedures, early transposition of the newly adopted relevant directives and reinforcement of administrative capacity, notably in the less developed regions; stresses, therefore, the need to minimise the administrative burden for beneficiaries when ensuring the verifications necessary to ensure proper use of ESIF appropriations, as well as the need for efforts to optimise and improve the flexibility of management and control systems, place greater focus on risk assessment and correct the allocation of responsibilities among all authorities, while at the same time not undermining established strengthened control procedures, in order to prevent irregularities more effectively and, as a consequence, avoid financial corrections and interruptions in, and suspensions of, payments; is concerned about the low rates of disbursement of financial instruments to beneficiaries, in particular in view of the objective to increase the use of these instruments; asks, in this regard, the Member States, the managing authorities and other relevant stakeholders working with these financial instruments to make full use of the technical assistance provided through the Financial Instruments-Technical Advisory Platform (FI-TAP) and the fi-compass;

Employment, SMEs, youth and education

32.  Stresses that the ESIF could make a significant contribution to reversing the negative social consequences of the crisis, and that, for this to happen, an integrated approach offered by multi-fund programming should be facilitated and simplified, with more efficient coordination of, and greater flexibility among, the funds, allowing for better exploitation of the synergies between the ESF and the ERDF in particular; emphasises that investments funded by the ESF cannot produce optimal results if the relevant infrastructure and appropriate institutions are not in place; draws attention to the fact that the ESIF can effectively support social inclusion, and should therefore be mobilised to help the integration of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, such as Roma and persons with disabilities, as well as to support the transition from institutional to community-based services for children and adults;

33.  Calls on the Commission to pay special attention to the situation of minority groups across the Union, as they are subject to all forms of social exclusion and are therefore more likely to suffer from structural unemployment; considers that any policy planning towards social cohesion in the Union must take into account the integration of minorities;

34.  Emphasises the key role of SMEs in job creation and points to their potential for promoting smart growth and the digital and low-carbon economies; calls for a favourable regulatory environment that is conducive to the setting-up and running of such enterprises, especially those launched by young people and those situated in rural areas; underlines the importance of cutting bureaucratic burdens imposed on SMEs and of facilitating their access to finance, as well as the need to support programmes and training that promote the development of entrepreneurial skills;

35.  Underlines that SMEs make up 99 % of the EU’s corporate fabric and account for 80 % of jobs in the Union;

36.  Expresses its concern over the too low ceiling (EUR 5 million) set by the Commission on ERDF support to small-scale cultural and sustainable tourism infrastructures, defined, moreover, as total costs rather than eligible costs, and stresses the strong positive impact that such projects can have on regional development in terms of socio-economic impact, social inclusion and attractiveness;

37.  Agrees with the Commission’s analysis that economic and social priorities, in particular as regards economic growth, on the one hand, and social inclusion, education and sustainable development, on the other, could be better balanced in some Member States, underpinned by a meaningful dialogue with partners and stakeholders; emphasises that a clear strategy for improving Member States’ institutional framework in terms of administrative capacity and quality of justice is a key determining factor for success in achieving these priorities;

38.  Stresses the importance of the ESF, with the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative, which must sustain as many viable job-creation projects as possible, for instance in the form of business initiatives;

39.  Warns that the alarming rates of youth unemployment threaten to bring about the loss of an entire generation, especially in less developed regions and those regions which have been hit hardest by the crisis and unemployment; insists that advancing the integration of young people into the job market must remain a top priority, to the attainment of which the active contribution of the EU is indispensable, and to which the integrated use of the ESF, the ERDF, the Cohesion Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI ) can make a major contribution; considers that a more results-oriented approach should be taken in this regard in order to ensure the most effective use of available resources, thereby boosting employment and competitiveness, generating more revenue and benefiting the entire EU economy; underlines, in this context, the vital role of the Youth Guarantee in helping young people under 25 either to find a good quality job or to acquire the education, skills and experience needed to find employment; highlights that all resources needed to implement the Youth Guarantee and the other measures covered by the YEI must be provided as soon as possible; believes that clear and readily understandable impact indicators should be used by which the contribution of EU funds to growth and employment can be gauged properly;

40.  Maintains that efforts must continue to be made to find further ways of improving performance as regards youth employment, given that, notwithstanding the adoption of the ESF Regulation and the Youth Employment Initiative, the results have not been good; points out that the EU is politically committed to providing immediate support for the integration of young people into the job market;

41.  Emphasises that, on account of changes in production patterns and an ageing population, the role of the ESF, and of investments in adapting workers’ skills, have grown significantly; strongly believes that, in this respect, the ESF should be complementary to national approaches in the Member States; calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure that available resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible with a view to ensuring workers’ employability, social inclusion and gender equality; underlines, at the same time, that training programmes financed under the ESF should also be tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs and staff at managerial level, in order to ensure the sustainable development of companies – especially SMEs – that generate a majority of the job opportunities in the Union;

42.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to continue to work, in particular, to improve and extend the EURES platform as an effective tool for facilitating worker mobility in Europe, in particular cross-border mobility, by improving workersʼ knowledge of the Union labour market, informing them of job opportunities and helping them with formalities; encourages the Member States to develop and support EURES networks, not least in recognition of the fact that cross-border workers are the first to be hit by adaptation problems and difficulties in securing recognition of professional qualifications; notes that by bringing together public employment services, the social partners, local and regional authorities as well as other private stakeholders, these networks facilitate and support cross-border mobility;

43.  Emphasises the need to direct the creation of quality jobs with the assistance of new technologies; is of the opinion that the Commission should link the reduction of unemployment with the Digital Agenda and Horizon 2020 tools;

44.  Points out that the number of early school leavers in the Union is still very high and is affecting the youth unemployment rate; stresses that this problem needs to be tackled by modernising education systems and curricula, making use of ESF assistance;

45.  Points out that without effective cooperation between educational institutions and labour market players it will be impossible to remedy the high level of unemployment among young graduates in the EU; stresses, in particular, that through teaching of the knowledge and skills needed on the labour market, the youth employment rate has been raised and social differences narrowed;

46.  Underlines the importance of the gender dimension in job creation; calls on the Commission to allocate sufficient funding to tackle unemployment among women; is of the opinion that women could benefit from technological advances allowing for more flexible working hours, and calls on the Commission to invest in this area;

47.  Reaffirms the need to establish childcare facilities for young children so as to boost the presence of women in the labour market, and calls, therefore, on the Commission to support innovative projects in this direction; points out that investment in public infrastructures, such as childcare facilities, increases the chances for women to take active part in the economy and the labour market;

48.  Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States – with a view to achieving goals related to employment and social inclusion – to take into account the needs of women returning from maternity leave, motivate employers to recruit women after maternity leave, facilitate flexible working arrangements, and promote further education (lifelong learning) enabling women smoothly to resume their professional careers;

Governance of the policy

49.  Emphasises that cohesion policy needs to be conducted within the spirit of properly functioning multi-level governance, combined with an effective set-up for responding to the requests of the public and businesses, and with transparent and innovative public procurement, all of which is crucial to enhancing the policy’s impact; stresses, in this regard, that, notwithstanding the importance of decisions taken at EU and Member State levels, local and regional authorities often have primary administrative responsibility for public investment, and that cohesion policy is a vital tool enabling these authorities to play a key role in the EU; reiterates, hereby, the need for widespread implementation of the partnership principle as detailed in the Common Provision Regulation and the Code of Conduct on Partnership;

50.  Recommends that cohesion policy resources and knowledge be used to bolster the administrative capacity of public authorities in a significant way, especially at local and regional levels, including through greater use of new technologies and a drive for more streamlined procedures, so that their ability to offer quality services to the public is improved; calls on the Commission to define forms of administrative assistance on key issues, such as setting targets for initiatives, assessing their results through appropriate indicators and determining the next steps to be taken to help establish an administrative culture based on monitoring and evaluation across the EU; considers it important to ensure that assistance is given to local and regional authorities on the innovative financial instruments, which are crucial to increasing resources and investments, and on public procurement, which should increasingly feature as a public administration tool for spurring innovation and creativity;

51.  Regrets that the Sixth Cohesion Report does not include an in-depth assessment on the achievements of the technical assistance facility JASPERS, which during the 2007-2013 period provided the Member States with the technical expertise needed to prepare high-quality major projects for co-financing with EU funds; welcomes the launch of the JASPERS Networking Platform for capacity-building activities in 2013 and the establishment in 2014 of the Networking and Competence Centre division for delivery of specialist expertise in project preparation for the programming period 2014-2020; welcomes the establishment of a Competence Centre on administrative capacity building regarding ESIF that should contribute to enhancing the capacity of all authorities in the Member States involved in the management and implementation of ESIF;

52.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is increasingly paying attention to the role of governance, and agrees that good governance and high-quality public services –including the absence of corruption – are essential for a stable investment environment; calls for high ambitions when it comes to making cohesion policy spending less prone to fraudulent use, and for strict application of anti-fraud measures;

53.  Is convinced that the Code of Conduct on Partnership will strengthen participation within the regions throughout all stages, in form and substance, and must be fully implemented, as it has a fundamental role to play in boosting the effects of cohesion policy and consolidating its impact on the ground; congratulates those Member States and regions that have managed to involve their partners in the preparation of the Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes in accordance with the Code of Conduct on Partnership; raises serious concerns, however, about the numerous cases of weak application of the partnership principle, and calls on the Commission not to approve programmes in which the involvement of partners has not been sufficient; stresses the importance of disseminating examples of good practices in organising partnerships, as detailed in the Code of Conduct; asks, furthermore, the Commission to present, on a regular basis, a report to Parliament assessing the state-of-play of the implementation of the partnership principle;

Territorial dimension

54.  Notes with concern the relative lack of references to the territorial approach, and in particular to cross-border cooperation, in the Sixth Cohesion Report, despite the fact that it is an essential tool for strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion; points out that the inclusion of all the cross-border and macro-regional aspects would have had an enriching effect, as far as e.g. infrastructure, labour markets and mobility, the environment (including a joint contingency plan), water use and disposal, waste management, health care, research and development, tourism, public services and governance are concerned, as all of these areas include remarkable cross-border elements and potential; is of the opinion that in the programming period 2014-2020, the performance of European border and cross-border regions in coming to terms with the crisis – by growing smarter, more inclusive and more sustainable – will improve considerably;

55.  Stresses that the integrated and territorial approach is essential, in particular when it comes to environmental and energy matters;

56.  Welcomes the introduction of new tools for coordinating stakeholders and integrating EU policies, and for focusing investments on the real needs on the ground, such as the Integrated Territorial Investments and the Community-Led Local Development instruments, seeking balanced territorial development; points to the importance of adopting instruments for assessing the territorial impact of policies, the main objective of which is to consider the territorial impact of EU policies on local and regional authorities, and to draw greater attention to that impact in the legislative process, while noting the existing challenges to implementing integrated territorial approaches, given the remaining regulatory differences across the EU funds and the greatly varying degree of empowerment of regional and local communities among Member States and managing authorities; calls for an overall, integrated EU investment strategy, and a strengthening of the EU Territorial Agenda 2020, adopted under the Hungarian Presidency in 2011 and scheduled to be evaluated by the presidencies of 2015, which includes the EU Urban Agenda; is of the opinion that particular attention should be paid to strengthening the role of small- and medium-sized urban areas;

57.  Notes with concern the lack of reference to how the principles and priorities of the EU Territorial Agenda 2020 have been taken into account through the implementation of 2007-2013 cohesion policy programmes; calls for appropriate evaluation mechanisms to be undertaken during the 2014-2020 period so that an assessment can be made of the territorial dimension of cohesion policy;

58.  Approves, nevertheless, of the fact that urban issues are highlighted by the report, given the importance of cities in the globalised economy and their potential impact in terms of sustainability; notes the commitment of European regions and cities to make the transition to greener growth, as embodied by the Covenant of Mayors; suggests that the major gaps in development between rural and urban areas should also be duly addressed, as should the problems in metropolitan regions, which are showing resilience while remaining vulnerable;

59.  Regrets that the Sixth Cohesion Report does not refer to polycentric territorial development as a key element of achieving territorial cohesion and territorial competitiveness in line with the EU Territorial Agenda 2020 and the 2013 ESPON Report “Making Europe Open and Polycentric”; highlights the role of small and medium-sized towns and the importance of enhancing the functional links of the urban centres with their surrounding areas to achieve balanced territorial development;

60.  Calls for greater respect for Article 174 TFEU on territorial cohesion, in particular in rural areas, with attention duly paid to the important relationship between cohesion policy and rural development, in particular as regards areas affected by industrial transition, and regions that suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps, such as outermost regions, northernmost regions with low population density, and island, cross-border and mountain regions; recommends that consideration be given as well to other demographic challenges that have a major impact on regions, such as depopulation, an ageing population and highly dispersed populations; asks the Commission to pay particular attention to the most geographically and demographically disadvantaged areas when implementing cohesion policy;

61.  Is of the opinion that the Sixth Cohesion Report pays insufficient attention to European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), given that this has been a fully-fledged cohesion policy objective since the 2007-2013 programming period; recalls the potential of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) not only as an instrument for managing cross-border governance, but also as a means of contributing to a comprehensively integrated territorial development;

62.  Calls for closer coordination between cohesion policy, the Instrument for Pre-accession and the EU Neighbourhood Policy, as well as for better assessment and dissemination of the results of projects;

Cohesion policy in the long-term perspective

63.  Recalls, in view of all of the above, the necessity for a new dynamic to be given to the EU cohesion policy debate; states that the 2019 European Parliament election year will be decisive, as the then newly-elected Parliament, and new Commission, will have to deal with the termination of the Europe 2020 strategy and an upcoming new MFF, as well as to ensure the future of cohesion policy after 2020 with an adequate budget and prepare new legislation for cohesion policy; notes that the cohesion policy debate must take into account the serious time constraints and delays experienced at the beginning of the current programming period;

64.  Stresses the crucial importance of administrative capacities; calls on policy makers at all governance levels to favour targeted technical assistance for the implementation of cohesion policies in general, and in particular for the extended use of financial instruments in combination with the ESIF;

65.  Considers that cohesion policy measures have an essential role to play in reducing internal competitive disparities and structural imbalances in regions that need it most; calls on the Commission to consider pre-financing in order to facilitate the full use of funds by the Member States concerned in the 2014-2020 period, while always ensuring that the principle of budgetary accountability is upheld;

66.  Calls on the Member States to conduct regular, high-level political debate within the national parliaments on the effectiveness, efficiency and timely implementation of the ESIF and on the contribution of cohesion policy to the fulfilment of macroeconomic objectives;

67.  Calls for regular Council meetings to be held with the ministers for cohesion policy, to address the need to monitor, and to respond to, the constant challenges facing the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.
(5) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 303.
(6) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 281.
(7) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(8) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0002.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0015.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0132.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0133.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0068.
(14) OJ C 19, 21.1.2015, p. 9.
(15) OJ C 242, 23.7.2015, p. 43.
(16) Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 (COM(2015)0015, 20.1.2015).
(17) Commission Decision on non-automatic carryover from 2014 to 2015 and commitment appropriations to be made available again in 2015 (C(2015)0827, 11.2.2015).


Assessment of the 2012 European Year for active ageing and solidarity between generations
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European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on the Report on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2014/2255(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0309A8-0241/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Decision No 940/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2011 on the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012)(1),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(2),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 25 thereof on the rights of older people,

–  having regard to the Commission final report on the European Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing of 9-10 March 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission background paper of 23 February 2015 entitled ‘Growing the Silver Economy in Europe’,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 15 September 2014 on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (COM(2014)0562),

–  having regard to the Commission report entitled ‘The 2015 Ageing Report. Economic and budgetary projections for the 28 EU Member States (2013-2060)’ (European Economy 3|2015),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 17 January 2014 entitled ‘Joint Report on the application of Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (“Racial Equality Directive”) and of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (“Employment Equality Directive”)’ (COM(2014)0002),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 February 2013 entitled ‘Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion – including implementing the European Social Fund 2014‑2020’ (COM(2013)0083),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Policy Roadmap for the 2014 Implementation of the Social Investment Package,

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper of 16 February 2012 entitled ‘An Agenda for Adequate, Safe and Sustainable Pensions’ (COM(2012)0055),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 February 2012 entitled ‘Taking forward the Strategic Implementation Plan of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing’ (COM(2012)0083),

–  having regard to the Council declaration of 7 December 2012 on ‘the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012): The Way Forward’,

–  having regard to the report jointly prepared by the Social Protection Committee and the Commission of 10 October 2014 entitled ‘Adequate social protection for long-term care needs in an ageing society’,

–  having regard to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) report of 31 October 2014 on ‘Access to healthcare in times of crisis’,

–  having regard to the work currently being undertaken by the UN Working Group on Ageing towards a Convention on the protection of the rights of older people,

–  having regard to the Eurofound Foundation Findings report entitled ‘Work preferences after 50’ (2014),

–  having regard to the Eurofound Foundation Focus document entitled ‘Sustainable work: Toward better and longer working lives’ (December 2014),

–  having regard to the European Parliamentary Research Service in-depth analysis of March 2015 entitled ‘European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012)’,

–  having regard to the Ecorys final report of 15 April 2014 entitled ‘Evaluation of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’,

–  having regard to the EY2012 Stakeholders’ Coalition ‘Roadmap towards and beyond the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 (EY2012)’, of 10 December 2012,

–  having regard to Special Eurobarometer 378 of January 2012, entitled ‘Active Ageing’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2013 on Impact of the crisis on access to care for vulnerable groups(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2013 on an Agenda for Adequate, Safe and Sustainable Pensions(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on the demographic challenge and solidarity between generations(5),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0241/2015),

A.  whereas the objective of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY 2012) was to raise awareness of the value of active ageing, to stimulate the exchange of information, to promote active ageing policies and to create a framework for concrete action by the Union and its Member States, and by all stakeholders in the public and private sector;

B.  whereas it is expected that by 2050 the average age of people in the EU will be over 50;

C.  whereas the EU is facing unprecedented demographic, social and structural changes that have to be addressed without delay; whereas the general ageing of the population is accompanied by the growth of social welfare, health- and care-related needs for elderly people and their families, and the long-term quality and sustainability of public services in the EU will largely depend on the action that is taken over the next few years;

D.  whereas the increase in average life expectancy should be seen as a gain for civilisation and a factor of social progress;

E.  whereas in 2006 the Demographic Change Regions Network, which includes some 40 European regions, was set up, and whereas that network aims to raise awareness of how important challenges such as ageing and a declining population are for the EU and its economic and social cohesion;

F.  whereas the average number of children per woman in the EU is lower than the threshold of generation renewal, the economic crisis has been a factor in the reduction of the birth rate and life expectancy could grow by an additional five years by 2050;

G.  whereas active ageing is one of the major challenges of the 21st century;

H.  whereas, in addition to the phenomenon of ageing, there is an ever-increasing number of European regions in which demographic decline is occurring as a result of falling birth rates, combined with population decline and high rates of ageing, dependence and decline in the number of people in work; whereas all of these phenomena are exacerbated in the rural areas of the regions concerned, as it is common for people to leave rural areas and move to large or medium-sized cities;

I.  whereas active ageing and solidarity between generations are key to achieving the Europe 2020 goals and targets and bringing about a competitive, prosperous and inclusive Europe;

J.  whereas the success of active ageing policies is strongly linked to the effectiveness of a range of non-discrimination, social protection, social inclusion and public health policies developed throughout the lifecycle of EU citizens and workers;

K.  whereas, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the word ‘active’ refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labour force, and whereas, consequently, older people who retire from work, and people who retire because of invalidity or illness, can remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities and nations;

L.  whereas a holistic approach is needed, taking into account the different elements that contribute to making work sustainable over the life course for all individuals and for society as a whole;

M.  whereas different groups of workers experience different working conditions, leading to occupational health inequalities;

N.  whereas immense visible discrepancies exist between Member States and regional and local authorities as regards active ageing policies and policies on social protection in old age, support infrastructure and budgetary resources;

O.  whereas active and healthy ageing creates new social needs, requiring investment in diversified public services, both existing services and new services that are yet to be created, and of course in the field of health and care for the elderly, and whereas it unlocks new potential in relation to the enjoyment and extension of leisure and rest time;

P.  whereas the financial and economic crisis had an impact on the increase of poverty levels among the elderly, and whereas poverty, or being at risk of poverty and social exclusion, poses not only health risks, but also hampers any possibility for active ageing;

Q.  whereas there are some 125 000 occupational pension funds operating across the EU, holding assets worth EUR 2,500 billion on behalf of around 75 million Europeans, which represents 20 % of the EU’s working-age population;

R.  whereas one of the basic principles of a human society is solidarity between generations; whereas, as average life expectancy grows longer and longer, intergenerational relations are becoming increasingly important; whereas the economy and society need the life experience, commitment and ideas of all generations if they are to achieve their goals;

S.  whereas active participation in lifelong learning and sport programmes greatly contributes to creating a genuine culture of active ageing, allowing the population not only to adapt their skills throughout the course of life to the changing requirements of the labour market, but also to stay healthy, active and participative in society in a more general sense;

T.  whereas older women represent 20 % of the EU population and this percentage will continue to increase according to the current demographic trends; whereas in most EU countries older women are at higher risk of poverty than older men – on average 21 % for women and 16 % for men; whereas the gender pension gap in the EU is 39 %;

U.  whereas accessible technologies can enable and facilitate access to the labour market, an independent life and participation in all aspects of society; whereas today, however, over 69 % of people who lack basic digital skills are aged over 55; whereas owing to the lack of accessibility, the rapid evolution of ICT and poor digital literacy, many older people and people with disabilities are at great risk of not taking full advantage of the future Digital Single Market;

1.  Recognises that EY 2012 provided important political momentum which helped to open a discussion of the challenges of active ageing and intergenerational solidarity in Europe;

2.  Defines intergenerational justice as the equal distribution of benefits and burdens between the generations; considers that functional cooperation between the generations is based on solidarity and must be informed by mutual respect, responsibility and a willingness to care for one another;

3.  Notes that the specific objectives of EY 2012 were partly achieved, with the best results being in the area of awareness-raising initiatives and events;

4.  Notes and welcomes the fact that it has become clear through the EY2012 events and initiatives that older people are not a burden on the economy and society, but rather – through their experience, their achievements and their knowledge – an asset;

5.  Points out that EY 2012 succeeded in its goal of mobilising relevant actors around active ageing and intergenerational solidarity; considers it regrettable, however, that the objective of establishing new networks for sharing resources, projects and ideas among the public sector, private sector and civil society was rarely achieved; regrets the fact that the involvement of social partners was variable and that private businesses were not reached to any significant extent; stresses the need to improve capacity building in order to promote the active participation of senior citizens in society;

6.  Welcomes the fact that EY 2012 helped to refine national policy agendas on active ageing, stimulated the exchange of good practices between Member States, increased the number of initiatives to promote active ageing and strengthened stakeholders’ knowledge and skills;

7.  Stresses that reliable statistics on the situation of older people and demographic changes are needed to develop better targeted and effective active ageing strategies; calls on the Commission to ensure comprehensive high-quality data collection on the societal status of older people, their health, rights and standard of living;

8.  Considers it very important that the initiatives launched as part of EY 2012 be followed up and transformed into a strong political commitment followed by concrete action to ensure social inclusion, active participation and the well-being of all generations, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality; recalls that EU legislation concerning ageing policies must be effectively implemented in order to combat and prevent discrimination in all spheres of life against both younger and older people;

9.  Highlights the need to intensify the coordination triangle made up of the decision-making level (including the EU, national, regional and local levels), civil society and the private sector, including industries which provide innovative goods and services in support of independent living;

10.  Calls on the Commission to carry out a study on demographic decline, which is affecting an increasing number of regions in various EU countries, and to draw up a communication on the problem and on the steps that could be taken at European level, at Member State level, and in the regions affected, to address the challenge of demographic decline;

11.  Emphasises that regions with serious natural or demographic disadvantages – such as, for example, sparsely populated regions, islands and mountain areas – are hit especially hard by the problems associated with ageing, and have fewer resources and less infrastructure in place with which to promote active ageing; calls for consideration to be given to whether stimulus plans are useful in addressing the problem of ageing, which is generally made worse by parallel processes of depopulation affecting many of the regions concerned, and which can pose a threat to the survival of those areas;

12.  Considers it regrettable that the relatively late approval of EY 2012 resulted in contracting and implementation delays, as a result of which certain events, such as the Seniorforce Day initiative, did not realise their full potential; notes the smaller budget allocated to the EY 2012 compared with previous EYs and the consequently scarcer resources to implement EY 2012’s objectives;

13.  Recalls that active ageing is, inter alia, the process of optimising opportunities for health and for participation in society in order to ensure that people can retain a good standard of living and quality of life as they age; takes the view that active ageing policies should increase people’s potential for physical, social and mental well-being throughout the course of their lives so as to allow better social inclusion and greater participation in society; highlights the fact that active ageing also means better access to health, long-term care and social services, which have come under pressure in some cases during the crisis, and to lifelong learning, participation in society and cultural activities, boosting existing social infrastructure such as homes and day centres, the elimination of age discrimination and stereotypes, action to combat poverty and social exclusion, and greater awareness of the value of active and healthy ageing;

14.  Recommends to all the Member States that, through their social security systems, they promote and strengthen high-quality public infrastructure for the elderly (homes, day centres and home support), where elderly people are seen as active participants rather than passive recipients of the initiatives in which they take part;

15.  Takes the view that a European strategy on dementia needs to be developed, which should include measures for assistance to the families of the patients, information campaigns, awareness raising and exchange of best practices between Member States;

16.  Calls on the Commission to study the worrying problem of unemployment among people over the age of 50 and the ever rising level of long-term unemployment, and, in conjunction with the Member States, regional and local authorities and social partners, to look into the circumstances and personal situations of older people who are unemployed and to develop effective tools for keeping workers who belong to this vulnerable category in the labour market, offering opportunities for lifelong learning and upgrading of skills, in-work training and accessible and affordable learning programmes and promoting intergenerational training and transfer of knowledge at work for all;

17.  Stresses that consideration should be given in this connection above all to programmes such as ‘generational mentoring’, in which exchanges are encouraged between older experts and the younger generation at work and in training; points out that mixed-aged teams should be supported in the work process and outstanding projects should be rewarded; considers that incentives for businesses to hire more older workers could be put in place by Member States, and that, as a matter of principle, older workers should not be treated less favourably than younger workers with regard to vocational and continuing training; stresses in particular the importance of adapting workplaces to the needs of older workers and providing more opportunities for older workers to work part time in line with their preferences, as well as facilitating longer working lives for those who want and are able to work for longer; takes the view that special retirement plans for older long-term unemployed people should be set up, striking a balance between these people’s need for social stability and that of social security systems;

18.  Considers it regrettable that older people are still often exposed to age discrimination, stereotypes and barriers; calls on the Member States, therefore, to correctly implement Council Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation without delay; notes that the proposal for the Horizontal Equal Treatment Directive(6) has been blocked in the Council since 2008 and calls on the Member States to find a solution as soon as possible;

19.  Strongly rejects, however, the consideration of active ageing policies solely as an instrument to maintain the employability of older workers, and urges the Member States to make all the necessary assessments and efforts to shift to a lifecycle approach and, where appropriate, reform the pension system, while making every effort to stabilise the rules on retirement, taking into account actual unemployment rates among the population above the age of 50 before changing the mandatory pension age; believes that linking the retirement age only to life expectancy fails to take account of the importance of labour market trends and should not, therefore, be the only instrument used to tackle the challenge of an ageing society; considers that instead, through their employment protection legislation and systems of wage formation, Member States should support the recruitment of older workers in particular before their statutory retirement age, as unemployment would have further negative effects on their retirement income, and that Member States should ensure sustainable social protection systems;

20.  Calls on the Member States to ensure sustainability of public pension schemes and to guarantee individual and adequate pension income and rights for all to ensure a dignified life in old age – including those who have taken justified career breaks, mainly women; stresses the importance of adequate supervision and independent audits of occupational pension funds for safe and sustainable pensions;

21.  Stresses that older people must be given the opportunity to play a key role in helping their families, and draws attention to the valuable voluntary work performed by older people;

22.  Stresses the importance of accessible technologies for ageing European societies and calls on the Commission to develop an inclusive Digital Single Market strategy by ensuring that accessibility is mainstreamed throughout the strategy and linked with the promotion of the ‘silver economy’ in Europe;

23.  Welcomes the fact that active and healthy ageing is one of the European Social Fund’s investment priorities for the 2014-2020 programming period, as stated in Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013; calls on the Member States to use the resources allocated effectively; recalls that funding for projects to promote active ageing is also available under programmes such as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), Horizon 2020, Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) and the Health Programme; calls for better coordination between the programmes and various instruments made available by the EU for the promotion of active ageing and intergenerational solidarity, and calls, in line with the priorities of Horizon 2020, for the creation of a European research priority entitled ‘Applied Health and Active-Ageing Sciences’;

24.  Calls on the Member States to use available European Social Fund (ESF), ESIF and EaSI funding to provide financial assistance to self-help programmes run by organisations for older people, who are sharing their energy, knowledge, experiences and wisdom with each other and helping people in need, thereby contributing to active and healthy ageing, and living independently for a longer time;

25.  Recalls the Commission’s Budget Review 2010 which identified ‘EU added value’ as one of its core principles; insists that this principle must represent the cornerstone of all expenditures and that EU funding, particularly that under the ESF, should not be used to subsidise national approaches but to provide additional support to Member States’ active ageing programmes;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the targeting of funds for active ageing, together with the effectiveness of funds absorption; further urges the Commission to explore the feasibility and added value of a new European financial instrument to address the problem of reintegrating dismissed middle-aged workers;

27.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect complete and reliable data allowing assessment of the effectiveness of ESF spending on older workers;

28.  Calls on the Commission to assess the feasibility and added value of a new EU financial instrument to provide a minimum income for all EU citizens below the poverty line;

29.  Recommends to the Member States that they draw up and implement public policies and programmes that will not only improve physical health but also promote mental health and social ties;

30.  Considers it essential to support older people in living independently and actively for as long as possible, as set out in Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, by developing and maintaining people-oriented and demand-driven public support, assistance and care services and by improving the connection between these services; calls, therefore, on the Member States to ensure affordable, accessible and non-discriminatory health care and to prioritise prevention in their health care policies; calls, therefore, on the Commission to implement the Social Investment Package, to keep healthy ageing and the adequacy and quality of long-term care high on the political agenda, and to analyse the affordability of health care for older people, collect data on waiting times in health care systems across the EU and propose guidelines for maximum waiting times; considers it essential to promote personal and individual responsibility for one’s own health, with a marked increase in the level of information on health care and national motivation campaigns, as well as to encourage cooperation on health literacy in order to empower older persons to take care of their health; recalls that we should devote greater attention to innovative technological solutions and tools; finally, recognises the importance of effective dissemination of information relating to local services and entitlements in achieving this goal;

31.  Calls on the Commission to follow up the conclusions of the joint report entitled ‘Adequate social protection for long-term care needs in an ageing society’ and to present concrete proposals without delay;

32.  Believes that priority should be given to integrating elderly people within their families; suggests to the Commission that it explore the potential offered by family businesses and the corresponding work in the field of care for the elderly;

33.  Points out that more effective public transport is one of the top priorities for older people for the creation of age-friendly environments(7), supporting an independent life and access to basic services; calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the accessibility and interoperability of transport systems;

34.  Welcomes the Commission background paper entitled ‘Growing the Silver Economy in Europe’ and reiterates the need to further develop the ‘silver economy’, which caters to the wishes and needs of the ageing population on the basis of the economic opportunities arising from the public and consumer expenditure related to population ageing and from specific products, services, innovative solutions and needs, resulting in new jobs and growth and taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable socioeconomic groups;

35.  Notes that a one-sided rejuvenation of workforces does not lead to more innovation, but represents a waste of experience, knowledge and skills;

36.  Takes the view that older people should be a fully fledged part of society and that their participation in daily life, including public life, should be supported; considers, furthermore, that an active dialogue and exchange of experiences between young and elderly people should be encouraged; highlights the role of intergenerational projects in this context; supports, furthermore, the right of elderly people to lead a life of dignity and independence, as set out in Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; also believes that the active political participation of representatives of the younger and older generations should be secured at all EU levels, wherever generation interests may be affected;

37.  Draws attention also to the valuable social role that older people play by imparting values and experience to others and providing pointers on how to approach community life;

38.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to adopt a positive position within the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing to ensure that older citizens can fully enjoy their human rights; invites the Commission to closely cooperate with the UN Independent Expert on the Rights of Older Persons and with older people’s representative organisations in the EU;

39.  Deplores the fact that people’s patterns of employment are becoming increasingly uneven and insecure as a result of temporary work, the growth of short-term contracts, marginal employment and unemployment;

40.  Welcomes the forthcoming EU Covenant on Demographic Change as a major outcome of EY 2012 and of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing; asks the Commission to identify areas within the EU budget where savings and efficiencies can be made in order to provide funding for the covenant, which is an open, large and independent network bringing together local and regional stakeholders committed to tackling European demographic change by promoting age-friendly environments in close cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO);

41.  Calls on the Commission to adopt an EU Strategy on Demographic Change to coordinate EU action in various areas in order to ensure synergies and maximise their positive impact on Europe’s citizens, economy and job creation, as well as protect the human rights of older persons in all EU policies;

42.  Believes that demographic challenges are not adequately addressed at European level; calls, therefore, on the forthcoming Presidencies of the Council of the EU to put this item back on the EU agenda and work out strong policy responses;

43.  Stresses that demographic change should not be advanced as a justification for the dismantling of social entitlements and services;

44.  Welcomes the Guiding Principles on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations developed jointly by the Social Protection Committee and the Employment Committee; welcomes in particular the role of the Social Protection Committee in enabling a direct exchange of experience among Member States, including in respect of long-term care and pensions;

45.  Welcomes the Active Ageing Index, which aims to capture the untapped potential of older people for more active participation in employment and social life and for independent living, together with the ongoing follow-up project being conducted by the Commission in conjunction with the UN Economic Committee for Europe; encourages the Member States to set targets based on the Active Ageing Index which are to be achieved through comprehensive active ageing strategies, and to monitor progress towards those targets;

46.  Points out that promoting age-friendly environments is an essential tool for supporting older workers and jobseekers and promoting inclusive societies that offer equal opportunities to all; welcomes, in this connection, the Commission’s joint management project with the WHO aimed at adapting the WHO Global Age-friendly Cities guide to the European context;

47.  Believes that a UN Convention to protect the rights of older persons will improve the lives of older persons by guaranteeing them equal access to political, economic, health care and cultural rights, and would represent an important platform to create an attitude shift towards ageing on a global scale;

48.  Calls on the Commission to adopt an Action Plan on elder abuse, taking stock of the European Quality Framework for Long-Term Care developed by the WeDO Partnership and addressing the issue of the rights of older persons in need of care and assistance;

49.  Regrets that the Commission has not yet addressed age inequalities in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the Disability Strategy; calls, therefore, on the Commission to raise awareness of and address the rights of older persons with disabilities and the age discrimination they suffer, and to ensure that the application of the UNCRPD does not leave older people behind;

50.  Calls on the Commission to release the long-awaited European Accessibility Act to ensure that transport, housing and ICT-based products and services, including the ones offered with the ‘silver economy’, are accessible to older persons;

51.  Calls on the Commission to issue country-specific recommendations addressing the adequacy, sustainability and fairness of economic reforms in the field of employment, pensions, social inclusion and long-term care within the European Semester framework; calls on the Commission to better assess the social impact of economic reforms, notably in the context of population ageing;

52.  Stresses the importance of volunteering, which cannot be taken for granted and should therefore have its added social value taken into greater consideration, and which promotes intercultural learning and intergenerational solidarity, fosters active ageing and lifelong civic participation, and enables older people to display a commitment to society, thereby improving their quality of life, well-being and general state of health; encourages the development of more flexible and inclusive approaches to participation in volunteering programmes; in this context, regrets the discontinuation of the Grundtvig programme which supported older volunteers; recalls the importance of European and transnational networks of associations and public and private bodies working to foster the integration of elderly people, which should be given particular support, and urges the Commission to acknowledge the value of successful EU programmes which combined civic participation with EU-wide group exchanges involving older people;

53.  Stresses that a policy for justice between the generations must aim to create the necessary tools for conducting an open and frank intergenerational dialogue with a view to achieving win-win situations; calls on the Commission and the Member States to work intensively on such tools in order to create solidarity;

54.  Stresses the importance of social enterprises that help to provide services for the elderly and look after their health and participation in society;

55.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.

(1) OJ L 246, 23.9.2011, p. 5.
(2) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0328.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0204.
(5) OJ C 74 E, 13.3.2012, p. 19.
(6) 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).
(7) European Commission (2012). Special Eurobarometer 378 on Active Ageing.


Implementation of the 2011 White paper on transport
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European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on the implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility (2015/2005(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0310A8-0246/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the public hearing entitled ‘White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility’ held by its Committee on Transport and Tourism on 17 March 2015,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee Opinion of 22 April 2015 entitled ‘Roadmap to a single European transport area – progress and challenges’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2011 on the Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2010 on a sustainable future for transport(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 July 2007 on Keeping Europe moving − Sustainable mobility for our continent(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 February 2003 on the Commission White Paper ‘European transport policy for 2010: time to decide’(4),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper entitled ‘European Transport Policy for 2010: time to decide’(COM(2001)0370),

–  having regard to the upcoming COP21 Climate Conference in December 2015 in Paris,

–  having regard to the Energy Union Package and its Communication entitled ‘A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’ (COM(2015)0080),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 23 and 24 October 2014 on the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2015)0192),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Together towards competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility’ (COM(2013)0913),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 September 2011 on European road safety 2011-2020(5),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0246/2015),

A.  whereas the White Paper on Transport set an ambitious agenda for the transformation of the European transport system and the creation of a genuine Single European Transport Area;

B.  whereas the transport sector represents a driving force of the EU economy, employing around 10 million people and accounting for about 5 % of GDP, which should remain a frontrunner in generating further economic growth and job creation, and promoting competitiveness, sustainable development and territorial cohesion;

C.  whereas transport is a sector where Europe is a world leader, in both manufacturing and transport operations, and it is crucial that European transport continues to develop, invest and renew itself in a sustainable manner, in order to maintain its technological leadership at global level, continue exporting its standards worldwide and maintain its competitive position in all transport modes within a global economy ever more characterised by the emergence of powerful new players and new business models;

D.  whereas the premises of our society are changing as a result of digitalisation, urbanisation, globalisation and demographic change, and we need a shift in existing transport policy paradigms that can cope with the challenges of the future;

E.  whereas transport is fundamental to the free movement of people, goods and services, on which the single market is based, and free movement is both a powerful driving force for integration within the Union and a key factor in the performance of European industry and commerce;

F.  whereas transport continues to be nearly fully dependent on fossil fuels and is the only sector where greenhouse gas emissions have grown over the last 25 years, and without the recent economic downturn emissions growth could have been even bigger;

G.  whereas there is an urgent need to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of the transport system and reduce its dependence on oil and fossil energy resources in a cost-efficient manner without sacrificing its competitiveness and curbing mobility, in line with the objectives set in the White Paper;

H.  whereas advanced sustainable biofuels, particularly those produced from processing waste and residues in line with the waste management hierarchy(6), represent an untapped potential for reducing the European transport system’s dependence on oil and for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector;

I.  whereas it is essential to ensure the successful development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) within the agreed time frames, to effectively link the transport networks of all EU regions, connecting the geographically peripheral regions to the centre of the EU, and to eliminate disparities between levels of infrastructure development and maintenance, in particular between the eastern and western parts of the Union;

J.  whereas investment in transport infrastructure has a positive impact on economic growth, job creation and trade, and it is therefore necessary to eliminate barriers which hinder private investment in transport infrastructure;

K.  whereas transport infrastructure generally requires long-term financing, and levels of investment have fallen in recent times owing to a lack of confidence among lawmakers, project developers and the financial sector;

L.  whereas there has for many years been serious under-investment in public transport infrastructure across the EU, and whereas improved facilities for pedestrians, elderly people and passengers with reduced mobility are part of Union's goals and require additional funds;

M.  whereas one of the main objectives of the White Paper should be to make people and their rights as passengers the central objective of transport policy;

N.  whereas innovation and intelligent transport systems should play a major role in the development of a modern, efficient, sustainable and interoperable European transport system that is accessible to all;

O.  whereas multimodal networks and the integration of different transport modes and services are potentially beneficial for improving passenger and freight transport connections and efficiency, thus helping to reduce carbon and other harmful emissions;

P.  whereas the creation of a genuine Single European Transport Area will not be possible without effective implementation of EU legislation by Member States and, where necessary, simplification of the existing regulatory framework to ensure legal clarity and improved enforcement;

Q.  whereas it is necessary to eliminate all the residual barriers, technical incompatibilities and burdensome administrative procedures that impede the achievement of a fully integrated transport system, and to oppose any new measures introduced by Member States which create barriers to the free movement of goods and services;

R.  whereas further market opening needs to go hand in hand with quality jobs and decent working conditions, a high standard of services and fair competition in all the Member States;

S.  whereas the last report from the Commission on Road Safety in the European Union(7) revealed that the number of road fatalities in Europe decreased by 1 % in 2014, a considerably lower figure than the 8 % drop recorded in 2012 and again in 2013;

Implementation and mid-term review of the White Paper

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to carry out a mid-term review of the White Paper, with the aim of assessing the progress achieved and proposing further actions to reach its objectives; considers that, while it is too early to fully assess the impact of a number of policy measures taken since the adoption of the White Paper, a stocktaking exercise is necessary to obtain an overview of the state of play in the implementation of the 40 initiatives and 131 action points listed in its Annex;

2.  Reiterates its support for the targets set out in the White Paper and the ‘Ten goals for a competitive and resource-efficient transport system: benchmarks for achieving the 60 % GHG emission reduction target’; stresses that the mid-term review should maintain at least the level of ambition of the goals set in 2011 and propose concrete, realistic and evidence-based measures and initiatives to increase, speed up and streamline the efforts to meet them; calls on the Commission to evaluate the extent to which the list of actions set out in the White Paper is sufficient to achieve its overarching goals, and to propose additional legislative measures;

3.  Calls on the Commission to update the emission reduction targets in the White Paper in line with Parliament’s resolution of 5 February 2014 on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies(8) and the European Council conclusions of 23 and 24 October 2014 on the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework, and to propose measures aimed at further reduction of transport emissions, in order to help Member States reach the overall ‘binding EU target of an at least 40 % domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990’ (‘with the reductions in the ETS and non-ETS sectors amounting to 43 % and 30 % by 2030 compared to 2005, respectively’);

4.  Stresses that the 2030 reduction target for GHG emissions from transport should be set at a level that will allow the achievement of the long-term target of the White Paper of an at least 60 % reduction of GHG emissions from transport by 2050; calls in this context on the Commission to propose a comprehensive strategy for the decarbonisation of transport;

General principles: modal shift and co-modality

5.  Stresses that a European sustainable mobility policy needs to build on a broad range of policy tools to shift towards the least polluting and most energy-efficient modes of transport in a cost-efficient manner; points out that shifting the balance between modes of transport is not an end in itself but is necessary to disconnect mobility from the adverse effects of the present transport system such as congestion, air pollution, noise, accidents and climate change; acknowledges that the modal shift policy has not so far delivered satisfactory results; stresses, therefore, that all modes of transport must be optimised and become more environmentally friendly, safe and energy-efficient in order to achieve a high level of both mobility and environmental protection;

6.  Considers that the development of passenger and freight transport is largely dependent on the effective use of the various modes of transport, and that European transport policy should therefore be based on efficient co-modality, where the use of the most energy-efficient and sustainable transport modes should be prioritised where possible; believes that this will lead to an optimal rebalancing between the different transport modes, and will provide for interoperability within and between the modes, promote more sustainable transport and logistics chains and enhance seamless traffic flows across modes and nodes;

Modern infrastructure and smart funding

7.  Calls on the Commission to submit proposals to provide for the internalisation of the external costs of all modes of freight and passenger transport, by applying a common, coherent and transparent EU methodology and taking into account the specificity of each mode, including a coherent analysis of externalities that have already been internalised so as to avoid double taxation; calls for concrete measures to ensure a wider application of the ‘user pays’ and ‘polluter pays’ principles, including guidelines and best practices, and for a level playing field to be ensured between transport modes, abolishing environmentally harmful tax subsidies where appropriate, while maintaining the competitiveness of all EU regions;

8.  Calls on the Commission to propose a general framework for national road charging schemes for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, which should be non‑discriminatory for third-country residents and prioritise distance-based charging; invites the Member States to earmark the revenue from infrastructure charges for the building and maintenance of safe transport infrastructure and the mitigation of transport‑related environmental problems;

9.  Emphasises that the completion of the Trans-European Transport Network remains one of the preconditions for a more sustainable, efficient, seamless multimodal transport system and a more balanced distribution of freight and passengers among transport modes; stresses that the selection of projects eligible for EU funding must focus on the nine core network corridors, the completion of missing links, in particular cross-border sections, the elimination of bottlenecks, the upgrading of existing infrastructure, innovative transport solutions, interoperability, and the development of multimodal terminals and urban nodes; it should also put greater emphasis on European added value, on the development of infrastructure for the connectivity of the peripheral, island, mountainous and outermost regions, and on support for projects connecting the Trans-European Transport Network with infrastructure networks of neighbouring and candidate countries;

10.  Considers that EU funding must reflect the real investment needs for completing the TEN-T core network by 2030, and that the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) instrument and other means of financing should stimulate investment in transport infrastructure following the criteria set out in the TEN-T guidelines and CEF, giving priority to sustainable means of transport such as rail, inland waterways and short sea shipping; emphasises that co-funded projects should reflect the need for infrastructure that benefits the Union in terms of competitiveness and economic, social and territorial cohesion, that minimises the impact on the environment, that is resilient to the possible impact of climate change and that guarantees the health and safety of users;

11.  Calls for a drastic increase in the funds allocated to the Connecting Europe Facility and for more European competences in the preparation, implementation and financing of transnational transport planning and infrastructure financing;

12.  Stresses that the quality of road infrastructure, which has a direct impact on road safety, differs significantly across the EU and that more than 90 per cent of road accident deaths in the Member States occur on urban and rural roads; stresses that efficient financing of this type of infrastructure must be further promoted through different EU policies and instruments, especially in the cohesion countries; stresses also the need for proper maintenance of the existing infrastructure, including the secondary road network;

13.  Stresses that the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), proposed by the Commission as part of the Juncker Investment Plan for Europe, should give priority to sustainable transport and to infrastructure projects of vital importance that deliver high societal, economic and environmental value, and should target projects that promote high-quality job creation, long-term growth, competitiveness, innovation and territorial cohesion, including sustainable urban projects and rail projects, in accordance with EU transport policy goals and legislation (TEN-T guidelines, CEF); in this context, new ways of funding such as public-private partnerships and concessions deserve more attention and application; stresses that the process for selecting projects to be funded by EFSI should be transparent and involve relevant stakeholders from the public and private sector;

14.  Considers that EFSI should be funded as a priority from non-allocated resources within the EU budget and only as a last resort from the non-used funds of programmes under heading 1A of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020; emphasises that the financing of the guarantee fund should be reviewed in the framework of the 2016 mid-term review of the MFF and, on the basis of the analysis of the performance and execution rates of the different programmes, alternative funding options should be identified in order to minimise to the greatest possible extent redeployment of funds from heading 1A for the 2016-2020 period; stresses that the European Parliament and the Council should also explore ways to compensate to the largest possible extent for redeployments from EU programmes agreed in the framework of the annual budgetary procedure as a source of financing for EFSI in the years preceding the MFF mid-term review;

15.  Reaffirms its support for innovative financial instruments that allow public spending to be optimised by better mobilisation of private financing, but recalls that many projects in the transport sector do not generate enough revenue to rely exclusively on these types of instrument, and thus require support in the form of subsidies;

16.  Stresses that the rapid deployment and application of intelligent transport systems is necessary to allow a more efficient, sustainable and safe use of vehicles and of the existing infrastructure and to provide additional capacity without the time, cost and land-take required for the construction of new infrastructure; stresses the importance of effective use of frequencies and interoperability between intelligent transport systems to enable seamless traffic flows across modes and nodes; calls for the timely implementation of the deployment and exploitation phases of the EU Satellite Navigation Programmes, and the effective development of transport applications within the Galileo and EGNOS systems;

Sustainable transport and urban mobility

17.  Stresses that improving energy efficiency should be one of the top priorities of the European transport policy; states that there is an acute need to improve the resource efficiency of the transport system as a whole, with a view to more efficient use of existing capacity, improving the utilisation rate of vehicles and ensuring that public financing is allocated at national and EU level to measures with the highest impact;

18.  Emphasises the importance of promoting electro-mobility and electric public transport systems, coupled with the introduction of renewable energy sources in the electricity sector, giving priority to the further electrification of the rail network and the promotion of tramways, electric buses (trolleybuses), electric cars, electric two-/three-/four- wheelers, e‑bikes and small electric boats; stresses the potential of modern aerial tramways (cable cars), as an inexpensive and easy-to-build means of transportation, to expand the capacity of urban public transport systems;

19.  Emphasises the importance of promoting the introduction of alternative fuels and propulsion systems, in particular those for which Europe has a major technological advantage, in order to reduce transport’s dependence on fossil fuels, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; deplores the fact that those technologies have still not been sufficiently deployed, especially in public transport;

20.  Notes that public transport usage in urban areas is not clearly stated among the ten goals of the White Paper; believes that a new goal should be set of doubling public transport use in urban areas by 2030; stresses in that regard that measures should be taken to provide for facilities and infrastructure to facilitate safe door-to-door mobility of public transport users, including elderly or disabled people and cyclists who use public transport for part of their ride; underlines that achieving this goal requires appropriate investment, especially in order to ensure consistent maintenance and expansion of public transport infrastructure; urges the Member States, therefore, to provide adequate, long-term, reliable funding for urban public transport infrastructure projects;

21.  Calls on the Commission to assist local, regional and national authorities and stakeholders to explore existing and new EU funding opportunities for public transport and develop innovative public-private partnership schemes; draws attention to the lessons to be learnt from the European Court of Auditors special report (No 1/2014) entitled ‘Effectiveness of EU-supported public urban transport projects’, which assessed the implementation and effectiveness of urban public transport projects co-financed by EU structural funds and the extent to which they meet user needs and achieve their objectives in terms of utilisation;

22.  Emphasises the importance of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) as a tool to help cities make more efficient use of transport infrastructure and services and improve integration into the urban area of the different mobility modes in a sustainable manner, thereby contributing to the reduction of air and noise pollution, CO2 emissions, congestion and road accidents; calls on the Commission to continue supporting the development and promotion of SUMPs; stresses that the European structural and investment funds should be used more systematically for cities that have developed an integrated local transport plan, such as a SUMP, and identified the appropriate actions in accordance with the criteria set out in the relevant legislation;

23.  Calls on the Commission to work with public transport operators and authorities with the aim of providing travel information to users through different media, including information addressing the needs of people with disabilities, and to play a greater role in identifying EU-wide best practices and conditions for improving urban public transport systems; calls also on the Commission and the Member States to safeguard the obligation for urban transport systems to connect city centres with their peripheral areas;

24.  Stresses that urban areas need a certain degree of flexibility to enable them to meet their obligations under EU law in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity and to ensure that mobility solutions are adapted to their specific circumstances;

25.  Stresses that the behaviour of transport users is key to the development of a more sustainable transport system; calls for initiatives that motivate and enable users, especially young people, to use safer and more sustainable means of transport (walking, cycling, including bike sharing and renting, public transport, car sharing, carpooling), which should be deployed within a safe infrastructure, and for journey planning and real-time information to be made available in order to facilitate the intermodal use of different transport modes through Intelligent Transport Systems; calls on the Commission to identify best-practice examples of combining multiple modes of transport with the potential to be implemented in other urban agglomerations;

26.  Stresses the need for better national and EU transport data on the behaviour of transport users, in particular as regards walking, cycling and gender-differentiated travel patterns, to be used by local authorities when defining their urban mobility policies;

27.  Emphasises the importance of taking steps to support regional programmes for creating and expanding cycling networks in large European regions, in order to encourage citizens to take more responsibility in environmental matters, to give everyone the opportunity to cycle, and to reduce noise pollution, congestion and urban pollution;

28.  Highlights the importance of analysing the positive effects on society of new forms of mobility supported by the Sharing Economy model, including ride-sharing; considers it important that there is a sharing of best practices among Member States so that regulatory adjustment is made to take account of these door-to-door mobility innovation platforms;

29.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the situation in the different Member States as regards the operation of transportation network companies that match drivers to passengers (Uber being the most prominent example), and to carry out an assessment of the legal, social, economic and environmental consequences arising from the operation of such companies, accompanied, if appropriate, by relevant measures or recommendations for developing innovative new services in Europe, taking into account the existing taxi services;

30.  Calls on the Commission to require the Member States to provide conditions of fair competition between shared transportation companies and traditional taxi and intercity transport companies as regards compliance with tax legislation, safety, public service obligations and employment conditions;

31.  Stresses that powered two-wheelers (motorcycles, scooters and mopeds) and, increasingly, e-powered two- and three-wheelers play a significant role in sustainable mobility, especially in urban areas where they contribute to tackling congestion and parking problems as well as providing a solution for small logistics; insists, therefore, that the specific design and afferent benefits of these vehicles should be adequately taken into account and reflected in EU transport legislation and guidelines;

32.  Calls for better optimisation of the supply chain in urban areas; urban freight vehicles contribute disproportionately to air and noise pollution and have a negative impact on congestion; urban logistics should foster optimisation of transport and cost-effective introduction of new types of operations, technologies and business models; better selection of modes and vehicles can ensure that a transport solution is optimally matched with the specific requirements of the shipment and the city in question;

33.  Stresses the importance of logistics depots located on the edge of urban areas, enabling goods to be transported to their destination in a coordinated way using the most energy-efficient modes of transport;

Placing people at the heart of transport policy

34.  Calls, with regard to road safety, for:

   the swift adoption of a 2020 target of a 40 % reduction in the number of people seriously injured, accompanied by a fully fledged EU strategy; calls on the Member States to provide without delay all relevant statistical data so as to enable the Commission to set that target and strategy,
   a strengthening of actions aimed at reducing the number of deaths and injuries on the road, with particular attention to the main causes, including driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, excessive speed and not wearing seatbelts,
   action to attain the 2020 road safety target of less than 15 000 fatalities, through the introduction and implementation of cost-effective road safety measures at EU and national level,
   actions to reduce accidents among vulnerable users, in particular users of two-wheeled vehicles, pedestrians in urban environments and older drivers,
   road safety measures within the upcoming Road Package and a mid-term review of the Commission’s Road Safety Programme 2011-2020,
   a review of Directive (EU) 2015/413 facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences, and efforts to extend its application to the EU’s neighbouring countries,
   the extension, within the revision of Directive 2008/96/EC on road infrastructure safety management, of its four main measures to other parts of the road network, including all parts of motorways and rural and urban roads,
   actions to be prioritised, as suggested by the Action Plan and defined by the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Directive (2010/40/EU), with regard to vulnerable road users,
   a review of the Professional Drivers Training and Qualification Directive with the aim of clarifying its provisions, and the promotion and development of post-licence training schemes for all vehicle users,
   a proposal by 2016 to review the General Safety Regulation ((EC) No 661/2009) and the Pedestrian Protection Regulation ((EC) No 78/2009) in order to establish mandatory rules for heavy goods vehicles’ (HGVs’) cab design and safety, direct vision, crash performance and pedestrian protection, prioritising vulnerable road users,
   greater application in new passenger cars and commercial vehicles of driver assistance safety systems such as automated emergency braking (AEA), distance warning, lane departure warning (LDW), tyre wear indicators, overridable intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) and eCall, coupled with cooperative intelligent transport systems,
   a review of the third Driving Licence Directive, in order to introduce:
   mandatory training for drivers in new vehicle functions (driver assistance systems),
   a second phase for obtaining a driving licence,
   lifelong road safety education,
   a fitness test for drivers, and
   a medical/psychological examination for traffic offenders as regards, for instance, alcohol, drugs or aggression,
   a harmonised EU blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.0 for new drivers in the first two years and for professional drivers;

35.  Stresses that although significant improvements have been achieved in road safety over the past years, differences between Members States still persist and further measures are needed to attain the long-term Vision Zero objective; notes that road safety goes hand in hand with respectful behaviour by all road users, and that education in families and schools should play a greater role in achieving that objective;

36.  Stresses the need to complete the established legislative framework for passenger rights with measures aimed at eliminating all possible loopholes in the legislation, covering passengers on multimodal journeys and ensuring fair intermodal competition, while taking account of specific differences between transport modes, legal responsibility for the individual sections of the journey and the interaction between the various modes; reiterates its call for a Charter of Passenger Rights that would set out the fundamental passenger rights applicable to all modes of transport, taking account of the specificities of each mode and containing a separate section on multimodal journeys, so as to improve the visibility of EU rules and ensure better enforcement; calls for initiatives to promote and make available to passengers multimodal travel information, planning and ticketing services; asks also for measures to improve the quality of transport and facilitate barrier-free accessibility for elderly people, passengers with reduced mobility and disabled passengers, and for greater consideration to be given to passengers’ special needs, such as those of cyclists transporting their bicycles on trains;

37.  Calls, in connection with the fundamental right of everyone to individual mobility, especially people with disabilities and the elderly, for more investment in research and development of appropriate driver-assistance systems;

38.  Notes that improving the availability of free or low-cost broadband, cellular networks, Wi-Fi and other digital services on public transport and at stations would improve personal mobility;

39.  Calls for an EU Roadmap aimed at establishing the framework for a European seamless multimodal passenger transport system; this Roadmap should identify key European multimodal passenger corridors under the existing TEN-T network, bring together public and private resources, align existing initiatives and concentrate EU funding support;

40.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to address the quality of work in all transport modes, with respect in particular to training, certification, working conditions and career development, with a view to creating quality jobs, developing the necessary skills and strengthening the competitiveness and mobility of EU transport operators; stresses the importance of resolving the issue of labour turnover and of an ageing workforce in the transport sector, and the urgent need to make working in the sector attractive to new generations;

41.  Emphasises the crucial importance of ensuring equal and fair treatment, good terms and working conditions and a safe working environment for transport workers; calls on the Commission, therefore, to present concrete and immediate measures/initiatives to address social aspects in the various transport modes, with the aim of promoting high‑quality jobs and working conditions for transport workers and ensuring fair and undistorted competition between transport operators; urges the Commission to closely monitor the application and enforcement of EU social legislation by Member States in all transport modes;

42.  Stresses that measures are also necessary to boost women’s participation in the transport labour market, remove possible existing barriers, and ensure equal treatment of men and women by addressing existing remuneration and advancement gaps;

43.  Urges the Commission to ensure that proposals on the opening-up of services in all transport markets go hand in hand with the proper enforcement of EU social legislation and, where necessary, with support measures to avoid disparities between social conditions in the different Member States; stresses that the opening-up of transport markets should not lead to social dumping, poorer-quality services, less public service, unnecessary administrative burdens, unfair business practices or distortion of fair competition; it should, also, put an end to the fragmentation of the internal market and prevent the creation of monopolies or a race to the bottom with respect to the social protection of transport workers;

A competitive, efficient, safe, integrated and interoperable transport system

44.  Emphasises that digitalisation is vital to improving the efficiency and productivity of the transport sector; stresses the need to make better use of the opportunities offered by digital technologies, and to promote new transport services, as well as new business and distribution models, in order to foster growth, competiveness and jobs; stresses also the need to provide an enabling regulatory framework for pilot projects aimed at the deployment of intelligent automated transport in Europe; notes in this regard the key role of SMEs and start-ups in fostering innovation in the transport sector;

45.  Calls on the Commission to put the integrated approach (interoperability, inter-connectivity and intermodality), including ICT systems, at the heart of the review of the White Paper; reminds the Commission, furthermore, to combine technological advances with behavioural change in order to obtain an ambitious modal shift, as well as transport avoidance, through green logistics, proper mobility management tools and the application of digitalisation;

46.  Stresses that a European sustainable mobility policy must look at synergies between all transport modes, corridors and networks, and focus on the needs of key nodes, urban areas, interconnectivity points, transhipment platforms and ports; mobility should be envisaged as a system rather than a collection of individual modes;

47.  Calls for standardisation of intermodal loading units, taking into account the loading units used in global transport and the dimensions of transport vehicles, and for uniform provisions on loading safety, in order to optimise multi-modal transport and improve safety;

48.  Insists that bureaucratic hurdles should be reduced for all forms of transport; calls for greater simplification and harmonisation of documents and administrative and customs procedures, which should be practical, efficient and workable for all parties along the logistics chain; calls on the Commission to submit a proposal for establishing an electronic framework for multimodal transport of goods (e-Freight), achieving paperless, seamless information flows along the whole transport logistics chain, taking into account existing well-functioning tools and synergies, global developments and best practices;

49.  Calls for the introduction of a new goal, accompanied by the necessary measures, of shifting 50 % of the current transport of dangerous goods within the EU towards more sustainable transport modes such as rail and inland waterways by 2030 in full compliance with Directive 2008/68/EC on the inland transport of dangerous goods;

50.  Calls on the Commission to streamline the rules for the intermodal transport of dangerous goods so as to ensure interoperability between the different modes;

51.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to explore the potential and support the deployment of tube freight transportation and cycle logistics as promising concepts for a sustainable transport system;

52.  Highlights the key role played by the transport sector in developing tourism, in particular in those regions of the Union which are more remote and currently very difficult to access;

53.  Underlines that European hubs connect Europe with the rest of the world and that Europe needs to maintain its direct connectivity to all parts of the world, providing direct flights by European carriers from their hubs to overseas destinations and maintaining jobs and growth in the European aviation sector; stresses that flights within the EU not only provide mobility in the internal market but also play a vital role as feeder flights to maintain connectivity at EU hubs; EU policy must ensure an efficient and competitive feeder network to strengthen European hubs by reducing costs to globally competitive levels and ensuring fair competition with carriers from third countries; the EU Member States need a coherent and common policy in order not to further lose direct connectivity between Europe, Asia and Africa to hubs in the Gulf and Turkey; asks the Commission, therefore, to implement these goals in all EU aviation legislation and to apply them in negotiations with third countries;

54.  Calls for an enhanced research and technology policy with the aim of promoting innovation in the transport sector; considers that this policy, which must be accompanied by appropriate funding, should be drawn up in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, including citizens and representatives of users, in order to understand the needs of the sector and, accordingly, improve the allocation of EU funding, in particular through the Horizon 2020 programme; takes the view that priority should be given to projects with a clear European added-value which aim at decarbonising transport and promoting energy-efficient modes of transport (including walking and cycling), increasing the efficiency and transparency of the supply chain, enhancing transport accessibility, safety and security, improving traffic management and reducing administrative burdens; takes the view that particular attention should also be paid to disruptive technologies in the field of transport, for example in the form of automated or remote‑controlled vehicles such as drones and driverless vehicles;

55.  Calls for the same level of effort in the area of education to encourage the appearance of new studies and training processes, in particular at professional and higher levels, focused on the new skills and professions that will emerge as a result of intelligent mobility;

56.  Stresses the importance of supporting EU framework programmes for research, development and innovation in order to achieve cleaner fuels and a high degree of technological advance, for example in relation to refined biofuels;

57.  Asks within the framework of the REFIT programme and during subsequent evaluations of European legislation for a general review of European driving licence and safety conditions and of transport-related reporting requirements with a view to achieving a substantial decrease in administrative burdens;

58.  Recognises the importance of interference-free radio frequencies, in particular as regards the enforcement of driving time and rest periods of road transport workers and the deployment of intelligent transport systems; calls on the Commission to create, where necessary, the relevant regulatory framework;

The global dimension of transport

59.  Stresses that the creation of a European transport area is an important priority which depends to a large extent on international acceptance under agreements negotiated globally with our trade partners for all transport modes, particularly in connection with air and maritime transport, and that the EU should play an increasingly formative role in the relevant international bodies;

60.  Takes the view that the EU must maintain its leading role in the global efforts to reduce transport emissions in the framework of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) by promoting at global level the decarbonisation of transport and the development of sustainable modes of transport, thus contributing to achieving the internationally agreed goal of keeping global warming below 2 °C;

61.  Calls for a more integrated approach between Member States on the possibility of applying a reciprocity principle in our commercial relations with third countries and for an examination within the EU funding policy for transport of whether additional funding from third countries is appropriate;

62.  Emphasises that the exploitation of international resources for the development of our transport system (oil, lithium, precious metals, biofuels) should respect the legitimate interests of the people who live in the areas from which these resources are traded and imported;

Integration of all transport modes within the vision of a more efficient, sustainable, competitive, accessible, user- and citizen-friendly transport system

63.  Calls, with regard to air transport, for:

   addressing the major challenges to competition in the European air sector posed by the decline in direct connectivity between Europe and the rest of the world, limited airport capacity in view of the forthcoming increase in air traffic, and widening of the range of air services provided by non-EU companies,
   a revision of Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 in order to safeguard fair competition in EU external aviation relations and reinforce the competitive position of the EU aviation industry, ensure reciprocity and eliminate unfair practices, including subsidies that distort the market,
   an Aviation Dialogue with the Gulf States and Turkey with a view to enhancing financial transparency and safeguarding fair competition; inclusion of ‘fair competition clauses’ in air transport agreements, detailed provisions on subsidies, unfair practices and competition, and efficient means of action in the event of non‑compliance with those provisions,
   speeding-up of the process for the conclusion, where necessary, of new aviation agreements with the EU’s major trading partners such as neighbouring countries, BRICs, ASEAN countries and Mexico, including provisions for improved market access for air cargo services,
   a review of the regulatory and fiscal policies of the EU and the Member States to strengthen the competitiveness of the European aviation industry and ensure fair competition with airlines from third countries; calls, therefore, on the Commission to review and eliminate any unilateral EU provisions that distort competition and to urge Member States to act accordingly with regard to similar national provisions,
   completion of the internal market for aviation by removing barriers introduced by Member States for EU carriers wishing to operate from their Member State of registration to a third country via another Member State,
   coherent and effective development of an EU airport network, which must include, firstly, the main airports (‘hubs’) and, secondly, a well-served, viable and supported network of local, provincial and regional airports, which are essential to the growth and development of the territories concerned, in particular remote areas and outermost regions, which are often accessible only by air transport; the drawing up of a legislative framework for the development and maximisation of the untapped potential of regional airports and of new infrastructure in crowded airports,
   approval of EU-funded projects that are part of the TEN-T core network as a priority,
   a thorough preparation and swift adoption of a comprehensive Aviation Package, including: a new regulatory framework on civil drones that ensures safety, security and fundamental rights while fostering the economic potential that civil drones offer to European businesses, especially SMEs and start-ups; revision of the EASA Regulation to clarify its role vis-à-vis national aviation authorities and strengthen its abilities to oversee aviation safety in all Member States, including their remote regions, and promote EU rules and standards globally,
   all necessary actions by the Member States to accelerate the implementation of the Single European Sky, through the adoption of the SES2+ package, the full implementation and operation of functional airspace blocks (FABs) and the deployment of the future air traffic management system (SESAR), so as to defragment the EU airspace with a view to reducing flight delays, improving safety and mitigating the environmental impact of air transport,
   swift adoption by the Council of its position on the revision of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 on air passenger rights, and Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 on the allocation of slots,
   enhancement of the negotiations within the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on the development of a global market-based mechanism addressing international aviation emissions,
   introduction of international sustainability criteria for renewable aviation jet fuel,
   support for aeronautical research and development through the Horizon 2020 and Clean Sky programmes, in order to develop new and cleaner technologies resulting in less noisy and more fuel-efficient aircraft, to promote new types of aircraft such as drones and to create growth and jobs in the European aviation industry,
   a thorough review by the Commission and the Member States of their strategy and policies on aviation safety and security with a view to moving gradually to a risk-based approach for the benefit of passengers,
   enhancement of EU-wide aviation safety performance in the field of aircraft manufacturing, training and licensing of crews, flight operations, air traffic management and air navigation services,
   an assessment of the possible safety measures necessary for avoiding air accidents like that of Germanwings Flight 9525 that occurred in the Alps in March 2015,
   a Commission proposal including measures to enhance safety and social rules, particularly flight and rest times, in order to avoid fatigue and improve the quality of cabin air,
   the development of a coordinated set of rules governing flight schools and the registration of flight hours for pilots active in the EU, ensuring a more effective control and evaluation of employment conditions in the airline industry,
   sharing of general aviation data with Eurostat by Member States, in particular concerning numbers of aeroplanes, pilots and flight hours, so as to improve the applicable regulations, with special emphasis on air safety,
   a constructive social dialogue between aviation stakeholders so as to address the new challenges deriving from the introduction of new technologies that will require jobs in the aviation sector to adapt accordingly,
   measures against the increase of socially problematic business practices such as ‘flags of convenience’ and different forms of atypical employment and outsourcing; revision of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 to ensure proper enforcement and application of national social legislation and collective agreements for airlines having operational bases on EU territory; a revised definition of a company’s ‘principal place of business’ so as to require airlines to demonstrate substantial aviation activities in a country; EASA recommendations requiring at least 50 per cent of maintenance technicians to be directly employed, to cover all categories of ground staff, pilots and cabin crew;

64.  Calls, with regard to road transport, for:

   effective national policy frameworks aimed at the development of the market as regards the use of electric vehicles and alternative fuels (electricity, hydrogen, natural gas (compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG)), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), synthetic and paraffinic fuels, and sustainable biofuels, especially those produced from processing waste and residues, including molasses‑based ethanol), and the rapid deployment of the necessary refuelling/recharging infrastructure; exchange of best practices between existing projects in the different Member States with regard to the market for alternative fuels and city distribution; an EU Action Plan for the implementation of the strategy set out in the Commission communication entitled ‘Clean Power for Transport: A European alternative fuels strategy’ in order to achieve the broadest possible use of alternative fuels for transport and to promote sustainable electric mobility throughout the Union,
   an overall 40 % increase by 2020, as compared with 2010 figures, in the number of secure parking spaces for heavy-duty vehicles on the Trans-European Transport Network and improvements in their quality and hygiene standards,
   initiatives to ensure interoperability of electronic road toll systems,
   an evaluation by the Commission of the different car road-charging schemes and their compatibility with the EU Treaties, in particular the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of residency,
   approval as a priority of EU-funded infrastructure projects completing the road network that is part of the TEN-T core network,
   an EU roadmap for cycling to be included in the Commission Work Programme 2016,
   a legislative proposal setting mandatory limits on average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and vans for the period beyond 2020, maintaining a clear long-term emissions-reduction trajectory,
   the timely completion of a simulation tool measuring in an accurate, reliable and cost-efficient manner the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, buses and coaches), to be followed, if appropriate, by a legislative proposal setting mandatory limits on average CO2 emissions from newly registered heavy-duty vehicles as is already the case for cars and vans; further measures to incentivise the market uptake of the most efficient vehicles and promote best practices to reduce fuel consumption,
   measures to increase the fuel efficiency of, and reduce CO2 emissions from, heavy-duty vehicles, including further use of training in eco-driving, improved transport logistics and intelligent infrastructure, and greater use of alternative fuels,
   a revised test cycle, with more robust conformity testing requirements, for the measurement of CO2 and pollutant emissions from vehicles, replacing the currently used ‘New European Driving Cycle’, to ensure that the emissions and fuel consumption of vehicles are measured by means of a testing procedure that reflects real-world driving conditions,
   the Commission to start working without undue delay on the review of Directive (EU) 2015/719 on maximum authorised weights and dimensions, so that, at the latest by 2020, a report can be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council which takes into consideration specific characteristics of certain market segments such as specialised car transporters used within the sector of finished vehicle logistics,
   the adoption of a social code for mobile road transport workers, addressing also the problem of disguised self-employment, to take better account of the specific nature of international road transport workers and ensure fair competition,
   better enforcement, evaluation and, if necessary, clarification or review of the common rules for access to the international road haulage market (Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009),
   measures to ensure the compliance of national provisions with EU law in the field of cross-border transport,
   considering the creation of a European Road Transport Agency to ensure proper implementation of EU legislation and promote standardisation across all Member States,
   measures to ensure legal clarity and better implementation of rules concerning working conditions, social and welfare rights, wages and social responsibility, so as to guarantee high social standards in road haulage across the EU; calls on the Commission to take measures against illegal practices that lead to unfair competition and encourage social dumping; the road haulage sector should be regarded as a specific sector, given the high mobility of its workers and the need of drivers to spend weekly rest periods at home,
   adjustment of the application of the principles of the internal market which effectively separate freedom to provide services from freedom of establishment, with the aim of ensuring that activities by an undertaking in a Member State in which it is not established are strictly temporary;

65.  Calls, with regard to rail transport, for:

   the completion of the Single European Railway Area through swift adoption of the 4th Railway Package, ensuring a balanced opening-up of the domestic rail passenger market, independence of infrastructure managers, competitive tendering for public-service contracts, the highest level of rail safety and interoperability, and sufficient human and financial resources for the European Railway Agency to ensure that it is fully operational and able to perform its mission as a one-stop shop for vehicle authorisation and safety certification; the 4th Railway Package should ensure a high level of quality and efficiency of rail services, safeguard the economic equilibrium of public-service obligations and promote high standards for working conditions and territorial cohesion; its adoption should be followed by quick transposition and implementation by the Member States,
   adoption by the Commission of a rail strategy proposing new measures to reach the 2030 and 2050 modal shift targets laid down in the ‘Ten goals for a competitive and resource-efficient transport system’ of the White Paper,
   solid, sufficient, transparent and predictable long-term funding, with simplified rules and procedures for access to EU funding, so as to improve national and cross-border rail infrastructure quality and capacity, prioritising the maintenance and upgrading of existing infrastructure, and enabling the provision of reliable, safe, accessible and sustainable services by rail freight and passenger operators,
   a detailed analysis of the reasons for which the European railway area is characterised by a large number of missing links across the borders of Member States; calls for measures and incentives by the Commission for the revitalisation as a matter of the highest urgency of local, regional and national trans-border rail connections that were dismantled or abandoned during WWII and the post-war area, despite their economic interest or usefulness to the public, as well as urgent construction of those that have been planned but not completed, so as to remove existing bottlenecks and missing links in cross-border regions; revitalisation and maintenance of secondary railway lines which feed into national core networks and European corridors; initiatives to find new functions for disused networks, such as transporting freight or providing new services for tourists,
   approval as a priority of EU-funded infrastructure projects that complete the rail network which is part of the TEN-T core network and of the projects approved under the CEF,
   expanding the role of the Commission in order to achieve the effective and speedy completion of the TEN-T railway corridors, which have been planned but postponed by Member States in spite of their usefulness in social and economic terms,
   a fact-finding study of the social, economic and environmental benefits of continuing support for national and international overnight rail services, and, where appropriate, revitalisation of those services, as well as of inter-city cross-border services, for instance in the context of public-service obligations and tendering procedures,
   all necessary actions by the Member States, the Commission and rail stakeholders for the implementation of the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking, in order to accelerate the integration of advanced technologies into innovative rail product solutions, increase the attractiveness of rail transport and bolster the position of the European railway industry,
   actions aimed at making the European railway network genuinely interoperable, decreasing persistent technical barriers, promoting technical solutions that enable trains to use tracks of various gauges, and ensuring that the different height restrictions in the EU do not constitute an additional obstacle,
   the deployment of the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) on all TEN-T core network corridors as a priority, including the corresponding on-board equipment on locomotives,
   the rapid implementation of Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 regarding the establishment of international rail corridors for competitive freight, and the development or improvement of the One-Stop Shops (OSS) for the coordination of those corridors,
   reduction of rail freight noise by retrofitting freight wagons and improving rail infrastructure through targeted public funding; submission by the Commission of a proposal providing for an EU-wide ban on excessively noisy freight wagons by 2020,
   the development and implementation of integrated ticketing systems for national and international rail transport, and the elimination of extra charges applicable to rail passengers travelling cross-border,
   the removal of barriers that prevent the European railway industry (manufacturers of rolling-stock, rail infrastructure and signalling systems) from bidding for public contracts in non-EU countries;

66.  Calls, with regard to maritime transport, for:

   measures to facilitate the formalities for ships operating between EU ports with a view to establishing a real European Maritime Transport Space without Barriers (‘Blue Belt’),
   better coordination between the maritime and customs authorities at all levels in order to streamline information flows and limit unnecessary administrative burdens and customs formalities,
   measures to develop the potential of motorways of the sea as part of the Trans-European Transport Network,
   additional measures to maintain and further develop attractive, safe and sustainable quality shipping and to ensure open maritime markets and access to cargoes without restrictions,
   measures to support and coordinate the adaptation of port gateways and logistic systems for larger ships and promote better port connections, in particular with rail and inland waterways; facilitation of port investments through the mobilisation of various sources of EU funding so as to increase the capacity of EU ports, upgrade the existing infrastructure, develop multimodal terminals and promote the creation of smart ports using intelligent transport systems, and of smart port cities; measures to improve seaport infrastructure, in particular in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, in order to shift freight from road to sea in those areas,
   an assurance that the maritime ports of the core network will be connected with the railway and road and, where possible, inland waterway transport infrastructure of the Trans-European Transport Network by 2030, except where physical constraints prevent such connection,
   more clarity and coherence on the application of state aid rules to ports in order to create a pragmatic, predictable and stable environment which enables long-term port investment strategies, reduces administrative burdens and minimises procedural time frames,
   advancing with the Commission proposal for a regulation establishing a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of ports, in order to modernise and improve the quality and efficiency of port services, strengthen competition and create framework conditions to attract investment in ports,
   setting a global binding target in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to reach the objective of the White Paper for an at least 40 % reduction in CO2 emissions from maritime bunker fuels by 2050, to be supported by an EU intermediate target for 2030; enhancement of the negotiations within the IMO on the development of a global market-based mechanism addressing international maritime emissions, such as an emissions pricing mechanism; in the event that an international agreement on a global monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system for greenhouse gas emissions or on global measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport is reached, the Commission to review Regulation (EU) 2015/757 and, if appropriate, to propose amendments to this regulation in order to ensure alignment with the international agreement,
   consideration of the extension of the sulphur limits for marine fuel applicable to SOx Emission Control Areas (SECAs), and of the relevant IMO rules, to the entire European maritime area,
   promotion of emission abatement technologies and energy efficiency measures through financial incentives and targeted support measures, with particular focus on the use of alternative fuels, as well as promotion of slow-steaming measures, which are reported to have great potential for reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,
   actions supporting the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure in sea and inland ports, including the provision of LNG bunkering facilities and shore-side electricity,
   a legislative proposal to modernise passenger ship safety legislation; better implementation and, if appropriate, review of the Third Maritime Safety Package to strengthen the prevention of accidents at sea and the management of their consequences,
   a legislative proposal seeking to clarify the liability and compensation regime in view of the growing phenomenon of containers being lost at sea, based on a system enabling identification of the owners of such containers;

67.  Calls, with regard to inland waterway transport, for:

   the establishment of an appropriate framework to optimise the internal market for inland waterway transport and to remove barriers that prevent its increased use,
   full implementation of the Naiades II action programme, with special attention to infrastructure, river information services deployment and innovation; an assessment of the programme by 2017 and, if necessary, adaptation of the proposed measures to ensure that the objectives of the programme are achieved,
   approval of EU-funded projects regarding inland waterways that are part of the TEN-T core network,
   proper upgrade and all-year-round maintenance of, and elimination of bottlenecks in, inland waterways that are part of the TEN-T core network corridors by 2025, in compliance with EU environmental legislation, in order to safeguard adequate service levels,
   greater support by the Commission and the Member States for the promotion of innovation in inland waterway transport under Horizon 2020 and the Connection Europe Facility, the use of alternative fuels and the technical and environmental adaptation of the fleet to reduce greenhouse emissions,
   integration of inland waterway transport into multimodal transport and logistics, as well as into sustainable urban mobility plans and policies in European cities crossed by waterways, and enhancement of the role of inland ports in urban freight distribution,
   a swift review of Directive 2005/44/EC on harmonised river information services (RIS), ensuring full deployment of RIS by 2020 and connection to other cooperative intelligent transport systems,
   convergence, where appropriate, of the governance and regulatory systems of the Rhine and the Danube to develop an efficient, multimodal, sustainable transport system along Europe’s main inland waterways,
   involvement of the Commission in the allocation of EU funds and the coordination of the implementation of projects included in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region,
   a legislative proposal on the recognition and modernisation of professional qualifications in inland navigation and consideration of measures to attract more young people to this sector;

o
o   o

68.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the proposals contained in this resolution in the mid-term review of the White Paper and future initiatives in the transport area;

69.  Urges the Commission to monitor progress towards reaching the goals of the White Paper, and to report every five years on its implementation;

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

(1) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 72.
(2) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p. 13.
(3) OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 556.
(4) OJ C 43 E, 19.2.2004, p. 250.
(5) OJ C 56 E, 26.2.2013, p. 54.
(6) As defined in Article 4 of Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives.
(7) Road safety in the European Union, European Commission, March 2015.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0094.


Women's careers in science and university
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European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on women’s careers in science and universities, and glass ceilings encountered (2014/2251(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0311A8-0235/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 8, 10, 19 and 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–  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(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 September 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 5 March 2010 entitled ‘A Strengthened Commitment to Equality between Women and Men, A Women’s Charter’ (COM(2010)0078),

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020) adopted by the Council on 7 March 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 September 2014 entitled ‘European Research Area Progress Report 2014’ (COM(2014)0575),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 17 February 1999 entitled ‘Women and Science: Mobilising women to enrich European research’ (COM(1999)0076),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 17 July 2012 entitled ‘A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth’ (COM(2012)0392),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 3 September 2014 entitled ‘Gender Equality Policies in Public Research’ and based on a survey of the members of the Helsinki Group (the Commission’s advisory group on gender, research and innovation),

–  having regard to the ‘She Figures 2012 – Gender in Research and Innovation Statistics and Indicators’, published by the Commission in 2013,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 5 December 2014 on ‘The European research area – Progress Report 2014’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 29 May 2015 on the European Research Area Roadmap 2015-2020,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(2),

–  having regard to Article 40 of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women,

–  having regard to its position of 21 November 2013 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2008 on women and science(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2000 on the Commission communication entitled ‘Women and science – Mobilising women to enrich European research’(5),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0235/2015),

A.  whereas gender equality is a fundamental principle of the European Union, enshrined in the Treaty on European Union, and is one of the Union’s objectives and tasks;

B.  whereas gender equality is a basic precondition for the full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls and is essential for their empowerment and the achievement of a sustainable and inclusive society; whereas the insufficient use of human capital decreases potential advantage for research and innovation-related business and for overall economic development, as well as having devastating social consequences;

C.  whereas ensuring that women and men are equal partners and have the same rights and responsibilities and the same working opportunities and that their contribution to society is equally valued and respected is of the utmost importance;

D.  whereas according to the available statistics and surveys, women are under-represented in most scientific, engineering and management posts and at higher hierarchical levels, even in sectors where they form a majority such as the educational sector; whereas women are hugely under-represented in STEM-related educational fields and careers, accounting for just 24 % of science and engineering professionals; whereas female representation varies depending on the STEM specialism, for example, the chemistry specialism faces a retention problem whilst engineering and physics face a recruitment problem;

E.  whereas science is of key importance to Europe in economic terms and needs constantly growing teams that are capable, inter alia, of the ground-breaking research essential for increased productivity and competitiveness, and the existence of a sufficient number of individuals with STEM skills is an essential precondition for implementing the European Agenda for Growth and Jobs and the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy; whereas demand for STEM professionals is expected to grow until 2025, while the latest available statistics reveal an ageing research sector; whereas positive cross-fertilisation between STEM subjects and the arts and humanities (STEAM) holds enormous economic, social, and cultural potential, and women researchers and innovators are well placed to develop links from STEM to STEAM; whereas female researchers are an asset for the EU, which needs all available resources in order to recover definitively from the economic and financial crisis and be able to face the changes in society as a whole; whereas there is a need to promote and facilitate women's career development and a higher presence of young people, especially women students and academics, in STEM fields;

F.  whereas there have been some positive developments regarding female researchers and their share has been growing faster than that of men in recent years, but the numbers of women researchers are still significantly lower than those for men, with the biggest gap being in the business sector;

G.  whereas academic careers for women remain markedly characterised by strong vertical segregation, with only a very low proportion of women occupying the highest academic posts; whereas according to the 2012 She Figures women account for only 10 % of university rectors;

H.  whereas few Member States appear to have provisions on gender equality in their legal framework governing research, and little attention is paid to integrating the gender dimension into national research programmes;

I.  whereas women still encounter obstacles in setting up their own business owing to the persistence of prejudices and stereotypes; whereas there is a need to promote and support greater entrepreneurship among women and develop an environment in which female entrepreneurs and family businesses can prosper and in which enterprise is rewarded by taking the necessary measures based on an exchange of best practice and by paying particular attention to mothers;

J.  whereas the reasons for this situation are numerous and complex, including negative stereotypes and prejudices and conscious and unconscious bias;

K.  whereas statistics consistently show that girls become disengaged from STEM subjects at school and are less likely to pursue a science-related degree at university; whereas there is no one single explanation for the low levels of women in STEM and reasons include: lack of knowledge about STEM careers on the part of teachers in schools, a lack of female role models, a high number of precarious short- term contracts, unconscious bias on interview panels, women being less likely than men to put themselves forward for senior positions, and a tendency for women to be steered into teaching and pastoral roles rather than research and academia;

L.  whereas women working in research, as in all other areas, are forced to assume a higher share of obligations related to parenting or their families than their male counterparts, and, therefore, all proposed measures have to take into account the possibility of successfully reconciling professional and family life for women so as to include men in these spheres;

M.  whereas despite all ongoing efforts to promote gender equality and equal opportunities, women still experience unequal access to research positions, funding, publishing and academic awards, and are also affected by rigid criteria for promotion and recognition and lack of funding or suitable policies to support them, the prospects for young female scientists being particularly bleak; whereas all these are factors potentially contributing to the 'brain drain’, a situation requiring radical rather than simple measures; whereas, furthermore, cooperation on a collective level is of utmost importance and should be undertaken and incentivised both at a personal level and within society;

N.  whereas the de facto low position of women in the scientific field in society, without this necessarily being justified by any objective criteria, as well as gender relations and gender-based stereotypes need to be revised and revalued; whereas offering women a wider range of career prospects and altering educational models could make a substantial contribution to narrowing the gender pay gap, for example by increasing the number of female scientists and engineers;

O.  whereas the Commission is already committed to ensuring 40 % representation of the under-represented sex in the membership of all its expert groups, panels and committees, and, in particular, will apply this to the specific programme Horizon 2020;

P.  whereas the most recent Council conclusions on reinforcing human resources in science and technology in the European Research Area have recognised the importance of promoting gender equality in research and the inclusion of women in positions of responsibility, and this has been the case since 2005, but the Council has made no further statement on the matter;

Q.  whereas the European Research Area Roadmap 2015-2020 calls on the Commission and the Member States to start translating national equality legislation into effective action, in order to address gender imbalances in research institutions and decision-making bodies and integrate the gender dimension better into R&D policies, programmes and projects;

R.  whereas the Istanbul Convention contains a commitment to addressing the root causes of violence and promoting greater equality between women and men by changing attitudes and eliminating stereotypes not only at the level of individuals, but also at the level of higher education institutions as well as in university and college campuses, which are not immune to gender-based violence, so that women can be free from violence and the fear it generates, which often prevents them from participating fully in academic and social life;

S.  whereas the European Institute for Gender Equality can play a fundamental role in monitoring the development of the gender pay gap in science and research, analysing its causes and assessing the impact of legislation;

Gender equality in academic positions

1.  Notes that despite positive changes in recent years, gender equality in science and academia has still not been achieved, with the situation varying across Member States, fields of research and academic grade; points out the strikingly low presence of women in the highest academic and decision-making positions in scientific institutions and universities, which indicates the existence of a glass ceiling, that is, invisible barriers based on prejudices which stand in the way of women accessing positions of responsibility;

2.  Deplores the fact that there is evidence of gender segregation in university and school hierarchies in Europe and other advanced economies which is both horizontal and vertical in nature, and that while 59 % of university graduates in the EU-28 are women, they account for only 18 % of full university professors;

3.  Reiterates that gender equality is one of the principles on which the EU is founded and has to be respected also in the field of research and academia; stresses that all forms of direct or indirect discrimination against women must be eliminated;

4.  Notes that the lack of women in science and research has resulted in a male default in R&D, and that in particular: (a) there are no female crash dummies; (b) medical research is usually carried out on male subjects; (c) radiation dosage calculations are based on the absorption rate of a middle-aged male; and (d) in the majority of anatomy textbooks images are of a man's body;

5.  Regrets that unequal access for women to research positions, funding and publishing still persists, including a unadjusted gender pay gap in the area of science and academia, despite legal provisions on equal treatment and non-discrimination on the labour market, including provisions on equal pay, being in place in the EU and Member States;

Positive measures

6.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to analyse the existing legal provisions with the aim of properly implementing and, if necessary, revising them in order to enforce equal treatment of women and men; urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure compliance with the principle of non-discrimination, considered as a target of the European Union by the Lisbon Treaty, in all types of employment contract or funding, as well as the legal right to equal pay for equal work for all elements of remuneration granted to men and women, including grants and scholarships, by, for example, ensuring wage transparency;

7.  Notes that besides the enforcement of legal provisions, cultural and institutional barriers that generate direct or indirect discrimination against women in scientific careers and decision-making have to be removed in order to achieve gender equality; considers that these forms of discrimination, negative prejudices and conscious or unconscious stereotypes build on attitudes and standards which are continually reproduced, and that institutional changes can help remove them; calls on the Commission to introduce and support sensitisation campaigns and programmes and initiatives to reduce these barriers, both in the academic world and in society in general;

8.  Criticises once again the fact that women are still paid less than men for the same work, also in the field of research and science as a consequence of their unequal representation;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to include support for and promotion of peer support networks and the sharing of best practices across Europe and beyond;

10.  Stresses that sensitisation campaigns should target men as well as women, since they (consciously or unconsciously) reproduce gender stereotypes which can cause women to internalise cultural and institutional barriers to career progress in science;

11.  Urges the Commission to build on existing programmes and initiatives and to step up positive campaigns aimed at girls and women, encouraging them to enter academic and research careers in all scientific fields, with a special focus on engineering and the technology sector, where, despite recent positive changes, the participation of women remains below average;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote educational programmes which encourage synergies and positive links between STEM subjects and the arts and humanities and promote a gender perspective, facilitating the role women can play in making these links;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote positive female role models at all levels of education, including compulsory schooling and through to further and higher education and postgraduate level, and also in informal education and youth work; recognises that promoting positive female role models includes taking measures to emphasise the historical and contemporary achievements of women in science and technology, entrepreneurship, and decision-making positions; notes that such measures may include specific focus on International Women's Day, Science Weeks, and making use of existing best practice from Member States and across the world;

14.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and relevant stakeholders to strengthen initiatives and programmes encouraging women to continue their scientific and academic careers, such as coaching and networking programmes and supporting female scientists – in particular young female scientists – participating in research programmes and grant applications, as well as supporting the individual careers of female researchers and the advancement of their careers to the highest grades; believes women should also be encouraged to apply for decision-making positions, while at the same time action must be taken to combat all types of barriers that make it hard or impossible to apply;

15.  Urges the Commission and the Member States, when designing any gender equality strategy in higher education, to include specific consideration for women who face multiple discrimination, such as LGBTI women, women with disabilities, women from minority or migrant backgrounds, refugees, and women carers;

16.  Urges the Member States to develop effective and attractive STEM curricular and teaching methods to keep girls engaged in science, and to recognise and invest in teachers as drivers of cultural change, with their potential to boost the continuing participation of girls in science at school;

17.  Urges the Member States to recognise the potential of quality career guidance and of engaging in training to encourage girls to continue STEM subjects at university;

Balancing professional and personal life

18.  Underlines that the need to successfully reconcile professional and family obligations often represents a major barrier that specifically affects women advancing their scientific and academic careers, and is one of the main reasons for them dropping out of those careers;

19.  Calls for more flexible working conditions for both male and female researchers, allowing them to combine work with family life, and for elimination of the gender pay gap in the interests of gender equality;

20.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States, research funding organisations and other stakeholders to design programmes to actively encourage women to continue their careers after maternity or parental leave, and to provide funding for re-entry programmes which should be tailored to the needs of each institution and include the training needed to keep up with scientific developments, as well as allowing more flexibility regarding women's scientific production following the birth or adoption of a child and providing adequate childcare services, also encouraging the integration of men into family life; these measures should also be applied to researchers working on individual stipends and staff on externally funded research projects;

21.  Encourages the Member States and regions to promote the development of family-friendly universities and research institutes;

22.  Urges the Commission to recognise the need for adequate paternity leave and paternity pay so that it is affordable for men to take time off to care for a child and to help combat the norm of the woman being the parent to take a career break, in order to overcome a major barrier to women advancing their careers in science and academia;

Institutional changes and projects

23.  Takes note of the fact that, in addition to encouraging individual women’s careers, institutional changes are needed in order to overcome the barriers to gender equality, especially with regard to vertical segregation and the participation of women in decision‑making committees;

24.  Stresses the need for institutional involvement in supporting and encouraging these changes by setting new standards, addressing questions arising and monitoring progress, so as to enable female scientists to take advantage of available information and, at the same time, make an active contribution to the European Research Area;

25.  Urges the Commission to propose a recommendation to Member States containing common guidelines on institutional change to promote gender equality in universities and research institutions;

26.  Believes there is a need for the systematisation of available information regarding gender distribution and the position of female scientists in the Member States in order to promote gender equality in all public and private research institutions; considers that there is a need for consensus regarding further action to encourage projects relating to female scientists;

27.  Urges the Commission to step up its coordination role regarding the gender mainstreaming initiatives within the European Research Area, and to raise awareness and offer relevant training aimed at stakeholders regarding the importance of gender mainstreaming in science and academia; stresses the need for measures to encourage true gender equality regarding academic and scientific career development;

28.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is financing the creation of gender equality plans through projects under the 7th Framework Programme and Horizon 2020, and also welcomes the joint project of the Commission and the European Institute for Gender Equality for creating an on-line tool for gender equality plans as a means of identifying and sharing best practices with relevant stakeholders; underlines that proposed best practices should take into account the independence of universities and research organisations and the variety of their organisational structures across the Member States;

29.  Invites the Member States to engage in partnerships with research organisations and universities to foster cultural and institutional changes on gender;

30.  Calls on Member States to work with academic institutions to provide support and more opportunities for career progression at key transition points such as between Ph.D., postdoctoral and lectureship posts;

31.  Stresses the need for full integration of the gender dimension in research and gender balance in participation into Horizon 2020; believes that this will require renewed efforts to integrate the gender dimension into the formulation and implementation of the next work programme; welcomes the creation of the Horizon 2020 Advisory Group on Gender (AGG); strongly believes that the objectives of Horizon 2020 will only be reached with the full participation of women scientists;

32.  Calls on the Member States to work with academic institutions to proactively encourage women to apply for positions and ensure female representation on interview panels where possible;

33.  Strongly believes that the gender dimension is a source of added value for research and provides a return on investment; highlights that gender analysis can foster innovation and multidisciplinary cooperation in science and technology;

Steps forward

34.  Calls on the Member States to provide incentives to research institutes and universities to introduce and apply gender equality plans, to introduce a gender dimension in their national research programmes, to remove legal and other barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers, and to implement comprehensive strategies for structural change in order to overcome the existing gaps in research institutions and programmes;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to address gender imbalances in the decision-making process and within the bodies responsible for hiring and promoting researchers, and to consider the creation of gender equality plans as a precondition for access to public funding in research, science and academia, in particular by encouraging research and science establishments to produce reports on their efforts to integrate women scientists and by ensuring open and transparent selection and promotion processes;

36.  Recognises that gender equality strategies in higher education must also address the phenomena of gender-based violence; calls on the Commission and the Member States to devise strategies to address gender-based violence on university and college campuses, including awareness-raising, facilitating access to justice for women affected, and involving male students, academics and staff in the fight against violence;

37.  Calls on the Member States to encourage employers to take measures to combat all forms of workplace mobbing affecting women, which may lead to victims being discouraged and, finally, resigning;

38.  Encourages Member States to facilitate regular communication between national ministers for universities and science and ministers for equality, or the appropriate equivalent, so as to develop national policies which encourage and support women in science and academia;

39.  Calls on the Member States to involve media and the private sector in eradicating gender stereotypes and promoting mutual respect; emphasises the role of the media in perpetuating or fighting to dispel gender stereotypes, and the media’s potential for proactively promoting positive role models for women and girls which should be encouraged;

40.  Calls on the Commission and the European Institute for Gender Equality to further develop the existing methodology for maintaining gender-disaggregated statistics for all academic and scientific activity, in addition to human resources statistics, and to develop valid indicators for measuring institutional change processes, both nationally and across the European research area;

41.  Calls on the Member States, the academic sector and all relevant stakeholders to introduce specialised programmes in education, and in particular tertiary education, in order to highlight the significance of gender equality;

42.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to consistently apply gender -balanced budgeting to all programmes and measures providing funding in the area of science, academia and research, and to develop guidelines and methods for monitoring and assessing the inclusion of the gender dimension in these areas;

43.  Calls on the Member States to develop statistical measures to monitor the destinations of women leaving academia in order to enhance policymaking by academic institutions and governments in related areas;

44.  Encourages the Member States to consider providing positive recognition of academic institutions that have taken measures to address gender inequality;

45.  Asks the Commission to integrate the gender dimension into scientific and technological content in order to put an end to subtle forms of discrimination, by means of incentives to take sex and gender into account in research development;

Getting involved

46.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further strengthen networking among female scientists at national, regional and EU level;

47.  Encourages the Member States to consider implementing mentoring schemes with a particular focus on encouraging women to apply for funding grants, promotions or other opportunities and supporting them through that process;

48.  Reiterates the importance of ensuring increased participation of women in decision-making and of ensuring gender balance on evaluation panels, selection boards and all other relevant committees, as well as nominated panels and committees taking decisions related to recruitment, funding, research programmes and publishing; believes that research institutions and universities should be encouraged to introduce targets for the participation of women in such bodies; calls on the Commission and the Member States in this regard to base themselves on the Commission’s proposal for a directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures(6), with a view to proposing similar legislative measures concerning senior positions for women in science and academia;

49.  Calls on the Council to adopt, during the Luxembourg presidency, conclusions concerning gender equality in research in order to ensure greater representation and participation of women in the decision-making process in the research sector;

50.  Calls on Parliament to introduce a 'Women and Science in Europe' prize, to be awarded to employers (undertakings, institutions or authorities), that lead the way in promoting women in academic and scientific circles, supporting female managers and ensuring equal pay;

51.  Call on the Commission to promote, through information campaigns, the schemes and programmes intended to increase women’s participation in scientific research;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0050.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0499.
(4) OJ C 279 E, 19.11.2009, p. 40.
(5) OJ C 309, 27.10.2000, p. 57.
(6) COM(2012)0614.


Empowering girls through education in the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on empowering girls through education in the EU (2014/2250(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0312A8-0206/2015

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 18 December 1979,

–  having regard to Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995 and to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing +5 (2005), Beijing +15 (2010) and Beijing +20 (2015) special sessions,

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the European Council in March 2011,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) of May 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 September 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU(1),

–  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, and 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,

–  having regard to Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(2),

–  having regard to the independent report of 2009 commissioned by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC),

–  having regard to Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)13 of 10 October 2007, by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the Member States, on gender mainstreaming in education,

–  having regard to the ‘Compilation of good practices to promote an education free from gender stereotypes and identifying ways to implement the measures which are included in the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on gender mainstreaming in education’ (revised 12 March 2015), promoted by the Council of Europe,

–  having regard to Recommendation Rec(2003)3 of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the Member States on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision- making, adopted on 12 March 2003,

–  having regard to the communication from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) entitled ‘Women and the World of Work’, for International Women’s Day 2015,

–  having regard to the ‘European Union lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survey’ published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in 2013,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0206/2015),

A.  whereas education is the foundation of responsible citizenship, is essential to ensure gender equality and empowerment of girls, and is a fundamental human right and the right of every child;

B.  whereas education and training of girls and women is an important European value, a fundamental human right and an essential element for the empowerment of girls and women on the social, cultural and professional levels, as well as for the full enjoyment of all other social, economic, cultural and political rights and subsequently the prevention of violence against women and girls;

C.  whereas education can transform a society and contribute to social, economic, political and gender equality;

D.  whereas according to a study conducted by Parliament’s Directorate-General for Internal Policies, 30 million girls of primary school age are excluded from the education system worldwide;

E.  whereas poverty, social exclusion and the inadequacy or poor availability of pre-school, school and out-of-school networks are among the biggest obstacles preventing girls from gaining access to education;

F.  whereas only states are able to provide free compulsory universal education, which is a sine qua non for guaranteeing equal opportunities for both sexes;

G.  whereas budget cuts in the education sector, stemming to a large extent from the austerity policies advocated by the EU, are jeopardising free high-quality public education and thus serving to exacerbate inequalities;

H.  whereas quality public education should be free and available to all children, without any discrimination and regardless of their residence status;

I.  whereas poverty has a strong influence on equal access to education due to the costs, both direct and indirect, of sending children to school, and access to education, in particular higher education, is especially difficult for young people from low-income families, which leads to a reinforcement of the traditional preference for education for boys;

J.  whereas gender stereotypes assign different, determined and limited roles to women and men and these roles are shaped through a multiplicity of social variables and disseminated or reproduced by parents, education and media; whereas these gender roles are integrated by individuals during the socialisation phases of childhood and adolescence and therefore influence their lives and might limit women’s and men’s personal development;

K.  whereas the impact of gender stereotypes on education and training and decisions made by students at school can influence choices throughout their lives and subsequently has strong implications for the labour market, where women still face both horizontal and vertical segregation; whereas this contributes to certain sectors still being considered ‘male’ and their pay levels consequently being higher than those of sectors considered ‘female’;

L.  considering the significant influence of the social environment, family attitudes, peers, role models and teachers, as well as of centres for tutoring and advice on course choice, on the selection of students‘ study areas and changing gender stereotypes, and given that teachers as agents of social change, by their attitudes and teaching practices, are essential to the promotion of gender equality, diversity and mutual understanding and respect; also considering that schoolteachers can reach out to parents and raise their awareness on gender equality and their children’s potential;

M.  whereas gender equality should be incorporated into all levels and facets of education in order to promote, among girls and boys, women and men, the values of justice and democratic citizenship, in order to build a genuine partnership between the genders with regard to both public and private spheres;

N.  whereas there is a need for more women role models in male-dominated fields such as science, engineering, technology, mathematics, and entrepreneurship, and mentoring networks and peer-to-peer learning are effective in empowering girls in these fields;

O.  whereas the available data attest that women are less well rewarded financially for their qualifications and experience than men and women continue to be responsible for the greater part of care for family and other dependents, which limits their access to paid full-time employment; whereas gender equality should involve the recognition of all the work done by women and the education of boys and men in the tasks which are traditionally feminised; whereas progress on childcare support and maternity and paternity leave policies throughout Europe will contribute to women’s employment prospects, economic empowerment, and the fight against gender stereotypes, thus empowering girls at all levels of education;

P.  whereas, even though more women have advanced secondary school diplomas and higher education degrees, both their educational fields and their professional activities are mainly related to tasks aimed at reproducing and extending existing social and economic structures, and there is a need to increase the presence of women both in vocational education and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-related sectors;

Q.  whereas a more equal allocation of educational resources would result in greater access for girls to the labour market, and a balanced participation of women and men in the working market could foster the EU’s economic prospects;

R.  whereas European and national authorities should encourage gender equality in educational institutions by all possible means, and gender education should be a fundamental part of the curriculum and school programmes; whereas European and national authorities must ensure that teaching materials do not contain discriminatory content;

S.  whereas the formal curriculum reflects the cultural and social perspective of each Member State and influences the construction of girls’ and boys’ identity; whereas the informal curriculum complements the formal curriculum while the hidden curriculum is common to all situational definitions of the curriculum; whereas all these types of curricula are important in the construction of girls’ and boys’ identity, and local authorities, through their proximity to educational institutions, have a key role to play in informal education;

T.  whereas, in order to fight gender inequality, constant pedagogical supervision of curricula, development aims and learning outcomes, content, strategies, materials, evaluation, disciplinary programmes and lesson plans is essential, as well as monitoring and evaluation by educational research centres and specialists in gender equality;

U.  whereas violence against women is the main impediment to equality between women and men and can be combated through education; whereas not all Member States have ratified the Istanbul Convention and the EU has responsibilities in terms of initiating and funding projects that promote gender equality;

V.  whereas school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) includes acts of sexual, physical and/or psychological violence inflicted on children because of gendered stereotypes and social norms; whereas SRGBV is a major barrier to access, participation and attainment;

W.  whereas women and girls with disabilities and/or special educational needs are exposed to multiple discrimination; whereas the situation of girls can only be improved when access to high-quality education and training is equal and not determined or hindered by this discrimination and is fully in keeping with the principles of inclusion;

X.  whereas significant disproportionalities exist in the identification of special educational needs (SEN); whereas boys are universally more likely to be identified as having special needs, especially ‘non-normative’ difficulties such as attention deficiency syndrome (ADS) or dyslexia where professional judgment plays a larger role in identification;

Y.  whereas 17 % of adults worldwide, two-thirds (493 million) of them women, are unable to read or write(3);

General recommendations

1.  Calls on the Member States to implement and improve measures to apply gender equality at all levels of the education system, and to fully integrate improving awareness of gender issues into teacher training, but also for all categories of school professionals, e.g. school doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and pedagogues, as well as to ensure the creation of mechanisms throughout the education system to facilitate the promotion, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of gender equality in educational institutions;

2.  Calls on the Member States to promote the democratisation of education and the other conditions necessary in order to ensure that education, whether provided through schools or by other means of instruction, helps to bring about gender equality and equal opportunities, overcome economic, social, and cultural inequalities, foster personal development and a spirit of tolerance, solidarity, and responsibility, and facilitate social progress and democratic participation in the life of the community;

3.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that the goals of their education systems include education in respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and in equal rights and opportunities for women and men and that their systems’ quality principles include the elimination of the obstacles to genuine equality between women and men and the promotion of full equality between them;

4.  Calls for the promotion of a holistic approach to formal and informal education in schools, and of a sensitive approach to the inclusion of human rights, human dignity, gender equality and the development of self-esteem and assertiveness which encourages autonomous and informed decision-making for girls and women, both at a personal and at a professional level; recognises that education for gender equality must complement civic education for democratic values, and be embedded in a rights-based gender-sensitive learning environment, where girls and boys can learn about their rights and experience democratic processes in schools and in informal learning environments by, for example, participating in the democratic governance of their schools;

5.  Calls on educational policymakers in the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the commitment to gender equality goes beyond declarations of principles and political intentions, and is manifested in substantial increases in the efforts and resources invested in it, recalling the primary importance of education in effecting cultural change;

6.  Points out that while women represent the majority (60 %) of higher education graduates in the EU, their employment rate and promotion trajectories do not reflect their full potential; stresses that the achievement of inclusive and long-term economic growth depends on closing the gap between women’s educational attainment and their position in the labour market, primarily through overcoming horizontal and vertical segregation;

7.  Emphasises that education is an important tool for enabling women to participate fully in social and economic development; stresses that lifelong learning measures are key to providing women with skills that can enable them to return to employment or improve their employment, income and working conditions;

8.  Calls on the Member States to increase essential investment in education in order that everyone may benefit from free public education of high quality;

9.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that their education authorities guarantee an equal right to education for women and men by actively incorporating the principle of equal treatment into educational goals and actions, thus preventing the emergence of inequalities between women and men as a result of sexist conduct and associated social stereotyping;

10.  Asks the Commission to ensure that this recommendation be put to the national institutions responsible for implementing central, regional and local education policies, school management bodies and regional and local authorities;

11.  Stresses the need to promote equal gender representation in terms of the leadership and management of bodies responsible for the oversight and governance of educational establishments, especially among school managers and heads and where there is under-representation as in STEM subjects, as this will provide role models for girls;

12.  Stresses that girls who are not allowed to attend school are more exposed to domestic violence;

13.  Urges the Commission to initiate as soon as possible the procedure for EU accession to the Istanbul Convention; calls on the Member States to ratify the Convention, and also calls for the EU and the Member States to work together for gender equality in the Union’s external relations; underlines the close links between gender stereotypes and bullying, cyberbullying and violence against women, and the need to fight these from an early age; stresses that the Istanbul Convention calls for signatories to include teaching materials on issues such as non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender-based violence and the right to personal integrity, adapted to the evolving capacity of learners, in formal curricula and at all levels of education;

14.  Encourages all Member States to invest consistently in information, awareness-raising and educational campaigns and to improve the provision of career guidance for girls and boys, addressing stereotyped perceptions of gender roles, as well as gender stereotypes in vocational and professional orientation, notably in science and new technologies; recalls that this would reduce gender segregation on the labour market and strengthen the position of women whilst permitting them to benefit fully from the human capital represented by girls and women in the EU and promoting discussions of educational and career choices in schools and in the classroom;

15.  Recalls the role of educational teams in assisting and advising families in relation to children’s school careers, with the aim of setting them on a path which matches their skills, talents and tastes; stresses that the stage at which advice on school careers is given is a decisive one and a time when gender stereotypes may come into play, and that this can lastingly affect girls’ ability to pursue a professional career that will facilitate their personal development and emancipation;

16.  Calls on the Commission to organise, via the Member States, specific awareness training programmes targeting girls regarding their participation in higher education and possible courses of study, with corresponding job opportunities on the basis of their aptitudes, in order to encourage them to pursue career options which have been traditionally male-dominated and to boost the self-confidence of the new generation of women; underlines that informal education plays a key role in confidence-building for girls and young women;

17.  Calls on the Member States to draw on ESI funds to support programmes which work actively with the parents of children from excluded communities and to encourage meaningful and stimulating activities outside school hours and during the school holidays;

18.  Calls on the Member States to encourage the promotion of public networks of nurseries and crèches, the pre-school education system, and public leisure services for children;

19.  Calls on the Member States to improve the quality of education and professional training for people with disabilities and/or special educational needs (SEN), as well as reducing their high dropout rates, and to respect the principles of inclusive education, with an emphasis on these pupils’ active participation, and to improve their integration in society and in the general education system where possible; calls for the immediate improvement of teacher training to this end and the integration of a gender perspective into such training, as well as in the identification of learning difficulties, including the development of gender-sensitive screening tools and of specific gender-mainstreamed education programmes in order to provide the women and girls concerned with better opportunities when seeking employment and to empower them to overcome multiple discrimination;

20.  Calls on the Member States to ensure equal access to education for girls and boys, regardless of their age, gender, socio-economic status, cultural background or religion, and emphasises the need for European, national, and local institutions to promote specific programmes to integrate marginalised communities in general in schools as well as, in particular, girls from those communities, since they often face multiple discrimination, and all minorities in European society; highlights the importance of ensuring that girls complete their secondary education, and emphasises the need for financial assistance programmes for economically disadvantaged families in order to prevent students dropping out of school, particularly girls;

21.  Calls on the Member States to provide the active support necessary to ensure that migrant women and their families can be taught the language of their host country in locally based, free public education services;

22.  Calls on the Member States to develop specific programmes to ensure that Roma girls and young women remain in primary, secondary and higher education, and also to put in place special measures for teenage mothers and early school leaver girls, to support uninterrupted education in particular, and to provide work-based training; further calls on the Member States and the Commission to take these measures into account when coordinating and evaluating the National Roma Integration Strategies;

23.  Stresses the importance of including in development cooperation projects measures targeting the education of girls and women;

24.  Stresses the importance of focusing particular attention on the principle of equality between women and men within curricula and at all stages of education;

Curriculum and training

25.  Insists on paying proper attention to gender equality in all its forms, in curricula, development aims and learning outcomes, content, school programmes and lesson plans, as well as on the need to assess the place of women in school curricula in various disciplines, highlighting their role in the content taught; considers that gender equality in education should explicitly address the principle of equality and must include a range of issues, such as literacy, bullying, violence, hate speech, human rights and civic education;

26.  Stresses that education must help girls and boys to develop into individuals who are aware, balanced, respectful of other people and capable of empathy and mutual respect, in order to prevent discrimination, aggression and bullying;

27.  Stresses that schools should help to develop an intercultural approach to education, in order to promote openness, mutual respect and intercultural and interreligious dialogue;

28.  Encourages the competent authorities in the Member States to promote gender equality in their comprehensive sex and relationship education programmes, including teaching girls and boys about relationships based on consent, respect and reciprocity, as well as in sport and leisure activities, where stereotypes and expectations based on gender can affect the self-image, health, acquisition of skills, intellectual development, social integration and identity construction of girls and boys;

29.  Recognises that sensitive, age-appropriate, and scientifically accurate sex and relationship education is an essential tool in the empowerment of girls and boys, helping them to make well-informed choices and contributing to wider public health priorities such as reducing unplanned pregnancies, reducing maternal and infant mortality, prevention and earlier treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and reducing the gaps in health inequality; encourages Member States to consider making age-appropriate comprehensive sex and relationship education compulsory in their school curricula for all primary and secondary school children, and stresses the importance of training of teachers with a special emphasis on respect for girls and women as well as on gender equality;

30.  Calls for the implementation of sex and relationship education in curricular programmes aimed at empowering girls through awareness and control over their own bodies, while calling for all other curricular subjects to maintain coherence with these principles;

31.  Calls on the Commission to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in educational settings; urges the Commission to support the inclusion of objective information on LGBTI issues in school curricula; urges the Commission to facilitate peer learning amongst Member States in tackling homophobic and transphobic bullying and harassment;

32.  Encourages girls and boys in the education process to take an equal interest in all subjects, beyond gendered stereotypes, in particular as regards scientific and technical subjects, including boys’ learning about activities regarded as female, in areas such as domestic work and care, whilst also encouraging equal participation and representation in collective decision-making and school management, as well as in all extracurricular activities; calls on those involved to ensure that funding for these effective activities is protected;

33.  Notes the need for measures to encourage the specific promotion of women in the fields of culture and the production and dissemination of artistic and intellectual works, combating the structural and widespread discrimination experienced by women in this sphere, fostering a balanced representation of women and men in public artistic and cultural activities, and providing for financial support and positive actions to correct situations of inequality in these areas;

34.  Calls for the development of equal access, use of, and education on Information and Communication Technologies for girls and boys from pre-school education upwards, paying special attention to children and young people from rural areas, marginalised communities, and those with special needs, in order to improve digital literacy, disseminate effective educational policy instruments and improve teacher training so as to increase the number of female students and graduates in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; in this context, welcomes all initiatives and programmes aiming to attract girls to those areas of study and the corresponding research careers;

35.  Stresses the importance of putting in place educational measures with a view to recognising, and teaching people about, the role of women in history, science, politics, literature, the arts, education, etc.;

36.  Calls for every effort to be made to ensure that employment in the area of early childhood education, primary education and care is promoted as a valuable occupation for both women and men;

37.  Calls on the Member States to develop or reinforce national regulations with a view to countering the negative influence of stereotyped gender roles arising from values conveyed through the media and advertising, which too often undermine the work done in schools in these areas;

38.  Calls for complementary activities which strengthen the formal curriculum with regard to gender equality and training for entrepreneurship, as well as the implementation of informal education programmes for gender education in the community via local authorities;

39.  Calls for a renewed impetus to be given to accrediting informal education with a certificate of competence, and to providing a high-standard certificate of work-based learning in relation to vocational education, as this will assist girls and women in finding better jobs and entering or returning to the labour market, while ensuring that females are treated equally with males in terms of dignity and competence;

40.  Calls on the authors and publishers of educational materials to be aware of the need to make gender equality a criterion for the production of these materials, recommending the use of teams of teachers and students in the creation of training materials on gender equality, and to seek advice from experts in the field of gender equality and gender-aware tutoring;

41.  Calls on the Member States to prepare and disseminate guidelines for schools, education policymakers, teachers and those responsible for setting the curriculum in order to embrace a gender perspective and gender equality, and to ensure the elimination of stereotypes and sexist distortions that textbooks and teaching materials may include in their content, language or illustrations, encouraging them also to combat this sexism in literature, film, music, games, media, advertising and other areas that can contribute decisively to changing the attitudes, behaviour and identity of girls and boys;

42.  Acknowledges that teachers play a major role in the formation of educational identities and have a significant impact on aspects of gendered behaviour in school; recalls that much has still to be done to empower teachers with regard to how they can best promote gender equality; insists, therefore, on the need to ensure comprehensive initial and ongoing equality training for teachers at all levels of formal and informal education, including peer learning and cooperation with external organisations and agencies, in order to build awareness of the impact of gender roles and stereotypes on their students’ self-confidence and their subject choices during their studies; stresses that girls need to have positive female and male role models in schools and universities so that they can identify and make the best use of their own potential without fear of discrimination or ambiguity on grounds of gender;

43.  Stresses the need to integrate the study and application of the principle of equality between women and men into both initial and ongoing training of teachers, in order to remove any obstacles to realising students’ full potential, irrespective of gender;

44.  Strongly believes in the transformative potential of education in championing gender equality; recognises that formal and informal education programmes must address and fight against gender-based violence, gender discrimination, harassment, homophobia and transphobia in all their forms, including forms of cyberbullying or online harassment; recognises that education for gender equality and against gender-based violence depends upon school environments that are safe and free from violence;

45.  Stresses the need to organise awareness-raising initiatives, training and integration of the gender perspective, for all involved in education policy and also for parents and employers;

46.  Calls on the Member States to take an intergenerational approach to education, and to ensure equal access to formal and informal education by integrating the supply of affordable and quality childcare in their educational systems, as well as care for the elderly and other dependents; calls on the Member States to engage in initiatives that reduce direct and indirect educational costs and to increase the capacity of all nurseries and crèches, pre-school, school and after-school networks, in due respect of the principles of inclusion for children living in poverty or at risk of poverty; emphasises the importance of this in order to help all women and men, including single parents, balance family life with work and guarantee women’s participation in lifelong learning and vocational education and training whilst subsequently creating role models for girls’ empowerment;

47.  Emphasises that any strategy for promoting gender equality and for the empowerment of girls and women must actively involve and engage boys and men;

48.  Highlights the importance of public authorities promoting courses about and research into the significance and scope of gender equality, as part of third-level education, notably by including gender equality-related subjects in syllabuses, introducing specific postgraduate courses and furthering specialised studies and research in the field;

49.  Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to make progress on the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of vocational qualifications issued in the various Member States, and on coordinating and harmonising national rules on access to various professions, so that emigrant women from within or outside the Union can get jobs appropriate to their training and qualifications;

Investment, monitoring and evaluation

50.  Notes the need for monitoring and evaluation by independent bodies of the progress made as a result of the adoption of gender equality policies in educational institutions, as well as the need for ongoing communication of information to local, regional, national and European policymakers, on all measures taken and progress made in this area, and the urgent need to convert the gender perspective into an internal and external evaluation element of educational institutions;

51.  Highlights the important role of cooperation among different educational administrative bodies and of exchanges of good practice in terms of developing projects and programmes for promoting awareness of the principles of co-education and meaningful equality between women and men, and disseminating them among members of the education community;

52.  Calls on the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) to continue its work on putting together comparable gender-disaggregated data and scoreboards in all policy areas, including in the field of education, and reiterates the importance of conducting impact studies for educational policies to address gender inequalities, providing qualitative and quantitative instruments for the assessment of this impact, and following a budgetary strategy based on gender in order to promote both access and the right to educational resources;

53.  Recognises that it is of fundamental importance to assess the impact of future education legislation on gender equality and, where necessary, to revise existing laws in accordance with this principle;

54.  Stresses that the monitoring procedures for implementing gender equality programmes and the respective assessment must be carried out by educational research centres in close cooperation with experts in gender issues, the bodies set up by the EU and local authorities; Calls for quantitative and qualitative gender-disaggregated data to be collected by the Member States and the Commission;

55.  Suggests the creation of an Annual European Award for Gender Equality for educational institutions which have excelled in attaining this objective, and encourages Member States to do the same at national level;

56.  Stresses the need to draw up plans of action and to allocate resources for the implementation of gender-specific educational projects as well as gender-sensitive educational structures, recommending the use of European instruments available for this purpose, namely the Investment Plan, the Horizon 2020 Programme, and the EU Structural Funds, including the European Social Fund;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0074.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0050.
(3) https://europa.eu/eyd2015/en/eu-european-parliament/posts/every-girl-and-woman-has-right-education


EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market
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European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market (2015/2061(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0313A8-0244/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Free Trade Agreement of 22 July 1972 between the European Economic Community and the Swiss Confederation,

–  having regard to the Agreement of 21 June 1999 between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons, and in particular its Annex I on free movement of persons and Annex III on the recognition of professional qualifications,

–  having regard to the Agreement of 25 June 2009 between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on the simplification of inspections and formalities in respect of the carriage of goods and on customs security measures,

–  having regard to the Agreement of 21 June 1999 between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on mutual recognition in relation to conformity assessment,

–  having regard to the Agreement of 21 June 1999 between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on certain aspects of government procurement,

–  having regard to the Protocol of 27 May 2008 to the Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons regarding the participation, as contracting parties, of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania pursuant to their accession to the European Union,

–  having regard to the Protocol of 26 October 2004 to the Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons regarding the participation, as contracting parties, of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic pursuant to their accession to the European Union,

–  having regard to the Agreement on the European Economic Area,

–  having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (the ‘Services Directive’)(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2013/55/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on the recognition of professional qualifications(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2010 on EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2014 on the 2012 Progress Report on Iceland and the post-election perspectives(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2015 on Single Market governance within the European Semester 2015(5),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 21 March 2014,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 December 2014 on a homogenous extended single market and EU relations with Non-EU Western European countries,

–  having regard to the Conclusions adopted by the EEA Council at its 42nd meeting of 19 November 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 7 December 2012 on a review of the functioning of the European Economic Area (SWD(2012)0425),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 20 November 2012 on EU relations with the Principality of Andorra, the Principality of Monaco and the Republic of San Marino – Options for closer integration with the EU (COM(2012)0680),

–  having regard to the Report from the Commission of 18 November 2013 on EU Relations with the Principality of Andorra, the Principality of Monaco and the Republic of San Marino: Options for their participation in the Internal Market,

–  having regard to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee Report on the Annual Report on the Functioning of the EEA Agreement in 2013,

–  having regard to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee resolution of 30 May 2013 on the future of the EEA and the EU’s relations with the small-sized countries and Switzerland,

–  having regard to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee resolution of 26 March 2014 on single market governance,

–  having regard to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee resolution of 17 March 2015 on industrial policy in Europe,

–  having regard to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee resolution of 17 March 2015 on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and its possible implications for the EEA EFTA States,

–  having regard to the Swiss Foreign Policy Report of 14 January 2015,

–  having regard to the 35th EEA EFTA States Internal Market Scoreboard,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in particular Article 217 giving the Union the right to conclude international agreements,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0244/2015),

A.  whereas the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) constitute major trade partners of the European Union (EU), Switzerland and Norway being respectively the fourth and the fifth most important EU trade partners by volume;

B.  whereas relations between the EU and three EFTA member states (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) are based on the European Economic Area (EEA), which provides for participation in the internal market, with the EEA Agreement managed and monitored in a highly institutionalised framework;

C.  whereas Switzerland’s participation in the EEA Agreement was contested by a popular vote in 1992 and therefore relations between Switzerland and the EU are currently based on more than 100 sectoral agreements that provide for a far-reaching degree of integration;

D.  whereas a well-functioning and effective single market, based on a highly competitive social market economy, is needed to boost growth and competitiveness and to create jobs to revitalise the European economy, but single market legislation must be properly transposed, implemented and enforced in order to bring about its full benefits in the EU Member States and EEA EFTA states;

Introduction

1.  Considers the EEA Agreement a key factor for economic growth and the most far-reaching, comprehensive instrument to extend the single market to third countries; believes that taking into account the internal developments in the EU, it has proven to be a solid, efficient and well-functioning agreement ensuring the integrity of the single market also in the long term;

2.  Acknowledges that the strong relations between the EU, the EEA EFTA countries and Switzerland go beyond economic integration and the extension of the single market, and contribute to stability and prosperity to the benefit of all citizens and businesses, including SMEs; underlines the importance of ensuring the proper functioning of the single market in order to create a level playing field and generate new jobs;

Implementation of Single Market legislation: EEA EFTA countries

3.  Notes with concern that according to the EEA EFTA States Internal Market Scoreboard, the current average transposition deficit of the three EFTA states has increased to 2 % from 1,9 % in July 2014;

4.  Welcomes the considerable efforts made with regard to improving the swift incorporation of the relevant Acquis into the EEA Agreement as well as the recent agreement on the principles for the incorporation of the EU Regulations establishing the European Supervisory Authorities in the area of financial services;

5.  Points out that the EEA EFTA states are involved in many EU programmes and agencies and in practical cooperation measures, such as the Internal Market Information System or SOLVIT, and contribute to EU cohesion through the EEA and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism; takes the view that this cooperation fosters the effective functioning of an enlarged single market; encourages the EU and EEA EFTA states to further develop preventive tools and answers to possible threats with a view to ensuring the functioning of the internal energy market;

6.  Considers that timely and as close to simultaneously as possible implementation of the relevant single market legislation by the EEA EFTA states is essential and that this process could be further improved and accelerated;

7.  Stresses that the backlog of legal acts pending incorporation remains a concern, and therefore urges the EEA EFTA states to step up their efforts in close cooperation with the EU in order to uphold the integrity of the Single Market;

8.  Acknowledges that prior agreement by all the EEA EFTA states regarding the determination of EEA-relevance is necessary and that technical adaptations may be required before incorporation; is concerned, however, that the many requests for adaptations and exceptions are leading to delays and may fragment the Single Market; calls strongly on these countries to remedy this situation and to work closely with the EU in order to ensure a level playing field in the extended single market;

9.  Points out that since the signing of the EEA agreement the EU has resorted to an increased use of agencies; welcomes that the EEA EFTA states participate in the operations of these agencies; calls on the EEA EFTA states and the Commission to continue to improve this cooperation and participation;

10.  Points out that the EU and the USA are currently negotiating a comprehensive free trade and investment agreement; emphasises that, under the terms of the EEA Agreement, the EEA EFTA states apply single market rules and that the impact of a successful trade and investment partnership would probably also affect the EEA EFTA states; emphasises, further, that the conclusion of TTIP must not lead to new trade barriers being set up between the EU and the EEA EFTA states;

Principality of Liechtenstein

11.  Is concerned that Liechtenstein’s transposition deficit increased from 0,7 % to 1,2 %; is concerned, further, by the fact that its legislation concerning the entry and residence rights of certain family members of EEA nationals and the restrictions imposed on EEA nationals residing in Liechtenstein from taking up employment in another EEA state, which Liechtenstein sees as an arrangement based on special quota rules under the EEA Agreement, does not seem to be fully in line with EEA law;

Republic of Iceland

12.  Takes note of the letter of 12 March 2015 sent by the Icelandic Government on its position as a candidate country for EU membership; strongly urges Iceland to step up its efforts to fulfil its obligations under the EEA Agreement given that it has a transposition deficit of 2,8 %, which is the highest of all the states concerned; encourages the EU and Iceland to further strengthen the cooperation inter alia on disaster preparedness in the North Atlantic area and to allocate resources to counter related challenges;

Kingdom of Norway

13.  Welcomes the fact that Norway, with whom ties have strengthened over the past years, is part of the Frontrunners initiative, which aims to improve the single market; notes, however, that the transposition deficit has increased to 2 % and urges Norway to step up its efforts in this regard in particular with a view to completing the internal energy market; encourages the intensification of the cooperation inter alia on energy policy; points out that there are still issues of increased import duties on certain products which need to be assessed;

Principality of Andorra, Principality of Monaco, Republic of San Marino

14.  Acknowledges that closer relations could bring mutual benefits in particular at regional and local levels in neighbouring EU regions, and therefore welcomes the opening of negotiations on association agreements as a significant step forward with regard to their participation in the single market and possibly areas going beyond, while taking into account the particular nature of these countries;

Implementation of Single Market legislation: Swiss Confederation

15.  Commends the strong, continuously flourishing and longstanding relations between the EU and Switzerland, which have contributed to peace, prosperity and growth in Europe over the past decades; is convinced that these relations can be deepened to the benefit of both parties by comprehensively revising the sectoral agreements in full compliance with the fundamental principles of the EU and can extend the numerous commonalities and mutual interests;

16.  Welcomes in this context the opening of the negotiations in May 2014 for an institutional framework as a precondition for the further development of a bilateral approach; stresses that without such a framework agreement no further agreements on Swiss participation in the internal market will be concluded; urges the Swiss Government to step up its efforts to progress with the negotiations on the outstanding issues;

17.  Takes note of the outcome of the popular initiative of 9 February 2014 ‘Against Mass Immigration’ and the decisions taken on 11 February 2015 by the Swiss Federal Council in relation to its implementation of a draft implementing law and new flanking measures; points out that this runs counter to obligations stemming from the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMPA) and expects Switzerland to respect these obligations; points out that the question of migration of citizens from third countries should not be confused with the free movement of persons as enshrined in the Treaties; stresses that the unilateral measures taken by Switzerland in order to avoid discrimination against Croatian citizens fall short of replacing the ratification of the Protocol extending the FMPA to include Croatia and that ratifying that Protocol would clear the way for Switzerland’s involvement in the Horizon 2020 programme to continue and be extended after 2016 in order to promote researchers’ access to Horizon 2020 funding; calls upon the Commission to work with Switzerland and the Member States to find a satisfactory solution that respects the provisions of the concerned agreements and adhering to the rule of law;

18.  Reiterates that the free movement of persons is one of the fundamental freedoms and a pillar of the single market and that it always has been an inseparable part of and precondition for the bilateral approach between the EU and Switzerland; therefore fully supports the EU’s rejection of July 2014 of the Swiss Authorities’ request to renegotiate the FMPA with a view to introducing a quota or a national preference system; notes with concern reports concerning the application by some firms and cantons of a national preference system, and points out that such a practice is at odds with the agreement on freedom of movement;

19.  Notes that restrictions to the free movement of persons as required by referendum in Switzerland risk creating an imbalance and undermining the benefits of the agreements for the EU Member States;

20.  Notes that Switzerland introduced transitional arrangements following the suspension of the negotiations on Swiss participation in the Erasmus+ programme; is concerned that these measures will probably have an impact on movements of higher-education students between the EU and Switzerland; calls on Switzerland and the EU to make every effort to satisfy the requirements laid down for their participation in the Erasmus+ programme, in order to guarantee exchange reciprocity and not penalise young people;

21.  Urges that the current practice whereby taxi firms from EU Member States can provide services in Switzerland without restriction should continue, as it has long contributed to economic development in Swiss border regions and is mutually beneficial;

22.  Calls on the Commission to scrutinise more closely the implications of the purchase and leasing of land by Swiss farmers in EU border regions;

23.  Deplores the introduction and subsequent consolidation of unilateral flanking measures by Switzerland in the context of the agreement on the free movement of persons, such as the charging of fees to cover administrative costs, the requirement to give bank guarantees or a combination of such measures, as these are seriously hampering the provision of services in Switzerland under the agreement, in particular by SMEs; calls on Switzerland, accordingly, to revise these measures in order to bring them into line with the agreement on freedom of movement;

24.  Takes the view that the implementation in 2013 of Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications was long overdue and calls for a swift incorporation of Directive 2013/55/EU in the annex to the agreement on freedom of movement in the expectation that Switzerland will find ways of ensuring that the agreement remains in force; notes that Annex II to the Agreement on the free movement of persons was updated recently with a view to securing more effective coordination of EU and Swiss social security systems; calls on Switzerland to continue to implement EU law as it is required to do;

25.  Takes the view that reciprocity and fairness between the EEA and Switzerland are necessary with regard to their use of the single market;

26.  Calls on the Commission, in future, to consider all the implications for EU regions bordering on Switzerland of the introduction of new rules, such as the recent amendment of Article 561 of Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code, which seeks to impose tight restrictions on the use for private purposes by employees resident in the customs territory of the EU of company cars registered in a third country;

27.  Notes that in overall terms cooperation under the Agreement on mutual recognition in relation to conformity assessment (MRA) is satisfactory, but that the functioning of the agreement could be substantially improved if Switzerland were to pledge to update it consistently in line with developments in EU law;

28.  Calls for the obstacles to cross-border professional mobility to be removed in order to deepen the internal market; stresses, to that end, the importance of promoting language learning and providing better information and practical support to jobseekers, in particular through the EURES network, in Switzerland and in all the EEA countries; welcomes, therefore, Switzerland’s active involvement in EURES network activities, in particular in cross-border regions; calls on Switzerland to continue to build up its transnational and cross-border EURES services, in accordance with the current EURES Regulation, with a view to enhancing worker mobility and creating a genuinely integrated employment market between the EU and Switzerland; with a view, to enhancing worker mobility, also encourages efforts to identify a broad range of emerging industries and key growth sectors in which the EEA countries, Switzerland and the Member States should focus on developing their skills base, in order to better match skills and qualifications with supply and demand;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.
(2) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 132.
(3) OJ C 308 E, 20.10.2011, p. 18.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0041.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0069.

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