Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 8 October 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Central African Republic
 Situation in Thailand
 The mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks
 The case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
 Payment services in the internal market ***I
 Mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments in the EU: the case of Spain
 The death penalty
 Lessons learned from the red mud disaster five years after the accident in Hungary
 Renewal of the EU Plan of action on Gender equality and Women's empowerment in development
 Equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation

Central African Republic
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on the Central African Republic (2015/2874(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0342RC-B8-1000/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Central African Republic,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 2015 on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly(1),

–  having regard to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly resolutions on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) of 19 June 2013, 19 March 2014 and 17 June 2015,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the situation in the Central African Republic, notably that of 13 October 2014,

–  having regard to the statement by the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson on the violence in the Central African Republic of 28 September 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the CAR of 9 February 2015 and 20 July 2015,

–  having regard to the remarks made by Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in the CAR, of 1 October 2015,

–  having regard to the call by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council of 28 September 2015 for an immediate end to the sudden eruption of violence in the CAR,

–  having regard to UN resolution 2217 (2015) renewing MINUSCA’s mandate at current authorised troop levels until 30 April 2016, adopted by the Security Council at its 7434th meeting on 28 April 2015,

–  having regard to UN resolution 2196 (2015) renewing the Central African Republic (CAR) sanctions regime until 29 January 2016 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee until 29 February 2016,

–  having regard to the 15 May 2015 UN Evaluation Report on Enforcement and Remedial Assistance Efforts for Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by the United Nations and Related Personnel in Peacekeeping Operations,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General on the recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, of 11 September 2015,

–  having regard to the Final Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic of 19 December 2014,

–  having regard to the high-level international conference on the Central African Republic, entitled ‘From humanitarian aid to resilience’, held in Brussels on 26 May 2015,

–  having regard to the disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation and reintegration (DDRR) agreement signed on 10 May 2015 by a large number of the armed groups during the Bangui Forum,

–  having regard to the revised Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to the Libreville (Gabon) Agreement of 11 January 2013 on the resolution of the politico-military crisis in the CAR, signed under the aegis of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), which sets out the conditions for ending the crisis in the CAR,

–  having regard to the extraordinary summits of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), held in N’Djamena (Chad) on 21 December 2012, 3 April 2013 and 18 April 2013, and to their decisions to establish a National Transitional Council (CNT) with legislative and constituent powers and adopt a roadmap for the transition process in the CAR,

–  having regard to the meeting of the International Contact Group of 3 May 2013 in Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo), which validated the roadmap for the transition and set up a Special Fund to assist the CAR,

–  having regard to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in July 2014,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the 7th Meeting of the International Contact Group on the Central African Republic, held in Brazzaville on 16 March 2015,

–  having regard to the communiqués issued by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on 17 September 2014 and 26 March 2015,

–  having regard to the CAR’s Constitution adopted by the Transitional Council at the end of August 2015,

–  having regard to the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), ratified by the CAR in 2001,

–  having regard to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, signed by the CAR,

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

A.  whereas new clashes erupted at the end of September 2015, leaving 42 people dead and prompting some 37 000 to flee their homes;

B.  whereas over 500 prisoners escaped at the end of September 2015 from the Ngaragba prison in Bangui and from Bouar, including well-known perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses; whereas this poses a serious threat to civilians and to the protection of victims and witnesses; whereas the prison escape is a setback for the preservation of law and order, and for the fight against impunity in the CAR;

C.  whereas conditions for aid agencies in Bangui have deteriorated according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; whereas several offices and residences of relief organisations have been looted and their workers’ freedom of movement impeded, especially health workers in hospitals;

D.  whereas humanitarian aid is made difficult because of the fighting and numerous roadblocks, impeding the ability of the authorities to gain access to thousands of internally displaced people and assess needs; whereas the concerns about safe access to Bangui’s neighbourhoods have been echoed by Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), which said wounded people had been arriving on foot in many cases and the group’s ambulances have been unable to circulate as the capital has become too dangerous;

E.  whereas the UN decided to extend the mandate of MINUSCA until 30 April 2016 with an authorised troop ceiling of 10 750 military personnel, including 480 military observers and military staff officers, and 2 080 police personnel, including 400 individual police officers and 40 corrections officers;

F.  whereas according to the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA), although the security situation has calmed down lately, tensions persist in Bangui, which had been the scene of attacks against civilians, violence between communities and attacks against humanitarian personnel;

G.  whereas the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called for those involved in the clashes ‘to immediately cease and desist the violence’, adding that any war crimes committed will be punished; whereas on 24 September 2014 the second investigation into the CAR conflict was opened;

H.  whereas recent clashes threaten to unravel a fledgling peace process and could bring the country back to the dark days of late 2013 and 2014 when thousands were killed and tens of thousands had to flee their homes; whereas crime remains a major threat; whereas the situation of women in the CAR is very grave, and whereas rape is often used as a weapon of war by all the parties involved;

I.  whereas the 2013 coup and the subsequent ousting from power of the Transitional Head of State, Michel Djotodia, and of the Transitional Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, was accompanied by massive and severe human rights violations with a clear risk of genocide, including extrajudicial killings, torture, looting, large-scale acts of rape and sexual abuse, abduction of women and children and forced recruitment of child soldiers;

J.  whereas on 4 October 2015, Central Africans were to decide by referendum on the adoption of a new constitution and elect their representatives in parallel during presidential and legislative elections originally scheduled for 18 October 2015 (first round) and 22 November 2015 (second round); whereas the transition authorities have been working for a few weeks to postpone the polls, but the National Elections Agency (NSA) has still not announced a new schedule, the voter lists are not established and electoral cards have not been distributed;

K.  whereas the country is confronted with the worst humanitarian crisis since its independence in 1960, which is affecting the entire population of 4,6 million people, half of whom are children; whereas 2,7 million people are in need of assistance, including food aid, protection, and access to health care, drinking water, sanitation and housing; whereas it has been estimated that more than 100 000 children have faced sexual abuse and recruitment into armed groups in the country and whereas it is estimated that the crisis has left one million children without a school;

L.  whereas on 5 May 2015 armed groups in the CAR reached an agreement to release between 6 000 and 10 000 child soldiers;

M.  whereas the peacekeeping operation has been tarnished by allegations of sexual abuse of children and girls by UN soldiers and French peacekeepers;

N.  whereas both the Seleka and the anti-balaka armed groups profit from the timber and diamond trade by controlling sites and ‘taxing’ or extorting ‘protection’ money from miners and traders, and whereas CAR traders have purchased diamonds worth several million dollars without adequately investigating whether they were financing armed groups;

O.  whereas respect for human rights is a fundamental value of the European Union and represents an essential element of the Cotonou Agreement, in particular Article 8 thereof;

P.  whereas justice and prosecution of grave human rights violations are among the critical tasks needed to end the abuses and rebuild the CAR;

Q.  whereas impunity continues to be a hallmark of the violence, notwithstanding the fact that the Transitional Council has adopted and the interim President signed into law the establishment of a Special Criminal Court, comprised of both national and international judges and prosecutors, that will investigate and prosecute grave human rights violations committed in the CAR since 2003;

R.  whereas in September 2014 the EU launched the first three development projects from the EU multi-donor trust fund for the CAR in the areas of health, job creation, rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure in Bangui, and the empowerment of women and their economic inclusion;

S.  whereas in March 2015 the European Council launched the EU’s military advisory mission in the CAR (EUMAM RCA) aiming at supporting the Central African authorities in preparing a reform of the security sector with respect to the armed forces;

T.  whereas since May 2015 the EU has increased its assistance for the CAR with a total of EUR 72 million, including resources for humanitarian aid (with EUR 10 million of fresh funding), budget support (with an additional EUR 40 million) and a new contribution to the EU Trust Fund for the CAR (an additional EUR 22 million);

U.  whereas on 15 July 2014 the EU launched its first ever multi-donor development trust fund in support of the Central African Republic, aiming at enabling the transition from emergency response towards long-term development assistance;

1.  Expresses its deep concern over the situation in the Central African Republic, which could bring the country to the edge of a civil war if the latest violence is not contained; deplores the loss of lives and expresses its sympathy to the families of the victims and to the entire population of the Central African Republic;

2.  Strongly condemns the attacks against humanitarian organisations and residences during the latest outbreak of violence; calls for the free movement of aid workers to reach civilians in need, especially the displaced population; recalls that almost half a million internally displaced people are in urgent need of food, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter and basic household items;

3.  Calls on the CAR authorities to focus on fighting against impunity and on the re-establishment of the rule of law, also by holding accountable before justice those responsible for violence; welcomes the creation of the Special Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute grave human rights violations committed in the country since 2003 and points out the urgent need to make it operational; stresses that international financial and technical support is essential for its functioning; calls for an international pledging meeting for donors as soon as possible; encourages the CAR authorities to adopt an efficient and transparent recruitment procedure for staffing the Court;

4.  Commends the ECCAS for its crucial role in the setting up of the transition process and the firm stance taken at the consultations in Addis Ababa on 31 January 2015 regarding any parallel initiative which might jeopardise the current efforts of the international community to restore peace, security and stability in the CAR;

5.  Welcomes the efforts undertaken so far by the transitional government, but calls on the CAR transitional authorities and the international community to address the root causes of the crisis, such as the widespread poverty, economic disparities and inequalities, rising unemployment, and the lack of redistribution of wealth from the country’s natural resources via the state budget; calls for a comprehensive approach focusing on security, humanitarian aid, stabilisation and economic recovery;

6.  Calls on the international community to support the political process in the CAR at this critical time and to enhance common efforts to facilitate political dialogue, build trust and ensure peaceful coexistence between religious communities in the country; urges the Government of the CAR to make the reconstruction of the education system a priority, in order to facilitate long-term pacific coexistence;

7.  Deplores the fact that although the UN has declared an embargo on weapons, the strengthening of militias continues; calls on all parties to abide by the disarmament agreement as signed on 10 May 2015; stresses that disarming armed groups must be an absolute priority, especially ahead of the presidential and general elections due to take place in the CAR by the end of the year;

8.  Urges the African Union and the European Union to use all appropriate measures and tools to help the transitional government overcome the implosion of an already fragile state, interethnic escalation and the continued strength of competing militias, and make the transition towards a functioning, inclusive and democratic state, notably through the Instrument for Stability and Peace and the African Peace Facility and African Standby Force;

9.  Welcomes the setting up of the Bangui Forum for reconciliation and peace and urges the unconditional participation of all political, military and religious leaders as well as local communities and civil society; insists that democratic elections must take place;

10.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and other international actors to do their utmost to support the organisation of the elections as foreseen in the transition road-map, in particular by contributing to the UNDP-managed electoral assistance programme, so that elections can take place before the end of this year, thus fulfilling a key element of the transition road-map;

11.  Reiterates its support for the independence, unity and territorial integrity of the CAR; recalls the importance of peoples’ right to self-determination without outside interference;

12.  Reaffirms its support to the UN, the MINUSCA peacekeeping force and the French Sangaris military contingent ahead of the elections to take place by the end of the year; strongly condemns any attempt to deter ongoing efforts towards stability;

13.  Recalls that the transitional period will come to an end on 30 December 2015; urges the national authorities, with the support of the MINUSCA and the Sangaris forces, to restore calm in the country, and more particularly in Bangui, in order to maintain the electoral calendar in the best way possible;

14.  Welcomes the EU military advisory mission (EUMAM RCA), and the launching of projects aiming to reinstate the police and gendarmerie capacities for community policing and riot control, restore the joint operational command centre, reinforce the judiciary and rehabilitate the prison facilities;

15.  Strongly condemns all the violence against children and women, and urges all militias and non-state armed groups to lay down their arms, cease all forms of violence and immediately release children from their ranks; invites all the stakeholders to be committed to the protection of children’s rights and to prevent any further violations and abuses against children; urges that girls and women who are victims of rape in the context of armed conflict be offered the full range of sexual and reproductive health services;

16.  Urges the CAR diamond traders to prove due diligence and the international diamond companies to address Kimberly Process failures in the diamond supply chain from the CAR; calls on the CAR authorities and foreign companies to help strengthen governance in the extractives sector by abiding by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative;

17.  Calls on international diamond companies to look closely at the origin of diamonds in order to avoid fuelling the conflict by purchasing illicitly extracted and traded diamonds from the CAR; urges European companies that are trading with CAR logging companies to abide by the EU Timber Regulation, and calls on the EU to robustly enforce its Timber Regulation with regard to importers of CAR timber;

18.  Invites the CAR authorities to develop a nationally-owned strategy to tackle the illicit exploitation and trafficking networks of natural resources;

19.  Urges the countries whose soldiers are responsible for sexual abuse on peacekeeping missions in the CAR to hold them accountable and put them on trial, as impunity cannot be tolerated; stresses the urgent need to reform peacekeeping structures by establishing a functioning and transparent oversight and accountability mechanism; is convinced that such grave crimes could also be reduced and prevented via training and education;

20.  Urges the CAR, its neighbouring states and other member states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to cooperate at regional level to investigate and combat regional criminal networks and armed groups involved in the illegal exploitation and smuggling of natural resources, including gold, diamonds and wildlife poaching and trafficking;

21.  Calls for the EU to do everything in its power to provide better-coordinated and more effective assistance to the people of the CAR; welcomes, at the same time, the scaling‑up of the EU and Member States’ humanitarian engagement with the CAR in light of the evolving needs; stresses that life-saving assistance should be provided to those in need within the CAR, as well as to refugees in neighbouring countries;

22.  Deplores the destruction of public archives and registers by militias; urges the EU to support the CAR’s restoration of the public registry and also to prevent any electoral irregularities;

23.  Calls on the Member States, as well as other donors, to scale up their contributions to the EU Fund for the CAR, the Bêkou Trust Fund, whose aim is to promote the stabilisation and reconstruction of the Central African Republic taking into consideration the need to better link the reconstruction/development programmes with the humanitarian response;

24.  Calls on the EU, the AU and the international community to support the refugees from the CAR in neighbouring countries;

25.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Transitional Government authorities of the CAR, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the institutions of the African Union, ECCAS, the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly and the EU Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0035.


Situation in Thailand
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on the situation in Thailand (2015/2875(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0343RC-B8-1002/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Thailand, in particular those of 20 May 2010(1), 6 February 2014(2) and 21 May 2015(3),

–  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson for the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, of 2 April 2015 on developments in Thailand,

–  having regard to the statements issued by the EU Delegation to Thailand, in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Thailand, on 14 November 2014, 30 June 2015 and 24 September 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 23 June 2014 on Thailand,

–  having regard to the answer of 15 May 2013 given by the then Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the Commission, on the situation of Andy Hall,

–  having regard to the press release issued on 1 April 2015 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression,

–  having regard to the Universal Periodic Review of Thailand before the UN Human Rights Council, and its recommendations, of 5 October 2011,

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

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 1998,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966, to which Thailand is a state party,

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984,

–  having regard to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Human Rights Declaration,

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

A.  whereas on 20 May 2014 the state military deposed the Government of Thailand and proceeded to impose martial law nationwide, forcing the dissolution of the caretaking Centre for Administration of Peace and Order;

B.  whereas the military forces have proceeded with the formation of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), whose leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, will exercise all powers and unlimited authority to issue orders and institute constitutional reform;

C.  whereas key constitutional bodies set up by the NCPO are controlled by military personnel, and whereas NCPO members enjoy full immunity from any wrongdoing, responsibility or liability while employed on the basis of Sections 44 and 47 of the interim constitution;

D.  whereas on 29 August 2015 the Constituent Committee completed the drafting of a new constitution, which was rejected by the National Reform Council on 6 September 2015; whereas a new constituent committee needs to redraft the constitution within 180 days, and whereas the latest rejection may prolong military rule in the country;

E.  whereas leading websites about the political and human rights situation in Thailand have been charged with threatening national security by the NCPO under Section 44 of the interim constitution, and whereas there is severe censorship of TV channels and community radio stations associated with all domestic political factions;

F.  whereas the recently adopted Public Assembly Act, which entered into force on 14 August 2015, seriously restricts freedom of assembly and imposes harsh sentences of up to 10 years in prison for offences such as causing disruption to public services;

G.  whereas army personnel have been appointed as ‘peace and order maintenance officers’ to arbitrarily detain people, carry out inquiries and execute searches without a warrant;

H.  whereas participants in peaceful demonstrations have repeatedly been charged with sedition and violating the law, and whereas 14 activists from the Neo-Democracy Movement (NDM) have been arrested;

I.  whereas the death penalty continues to be applied in Thailand, and whereas new legislation has broadened the circumstances in which it can be imposed;

J.  whereas there has been a surge in imprisonments under the lèse-majesté law since the coup;

K.  whereas the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been denied access to tortured or ill-treated individuals held in permanent detention without charge or trial under the authority of military courts;

L.  whereas there has been a deterioration in the security of local community and land rights activists since the coup;

M.  whereas Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol thereto, and does not have a formal national asylum framework; whereas the Thai authorities continue to return refugees and asylum seekers to countries where they are likely to face persecution;

N.  whereas Thailand is obliged under international treaties to which it is a party to investigate and appropriately prosecute torture, custodial deaths and other alleged serious violations of human rights;

O.  whereas the criminal defamation case against workers’ rights defender Andy Hall, an EU citizen, has been dismissed, but whereas he still faces indictments in computer crime and defamation cases and two civil defamation cases, which could result in a seven-year prison sentence and a multi-million-dollar fine, after contributing to a Finnwatch report alleging labour abuses by a Thai pineapple wholesaler, despite the fact that violations of workers’ rights committed by the company were confirmed by the Thai Ministry of Labour and by a company employee during previous court hearings; whereas his case will be heard on 19 October 2015;

P.  whereas, although Thailand has ratified International Labour Organisation Convention No 29, migrant workers enjoy little protection; whereas trafficking in workers is a major problem; whereas the situation in the fisheries sector is particularly worrying;

Q.  whereas the EU has put on hold fledgling negotiations with Thailand for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), which commenced in 2013, and whereas it refuses to sign the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) finalised in November 2013 until a democratic government is in place; whereas the EU is Thailand’s third-largest trading partner;

1.  Welcomes the EU’s strong commitment to the Thai people, with whom the EU has strong and long-standing political, economic and cultural ties; stresses that the EU, as a friend and partner of Thailand, has repeatedly called for the democratic process to be restored;

2.  Is deeply concerned, however, about the deteriorating human rights situation in Thailand following the illegal coup of May 2014;

3.  Urges the Thai authorities to lift repressive restrictions on the right to liberty and the peaceful exercise of other human rights, in particular those relevant to peaceful involvement in political activities;

4.  Calls on the Thai authorities to overturn convictions and sentences, to withdraw charges and to release individuals and media operators who have been sentenced or charged for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression or assembly; calls on the government to revoke immediately Section 44 of the interim constitution and related provisions that serve as a basis for the Thai authorities to repress fundamental freedoms and commit human rights violations with impunity;

5.  Calls on the Thai authorities to help prevent security threats affecting the general population, and better to address the concerns of members of the community and of land rights activists;

6.  Calls on the Thai authorities to commence as soon as possible the political transfer of powers from military to civilian authorities; takes note of the clear plan for free and fair elections and calls for the timeline to be respected;

7.  Encourages the transfer of all judicial jurisdiction over civilians from military to civilian courts, an end to arbitrary detention under martial law, and measures to restrict rather than enhance the army’s powers to detain civilians;

8.  Encourages the authorities to reconsider the lèse-majesté law so as to prevent it penalising the peaceful exercise of political expression, and to suspend the extensive use of this law in respect of unconnected issues;

9.  Asks that the right to security, including that of human rights defenders, be respected and protected, and that all violations of the rights of human rights defenders be promptly, effectively and independently investigated;

10.  Takes note of the appointment by the Thai Government of a new Constitution Drafting Committee to draft a new constitution as soon as possible; calls for a constitution based on democratic principles such as equality, liberty, fair representation, transparency, accountability, human rights, the rule of law and public access to resources;

11.  Calls on the Thai Government to comply with its own constitutional and international obligations as regards the independence of the judiciary, the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and political pluralism, especially in the light of the growing severity of its ‘anti-defamation’ laws;

12.  Takes note of the measures taken by the Thai Government to comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and to put an end to endemic modern-day slavery in the supply chain of its fishing industry; encourages the government to implement these measures as a matter of urgency and to step up its efforts;

13.  Calls on Thailand to sign and ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol thereto;

14.  Urges Thailand to take concrete steps towards the abolition of the death penalty;

15.  Strongly welcomes the approval of Thailand’s Gender Equality Act, which signals a more inclusive future for the country’s treatment under the law of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people;

16.  Welcomes the decision to dismiss the criminal defamation case against Andy Hall, and his subsequent release; calls for the computer crime and criminal defamation cases initiated against him at Southern Bangkok Criminal Court also to be dropped, given that his actions as a human rights defender were aimed at exposing instances of human trafficking and improving the legal situation of migrant workers in Thailand, which confirms his right to carry out research and advocacy without fear of reprisals; expresses its concern, with regard to the civil defamation cases, that his trial may not be fully impartial, as there have been reports of ownership links between the suing company and high-ranking Thai politicians; asks the EU Delegation to continue to follow his legal situation closely and to attend his trial;

17.  Welcomes the acquittal on 1 September 2015 by the Phuket Provincial Court of the journalists Chutima ‘Oi’ Sidasathian and Alan Morison;

18.  Urges the international community, and the EU in particular, to put all their efforts into fighting human trafficking, slave work and forced migration by advocating international collaboration on the monitoring and prevention of human rights violations relating to labour issues;

19.  Encourages the EU and the Thai Government to engage in a constructive dialogue on matters relating to human rights protection and democratisation processes in Thailand and in the region; reiterates its support for the democratisation process in Thailand;

20.  Supports the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) in maintaining economic and political pressure in order to ensure Thailand’s return to democratic governance; reminds the Thai Government, in this connection, that no progress should be expected on the FTA and PCA between the EU and Thailand as long as the military junta remains in power;

21.  Welcomes Thailand’s new role as country coordinator for ASEAN-EU relations for 2015‑2018; points to the mutual benefits that ASEAN and the EU gain from their cooperation;

22.  Asks the EEAS and the EU Delegation, as well as Member State delegations, to use all available instruments to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law in Thailand, in particular by continuing to observe investigations and trial hearings of opposition leaders;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Commission, the Government and Parliament of Thailand, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states.

(1) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 152.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0107.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0211.


The mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on the mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks (2015/2876(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0344RC-B8-1003/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, in particular to those of 17 July 2014(1) and 30 April 2015(2),

–  having regard to previous statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including those of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, 14 and 15 April, and 3 July 2015,

–  having regard to the statement by the President of the Security Council of the UN on 28 July 2015,

–  having regard to President Muhammadu Buhari’s address to the UN General Assembly of 28 September 2015, and to the UN counter-terrorism summit,

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, adopted on 31 October 2000,

–  having regard to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990),

–  having regard to the 2003 Child Rights Act signed into law by the Federal Government of Nigeria,

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

–  having regard to the African Union Convention on the prevention and fight against terrorism, ratified by Nigeria on 16 May 2003, and the Additional Protocol, ratified by Nigeria on 22 December 2008,

–  having regard to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa,

–  having regard to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram and the impact on human rights in the affected countries of 29 September 2015; having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

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

A.  whereas Nigeria, the most populous and largest economy in Africa, which is ethnically diverse and marked by regional and religious cleavages and a North-South divide with severe economic and social inequalities, has since 2009 become the battlefield of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group with its sworn allegiance to Da’esh; whereas the terrorist group has become a growing threat to the stability of Nigeria and the West African region; whereas the Nigerian security forces have often used excessive force and committed abuses during military operations to counter the insurgency;

B.  whereas at least 1 600 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram in the last four months, raising the death toll to at least 3 500 civilians in 2015 alone;

C.  whereas since the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency its targeted actions against schoolboys and schoolgirls in the area have deprived children of access to education, with the figure of 10,5 million children of primary school age in Nigeria not attending school being the highest in the world, according to UNESCO figures; whereas, like al-Shabaab in Somalia, AQIM, MUJAO and Ansar Dine in North Mali and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Boko Haram targets children and women who receive an education;

D.  whereas despite advances by Nigerian and regional armed forces, increasing attacks and suicide bombings extending beyond the border into neighbouring countries threaten stability and the livelihood of millions of people throughout the entire region; whereas children are in critical danger on account of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with worsening food insecurity combined with poor access to education, safe drinking water and health services;

E.  whereas the UN estimates that the violence in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has recently resulted in the number of internally displaced people increasing dramatically to 2,1 million, 58 % of whom are children, according to IOM; whereas more than 3 million people have been affected by the insurgency as a whole, and 5,5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin;

F.  whereas Nigeria has succeeded in conducting mostly peaceful presidential and gubernatorial elections despite the threats made by Boko Haram to disrupt the ballot; whereas Nigeria and its neighbouring countries created a Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) on 11 June 2015 in Abuja to comply with the decisions taken in Niamey in January 2015 on fighting Boko Haram;

G.  whereas Boko Haram has abducted more than 2 000 women and girls in Nigeria since 2009, including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in the north-east of the country on 14 April 2014, an act which shocked the whole world and triggered an international campaign (‘Bring back our Girls’) to rescue them; whereas almost a year and half later, more than 200 of the girls captured in that incident have still not been found;

H.  whereas many more children have since gone missing, or have been abducted or recruited to serve as fighters and house workers, with girls being subjected to rape and forced marriage or forced to convert to Islam; whereas since April 2015 some 300 other girls rescued by the Nigerian security forces from terrorist strongholds and around 60 others who managed to escape their captors from another location have described their life in captivity to Human Rights Watch (HRW) as being one of daily violence and terror, plus physical and psychological abuses; whereas, according to the UNSR for Children and Armed Conflict, the armed conflict in north-eastern Nigeria this past year was one of the world’s deadliest for children, with killings, the growing recruitment and use of children, countless abductions and sexual violence against girls; whereas UNICEF says that more than 23 000 children have been separated from their parents and forced from their home by the violence, running to save their lives inside Nigeria or crossing the border to Cameroon, Chad and Niger;

I.  whereas most of the children living in IDP and refugee camps have lost one or both parents (either killed or missing), as well as siblings and other relatives; whereas, although a number of international and national humanitarian organisations are operating in the camps, access to basic rights for many of these children – including nutrition, shelter (overcrowded and unsanitary), health and education – remains of abysmally low quality;

J.  whereas there are at least 208 000 children without access to education and 83 000 lack access to safe water in the sub-region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger), and 23 000 children in the north-east of Nigeria have been separated from their families;

K.  whereas the number of attacks by Boko Haram has risen in Nigeria, as well as in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger; whereas Boko Haram continues to abduct children and women to carry explosive devices, using them, without their knowledge, as suicide bombers; whereas some of those who had sought refuge on the Chadian side of Lake Chad were again targeted by the same terrorists on Chadian soil;

L.  whereas in June 2015 the EU provided EUR 21 million in humanitarian aid to help displaced people in Nigeria and neighbouring countries affected by the violence of terrorist organisations;

M.  whereas UNICEF, together with governments and partners in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is increasing its operations to assist thousands of children and their families in the region by providing access to safe water, education, counselling and psychological support, as well as vaccinations and treatment for severe acute malnutrition; whereas UNICEF has received only 32 % of the 50,3 million required this year for its humanitarian response across the Lake Chad region;

N.  whereas a number of the abducted women and girls who have escaped or have been rescued or freed return home pregnant and in dire need of reproductive and maternal health care, and others lack access to basic post-rape health screening, post-traumatic care, social support and rape counselling, according to HRW; whereas the Commission has stated that where pregnancy causes unbearable suffering women must have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services based on their medical condition, therefore asserting that international humanitarian law shall in any case prevail;

1.  Strongly condemns Boko Haram crimes, including terrorist raids and suicide bombings in Chad, Cameroon and Niger; stands with the victims and conveys its condolences to all families who have lost loved ones; denounces the ongoing relentless violence in the Nigerian Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and other cities in the country;

2.  Deplores the acts which have led to the mass displacement of innocent children and calls for immediate coordinated international action to assist the work of UN agencies and NGOs in preventing displaced children and youths from being subjected to sexual slavery, other forms of sexual violence and kidnappings and from being forced into armed conflict against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorist sect; stresses the paramount need to duly protect children’s rights in Nigeria, a country in which over 40 % of the total population is aged between 0 and 14;

3.  Believes that in the cases of children formerly associated with Boko Haram or other armed groups, non-judicial measures should be considered as an alternative to prosecution and detention;

4.  Welcomes the recent announcement by the Commission of additional funds to boost urgent humanitarian aid to the region; expresses, however, serious concerns about the funding gap between commitments and actual payments for UNICEF operations in the region by the international community at large; calls on donors to meet their commitments without delay in order to address the chronic need for access to basic provisions such as drinking water, basic health care and education;

5.  Calls on the President of Nigeria and his newly appointed Federal Government to adopt strong measures to protect the civilian population, to put special emphasis on the protection of women and girls, to make women’s rights and children’s rights a priority when fighting extremism, to provide help for victims and to prosecute wrongdoers, and to ensure women’s participation in decision-making at all levels;

6.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to launch, as promised by President Buhari, an urgent, independent and thorough investigation into crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations by all parties to the conflict;

7.  Welcomes the change in military leadership and demands that all human rights abuses and crimes committed by both terrorists and Nigerian security forces be investigated in order to address the lack of accountability observed under the former presidency; welcomes the pledge made by President Buhari to investigate evidence that Nigerian military forces have committed serious human rights violations, war crimes and acts which may constitute crimes against humanity;

8.  Urges the President of the Federal Republic to address the challenges involved in abiding by all campaign promises and the latest statements, the most important of which are defeating the terrorist threat, making respect for human rights and humanitarian law a central pillar of military operations, bringing back the Chibok girls and all other abducted women and children alive and unharmed, addressing the ever growing problem of malnutrition, and fighting corruption and impunity in order to deter future abuses and work towards justice for every victim;

9.  Urges the Nigerian authorities and the international community to work closely together and to increase efforts to reverse the continuous trend towards the further displacement of people; welcomes the determination expressed at the Niamey Regional Summit of 20 and 21 January 2015 by the 13 participating countries, and in particular the commitment of Chad, together with Cameroon and Niger, to engage in the fight against the terrorist threats of Boko Haram; calls on the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to observe international human rights and humanitarian law conscientiously in its operations against Boko Haram; reiterates that a military approach alone will not suffice to counter the Boko Haram insurgency;

10.  Recalls that Boko Haram’s origins are rooted in grievances over poor governance, pervasive corruption and stark inequalities in Nigerian society; urges the Nigerian authorities to eliminate corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies within the public institutions and the army, and to promote fair taxation; calls for the adoption of measures to starve Boko Haram of its sources of illegal income through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking;

11.  Urges the international community to help Nigeria and the neighbouring countries who host refugees (Cameroon, Chad and Niger) to provide all necessary medical and psychological assistance to those in need; appeals to the authorities in the sub-region to ensure ease of access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls who have been raped, in accordance with the common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; stresses the need to implement a universal standard for the treatment of war rape victims and to ensure the primacy of international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict; expresses its full sympathy with women and children who have survived the blind terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram; calls for the establishment of specialised education programmes aimed at women and children who are victims of war and society as a whole, to help them overcome the terror experienced, to give appropriate and comprehensive information, to combat stigmas and social exclusion and to help them become valued members of society;

12.  Urges the Commission to prioritise assistance for uprooted children and youths in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, with particular attention on protection from all forms of ferocity and gender violence and on access to education, healthcare and safe drinking water, within the framework of the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa;

13.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to take measures to facilitate the return of displaced persons, especially children, to guarantee their safety, and to assist NGOs in their efforts to improve conditions in the camps for people displaced by the conflict by, inter alia, improving hygiene and sanitation in order to prevent the possible spread of disease;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the representatives of the ECOWAS and the African Union.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0008.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0185.


The case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on the case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr (2015/2883(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0345RC-B8-0997/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions of 12 February 2015 on the case of Mr Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabia(1), and of 11 March 2014 on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa(2),

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, adopted in June 1998 and revised and updated in April 2013,

–  having regard to the UN General Assembly resolutions, in particular that of 18 December 2014 on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty (A/RES/69/186),

–  having regard to the statements of 22 September 2015 by UN human rights experts on the case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr,

–  having regard to UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–  having regard to Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which stipulates that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, and Article 4, which prohibits torture,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in June 2004 and reviewed in December 2008,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a party,

–  having regard to Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to which Saudi Arabia is a party, in particular Article 32(1) thereof, which guarantees the right to information and to freedom of opinion and expression, and Article 8 thereof, which prohibits physical or psychological torture and cruel, degrading, humiliating or inhuman treatment,

–  having regard to the recent additional case of condemnation to beheading of a second juvenile, Dawoud al-Marhoon, who, at the age of 17, was allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession which officials used to convict him after he was arrested during protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province in May 2012,

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

A.  whereas Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who is 21 years old and is a nephew of a prominent dissident, was sentenced in May 2015 to capital punishment, reportedly by beheading followed by crucifixion, by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court on criminal charges including sedition, rioting, protesting robbery and belonging to a terror cell whereas Ali al-Nimr was under the age of 18 – and thus still a juvenile – at the time he was arrested while demonstrating for democracy and equal rights in Saudi Arabia; whereas he was sentenced to death on account of the protests in the mostly Shia Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia; whereas it is alleged by reliable sources that Ali al-Nimr was tortured and forced to sign his confession; whereas he has been denied any guarantees of a safe trial and due legal process in compliance with international law;

B.  whereas imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of the offence and following allegations of torture is incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations;

C.  whereas the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is included in all international and regional human rights instruments and constitutes a rule of customary international law, which is thus binding on all states, regardless of whether they have ratified the relevant international agreements;

D.  whereas the increase in death sentences is closely linked to the rulings of Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court in trials in response to terrorism-related offences; whereas, according to international human rights organisations, at least 175 executions were carried out in Saudi Arabia between August 2014 and June 2015;

E.  whereas this case is one of many cases in which harsh sentences have been imposed on, and harassment used against, Saudi activists persecuted for expressing their views, several of whom have been convicted under procedures which fall short of international fair trial standards, as was confirmed by the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in July 2014;

F.  whereas Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, both online and offline; whereas this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers;

G.  whereas Saudi-Arabia’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, H.E. Faisal bin Hassan Trad, has been appointed Chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council;

H.  whereas the opening of the dialogue between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the EU on human rights could be a constructive step in enhancing mutual understanding and promoting reforms in the country, including reform of the judiciary;

I.  whereas Saudi Arabia is an influential and important political and economic actor within the Middle East and North Africa region;

1.  Strongly condemns the sentencing of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr to the death penalty; reiterates its condemnation of the use of the death penalty and strongly supports the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty, as a step towards abolition;

2.  Calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities, and in particular His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to halt the execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and to grant a pardon or commute his sentence; calls on the European External Action Service and the Member states to use all their diplomatic tools and efforts to immediately stop this execution;

3.  Reminds the KSA that it is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by anyone below the age of 18;

4.  Urges the Saudi authorities to abolish the Specialised Criminal Court, set up in 2008 to try terrorism cases but increasingly used to prosecute peaceful dissidents on apparently politically motivated charges and in proceedings that violate the fundamental right to a fair trial;

5.  Calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into the alleged acts of torture and to ensure that Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is given any medical attention he may require and regular access to his family and lawyers;

6.  Reminds Saudi Arabia of its commitments as a member of the UN Human Rights Council; notes that Saudi Arabia has recently been appointed to chair a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council; strongly urges the Saudi authorities to ensure that standards of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in their country are consistent with such an international role;

7.  Calls for an enhanced mechanism for dialogue between the EU and Saudi Arabia on human rights issues and an exchange of expertise on justice and legal matters in order to strengthen the protection of individual rights in the KSA, in line with the process of judicial reform which it has undertaken; calls on the KSA’s authorities to pursue the necessary human rights reforms, in particular those related to limiting the death penalty and capital punishment;

8.  Encourages Saudi Arabia to sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which entered into force in 1976, Article 6 of which states that ‘every human being has the inherent right to life’;

9.  Expresses its grave concern at the reported rise in the number of death sentences in the KSA in 2014 and the alarming rate at which court rulings have ordered the death penalty in 2015;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0037.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0207.


Payment services in the internal market ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 October 2015 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on payment services in the internal market and amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2013/36/EU and 2009/110/EC and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC (COM(2013)0547 – C7-0230/2013 – 2013/0264(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0346A8-0266/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0547),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0230/2013),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Central Bank of 5 February 2014(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 December 2013(2),

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

–  having regard to Rule 59 and 61(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0169/2014),

–  having regard to the amendments which it adopted at its sitting of 3 April 2014(3),

–  having regard to the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 18 September 2014 on unfinished business from the seventh parliamentary term,

–  having regard to the supplementary report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0266/2015),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 8 October 2015 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2015/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on payment services in the internal market, amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2009/110/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010, and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2015/2366.)

(1) OJ C 224, 15.7.2014, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 170, 5.6.2014, p. 78.
(3) Texts adopted of that date, P7_TA(2014)0280.


Mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments in the EU: the case of Spain
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments in Spain (based on petitions received) (2015/2740(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0347B8-0987/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Petition 626/2011 and 15 others on mortgage legislation in Spain (179/2012, 644/2012, 783/2012, 1669/2012, 0996/2013, 1345/2013, 1249/2013, 1436/2013, 1705/2013, 1736/2013, 2120/2013, 2159/2013, 2440/2013, 2563/2013 and 2610/2013),

–  having regard to Petition 513/2012 and 21 others on risky financial instruments in Spain (548/2012, 676/2012, 677/2012, 785/2012, 788/2012, 949/2012, 1044/2012, 1247/2012, 1343/2012, 1498/2012, 1662/2012, 1761/2012, 1851/2012, 1864/2012, 169/2013, 171/2013, 2206/2013, 2215/2013, 2228/2013, 2243/2013 and 2274/2013),

–  having regard to the deliberations in its Committee on Petitions with the petitioners concerned, most recently on 16 April 2015,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/17/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property and amending Directives 2008/48/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on markets in financial instruments and amending Directives 2002/92/EC and 2011/61/EU(2),

–  having regard to Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts(3),

–  having regard to the Commission statement – in the joint debate of 19 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings – on the review and extension of the Commission recommendation of 12 March 2014 on a new approach to business failure and insolvency, with regard to family insolvency and second chances for individuals and households,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 June 2013 on social housing in the European Union(4),

–  having regard to its question to the Commission on mortgage legislation and risky financial instruments in Spain (based on petitions received) (O-000088/2015 – B8‑0755/2015),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Petitions,

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

A.  whereas numerous petitions received have brought to light thousands of tragic personal cases in which citizens experienced the partial or entire loss of their life savings, and whereas these petitions highlight the barriers that consumers face when seeking to obtain accurate and essential information on financial instruments;

B.  whereas in Spain civil society organisations are continuing to protest against the hundreds of thousands of evictions, abusive terms in mortgage contracts and the lack of protection for borrowers; whereas, according to one of those organisations, the Platform of Mortgage Victims (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca – PAH), there were 19 261 evictions in Spain during the first quarter of 2015 (6 % more than in the first quarter of 2014); whereas PAH estimates that there have been more than 397 954 evictions in Spain since 2008; whereas more than 100 000 households have lost their homes;

C.  whereas the impact of the crisis has aggravated the situation for evicted families, who still have to pay out their mortgage debt and the increasing interest on it; whereas the Spanish Government introduced the possibility of ‘datio in solutum’ as an exceptional measure under Law 6/2012; recalls that, according to official data for the second quarter of 2014, ‘datio in solutum’ has been approved for only 1 467 out of 11 407 applications, or 12,86 % of the total;

D.  whereas a number of abusive clauses and practices in the Spanish mortgage sector have been identified by national and European courts (see Court of Justice judgments C‑243/08 Pannon GSM; C-618/10, Banco Español de Crédito; and C‑415/11, Catalunyacaixa), and should have been prevented by Directives 93/13/EEC, 2004/39/EC and 2005/29/EC had those directives all been fully transposed and implemented in Spain;

E.  whereas Directive 2014/17/EU on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property (the Mortgage Credit Directive) will be applicable to mortgage credit agreements coming into existence after 21 March 2016, and will require creditors to inform consumers about the main characteristics of the credit agreement;

F.  whereas, as a result of the Aziz ruling (Case C-415/11), the Spanish authorities adopted, under an accelerated procedure, Law 1/2013 of 14 May 2013 on measures to reinforce the protection of mortgage debtors, debt restructuring and social rental (Ley 1/2013 de medidas para reforzar la protección a los deudores hipotecarios, reestructuración de la deuda y alquiler social);

G.  whereas, as a result of the ruling in Case C-169/14, the Spanish authorities amended the national mortgage appeal system by means of a final provision in Law 9/2015 of 25 May 2015 on urgent measures in bankruptcy matters (Ley 9/2015 de medidas urgentes en material concursal), to bring it into line with Directive 93/13/EEC;

H.  whereas the Spanish parliament has adopted a ‘Code of good practice for a viable restructuring of debts relating to mortgages on habitual dwellings’, which has mostly been ignored by financial bodies owing to its voluntary status and has had very limited results in avoiding evictions or prompting ‘datio in solutum’, as the eligibility requirements disqualify more than 80 % of those affected;

I.  whereas in many cases consumers were not duly informed by banks about the extent of the risks associated with proposed investments, and whereas in such cases the banks also failed to perform suitability tests to determine whether clients had adequate knowledge to understand the financial risks they were exposing themselves to; whereas many of the affected citizens are elderly people who had invested their life savings in what they were told were no-risk investments;

J.  whereas over the past few years 700 000 Spanish citizens are estimated to have been the victims of financial fraud, as they were sold risky financial instruments in bad faith by their banks, without being duly informed about the extent of the risks and the real implications of not being able to access their savings;

K.  whereas the arbitration mechanism put in place by the Spanish authorities has been rejected by many of the victims of financial fraud;

L.  whereas the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) (Directive 2004/39/EC) regulates the provision of investment services by investment firms and credit institutions in relation to financial instruments, including preferred shares (‘preferentes’); whereas Article 19 of the MiFID formulates business obligations for those providing investment services to clients;

1.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the implementation in all the Member States of the ruling in Case C-415 (Aziz) and of Directive 93/13/EEC on mortgage legislation, in order to guarantee full compliance by national authorities;

2.  Calls on financial entities across the Union to stop engaging in abusive behaviour towards clients in the field of mortgages, sophisticated financial products and credit cards, including the imposition of excessive interest rates and the arbitrary cancellation of service;

3.  Calls on financial entities across the Union to avoid resorting to the eviction of families living in their sole residence, and to engage instead in debt restructuring ;

4.  Calls on the Spanish Government to make use of the tools at its disposal in order to find a comprehensive solution for drastically reducing the intolerable numbers of evictions;

5.  Calls on the Commission to follow closely the transposition in all the Member States of Directive 2014/17/EU on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property (the Mortgage Credit Directive);

6.  Calls on the Commission to share best practice regarding the application in certain Member States of ‘datio in solutum’, and to assess its impact on consumers and business;

7.  Warns the Commission of the doubts expressed by the EU Advocate-General concerning the legality of the measures adopted by the Spanish Government to resolve the infringements denounced by the Court of Justice on 14 March 2013 and prevent abusive practices in the mortgage sector;

8.  Calls on the Commission to monitor closely the effective implementation of the new measures adopted by the Spanish Government to resolve the existing problems and to prevent abusive banking and trading practices;

9.  Calls on the Commission to launch information campaigns on financial products and to enhance financial literacy through education, in order to ensure that European citizens are better informed about the risks involved when subscribing to financial products;

10.  Calls on the Commission to share best practices that enhance the protection of citizens in financial difficulty; believes that basic financial education should be considered as a complementary asset for avoiding the consequences of over-indebtedness;

11.  Calls on the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Central Bank (ECB) to establish a best practice campaign in order to encourage banks and their employees to provide clear, understandable and correct information; stresses that consumers need to make an informed decision based on a full understanding of the risks they may incur, and that traders and banks must not mislead consumers;

12.  Calls on the EBA and the ECB, in order to preserve the strength of the EU financial sector, to take further steps to require banks to separate potentially risky trading from their deposit-taking business where the pursuit of such activities compromises financial stability;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the ECB to evaluate the Spanish arbitration mechanism put in place for citizens who are victims of financial fraud;

14.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the correct transposition and application of EU law by Spain in relation to financial instruments, including preferred shares;

15.  Calls on the Commission to follow up on the complaints received and to carry out the necessary investigations;

16.  Asks the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal on family insolvency;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Spanish Government, the Council, the Commission and the European Central Bank.

(1) OJ L 60, 28.2.2014, p. 34.
(2) OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, p. 349.
(3) OJ L 95, 21.4.1993, p. 29.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0246.


The death penalty
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty (2015/2879(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0348RC-B8-0998/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty, in particular that of 7 October 2010(1),

–  having regard to the joint declaration of 10 October 2014 by Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, on the European and World Day Against the Death Penalty,

–  having regard to Protocols 6 and 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights,

–  having regard to Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty,

–  having regard to the EU export controls regime for goods that can be used for the death penalty, which is currently being updated,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol thereto,

–  having regard to the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–  having regard to the Study on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights, issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September 2015,

–  having regard to the resolutions of the UN General Assembly, in particular that of 18 December 2014 on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty (A/RES/69/186),

–  having regard to the final declaration adopted by the 5th World Congress against the Death Penalty held in Madrid on 12-15 June 2013,

–  having regard to the World Day and the European Day against the Death Penalty, held on 10 October each year,

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

A.  whereas abolition of the death penalty worldwide is one of the main objectives of the EU’s human rights policy;

B.  whereas the focus of the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October 2015 is ‘raising awareness around the application of the death penalty for drug-related offences’;

C.  whereas according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights more than 160 UN Members States, with a variety of legal systems, traditions, cultures and religious backgrounds, have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it;

D.  whereas the latest figures reveal that at least 2 466 people in 55 countries are known to have been sentenced to death in 2014 – an increase of almost 23 % on the 2013 figure; whereas at least 607 executions were carried out worldwide in 2014; whereas these figures do not include the number of people believed to have been executed in China, which continued to execute more people than the rest of the world combined, while sentencing thousands more to death; whereas death sentences and executions are continuing at an alarming rate in 2015; whereas the increase in death sentences is closely linked to court rulings in mass trials in response to terrorism-related offences in countries such as Egypt and Nigeria; whereas the possible reintroduction of the death penalty is being considered in Chad and Tunisia; whereas death sentences continue to be handed down and executed in certain states in the USA;

E.  whereas people are reported to have been sentenced to death by stoning in Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, and whereas hundreds of women have been stoned to death for adultery in recent years; whereas stoning as a method of capital punishment is considered a form of torture;

F.  whereas eight states have the death penalty in their legislation for homosexuality (Mauritania, Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Qatar), and whereas provinces of Nigeria and Somalia officially implement death penalty for same-sex sexual acts;

G.  whereas the death penalty is often used against the underprivileged, the mentally ill and members of national and cultural minorities;

H.  whereas 33 states apply the death penalty for drug-related offences, resulting in approximately 1 000 executions annually; whereas in 2015, executions for such crimes are known to have been carried out in China, Iran, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia; whereas in 2015 death sentences continued to be imposed for drug-related offences in China, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam; whereas these offences may include different charges of drug trafficking or drug possession;

I.  whereas the last 12 months have seen a global resurgence in the use of the death penalty for drug offences, with a number of states executing people for drug-related offences at a significantly increased rate, seeking to re-introduce the death penalty for drug offences, or ending long-standing death penalty moratoriums;

J.  whereas Iran reportedly executed 394 drug offenders in the first six months of 2015, compared with 367 in the whole of 2014; whereas half of all executions carried out in Saudi Arabia this year have been for drug offences, compared with only 4 % of the overall number in 2010; whereas at least 112 drug offenders are awaiting execution on Pakistan’s death row;

K.  whereas a number of citizens of EU Member States have either been executed or are awaiting execution in third countries for drug-related crimes;

L.  whereas Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that the death penalty may only be applied for the ‘most serious crimes’; whereas the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and on Torture have stated that the death penalty should not be imposed for drug-related offences; whereas the mandatory death penalty and its use for drug-related offences are against international law and standards;

M.  whereas the International Narcotics Control Board has encouraged states that impose the death penalty to abolish it for drug-related offences;

N.  whereas the Commission and the Member States have given at least EUR 60 million to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) counter-narcotics programmes focused on drug enforcement in countries which actively apply the death penalty for drug offences; whereas recent NGO reports have expressed concern at the fact that European-funded counter-narcotics programmes in retentionist states may be encouraging capital convictions and executions, and whereas these reports require assessment;

O.  whereas under the EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and its predecessor, the Instrument for Stability (IfS), the Commission has initiated two large-scale regional counter-narcotics measures – the cocaine and heroin route programmes, whose scope includes countries which apply the death penalty for drug offences; whereas under Article 10 of the IcSP Regulation, the Commission is obliged to use operational guidelines for human rights and humanitarian law compliance for measures against organised crime;

1.  Reiterates its condemnation of the use of the death penalty and strongly supports the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty, as a step towards abolition; emphasises once again that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and that the EU’s ultimate aim is universal abolition;

2.  Condemns all executions wherever they take place; continues to be deeply concerned regarding the imposition of the death penalty on minors and on persons with mental or intellectual disability, and calls for an immediate and definitive end to such practices, which violate international human rights standards; expresses its grave concern about the recent mass trials leading to a vast number of death sentences;

3.  Expresses its great concern about the practice of stoning, which is still being used in several countries, and urges the governments of the countries concerned to immediately enact legislation that bans stoning;

4.  Urges the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to continue fighting against the use of the death penalty and to strongly support the moratorium as a step towards abolition, to continue to push for abolition worldwide, to strongly urge countries still carrying out capital punishment to comply with international minimum standards, to reduce the scope and use of the death penalty, and to publish clear and accurate figures on the number of sentences and executions; urges the EEAS to remain vigilant with regard to developments in all countries, in particular Belarus as the only European country which still has the death penalty, and to use all means of influence at its disposal;

5.  Welcomes the abolition of the death penalty in certain US states and encourages the EU to continue its dialogue with the USA with a view to total abolition, in order to stand together in addressing capital punishment worldwide;

6.  Invites the Commission to give particular attention, as regards aid and political support, to countries that make progress in abolishing the death penalty or which encourage a universal moratorium on capital punishment; encourages bilateral and multi-lateral initiatives between Member States, the EU, the UN, third countries and other regional organisations on issues relating to the death penalty;

7.  Recalls that the death penalty is incompatible with values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, on which the Union is founded, and that any Member State reintroducing the death penalty would therefore be in violation of the Treaties and of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;

8.  Is particularly concerned by the increasing use of the death penalty in the context of the fight against terrorism in a number of countries, and by the possibility of its reintroduction in others;

9.  Condemns in particular the use of the death sentence to suppress opposition, or on grounds of religious belief, homosexuality or adultery, or on other grounds which would either be considered trivial or not regarded as crimes at all; calls, therefore, on those states which criminalise homosexuality not to apply the death penalty for this;

10.  Remains fully convinced that death sentences fail to deter drug trafficking or to prevent individuals from falling victim to drug abuse; calls on retentionist countries to introduce alternatives to the death penalty for drug offences which focus notably on drug prevention and harm reduction programmes;

11.  Reiterates its recommendation to the Commission and the Member States that the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences should be made a precondition for financial assistance, technical assistance, capacity-building and other support for drug enforcement policy;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to reaffirm the categorical principle that European aid and assistance, including to UNODC counter-narcotics programmes, may not facilitate law enforcement operations that lead to death sentences and the execution of those arrested;

13.  Urges the Commission to strengthen the controls on export of products which can be used for the death penalty;

14.  Is deeply concerned by the lack of transparency around counter-narcotics aid and assistance provided by the Commission and the Member States to drug enforcement operations in countries which actively apply the death penalty for drug offences; requests that the Commission publish an annual account of its funding for counter-narcotics programmes in countries which maintain the death penalty for drug offences, outlining what human rights safeguards have been applied to ensure that such funding does not enable death sentences;

15.  Urges the Commission to implement without any further delay the operational guidelines laid down in Article 10 of the IcSP Regulation and to apply them strictly to the cocaine and heroin route programmes;

16.  Urges the Commission to comply with the recommendation in the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2013-2016) that a ‘human rights guidance and assessment tool’ should be developed and implemented to ensure that human rights are ‘effectively mainstreamed into EU External Drugs Action’;

17.  Urges the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to provide guidance for a comprehensive and effective European death penalty policy with regard to dozens of European nationals facing execution in third countries, which should include strong and reinforced mechanisms in terms of identification, delivery of legal assistance and diplomatic representation;

18.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to ensure that the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem, in April 2016, addresses the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences, and condemns its application;

19.  Supports all UN agencies, intergovernmental regional bodies and NGOs in their continued efforts to encourage states to abolish the death penalty; calls on the Commission to continue funding projects in this field via the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights;

20.  Welcomes the recent ratifications of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, which have increased the number of states parties to 81; calls for all states which are not party to the Protocol to ratify it immediately;

21.  Calls on the member states of the Council of Europe which have yet to ratify Protocols 6 and 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights to do so, in order to ensure the effective abolition of the death penalty within the entire Council of Europe region;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly and the governments of the UN member states.

(1) OJ C 371 E, 20.12.2011, p. 5.


Lessons learned from the red mud disaster five years after the accident in Hungary
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on lessons learned from the red mud disaster, five years after the accident in Hungary (2015/2801(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0349B8-0989/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the principles of Union policy on the environment as laid down in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular the principles that preventive action should be taken and that the polluter should pay,

–  having regard to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) and the protocols thereto,

–  having regard to Council Directive 91/689/EEC of 12 December 1991 on hazardous waste(1),

–  having regard to Commission Decision 2000/532/EC of 3 May 2000 replacing Decision 94/3/EC establishing a list of wastes pursuant to Article 1(a) of Council Directive 75/442/EEC on waste and Council Decision 94/904/EC establishing a list of hazardous waste pursuant to Article 1(4) of Council Directive 91/689/EEC on hazardous waste(2) (European Waste List),

–  having regard to Commission Decision 2014/955/EU of 18 December 2014 amending Decision 2000/532/EC on the list of waste pursuant to Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(3),

–  having regard to the Reasoned Opinion sent by the Commission in June 2015 to Hungary requesting it to upgrade environmental standards at another red mud tailings site(4),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC(5) (Mining Waste Directive),

–  having regard to Recommendation 2001/331/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 April 2001 providing for minimum criteria for environmental inspections in the Member States(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 November 2008 on the review of Recommendation 2001/331/EC providing for minimum criteria for environmental inspections in the Member States(7),

–  having regard to Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’(8) (Seventh Environment Action Programme),

–  having regard to Directive 2004/35/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage(9) (Environmental Liability Directive),

–  having regard to Commission Decision 2009/335/EC of 20 April 2009 on technical guidelines for the establishment of the financial guarantee in accordance with Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the management of waste from extractive industries(10),

–  having regard to the Commission feasibility study on the concept of an EU-wide industrial disaster risk-sharing facility(11),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘Implementation challenges and obstacles of the Environmental Liability Directive’ (final report prepared for the Commission – DG Environment, 2013),

–  having regard to the questions to the Council and to the Commission on lessons learned from the red mud disaster, five years after the accident in Hungary (O-000096/2015 – B8‑0757/2015 and O-000097/2015 – B8‑0758/2015),

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

A.  whereas, on 4 October 2010, the collapse of a waste reservoir in Hungary released almost one million cubic metres of highly alkaline red mud, flooded several villages, killed ten people, injured almost 150, and polluted vast areas of land, including four NATURA 2000 sites;

B.  whereas red mud in this waste reservoir was hazardous waste pursuant to Council Directive 91/689/EEC;

C.  whereas Commission Decision 2014/955/EU indicates explicitly that red mud should be classified as hazardous waste in the absence of proof to the contrary; whereas this decision has applied since 1 June 2015;

D.  whereas there is a risk that, in the past, red mud may have been wrongly classified as non-hazardous waste in other Member States as well, thus giving rise to flawed permits;

E.  whereas red mud is extractive waste pursuant to the Mining Waste Directive, which sets out safety requirements for the management of extractive waste, inter alia based on the best available techniques;

F.  whereas there are also serious problems of environmental pollution due to other mining activities (e.g. the use of cyanide in gold mining) or improperly treated hazardous waste in various Member States;

G.  whereas Recommendation 2001/331/EC is aimed at strengthening compliance and contributing to more consistent implementation and enforcement of EU environmental law;

H.  whereas, in its resolution of 20 November 2008, Parliament described the implementation of environmental law in Member States as incomplete and inconsistent, and urged the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal on environmental inspections before the end of 2009;

I.  whereas the Seventh Environment Action Programme states that the EU will extend requirements relating to inspections and surveillance to the wider body of environment law, and further develop inspection support capacity at EU level;

J.  whereas the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) is aimed at establishing a framework of environmental liability based on the ‘polluter-pays’ principle, and requires Member States to encourage the development of financial security instruments and markets by the appropriate economic and financial operators; whereas Article 18(2) required the Commission to submit a report to Parliament and the Council before 30 April 2014, which has not yet been submitted;

K.  whereas the 2013 report prepared for the Commission on the implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive concluded that ‘the transposition of the ELD into the national law of Member States has not resulted in a level playing field’ but ‘in a patchwork of liability systems for preventing and remedying environmental damage across the EU’;

L.  whereas in 2010 the Commission stated in reaction to the red mud disaster that it would reconsider introducing harmonised mandatory financial security even before the ELD review due in 2014;

1.  Notes that the 2010 red mud disaster was Hungary’s worst industrial catastrophe, and commemorates the victims on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of that tragic event;

2.  Recognises the rapid and effective intervention of the national authorities in the crisis response phase and the major efforts made by civil society during the unprecedented disaster;

3.  Recalls that Hungary triggered the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and received a European team of experts charged with drawing up recommendations, inter alia on how to work out optimal solutions for eliminating and mitigating damages;

4.  Notes that the red mud disaster can be linked to the poor implementation of EU laws, inspection deficiencies, gaps in relevant EU legislation and the performance of the site operator;

5.  Is concerned that almost no lessons seem to have been learned in the last five years, as poor implementation of the relevant EU laws and international conventions as well as inspection deficiencies continue and almost none of the gaps in the relevant EU legislation have since been closed;

6.  Identifies the Mining Waste Directive and the European Waste List as areas of particular concern;

7.  Is concerned that similar sites exist in several Member States; calls on the Member States to ensure that the appropriate inspections are carried out;

8.  Calls on all Member States that have red mud ponds to review whether red mud has been correctly classified as hazardous and revise any permits based on wrong classifications as soon as possible; calls on the Commission to ensure that Member States take action and report to the Commission accordingly, and calls on the Commission to publish a report on the actions taken by Member States by the end of 2016;

9.  Considers it essential to put a stronger emphasis on disaster prevention, bearing in mind that similar environmental incidents have also occurred in other Member States;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts to ensure the full implementation and proper application of all relevant EU legislation and all relevant international conventions with regard not only to aluminium production and the environmentally sound management of red mud, but also to the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in general;

11.  Emphasises that the best available techniques in the management of extractive waste must be strictly applied, and calls for a complete shift to the use of dry disposal technologies by the end of 2016, while ensuring that this does not lead to air or water pollution;

12.  Calls on the Commission to put more emphasis on research and development in the prevention and treatment of hazardous waste;

13.  Urges the Commission to produce guidelines for carrying out stress tests on existing mines with large tailings ponds;

14.  Believes that effective pollution prevention requires stringent rules for environmental inspections and appropriate action to ensure their application;

15.  Calls on the Member States to strengthen their national environmental inspection bodies in order to enable them to carry out transparent, regular and systematic controls of industrial sites, inter alia by ensuring independence, providing adequate resources and defining clear responsibilities, and by promoting enhanced cooperation and coordinated action;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve surveillance, building on existing binding and non-binding instruments while avoiding unnecessary administrative burdens;

17.  Reiterates its call for the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal on environmental inspections that does not put an additional financial burden on industry;

18.  Urges the Commission to extend binding criteria for Member State inspections to cover a wider body of the EU environmental acquis, and to develop environmental inspection support capacity at EU level;

19.  Is concerned that significant differences between liability systems in the EU may undermine common standards and expose some Member States and regions to greater risk of environmental disasters and the financial consequences thereof;

20.  Considers it regrettable that the Commission has not yet submitted its report pursuant to the Environmental Liability Directive; calls on the Commission to do so before the end of 2015;

21.  Calls on the Commission to ensure, during the ongoing review of the Environmental Liability Directive, that the proposal for revision fully implements the polluter-pays principle;

22.  Urges the Commission to investigate how Commission Decision 2009/335/EC has been implemented in Member States and whether ceilings for established financial security instruments are sufficient; urges the Commission to propose harmonised mandatory financial security;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure transparency in the financial aspects of environmental disaster remediation, including the financial compensation to victims;

24.  Calls on the Commission to make a legislative proposal on access to justice in environmental matters in line with the provisions of the Seventh Environment Action Programme; calls on the Commission to do so before the end of 2016;

25.  Stresses the importance of involving local authorities, citizens and civil society in the decision-making process concerning the disposal of hazardous waste, and in the planning of risk management measures;

26.  Invites the authorities responsible to regularly inform the public about the state of pollution and the possible impacts on fauna and flora, as well as on the health of local populations;

27.  Invites the Commission to further elaborate the concept of an EU-wide industrial disaster risk-sharing facility, with full respect for the polluter-pays principle, in order to cover possible costs beyond a high level of mandatory financial securities;

28.  Considers that such a specialised EU-based industrial disaster risk-sharing facility should also cover the remediation of old environmental burdens which still constitute dangers for society and for which, due to the existing legal framework, there is no one objectively responsible who could cover the costs of the remediation;

29.  Highlights the importance of cooperation and solidarity at EU level in the event of environmental and industrial disasters;

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

(1) OJ L 377, 31.12.1991, p. 20.
(2) OJ L 226, 6.9.2000, p. 3.
(3) OJ L 370, 30.12.2014, p. 44.
(4) European Commission – Fact Sheet: June infringements package: key decisions; http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-5162_en.htm
(5) OJ L 102, 11.4.2006, p. 15.
(6) OJ L 118, 27.4.2001, p. 41.
(7) OJ C 16 E, 22.1.2010, p. 67.
(8) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 171.
(9) OJ L 143, 30.4.2004, p. 56.
(10) OJ L 101, 21.4.2009, p. 25.
(11) Study to explore the feasibility of creating a fund to cover environmental liability and losses occurring from industrial accidents. Final report. European Commission, DG ENV, 17 April 2013; http://ec.europa.eu/environment/archives/liability/eld/eldfund/pdf/Final%20report%20ELD%20Fund%20BIO%20for%20web2.pdf


Renewal of the EU Plan of action on Gender equality and Women's empowerment in development
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on the renewal of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (2015/2754(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0350B8-0988/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), establishing gender equality as one of the main principles on which the EU is founded,

–  having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), establishing the principle of policy coherence for development, which requires that the objectives of development cooperation be taken into account in policies that are likely to affect developing countries,

–  having regard to the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the subsequent outcome documents of the United Nations Beijing +5, +10, +15, +20 Special Sessions on further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted on 9 June 2000, 11 March 2005 and 2 March 2010 and 9 March 2015 respectively,

–  having regard to the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that took place in Cairo in 1994, where the global community recognised and affirmed that sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights are fundamental to sustainable development,

–  having regard to the EU Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015 (COM(2010)0491),

–  having regard to the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (2010-2015), its 2013 Implementation Report (SWD(2013)0509), the Council conclusions of 19 May 2014 thereon and its 2014 Implementation Report (SWD 2015(0011)),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on Gender in Development and on a New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2014 on the EU and the global development framework after 2015(1),

–  having regard to the Evaluation of EU Support to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Partner Countries(2),

–  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 UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) on women, peace and security,

–  having regard to the questions to the Council and to the Commission on the renewal of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality on Women’s Empowerment in Development (O-000109/2015 – B8‑0762/2015 and O-000110/2015 – B8‑0763/2015),

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

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

A.  whereas the European Union (EU) is committed to promoting gender equality and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all of its actions; whereas gender equality and women’s empowerment is a precondition for achieving post-2015 sustainable development goals and is also a self-standing human rights issue that should be pursued regardless of its benefits for development and growth; whereas gender-based violence is a serious breach of human rights and should never be justified by religion, culture or tradition;

B.  whereas the 20-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action found that progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) had been slow and uneven and that no country in the world had fully closed the gender gap; whereas the review found that this lack of progress had been exacerbated by the persistent and chronic underinvestment in GEWE;

C.  whereas two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that explicitly address women’s rights, namely the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women (MDG 3) and the improvement of maternal health (MDG 5), remain largely unachieved; whereas every day an estimated 800 women in the world die due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth; whereas about 222 million women in the developing world lack access to safe and modern methods of family planning while the proportion of development aid aimed at family planning to total global aid for health is declining;

D.  whereas the majority of the world’s poor are women and female-headed households; whereas the vulnerability of marginalised women is increasing; whereas 62 million girls in the world do not attend school;

E.  whereas one in three women in the world is likely to experience physical and sexual violence at some point in her lifetime; whereas 14 million girls are forced into marriage every year; whereas the EU is committed to the right of every individual to have full control over, and to decide freely on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence;

F.  whereas the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported(3) that investments are ‘vastly insufficient to achieve gender equality’ despite the tripling of aid targeted for that purpose by its members reaching USD 28 billion in 2012; whereas gender financing is mostly concentrated in social sectors leaving economic and productive sectors underinvested, whilst OECD analysis shows that investments in gender equality yield the highest returns of all development investments;

G.  whereas 2,5 billion people, a majority of them women and youth, remain excluded from the formal financial sector;

A step change in GAP2

1.  Believes that the conclusions of the evaluation of GAP1 show the clear need for a step change in EU action on GEWE and that we need a renewed political commitment by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Commission to improve performance; stresses the importance of implementing the main recommendations of the evaluation in the successor to the current GAP, starting with a fully-fledged management response;

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to initiate a transformative shift with the new GAP and therefore believes that GAP2 should take the form of a Commission communication; regrets that GAP 2 has been produced as a Joint Staff Working Document and not as a Communication; urges the Commission and EEAS to begin implementation of the new plan as soon as possible so that concrete results can be achieved as part of the broader EU commitment to GEWE in the SDGs, and to involve Parliament in consultation throughout that process;

3.  Believes that GAP2 should focus on all aspects of EU external policy – development cooperation, humanitarian aid, trade, human rights and foreign affairs, migration and asylum – in line with the policy coherence for development principle, and should apply to developing, neighbourhood and enlargement countries alike;

4.  Believes that GEWE should be core business for EU institutions, with clear management responsibilities both in the central administration and in the EU delegations; underlines the fact that heads of delegation, heads of unit and senior management must be accountable for reporting, monitoring and evaluating GEWE policies, and that gender mainstreaming must be incorporated into job descriptions and training given for all staff;

5.  Believes that the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) should ensure that all Commissioners responsible for external action demonstrate the necessary leadership to ensure a successful implementation of GAP2; welcomes the Council conclusions of May 2015 which underline the commitment of the Member States to a transformative agenda on the rights of women and girls; highlights the need for complementarity between the actions of the Commission/EEAS and those of the Member States;

6.  Regrets the fact that gender issues are not addressed in the DG DEVCO 2014 Annual Report and calls for GEWE issues to be included in the annual reports of all Commission Directorates-General (DGs) involved in external action and of the EEAS in the future; calls on all EU delegations to submit an annual GAP report and for EU delegations to present a summary of GEWE performance in their annual reports, mid-term reviews and country-level evaluations; believes that results should be integrated in results-orientated monitoring (ROM);

7.  Notes that the 2017 mid-term review of the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) programming documents presents a good opportunity to assess the impact of DCI-financed programmes on women and girls, clearly identify the share of DCI-financed programmes that benefit women and girls, and make necessary reallocations should this prove necessary;

8.  Recalls the EU principle of policy coherence for development and stresses the importance of coherence between the EU internal and external policies and the need to ensure policy coherence between the new GAP and the next action plan on human rights and democracy; stresses that gender must be a systematic and integral part of all human rights dialogues between the EU and third countries; calls on the EEAS to establish gender dialogues in addition to human rights dialogues with third countries;

9.  Reiterates that full coordination between central departments, delegations and the embassies of Member States is essential for successful implementation of GAP2, using gender country profiles and other tools; underlines, in this regard, that the review of EDF country programming provides an opportunity to ensure that full implementation of GAP2 is on track and to make adjustments as necessary;

Data collection and targets

10.  Calls for more effective implementation strategies and insists on the use of gender-sensitive quantitative and qualitative indicators and systematic and timely collection of gender disaggregated data with regard to the beneficiaries and participants across all actions as part of the monitoring and evaluation process; insists that the data should be made available to the public in order to ensure financial accountability and transparency; believes that reporting should be aligned and integrated into established monitoring and evaluation systems such as the Results Framework of the Commission’s Directorate-General in charge of International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO); underlines the need to invest in national statistics and calls on all the Member States to establish gender-sensitive monitoring systems;

11.  Invites EU delegations and the Member States’ embassies to prioritise and invest in high-quality gender analysis as the basis for country-level strategy and programming; considers that the EU should revise national indicative plans from the point of view of the new GAP;

12.  Recognises that girls and young women are particularly disadvantaged and at risk, and that specific focus is needed to ensure girls’ access to education, to allow them to live lives free from violence, to remove discriminatory legislation and practices, and to empower girls and young women globally;

13.  Stresses the need for clear targets and indicators, measured and disaggregated by sex, age, disability and other factors and improved tracking of budgetary allocations; underlines that targets and monitoring methodology should be aligned with the post-2015 global development framework and other relevant international frameworks;

14.  Stresses that the EU must indicate and ensure sufficient financial and human resources to deliver on its commitments to GEWE; underlines the importance of mainstreaming gender in public finance through budgeting that is gender-sensitive and addresses inequalities;

Key aspects for the new GAP

15.  Believes that the GAP must address obstacles to the full implementation of the EU guidelines on violence against women and girls (VAWG) and the elimination of all forms of violence; calls for a comprehensive EU approach on VAWG with increased efforts and resources to prevent and eliminate all discriminatory practices against women as well as to combat and prosecute all forms of violence including trafficking in human beings, female genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced pregnancy, gendercide, domestic violence and marital rape, child, early and forced marriage and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations; calls for the development of specific EU actions to strengthen the rights of different groups of women, with special attention being given to young people, migrants, women living with HIV, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons and persons with disabilities;

16.  Stresses the importance of enhancing girls’ access to all levels of education and removing sex-based barriers to learning;

17.  Highlights the fact that the use of rape as a weapon of war and oppression must be eliminated, and that the EU must bring pressure to bear on third-country governments and all stakeholders implicated in regions where such gender-based violence takes place, in order to bring the practice to an end, bring perpetrators to justice and work with survivors, affected women and communities to help them heal and recover;

18.  Underlines the vulnerability of women migrants, refugee and asylum seekers, and the need for specific protection for them; calls for specific measures to strengthen and fully ensure the rights of women asylum seekers; calls for bold action at European level to tackle the ongoing migration and refugee crisis, including a holistic and gender-sensitive approach to migration and asylum which is consistent across the Member States;

19.  Recognises health as a human right; underlines the importance of universal access to health care and coverage, including sexual and reproductive health and rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action; calls, in this regard, for further efforts to increase women’s access to health and health education, family planning, prenatal care and sexual and reproductive health, notably to address the largely unachieved MDG 5 on maternal health, including reduced infant and child mortality; points out that access contributes to the achievement of all the health-related development goals; welcomes, in this connection, the Council conclusions of May 2015 in particular;

20.  Underlines the need to create an enabling environment, notably by removing social and legal barriers to women’s access to productive assets, including land and natural and economic resources, promoting financial inclusion, decent work standards, gender-responsive social protection and equal pay for equal work;

21.  Believes that businesses have an important role to play in advancing gender equality through actions that contribute to women’s economic empowerment and women’s economic rights, such as ensuring decent work for women, equal pay, access to finance and banking and opportunities to participate in leadership and decision making, and protecting them against discrimination and abuse in the workplace, and through gender-sensitive corporate social responsibility; calls in this context for increased support to be given to local SMEs, especially to female entrepreneurs, so as to enable them to gain from private-sector-led growth; highlights the positive role that micro-finance, social entrepreneurship, and alternative business models, such as mutuals and cooperatives, continue to have in the field of women’s economic empowerment and inclusion;

22.  Recognises the need to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work;

23.  Notes that women’s empowerment and food security are mutually supportive; stresses the need to empower rural women by addressing the discrimination in access to land, water, education, training, markets and financial services; calls for a substantial increase in public investment in agriculture and rural development, with a focus on smallholders, agricultural cooperatives and farmers’ networks;

24.  Emphasises the need for women’s inclusion and representation in emerging economic fields that are important for sustainable development, including green and circular economy sectors, renewable energies, and ICT;

25.  Reiterates the crucial role of formal and informal education in the empowerment of women and girls in the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres; emphasises the need for an EU strategy on education in development to include a strong gender perspective, particularly in the areas of education for sustainability, post-conflict reconciliation, lifelong education and vocational training, the field of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and the role of the arts in intercultural exchange;

26.  Underlines the importance of increased female participation in shaping and implementing the post-2015 framework; calls for increasing financial support to women’s rights organisations, policy and capacity-building measures aimed at involving and increasing the participation of grassroots civil society organisations, and notably women’s organisations, in stakeholder consultations at all times and at local, regional, national and international levels;

27.  Notes that the GAP must address the situation of LGBTI persons in third countries, and must include the promotion and protection of LGBTI rights;

28.  Stresses the importance of strengthening women’s legal rights and access to justice through gender-sensitive law reform; believes that targeted funding for gender equality in legal aid helps to strengthen the rule of law;

29.  Calls on the EU to promote increased participation of women in peacekeeping, peacebuilding processes and EU military and civil crisis management missions; reiterates, in this context, its call on the EU to promote UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) on women, peace and security, and calls for the incorporation of gender perspectives and women’s rights in all peace and security initiatives;

30.  Calls for the EU to promote the fundamental human rights of women and girls as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; insists in this context on the need to ensure the protection of the right to life and dignity of all women and girls by actively combating harmful practices such as gendercide;

31.  Underlines the importance of measures strengthening leadership and participation of women and women’s rights organisations in the public as well as private spheres; calls for increased efforts to increase the participation of women and women’s rights organisations in political life, notably through the integration of such efforts in all democracy support programmes, including Parliament’s comprehensive democracy support approach (CDSA);

32.  Underlines the need to involve men and boys and promote their active engagement and responsibility in addressing discriminatory social norms and combating gender stereotypes and violence against women and girls;

o
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33.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and UN WOMEN.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0059.
(2) https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/evaluation-eu-support-gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment-partner-countries-final-report_en
(3) https://europa.eu/eyd2015/sites/default/files/users/Madara.Silina/from_commitment_to_action_financing_for_gewe_in_sdgs_oecd.pdf


Equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation
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European Parliament resolution of 8 October 2015 on the application of 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 (2014/2160(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0351A8-0213/2015

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 Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and 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 (recast)(1),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 7 March 2014 on strengthening the principle of equal pay between women and men through transparency,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 December 2013 entitled ‘Report on the application of Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and 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 (recast)’ (COM(2013)0861),

–  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 case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), based on Article 157 TFEU,

–  having regard to the Gender Equality Index Report of the European Institute for Gender Equality,

–  having regard to the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Part-Time Work Convention of 1994, which requires countries to incorporate into their public procurement contracts a labour clause including the issue of equal pay,

–  having regard to ILO Convention on Equal Remuneration of 1951,

–  having regard to Article 11(1)(d) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in UN General Assembly Resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979,

–  having regard to the report of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights of December 2014 entitled ‘Being Trans in the European Union‘,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 with recommendations to the Commission on application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(3),

–  having regard to the European Implementation Assessment of Directive 2006/54/EC produced by the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services,

–  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 Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0213/2015),

A.  whereas the equal treatment of men and women is one of the fundamental principles of EU law;

B.  whereas discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation is prohibited by EU law;

C.  whereas economic independence is a prerequisite for European citizens, both women and men, to exercise control and make genuine choices in their lives;

D.  whereas Directive 2006/54/EC refers expressly to CJEU case law, which lays down that the principle of equal treatment for men and women cannot be confined to the prohibition of discrimination based on the fact that a person is of one or other sex, but that it also applies to discrimination arising from a person’s gender reassignment;

E.  whereas the principle of equal pay has been enshrined in the Treaties since the very beginning in 1957; whereas the principle of equal pay for work of equal value is now recognised under Article 157 TFEU and incorporated in the recast Directive 2006/54/EC (hereinafter the ‘recast Directive’);

F.  whereas the ‘recast Directive’ was intended to make EU legislation in this area more coherent, bring it into line with CJEU case-law and to bring about the simplification and modernisation of the relevant equality laws at national level, thus contributing to the improvement of the situation of women in the labour market; whereas the proportion of women in senior management posts in companies operating in the EU was still below 18 % in 2014;

G.  whereas the ‘recast Directive’ introduced some novelties, such as implementation of the equal opportunities principle and the definition of the concept of indirect discrimination, and protection from discrimination arising from the gender reassignment of a person, and made explicit reference to the reconciliation of work and private and family life; whereas a key challenge for all Member States is the correct application and enforcement of the rules on equal pay, as established by Directive 2006/54/EC, and whereas the impact of these novelties in Member States remains limited; whereas, despite the significant body of legislation in force for almost 40 years, the actions taken and the resources spent, progress in this area is extremely slow and the gender pay gap still exists, standing at an average of 16,4 % across the EU, but with significant differences between Member States;

H.  whereas, among other factors, wages are now more frequently negotiated on an individual basis and this contributes to the lack of information and transparency in employee wage structure, creating an environment where gender bias and discriminatory pay structures remain hidden from employees and/or their representatives and are therefore extremely difficult to prove, thus hampering the effective implementation of the equal pay for equal work principle, which is also hindered by the lack of legal certainty regarding the concept of work of equal value and by procedural obstacles;

I.  whereas greater equality between men and women benefits the economy and society in general, and narrowing the gender pay gap helps to reduce poverty levels and increase women’s lifetime earnings and is vital for employment growth, competitiveness and economic revival; whereas the pay gap is even more pronounced among women with multiple disadvantages, such as women with disabilities, women belonging to minorities and unqualified women; whereas single-parent families are to be found much more frequently among the working poor, and the proportion of single parents is higher for women than for men; whereas the gender pay gap thus has a serious impact on living conditions and on the life opportunities of many European families;

J.  whereas employment rates are generally lower among women than men: whereas in 2013 the employment rate for men stood at 69,4 % in the EU-28, as compared with 58,8 % for women(4);

K.  whereas limited progress has been made with regard to women’s employment rates and the level of occupational and sectorial segregation of women and men into different types of jobs remains relatively high, with some vocational categories being mainly occupied by women and those sectors and occupations tending to be less well-paid or valued, despite the existing framework at EU and national level; whereas this situation also has an impact on the gender pay gap over the course of a lifetime; whereas vertical segregation, whereby women feature predominantly in part-time work and lower-paid occupations or are in lower-level positions in the hierarchy, also contributes to the gender pay gap; whereas horizontal and vertical segregation form obstacles to the professional development of women and result in lower levels of visibility and representation for women in the social and public spheres, and as such contribute more broadly to greater inequalities, and whereas overcoming them and having more women enter into higher positions in organisational hierarchies would provide positive role models for young women and girls;

L.  whereas employment levels are lower in rural areas and, moreover, many women are not included on the official employment market and are therefore not registered as unemployed or included in unemployment statistics, resulting in specific financial and legal problems in terms of maternity and sick leave, acquisition of pension rights and access to social security, as well as problems in the event of divorce; whereas rural areas are disadvantaged by the lack of high-quality employment opportunities;

M.  whereas empowering women and girls through education, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as well as encouraging women to participate in vocational training and lifelong learning programmes across sectors, are important elements in promoting equal treatment and equal opportunities in employment; whereas women’s skills and competences are often undervalued, as are the professions and jobs in which women predominate, without this necessarily being justified by any objective criteria;

N.  whereas Directive 2006/54/EC stipulates that Member States may, with a view to ensuring full equality in practice between men and women in working life, maintain or adopt measures providing for specific advantages in order to make it easier for the under-represented sex to pursue a vocational activity or to prevent or compensate for disadvantages in professional careers(5);

O.  whereas motherhood and care for children, the elderly, sick or disabled family members and other dependants represent additional or sometimes full-time work that is almost exclusively carried out by women; whereas this work is rarely paid and is not adequately valued by society, even though it is of enormous social importance, contributes to social welfare and can be measured by economic indicators such as GDP; whereas this results in the widening of the income gaps that exist between women and men and detrimentally impacts women’s career paths through the ‘costs’ of the years spent out of the labour market or of reduced hours due to part-time arrangements, and consequently also increases the pension gap between men and women; whereas the impact of these elements on lifetime earnings varies across the Member States depending on the level of support offered to parents, including childcare provision, by either legislative measures or collective agreements;

P.  whereas the pay gap between women and men widens after retirement, pension gaps being thus considerably higher than pay gaps; whereas women receive on average 39 % less in pensions than men; whereas this situation is caused by social and economic factors such as occupational and highly segregated labour markets, undervaluing of women’s work, the higher proportion of women working part-time, lower hourly wages, and less years in employment; whereas this increases the risk of poverty for women in retirement; whereas more than a third of older women in the EU have no pension whatsoever;

Q.  whereas certain categories of women are at risk of multiple discrimination in employment and occupation, among them women belonging to ethnic minorities, lesbians, bisexual women, transgender women, single women, women with disabilities and older women;

R.  whereas the ‘recast Directive’ clearly indicates that any forms of less favourable treatment in relation to pregnancy or maternity leave constitute discrimination; whereas it also clearly provides for a guarantee of return to work after maternity leave to the same or equivalent job and for protection from dismissal for men and women when they exercise the right to parental and/or adoption leave;

S.  whereas social partners (trade unions and employers) and civil society organisations play a very important role in fostering equal treatment and promoting the concept of work based on equal pay;

T.  whereas equality bodies are present in all Member States, but their work and impact varies greatly depending on their level of independence and their competences and resources; whereas such bodies should be adequately supported and strengthened in the performance of their tasks, with regard to the promotion, monitoring and support of equal treatment in an independent and effective manner;

U.  whereas Parliament has repeatedly called on the Commission to review existing legislation in order to tackle the gender pay gap; whereas closing that gap would represent a means of increasing employment rates among women, improving the situation of many European families, and decreasing the risk of poverty for women, especially at pension age;

V.  whereas closing the gender gap would represent a means of achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy in terms of employment and reduction of poverty and ensuring the free movement of workers as a basic European freedom; whereas, according to the European Added Value Assessment(6) conclusions, a one-percentage-point decrease in the gender pay gap will increase economic growth by 0,1 %;

W.  whereas traditional gender roles and stereotypes still exert a great deal of influence over the division of labour in the home, in education, in careers, in the workplace and in society in general;

Overall assessment

1.  Notes that, in general, Member States have brought their national laws into line with EU law(7); points out that simply transposing correctly the provisions of the ʽrecast Directiveʼ into national law has proved insufficient for achieving the full application and effective enforcement thereof, and that differences in pay for men and women persist;

2.  Regrets that although the Member States were obliged to transpose only those ʽsubstantive changesʼ brought about by the ʽrecast Directiveʼ, transposition of the Directive has been of a sufficiently clear and correct nature in only two Member States, with matters still outstanding in the remaining 26; points out, however, that these changes had not been clearly identified; underlines the fact that the Commission’s efforts to monitor implementation were limited in their impact as regards ensuring a coherent approach and securing the necessary guidance in order to allow for effective implementation at national level;

3.  Highlights the fact that Member States did not seize the opportunity to simplify and modernise their legislation on equal opportunities and equal treatment of women and men in matters of employment and occupation; points out that Member States are not only expected to transpose the directive but also to ensure the monitoring of the implementation of the principle of equal pay and the enforcement of all available remedies for pay discrimination;

4.  Regrets that the Commission has still not adopted the legislative initiative which it had undertaken to present last year in order to promote and facilitate effective implementation of the principle of equal pay in practice; calls, therefore, on the Commission to identify the weak points of the ‘recast Directive’ and to prepare, as a matter of urgency, the legislative proposal that would replace it, providing in that proposal for more effective means of supervising the implementation and enforcement of the directive in Member States;

5.  Points out, furthermore, that fear of losing their job has caused many women to abandon the option of reconciling work and family life by means of a shorter working day or similar formulas, making a balanced family life difficult, and that this has exacerbated the falling birth rates in some Member States; asks the Commission to assess this trend and the measures different governments have taken to counter the phenomenon, and to put forward measures to lessen the effects of the crisis on equal treatment at work and the work-life balance;

Application of the equal pay provisions

6.  Highlights that while the differences between the employment rates and pay levels of men and women may have been reduced slightly in recent years, this is not the result of an improvement in the position of women, but of the fact that men’s employment rates and pay levels have fallen during the economic crisis;

7.  Underlines the fact that in accordance with CJEU case-law, the principle of equal pay must be observed in respect of each of the elements of remuneration granted to men and women;

8.  Reiterates the need for clear harmonised definitions, for comparison at EU level, of terms such as gender pay gap, gender pension gap, remuneration, direct and indirect pay discrimination, and, especially, work treated as ‘equal’ and work of the same value; considers that, in line with CJEU case-law, the value of work should be assessed and compared based on objective criteria, such as educational, professional and training requirements, skills, effort and responsibility, work undertaken and the nature of tasks involved; points out that due to the various types of work contracts that exist, both statutory and contractual, the current calculation of the gender pay gap can lead to a distorted understanding of the problem of equal pay; calls on the Commission to analyse these possible distortions and to propose adequate solutions, including the introduction of mandatory pay audits for companies listed on stock exchanges in the EU Member States, except for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), and the possibility of sanctions in cases of non-compliance;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to map the application of the existing job evaluation and classification systems, which vary considerably; calls on the Commission to introduce guidelines for gender-neutral job evaluation and classification systems, including specific measures such as the proportional representation of women and men on evaluation committees, the development of gender-neutral job descriptions and of weighting grids, and the definition of clear criteria for assessing the value of work; calls on the Member States to introduce and use clear and gender-neutral job evaluation and classification systems based on the Guidelines published by the Commission, so that they can detect indirect pay discrimination related to the undervaluation of jobs typically done by women;

10.  Maintains that job evaluation and classification systems should preferably be based on collective bargaining;

11.  Points out that a clear and harmonised job classification system and greater wage transparency will improve access to justice; notes that several Member States have already taken specific wage transparency measures; underlines the disparity that exists between these measures, and takes note of the 2014 Commission recommendations on wage transparency, although regretting their non-binding nature; calls on the Member States to actively implement those Commission recommendations through transparency and continued positive action via legislation, as this has proven to be successful, by introducing recommended and tailor-made wage transparency measures; calls on the Commission to evaluate the real impact of these recommendations, including the requirement for companies to report regularly on average remuneration by category of employee or position and disaggregated by gender; calls on the Commission to include in its new legislative proposal the measures mentioned in the 2014 Commission recommendations on pay transparency, the gender pay gap, and equality bodies’ powers; calls on the Member States to exert pressure on unequal pay practices and to promote wage transparency as requested by trade unions and gender equality bodies, among other stakeholders;

Application of the equal treatment provisions

12.  Stresses the importance of combating indirect discrimination in pension schemes, not only in occupational schemes but also in the practices of statutory pension schemes; emphasises that the CJEU has made it clear that occupational pension schemes are to be considered as pay and that the principle of equal treatment therefore applies to those schemes as well, despite the fact that the distinction between statutory and occupational pension schemes is problematic in some Member States and that the concept of occupational pension schemes is unknown in others, potentially leading to indirect discrimination in the labour market; recognises that women’s access to occupational pension schemes is more restricted, owing to shorter working hours, shorter length of service and horizontal and vertical gender segregation in the labour market, and the gender pay gap, and that contribution-based schemes rarely take care-related breaks and involuntary part-time work into account; calls on the Commission to examine the impact of the shift from statutory state pensions towards occupational and private schemes on the gender pension gap; calls on the Commission to monitor closely and report on the implementation of this principle, as the transposition has proved to be unclear in some Member States;

13.  Calls on the Member States to safeguard their maternity entitlements and to take measures to prevent the unfair dismissal of employees during pregnancy and when returning to work after maternity leave; calls on the Council to finally adopt a common position on the revision of the directive on the implementation of measures to promote improvements in the health and safety at work of pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding (the ‘Maternity Leave Directive’); calls on the Council to adopt as soon as possible a common position on the proposal for a directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures;

14.  Notes that in the implementation of the provisions on protection against discrimination in relation to maternity leave and paternity and/or adoption leave, there are significant differences between Member States; underlines the need to address in a coherent way at national level the specific challenges that exist, including the differences of both a sectoral (public-private) and an organisational nature (the latter both between companies and between large, small and medium-sized companies), the situation as regards atypical and part-time contracts, and the practices of terminating fixed-term contracts in the protection period and inducing voluntary job resignations;

15.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to take steps to combat all forms of multiple discrimination, to ensure application of the principle of non-discrimination and equality in the labour market and in access to employment, including discrimination against ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities and discrimination on the grounds of gender, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender identity, and in particular to adopt social protection measures to ensure that women’s pay and welfare entitlements, including pensions, are equal to those of men with the same or similar experience doing the same job or a job of equal value;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, by creating effective monitoring systems, to take supervisory and control measures to improve the collection of data on cases of harassment and discrimination on the grounds of sex, including as regards discrimination related to pregnancy and maternity and other forms of leave; believes that in these cases provision should also be made for a penalty system, but that efforts should be made above all in terms of prevention, to make services accessible to pregnant women or new mothers which can help them balance their pregnancy or maternity with their occupation without being forced to choose between job and family, as still all too often happens; calls on the Commission to include an assessment of the implementation of Article 26 (regarding sexual harassment) in its evaluation report on the implementation of Directive 2006/54/EC;

17.  Calls on the Commission to propose clear measures to combat sexual harassment at the workplace more efficiently; regrets the fact that, despite EU law protecting individuals from discrimination in employment, 30 % of trans jobseekers experienced discrimination when looking for a job and that trans women were the most likely to have felt discriminated against in the year preceding the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ LGBT survey; points out that this is a violation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; calls on the Commission to closely monitor the effectiveness of national complaint bodies and procedures in the context of the implementation of the gender equality directives with regard to gender identity, gender expression and gender reassignment; calls on the Commission to provide the Member States with expertise on ways forward to address discrimination in the area of employment on the grounds of ‘sex characteristics’; calls on the Commission to support and encourage the Member States in including trans and intersex people in diversity training and to work with employers on workplace measures, e.g. promoting anonymous recruitment procedures; calls on the Member States to use European Social Fund (ESF) funding to actively tackle discrimination against trans people in line with CJEU case- law;

18.  Considers it to be regrettable that many Member States have failed to introduce explicit protection from discrimination related to gender reassignment when transposing the directive, and calls on the Commission to hold Member States accountable; reiterates the importance of Member States clearly including in their national legislation the prohibition of any discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity; believes that the current legal protection accorded by the directive to those who intend to undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone gender reassignment should be extended to all transgender people; calls, in this connection, for the explicit inclusion in any future recast of a ban on discrimination on grounds of gender identity;

19.  Points out that access to justice in this field is limited due to several causes, such as the length or costs of the procedures, the challenges faced by equality bodies in some Member States, the lack of wage transparency, the absence of free legal aid, the fear of stigmatisation or suffering reprisals should victims speak out about discrimination in the workplace; underlines the fact that the application of the burden of proof rule also poses problems in several Member States, thus making the defence of women workers difficult since they often have no access or only limited access to the relevant information and, moreover, fear losing their job; calls on the Member States and regional and local authorities to take an active role in providing assistance to victims of discrimination, either directly or through support for equality bodies, trade unions, community organisations and NGOs working in this field; points out that a relevant solution for improving access to justice in this field would be to give independent equality bodies the power to provide assistance to victims of discrimination, including free legal aid, as well as the right to represent individuals in cases of pay discrimination; suggests in this regard that confidential reporting systems be introduced in the Member States to enable women to report possible instances of inequality of treatment in the workplace;

20.  Calls on the Commission to assess, exchange and compare the existing best practices and to disseminate the results of this assessment as regards the effective measures that Member States could take to encourage employers, trade unions and organisations involved in vocational training to prevent all forms of gender-based discrimination, in particular as regards harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace, through enhancing access to employment, offering further vocational training and promoting best practices;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take measures to facilitate and improve the access of women to lifelong learning, vocational training, and mentoring networks across Europe, especially in male-dominated sectors, and to disseminate best practice;

Promotion of equal treatment and social dialogue

22.  Reiterates that equality bodies should have the competences and adequate resources and personnel to monitor and report effectively and independently on the legislation which promotes equality between women and men; stresses that the independence of equality bodies needs to be ensured in all Member States, and that the precise institutional form of these bodies is the responsibility of the Member States;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage social partners (trade unions and employers), civil society and gender equality bodies to promote the monitoring of equality practices in the workplace, including flexible working arrangements, with the aim of facilitating the reconciliation of work and private life and further scrutiny of collective agreements, applicable pay scales and job classification schemes in order to avoid any direct or indirect discrimination against women; stresses also the importance of other instruments such as codes of conduct, research, and exchanges of experience and good practice in the area of gender equality with a view to ensuring better protection against discrimination;

24.  Takes the view that data protection must not be put forward as an excuse for not publishing annual wage reports at workplace level;

25.  Calls on the Member States to strengthen the obligations for large and medium-sized enterprises to ensure the systematic promotion of equal treatment and to provide the appropriate information on a regular basis to their employees, including on issues of equal pay; reiterates that the introduction of financial penalties for employers who do not respect wage equality is likely to be a relevant means to close the gender pay gap;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the institutional mechanisms for implementing equality between women and men, for instance by ensuring that, as far as the principle of equal pay is concerned, inspection and enforcement agencies have the necessary technical, human, and financial resources, and to encourage the social partners to measure the equality dimension of collective agreements;

27.  Draws attention to the need to strengthen public labour inspection arrangements and to adopt methods for measuring the value of work and, for example, pinpointing occupations in which pay is low and the employees are mainly female and which thus imply a form of indirect wage discrimination;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up significant awareness- raising measures as regards the rights of the victims of discrimination on the grounds of sex; underlines the need for cooperation by all stakeholders, including equality bodies, social partners (trade unions and employers) and NGOs, in order to address stereotypes about the work of women and men and how they impact on the value of work and low pay, including in accessing jobs, and that companies select the most qualified candidates on the basis of a comparative analysis of their qualifications by applying pre-established, clear, neutrally formulated, non-discriminatory and unambiguous criteria;

29.  Points out that one of the novelties introduced by the ‘recast Directive’ is the reference to the reconciliation of work, private and family life; calls on the Commission, after consultation with Member States and social partners (trade unions and employers), to develop specific measures to secure stronger rights for men and women in this field; stresses that the development of public childcare facilities in accordance with the Barcelona objectives is particularly necessary in this regard;

30.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to spread and raise public awareness relating to equal pay and the pension gap, and to direct and indirect discrimination against women at work at European, national, regional and local level; calls on the Commission to establish a European Year for combating the gender pay gap;

31.  Observes with interest that many women opt for self-employment as this is the only way of working which allows them to combine their family and working lives; notes, however, that in many Member States welfare protection and benefits for the self-employed do not compare with those of employed workers;

Recommendations

32.  Reiterates its call on the Member States to implement and enforce recast Directive 2006/54/EC consistently, and to encourage the social partners (trade unions and employers) and NGOs to play a more active role in fostering equal treatment, including by means of action plans to address any gender pay inequalities, with concrete actions and outcome monitoring at company, sectoral, national and EU level;

33.  Calls on the Commission, following its report on the application of the ‘recast Directive’ and this resolution, to revise the recast Directive 2006/54/EC, as has already been called for by Parliament, in particular in its resolution of 24 May 2012, which contains specific and clear recommendations;

34.  Underlines the fact that gender-neutral job classification and evaluation systems, as well as wage transparency, are indispensable measures to foster equal treatment; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to include these measures in its proposal for a new directive replacing the ‘recast Directive’; points out that only a harmonised approach is compatible with the free movement of workers as a basic European freedom;

35.  Points to the need to find a job evaluation method free from gender bias, enabling jobs to be compared on the basis of their scale and complexity so as to determine the position of one job in relation to another within a given sector or organisation, whether the jobs in question are held by women or men;

36.  Calls for balanced gender representation on company management boards;

37.  Calls on the Commission to introduce in the new directive mandatory pay audits for companies listed on stock exchanges in the EU Member States, except for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to highlight the gender pay gap, and introduce sanctions at EU level that would exclude companies failing to meet their responsibilities with regards to gender equality from the public procurement of goods and services financed from the EU budget; calls on the Member States to do the same with companies financed with public subsidies;

38.  Calls on the Member States to act in an exemplary manner themselves in regard to combating unequal pay for women in government, public institutions and public companies in general;

39.  Calls on the Commission to introduce common standards and checks to ensure the independence and effectiveness of national equality bodies;

40.  Calls on the Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that victims of unequal treatment and discrimination, particularly those who are victims of multiple discrimination, are entitled to proportionate compensation in accordance with the legal provisions in force;

41.  Calls on the Member States to take the steps required to reverse the burden of proof, ensuring that it will always be the employer who has to prove that such differences in treatment as might have been found to exist have not resulted in any discrimination;

42.  Stresses the need to increase efforts at national and EU level to combat the persistence of stereotypes, through awareness-raising campaigns aimed at all levels of society, greater media involvement, strategies to encourage women to choose careers and professions in which they are less well-represented, and the incorporation of gender issues into education and vocational training;

43.  Underlines the fact that only the effective implementation of the equality treatment principle would lead to a real improvement of the situation of women in the labour market, and that this requires real political will and strategic cooperation between different actors at European, national, sectoral and organisational level; calls, therefore, on the Commission to draw up an active strategy, complete with points of reference, goals and time-bound targets, for reducing inequality indices in the field of employment and unemployment, as has been done successfully in other areas such as, for instance, reducing the number of road accidents in the EU;

44.  Calls on the Member States to actively apply gender budgeting in order to promote the improvement of the situation of women in the labour market; calls on the Commission to promote exchanges of best practices in gender budgeting;

45.  Emphasises the importance of taking positive measures that foster the involvement of women in political and economic decision-making; points out that binding quotas have proved to be one of the best ways of achieving this aim;

46.  Points out that positive measures are also needed to incentivise the less well-represented sex to enter certain professions where there is clear horizontal gender segregation;

47.  Calls on the Commission to look into the factors leading to pension gaps and to assess the need for specific measures to reduce this gap at EU and national level, including by means of legislative and/or non-legislative measures;

48.  Invites the Member States and the Commission to take appropriate measures to reduce the gender gap in pensions, which is a direct consequence of the gender pay gap, and to assess the impact of new pension systems on various categories of women, focusing in particular on part‑time contracts and atypical employment;

49.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to oppose inequality in pay between the sexes in all relevant EU policies and national programmes, in particular in those geared towards the fight against poverty;

50.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a study that would compare the respective situations of working mothers, mothers who choose to stay at home, and women without children, so as to shed more light on the position of each of these groups of women on the labour market, specifically looking at levels of employment, pay and pension gaps and career development;

51.  Emphasises the relevance of having reliable, comparable and available quantitative and qualitative indicators, as well as gender-based statistics, for ensuring the implementation of and follow-up to the Directive, and recalls in this regard the role of the European Institute for Gender Equality; calls on the Member States to provide Eurostat with annual high-quality gender pay gap statistics so that it is possible to assess developments throughout the EU;

52.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a study into how procedures related to the official recognition of the gender reassignment of a person, or the absence of such procedures, affect transgender people’s position on the labour market, particularly their access to employment, level of remuneration, career development and pensions;

53.  Points out that the country-specific recommendations in the framework of the European Semester should include targets to reduce the gender pay and pension gaps, discrimination and the risk of poverty among elderly women, and to effectively implement equal treatment principles;

54.  Calls on the Commission to study carefully the employment situation of women in the third sector, the social economy and the collaborative economy, and to propose as soon as possible a strategy to promote and protect the jobs and situation of women in those sectors;

55.  Calls on the Member States to step up their efforts to combat undeclared work and precarious jobs; highlights the high levels of undeclared work performed by women, which negatively impact on their income, social security coverage and protection, and have a bad effect on the EU’s GDP levels; stresses the need to particularly address domestic work, which is performed mostly by women, as a special challenge, as this work falls mainly within the informal sector, is singularised and by its nature invisible, and therefore requires the development of tailored measures to tackle it efficiently; deplores, furthermore, the abuse of atypical forms of contract, including zero-hours contracts, in order to avoid having to comply with employment and social protection obligations; regrets the fact that there has been an increase in the number of women trapped in in-work poverty;

56.  Stresses that the Commission should propose actions to: (a) decrease the gender pay gap; (b) increase the economic independence of women; (c) improve labour market accessibility and career progression for women; (d) fundamentally increase equality in decision-making; and (e) remove discriminatory structures and practices related to gender;

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

(1) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0375.
(3) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 75.
(4) http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Employment_statistics
(5) Article 3 of Directive 2006/54/EC and Article 157(4) TFEU.
(6) European Added Value Assessment, ‘Application of the principle of equal pay for men and women for equal work of equal value’, produced by Parliament in 2013.
(7) According to the Commission report on the application of the recast Directive (COM(2013)0861).

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