Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
General budget of the European Union for 2016 - all sections
 Court of Justice of the European Union: number of judges at the General Court ***II
 Provisions for fishing in the GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) Agreement area ***II
 Use of genetically modified food and feed ***I
 Novel foods ***I
 Emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants ***I
 European Citizens' Initiative
 EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region
 Cohesion policy and review of the Europe 2020 strategy
 European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance

General budget of the European Union for 2016 - all sections
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European Parliament resolution of 28 October 2015 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016 (11706/2015 – C8-0274/2015 – 2015/2132(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0376A8-0298/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/436/EC, Euratom of 7 June 2007 on the system of the European Communities’ own resources(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(2),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(3) (MFF Regulation),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(4) (IIA),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2015 on general guidelines for the preparation of the budget, Section III - Commission(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 April 2015 on Parliament’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2016(6),

–  having regard to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, which the Commission adopted on 24 June 2015 (COM(2015)0300),

–  having regard to the position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, which the Council adopted on 4 September 2015 and forwarded to Parliament on 17 September 2015 (11706/2015 – C8‑0274/2015),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2015 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2016 draft budget(7),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council of 23 September 2015 on managing the refugee crisis: immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration (COM(2015)0490),

–  having regard to Letters of amendment Nos 1/2016 (COM(2015)0317) and 2/2016 (COM(2015)0513) to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016,

–  having regard to Rule 88 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0298/2015),

Section III

General overview

1.  Stresses that Parliament's reading of the 2016 budget fully reflects the political priorities adopted by an overwhelming majority in its abovementioned resolutions of 11 March 2015 on general guidelines and of 8 July 2015 on a mandate for the trilogue; recalls that those consist in internal and external solidarity, in particular an effective tackling of the migration and refugee crisis, as well as in boosting competitiveness through the creation of decent and quality employment and the development of enterprises and entrepreneurship across the Union (the “three Es”);

2.  Highlights that the Union is currently facing a number of serious emergencies, notably the unprecedented migration and refugee crisis; is convinced that the necessary financial resources need to be deployed in the Union budget, in order to match the political challenges and allow the Union to deliver and effectively respond to those crises, as a matter of utmost urgency and priority; understands that the migration and refugee crisis cannot be solved by financial resources alone and that a comprehensive approach is needed to address both its internal and external dimension; considers that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and that a strong political commitment is needed to secure fresh appropriations for this purpose; underlines in this context that solidarity is an underlying principle of the EU budget; is concerned that, in the refugee crisis, solidarity appears in an uneven way across Member States; asks the Commission to come up with a proposal on how the EU budget can prompt Member States towards a more balanced approach to solidarity;

3.  Notes that Parliament has, from the outset, placed a particular focus on migration and refugees in the 2016 budget; recalls its earlier statements that the handling of migration flows lies at the crossroads of internal and external solidarity and that external financing instruments should also be mobilised, in an integrated approach, in order to address the root causes of the problems the Union is faced with; recalls common treaties and agreements such as the Schengen Acquis and the Dublin Regulation(8) and the Commission proposal on a binding crisis mechanism for relocation (COM(2015)0450);

4.  Decides, therefore, to immediately put forward a comprehensive package of amendments increasing the Draft Budget (DB) by EUR 1 161 million both on Heading 3 (Security and Citizenship) and Heading 4 (Global Europe), in order to provide an initial response to the migration crisis; stresses that, as regards the internal dimension of this crisis, Parliament’s amendments already integrate fully and align the two packages on the relocation of asylum-seekers, while proposing additional increases for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Union agencies in this field; highlights, as regards the external dimension, a number of additional reinforcements targeting specific programmes in Heading 4, such as the European Neighbourhood Instrument, the Development Cooperation Instrument, Humanitarian Aid and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance;

5.  Underlines, however, that those amendments should be considered alongside the Commission’s Letter of amendment No 2/2016, which includes, in addition to the second relocation package, the additional measures set out in the abovementioned Commission communication of 23 September 2015; regrets that Parliament and the Council do not have more time to examine the suitability of that Letter of amendment, but understands the need for an immediate response and the considerable time pressure; stresses that Parliament fully endorses these new measures and intends to defend their financing through fresh appropriations even to a higher extent than the level proposed in its own position on the 2016 budget;

6.  Decides to also take action with regard to the ongoing crisis affecting European farmers, notably in the dairy sector, and to already integrate in its position on the 2016 budget the EUR 500 million support emergency measures announced by the Commission; trusts that the Commission's Letter of amendment No 2/2016 will allow the exact budget lines that will be reinforced in this context to be determined; welcomes the decision by the Commission to carry over unused appropriations of the crisis reserve from the 2015 budget to the 2016 budget and notes that these unspent funds will be used for reimbursements to the beneficiaries of direct payments as provided for in Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013;

7.  Acknowledges that a lot more effort needs to be undertaken to address the shortcomings in the Union economy by boosting competitiveness, growth and quality jobs; emphasises the key role played by micro, small, medium-sized and social enterprises in this regard; reinforces therefore the COSME programme by EUR 16,5 million; decides also to propose new commitments in 2016 for the continuation of the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), whose entire financial envelope was frontloaded in the years 2014-2015; acknowledges the significant contribution of this programme to the fight against unemployment and is determined to ensure that the necessary appropriations are made available in order to prevent a funding gap in its implementation; adopts, therefore, a EUR 473,2 million increase for 2016, corresponding to the original instalment that was foreseen for the YEI on a yearly basis;

8.  Reiterates its conviction that the Union budget should not finance new initiatives to the detriment of existing Union programmes and policies and disregard political commitments already made; while acknowledging and fully confirming the large political and financial support to the launching of European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), intends to deliver on the commitment that it made during the EFSI negotiations, namely to minimise to the maximum the impact on Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in the frame of the annual budgetary procedure; proposes, therefore, to fully offset the cuts of these two programmes - due to the provisioning of the EFSI Guarantee Fund - in 2016 (EUR 1 326 million), in order to allow them to fully accomplish the objectives agreed only two years ago with the adoption of their respective legal bases;

9.  Stresses the importance of fully respecting the joint statement on a payment plan 2015-2016 agreed between Parliament, Council and Commission, following the shared commitment to reduce the backlog of outstanding payment claims for the 2007-2013 cohesion programmes to around EUR 2 billion by the end of 2016; criticises, in this respect, that the Council's proposed cuts are in direct contradiction with this payment plan; stresses, moreover, the need to avoid any future build-up of such an unsustainable backlog, and calls on the Commission to come up with concrete proposals to that effect; considers, for this reason, that unforeseen payment needs should be financed with fresh appropriations and that the frontloading of EUR 1 billion in 2016 for Greece should, therefore, be financed through the available MFF payments' ceiling; stresses its long-standing position that payments deriving from commitments mobilised under the Flexibility Instrument are counted over and above that ceiling;

10.  Restores all cuts proposed by Council to the DB (EUR 563,6 million in commitments and EUR 1 421,8 million in payments); fails to understand the reasoning behind the proposed cuts, for example those to Horizon 2020 and CEF, two programmes already affected by redeployments to EFSI, and to development and neighbourhood policies, especially in light of recent events; is concerned that, by proposing such important cuts to the DB, Council is largely disregarding the undeniable added value of the Union budget; contests, in any event, Council’s declared intention to target budget lines with a low execution rate or absorption capacity, as this is not substantiated by the actual implementation figures and ignores the varying implementation patterns of certain programmes;

11.  Regrets that Commission expert groups continue to lack balance as they are excessively dominated by corporate interests;

12.  Concludes that, for the purpose of adequately financing these pressing needs, and considering the very tight MFF margins in 2016, all means available in the MFF Regulation in terms of flexibility, including the full mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument, will need to be deployed; expects that the Council will share this approach and that an agreement will easily be reached in conciliation, allowing the Union to rise to the occasion and effectively respond to the challenges ahead; stresses, in this respect, that the global MFF margin for commitments from 2015 should be mobilised as soon as the legal conditions are fulfilled; expects to reach a pre-agreement with the Council and the Commission on this issue;

13.  Recalls the Joint Declaration of the three Union institutions, in the context of the MFF political agreement, that the annual budgetary procedures will integrate, as appropriate, gender-responsive elements; emphasises that gender mainstreaming should underpin, as a horizontal principle, Union policies and calls for a comprehensive implementation of gender budgeting; welcomes, moreover, the first steps of the greening of the Union budget; points to the need to further advance this process in order to meet the agreed targets in climate and environmentally friendly spending;

14.  Sets the overall level of appropriations for 2016 at EUR 157 427,3 million and EUR 146 459,3 million in commitment and payment appropriations respectively;

Sub-heading 1a – Competitiveness for growth and jobs

15.  Criticises that, again this year, sub-heading 1a is severely affected by the Council's cuts with a reduction of EUR 140,9 million in commitments and EUR 435,4 million in payments as compared to the DB; highlights that around half of these cuts are targeted at Horizon 2020, which results in a further reduction for this programme in 2016 after that part of its appropriations have been redeployed to EFSI;

16.  Underlines that, for the sake of a coherent approach, several cuts applied by the Council on the ground of a low absorption capacity on many sub-heading 1a programmes in June 2015 have now to be reversed due the strong acceleration in these programmes' implementation in September 2015; notes that this is a general trend, in line with the life cycle of these programmes; decides therefore to restore the DB level on the lines cut by the Council both in commitments and in payments;

17.  In line with its priorities for 2016, Employment, Enterprises, Entrepreneurship, and after careful assessment of their absorption capacity so far, decides to propose, in addition to the full compensation of the EFSI-related cuts for Horizon 2020, and CEF, some selective increases above the level of the DB for COSME, Horizon 2020, EaSI and Erasmus+ programmes;

18.  Stresses, in particular, that the frontloading of appropriations for COSME in 2014-2015 has proven to be truly beneficial given the constant increase in the SMEs' demand for support in access to markets and funding in the past few years; opposes, therefore, the decrease of COSME in the DB as compared to 2015 and decides to increase appropriations above the DB for this programme; recalls that the Commission has already pointed to a shortfall in the COSME financial instruments for 2015, 2016 and 2017, which demonstrates the gap between available commitments and expected demand; within COSME, asks for a substantial reinforcement of the appropriations for the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, given that the available resources are not sufficient to cover the substantial demand in participation;

19.  Calls on the Commission to analyse the financial burden caused by fees and charges due within obligatory certification and licensing procedures; urges the Commission to provide a proper evaluation of the impact of those costs on the competitiveness of industrial companies and SMEs;

20.  Decides to increase above the DB appropriations for the three supervisory agencies (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA) as well as for ACER to provide them with adequate resources to face their increasing tasks;

21.  Confirms its support for the ITER programme and is committed to securing its appropriate financing; is concerned, however, about possible further delays and additional costs of this programme as well as the related potential repercussions on the Union budget; regrets, therefore, that it was unable to assess the level of the 2016 ITER appropriations against the updated payment plan and schedule, which is only due to be presented in the ITER Council in November 2015; expects, however, that this revised plan will provide sufficient evidence that Parliament's recommendations, as set out in the relevant 2013 discharge resolution(9), have been properly taken into account and that financial soundness and spending efficiency will be ensured; intends to raise this matter in the 2016 budgetary conciliation; moreover, insists on the need for full transparency regarding the use of Fusion for Energy's contributions to the ITER programme; calls for a proper accountability mechanism giving a clear overview of the amount of financial resources provided to the international project and evaluating their efficient use;

22.  Reserves part of the appropriations for the standardisation of financial reporting and auditing and calls for the implementation of the recommendations of the Maystadt report referring to the task and responsibilities of the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), thereby also strengthening the Union`s influence in international accounting standard-setting; is also concerned about the significant EU funding provided to the IFRS foundation not being matched by necessary improvements regarding accountability, transparency and democracy;

23.  As a result, increases the level of commitment and payments appropriations for sub-heading 1a above the DB by EUR 1 405,5 million and EUR 491,5 million respectively (including pilot projects and preparatory actions), thus exceeding the ceiling for commitments by EUR 1 316,9 million, to be financed by all means available as regards flexibility in the MFF Regulation after exhaustion of the available margins;

Sub-heading 1b – Economic, social and territorial cohesion

24.  Disapproves of Council's proposed cuts of EUR 3,1 million in commitments and, more importantly, EUR 220,1 million in payments under sub-heading 1b, including on completion lines; calls on the Council to explain how these cuts are compatible with the objective, on the one hand, of reducing the backlog of unpaid bills and, on the other hand, of avoiding negative repercussions and unnecessary delays for the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes; recalls that cohesion policy represents the Union’s main investment policy aimed at reducing disparities between European regions by strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion; underlines that instruments such as the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund or the Youth Employment Initiative are instrumental in fostering convergence, narrowing the development gap and supporting the creation of quality and sustainable jobs;

25.  Notes the Commission's preliminary assessment, based on Member States' latest forecasts, that programme implementation in the area of cohesion policy is likely to be delayed in 2016; is alarmed that any significant underspending in the third year of implementation of the new European Structural and Investment Funds cycle, at a time when programmes should be reaching full swing, will not only have a detrimental effect on the timely achievement of results on the ground, but may also lead to serious pressure on payments in subsequent years, possibly reconstituting a backlog of unpaid bills; urges the Member States concerned to make speedy progress in tackling the underlying causes of these delays in implementation, such as through the prompt designation of programme authorities and the non-multiplication and simplification of national administrative procedures; in line with the payment plan, requests the Commission to closely monitor the evolution of payments under sub-heading 1b related to the 2014-2020 programming period, including through detailed, regularly updated forecasts to be discussed at dedicated interinstitutional meetings, and make appropriate proposals as needed;

26.  Recalls that the Commission has not proposed any commitment appropriations for the Youth Employment Initiative in 2016 as a result of its frontloading in the years 2014-2015; decides, in line with the Regulation on the European Social Fund(10) which foresees the possibility of such a continuation, to provide the Youth Employment Initiative with EUR 473,2 million in commitment appropriations, namely an amount corresponding to the initial annual instalment foreseen for this programme; is convinced that funding for this important programme, which addresses one of the Union's most pressing challenges, should not stop in 2015; underlines that the additional funding should be used to scale up the programme, thus assisting a greater number of young people in their search for a decent and permanent job; urges the Member States to do their utmost to speed up the implementation of the Initiative on the ground, for the direct benefit of young Europeans; urges the Commission to report to Parliament on Union funded measures to combat youth unemployment and on the results achieved with those measures;

27.  Taking account of pilot projects and preparatory actions, increases commitment appropriations for sub-heading 1b by EUR 482,7 million and payment appropriations by EUR 1 164 million above the DB, thus exceeding the ceiling for commitments by EUR 467,3 million to be financed by any means available as regards flexibility in the MFF Regulation;

Heading 2 – Sustainable growth: natural resources

28.  Notes that the Council reduced appropriations also in Heading 2 by EUR 199,9 million in commitments and EUR 251,1 million in payments, including rural development, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the LIFE programme; considers that the Letter of amendment No 2/2016 should remain the basis for any reliable revision of European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) appropriations; restores the DB levels accordingly;

29.  Welcomes the presentation by the Commission of a EUR 500 million comprehensive package of emergency measures to support European farmers, notably in the dairy sector amid falling commodity prices and greater milk production; stresses that the effects are most severe in remote areas where the socio-economic importance of the dairy sector is unquestionable; incorporates this amount in its reading as a show of support for the Commission's announcement, and looks forward to its full inclusion in the course of the conciliation procedure on the basis of the Letter of amendment No 2/2016; underlines that this package should add up to the range of measures aimed at addressing the losses and long-term effects on European farmers of the Russian embargo on agricultural products, Russia being thus far the second most important destination for Union agricultural exports;

30.  Considers export refunds to be trade distorting and in contradiction to the EU development goals; supports therefore their complete elimination;

31.  Reiterates that CAP appropriations or any other appropriations from the budget should not be used for the financing of lethal bullfighting activities; recalls that such funding is a clear violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes (Council Directive 98/58/EC)(11);

32.  Stresses the increasing tasks assigned to the Union as part of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund; therefore restores the level of appropriations of the 2015 budget for scientific advice and knowledge in fisheries due to the importance of data collection in decision-making, and reinforces the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) budget to support its role in coordinating and implementing the Common Fisheries Policy;

33.  Increases therefore commitment appropriations by EUR 510,4 million and payment appropriations by EUR 520,6 million (including pilot projects and preparatory actions), leaving a margin of EUR 647,2 million below the ceiling for commitments in Heading 2;

Heading 3 – Security and Citizenship

34.  Recalls that the DB provided for reinforcements in the area of security and migration, including a EUR 150 million scheme for the relocation of 40 000 persons in need of international protection, leading the Commission to exceed the ceiling for this heading by EUR 124 million and to propose the corresponding mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument; welcomes the fact that the Council has agreed to the principle of mobilising the Flexibility Instrument for this purpose; notes however that a long-term financial plan to respond to the refugee crisis is needed and considers that this shall also be addressed through the revision of the MFF;

35.  Decides, in light of the current exceptional flows of migrants and refugees, to concentrate its reinforcements on strengthening the AMIF; strongly supports in this context the second EUR 780 million package on the relocation of an additional 120 000 persons; decides to incorporate the necessary funds in its reading, and to align the first relocation package with the second one by adding EUR 20 million to finance transport costs (EUR 500 per migrant to Italy and Greece); approves an additional increase of EUR 79 million for general reinforcement of the AMIF; highlights the necessity of also ensuring sufficient financing possibilities for the AMIF for the upcoming years; recalls that point 17 of IIA allows for an increase of more than 10 % in the amount foreseen for the entire duration of a programme when the new, objective, long-term circumstances arise;

36.  Notes that such measures are only a first step towards the full implementation of the principle of solidarity on which the Union is based on; calls on the Commission and the Council to fully implement the plans proposed in the abovementioned Commission communication of 23 September 2015 and show a clear commitment to the respect for human rights, as stated in Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; stresses the importance of proper financing of return operations in accordance with the Charter and the principle of 'non-refoulement' in order to achieve an effective return policy, preventing and reducing irregular migration; underlines the importance of supporting refugees close to their home countries and of facilitating asylum procedures in Member States;

37.  Finally decides to reinforce the agencies with migration-related tasks for a total of EUR 26 million with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) receiving the biggest increase of EUR 12 million above the DB; recalls that this agency plays a central, coordinating role in the implementation of the provisional measures in the area of international protection and is increasingly being called upon to assist concerned Member States;

38.  Welcomes the Commission communication of 23 September 2015 and the corresponding measures reflected in the Letter of amendment No 2/2016, notably EUR 600 million of additional emergency funding for the most affected Member States; is satisfied that the Commission is taking leadership in that area and, in doing so, confirms the approach taken by Parliament in its reading; stands ready to consider further reinforcements in the course of the conciliation;

39.  Deplores that the Council decreases commitment appropriations by EUR 25,1 million and payment appropriations by EUR 33,6 million compared to the DB; believes that these reductions jeopardise the proper implementation of programmes and actions under Heading 3; recalls in this context that though some of the proposed cuts may seem minor, one needs to keep in mind the relatively small size of several important and valuable programmes, making them particularly vulnerable to cuts; decides therefore to restore the level of the DB;

40.  Furthermore, deems it necessary, given their important role in supporting cultural and creative industries that represent key European values, to increase, by a total of EUR 10,5 million in commitment appropriations above the DB, the culture and media sub-programmes, including the Multimedia Actions, and the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility (CCSGF) planned for 2016 and intended to tackle the critical issue of access to finance for SMEs and organisations in the cultural and creative sectors;

41.  Considers it also a priority to reinforce the Europe for Citizens' programme with EUR 1,5 million as well as modifying the budget nomenclature of the Europe for Citizens programme by dedicating a separate line to the implementation of the European Citizens' Initiative;

42.  Notes that its reading (including pilot projects and preparatory actions) exceeds the ceiling of Heading 3 by EUR 1 055,1 million in commitments, with EUR 931,1 million above the DB, while increasing payment appropriations by EUR 586,5 million; proposes therefore to mobilise any means available in the MFF to finance the package of reinforcements linked to migration;

Heading 4 – Global Europe

43.  Points to the fact that, of all headings, Heading 4 bears the biggest cuts by the Council both in commitments (- EUR 163,4 million) and in payments (- EUR 450,4 million); notes with surprise that the European Neighbourhood Instrument (notably poverty and security in the Mediterranean countries), the Development Cooperation Instrument (including the migration and asylum thematic objective) and the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (despite candidate countries hosting a considerable number of refugees or being located on major migration routes) are among the most affected; underlines that this approach is in blatant contradiction to the statements of the Council and the European Council on the migration agenda, on the refugee crisis and on cooperation with countries of origin and transit;

44.  Against this background, decides to restore the level of appropriations provided for by the DB; notes that the payment situation of Heading 4 is still a matter of particular concern due to the rolling-over of a significant backlog of unpaid bills and the artificial postponing of contractual commitments to face a persistent underbudgeting in payments; reaffirms, therefore, that the increases in payment appropriations proposed by the Commission were merely necessary, notwithstanding the fact that the unprecedented migration and refugee crisis has meanwhile imposed additional challenges for the Union’s external action;

45.  Complements the package of amendments on migration and the refugee crisis by adopting targeted reinforcements in commitment appropriations first and foremost within the European Neighbourhood Instrument (+ EUR 178,1 million) but also in the Development Cooperation Instrument (+ EUR 26,6 million), Humanitarian aid (+ EUR 26 million), the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (+ EUR 11,2 million), the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (+ EUR 12,6 million) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (+ EUR 1 million); while supporting, where necessary, reprioritisation within those programmes to address the most topical challenges, stresses that this must not lead to reduced efforts related to the initial objectives of the respective legal basis, thus risking the destabilisation of the European neighbourhood or other regions concerned; reiterates the need to adopt a comprehensive and human rights-based approach linking migration with development and working towards the integration of legal migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; emphasises the need to reinforce cooperation and commitment with countries of origin and transit to effectively tackle the current migration crisis, and in particular the needs of displaced persons in third countries in fields of health and education; considers, therefore, such reinforcements indispensable to the financing of additional initiatives, on top of the initial objectives of the respective legal bases;

46.  Notes that the Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis and the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa were created because the Union budget lacks both the necessary flexibility and funding to allow for a rapid and comprehensive response to the crisis; stresses that a more holistic solution needs to be found in the MFF review/revision on how to make support from the Union budget for humanitarian assistance and development more effective and more readily available and how to successfully merge it with the European Development Fund and bilateral aid offered by Member States; calls for the extra appropriations for the programmes under Heading 4 to be used in particular to increase the funding for the two Trust Funds as well as for immediate assistance via the UNHCR and the World Food Programme; calls on the individual Member States to turn words into deeds and bring the necessary additional contributions to match the Union funding linked to the Trust Funds and to close the funding gap of the UN agencies without further delay; notes that the pipeline of projects potentially funded by the Trust Funds further weakens the Council’s case for an alleged lack of absorption capacity in Heading 4;

47.  Reinforces by EUR 40 million the budget line for support for the peace process and financial assistance to Palestine and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); notes that UNRWA plays an effective role in supporting the growing number of Palestinian refugees suffering directly from the Syrian crisis, which poses an additional burden on the agency; is concerned about the funding gaps faced by UNRWA and calls for those additional appropriations to be channelled to its General Fund in support of basic education, social and health services;

48.  Recalls that in order to alleviate damaging long term effects that stem from humanitarian crisis it is essential to ensure that children affected continue to receive an education; therefore increases funding for supporting education in the Humanitarian aid budget so that it accounts for 3 % instead of 1 %, with the aim of reaching a threshold of 4 % by 2019;

49.  Approves a symbolic reinforcement of the CFSP budget to support any initiative aimed at making migration a specific component of CSDP civilian missions, while giving full support to the EUNAVFOR Med military mission aimed at fighting human smugglers and traffickers;

50.  Appreciates the ongoing reflection process taking place in the EEAS on the future of EU Special Representatives and their relationship with the EEAS; considers that any change to the budget line for EU Special Representatives should only take place after the current reflection process is concluded;

51.  Deems it necessary to increase appropriations for the Turkish Cypriot Community budget line (+ EUR 2 million) for the purpose of contributing decisively to the continuation and intensification of the mission of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus and of supporting the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, thus promoting trust and reconciliation between the two communities;

52.  Emphasises that the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement reached at the 9th Ministerial Conference of the WTO will require increased funding support for the least developed and developing countries; stresses the need for coordinated efforts between the Commission and the Member States with regard to international financial institutions in order to avoid reduced appropriations for Aid for Trade and multilateral initiatives as well as irregularities in relation to cooperation with certain partners leading to reduced spending effectiveness, and to ensure the Trade Facilitation Agreement works for development;

53.  Decides, together with pilot projects and preparatory actions, to exhaust the margin of EUR 261,3 million left by the DB below the ceiling for Heading 4 in commitments and not to go any further at this stage; increases also payment appropriations by EUR 132,5 million; looks forward to a fruitful conciliation on the basis of these amendments, also taking the Letter of amendment No 2/2016 into account; stresses, however, that this ceiling might be insufficient given that it has been set well before major developments in Ukraine, Syria, Tunisia and more generally throughout the neighbouring countries, the Middle East and Africa; calls, therefore, for a full use of the potential of the Emergency Aid Reserve and remains open to any further mobilisation of the flexibility provisions foreseen in the MFF for addressing the external dimension of the migration and refugee crisis;

Heading 5 - Administration; Other headings - administrative and research support expenditure

54.  Notes that Council cuts in this heading amount to EUR 31,2 million, of which EUR 19,3 million concerns the Commission's administrative budget notably for its buildings, equipment, and above all for its staff as a consequence of increasing the standard flat rate abatement to 4,3 %; does not see any justification for Council's reading and recalls that, following constant restraint these past years, Commission's proposed administrative expenditure for 2016 was kept close to the expected level of inflation i.e. stable in real terms and that Commission implements a continued reduction of its staff;

55.  Considers moreover these cuts arbitrary in view of the foreseeability of this type of expenditure largely based on contractual obligations, and in view of its very high implementation as reported by the Commission; notes in particular that the occupation of the Commission establishment plan reached a record high on 1 April 2015 with 97,8 % posts actually occupied; regrets that in addition, in headings other than Heading 5, Council cut the administrative and research support expenses by a total of EUR 28 million, despite these being key to ensuring success of the programmes in the different Union policy areas;

56.  Decides consequently to restore the DB on all the lines of administrative and research support expenditure in policy areas and on all the lines in Heading 5 decreased by the Council, as well as to approve a limited number of small reinforcements;

57.  Asks the Commission to ensure that the combined budget of the OLAF Supervisory Committee and its Secretariat is specified in a separate line of the OLAF budget for 2016;

Agencies

58.  Endorses, as a general rule, the Commission's estimates of the budgetary needs of agencies; notes that the Commission has already considerably reduced the initial requests of most agencies;

59.  Considers, therefore, that any further cuts proposed by the Council could endanger the proper functioning of the agencies and would not allow them to fulfil the tasks they have been assigned by the legislative authority;

60.  Decides to increase, within the overall package on migration, the appropriations for the main agencies working in this field: the European Asylum Support Office, Frontex, Europol, Eurojust, eu.LISA, Cepol and the Fundamental Rights Agency for a total of EUR 26 million, as these agencies are vital to address the current pressing problem of migratory flows in an effective manner; welcomes the additional appropriations and additional 120 establishment plan posts for agencies in Amending Budget No 7/2015 and expects this decision to also impact the 2016 budget as well as the budgets for the following years; highlights the quickly deteriorating crisis situation and huge increase in migratory flows; urges the Commission to provide updated and consolidated information about the agencies' needs before budgetary conciliation; calls on the Commission to propose a medium-term and long-term strategy for the justice and home affairs agencies' actions: objectives, missions, coordination, development of hot spots and financial resources;

61.  Decides furthermore to increase the 2016 budget appropriations for the three financial supervisory agencies due to their additional tasks and increased workload; invites the Commission to submit by 2017 a proposal for a fee-based financing concept replacing completely the current contributions from member states, as a means of securing the European authorities’ independence from their national member authorities;

62.  Decides to also increase the appropriations for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, the European Fisheries Control Agency and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, in order to better match the available resources with the agencies' tasks;

63.  Cannot accept, however, the Commission's and the Council's approach to agencies' staffing, and therefore modifies a substantial number of establishment plans; underlines once more that each agency should cut 5 % of posts over 5 years as agreed in the IIA, but that new posts that are needed to fulfil additional tasks due to new policy developments and new legislation since 2013 have to be accompanied by additional resources and need to be counted outside the IIA staff reduction target;

64.  Emphasises therefore again its opposition to the concept of a redeployment pool amongst agencies, but reaffirms its openness to free posts by means of achieving efficiency gains between agencies through increased administrative cooperation or even analyse the possibilities of mergers where appropriate and through pooling certain functions with either the Commission or another agency;

65.  Underlines once more that posts financed from industry have no impact on the Union budget and therefore should not be subject to any staff reduction; emphasises that it should be left to the discretion of the agency concerned to balance fluctuating workload by not filling all posts at their disposal;

66.  Modifies therefore a number of establishment plans of agencies in line with the priorities described above to align staffing with additional tasks, modifies others to bring them more in line with a real 5 % cut over 5 years and to treat fee-financed posts differently; recalls that the 5 % cut over 5 years was introduced in order to decrease the costs of the administration; highlights in this context that additional posts in the establishment plan do not have an automatic financial impact on the Union budget since agencies fill their posts according to their needs and agencies therefore do not always have all posts in their establishment plans filled;

Pilot projects and preparatory actions (PP-PAs)

67.  Having carried out a careful analysis of the pilot projects and preparatory actions submitted – as regards the rate of success of the on-going ones and excluding initiatives already covered by existing legal bases, and taking fully into account the Commission's assessment of the projects' implementability, decides to adopt a compromise package made up of a limited number of PP-PAs, also in view of the limited margins available;

Payments

68.  Stresses once again the importance of the joint payment plan 2015-2016 agreed, ahead of the budgetary procedure, by Parliament, the Council and the Commission, which reflects the commitment of the three institutions to reduce the backlog of outstanding payments; notes that the three institutions agreed to cooperate fully in view of authorising a level of payment appropriations in the 2016 budget which allows reaching such a goal, and that payment appropriations requested for 2016 were calculated by the Commission accordingly; considers that any action to manage the risk of an unsustainable backlog should be complemented by efforts to ensure a more productive exchange of opinions and improve the cooperative spirit between the Council on the one hand and Parliament and Commission on the other hand; recalls that, according to Article 310 TFEU, the revenue and expenditure shown in the Union budget shall be in balance;

69.  Deplores that, despite the resulting moderate increases and comfortable margins proposed by the Commission, the Council decided to cut down payment appropriations by EUR 1,4 billion, targeting both completion lines and programmes reaching full swing, thus jeopardising the phasing out of the abnormal backlog; recalls that, for programmes under direct management, shortages of payment appropriations are not only reflected in the evolution of the backlog but also in artificial delays in the implementation of programmes, for example delaying calls for proposals and/or the signature of new contracts;

70.  Decides to restore the DB in payments on all lines cut by the Council, on the assumption that the payment levels proposed by the Commission in its DB are the ones needed to achieve the objectives of the payment plan;

71.  Reinforces, by an appropriate ratio, payment appropriations on all those lines which are amended in commitment appropriations, taking into account areas with a fast disbursement profile or a high degree of urgency namely Erasmus+, the two relocation schemes, UNRWA and humanitarian aid; increases payment appropriations by a further EUR 1 billion to fully cover by fresh appropriations the frontloading of payments for Greece; also decides, in view of past implementation, to increase payments for the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund;

Other sections

Section I – European Parliament

72.  Recalls that Parliament's estimates for 2016 were set at EUR 1 823 648 600, which corresponds to a 1,6 % increase over the 2015 budget; recalls, in addition, that EUR 15 million has been earmarked for urgent investments in security and cybersecurity, setting the overall level of its 2016 budget at EUR 1 838 648 600;

73.  Points out that as of 15 June 2015, after Parliament's estimates for 2016 were adopted, a new political group has been created and that, due to these changes in the organisation of Parliament, supplementary appropriations are needed to ensure that all political groups are treated equally;

74.  Fully compensates these reinforcements by reducing the appropriations in the budget lines for contingency reserve, the general Members' allowance, further training, fitting out of premises, energy consumption, computing and telecommunications - investment in projects and furniture;

75.  Notes the Bureau conclusions of 7 September 2015 in view of the parliamentary reading on the 2016 budget, which proposes to transpose its recent decisions and technical adjustments into the budget; approves these limited technical changes proposed by the Bureau, which involve budget-neutral adjustments to appropriations and to the establishment plan, and updates to certain aspects of the budgetary nomenclature;

76.  Maintains therefore unchanged the overall level of its budget for 2016, as adopted by the plenary on 29 April 2015, at EUR 1 838 648 600;

77.  Underlines that the activities of the political groups do not correspond to administrative work; confirms that, for this reason, the total level of staff in political groups shall be exempted from the 5 % staff reduction target in line with the decisions taken by it in respect of the financial years 2014(12), 2015(13) and the estimates for 2016(14);

78.  Recalls that political groups have had a recruitment freeze in place since 2012 and that their needs were only partially covered in the preceding budgetary years;

79.  Reiterates its commitment to implement point 27 of the IIA and to reduce its staff by 1 %;

80.  Stresses that Parliament and the Council must address the need for a roadmap to a single seat, as requested by a large majority in this Parliament in several resolutions, in order to create long term savings in the Union budget;

Changes to the establishment plan

81.  Reduces the establishment plan of its General Secretariat for 2016 by 57 posts (1% staff reduction target) as follows: 4 AD14, 13 AD13, 2 AD12, 1 AD9, 2 AD8, 1 AD5, 2 AST11, 1 AST10, 3 AST9, 8 AST8, 7 AST7, 4 AST6, 3 AST5, 2 AST4, 1 AST3, 1 AST1 permanent posts and 2 temporary AST4 posts; recalls that the budgetary impact of this measure was already taken into account in the estimates;

82.  Transforms, in accordance with the new Staff Regulations, 80 AST permanent posts (25 AST11, 10 AST10, 5 AST8, 15 AST7, 5 AST6, 5 AST5, 5 AST4, 5 AST3 and 5 AST2) into 80 AST/SC1 posts;

83.  Proceeds to the following technical corrections: deletes three AST7 posts and three AST6 posts and adds six AST5 posts and deletes the footnote n°1 to the establishment plan, given that the relevant procedure has not been used in the recent past;

84.  Authorises the creation of 43 new temporary posts (2 AD7, 19 AD5, 5 AST5, 5 AST3 and 12 AST1) and the upgrading of one temporary post AD10 to an AD14 for the supplementary needs relating to the creation of the new political group;

5 % staff reduction

85.  Recalls that Parliament is implementing the 5 % staff reduction target for the third consecutive year with a due respect for the letter and spirit of the IIA; underlines that, to this end, 171 permanent posts have been removed from its establishment plan since 2014(15); stresses that, in order to fully comply with the 5 % staff reduction target, two further annual reductions of 57 posts(16) should be made by 2018;

86.  Underlines that, in accordance with point 27 of the IIA, the 5 % reduction target is a compensation in terms of staff, related to the increase in the working hours from 37,5 to 40 a week as compared to the establishment plan of 1 January 2013; considers that this reduction must apply to a constant workload and that, consequently, new responsibilities and missions must be exempted from this calculation;

87.  Notes that, in line with the strengthening of its prerogatives and new tasks Parliament has undergone since 2013, important structural changes, such as internalisation processes which have been staffed as far as possible by internal redeployments, new posts were only created when strictly necessary; decides to exclude these additional posts from the effort to reduce staff numbers by 5 %;

88.  Urges the Commission, when monitoring the implementation of the staff reduction target by Parliament, to take account of the new additional considerations such as the constant workload, exemption of political groups, internalisations offset by reductions in external services budget lines, and new prerogatives and tasks;

89.  Stresses that the implementation of the 5 % staff reduction should not jeopardise the proper functioning of Parliament and the exercise by Parliament of its core powers, nor alter its legislative excellence or the quality of the working conditions for Members and staff;

90.  Recalls that no agreement can deprive Parliament and the Council of its sovereign freedom of evaluation and of its power to decide every year on the content of the budget;

Other staff related issues

91.  Recalls that the need for new posts in the Secretariat should be covered by internal redeployment, unless the need for creating new posts is duly justified and demonstrated;

92.  Recalls that any reorganisation of parliamentary work or of procedures should not lead to a deterioration in the working conditions and social rights of staff, regardless of their position;

93.  Reiterates that, in order to ensure adequate support to Members for the accomplishment of their parliamentary activities, a new balance is necessary between accredited parliamentary assistants and local assistants; takes note of the fact that the Secretary-General has made a proposal to the Bureau in order to achieve this goal; notes the agreement reached in the Bureau which corresponds, in essence, with the request made by the European Parliament in its abovementioned resolution of 29 April 2015 on Parliament’s estimates; welcomes the decision to immediately implement this agreement;

94.  Reiterates its commitment to support multilingualism in parliamentary work through high standards of interpretation and translation; asks the Secretary-General to present to the Committee on Budgets the results of the analysis and assessment he launched after the non-agreement on new working conditions for interpreters (spring 2015); expects the Secretary-General to use all flexibility required to ensure high quality interpretation and translation services for Members;

95.  Asks the Secretary-General to provide a detailed overview of all posts in Parliament in the years 2014-2016, including distribution of posts by service, category and type of contract;

Property policy

96.  Recalls that the Committee on Budgets should be informed on a regular basis about new developments in Parliament's building policy and should be consulted in due time, that is before a contract is obtained, on any building project having financial implications; confirms that the financial impact of all building projects will be closely scrutinised;

97.  Believes that decisions related to building projects should be subject to a transparent decision making process;

98.  Reiterates once again its call for the new mid-term building strategy to be presented to the Committee on Budgets as soon as possible and at the latest by early 2016, in time for the preparation of Parliament's estimates for the financial year 2017; invites the Secretary-General to present to the Committee on Budgets a possible long-term strategy until 2025 early in advance before Parliament's reading of the budget in the autumn 2016;

99.  Notes that since 2014 no appropriations have been provided for investment in the construction of the Konrad Adenauer building (KAD) in Luxembourg; recalls that the 2016 estimates included only appropriations to cover works and services to be to be paid directly by Parliament, principally for the project management, technical expertise and consultancy; invites the Secretary-General to evaluate, before the end of this year, the funds not used in the 2015 budget and to commit them to the KAD project, via a transfer request at year-end 2015, in order to avoid future building-related interest payments as far as possible;

Members' expenses

100.  Reiterates the appeal for greater transparency regarding the general expenditure allowance for the Members; calls on Parliament's Bureau to work on a definition of more precise rules regarding the accountability of the expenditure authorised under this allowance, without generating additional costs to Parliament;

101.  Requests an assessment on the results of the voluntary approach chosen by the Joint Working Group to limit business class flights by Members and staff as well as on the possible ways to obtain more advantageous tariffs with a view to reducing Member and staff travel expenses;

Section IV - Court of Justice

102.  Deplores that, despite the continued increase in the volume of judicial activity and the planned reform of the General Court, the Commission has reduced staffing by 20 posts, thereby risking creating bottlenecks and jeopardising the proper functioning and prompt dispensation of justice; decides therefore to reinstate the 20 posts initially requested by the Court;

103.  Regrets that Council has raised the standard abatement rate applied to the appropriations for staff remuneration from 2,5 % to 3,2 % which is equivalent to a reduction of EUR 1,55 million and contradicts the extremely high rate of occupation of posts of the Court (98 % at the end of 2014) and the high budget implementation rate (99 % in 2014); therefore readjusts the standard abatement rate to the level of the draft budget and cancels the related reduction in appropriations in order to ensure that the Court can deal adequately with the substantial increase in the number of cases and make full use of the posts granted to it;

104.  Decides furthermore to reinstate the seven posts originally requested by the Court in order for it to meet the twofold requirement of strengthening the Safety and Security section of the Court to better protect staff, visitors and documents, and at the same time implementing the new Article 105 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court which requires a highly secure system to be set up in order to enable parties involved in certain cases to provide information and material pertaining to the security of the Union, the Member States or to the conduct of their international relations;

105.  Underlines in the same context the need for resources for security and surveillance of the Court's buildings and decides therefore to restore the cuts proposed by Council in this area back to the level of the draft budget;

106.  Removes the existing reserve regarding missions and replaces it with a new one, to be released when the Court publishes information on the external activities of Judges, as requested by Parliament in its 2013 discharge resolution related to the Court(17);

Section V - Court of Auditors

107.  Readjusts the standard abatement rate to its initial level of 2,76 % in order to allow the Court of Auditors to meet its needs in respect of the establishment plan;

108.  Restores all other lines cut by Council for the Court of Auditors to implement its work programme and deliver the planned Audit Reports;

Section VI - European Economic and Social Committee

109.  Readjusts the standard abatement rate to its initial level of 4,5 % in order to allow the Committee to meet its needs and cope with the continued reduction of staff in the context of the cooperation agreement between Parliament and the Committee;

110.  Decides further to restore the draft budget regarding travel and subsistence allowances;

Section VII - Committee of the Regions

111.  Reduces on the one hand the remuneration and allowances by an amount corresponding to 66 upgrades and four additional posts not already accounted for in the draft budget to reflect the transfer of those posts to Parliament;

112.  Increases on the other hand a number of lines (outsourcing of translation, third parties, communication, representation expenses, communication of political groups, missions and cleaning and maintenance) more in line with the Committee's own estimates in order for the Committee to carry out its political work and fulfil its obligations;

113.  Finally, restores the cuts by Council regarding security and surveillance of the Committee's buildings to ensure sufficient financing for security measures in the event of increased security threat level ("yellow") during 2016;

Section VIII - European Ombudsman

114.  Notes with regret that the Council has decreased the draft budget of the Ombudsman by EUR 135 000; underlines that this reduction would impose a disproportionate burden on the very limited budget of the Ombudsman and would have a major impact on the institution's capacity to serve Union citizens effectively; therefore restores all the budget lines cut by Council in order to enable the Ombudsman to fulfil her mandate and commitments;

Section IX - European Data Protection Supervisor

115.  Notes with regret that the Council has decreased the draft budget of the European Data Protection Supervisor by EUR 135 000; underlines that this reduction would impose a disproportionate burden on the Data Protection Supervisor's very limited budget and would have major impact on the institution's capacity to serve the Union institutions effectively; therefore restores all the budget lines cut by Council in order to enable the Data Protection Supervisor to fulfil his obligations and commitments;

Section X- European External Action Service

116.  Believes that, in order to be able to cope with the challenges posed by geopolitical uncertainty and to ensure the Union's role across the world, due financing of the EEAS needs to be ensured; restores therefore the draft budget on all lines and deletes the reserves adopted by Council related to the fluctuation of the Euro exchange rate;

o
o   o

117.  Is convinced that the Union budget can contribute to addressing effectively not only the consequences but also the root causes of the crises that the Union is currently facing; takes the view, however, that unforeseen events with an Union-wide dimension should be tackled by pooling efforts and putting additional means at Union level rather than by calling past commitments into question or reverting to the illusion of purely national solutions; stresses, therefore, that flexibility provisions are there to enable such a joint and speedy response and should be used to the full in order to make up for the tight constraints of the MFF ceilings;

118.  Underlines that, barely two years after the beginning of the current MFF, the Commission has had to twice request the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument, as well as the deployment of the Contingency Margin, in order to cover pressing and unforeseen needs that could not be financed within the existing MFF ceilings; also notes that the Global Margin for Commitments in 2015, the first year of its operation, was immediately utilised to its full extent while the resources of two important Union programmes needed to be reduced to allow for the financing of new initiatives; underlines that, due to the frontloading in 2014-15, several Union programmes have less or even no commitments available as of 2016; clearly sees, therefore, that the MFF ceilings are too tight in many headings and paralyse the Union in areas of greatest need, while the available MFF flexibility mechanisms have already been pushed to their limits; considers that these developments make the case for a genuine MFF mid-term revision; eagerly anticipates the ambitious Commission proposals to that effect in 2016;

119.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, together with the amendments to the draft general budget, to the Council, the Commission, the other institutions and bodies concerned and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 163, 23.6.2007, p. 17.
(2) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(4) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0061.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0172.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0263.
(8) Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 31).
(9) European Parliament resolution of 29 April 2015 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2013 (OJ L 255, 30.9.2015, p. 395).
(10) Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470).
(11) Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998, concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes (OJ L 221, 8.8.1998, p. 23).
(12) European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2013 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2014 (Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0437).
(13) European Parliament resolution of 22 October 2014 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015 on (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0036).
(14) European Parliament resolution of 29 April 2015 on Parliament's estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2016 (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0172).
(15) -67 posts in 2014, -47 posts in 2015 and -57 posts in 2016.
(16) Since a political decision on excluding the political groups from this calculation has been taken, this reduction is being applied to the Secretariat's part of the establishment plan (reference number of posts (1 %): -57).
(17) European Parliament resolution of 29 April 2015 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013, Section IV – Court of Justice (OJ L 255, 30.9.2015, p. 118).


Court of Justice of the European Union: number of judges at the General Court ***II
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 28 October 2015 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Protocol No 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union (09375/1/2015 – C8-0166/2015 – 2011/0901B(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0377A8-0296/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (09375/1/2015 – C8-0166/2015),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the request from the Court of Justice submitted to Parliament and the Council (02074/2011),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 21 October 2015 to approve Parliament’s position at second reading, in accordance with Article 294(8)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to Rule 69 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0296/2015),

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

2.  Approves the joint statement by Parliament and the Council annexed to this resolution;

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at second reading on 28 October 2015 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2015/... of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Protocol No 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2015/2422.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Joint statement by the European Parliament and the Council

At the end of the reform process, the General Court will consist of two Judges per Member State. Therefore, in order to achieve equality between women and men, which is an objective of the European Union according to Article 3 TEU, the governments of the Member States should, to the greatest possible extent, in the process of appointing candidates as Judges at the General Court pursuant to Article 254 TFEU, ensure an equal presence of women and men.

(1) Texts adopted of 15.4.2014, P7_TA(2014)0358.


Provisions for fishing in the GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) Agreement area ***II
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 28 October 2015 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1343/2011 on certain provisions for fishing in the GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) Agreement area (08806/1/2015 – C8-0260/2015 – 2014/0213(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0378A8-0295/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (08806/1/2015 – C8‑0260/2015),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 October 2014(1),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0457),

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

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

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0295/2015),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

2.  Approves the statement annexed to this resolution;

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

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

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

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

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Statement by the European Parliament on granting derogations for the use of trawl nets and gill-nets fisheries in the Black Sea

"The European Parliament declares that the provisions in Article 15a to be inserted in Regulation (EU) No 1343/2011, regarding derogations from the prohibition on the use of certain gear in the coastal waters of the Black Sea, are of an exceptional nature. They take into account the prevailing situation in the region, where Member States have put in place measures in order to allow for the use of the gear concerned in accordance with relevant recommendations from the GFCM. That information was already available to Parliament prior to the tabling of the current Commission proposal. For those reasons, Parliament accepts, in the present context, the arrangement authorising the Member States concerned to grant the derogations in question. It stresses, however, that those provisions are not to be taken or used as a precedent in any future legal act."

(1) OJ C 12, 15.1.2015, p. 116.
(2) Text adopted of 13.1.2015, P8_TA(2015)0005.


Use of genetically modified food and feed ***I
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 28 October 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of genetically modified food and feed on their territory (COM(2015)0177 – C8-0107/2015 – 2015/0093(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0379A8-0305/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0177),

—  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0107/2015),

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

—  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, the Spanish Parliament, the Netherlands House of Representatives and the Austrian Federal Council, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

—  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 September 2015(1),

—  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of Regions of 13 October 2015(2),

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

—  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0305/2015),

1.  Rejects the Commission proposal;

2.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its proposal and submit a new one;

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

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.
(2) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Novel foods ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 28 October 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods (COM(2013)0894 – C7-0487/2013 – 2013/0435(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0380A8-0046/2014

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0894),

–  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 (C7-0487/2013),

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

–  having regard to the positions of both Council and European Parliament on 29 March 2011, when the conciliation on novel foods failed,

–  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the French National Assembly and the French Senate, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 30 April 2014(1),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0046/2014),

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 28 October 2015 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods, amending Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1852/2001

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.)

(1) OJ C 311, 12.9.2014, p. 73.


Emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants ***I
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Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 28 October 2015 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants and amending Directive 2003/35/EC (COM(2013)0920 – C7-0004/2014 – 2013/0443(COD))(1)
P8_TA(2015)0381A8-0249/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 2
Proposal for a directive
Recital 2
(2)  The seventh Environment Action Programme18 confirms the Union’s long-term objective for air policy, to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on and risks to human health and the environment, and calls, to that end, for full compliance with the current air quality legislation of the Union, post-2020 strategic targets and actions, enhanced efforts in areas where the population and ecosystems are exposed to high levels of air pollutants, and reinforced synergies between air quality legislation and Union’s policy objectives set for climate change and biodiversity in particular.
(2)  The seventh Environment Action Programme18 confirms the Union’s long-term objective for air policy, to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on and risks to human health and the environment, and calls, to that end, for full compliance with the current air quality legislation of the Union, post-2020 strategic targets and actions, enhanced efforts in areas where the population and ecosystems are exposed to high levels of air pollutants, and reinforced synergies between air quality legislation and Union’s policy objectives set for climate change and biodiversity in particular. The Common Agricultural Policy for the 2014-2020 period offers the possibility for Member States to contribute to air quality with specific measures. Future evaluation will provide a better understanding of the effects of these measures.
__________________
__________________
18 Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’, COM(2012)0710, 29.11.2012.
18 Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’, COM(2012)0710, 29.11.2012.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 a (new)
(4a)  Member States and the Union are parties to the 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury, which seeks to improve human health and environmental protection through the reduction of mercury emissions from existing and new sources. This Directive should contribute to the reduction of mercury emissions in the Union as required by the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 January 2005 on a Community Strategy on Mercury and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a directive
Recital 6
(6)  The national emission ceiling regime established by Directive 2001/81/EC should therefore be revised in order to align it with the international commitments of the Union and the Member States.
(6)  The national emission ceiling regime established by Directive 2001/81/EC should therefore be revised in order to ensure compliance with the international commitments of the Union and the Member States.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a directive
Recital 8
(8)  This Directive should also contribute to the achievement of the air quality objectives set in Union legislation and to the mitigation of climate change impacts by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants as well as to the improvement of air quality globally.
(8)  This Directive should also contribute to the achievement, in a cost-effective manner, of the air quality objectives set in Union legislation and to the mitigation of climate change impacts by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants in addition to the improvement of air quality globally and by improving synergies with Union climate and energy policy and ensuring non-duplication of existing Union legislation. In particular, this Directive should be aligned with evolving Union and international climate change action, including, but not limited to, the 2030 policy framework for climate and energy and a comprehensive, binding global climate change agreement.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a directive
Recital 8 a (new)
(8a)  This Directive should also contribute to the reduction of the health-related costs of air pollution in the Union by improving EU citizens’ quality of life as well as to favour the transition to a green economy.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a directive
Recital 8 b (new)
(8b)  In order to reduce emissions from maritime transport, it is necessary to ensure a full and timely implementation of the limits laid down by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and a strict enforcement of Directive 2012/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council1a. Further action to control shipping emissions is also needed. It is appropriate that the Union and Member States consider defining new emission control areas and continue to work within the IMO to further reduce the emissions.
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1a Directive 2012/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels (OJ L 327, 27.11.2012, p. 1).
Amendment 8
Proposal for a directive
Recital 9
(9)  Member States should comply with the emission reduction commitments set out in this Directive for 2020 and 2030. So as to ensure demonstrable progress towards the 2030 commitments, Member States should meet intermediate emission levels in 2025, set on the basis of a linear trajectory between their emission levels for 2020 and those defined by the emission reduction commitments for 2030, unless this would entail disproportionate costs. Where the 2025 emissions cannot be so limited, Member States should explain the reasons in their reports under this Directive.
(9)  In order to limit the atmospheric emissions of air pollutants and to effectively contribute to the Union objective of achieving air quality that does not give rise to significant negative impacts on and risks to health, and to reducing the levels and deposition of acidifying and eutrophying pollutants below critical loads and levels, binding national emission reduction commitments are set in this Directive for 2020, 2025 and 2030.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a directive
Recital 11
(11)  In order to promote cost-effective achievement of the national emission reduction commitments and of the intermediate emission levels, Member States should be entitled to account for emission reductions from international maritime traffic if emissions from that sector are lower than the levels of emissions that would result from compliance with Union law standards, including the sulphur limits for fuels set in Directive 1999/32/EC of the Council.21 Member States should also have the possibility to jointly meet their commitments and intermediate emission levels regarding methane (CH4) and of making use of Decision n°406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council for so doing.22 For the purpose of checking compliance with their national emission ceilings, emission reduction commitments and intermediate emission levels, Member States could adjust their national emission inventories in view of improved scientific understanding and methodologies regarding emissions. The Commission could object to the use of any of these flexibilities by a Member State, should the conditions set out in this Directive not be met.
(11)  In order to promote cost-effective achievement of the national emission reduction commitments, Member States should have the possibility to jointly meet their commitments regarding methane (CH4) and of making use of Decision n°406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council for so doing.22 For the purpose of checking compliance with their national emission ceilings, emission reduction commitments and emission levels, Member States could adjust their national emission inventories in view of improved scientific understanding and methodologies regarding emissions. The Commission could object to the use of these flexibilities by a Member State, should the conditions set out in this Directive not be met.
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21 Council Directive 1999/32/EC of 26 April 1999 relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC (OJ L 121, 11.5.1999, p. 13).
22 Decision n°406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020 (OJ L 140, 5.6.2009, p. 136).
22 Decision n°406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020 (OJ L 140, 5.6.2009, p. 136).
Amendment 10
Proposal for a directive
Recital 12
(12)  Member States should adopt and implement a national air pollution control programme with a view to meeting their emission reduction requirements and intermediate emission levels, and to contributing effectively to the achievement of the Union air quality objectives. To this effect, Member States should take account of the need to reduce emissions in zones and agglomerations affected by excessive air pollutant concentrations and/or in those that contribute significantly to air pollution in other zones and agglomerations, including in neighbouring countries. National air pollution control programmes should, to that end, contribute to the successful implementation of air quality plans enacted under Article 23 of Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.23
(12)  Member States should adopt and implement a national air pollution control programme with a view to meeting their emission reduction requirements and to contributing effectively to the achievement of the Union air quality objectives. To this effect, Member States should take account of the need to reduce emissions in zones and agglomerations affected by excessive air pollutant concentrations and/or in those that contribute significantly to air pollution in other zones and agglomerations, including in neighbouring countries. National air pollution control programmes should, to that end, contribute to the successful implementation of air quality plans enacted under Article 23 of Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.23
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23 Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air in Europe (OJ L 152, 11.6.2008, p. 1).
23 Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air in Europe (OJ L 152, 11.6.2008, p. 1).
Amendment 11
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13
(13)  In order to reduce atmospheric NH3 and PM2,5 emissions from the main contributors, national air pollution control programmes should include measures applicable to the agricultural sector. Member States should be entitled to implement measures other than those set out in this Directive with an equivalent level of environmental performance owning to specific national circumstances.
(13)  In order to reduce atmospheric NH3, CH4 and PM2.5 emissions from the main contributors, national air pollution control programmes should include measures applicable to the agricultural sector. These measures should be cost-effective and based on specific information and data, taking account of scientific progress and previous measures undertaken by Member States. The development of guidelines on good agricultural practice for using NH3, to be exchanged at Union level, would also be desirable in an attempt to reduce these emissions. Member States should be entitled to implement measures other than those set out in this Directive with an equivalent level of environmental performance owning to specific national circumstances.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13 a (new)
(13a)  In order to reduce emissions from the main contributors, national air pollution control programmes should include measures applicable to all relevant sectors, including agriculture, industry, road transport, non-road mobile machinery, inland and domestic shipping, domestic heating and solvents. Member States should be entitled to implement measures other than those set out in this Directive with an equivalent level of environmental performance taking into account specific national circumstances.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13 b (new)
(13b)  In taking measures to be included in national air control programmes which are applicable to the agricultural sector, Member States should ensure that impacts on small to medium-sized farms are fully taken into account and these impacts do not entail significant additional costs that cannot be borne by such farms. Improvements in air quality should be achieved through proportionate measures that safeguard the future of agricultural holdings. The national air pollution control programmes should provide a balance between animal husbandry and pollution control.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13 c (new)
(13c)  The measures taken under national air pollution control programmes to prevent NH3, CH4 and PM2.5 emissions in the agricultural sector should be eligible for financial support under, inter alia, the Rural Development Funds, in particular measures by small and medium-sized farms requiring significant changes of practices or significant investments such as extensive grazing, agroecology, anaerobic digestion for biogas production using farm waste, and low emission housing systems.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a directive
Recital 14 a (new)
(14a)  In order to improve air quality, particularly in urban areas, national air pollution control programmes should include measures to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter in those areas.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a directive
Recital 15 a (new)
(15a)  In accordance with the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters and with the case law of the Court of Justice, the public should be given wide access to justice in order to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of this Directive and to contribute to the protection of the right to live in an environment which is adequate for personal health and well-being.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a directive
Recital 15 b (new)
(15b)  Environmental inspections and market surveillance are needed in order to ensure the effectiveness of this Directive and of measures adopted pursuant to the achievement of its objectives.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a directive
Recital 15 c (new)
(15c)  When assessing the synergies between EU air quality policy and climate and energy policy the Commission should take account of the European Parliamentary Research Service's study "Air Quality - Complementary Impact Assessment on interactions between EU air quality policy and climate and energy policy".
Amendment 123
Proposal for a directive
Recital 20
(20)  It is necessary to amend Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council26 with a view to ensuring consistency of this Directive with the 1998 Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.
(20)  It is necessary to amend Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council26 with a view to ensuring consistency of this Directive and Directive 2008/50/EC with the 1998 Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.
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26 Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC (OJ L 156, 25.6.2003, p. 17).
26 Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC (OJ L 156, 25.6.2003, p. 17).
Amendment 19
Proposal for a directive
Recital 21
(21)  In order to take into account technical developments, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission in respect of amending the reporting guidelines set out in Annex I, as well as Part 1 of Annex III and Annexes IV and V to adapt them to technical progress. It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level. The Commission, when preparing and drawing up delegated acts, should ensure a simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to the European Parliament and to the Council.
(21)  In order to take into account technical developments, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission for a determinate period in respect of amending the reporting guidelines set out in Annex I, as well as Part 1 of Annex III and Annexes IV and V to adapt them to technical progress. It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level. The Commission, when preparing and drawing up delegated acts, should ensure a simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to the European Parliament and to the Council.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a directive
Recital 26 a (new)
(26a)  The candidate and potential candidate countries should align, as far as possible, their national laws with this Directive.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 a (new)
This Directive aims at limiting atmospheric emissions of acidifying and eutrophying pollutants, ozone precursors, primary particulate matter and precursors of secondary particulate matter and other air pollutants, thereby contributing to:
(a)  the Union's long-term objective of achieving levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on and risks to human health and the environment, in line with the air quality guidelines published by the World Health Organisation;
(b)  the achievement of Union biodiversity and ecosystem objectives by reducing the levels and deposition of acidifying and eutrophying pollutants, and other pollutants, including ground-level ozone, below critical loads and levels;
(c)  the achievement of the air quality objectives set out in legislative acts of the Union;
(d)  the mitigation of climate change impacts by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and by improving synergies with Union climate and energy policy.
This Directive shall in particular, be aligned with evolving Union and international climate change action, including, but not limited to, the 2030 policy framework for climate and energy and a comprehensive, binding global climate change agreement.
Amendment 131
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 - point 2
2.  ‘ozone precursors’ mean nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, methane, and carbon monoxide;
2.  ‘ozone precursors’ mean nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide;
Amendment 23
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 3 a (new)
3a.  "critical load" means a quantitative estimate of an exposure to one or more pollutants below which, according to present knowledge, significant adverse effects on specified sensitive elements of the environment do not occur;
Amendment 24
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 3 b (new)
3b.  "critical level" means the concentration of pollutants in the atmosphere or fluxes to receptors above which, according to present knowledge, direct adverse effects on receptors, such as human beings, plants, ecosystems or materials, may occur;
Amendment 25
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 4 a (new)
4a.  "ground-level ozone" means ozone in the lowermost part of the troposphere;
Amendment 26
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 4 b (new)
4b.  "volatile organic compounds" (VOC) mean all organic compounds arising from human activities, other than methane, which are capable of producing photochemical oxidants by reactions with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight;
Amendment 28
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 6 a (new)
6a.  "national emission ceiling" means the maximum amount of a substance expressed in kilotonnes, which may be emitted in a Member State in a calendar year;
Amendment 29
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 9
9.  ‘international maritime traffic' means journeys at sea and in coastal waters by water-borne vessels of all flags, save fishing vessels, that depart from the territory of one country and arrive in the territory of another country;
deleted
Amendment 30
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 12 a (new)
12a.  "EU source-based air pollution policies" means Regulations or Directives which, irrespective of the obligations laid down in those Regulations or Directives, have as a goal, whether partially or not, to reduce the emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM2,5) and methane (CH4), by undertaking mitigation measures at the source, including at least, but not exclusively, the reductions of emissions accomplished by:
—  Directive 94/63/EC1a,
—  Directive 97/68/EC1b,
—  Directive 98/70/EC1c;
—  Directive 1999/32/EC1d,
—  Directive 2009/126/EC1e,
—  Directive 2004/42/EC1f,
—  Directive 2007/46/EC1g, including Regulation (EC) No 715/20071h,
Regulation (EC) No 79/20091i,
Regulation (EC) No 595/2009 1jand Regulation (EC) No 661/20091k,
—  Directive 2010/75/EU1l,
—  Regulation (EU) No 167/20131m,
—  Regulation (EU) No 168/20131n,
—  Directive 2014/94/EU1o.
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1a European Parliament and Council Directive 94/63/EC of 20 December 1994 on the control of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions resulting from the storage of petrol and its distribution from terminals to service stations (OJ L 365, 31.12.1994, p. 24).
1b Directive 97/68/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1997 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to measures against the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from internal combustion engines to be installed in non-road mobile machinery (OJ L 59, 27.2.1998, p. 1).
1c Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC (OJ L 350, 28.12.1998, p. 58).
1d Council Directive 1999/32/EC of 26 April 1999 relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC (OJ L 121, 11.5.1999, p. 13).
1e Directive 2009/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on Stage II petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of motor vehicles at service stations (OJ L 285, 31.10.2009, p. 36).
1f Directive 2004/42/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain paints and varnishes and vehicle refinishing products and amending Directive 1999/13/EC (OJ L 143, 30.4.2004, p. 87).
1g Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles (Framework Directive) (OJ L 263, 9.10.2007, p. 1).
1h Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2007 on type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information (OJ L 171, 29.6.2007, p. 1).
1i Regulation (EC) No 79/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on type-approval of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC (OJ L 35, 4.2.2009, p. 32).
1j Regulation (EC) No 595/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines with respect to emissions from heavy duty vehicles (Euro VI) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information and amending Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 and Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directives 80/1269/EEC, 2005/55/EC and 2005/78/EC (OJ L 188, 18.7.2009, p. 1).
1k Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor (OJ L 200, 31.7.2009, p. 1).
1l Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (OJ L 334, 17.12.2010, p. 17).
1m Regulation (EU) No 167/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 February 2013 on the approval and market surveillance of agricultural and forestry vehicles (OJ L 60, 2.3.2013, p. 1).
1n Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2013 on the approval and market surveillance of two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles (OJ L 60, 2.3.2013, p. 52).
1o Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (OJ L 307, 28.10.2014, p. 1).
Amendment 31
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – point 12 b (new)
12b.  "the public concerned" means the public affected or likely to be affected by, or having an interest in emissions of air pollution into the atmosphere; for the purposes of this definition, non-governmental organisations promoting environmental protection, consumer organisations, organisations representing the interests of vulnerable populations and other relevant health-care bodies meeting requirements under national law shall be deemed to have an interest.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 1
1.  Member States shall, as a minimum, limit their annual anthropogenic emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds other than methane (NMVOC), ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM2,5) and methane (CH4) in accordance with the national emission reduction commitments applicable from 2020 and 2030, as laid down in Annex II.
1.  Member States shall, as a minimum, limit their annual anthropogenic emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM2,5), in accordance with the national emission reduction commitments applicable from 2020, 2025 and 2030, as laid down in Annex II.
Amendment 33
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 1 a (new)
1a.  Member States shall, as a minimum, limit their annual anthropogenic emissions of methane (CH4) except emissions of enteric methane produced by ruminant livestock in accordance with the national emission reduction commitments applicable from 2030, as laid down in Annex II.
Amendment 34
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1
2.   Without prejudice to paragraph 1, Member States shall take all the necessary measures not entailing disproportionate costs to limit their 2025 anthropogenic emissions of SO2, NOx, NMVOC, NH3, PM2,5 and CH4. The levels of those emissions shall be determined on the basis of fuels sold, by a linear reduction trajectory established between their emission levels for 2020 and the emission levels defined by the emission reduction commitments for 2030.
2.  Member States shall provide, in their reports submitted to the Commission in accordance with Article 9, updates on their progress towards achieving their national emission reduction commitments.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 3 – introductory part
3.  The following emissions are not accounted for the purpose of complying with paragraphs 1 and 2:
3.  The following emissions are not taken into account for the purpose of complying with paragraph 1:
Amendment 36
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 3 – point d
(d)  emissions from international maritime traffic, without prejudice to Article 5(1).
(d)  emissions from international maritime traffic.
Amendment 37
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 1
1.  In order to comply with the intermediate emission levels determined for 2025 in accordance with Article 4, paragraph 2, and the national emission reduction commitments set out in Annex II applicable from 2030 onwards for NOx, SO2 and PM2,5, Member States may offset NOx, SO2 and PM2,5 emission reductions achieved by international maritime traffic against NOx, SO2 and PM2,5 emissions released by other sources in the same year, provided that they meet the following conditions:
deleted
(a)  the emission reductions occur in the sea areas that fall within the Member States' territorial seas, exclusive economic zones or in pollution control zones if such zones have been established;
(b)  they have adopted and implemented effective monitoring and inspection measures to ensure a proper operation of this flexibility;
(c)  they have implemented measures to achieve lower NOx, SO2 and PM2,5 emissions from international maritime traffic than the emissions levels that would be achieved by compliance with the Union standards applicable to emissions of NOx, SO2 and PM2,5 and have demonstrated an adequate quantification of the additional emission reductions resulting from these measures;
(d)  they have not offset more than 20% of the NOx, SO2 and PM2,5 emission reductions calculated in accordance with point (c), provided that the offset does not result in non-compliance with the national emission reduction commitments for 2020 set out in Annex II.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 2 – introductory part
2.  Member States may jointly implement their methane emission reduction commitments and intermediate emission levels referred to in Annex II, provided that they meet the following conditions:
2.  Member States may jointly implement their methane emission reduction commitments referred to in Annex II, provided that they meet the following conditions:
Amendment 39
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 3
3.  Member States may establish adjusted annual national emission inventories for SO2, NOx, NH3, NMVOC and PM2,5 in accordance with Annex IV where non-compliance with their national emission reduction commitments or their intermediate emission levels would result from applying improved emission inventory methods updated in accordance with scientific knowledge.
3.  Member States may establish adjusted annual national emission inventories for SO2, NOx, NH3, NMVOC and PM2,5 in accordance with Annex IV where non-compliance with their national emission reduction commitments would result from applying improved emission inventory methods updated in accordance with scientific knowledge.
Amendment 40
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 4
4.  Members States that intend to apply paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 shall inform the Commission by 30 September of the year preceding the reporting year concerned. That information shall include the pollutants and sectors concerned and, where available, the magnitude of the impacts upon national emission inventories.
4.  Members States that intend to apply the flexibilities under this Directive shall inform the Commission by 31 December of the year preceding the reporting year concerned. That information shall include the pollutants and sectors concerned and, where available, the magnitude of the impacts upon national emission inventories.
Amendment 41
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 1
5.  The Commission, assisted by the European Environment Agency, shall review and assess whether the use of any of the flexibilities for a particular year fulfils the relevant requirements and criteria.
5.  The Commission, assisted by the European Environment Agency, shall review and assess whether the use of a flexibility or adjustment for a particular year fulfils the relevant requirements and criteria.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 2
Where the Commission has raised no objections within nine months from the date of receipt of the relevant report referred to in Article 7, paragraphs 4, 5 and 6, the Member State concerned shall consider the use of the flexibility applied to be accepted and valid for that year. Where the Commission considers the use of a flexibility not to be in accordance with the applicable requirements and criteria, it shall adopt a Decision and inform the Member State that it cannot be accepted.
Where the Commission has raised no objections within six months from the date of receipt of the relevant report referred to in Article 7, paragraphs 5 and 6, the Member State concerned shall consider the use of the flexibility applied to be accepted and valid for that year. Where the Commission considers the use of a flexibility not to be in accordance with the applicable requirements and criteria, it shall, within nine months from the date of receipt of the relevant report, adopt a Decision and inform the Member State that it cannot be accepted. The decision shall be accompanied by a justification.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 6
6.  The Commission may adopt implementing acts specifying the detailed rules for the use of the flexibilities as referred to in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3, in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 14.
6.  The Commission may adopt implementing acts specifying the detailed rules for the use of a flexibility as referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3, in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 14.
Amendment 44
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 1
1.  Member States shall draw up and adopt a national air pollution control programme in accordance with Part 2 of Annex III in order to limit their annual anthropogenic emissions in accordance with Article 4.
1.  Member States shall draw up and adopt a national air pollution control programme in accordance with Part 2 of Annex III in order to limit their annual emissions in accordance with Article 4, and to achieve the objectives of this Directive pursuant to Article 1.
Amendment 45
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point a a (new)
(aa)  consider the cost-effectiveness of emission reduction measures and take into account emission reductions that have been achieved or, if the Member State prioritises its emission reduction measures, can be achieved by applying existing Union legislation;
Amendment 46
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point a b (new)
(ab)  prioritise specific policy measures which aim at reducing risks to the health of vulnerable groups of people and to ensure compliance with the exposure reduction target established in accordance with Section B of Annex XIV to Directive 2008/50/EC;
Amendment 47
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point b
(b)  take account of the need to reduce air pollutant emissions for the purpose of reaching compliance with air quality objectives in their territories and, where appropriate in neighbouring Member States;
(b)  reduce air pollutant emissions for the purpose of reaching compliance with air quality objectives in their territories, in particular the limit values under Directive 2008/50/EC, and, where appropriate in neighbouring Member States;
Amendment 48
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point b a (new)
(ba)  quantify the additional emission reductions needed in order to meet by 2030 ambient air quality levels equal to or below the levels as recommended by the World Health Organisation;
Amendment 49
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point b b (new)
(bb)  quantify the additional emission reductions needed in order to reach the critical loads and levels for the protection of the environment by 2030;
Amendment 50
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point b c (new)
(bc)  identify relevant measures to meet the objectives referred to in (ba) and (bb);
Amendment 51
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point c a (new)
(ca)  support the shift of investments towards clean and efficient technologies and sustainable production with the help of fiscal incentives;
Amendment 52
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point c b (new)
(cb)  assess the extent to which different national geographic regions have distinct needs and difficulties in tackling air pollution;
Amendment 53
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point d a (new)
(da)  ensure that the relevant competent authorities monitor the effectiveness of measures brought into force by Member States in order to comply with this Directive and, if necessary, are empowered to take action.
Amendment 124
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.  The Commission shall ensure that all EU source-based air pollution policies are fit for purpose and contribute towards reaching the EU's air quality objectives.
To that end, the Commission and the Member States shall immediately agree on the new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) regulation proposal currently under consideration.
The new type approval test method shall apply no later than 2017 and ensure that pollutants such as NOx, and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) are effectively limited under conformity factors necessary to represent real driving conditions. The new tests shall be independent and transparent.
These conformity factors shall be strict and quantified to only represent the uncertainty of the RDE test procedure.
Amendment 55
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 b (new)
2b.  Member States shall establish a system of routine and non-routine environmental inspections and market surveillance and public reporting of mobile and stationary sources to ensure that policies and measures are effective in delivering emission reductions under real operating conditions.
By ... * the Commission shall present a legislative proposal for a Union-wide system of in-use surveillance testing and public reporting of emission standards for light duty vehicles, administered by the relevant competent authority, in order to verify that vehicles and engines are Euro 6 compliant throughout their full useful life.
______________
*Two years from the date of transposition of this Directive.
Amendment 56
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.  Member States may support the gradual elimination of the sources of low-level emissions by encouraging the replacement, in the transport and fuel supply sector, of porous hoses by emission-free hose technologies.
Amendment 57
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 4 – point b
(b)  Member States decide to make use of any of the flexibilities set out in Article 5.
(b)  Member States decide to make use of a flexibility set out in Article 5.
Amendment 58
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
National air pollution control programmes shall indicate whether Member States intend to make use of a flexibility set out in Article 5.
Amendment 59
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 5
5.  Member States shall consult, in accordance with relevant Union legislation, the public and competent authorities, which, by reason of their specific environmental responsibilities in the field of air pollution, quality and management at all levels, are likely to be concerned by the implementation of the national air pollution control programmes, on their draft national air pollution control programme and any significant updates prior to their finalisation. Where appropriate, transboundary consultations shall be ensured in accordance with relevant Union legislation.
5.  Member States shall consult, in accordance with relevant Union legislation, competent authorities, which, by reason of their specific environmental responsibilities in the field of air pollution, quality and management at all levels, are likely to be concerned by the implementation of the national air pollution control programmes, on their draft national air pollution control programme and all updates prior to their finalisation. These consultations shall include the relevant local or regional authorities responsible for implementing emission abatement policies in specified zones and/or agglomerations, and shall not exclude zones and/or agglomerations which are located in at least two Member States.
Amendment 60
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
Member States shall ensure, in accordance with relevant Union law, that members of the public concerned are consulted at an early stage in the drawing up and review of draft national air pollution control programmes and in any updates of those programmes prior to their finalisation. Where appropriate, transboundary consultations shall be ensured in accordance with relevant Union law, including Article 25 of Directive 2008/50/EC.
Amendment 61
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 5 a (new)
5a.  Member States shall appoint their own independent expert body to conduct a review of draft national air pollution programmes to assess the accuracy of the information and the adequacy of the policies and measures set out in those programmes. The results of that review shall be made publicly available prior to the publication of the draft national air pollution control programme in order to facilitate meaningful public participation.
Amendment 62
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 6 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
The Commission shall provide guidance for emission reduction measures not included in Part 1 of Annex III, including domestic heating and road transport, which Member States may include in the national air pollution control programme.
Amendment 63
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 8
8.  The Commission may establish guidance on the elaboration and implementation of national air pollution control programmes.
8.  The Commission shall establish guidance on the elaboration and implementation of national air pollution control programmes.
Amendment 64
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 9
9.  The Commission may also specify the format and the necessary information concerning Member States' national air pollution control programmes in the form of implementing acts. These implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 14.
9.  The Commission shall also specify the format and the necessary information concerning Member States' national air pollution control programmes in the form of implementing acts. These implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 14.
Amendment 65
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 a (new)
Article 6a
Clean Air Fund
The Commission shall facilitate access to financial support to help ensure that appropriate measures can be taken to comply with the objectives of this Directive.
This shall include available funding under, inter alia:
(a)  agricultural funding, including that available under the Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020, as amended in the 2017 mid-term review to include Air Quality as a public good with particular reference to ammonia or methane, or both, so as to offer Member States and relevant regional and local authorities the opportunity to contribute to emission reductions with specific measures, and for assistance to do so;
(b)  future work programmes of the Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation;
(c)  European Structural and Investment Funds;
(d)  Funding instruments for the environment and climate action such as LIFE;
(e)  any combination of the above.
The Commission shall ensure that funding procedures are simple, transparent and accessible to different levels of government.
The Commission shall evaluate the possibility of creating a one-stop shop, where entities can easily find the availability of funds and the procedures related to access projects which address air pollution concerns.
Amendment 67
Proposal for a directive
Article 7 – paragraph 4
4.  Member States that apply the flexibility under Article 5(1) shall include the following information in the informative inventory report of the year concerned:
deleted
(a)  the quantity of emissions of NOx, SO2 and PM2,5 that would have occurred in the absence of an emission control area;
(b)  the level of emission reductions attained in the Member State's part of the emission control area in accordance with Article 5(1)(c);
(c)  the extent to which they apply this flexibility;
(d)  any additional data Member States may deem appropriate to allow the Commission, assisted by the European Environment Agency, to carry out a complete assessment of the conditions under which the flexibility has been implemented.
Amendment 68
Proposal for a directive
Article 7 – paragraph 7
7.  Member States shall establish the emission inventories, including adjusted emission inventories, emission projections and the informative inventory report in accordance with Annex IV.
7.  Member States shall establish the emission inventories, including if appropriate adjusted emission inventories, emission projections and the informative inventory report in accordance with Annex IV.
Amendment 69
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 1
1.  Member States shall ensure, if practicable, the monitoring of adverse impacts of air pollution upon ecosystems in accordance with the requirements laid down in Annex V.
1.  Member States shall monitor the adverse impacts of air pollution upon ecosystems in accordance with the requirements laid down in Annex V.
Amendment 70
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 2
2.  Member States shall, where appropriate, coordinate the monitoring of air pollution impacts with other monitoring programmes established by virtue of Union legislation, including Directive 2008/50/EC and Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.30
2.  Member States shall coordinate the monitoring of air pollution impacts with other monitoring programmes established by virtue of Union legislation, including Directive 2008/50/EC and Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.30
__________________
__________________
30 Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1)
30 Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1)
Amendment 71
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
1.  Member States shall provide their national air pollution control programme to the Commission [within three months of the date referred to in Article 17, date to be inserted by OPOCE] and updates every two years thereafter.
1.  Member States shall provide their national air pollution control programme to the Commission by ...* and updates every two years thereafter.
_________________
* Six months after entry into force of this Directive.
Amendment 72
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
Where a national air pollution control programme is updated under Article 6(4), the Member State concerned shall inform the Commission thereof within two months.
Where a national air pollution control programme is updated under Article 6(4), the Member State concerned shall communicate the updated programme to the Commission within two months.
Amendment 73
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1
2.  Member States shall from 2017 communicate their national emission inventories, emission projections, spatially disaggregated emission inventories, large point source inventories and reports referred to in Article 7(1), (2) and (3) and, where relevant, Article 7(4), (5) and (6), to the Commission and to the European Environmental Agency in accordance with the reporting dates set out in Annex I.
2.  Member States shall from 2017 communicate their national emission inventories, emission projections, spatially disaggregated emission inventories, large point source inventories and reports referred to in Article 7(1), (2) and (3) and, where relevant, Article 7 (5) and (6), to the Commission and to the European Environmental Agency in accordance with the reporting dates set out in Annex I.
Amendment 134
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 - paragraph 3
3.  Member States shall report their national emissions and projections for CH4 in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council.31
deleted
__________________
31 Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union level relevant to climate change and repealing Decision No 280/2004/EC (OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 13).
Amendment 74
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 4 – introductory part
4.  The Commission, assisted by the European Environment Agency and the Member States shall regularly review the national emission inventory data. This review shall involve the following:
4.  The Commission, assisted by the European Environment Agency and the Member States shall regularly review the national emission inventory data and national air pollution control programmes. This review shall involve the following:
Amendment 75
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 4 – point c a (new)
(ca)  checks to verify that national air pollution control programmes satisfy the requirements under Article 6.
Amendment 76
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
The results of the Commission review shall be made publicly available, in accordance with Article 11.
Amendment 77
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
1.  The Commission shall, every five years at least, report to the European Parliament and the Council on the progress on implementing this Directive, including an assessment of its contribution to the achievement of the objectives of this Directive.
1.  The Commission shall, every 30 months starting from ...* present a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of this Directive. In doing so, the Commission shall assess:
(a)  its contribution and Members States’ efforts, to achieving the objectives of this Directive;
(b)  the progress in the reduction of air pollutants’ emissions up to 2025 and 2030;
(c)  the progress towards achieving the long term objectives of air quality aims established in the seventh Environment Action Programme;
(d)  whether the critical loads and levels and World Health Organisation air pollution guide values are exceeded; and
(e)  Member States' uptake of available EU funding, where such funding has been used to target air pollution reduction.
______________
* Date of entry into force of this Directive.
Amendment 78
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
When reporting on Member States’ emission reductions for the year 2020, 2025 and 2030, the Commission shall include the reasons for non-achievement, where applicable.
Amendment 79
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1 b (new)
Where the report indicates that Member States are unable to comply with Union law and the air quality limit values laid down in Directive 2008/50/EC, the Commission shall:
(a)  assess whether the non-achievement is the result of ineffective EU source-based air pollution policy, including its implementation at Member State level,
(b)  consult with the Committee referred to in Article 14 and identify where there is a need for new source legislation and, where appropriate, present legislative proposals so to ensure compliance with the targets of this Directive. Any such proposal shall be supported by a robust impact assessment and reflect the latest scientific data.
Amendment 80
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
The Commission shall in any case report as above for the year 2025, and shall also include information on the achievement of the intermediate emission levels referred to in Article 4 paragraph 2 and the reasons for any non-achievement. It shall identify the need for further action also considering the sectorial impacts of implementation.
On the basis of these reports, the Commission shall, together with Member States, identify the need for further action to be taken, including at national level, also considering the sectorial impacts of implementation.
Amendment 81
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 2
2.  The reports referred to in paragraph 1 may include an evaluation of the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of this Directive.
2.  The reports referred to in paragraph 1 shall include an evaluation of the health, environmental, and socioeconomic impacts of this Directive, including the impact on Member State health systems and the cost of non-implementation. The Commission shall make those reports publicly available.
Amendment 152
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 2a (new)
2a.  The Commission shall also carry out an impact assessment on Mercury (Hg) before a national emission reduction commitment is determined and, if necessary, submit a new legislative proposal.
Amendment 82
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 a (new)
Article 10a
European Clean Air Forum
The Commission shall set up a European Clean Air Forum to facilitate the coordinated implementation of the Clean Air Programme and bring together all relevant actors including the Member States’ competent authorities at all relevant levels, the Commission, industry, civil society, and the scientific community every two years. The Clean Air Forum shall oversee the establishment of guidance on the elaboration and implementation of national air pollution control programmes, the evolution of the emissions reduction paths, including the assessment of the reporting requirements.
Amendment 83
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 – paragraph 1 – point b a (new)
(ba)  progress by Member States in achieving the country's specific 2025 and 2030 binding air pollution targets for each pollutant.
Amendment 84
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 – paragraph 1 – point b b (new)
(bb)  the results of the review referred to in Article 9(4).
Amendment 85
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.  Member States shall ensure that the public concerned have access to administrative or judicial procedures to challenge acts and omissions by competent authorities or private persons which do not comply with this Directive.
Such procedures shall provide adequate and effective remedies, including interim relief as appropriate, and be fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive.
Member States shall ensure that information on how to access such procedures is made publicly available and shall consider the establishment of appropriate assistance mechanisms to remove or reduce financial and other barriers to access to justice.
Amendment 127
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 – paragraph 2 b (new)
2b.  Based on the reports referred to in Article 10(1), the Commission shall, as regards NH3, assess existing legally binding national emission reduction commitments on the basis of the latest scientific evidence, taking into account Member States' achievements under Directive 2001/81/EC and the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone.
By 2022, the Commission shall assess progress towards the commitments under this Directive, taking into account, inter alia:
(a)  UNECE Guidance Document for Preventing and Abating Ammonia Emissions, the UNECE Framework Code for Good Agricultural Practice for Reducing Ammonia Emissions, as revised in 2014, and the Best Available Techniques (BAT) as defined in Article 3(10) in Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(b)  agri-environment measures under the Common Agricultural Policy;
(c)  revisions of all relevant air quality legislation including, inter alia, those referred to under Article 3 (12a) of this Directive.
If appropriate, the Commission shall present legislative proposals for targets for the period after 2030 for improving air quality standards.
Amendment 86
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 a (new)
Article 11a
Based on the reports referred to in Article 10(1), the Commission shall review this Directive no later than 2025 with a view to safeguarding progress towards achieving the World Health Organisation's recommended air quality levels and the long term vision as set out in the seventh Environment Action Programme. In particular, the Commission shall, if appropriate, and taking into account scientific and technological progress, propose changes to the national emissions reduction commitments in Annex II;
On the basis of the regular reports referred to in to in Article 10(1) the Commission shall consider measures for reducing emissions from international shipping particularly in Member States' territorial waters and exclusive economic zones, and, if appropriate, submit a legislative proposal.
Amendment 87
Proposal for a directive
Article 12
The Union and the Member States, as appropriate, shall pursue bilateral and multilateral cooperation with third countries and coordination within relevant international organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), including through the exchange of information, concerning technical and scientific research and development, with the aim of improving the basis for emission reductions.
The Union and the Member States, as appropriate, shall pursue bilateral and multilateral cooperation with third countries and coordination within relevant international organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), including through the exchange of information, concerning technical and scientific research and development, with the aim of improving the basis for emission reductions. Member States shall conduct cross‑border consultations on mutual threats posed by emissions from adjacent industrial regions in those countries and the Member States concerned shall develop joint plans to eliminate or reduce those emissions.
Amendment 88
Proposal for a directive
Article 13 – paragraph 2
2.  The delegation of power referred to in Articles 6(7), 7(9) and 8(3) shall be conferred on the Commission for an indeterminate period of time from the date of entry into force of this Directive.
2.  The power to adopt delegated acts referred to in Articles 6(7), 7(9) and 8(3) shall be conferred on the Commission for a period of 5 years from ...*. The Commission shall draw up a report in respect of the delegation of power not later than nine months before the end of five-year period. The delegation of power shall be tacitly extended for periods of identical duration, unless the European Parliament or the Council opposes such extension not later than three months before the end of each period.
_______________
* Date of entry into force of this Directive.
Amendment 89
Proposal for a directive
Article 15
Member States shall lay down the rules on the penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
Member States shall lay down the rules on the penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Member States shall notify the Commission of those measures no later than ...* and shall notify it without delay of any subsequent amendment thereto.
_________________
* Date of entry into force of this Directive.
Amendment 90
Proposal for a directive
Article 15 – paragraph 1 a (new)
Without prejudice to paragraph 1, Member States shall not pass on the burden of compliance to authorities which do not have the strategic powers to comply with the requirements of the Directive.
Amendment 125
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – introductory part
In Annex I of Directive 2003/35/EC, the following letter (g) shall be added:
In Annex I of Directive 2003/35/EC, the following letters (g) and (h) shall be added:
Amendment 126
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – point 1 a (new)
"(h) Article 23 of Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe."
Amendment 135
Proposal for a directive
Annex I - table A - row 4

Text proposed by the Commission

Total national emissions by source category

—  CH4

Annual, from 2005 to reporting year minus 2 (X-2)

15/02****

Amendment

deleted

Amendment 91
Proposal for a directive
Annex I – table A – row 5

Text proposed by the Commission

Preliminary national emissions by aggregated NFR(2)

—  SO2, NOX, NH3, NMVOC, PM2,5

Annual, for reporting year minus 1 (X-1)

30/09

Amendment

Preliminary national emissions by aggregated NFR(2)

—  SO2, NOX, NH3, NMVOC, PM2,5

every two years, for reporting year minus 1 (X-1)

31/12

Amendment 136
Proposal for a directive
Annex I - table C - row 5

Text proposed by the Commission

Projected emissions by aggregated source category

—  CH4

Biennial reporting, covering every year from year X up to 2030 and, where available, 2040 and 2050

15/03

Amendment

deleted

Amendment 95
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A – point 1 – point a
(a)  nitrogen management, taking into account the full nitrogen cycle;
(a)  nitrogen management, taking into account the full nitrogen cycle, and consideration of the establishment of soil and nutrient management plans;
Amendment 96
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A – point 1 – point c
(c)  low-emission manure spreading approaches;
(c)  low-emission manure spreading approaches and techniques including separation into liquids and solids;
Amendment 97
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A – point 1 – point e
(e)  low-emission manure processing and composting systems;
(e)  low-emission manure processing and composting systems including separation into liquids and solids;
Amendment 98
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A – point 1 – point g a (new)
(ga)  promotion of grazing and extensive farming and enhancing the pasture biodiversity in plant with high level of amino acids such as clover, alfalfa and cereals;
Amendment 99
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A – point 1 – point g b (new)
(gb)  promotion of crop rotation that includes nitrogen fixing crops;
Amendment 100
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A – point 1 – point g c (new)
(gc)  promotion of agroecological farming that leads to agricultural systems with high biodiversity, resource efficiency and reduced or ideally no dependency on chemical inputs.
Amendment 101
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A – point 3 – point d
(d)  inorganic fertilisers shall be spread in line with the foreseeable requirements of the receiving crop or grassland with respect to nitrogen and phosphorus, also taking into account the existing nutrient content in the soil and the nutrients from other fertilizers.
(d)  inorganic fertilisers shall as far as possible be replaced by organic fertilisers. Where inorganic fertilisers continue to be applied, they shall be spread in line with the foreseeable requirements of the receiving crop or grassland with respect to nitrogen and phosphorus, also taking into account the existing nutrient content in the soil and the nutrients from other fertilizers.
Amendment 108
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section A a (new)
Aa.  Measures to control emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter in urban areas
In consultation with local and regional authorities, Member States shall consider the following measures:
—  sustainable urban mobility plans including measures such as low emission zones, congestion pricing, parking controls, speed limits, car sharing schemes and roll-out of alternative charging infrastructure;
—  promotion of modal shift to increase the use of cycling, walking and public transport;
—  sustainable urban freight plans such as the introduction of consolidation centres plus measures to encourage a shift of regional freight from road to electric rail and water;
—  using the planning system to address emissions from new development and boiler systems; retrofit energy efficiency measures to existing buildings;
—  retrofitting schemes to promote the replacement of old domestic combustion installations with better home insulation, heat pumps, light fuel oil, new wood pellet installations, district heating or gas;
—  economic and fiscal incentives to encourage the uptake of low emitting heating appliances;
—  banning of solid-fuel burning in residential areas and other sensitive areas to protect the health of vulnerable groups including children;
—  ensure emissions from construction are minimised by introducing and enforcing policies to reduce and monitor construction dust, and set emissions limits for Non Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM)
—  revision of vehicle taxation rates in recognition of the higher real-world emissions from diesel cars and gasoline direct injection vehicles to encourage sales of less polluting vehicles;
—  public procurement and fiscal incentives to encourage early uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles;
—  support for retrofit of UNECE REC Class IV particulate filters on diesel machines, trucks, buses and taxis;
—  regulate emissions from construction machines and other non-road mobile machinery operating in densely populated areas (including through the retrofit);
—  awareness raising campaigns and alerts.
Amendment 109
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 1 – section C a (new)
Ca.  Emission reduction measures to restrict hydrocarbon emissions
Member States shall reduce emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) by promoting the use of modern emission-free tube technologies that are used in various sectors.
Amendment 110
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 1 – point a – point i
(i)  the policy priorities and their relationship to priorities set in other relevant policy areas, including climate change;
(i)  the policy priorities and their relationship to priorities set in other relevant policy areas, including agriculture, rural economic, industrial, mobility and transport, conservation of nature and climate change;
Amendment 111
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 1 – point b
(b)  the policy options considered to meet the emission reduction commitments for 2020 and 2030 onwards and the intermediate emission levels determined for 2025 and to contribute to further improve the air quality, and their analysis, including the method of analysis; the individual or combined impacts of the polices and measures on emission reductions, air quality and the environment; and the associated uncertainties;
(b)  the policy options considered to meet the emission reduction commitments for 2020, 2025 and 2030 to contribute to further improve the air quality, and their analysis, including the method of analysis; the individual or combined impacts of the policies and measures on emission reductions, air quality and the environment; and the associated uncertainties;
Amendment 112
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 1 – point d
(d)  where relevant, an explanation of the reasons why the intermediate emission levels for 2025 cannot be met without measures entailing disproportionate costs;
(d)  an explanation of the measures taken to achieve national emission reduction commitments;
Amendment 113
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 1 – point d a (new)
(da)  an explanation of the methodology used to ensure that measures to achieve national reduction commitments for PM2.5 prioritise reduction of black carbon emissions;
Amendment 114
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 1 – point e
(e)  an assessment of how selected policies and measures ensure coherence with plans and programmes set up in other relevant policy areas.
(e)  an assessment of how selected policies and measures ensure coherence with plans and programmes set up in other relevant policy areas in particular, but not limited to, air quality plans under Directive 2008/50/EC, transitional national plans and inspection plans under Directive 2010/75/EC, national energy efficiency action plans under Directive 2012/27/EU, national renewable energy action plans under Directive 2009/28/EC, and relevant plans or programmes subject to the requirements of Directive 2001/42/EC or equivalent provisions in successor legislation.
Amendment 115
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 2 – point a
(a)  an assessment of the progress made with implementation of the programme, the reduction of emissions and the reduction of concentrations;
(a)  an assessment of the progress made with implementation of the programme, the reduction of emissions, the reduction of concentrations and associated environmental, public health and socio-economic benefits;
Amendment 116
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 2 – point b
(b)  any significant changes in the policy context, assessments, the programme or the implementation time table.
(b)  any significant changes in the policy context, assessments (including the results of the inspections and market surveillance carried out in accordance with Article 6(2b), the programme or the implementation time table.
Amendment 117
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 2 – point b a (new)
(ba)  an assessment of the progress made towards the achievement of the Union's long-term health and environmental objectives, in light of any necessary update of those objectives, including any new air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organisation;
Amendment 118
Proposal for a directive
Annex III – part 2 – point 2 – point b b (new)
(bb)  Where a national air pollution control programme is updated in accordance with Article 6(4), it must include information on all additional air pollution abatement measures that have been considered at appropriate local, regional or national level for implementation in connection with the attainment of emission reduction commitments and air quality objectives, including those outlined in Annex III of this Directive and paragraph 3 of Annex XV (B) to Directive 2008/50/EC.

(1) The matter was referred back to the committee responsible for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 61(2), second subparagraph (A8-0249/2015).


European Citizens' Initiative
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European Parliament resolution of 28 October 2015 on the European Citizens’ Initiative (2014/2257(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0382A8-0284/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 11(4) of the Treaty on European Union and to Article 24(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the citizens’ initiative (A7-0350/2010),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the citizens’ initiative,

–  having regard to the public hearing of 26 February 2015 on the citizens’ initiative, organised by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs in association with the Committee on Petitions,

–  having regard to the study by Parliament’s Policy Department C entitled ‘European Citizens’ Initiative – First lessons of implementation’, issued in 2014,

–  having regard to the decision of the European Ombudsman of 4 March 2015 closing her own-initiative inquiry concerning the Commission (OI/9/2013/TN),

–  having regard to the European Parliamentary Research Service study of February 2015 entitled ‘Implementation of the European Citizens’ Initiative’,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 31 March 2015 on the European Citizens’ Initiative,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Petitions and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0284/2015),

A.  whereas the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is a new political right for citizens as well as a unique and innovative agenda-setting tool for participatory democracy in the European Union, allowing citizens to play an active part in projects and processes that affect them, and the potential of which must unquestionably be exploited to the full and significantly enhanced in order to achieve the best results and to encourage as many EU citizens as possible to participate in the further development of the European integration process; whereas it must be one of the EU’s priority objectives to strengthen the democratic legitimacy of its institutions;

B.  whereas, three years on from the entry into application of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 on 1 April 2012, it is necessary to evaluate its implementation thoroughly in order to identify any shortcomings and to propose viable solutions for its prompt revision;

C.  whereas experience has shown that the majority of organisers of ECIs have encountered a number of difficulties in setting up an ECI, in relation to both practical and legal aspects, and whereas the organisers of several rejected ECIs have consequently submitted complaints to the Court of Justice and the European Ombudsman against the Commission’s decision not to register their ECIs; whereas the rules must therefore be designed in such a way as to make ECIs as accessible as possible to citizens and organisers;

D.  whereas Parliament is the only directly elected body of the European Union, and as such represents, by definition, EU citizens;

E.  whereas a number of institutions, NGOs, think tanks and civil society groups have considered the various deficiencies in the implementation of the Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 on the citizens’ initiative and in the organisation of ECIs, have proposed numerous improvements and have indicated on many occasions which aspects of the regulation it is necessary to reform as a matter of urgency;

F.  whereas the practicalities set out in Article 6 of the regulation, in particular the setting-up of an online collection system and its certification by a competent authority in a Member State, in most cases leave the organisers less than 12 months to collect the required signatures;

G.  whereas the submission of a successful initiative to the Commission once the signature collection period is over is not subject to a specific time limit and is thus a source of confusion and uncertainty for both the institutions and the public;

1.  Welcomes the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) – as defined in Article 11(4) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 24(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) – as the first instrument for transnational participatory democracy enabling citizens to engage directly with the EU institutions and to become actively involved in the framing of European policies and legislation, complementing their right to submit petitions to Parliament and to appeal to the European Ombudsman;

2.  Underlines the fact that the ECI is the first tool for participatory democracy that confers on EU citizens the right, on the basis of at least one million statements of support from at least one quarter of the Member States, to take the initiative – thereby underpinning their new political prerogative – and ask the Commission to submit, within the framework of its powers, an appropriate proposal on matters on which citizens consider that a legislative act is necessary to implement the treaties;

3.  Stresses that the ECI is an exceptional opportunity for citizens to identify and articulate their aspirations and to ask for EU action, and that it must be encouraged and supported by all available means; recognises, however, that there are significant deficits which need to be tackled and solved in order to make the ECI more effective; stresses that all further assessment of the instrument should be aimed at attaining maximum user-friendliness, given that it is a primary means of linking the citizens of Europe to the EU; further stresses that the use of one's mother tongue is a civic right, and calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to explore alternatives in order to offer the option of doing so in all activities connected with an ECI, as this encourages citizen participation; points out the importance of public awareness of the ECI, while regretting the limited knowledge of this tool among EU citizens; calls for the EU, to this end, to organise publicity and promotion campaigns with a view to giving the ECI a higher profile in the media and among the public;

4.  Stresses, further, that civic engagement among young people is fundamental for the future of all democracies, and calls on the Commission to draw lessons from national experiences of genuinely successful ECIs;

5.  Considers it essential that citizens be able to contribute to the exercise of the legislative prerogatives of the Union and to be involved directly in the initiation of legislative proposals;

6.  Points out the importance of public awareness of the ECI in order for it to be an effective tool for democratic participation; urges the Commission and the Member States, in this connection, to maximise their communication efforts in respect of the instrument in order to bring its existence to the attention of as many citizens as possible and encourage active participation in it;

7.  Calls on the Commission to use all public communication channels to raise awareness, and to take the necessary measures to ensure the transparency of the ECI and facilitate communication relating to current ECIs, for example by creating applications that provide information, send notifications and allow online signing; emphasises that active public participation in ECIs also crucially depends on their being publicised in the Member States, and therefore suggests that Member States’ national parliaments should mention the ECI on their official websites;

8.  Notes that more than six million EU citizens have participated in an ECI, that there were 51 requests to launch an initiative, of which only three – the ‘Right2Water’, ‘One of Us’ and ‘Stop Vivisection’ initiatives – were deemed admissible, and that six ECI organisers, corresponding to 30 % of all rejections, have challenged the Commission's refusal before the Court of Justice, which shows that much still needs to be done to make sure that the ECI lives up to its full potential; points to the various practical difficulties which organisers have encountered since the entry into force of the regulation in April 2012, and to the fact that the number of initiatives is declining;

9.  Calls on the Commission to provide appropriate and comprehensive guidance – especially of a legal nature – as early as possible to the organisers of ECIs through the Europe Direct Contact Centre, so that organisers are aware of the possibilities open to them and will not fail by proposing an ECI that is manifestly outside the Commission’s powers and does not comply with the legal admissibility criteria; calls for consideration to be given to the possibility of establishing another independent body tasked with giving advice; notes, however, that under the Treaty of Lisbon the issues raised by ECIs may not correspond entirely to the Commission’s jurisdiction; takes the view, furthermore, that the Commission should consider setting up a dedicated ECI office at its representations in each Member State to provide all the necessary information, advice and support for ECIs;

10.  Stresses, furthermore, that a dedicated ECI office could also contribute to raising public and media awareness about the ECI; invites the Commission, therefore, to promote the ECI as an official EU instrument in order to achieve this goal; emphasises that this measure may also help to overcome citizens’ distrust of sharing the personal data required to support a ECI;

11.  Calls for the provision of more detailed guidelines on the interpretation of legal bases and of more information on data protection requirements in each Member State in which the organisers run their campaigns, so as to give them legal security, and also on the possibility for organisers to take out affordable insurance policies;

12.  Regrets the lack of clear information on the ECI instrument in the early stages, which led to a general misconception about its nature and generated frustration when the first ECIs were rejected by the Commission; recalls that the instrument should be simple, clear, user‑friendly and widely publicised; stresses that the Commission should encourage and support national and local elected representatives in spearheading this increased exposure of ECIs;

13.  Supports, further, the active participation of EU citizens in using this instrument appropriately for agenda-setting purposes; expresses its concerns about a potential conflict of interest, given that the Commission itself has the exclusive responsibility to carry out the admissibility check, and asks that this situation be properly addressed in the future; notes, at the same time, that transparency and accountability should be an objective for all stakeholders in order to preserve the clarity of citizens' activities;

14.  Calls on the Commission, in this connection, to consider Parliament also as a decision‑maker, particularly because it is the only institution the members of which are directly elected by EU citizens;

15.  Stresses that under the terms of Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011, in the event of a refusal by the Commission to register an ECI, ‘the Commission shall inform the organisers of the reasons for such refusal and of all possible judicial and extrajudicial remedies available to them’; acknowledges, in this connection, the many complaints from organisers about not having received detailed and exhaustive reasons for the rejection of their ECIs; invites the Commission to explain in detail the reasons for rejecting an ECI if in its view an ECI which has been submitted is ‘manifestly outside the Commission’s powers’, and at the same time to inform the organisers, in writing and in such a manner as to facilitate their work, of the relevant legal considerations – which should be made fully public in the name of transparency – in order that the validity and complete objectivity of those elements can be subjected to legal scrutiny, that the Commission’s power of discretion as judge and party in the assessment of an initiative’s admissibility can be reduced as far as possible, and that the organisers can decide whether to revise their ECI and resubmit it in a modified form;

16.  Invites the Commission to consider the possibility of registering only part of an initiative in the event that the entire ECI does not fall within the Commission’s powers; invites the Commission to give the organisers, at the time of registration, an indication as to which part they could register, recognising that dialogue and engagement with ECI organisers is essential throughout the process, and to inform Parliament of its decision concerning the registration of the ECI; invites the Commission also to explore ways of referring initiatives, or those parts of initiatives, that do not fall within the scope of the Commission's powers to the competent authority, be it at national or regional level;

17.  Points out the importance of technology as a tool for encouraging citizen participation; calls on the Commission to make its software for the online collection of signatures more user-friendly, to make it accessible to people with disabilities, to offer its own servers for the storage of online signatures for free on a permanent basis, using existing EU budgets, and to simplify and revise the technical specifications for the online collection of signatures so that e-mail addresses can be collected on a non-mandatory basis on the same screen as the support form but stored in a separate database;

18.  Believes that, if revised, the instrument has the potential to engage the public and to promote dialogue among citizens and between citizens and the EU institutions; stresses the need to link the online collection of signatures to the relevant new social and digital media campaigning tools, following the example of other successful online campaigning platforms;

19.  Invites the Commission to reconsider the automatic link between the registration of an ECI and the beginning of the 12-month period within which expressions of support can be collected, so that the organisers of an ECI themselves can decide when they wish to start to collect expressions of support;

20.  Calls on the Commission to urge the Member States to use the ECI Validation Tool for Statements of Support, developed under the Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations programme;

21.  Stresses that, within the scope of the instruments available to enhance participatory democracy across the Union, IT tools should be made available also to regions, thus allowing greater involvement of citizens in public affairs;

22.  Welcomes warmly the European Economic and Social Committee’s offer of free translation of ECI texts so as to reduce the cost of organising an ECI;

23.  Calls for enhanced interinstitutional cooperation at EU level, as well as at the national and local levels, in providing information and support to ECI organisers when dealing with ECIs; calls for the improvement of the multilingual ECI website run by the Commission and for a single set of guidelines in all the EU’s official languages on the rights and obligations of ECI organisers and on the administrative procedures applicable throughout the ECI process;

24.  Calls for the future establishment of a physical and online ‘one-stop shop’ providing, on a permanent basis, information, translation services and technical, legal and political support for ECIs, and considers that it could use the existing resources of the point of contact based in the Europe Direct Contact Centre, and of the Commission representations and Parliament information offices in the Member States; considers that such a set-up would bring the ECI project closer to citizens;

25.  Deems it too complicated for organisers to provide different personal data in support of ECIs in the 28 Member States, as laid down in Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 on the basis of the various national provisions, and calls for the introduction of a uniform procedure for making statements of support by amending Annex III to Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 to standardise the nature of the data collected in the Member States; encourages the Commission to negotiate further with Member States with a view to reducing the number of data requirements, removing – accordingly – the requirement for personal identification numbers and making them more user‑friendly, and recalls that an ECI is about participation and agenda-setting rather than binding proposals; suggests that consideration be given to establishing an EU digital citizenship, and recommends providing an interim solution until this EU digital citizenship is established, with a view to resolving the current problems caused by multiple registration; calls on the Commission, therefore, to explore this issue in its digital agenda as a matter of urgency;

26.  Calls on the Commission to amend Article 3 of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 and to recommend to the Member States that they lower the age for supporting and participating in an ECI from 18 to 16 and that it not to be tied to the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament, thus giving young people, in particular, the possibility of becoming actively involved in taking the European project forward;

27.  Acknowledges the delicate problem of organisers’ personal liability with regard to data protection when collecting signatories’ personal data, and proposes that the range of data required be reduced and that the wording of Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011, on liability, be changed to make it clear that personal liability is not unlimited; proposes, to this end, that citizens' committees be able to acquire legal personality and that inspiration be drawn from Article 3 of Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law, with a view to establishing that organisers are responsible only for acts which are ‘unlawful and committed intentionally or with at least serious negligence’;

28.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to achieve more user-friendly and more harmonised data collection requirements; calls on the competent national authorities to inform the European affairs committees of their national parliaments on a periodic basis about ECIs in progress which have already gathered a significant number of signatures; urges the Commission to propose a revision of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 with the aim of guaranteeing citizens the possibility of signing an ECI in their country of residence;

29.  Expresses its concern that, since 2012, only 3 out of 31 registered ECIs have reached the final phase; points out that the dramatic decrease in the number of new initiatives is one of the consequences of disproportionate requirements and of an unnecessarily complex system; regrets the lack of legislative impact and the discouraging follow-up by the Commission of successful initiatives; expresses differences of opinion with the Commission regarding the successful implementation of the regulation in order to realise the full potential of ECIs; stresses that the EU institutions and the Member States must take all necessary steps to promote the ECI and to foster citizens’ confidence in this tool;

30.  Calls on the Commission to revise the wording of Article 10(c) of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 to allow proper follow-up to a successful ECI ; urges the Commission to start preparing a legal act on successful ECIs within 12 months after issuing a positive opinion;

31.  Takes the view that, in order to emphasise the political dimension of ECIs, a public hearing under the terms of Article 11 of Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 should be structured in such a way as to allow organisers to engage in a dialogue with Members of the European Parliament and relevant Commission officials; stresses that hearings on ECIs should be organised under the auspices of a ‘neutral’ committee that does not have the main responsibility for their subject-matter in terms of content, and furthermore that external experts should be involved at all times;

32.  Urges, where necessary, Parliament and its committees, should the Commission fail to put forward a legislative proposal within this 12-month period, to exercise their right, under the terms of Article 225 TFEU, to ask the Commission to submit an appropriate proposal; considers that, when exercising this right, Parliament’s competent committee should take into account the content of any successful ECI and consult the ECI organisers in another hearing; calls for its Rules of Procedure to be amended accordingly;

33.  Invites the Commission to explore the possibility of providing financial support for ECIs from existing EU budgets via European programmes such as ‘Europe for Citizens’ and ‘Rights, Equality and Citizenship’, including the possibility of financing promotional radio and television programmes, bearing in mind that equality between citizens must be guaranteed, that there is a real need for financial support for the organisation of ECIs and that numerous amendments to the EU budget have been submitted to this end;

34.  Calls on the Commission to counter, by taking every possible precaution, the theft – including through internet tools – of sensitive information relating to signatories, especially when it is managed in the form of aggregate data;

35.  Welcomes the Commission’s report of 31 March 2015 on the ECI, and the European Ombudsman’s Decision OI/9/2013/TN, and calls on the Commission to ensure, in its revision of this instrument, that all the appropriate legal measures are implemented in order to provide proper follow-up when an ECI is deemed to have been completed successfully; calls on the Commission, therefore, in view of the various shortcomings which have arisen, to submit as soon as possible a proposal to revise Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1179/2011;

36.  Calls on the EU institutions to carry out essential communication work through an information campaign on the ECI;

37.  Invites the Commission to report regularly to Parliament on the state of play of ongoing ECIs, so that Parliament – as part of its commitment to EU citizens – can scrutinise whether the tool is working as effectively as possible; stresses that the ECI process should be continuously improved on the basis of the practical experience gained and, furthermore, should comply with the judgments to be delivered by the Court of Justice;

38.  Recommends using every available communication channel, in particular the social and digital media platforms of all the relevant EU institutions, to conduct ongoing awareness‑raising campaigns, with the involvement of EU offices and representations as well as national authorities; calls on the Commission to support the development of an open-source dedicated ECI software program for mobile devices; welcomes the fact that some ECIs have managed to have an impact at local level;

39.  Considers it crucial, in order to ensure proper use of this participative democracy tool by citizens and to prevent its possible abuse by private interests, to increase the transparency and quality of checks of the funding and sponsorship of ECIs;

40.  Notes the important role of the European Ombudsman in investigating the handling of ECI requests by the Commission, and especially cases of refusal to register an ECI;

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


EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region
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European Parliament resolution of 28 October 2015 on an EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region (2014/2214(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0383A8-0279/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication concerning the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (COM(2014)0357) and the accompanying action plan and supportive analytical document,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(1) (hereinafter ‘the CPR’),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal(2),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 23 October 2014 on the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region,

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions concerning the added value of macro-regional strategies (COM(2013)0468) and the relevant Council conclusions of 22 October 2013,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 September 2014 on the Commission communication concerning the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (COM(2014)0357) and the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region: research, development and innovation in SMEs (exploratory opinion requested by the Italian Presidency of the EU),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 21 January 2014 on the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) (exploratory opinion),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 26 June 2014 on the EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region,

–  having regard to the own-initiative opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 11 October 2011 entitled ‘Territorial cooperation in the Mediterranean through the Adriatic and Ionian macroregion’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2012 on the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas’ (COM(2012)0713),

–  having regard to the Commission report concerning the governance of macro-regional strategies (COM(2014)0284),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 January 2011 entitled ‘Regional policy contributing to sustainable growth in Europe 2020’ (COM(2011)0017),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment,

–  having regard to Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2005/370/EC of 17 February 2005 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (Aarhus Convention),

–  having regard to the Ancona Declaration, adopted at the Conference on Development and Security in the Adriatic and Ionian of 19-20 May 2000,

–  having regard to the Founding Conference of the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion held in Pula on 30 June 2006, and to the Declaration on launching the initiative for creating the Adriatic Strategy adopted at the Assembly of the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion held in Split on 22 October 2009,

–  having regard to the study by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies (Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies) of January 2015 entitled ‘New Role of Macro-Regions in European Territorial Cooperation’,

–  having regard to the study by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies (Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies) of June 2015 entitled ‘Adriatic and Ionian region: Socio-Economic Analysis and Assessment of Transport and Energy Links’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0279/2015),

A.  whereas the macro-regional strategies represent a new model of multilevel governance in which the involvement of stakeholders representing the EU, national, regional and local levels, including economic and social partners and civil society organisations, as well as the complementarity between different policies and programmes are essential for successful implementation and achievement of the goals; whereas regional and local authorities play an important role in the promotion of democracy, decentralisation and greater local and regional autonomy;

B.  whereas the previous Baltic Sea and Danube strategies have brought tangible benefits for the regions involved, confirmed the success of EU cooperation mechanisms and provided useful experience for developing new macro-regional strategies;

C.  whereas the interest shown by regions in this modern form of regional cooperation and the accompanying governance model is on the rise; whereas this has especially been the case recently as regards mountain regions such as the Carpathians and the Alps, where natural barriers mean that specific regional policies need to be pursued;

D.  whereas a macro-regional strategy as an integrated framework relating to Member States and non-EU countries in the same geographical area and endorsed by the European Council, is an EU strategy;

E.  whereas there are large socio-economic differences between the countries involved in this strategy, especially between EU Member States and non-Member States;

F.  whereas the increased interest of countries in the Adriatic and Ionian Region in cooperation and defining joint actions to respond to the challenges by using potential throughout the region, and their continuous effort to achieve synergy, has led to the adoption of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR);

G.  whereas the macro-regional strategies may be seen as a tool of European integration and increased territorial cohesion based on voluntary cooperation among Member States and neighbouring countries in addressing common challenges; whereas the EUSAIR is a new form of regional cooperation which may assist participating candidate and potential candidate countries on their path towards the EU, and an important component of the broader Mediterranean policy of the EU as expressed through the Union for the Mediterranean; whereas the EUSAIR, as part of the EU regional policy, is a tool for promoting economic and social cohesion, with the principal objectives of reducing disparities between regions, promoting real convergence and encouraging growth and employment;

H.  whereas the Adriatic Sea, due to its semi-enclosed nature is especially vulnerable to pollution and has unusual hydrographic features such as the fact that the depth and coastline vary considerably between the north and south of the region; whereas fish stocks are shared among all the coastal countries, which puts regeneration of the stocks under sustained pressure; whereas measures within the future framework regulation on technical measures in the reformed CFP should be devised on a regional basis and tailor-made to the specificities of this area and its marine resources and fisheries;

General considerations

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication concerning the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region and the accompanying action plan; believes it is a vital step in the development of this part of Europe; stresses that the EUSAIR has been created to add value to interventions, whether by the EU, national or regional authorities or private sectors, in a way that significantly strengthens the functioning of the macro-region; highlights the strategy’s prospects for candidate and potential candidate countries in the region; underlines the importance of the strategy being based on the principles of integration, coordination, cooperation and partnership; reiterates the importance of the ‘three NOs’ principle of no new legislation, no new institutions, no new funding, as macro-regions are frameworks for cooperation initiatives, building on synergies resulting from the articulation of different EU policy instruments, including the ESI Funds;

2.  Welcomes the efforts undertaken by all interested stakeholders in setting up an institutional architecture for the implementation of the EUSAIR within the existing institutional framework; encourages all national, regional and local stakeholders to take full ownership of the implementation of the projects covered by this macro-regional strategy; stresses the importance of strengthening the institutional capacity and efficiency of public administrations and public services and securing, in each participating country, sufficient resources and competent administrative personnel expressly dedicated to implementing the EUSAIR;

3.  Stresses the need for a place-based approach as regards the cooperation activities and highlights the added value of the multi-level governance model which needs to address the lack of administrative capacity and can be used to pool resources in the macro-region; insists, in this regard, that there is a need to include the local and regional authorities in the political managing bodies and in the operational, technical and implementing bodies of the strategy while maintaining the Commission’s role in the coordination process; stresses that community-led local development (CLLD) can mobilise and involve local actors in the decision-making process and help strengthen the ownership of projects at citizens’ level;

4.  Stresses the importance of a transparent process for adoption, monitoring and evaluation of the strategy, as well as of openness and inclusiveness towards civil society and all relevant stakeholders; emphasises that communication and awareness-raising across all pillars are essential for the participation of stakeholders in the decision-making process and for building public support; encourages the Member States to ensure the strategy has adequate visibility nationally, regionally and locally, to develop appropriate communication with regard to the strategy’s goals and results, and to promote coordination and exchanges of best practice with other existing and future macro-regional strategies;

5.  Highlights the need for non-EU countries to harmonise their legislation with specific sectoral acquis related to the strategy in order to ensure fulfilment of the EU goals and their regular, legal and timely implementation based on EU standards and legislation; encourages all the participating countries to establish think tanks and organise regular meetings to exchange best practices to secure this procedure and make it more efficient;

6.  Notes that, due to the steep fall in private investment across the countries in the region, coupled with fiscal consolidation and limited investment capacity in the public sector, problems may arise in financing projects under the strategy; calls on the participating countries to maintain a high degree of ownership, commitment and leadership necessary to successfully carry out the strategy;

7.  Welcomes the fact that the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance for 2014-2020, and in particular the Adriatic Ionian Cooperation Programme 2014-2020 (ADRION), provide significant potential resources and a wide range of tools and technical options for the strategy; supports the fact that other funds and instruments relevant to the strategy pillars are available, in particular the Horizon 2020 and Erasmus Plus programmes in respect of all pillars, the Connecting Europe Facility in respect of Pillar II, the LIFE programme in respect of Pillar III, as well as in respect of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the COSME and Creative Europe programmes for SMEs in respect of Pillar IV, as well as the INNOVFIN programme for innovation funding; encourages cooperation, in order to create a synergy of available funds, between the monitoring committees of the territorial cooperation programmes which cover the region, the EUSAIR governing board and the ESIF managing authorities; stresses that the strategy should enable a more efficient and effective use of existing instruments and funds;

8.  Calls on the European Commission and national, regional and local bodies which are responsible for the preparation, management and implementation of ESIF programmes to stress the importance of macro-regional projects and actions;

9.  Stresses the importance of defining, at macro-regional level, the implementation structure and coordination mechanisms in order to facilitate cooperation including joint planning, alignment of funding opportunities and a bottom-up approach; underlines the need to align the national and regional operational programmes with the goals of the strategy, including, where possible, the incorporation of EUSAIR into the programmes; considers it necessary to coordinate and harmonise initiatives, proposals and projects which concern the Adriatic-Ionian Region;

10.  Encourages the Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the participating countries to fully exploit the possibilities available under the newly established European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) to finance projects in the region which would create added value, promote sustainable development and economic and social cohesion, spur growth and increase employment at the macro-regional level and contribute to achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy; in this context, encourages the provision of ‘bonus points’ to macro-regional projects in the project selection phase due to their inherent transnational nature;

11.  Points out that there are no specific funds assigned just for the implementation of macro-regional strategies and that strong political will, partnership and coordination among the countries is a precondition for success; calls therefore on the countries in the region to bundle funds (ESI Funds, IPA, EFSI) as well as contributions from national sources under the EIB as a financial and investment platform for supporting the financing of projects contributing to the fulfilment of the goals of the strategy; calls for the creation of a transparent and publicly available project pipeline for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, which would make current and potential investment needs and projects visible so that investors are encouraged to invest in these projects;

12.  Urges stakeholders to exchange best practices, draw on experience gained and identify the bottlenecks in the implementation of other EU macro-regional strategies and to increase cooperation with their counterparts, such as those from the Baltic Sea, Danube Basin and Alpine macro-regions;

13.  Calls on the Commission to eliminate administrative and non-financial obstacles which often dissuade investors from investing in such projects;

14.  Considers it necessary to find ways to involve countries not included in the strategy and which are geographically and economically close to the region, at least on an individual and specific project basis; highlights in this context the importance of cross-border and trans-national cooperation under cohesion policy and invites the Members States and regions concerned to make use of the existing best practices in this area;

15.  Recalls the major impact of the economic crisis on the region and stresses the need for regular assessment of strategies designed to achieve economic recovery; points out that the countries in the region are at different levels of development and have different needs; calls on the Commission to underline the importance of creating the conditions for reducing socio-economic differences between the countries; supports reforms in less developed countries and encourages the exchange of knowledge, experience and practices in this context;

16.  Points out that it is necessary to encourage, renew and deepen cultural, scientific and educational cooperation, including by increasing the scope for academic mobility of students and university staff; stresses that science and innovation are a prerequisite for smart, inclusive and sustainable growth; emphasises the interdependence of scientific and cultural cooperation with the growth of economic dynamics and the level of diversity and sustainability of tourism within the region;

17.  Welcomes the European Parliament’s representation in the governing bodies of the EUSAIR; calls on the Commission to analyse the joint efforts of the countries in the region (EU Member States and third countries) and the effective participation of local and regional authorities in achieving the strategy’s objectives;

18.  Refers to precedents established in the context of other EU macro-regional strategies and calls for support to be given, within the framework of pilot projects and preparatory actions, to different types of actions ranging from studies to seed money for the preparation of projects under different priority areas;

19.  Considers it imperative that, in the implementation phase of the strategy, its general principles, and in particular matters relating to environmental protection and the enhancement of natural resources, should be taken into due consideration in all four pillars, also in order to take a holistic approach to the complex and varied challenges of the macro-region;

20.  Emphasises that particular attention should be given to areas referred to in Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, such as islands, mountainous and rural regions, with the aim of identifying and exploiting their specific potential, especially in the tourism sector, whilst respecting the areas for action and priorities identified in this report; calls, moreover, on the Commission to propose a European Year of Islands and Mountains;

21.  Considers it necessary to find ways for the participating countries to involve other important pillars that could create development benefits for the area, such as agriculture on account of specific geo-climatic conditions, bio-diversity and the potential to create synergic coordinated effects and further growth; recommends close cooperation and coordination among inland areas, the coastal area and the islands to achieve synergies between clean energy projects and healthy food production;

22.  Draws attention to the importance of adequate reporting and evaluation of the implementation of the strategy; calls, in this context, on the participating countries, together with the Commission, to gather reliable baseline data and establish concrete targets for each pillar which would be evaluated on a yearly basis and made publicly available;

23.  Calls for a comprehensive and integrated European approach to migration; emphasises that the region faces serious migration challenges and deplores all the tragedies in the Mediterranean; urges that in tackling these challenges a significant shift in asylum policies in terms of solidarity among Member States is essential; highlights the need to look at the overall strategy on cooperation with third countries; regrets the insufficient cooperation among EU Member States with regard to migratory challenges; encourages the exchange of good practices in receiving migrants and calls, as a matter of urgency, for special attention to be paid to the social and humanitarian issues affecting the region, with a view to a possible redefinition of the EUSAIR priorities in the future;

24.  Expects new impetus to be given to the strengthening of peace and security in South East Europe;

25.  Calls on countries to exchange best practices in the area of ​​respect for minority rights in order to apply the highest standards, given that this is a particularly sensitive area regarding linguistic issues;

26.  Stresses that, within the various stages of implementation, public and private economic players, members of society and the various components of organised civil society must be provided with appropriate training through a specific programme including organisational and technical support;

27.  Calls on the Commission to present a report on the implementation of EUSAIR to Parliament and the Council every two years, in order to assess its functioning and its added value in terms of growth and jobs, reducing disparities and sustainable development;

28.  Encourages specific measures to promote the social dimension; stresses the importance of incorporating priorities and measures which seek to support the inclusion of persons with disabilities and prevent all kinds of discrimination;

Blue growth

29.  Stresses that the region’s unique geographical position and specific coastline structure, together with its rich marine biodiversity, hold immense potential for the creation of ‘blue’ jobs and for innovative and sustainable economic development and growth, including blue technologies, fisheries and aquaculture, and better maritime and marine governance and services;

30.  Advocates the blue economy as a solution to the economic crisis, since it stimulates the creation of new jobs and economic development, and especially jobs for women and young people in coastal and island countries; believes that the EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region cannot be pursued without factoring in the concept of the blue economy, which links the economic sectors relating to seas and oceans, aquaculture, maritime and river transport and tourism to environmental protection;

31.  Calls on the Commission and the states involved in the strategy to provide incentives that attract young people to the field of fisheries and aquaculture in the Adriatic and Ionian region and encourage them to undertake such activities;

32.  Calls for policy coordination and harmonisation of the strategy’s goals, as well as common projects, in line with the values, principles and objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy; encourages, furthermore, support for the development of a sustainable fisheries sector and the production of traditional and healthy food; calls for the establishment of Fisheries Local Action Groups, which could represent a natural tool for diversifying fisheries; highlights the fact that sustainable and profitable fisheries and aquaculture require strengthened stakeholder involvement in the overall management, as well as improved and diversified fisheries activities;

33.  Takes the view that blue growth comprises highly diverse sectors and businesses and for this reason its development requires highly skilled labour in all those sectors; calls on Member States involved in EUSAIR to promote the various sectors of blue growth in their training programmes, taking into account lifelong-learning systems and training for employees; points out the complexity of the activities, sectors and disciplines of the socio-economic systems involved in blue growth, and therefore considers it extremely important that Member States involved in the EUSAIR strategy adopt labour market policies in order to increase the capacity to adapt to change, innovation and multidisciplinarity, adapt the training of human capital and increase the female participation rate;

34.  Stresses the importance of a greater and real interconnection between the EU 2020 strategy and the three pillars (especially the blue growth pillar) of the EUSAIR strategy based on the European Commission Action Plan; considers the Action Plan as one of the outputs of the strategy approach identifying the concrete priorities for the macro-region; points out that, on the basis of this, each action or project is selected by an extensive bottom-up consultation process involving a range of stakeholders from the Adriatic-Ionian Region representing national, regional and local authorities, social partners, but also the private sector, the social economy, academia and civil society;

35.  Encourages clustering and cooperation between public and private enterprises, universities, research institutes and other relevant stakeholders in the marine and maritime sectors with the aim of stimulating innovation and benefiting fully from synergies; considers that actions under the blue growth pillar should build on the national and regional research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation in order to secure more efficient and effective investments; calls on the countries and regions to participate in the Commission’s S3 Platform to benefit from assistance in the development, implementation and review of smart specialisation strategies; considers it necessary, in this context, to give SMEs better access to credit and to improve the existing business networks (clusters) through an internationalisation process, in order to create new quality and sustainable jobs;

36.  Supports the creation of a joint quality label for high-quality seafood products from the region in order to increase their competitiveness;

37.  Stresses the importance of social dialogue and of the involvement of civil society representatives in capacity-building activities alongside the public authorities; considers that this could be achieved by setting up a permanent platform at macro-regional level and at regional level in each Member State to represent the social and economic partners, in line with what has already been done for universities, chambers of commerce and cities;

38.  Stresses the importance of marine and maritime research and of stronger cooperation in these sectors among researchers, and among Member States and regions involved in the EUSAIR strategy, in order to overcome the existing gap between these Member States and to boost the competitiveness of coastal areas and the creation of quality and sustainable local jobs;

39.  Notes with concern the rate of fish stock depletion in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas as a result of overfishing, along with illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU), and other significant risks to all marine life; stresses that fisheries are one of the key components in the economies of the coastal areas and islands; deems it necessary, therefore, to consider the protection and preservation of fish stocks and marine ecosystems, in line with the principle of the maximum sustainable yield included in the common fisheries policy, to be a paramount objective of the strategy; underlines the need, in the transitional period, to support adjustment to fishing limits through subsidies for the purchase of equipment via the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF); calls for decisive action in the form of aligning third-country fisheries legislation with EU legislation, data sharing, joint monitoring platforms and multiannual fisheries management plans, and for consideration of how to develop a sustainable aquaculture sector with its great potential for being powered by renewable energy sources;

40.  Recalls that commercially exploited fish and shellfish should be within safe biological limits in order to achieve good environmental status and to safeguard the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry;

41.  Calls on the Commission to register recreational fishing catch volumes, to regulate this activity and to make both recreational and professional fishing activities subject to MSY objectives;

42.  Urges comprehensive research on fish stocks, especially of endangered species, and their biological interconnection, given that the lack of exact data would make evaluations unclear and unreliable; urges the preservation of natural spawning;

43.  Calls for projects seeking to assess the impact of indirect fishing (ghost nets, mussel cultivation meshes) and by-catches of protected species to be evaluated and promoted, it being estimated that, in the Adriatic alone, over 40 000 sea turtles are caught accidentally; takes the view that environmental studies and studies on means of alleviating the problem (such as turtle excluder devices) are urgently necessary;

44.  Urges strong support for shipbuilding, including the leisure boat sector, focusing on its modernisation and specialisation in order to create jobs and adapt to the requirements of sustainable and competitive growth that is in line with blue technologies;

45.  Calls for strong support for manufacturing areas, twinning and cooperation between areas in different parts of the macro-region; encourages the exchange of good practices involving the most significant experiences in the sector and those of other regions which seek to take the same approach in order to promote the establishment of manufacturing areas;

46.  Underlines the importance of supporting and fostering recreational sport and family fishing together with integrated policies for fishing and tourism (fishing and fish tourism, mariculture), especially on the islands, in order to preserve the local cultural traditions and maritime lifestyles of islanders and small coastal sites; encourages sustainable, small-scale and traditional fishing and aquaculture, coupled with a diversified culinary offer and the promotion of local fish markets, as the best way to ensure sustainability and provide stronger support to coastal tourist activities;

47.  Calls on the Commission to support and promote the involvement of fisheries and fishery workers in projects such as those relating to cultural and heritage tourism, encompassing fisheries and the rediscovery of seafaring activities and traditional fishing grounds and occupations;

48.  Underlines the importance of the social economy and of female entrepreneurship for achieving the blue growth pillar and calls on the Member States involved in the EUSAIR strategy to encourage and support the participation of women in all the relevant sectors; recalls the fundamental role of small and micro enterprises in the regions and territories concerned and asks the Member States involved in EUSAIR to implement active policies for promoting such forms of economic activity;

49.  Supports measures to reduce the hydrogeological risk and the risk of coastal erosion;

50.  Stresses the importance of research and calls for strong support for marine and maritime districts;

51.  Stresses that the development of aquaculture and mariculture can play an important role not only in the recovery of species diversity but also in the economic growth of the Adriatic and Ionian region;

52.  Calls on the Commission to intensify the exchange of good practices such as the sustainability of projects developed by the Coastal Action Groups;

Connecting the region

53.  Notes that better transport and energy connections among the participating countries as well as between them and their other neighbours, including maritime transport, intermodal connections to the hinterland and energy networks, are compelling needs for the macro-region and a precondition for its economic and social development; underlines the lack of connection between the two coasts on the Adriatic and the network infrastructure gap existing in the Adriatic-Ionian area;

54.  Calls for incentives to be provided for the establishment of sustainable transport links which reduce journey times, transport and logistic costs and externalities; calls for major strategic works related to the interchange between sea and land in order to create opportunities for intermodal transport between countries, contribute to cohesion, enhance the overall network and reduce road congestion and thus CO2 emissions; draws attention to the need to improve the maritime and port dimension of cabotage, of motorways of the sea and of cruises between the two shores of the Adriatic, both on the north-south and transversal east-west routes; points out the need for greater coordination to prevent maritime traffic congestion and to improve its management and control;

55.  Encourages the use of the regulation on the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions from maritime transport (Regulation (EU) 2015/757) for innovation and establishment of sustainable maritime transport in the macro-region by using alternative marine propulsion engines and fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency in the transport sector;

56.  Underlines the importance of connecting maritime transport routes and ports with other parts of Europe and the relevance of interconnections with TEN-T corridors; calls on the participating countries to focus their efforts on implementing projects that are covered by the current TEN-T network and other interventions for its proposed extension to South-Eastern Europe/the Eastern Adriatic coast, and which are able to close the network gap existing in the Adriatic-Ionian area; invites the countries involved therefore to identify priority infrastructure projects of regional and European added value and suggests that attention be paid inter alia to:

   (i) completing the Baltic-Adriatic corridor, including the extension of the entire Ionian-Adriatic dorsal,
   (ii) the North-South extension of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor,
   (iii) the establishment of an Alpine-Western Balkans rail freight corridor,
   (iv) a better connection between the Iberian peninsula, central Italy and the Western Balkans,
   (v) implementing a road connection in the Balkan area between the port system and inside countries, as well as an interconnection with the Rhine-Danube corridor,
   (vi) improving port facilities for better connections between the two coasts on the Adriatic, and the preparation of a joint strategy by the managing boards of the North Adriatic ports for the more comprehensive supply of import goods to Central Europe;

57.  Calls for the capacity of the existing infrastructure network to be optimised, with particular reference to the existing road and rail links in the macro-region, including ‘last-mile’ links; stresses the need to finalise the Adriatic-Ionian highway as soon as possible, which will give a boost to the economic and social development of the macro-region; recalls the importance of the new corridors that integrate highways, railways and other infrastructures on both sides of the Adriatic-Ionian area; points out the need for greater coordination to prevent maritime traffic congestion and to improve its management and control;

58.  Calls for the development of a high-speed railway infrastructure that will interconnect the macro-region and allow better connection with and within the EU; highlights the importance of improving the railway connectivity of the Adriatic and Ionian region, as well as between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic/Ionian coasts;

59.  Calls for the participating countries to improve their maritime, rail and air transport infrastructure, to develop motorways of the sea in the macro-region, combining intermodal transport means, especially for connecting the hinterland, and to improve transport logistics, putting the most advanced technologies to the best possible use and always ensuring a high level of safety and environmental sustainability; calls also on the participating countries to assess the possibilities to improve connectivity with e-mobility instruments which could facilitate an international electronic ticketing service;

60.  Underlines the lack of effective connection with the islands; urges the Commission and the Member States to facilitate better connections by exploring new coordinated and value-added options, optimising the use of freight and passenger routes and involving private and public stakeholders, in order to increase the quality of life, stop depopulation and make it possible to exploit socioeconomic opportunities in these areas; underlines the need to improve the islands’ internal communications and transport infrastructure for sustainable inland mobility; stresses also the need to ensure adequate healthcare and educational programmes for island populations throughout the year;

61.  Calls for the implementation of major projects to develop intermodal links on the islands, and in particular wishes to see strong support for enhancing strategically important airports, in terms both of infrastructure and of new routes to other regions in the macro-region;

62.  Urges the participating countries to continue their efforts to diversify energy supply sources, a process which will not only improve the energy security of the macro-region but will also increase competition and combat energy poverty, which will have important benefits for the economic and social development of the region; emphasises the need for thorough assessments of the environmental impact of interventions in the energy sector; underlines the importance of the common planning for investment in the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and missing gas pipeline networks in the macro-region, thereby helping to achieve enhanced independence and energy security; encourages, furthermore, measures to increase energy and resource efficiency, thus also contributing to competitiveness;

63.  Encourages the development of energy infrastructure capable of reducing the carbon footprint, increasing energy efficiency and guaranteeing the energy security of the macro-region and beyond; highlights furthermore the importance of developing and promoting the concept of Smart Cities in order to provide added value to the current overall energy infrastructure of the macro-region;

64.  Recognises the high potential of underused renewable energy sources in the macro-region; calls for the exploitation of available renewable sources such as solar, wind, tidal (when technically feasible) and wave energy within the energy production mix; underlines the sustainability and competitiveness of potential hydropower plants in all participating countries; calls on the participating countries to contribute to the setting-up of a well-functioning and interconnected gas and electricity market in the macro-region that will ensure equal access to cheap and affordable energy; stresses the importance of strengthening cross-border energy interconnections underpinning investment in the energy sector as a key precondition for integration into the EU's energy network, as well as the removal of barriers to cross-border investment in the energy sector;

65.  Supports joint planning and investment in energy infrastructure for both the production and transport of electricity and gas in the macro-region, in accordance with the TEN-E network, implementing the concrete projects mentioned in the list of Projects of Energy Community Interest (PECIs);

66.  Expresses concern at the renewed impulse given to the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas offshore and on land, which could expose the macro-region to the risk of disasters with very serious consequences for the environment, economy, including the fisheries sector, and public health; stresses that any such activity must be in line with the Union’s climate and renewable energy rules and guidelines; emphasises that the Adriatic is a closed, shallow sea, which lacks the capacity to disperse pollutants and has a flourishing tourist trade on both its shores, and that the macro-region’s growth should first depend on tourism and on economic activities linked to its specific environmental features and ecosystems; underlines the need for consistent implementation of EU legislation and international conventions on environmental sustainability and the safety of maritime activities; calls for the full implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) and of the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Directive (2013/30/EU);

67.  Calls for the formulation of common European transport safety standards in the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region;

68.  Stresses the need to promote cross-border air services through the implementation of joint projects designed to secure and enhance links within the macro-region;

Environmental quality

69.  Recalls the richness of the marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems of the participating countries; notes that the Adriatic Sea is home to nearly half (49 %) of all recorded Mediterranean marine species and is the most unusual subregion of the Mediterranean due to its shallowness, restricted flows, and the large influence of rivers; calls for joint efforts in taking all possible measures, such as the use of clean fuels for maritime transport and logistics, in order to preserve the biodiversity of the marine environment and the transnational terrestrial habitats as well as to prevent and reduce the pollution of the sea and other threats to coastal and marine biodiversity; stresses the importance of protecting endangered marine and terrestrial species, such as Mediterranean monk seals, olms, lynxes, griffon vultures and others, and calls on the participating countries to implement proportionate measures to fulfil this objective;

70.  Calls for the exchange of best practices between participating countries in the field of managing the natural and cultural heritage, including Natura 2000 areas and UNESCO sites, with the intention of creating sustainable tourist attractions;

71.  Urges all the participating countries to join forces in implementing maritime spatial planning, in accordance with Directive 2014/89/EU establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning, and integrated coastal management, involving various stakeholders (national, regional and local authorities, local population, research community, NGOs, etc.); considers that proper joint governance of the maritime space provides an important framework for the sustainable and transparent use of maritime and marine resources;

72.  Highlights the importance of protecting and preserving the rivers and lakes in the Adriatic-Ionian basin;

73.  Points out the need to tackle responsibly historical and trans-border pollution and to clean up the sites affected by the industrial contamination of soil, water and air, and, where applicable, by pollution resulting from military conflicts; supports all active measures for the reduction of the pollution of the sea from chemical and conventional weapons; supports the reduction, with a goal of elimination, of marine litter, in line with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, in particular regarding waste pollution in the Adriatic islands;

74.  Is concerned about the damage caused by plastic waste at sea; calls on the Commission to support initiatives to collect and recycle this waste; stresses the importance of involving fishermen in the process;

75.  Calls on countries to develop and implement comprehensive plans to reuse obsolete industrial and military sites; stresses that these sites not only pose a threat to the environment but also offer significant economic potential which is not being exploited;

76.  Calls for encouraging the relocation of industry from urban centres and coastal areas with the aim of improving the quality of life;

77.  Insists that all existing tools be used in implementing the best waste management and wastewater treatment solutions in the region, in line with Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste-water treatment in the EU Member States;

78.  Draws attention to the various natural and man-made disasters that have hit the region in the last years; draws attention to the problem of deforestation and other climate change-related risks; stresses the need to apply in full the horizontal principles for natural disaster risk management and climate change adaptation with a view to implementing the action plan and the priorities of each pillar; encourages cooperation between the countries’ hydrometeorological institutes in tackling extreme weather events, climate change consequences, and disaster risk management; recognises water, agriculture and tourism as the sectors most vulnerable to climate change, therefore encourages cooperation between national authorities in order to establish a framework and a support mechanism for the implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures;

79.  Underlines the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular in the marine transport sector;

80.  Stresses that there is a problem with the geographic and seasonal disparities in accessibility to water reserves, with a marked shortage of water on the islands and in the coastal area during the summer when water demands become several times higher due to the arrival of a large number of tourists;

81.  Urges the establishment of a regional centre for disaster preparedness together with a joint contingency plan for oil spills and large-scale pollution events, in order to create an early warning system to prevent natural disasters and those caused by industrial, transport and other activities, such as floods, fires and exploitation activities in the Adriatic; emphasises that the centre should be directly linked to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism; stresses the importance of preserving the ecosystem and the biodiversity of the region through better understanding and the exchange of best practices;

82.  Calls on the non-EU countries to accelerate the implementation of the sectoral acquis (such as the Water Framework Directive) with a view to their future accession to the Union;

83.  Urges the Member States to consult the competent authorities of neighbouring countries and local communities in the macro-region, particularly with regard to economic activities subject to Environmental Impact Assessments in accordance with Directive 2014/52/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment;

Sustainable and competitive tourism

84.  Underlines the crucial importance of tourism for the European economy and the development of social cohesion within the EU, especially for the Mediterranean countries and for the region as a whole; stresses the need to develop new approaches to help offset seasonality in line with the impact and sustainability of tourism on the environment; urges more support for the financing of tourism projects from the ESIF and other sources;

85.  Urges the urgent improvement of cross-border road connections in order to enhance the competitiveness of tourism, given that poor connectivity causes traffic bottlenecks and long delays; underlines the need to improve, for tourism purposes, the existing air infrastructure and the maritime connection between the two coasts of the Adriatic;

86.  Stresses the need to encourage the use of existing airports in the macro-region in order to avoid the excessive concentration of passengers in a few airport hubs and promote sustainable and more balanced tourist flows in various locations;

87.  Recognises the rich cultural and natural heritage (including cultural activities such as cinema, theatre and music) of the region as a strong asset, which the tourism sector builds upon; points out the large number of protected UNESCO sites and Natura 2000 areas in all participating countries; considers that, despite the significant contribution of this sector to the economy, the tourism potential is not being fully exploited, in particular owing to high seasonality and lacks in the areas of innovation, sustainability, transport infrastructure, the quality of the tourism offer, the skills of participating stakeholders and responsible tourism management; calls on the participating countries to adopt policies ensuring adequate connections and tourist facilities both during and outside the summer season so as to diversify tourist flows and ensure a constant tourist presence in every season; stresses the importance of combining tourism with the natural, cultural and artistic heritage;

88.  Encourages Member States to promote sustainable mobility solutions in the tourism sector, thus improving the quality of tourist services and enhancing its range;

89.  Recognises the importance of national and nature parks and of protected areas as the foundations for the future education of citizens in matters relating to environmental protection and combatting climate change;

90.  Stresses that cooperation between countries is essential for the further development of tourism in the region; encourages the formulation of tourism strategies for the Adriatic Sea and for the Ionian Sea which are based on sustainability and enable the countries to benefit from synergies and to address common challenges at the macro-regional level; considers it necessary to work together to raise the profile of destinations in the Adriatic-Ionian region;

91.  Urges the European Commission, the participating countries and the local and regional authorities to take measures that incentivise stakeholders to improve the tourism infrastructure;

92.  Underlines the importance of supporting cultural and creative activities and in particular the development and integration of business activities in the fields of music, theatre, dance and films; calls for the organisation of festivals, conventions and cultural events that promote integration;

93.  Draws attention to the need to allow SMEs easier access to support and finance as they are instrumental for the tourism sector; encourages stakeholders in the region to participate in the Enterprise Europe Network in order to share experience, network and find cross-border partners;

94.  Stresses the importance of Smart Specialisation and Smart Communities projects involving the exploitation of existing innovation platforms, such as the creation of an Adriatic-Ionian area of creativity;

95.  Supports the development of a diversified tourism offer including thematic tourist parks and routes, and cultural, rural, health, medical, nautical, enogastronomic, conference and sport tourism, including cycling, golf, diving, hiking, skiing, mountaineering and outdoor sports, in order to promote tourism throughout the year and to improve the competitiveness of tourist destinations, based on sustainability; supports the development of rural tourism in order to reduce the pressure on major tourism centres and the narrow coastal area and to help overcome seasonality; supports the expansion of tourist activities towards the hinterland with the creation of integrated tourism products which include the main attractions of the macro-region and those of its capitals;

96.  Stresses the importance of coherence between tourism management and infrastructure and the need to improve the quality and diversity of services and opportunities, taking account of the specific characteristics of the region; stresses also the importance of promoting and preserving local and regional traditions;

97.  Stresses the importance of exploring alternative routes and business models and improving the linkage of cruise packages to local people and products, thus allowing unsustainable congestion to be tackled more effectively and better exploitation of the full potential, with more lasting economic benefits for local economies; recognises the importance of developing and branding macro-regional tourism routes, through the mapping and further promotion of existing routes;

98.  Advocates exploitation of the most representative assets of the area for the purposes of tourism and the development of promotional and marketing programmes;

99.  Stresses the need for genuine transport intermodality using an integrated network of services and intersections with a view to developing quality eco-tourism;

100.  Calls for the drafting of an Adriatic-Ionian Charter containing criteria, principles and guidelines for the promotion of sustainable tourism through implementation of the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS) for the assessment of tourist destinations with a view to improving their sustainable development;

o
o   o

101.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the EUSAIR participating countries (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia).

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.
(3) OJ C 349 E, 29.11.2013, p. 1.


Cohesion policy and review of the Europe 2020 strategy
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European Parliament resolution of 28 October 2015 on cohesion policy and the review of the Europe 2020 strategy (2014/2246(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0384A8-0277/2015

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (hereinafter ‘the Common Provisions Regulation’)(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Regional Development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the Investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006(2),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on delays in the start-up of cohesion policy for 2014-2020(12),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/760 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on European long-term investment funds(13),

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

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

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

–  having regard to the working document entitled ‘Blueprint for a revised Europe 2020 strategy: Contribution of the Steering Committee of the Committee of the Regions’ Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform’(15),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 21 January 2015 on the Commission’s sixth cohesion report(16),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 March 2015 entitled ‘Results of the public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2015)0100),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 January 2015 entitled ‘Making the best use of the flexibility within the existing rules of the Stability and Growth Pact‘ (COM(2015)0012),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0277/2015),

A.  whereas cohesion policy is the EU’s main investment growth and development policy aligned with the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and aimed at reducing disparities between regions and promoting convergence, with a budget of EUR 351,8 billion until the end of 2020; whereas the EU continues to face the effects of the economic and financial crisis – high unemployment, uneven and slow pace economic recovery; and whereas cohesion policy seeks to ensure that all energies and capacities are mobilised and focused on the pursuit of the Europe 2020 strategy’s objectives of sustainable growth and jobs;

B.  whereas it is crucial that different EU initiatives for growth and jobs, as well as environment and climate protection, maintain a coherent approach; whereas the Europe 2020 strategy flagship initiatives play a key role in enhancing coordination at local and regional level as regards the implementation of cohesion policy; whereas there is no explicit mechanism built into the programming or the reporting provisions that would explicitly target flagship initiatives in terms of the contribution of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) to their delivery; whereas the Europe 2020 strategy review will need to address the implementation of the flagship initiatives and aim for a balance between financial, fiscal and economic measures on the one hand and social, educational, environmental and equality (especially gender equality) aspects on the other;

C.  whereas there is a growing need for stronger co-ownership of the strategy by the different levels of governance and by the different actors involved, and for shared responsibility with the corresponding rights and obligations at all levels of implementation; whereas multi-level governance and partnership must be enhanced, as these principles have the potential to address the lack of administrative capacity;

D.  whereas the goals of cohesion policy have unquestionably evolved over time to support investment in the main EU priorities, demonstrating their adaptability and effectiveness, while maintaining the reduction of disparities between the levels of development of the various regions as the central objective, strengthening regions’ potential and promoting sustainable development; whereas the European Fund for Strategic Investments brings new elements to the overall EU strategy aimed at creating innovative, sustainable and inclusive growth and skilled jobs;

E.  whereas the review of the Europe 2020 strategy should take account of the serious, uneven effects the economic and financial crisis has had on the Member States and regions and be smart and balanced for reasons of coherence and effectiveness; whereas it might nevertheless consider other measures, such as infrastructure, internal market and administrative capacity measures; whereas different territorial characteristics should be taken into account, with special attention being given to the EU’s regions mentioned in Articles 174 and 349 of the TFEU;

F.  whereas the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy, though delayed in 2015, affords above all an opportunity to assess (and acknowledge) the contribution of cohesion policy to achieving the strategy’s targets and to improve existing interactions and links between various EU policies and with the EU budget, with a view to them acting as an effective driving force for the implementation of the strategy; whereas this stage is essential for shaping future cohesion policy, as an EU-wide investment policy, while prioritising the reduction of development disparities and re-accelerating the convergence process;

The Europe 2020 strategy and its interrelationship with cohesion policy

1.  Recalls that the Europe 2020 strategy is an overarching, long-term ‘growth and jobs’ strategy of the European Union, built around five ambitious objectives: employment, innovation, climate change and energy sustainability, education, and fighting poverty and social exclusion; notes that the objectives are accompanied by seven flagship initiatives and notes that the challenges identified in 2010 have been unevenly addressed and that progress at EU level towards achieving some of them, such as fighting unemployment, is still moderate; emphasises that the EU should concentrate on sustainable growth and development, as well as on decent jobs in order to gain long-term benefits from its investments;

2.  Highlights the fact that progress in gender equality could also contribute to economic growth, sustainable development and social cohesion;

3.  Points out that an EU economic governance framework and its implementation mechanism, the ‘European Semester’, were established in 2010 to ensure coordination of Member States’ fiscal policies, structural reforms and better alignment of national budgetary policies on growth and jobs at EU and national level, in order to support the delivery of the strategy; draws attention to the fact that further coordination and synchronisation challenges still remain to be addressed;

4.  Stresses that cohesion policy for 2007-2013, aligned with the predecessor Lisbon Strategy and having similar core objectives, was already in the implementation phase when the Europe 2020 strategy was launched, and that reprogramming in accordance with the new strategy objectives would therefore have been both difficult and counterproductive; points out, nevertheless, that, at a time of global economic crisis, cohesion policy has not only been the sole source of investment for many Member States, but has also, through ‘Lisbon earmarking’, substantially supported and contributed to countries’ policies for the implementation of the strategy, as shown by the sixth cohesion report and by several Commission communications and studies; recalls that the Lisbon Strategy lost the commitment of Member States, regions and cities over time, and that Europe 2020 governance is particularly consistent with cohesion policy principles and instruments, which can ensure a co-ownership commitment on the implementation of the strategy;

5.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of the ex-post evaluations for the 2007-2013 programming period, to provide information on both the output and result orientation and the concrete contribution made to the Europe 2020 objectives by cohesion policy; stresses the importance of understanding the realities and limitations of the available evidence on cohesion policy’s contribution to the overarching objectives of the strategy and of considering the upheavals which the EU economies have suffered, especially in the case of those countries severely hit during the crisis; appreciates that those conclusions could be useful for the current delivery of the strategy;

6.  Emphasises that cohesion policy is the main EU instrument, covering all regions, for investment in the real economy and acts as the expression of European solidarity by extending growth and prosperity and reducing economic, social and territorial disparities; points out that cohesion policy is fully aligned with the Europe 2020 objectives and provides the investment framework needed, without being simply a tool for its implementation; stresses, in this context, that through thematic concentration the ESIF under the new architecture are oriented towards 11 thematic objectives derived straight from the Europe 2020 objectives, and that preconditions linked directly to these thematic objectives have been established in order to ensure that investments are made in such a way as to maximise their effectiveness; underlines its full support for this new approach, which will contribute to increasing the effectiveness of spending;

7.  Underlines the fact that cohesion policy is developing synergies with other EU policies such as the digital single market, the energy union, the single capital market and social policy and that, through all its instruments and objectives, including macro-regional strategies, the urban agenda, the territorial agenda, investment in SMEs, smart growth and smart specialisation strategies, it is substantially contributing to the strengthening of the single market and achieving Europe 2020 strategy targets; calls in this context on national and regional authorities across Europe to design smart specialisation strategies and exploit synergies between different EU, national and regional instruments, both public and private;

8.  Points to the connection with a broader economic governance process through measures linking the effectiveness of the ESI Funds to sound economic governance; calls on the Member States to act with full responsibility in order to avoid their application to the greatest possible extent and to prevent negative impacts on the implementation of the ESIF and on the attainment of cohesion policy goals; stresses furthermore, that support should be provided to Member States experiencing temporary budgetary difficulties; welcomes the flexibility mechanisms within the existing rules of the Stability and Growth Pact (COM(2015)0012) aimed at strengthening the link between investment, structural reforms and the use of resources in order to promote long-term sustainable growth and facilitate progress towards the Europe 2020 objectives;

9.  Stresses with concern the delays in implementing cohesion policy during the current programming period; points out that, although a large majority of operational programmes have now been agreed, the implementation itself is still at a very early stage; stresses, nevertheless, that assessments can be made as regards directing policy resources to priorities that contribute to sustainable growth and jobs; notes, in this context, that according to the first evaluation released by the Commission, the amounts allocated to R&I, support for SMEs, ICT, the low-carbon economy, employment, social inclusion, education and capacity-building have increased substantially as compared with the previous programming periods, while the level of support for transport and environmental infrastructure has decreased; draws attention to the fact that, at the time of the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy, data on implementation of the ESI Funds 2014-2020 may still be lacking, and that, as a result, a concrete evaluation of the contribution of these funds to achieving the strategy’s targets may still not be possible at that stage; appreciates the fact that Member States have taken action, e.g. to ensure that 20 % of their resources are spent on climate action;

10.  Acknowledges that establishing a performance framework and introducing ex ante conditionalities and linkages with country-specific recommendations (CSRs) in the cohesion policy programming 2014-2020 could provide a better investment environment for maximising the cohesion policy contribution to achieving Europe 2020 strategy headline targets;

Review momentum and related challenges

11.  Recalls that the Commission launched the strategy review process in 2014 by publishing its communication entitled ‘Taking stock of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’, and considers it regrettable that insufficient reference was made to cohesion policy and the associated instruments in that document; appreciates the fact that the process continued with a public consultation carried out between May and October 2014 with a view to collecting evidence for the review process, and welcomes the fact that the strategy’s relevance and the meaningfulness of its objectives and priorities were confirmed;

12.  Notes that the flagship initiatives are considered to be serving their purpose, but also highlights the fact that their visibility is considered to be rather low; regrets that the economic and financial crisis has aggravated the disparities within the European Union and that insufficient progress has been made towards several of the strategy’s headline targets, especially as regards employment, research and development, poverty and social exclusion; welcomes the conclusion drawn as to the need to enhance ownership and involvement on the ground, by consolidating vertical and horizontal partnerships with a view to improving the delivery of the strategy; stresses that the strategy should encourage the shift from process and outcome orientation to an actual result orientation approach in order to ensure the highest possible efficiency and effectiveness for the EU policies linked thereto;

13.  Welcomes Eurostat’s regular publication of progress indicators as regards the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy; calls, nevertheless, for greater and more accurate regional details in respect of the data provided at the NUTS II and NUTS III levels, which is going to be of increasing importance due to unforeseen economic and social problems occurring in various EU regions irrespective of their development level; points, moreover, to the three dimensions of cohesion policy – economic, social and territorial – and considers, in the light of this, that it should not be measured solely on the basis of economic indicators; calls,, in this context, on the Commission and the Member States to continue the discussion and engage in more efficient cooperation on the development of a more inclusive set of indicators to complement GDP, with a view to them being more relevant to evaluating the progress made towards achieving the priority objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy;

14.  Notes that the publication of the Commission’s proposal on the review of the Europe 2020 strategy is due before the end of 2015 and regrets this delay, given that it was initially scheduled for early 2015; stresses that this will once again take place at a rather ‘inopportune moment’ in the cohesion policy cycle, when the effective implementation process is under way; stresses, moreover, that early reprogramming would be completely counterproductive for the long-term strategic planning of cohesion policy;

15.  Welcomes the setting-up of a task force for better implementation of EU funds; also welcomes the establishment of the ‘Structural Reform Support Service‘, which officially started work on 1 July 2015 and which will provide technical assistance to Member States with a view to the more effective implementation of structural reforms and CSRs;

16.  Acknowledges, at the same time, the need to consider the evolution of the economic outlook, the use of new instruments, the progress made towards the strategy objectives and the consequent necessity of making operational adjustments;

17.  Calls therefore for the scope of the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy to be smart and balanced and to be focused on better interlinking the strategy’s five objectives and its flagship initiatives and on identifying methods as to how they could be better carried forward and evaluated without creating additional layers of complexity and excessive administrative burden; stresses that it should take into account the strengths and weaknesses of the EU economy, the growing inequalities (such as in wealth), high unemployment and high public debts; emphasises that, in parallel with the focus on macro-economic criteria of fiscal and economic governance, progress towards all the Europe 2020 headline targets should be pursued; considers that attention should also be paid to increased societal and environmental sustainability, greater social inclusion and gender equality; underlines the importance of continued support from the Commission services for Member State authorities in improving administrative capacity;

18.  Reiterates its calls to enhance the responsibility, ownership, transparency and participation dimensions of the strategy by involving LRAs and all relevant civil society stakeholders and interested parties from the target-setting and development of objectives to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the strategy; insists on the crucial importance of a strengthened governance structure based on multi-level governance, incentive structures, an effective mixed top-down / bottom-up approach, the partnership model of cohesion policy and public-private partnerships in general, with a view to the consultation and cooperation of all stakeholders, in order to ensure effective capacity to deliver on the long-term objectives; recalls that, in accordance with Member States’ institutional and legal frameworks, regional and local authorities are also responsible for public investment and should therefore be acknowledged as key actors in the implementation of the strategy;

19.  Suggests, moreover, that the commitment by LRAs and stakeholders in the Europe 2020 strategy project should be renewed in the form of a pact between those partners, the Member States and the Commission, in order to ensure ownership and participation and that a code of conduct similar to the one on partnership, introduced by cohesion policy 2014-2020, should be adopted;

20.  Emphasises the need for a truly territorial approach to the Europe 2020 strategy with a view to adjusting public interventions and investments to different territorial characteristics and specific needs; considers it of the utmost importance to bridge the overall approach of the Europe 2020 strategy and the territorial approach of the Territorial Agenda 2020 (TA 2020); takes the view, moreover, that tailor-made Europe 2020 voluntary regional targets should be possible and should be discussed at regional level without adding to the bureaucratic burden on the ground; stresses that such tailor-made voluntary regional targets should be consistent with the strategy’s overarching architecture and be comprised within the pre-defined targets; recalls also, in this connection, the importance of community-led local development strategies;

21.  Acknowledges the significant role of cities and urban areas as drivers for growth and jobs, and demands that the review of the Europe 2020 strategy also take into account a wider holistic approach to the future development of cities as entities which play an active role in meeting Europe 2020 objectives; calls on the Commission, therefore, to give due consideration to the Riga Declaration on the Urban Agenda, in view of the fundamental role played by urban areas, whether small, medium-sized or large; stresses, in particular, the need for a strategy that takes account of the specific needs of small and medium-sized urban areas on the basis of an approach that builds synergies with the Digital Agenda and the Connecting Europe Facility;

22.  Calls on the Commission to provide information about the role of territorial aspects as factors of economic growth, job creation and sustainable development, and demands that the review of the Europe 2020 strategy address territorial impacts and provide guidance on how to tackle them; reiterates the importance of consultation with LRAs in this regard, as they play a determinant role in the implementation of territorial development strategies; highlights also the role that macro-regional strategies and European territorial cooperation in general could play in the successful implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy’s goals, given that many development projects involve cross-border areas, including several regions and countries, and are able to develop place-based responses to the long-term challenges;

23.  Notes the importance of the new EU investment instrument, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which will support the mobilisation of up to EUR 315 billion in investments, with the aim of closing the investment gap in the EU and maximising the impact of public spending; emphasises that the EFSI should be complementary and additional to the ESI Funds; regrets that it is not clearly linked to the Europe 2020 strategy, but considers that, through its objectives and the selection of viable, sustainable projects, it should contribute to the implementation of the strategy in specific areas;

24.  Stresses, moreover, the imperative of ensuring full coherence and synergies between all EU instruments, by considering the smart specialisation strategies as one of the core investment instruments, in order to avoid overlapping or contradictions between them or between the different levels of policy implementation; demands, therefore, that the review of the Europe 2020 strategy confirm it as the EU’s long-term strategic framework for growth and jobs and address this challenge of coordinating policy instruments, including the EFSI, with a view to using all the available resources effectively and achieving the expected results as regards the overarching strategic goals;

25.  Asks the Commission, with a view to promoting the overall harmonious development of the EU and in view of cohesion policy’s key role in delivering Europe 2020 strategy objectives, to take into consideration, when reviewing the strategy’s goals and objectives, the characteristics and constraints of specific territories, such as those of rural areas, areas affected by industrial transition, regions suffering from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps, island, cross-border and mountain regions and the EU’s outermost regions, in accordance with Articles 174 and 349 of the TFEU; points, in this context, to the latter regions’ potential in such areas as biotechnology, renewable energy and biodiversity;

26.  Stresses the improved results arising from increasing the quantity, quality and impact of R&I investments, through the coordinated use of cohesion policy instruments and Horizon 2020 in the context of the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy; asks the Commission, in this connection, to reinforce all possible interactions and synergies between these two important policy frameworks when reviewing the Europe 2020 goals and objectives and to set up a web-based tracking system in order to identify cases of combinations of funding from the ESI Funds with Horizon 2020, EFSI and the other Community-funded programmes; welcomes also the plan to introduce a ‘seal of excellence‘ for applicants that are evaluated as excellent, but cannot obtain financing from Horizon 2020, in order to help them access ESI Funds;

27.  Calls on the Commission to establish a coherent ongoing evaluation process in order to regularly assess the progress of Europe 2020 strategy targets and suggest appropriate measures for their achievement, as well as recommendations for post-2020 cohesion policy; emphasises also Parliament’s role to supervise the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and cohesion policy in a coordinated manner, not only within Parliament, but also with all relevant institutions; calls, in this connection, for the timely involvement of Parliament in all relevant discussions targeting the design of the policies covered by the strategy, their implementation and their evaluation; points to the importance of also mobilising in these exchanges of views the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, national and regional parliaments, LRAs, other stakeholders and interested parties;

Future cohesion policy – looking beyond the short term

28.  Considers that the review of the Europe 2020 strategy, which will precede the launch of the proposal for the mid-term revision of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020, will provide the basis for the future cohesion policy architecture post-2020, as well as for other MFF instruments; stresses, in this context, the importance of effectively addressing all the concerns raised above, while ensuring the continuity of the strategic approach; recalls, also, the added value of an EU-wide cohesion policy, which must continue to be one of the main EU investment instruments for growth, job creation and climate protection, while ensuring balanced, harmonious development across the EU, as a catalyst for change and a stimulator of prosperity, including in the less developed regions; underlines, in this regard, the need to ensure a sustainable level of financing for the ESI Funds after 2020;

29.  Points out that both future cohesion policy and the future EU long-term strategy should be drafted before the end of the Commission’s current term, bearing in mind that there will be elections to the European Parliament in 2019, and that this imposes significant specific time constraints on the co-legislators as regards the negotiation calendar, and on the new Commission and the Member States as regards the preparation and adoption of the new partnership agreements and operational programmes before the start of the next MFF; notes, at the same time, that negotiations will also be entered into on the future MFF; calls on the Commission, therefore, to take into consideration all the specific constraints generated by interlinkages and timing coordination requirements and to develop a coherent approach as regards the EU’s future long-term sustainable growth and jobs strategy, the EU budget, cohesion policy in particular, and other instruments under the MFF;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.
(5) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 303.
(6) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 281.
(7) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(8) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0002.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0015.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0132.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0068.
(13) OJ L 123, 19.5.2015, p. 98.
(14) OJ C 19, 21.1.2015, p. 9.
(15) https://portal.cor.europa.eu/europe2020/SiteCollectionDocuments/2459-brochure-BlueprintEU2020.pdf
(16) OJ C 242, 23.7.2015, p. 43.


European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance
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European Parliament resolution of 28 October 2015 on the European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance: guidelines for the implementation of Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation (2015/2052(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0385A8-0268/2015

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication on the guidelines on the application of the measures linking effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment Funds to sound economic governance according to Article 23 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 (COM(2014)0494) (hereinafter ‘the Guidelines’),

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(1) (hereinafter ‘the CPR’),

–  having regard to the Commission’s statement on Article 23, included in the Statements relating to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2013 on effects of budgetary constraints for regional and local authorities regarding the EU’s Structural Funds expenditure in the Member States(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on the contribution of the Cohesion policy to the achievement of Lisbon and the EU2020 objectives(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on the European Commission’s 7th and 8th progress reports on the EU Cohesion Policy and the Strategic Report 2013 on programme implementation 2007-2013(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2014 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2014 priorities(6),

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

–  having regard to the Commission’s Cohesion policy strategic report 2013 on programme implementation 2007-2013, of 18 April 2013 (COM(2013)0210),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 12 February 2015 on the guidelines on the application of the measures linking the effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to sound economic governance,

–  having regard to Parliament’s study of January 2014 entitled ‘European Economic Governance and Cohesion Policy’ (Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies),

–  having regard to Parliament’s briefing of December 2014 entitled ‘The European Structural and Investment Funds and sound economic governance: guidelines for the implementation of Article 23 of the Common Provisions Regulation’ (Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0268/2015),

A.  whereas cohesion policy is a TFEU-based policy and an expression of European solidarity, aimed at strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU, and in particular at reducing disparities between regions, promoting a balanced and harmonious socio-economic development; whereas it is also an investment policy contributing to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;

B.  whereas the current legislative framework for cohesion policy, while establishing links with the EU strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the European Semester and the Europe 2020 Integrated Guidelines, as well as with the relevant country-specific recommendations (CSRs) and Council recommendations, is nevertheless subject to very specific missions, objectives and horizontal principles;

C.  whereas the current legal framework of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) aims to reinforce coordination, complementarity and synergies with other EU policies and instruments;

D.  whereas there is evidence that good governance and efficient public institutions are essential for sustainable and long-term economic growth, job creation and social and territorial development, although less evidence is available about the macroeconomic factors which affect the way cohesion policy operates;

E.  whereas economic and financial unpredictability and legal uncertainty may result in decreasing levels of public and private investment, putting at risk the achievement of the goals of cohesion policy;

F.  whereas the Guidelines concern the first strand of measures linking the effectiveness of the ESI Funds to sound economic governance under Article 23 CPR; whereas this relates to a reprogramming and a suspension of payments which are not compulsory, unlike the second strand of Article 23 CPR, which requires the suspension of commitments or payments where Member States fail to take corrective action in the context of the economic governance process;

G.  whereas the Member States’ track record of implementing the CSRs is low, on the evidence of the Commission’s assessments of implementation progress concerning the 279 CSRs issued in 2012 and 2013, showing that 28 CSRs had been fully addressed or showed substantial progress (10 %) and 136 (48,7 %) had achieved some progress, but for 115 (41,2 %) limited progress or no progress was recorded;

Linking effectiveness of the ESI Funds to sound economic governance

1.  Emphasises the importance of cohesion policy instruments and resources in maintaining the level of European added-value investment in Member States and regions for enhancing job creation and improving socio-economic conditions, especially where investment has fallen significantly owing to the economic and financial crisis;

2.  Believes that the achievement of the ESI Funds’ policy objectives and goals should not be hindered by the economic governance mechanisms, while acknowledging their relevance in contributing to a stable macroeconomic environment and an efficient, effective and result-oriented cohesion policy;

3.  Considers that Article 23 of the CPR must only be used as a last resort to contribute to an efficient implementation of the ESI Funds;

4.  Emphasises the multiannual and long-term nature of programmes and objectives under the ESI Funds, as opposed to the annual cycle of the European Semester; in this context, points out the need to ensure the clarity of the mechanisms for implementation of the latter, and calls for close coordination between these two processes and between the bodies responsible for their respective implementation;

5.  Stresses the need for the Commission to submit a white paper taking account of the effects of public investment in the long term and establishing a typology of quality investments, so that those which produce best effects in the long term can be clearly identified;

6.  Recalls that cohesion policy has played a vital role and has shown significant responsiveness to macroeconomic and fiscal constraints in the context of the current crisis, through the reprogramming of more than 11 % of the available budget between 2007 and 2012, in order to support the most pressing needs and strengthen certain interventions; stresses, in this connection, that in several Member States cohesion policy represented more than 80 % of public investment over the period 2007-2013;

7.  Asks the Commission to provide further analytical data on the impact and significance of the macroeconomic mechanisms for regional development, for the effectiveness of cohesion policy and for the interaction between the European economic governance framework and cohesion policy, and to provide specific information on how cohesion policy contributes to the relevant CSRs and Council recommendations;

8.   Calls on Member States to make best use of the flexibility existing under the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact;

Reprogramming under Article 23 CPR

General considerations

9.  Recalls that any decision regarding reprogramming or suspension under Article 23 CPR must only be used in exceptional situations, and must be well-weighed, thoroughly justified and implemented in a cautious fashion, with indication of the programmes or priorities concerned in order to ensure transparency and allow for verification and review; emphasises, moreover, that such decisions should not increase the difficulties that regions and Member States face as a result of the socio-economic environment or of their geographical location and specificities in the sense of Articles 174 and 349 TFEU;

10.  Considers that the partnership agreements and programmes adopted in the current programming period have taken account of the relevant CSRs and the relevant Council recommendations, ensuring good grounds for avoiding any reprogramming in the medium term unless the economic conditions should worsen substantially;

11.  Stresses that frequent reprogramming would be counter-productive and should be avoided in order not to disrupt fund management or undermine the stability and predictability of the multiannual investment strategy and to prevent any negative impacts, including on the absorption of the ESI Funds;

12.   Welcomes the cautious approach of the Commission with regard to reprogramming and its intention to keep it to the minimum necessary; calls for an ‘early warning’ approach in order to inform Member States concerned of the launching of the reprogramming procedure under Article 23 CPR, and emphasises that any reprogramming request should be preceded by consultation of the monitoring committee;

13.  Asks the Commission to carry out, in close cooperation with the Member State concerned, a comprehensive analysis of all available options other than the application of Article 23 CPR to address issues that may trigger a reprogramming request;

14.  Deplores any disproportionate increase of the administrative burden and subsequent cost for all levels of administration concerned, given the tight deadlines and the complexity of the reprogramming procedure under Article 23 CPR; warns against any overlapping of reprogramming procedures under Article 23 CPR with subsequent European semester cycles; calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of reassessing the application of the deadlines as per the review provided for in Article 23(16) CPR;

Horizontal principles under the CPR

15.  Expresses its concern that the Guidelines do not make explicit reference to the general and horizontal principles provided for in Articles 4 to 8 of the CPR, and recalls that the reading of Article 23 CPR must take account of and comply with these principles, in particular with those of partnership and multi-level governance, and with the Regulation and the Common Strategic Framework as a whole; calls on the Commission, in this context, to clarify how these principles will be specifically taken into account in the application of the provisions of Article 23 CPR;

The sub-national dimension of Article 23 CPR

16.  Emphasises that the increase in the public debt stems principally from the policies pursued by Member State governments, and is seriously concerned that the inability to properly address macroeconomic issues at national level may penalise subnational authorities and the beneficiaries of and applicants for ESI Funds;

17.  Recalls that the thematic concentration rules provided for by the 2014-2020 cohesion policy allow for a certain degree of flexibility in addressing Member States’ and regions’ needs, and notes that the application of Article 23 CPR may restrict this flexibility; recalls the need to take account of key territorial challenges, as well as the principle of subsidiarity as provided for in Article 4(3) CPR;

18.  Asks the Commission to evaluate, in close cooperation with Member States and partners as stipulated in Article 5 CPR, the impact and cost-efficiency at regional and local levels of any measures adopted under Article 23 CPR;

19.  Stresses the need for local and regional authorities to be actively involved in any reprogramming exercise, and is of the opinion that since the ESI Funds are linked to sound economic governance, the European Semester should be given a territorial dimension by also involving those authorities;

20.  Asks the Commission to read Article 23 CPR in line with the principle of proportionality, by taking into account the situation of those Member States and regions which face socio-economic difficulties and where ESI Funds represent a significant share of investment, which is even more evident in a crisis context; stresses that Member States and regions, and in particular the lagging ones, should not be further impacted;

Institutional coordination, transparency and accountability

21.  Recalls that strong institutional coordination is essential for ensuring the right policy complementarities and synergies, as well as a proper and stable interpretation of the framework of sound economic governance and its interaction with cohesion policy;

22.  Calls for an adequate flow of information between the Commission, the Council and Parliament, and for the holding of a public debate at the appropriate political level to ensure a common understanding as regards the interpretation of the conditions of application of Article 23 CPR; recalls, in this context, the need for a specific Council configuration dedicated to cohesion policy in charge of the decisions under Article 23 CPR;

23.  Considers it essential to ensure transparency and accountability by giving Parliament democratic oversight of the system of governance in the context of Article 23 CPR, which introduces important limitations in the bottom-up approach which is an important feature of cohesion policy;

Suspension of payments

24.  Recalls that the suspension of payments is a matter decided by the Council on the basis of a proposal that the Commission may adopt in the event that the Member State concerned fails to take effective action; underlines the important legal safeguards established by Article 23 CPR to ensure the exceptionality of the suspension mechanism;

25.  Emphasises the penalising nature of any suspension of payments, and asks the Commission to use its discretionary power to propose the suspension of payments with utmost caution and strictly in line with Article 23(6) CPR, after due consideration of all relevant information and elements arising from and opinions expressed through the structured dialogue;

26.  Welcomes, in the context of the criteria for determining the programmes to be suspended and the level of suspension under the first strand, the cautious approach adopted in the Guidelines whereby account will be taken of the economic and social circumstances of Member States by considering mitigating factors similar to those envisaged in the suspensions under Article 23(9) CPR;

27.  Calls on the Commission to establish a timescale for the lifting of the suspension under Article 23(8) of the CPR;

The role of Parliament in the framework of Article 23 CPR

28.  Regrets that the Guidelines do not make any reference to the role of Parliament, despite the fact that the CPR was adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure and despite the consistent calls of Parliament to reinforce democratic accountability and control in the context of economic governance;

29.  Considers that the involvement of Parliament, as the principal democratic guarantor for the correct application of Article 23(15) CPR, should be formalised by way of a clear procedure allowing Parliament to be consulted at all stages as regards the adoption of reprogramming requests or of any proposals and decisions on suspension of commitments or payments;

30.  Stresses the need for constant, clear and transparent collaboration at interinstitutional level, and considers that such a procedure should include, at least, the following steps:

   the Commission should immediately inform Parliament of the CSRs and Council recommendations that are relevant in the context of the ESI Funds, as well as of the programmes of financial assistance, or respective modifications, that may trigger a reprogramming request under Article 23(1) CPR;
   the Commission should immediately inform Parliament of any reprogramming request under Article 23(1) CPR or of any proposal for a decision suspending payments under Article 23(6) CPR, allowing Parliament to state its position in the form of a resolution before taking any further steps;
   the Commission should take into account the position expressed by Parliament and any elements arising from or opinions expressed through the structured dialogue under Article 23(15) CPR;
   the Commission should be invited by Parliament to explain whether Parliament’s opinions have been taken into consideration in the process, as well as any other follow-up given to the structured dialogue;
   the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee should be informed of and heard on reprogramming requests;
   Parliament, the Council and the Commission should establish a dialogue in the context of the application of Article 23 CPR, by ensuring interinstitutional coordination and a proper flow of information, allowing for the monitoring of the application of any of the procedures under Article 23 CPR;

31.  Calls on the Commission to report on the impact and results achieved in the application of Article 23 CPR, in the context of the review of its application in line with paragraph 17 of that Article, including by detailing to what extent any reprogramming request was based on the implementation of the relevant CSRs or Council recommendations or has enhanced the growth and competitiveness impact of the available ESI Funds for Member States under financial assistance programmes, as well as by providing the data on any suspended amounts and the programmes concerned;

o
o   o

32.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the Member States and their regions.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ C 375, 20.12.2013, p. 2.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0401.
(4) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 120.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0132.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0038.

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