Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Draft amending budget No 8/2015: Own resources and European Data Protection Supervisor
 Mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for immediate budgetary measures to address the refugee crisis
 Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund to provide for payment of advances in the 2016 budget
 2016 budgetary procedure: joint text
 Tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect
 Authorisation for uses of bis(2-ethylhexhyl) phthalate (DEHP)
 Prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations
 EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020

Draft amending budget No 8/2015: Own resources and European Data Protection Supervisor
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European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2015 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 8/2015 of the European Union for the financial year 2015, Own resources and European Data Protection Supervisor (13439/2015 – C8-0341/2015 – 2015/2269(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0404A8-0337/2015

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 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(1), and in particular Article 41 thereof,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2015, as definitively adopted on 17 December 2014(2),

–  having regard to Amending budget No 1/2015, as definitively adopted on 28 April 2015(3),

–  having regard to Amending budgets No 2/2015, No 3/2015, No 4/2015 and No 5/2015, as definitively adopted on 7 July 2015(4),

–  having regard to Amending budgets No 6/2015 and No 7/2015, as definitively adopted on 14 October 2015,

–  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(5),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2015/623 of 21 April 2015 amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(6),

–  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(7),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/436/EC, Euratom of 7 June 2007 on the system of the European Communities' own resources(8),

–  having regard to Draft amending budget No 8/2015, which the Commission adopted on 19 October 2015 (COM(2015)0545),

–  having regard to the position on Draft amending budget No 8/2015 which the Council adopted on 10 November 2015 and forwarded to Parliament on the same day (13439/2015 – C8-0341/2015),

–  having regard to Rules 88 and 91 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0337/2015),

A.  whereas Draft amending budget No 8/2015 concerns a revision of the forecast of Traditional Own Resources (customs duties), the budgeting of the remainder of the 2014 VAT and GNI balances and the budgeting of the 2015 VAT and GNI balances;

B.  whereas Draft amending budget No 8/2015 also updates the forecast for other revenue;

C.  whereas Draft amending budget No 8/2015 furthermore foresees a reduction of EUR 123 474 in both commitment and payment appropriations in the budget of the European Data Protection Supervisor;

D.  whereas Draft amending budget No 8/2015 results in a decrease in GNI-based contributions from Member States of EUR 9,4 billion;

1.  Takes note of Draft amending budget No 8/2015, as submitted by the Commission, and of the Council's position thereon;

2.  Notes that Draft amending budget No 8/2015, in all its elements, has an impact of a EUR 9 403,4 million reduction in Member States' contributions to the Union budget;

3.  Underlines that substantial additional financial means are necessary to address the current refugee crisis;

4.  Notes that Member States' financial pledges for the Africa Trust Fund, the Syria Trust Fund and to UN agencies supporting refugees, reconfirmed at the informal meeting of EU Heads of State or Government on migration of 23 September 2015, at the European Council of 15 October 2015, and at the Valletta Summit of 11-12 November 2015, have not yet been met; deplores that, according to Commission data, Member States were lagging behind by EUR 2,3 billion at the beginning of November 2015;

5.  Notes that further financial efforts will be needed to provide humanitarian assistance along the transit routes and to manage the challenges posed by the reception of unprecedented numbers of refugees in Europe's cities and regions;

6.  Deeply regrets that no firm compromise could be reached in conciliation to use the reflow from Draft amending budget No 8/2015 to address the refugee crisis; nevertheless expects that Member States will fully honour their previous commitments;

7.  Approves the Council position on Draft amending budget No 8/2015;

8.  Instructs its President to declare that Amending budget No 8/2015 has been definitively adopted and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Auditors and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 69, 13.3.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 190, 17.7.2015, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 261, 7.10.2015.
(5) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(6) OJ L 103, 22.4.2015, p. 1.
(7) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 163, 23.6.2007, p. 17.


Mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for immediate budgetary measures to address the refugee crisis
PDF 265kWORD 67k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for immediate budgetary measures to address the refugee crisis, in accordance with point 12 of 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 (COM(2015)0514 – C8-0308/2015 – 2015/2264(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0405A8-0336/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0514 – C8‑0308/2015),

–  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(1), and in particular Article 11 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2015/623 of 21 April 2015 amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2),

–  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(3), and in particular point 12 thereof,

–  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), as amended by Letters of amendment Nos 1/2016 (COM(2015)0317) and 2/2016 (COM(2015)0513),

–  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 position on the 2016 draft general budget, adopted on 28 October 2015(4)

–  having regard to the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee on 14 November 2015 (14195/2015 – C8-0353/2015),

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0336/2015),

A.  whereas, after having examined all possibilities for re-allocating commitment appropriations under heading 3 and heading 4, it appears necessary to mobilise the Flexibility Instrument for commitment appropriations;

B.  whereas the Commission had proposed to mobilise the Flexibility Instrument to complement the financing in the general budget of the Union for the financial year 2016 beyond the ceiling of heading 3 by EUR 1 504 million in commitment appropriations to finance measures under the European Agenda on Migration;

C.  whereas, in addition to the final amount of EUR 1 506 million beyond the ceiling of heading 3, the Conciliation Committee convened for the 2016 budget agreed to the proposal from Parliament's delegation for a further mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument by EUR 24 million beyond the ceiling of heading 4, in order to address the external dimension of the challenges posed by the refugee crisis;

D.  whereas the total amount of the Flexibility Instrument for the financial year 2016, which includes the unused amounts from the financial years 2014 and 2015, is therefore fully exhausted;

1.  Notes that the 2016 ceilings for heading 3 and heading 4 do not allow for an adequate financing of urgent measures in the field of migration and refugees;

2.  Agrees therefore with the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for an amount of EUR 1 530 million in commitment appropriations;

3.  Agrees furthermore to the proposed allocation of the corresponding payment appropriations of EUR 734,2 million in 2016, EUR 654,2 million in 2017, EUR 83 million in 2018 and EUR 58,6 million in 2019;

4.  Reiterates that the mobilisation of this instrument, as provided for in Article 11 of the MFF Regulation, shows, once more, the crucial need for the Union budget to be more flexible; notes that these additional appropriations are only made possible thanks to the carry-over of unused amounts from the Flexibility Instruments of the financial years 2014 and 2015; underlines that no amount will be carried over to the financial year 2017, thus limiting any mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument to its annual ceiling of EUR 471 million (2011 prices);

5.  Reiterates its long-standing view that, without prejudice to the possibility for payment appropriations to be mobilised for specific budget lines through the Flexibility Instrument without prior mobilisations in commitments, payments stemming from commitments previously mobilised through the Flexibility Instrument can only be counted over and above the ceilings;

6.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

7.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for immediate budgetary measures to address the refugee crisis

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2016/253.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(2) OJ L 103, 22.4.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) Texts Adopted, P8_TA(2015)0376.


Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund to provide for payment of advances in the 2016 budget
PDF 246kWORD 65k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund, in accordance with point 11 of 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 to provide for payment of advances in the 2016 budget (COM(2015)0281 – C8-0133/2015 – 2015/2123(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0406A8-0335/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0281 – C8‑0133/2015),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 of 11 November 2002 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund(1),

–  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(2), and in particular Article 10 thereof,

–  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(3), and in particular point 11 thereof,

–  having regard to joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee on 14 November 2015 (14195/2015 – C8-0353/2015),

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0335/2015),

A.  whereas, in line with Article 4a(4) of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, an amount of EUR 50 000 000 is made available for the payment of advances through appropriations in the general budget of the Union;

1.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

2.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund for the payment of advances

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2016/252.)

(1) OJ L 311, 14.11.2002, p. 3.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.


2016 budgetary procedure: joint text
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 25 November 2015 on the joint text on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016 approved by the Conciliation Committee under the budgetary procedure (14195/2015 – C8-0353/2015 – 2015/2132(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0407A8-0333/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee and the Parliament, Council and Commission statements (14195/2015 – C8‑0353/2015),

–  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 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 its resolution of 28 October 2015 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016(1) and to the budget amendments contained therein,

–  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(2),

–  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(3),

–  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(4),

–  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(5),

–  having regard to Rule 90 and Rule 91 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of its delegation to the Conciliation Committee (A8-0333/2015),

1.  Approves the joint text agreed by the Conciliation Committee, which consists of the following documents taken together:

   a list of budget lines not modified, compared to the draft budget or the Council's position;
   summary figures by financial framework headings;
   line by line figures on all budget items;
   a consolidated document showing the figures and final text of all lines modified during the conciliation;

2.  Confirms the joint statements by Parliament, the Council and the Commission annexed to this resolution;

3.  Confirms its statement on the application of point 27 of the Interinstitutional Agreement;

4.  Instructs its President to declare that the European Union's general budget for the financial year 2016 has been definitively adopted and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

5.  Instructs its President to forward this legislative resolution to the Council, the Commission, the other institutions and bodies concerned and the national parliaments.

ANNEX

FINAL 14.11.2015

Budget 2016 – Joint conclusions

These joint conclusions cover the following sections:

1.  Budget 2016

2.  Budget 2015 – Amending Budget 8/2015

3.  Joint statements

Summary overview

A.  Budget 2016

According to the elements for joint conclusions:

—  The overall level of commitment appropriations in the 2016 budget is set at EUR 155 004.2 million. Overall, this leaves a margin below the MFF ceilings for 2016 of EUR 2 331.4 million in commitment appropriations.

—  The overall level of payment appropriations in the 2016 budget is set at EUR 143 885.3 million.

—  The Flexibility Instrument for 2016 is mobilised for an amount of EUR 1 506.0 million in commitment appropriations for heading 3 Security and Citizenship and for an amount of EUR 24.0 million in commitment appropriations for heading 4 Global Europe.

—  The 2016 payment appropriations related to the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument in 2014, 2015 and 2016 are estimated by the Commission at EUR 832.8 million.

B.  Budget 2015

According to the elements for joint conclusions:

—  Draft Amending Budget 8/2015 is accepted as proposed by the Commission.

1.  Budget 2016

1.1.  'Closed' lines

Unless stated otherwise below in these conclusions, all budget lines not amended by either Council or Parliament, and those for which Parliament accepted Council's amendments during their respective reading are confirmed.

For the other budget items, the Conciliation Committee has agreed on the conclusions included in sections 1.2 to 1.6 below.

1.2.  Horizontal issues

Decentralised agencies

The EU contribution (in commitment appropriations and in payment appropriations) and the number of posts for all decentralised agencies are set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, with the following adjustments agreed by the Conciliation Committee:

—  Increase of establishment plan posts (fee-financed) for the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA Biocides, + 3 posts) and reduce the appropriations by EUR 1 350 000;

—  Increase of establishment plan posts (fee-financed) for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA, + 6 posts);

—  Increase of establishment plan posts (fee-financed) for the European Medicines Agency (EMA, + 3 posts);

—  Increase of establishment plan posts and related appropriations for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER, + 5 posts and + EUR 325 000);

—  Increase of establishment plan posts and related appropriations for the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA, + 2 posts and + EUR 130 000);

—  Increase of establishment plan posts and related appropriations for Eurojust (+ 2 posts and + EUR 130 000);

—  Increase of appropriations for the European Banking Authority (EBA, + EUR 928 000);

—  Decrease of appropriations for the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu.LISA, -EUR 260 000).

Executive agencies

The EU contribution (in commitment appropriations and in payment appropriations) and the number of posts for executive agencies are set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016.

Pilot Projects/Preparatory Actions

A comprehensive package of 89 pilot projects/preparatory actions (PP/PA), for an amount of EUR 64.9 million in commitment appropriations is agreed, as proposed by the Parliament.

When a pilot project or a preparatory action appears to be covered by an existing legal basis, the Commission may propose the transfer of appropriations to the corresponding legal basis in order to facilitate the implementation of the action.

This package fully respects the ceilings for pilot projects and preparatory actions provided in the Financial Regulation.

1.3.  Expenditure headings of the financial framework - commitment appropriations

After taking into account the above conclusions on 'closed' budget lines, agencies and pilot projects and preparatory actions, the Conciliation Committee has agreed on the following:

Heading 1a

Commitment appropriations are set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, integrating the following adjustments agreed in the Conciliation Committee:

—  Commitments for "H2020" are increased with the following breakdown:

In EUR

Budget line

Name

DB 2016 (incl. AL1&2)

Budget 2016

Difference

02 04 02 01

Leadership in space

158 446 652

159 792 893

1 346 241

02 04 02 03

Increasing innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

35 643 862

35 738 414

94 552

02 04 03 01

Achieving a resource-efficient and climate change resilient economy and a sustainable supply of raw materials

74 701 325

75 016 498

315 173

05 09 03 01

Securing sufficient supplies of safe and high quality food and other bio-based products

212 854 525

214 205 269

1 350 744

06 03 03 01

Achieving a resource-efficient, environmentally-friendly, safe and seamless European transport system

109 250 820

110 916 737

1 665 917

08 02 01 03

Strengthening European research infrastructures, including e-infrastructures

183 108 382

183 905 321

796 939

08 02 02 01

Leadership in nanotechnologies, advanced materials, laser technology, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing and processing

502 450 912

504 175 361

1 724 449

08 02 02 03

Increasing innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

35 967 483

36 120 567

153 084

08 02 03 01

Improving lifelong health and well-being

522 476 023

524 745 272

2 269 249

08 02 03 02

Securing sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food and other bio-based products

141 851 093

142 233 804

382 711

08 02 03 03

Making the transition to a reliable, sustainable and competitive energy system

333 977 808

335 369 074

1 391 266

08 02 03 04

Achieving a European transport system that is resource-efficient, environmentally friendly, safe and seamless

330 992 583

331 555 393

562 810

08 02 03 05

Achieving a resource-efficient and climate change resilient economy and a sustainable supply of raw materials

283 265 173

284 530 369

1 265 196

08 02 03 06

Fostering inclusive, innovative and reflective European societies

111 929 624

112 411 389

481 765

08 02 06

Science with and for society

53 267 640

53 497 266

229 626

09 04 01 01

Strengthening research in future and emerging technologies

213 825 023

215 400 890

1 575 867

09 04 01 02

Strengthening European research infrastructure, including e-infrastructure

97 173 367

97 889 261

715 894

09 04 02 01

Leadership in information and communications technology

718 265 330

723 681 812

5 416 482

09 04 03 01

Improving lifelong health and well-being

117 323 526

118 188 002

864 476

09 04 03 02

Fostering inclusive, innovative and reflective European societies

36 289 820

36 564 471

274 651

09 04 03 03

Fostering secure European societies

45 457 909

45 791 092

333 183

10 02 01

Horizon 2020 — Customer-driven scientific and technical support to Union policies

24 646 400

25 186 697

540 297

15 03 05

European Institute of Innovation and Technology – integrating the knowledge triangle of higher education, research and innovation

219 788 046

224 938 881

5 150 835

18 05 03 01

Fostering secure European societies

134 966 551

136 092 171

1 125 620

32 04 03 01

Making the transition to a reliable, sustainable and competitive energy system

322 875 370

324 676 361

1 800 991

Total

31 828 018

—  Commitments for "COSME" are increased with the following breakdown:

In EUR

Budget line

Name

DB 2016 (incl. AL1&2)

Budget 2016

Difference

02 02 01

Promoting entrepreneurship and improving the competitiveness and access to markets of Union enterprises

108 375 000

110 264 720

1 889 720

02 02 02

Improving access to finance for small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the form of equity and debt

160 447 967

172 842 972

12 395 005

Total

14 284 725

—  Commitments for "Erasmus+" are increased with the following breakdown:

In EUR

Budget line

Name

DB 2016 (incl. AL1&2)

Budget 2016

Difference

15 02 01 01

Promoting excellence and cooperation in the European education and training area and its relevance to the labour market

1 451 010 600

1 457 638 273

6 627 673

Total

6 627 673

As a consequence, and after taking into account decentralised agencies and pilot projects and preparatory actions, the agreed level of commitments is set at EUR 19 010.0 million, with no margin left under the expenditure ceiling of heading 1a and the use of the Global Margin for Commitments for an amount of EUR 543 million.

Heading 1b

Commitment appropriations are set at the level proposed in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016.

Taking into account pilot projects and preparatory actions, the agreed level of commitments is set at EUR 50 831.2 million, leaving a margin of EUR 5.8 million under the expenditure ceiling of heading 1b.

Heading 2

Commitment appropriations are set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016 with a further reduction of EUR 140.0 million arising from increased EAGF assigned revenue and an increase on the budget line 11 06 62 01. As a consequence, the Conciliation Committee has agreed on the following:

In EUR

Budget line

Name

DB 2016 (incl. AL1&2)

Budget 2016

Difference

05 03 01 10

Basic payment scheme (BPS)

16 067 000 000

15 927 000 000

-140 000 000

11 06 62 01

Scientific advice and knowledge

8 485 701

8 680 015

194 314

Total

-139 805 686

Taking into account decentralised agencies and pilot projects and preparatory actions, the agreed level of commitments is set at EUR 62 484.2 million, leaving a margin of EUR 1 777.8 million under the expenditure ceiling of heading 2.

Heading 3

Commitment appropriations are set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, integrating the following adjustment agreed in the Conciliation Committee:

In EUR

Budget line

Name

DB 2016 (incl. AL1&2)

Budget 2016

Difference

09 05 05

Multimedia actions

24 186 500

26 186 500

2 000 000

17 04 01

Ensuring a higher animal health status and high level of protection of animals in the Union

177 000 000

171 925 000

-5 075 000

17 04 02

Ensuring timely detection of harmful organisms for plants and their eradication

14 000 000

12 000 000

-2 000 000

17 04 03

Ensuring effective, efficient and reliable controls

50 401 000

47 401 000

-3 000 000

17 04 04

Fund for emergency measures related to animal and plant health

20 000 000

19 000 000

-1 000 000

Total

-9 075 000

As a consequence, and after taking into account decentralised agencies, pilot projects, preparatory actions and the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for migration, the agreed level of commitments is set at EUR 4 052.0 million, with no margin left under the expenditure ceiling of heading 3 and the mobilisation of EUR 1 506.0 million through the Flexibility Instrument.

Heading 4

Commitment appropriations are set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, integrating the following adjustments agreed in the Conciliation Committee:

In EUR

Budget line

Name

DB 2016 (incl. AL1&2)

Budget 2016

Difference

13 07 01

Financial support for encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community

31 212 000

33 212 000

2 000 000

21 02 07 03

Human development

161 633 821

163 633 821

2 000 000

21 02 07 04

Food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture

187 495 232

189 495 232

2 000 000

21 02 07 05

Migration and asylum

45 257 470

57 257 470

12 000 000

22 02 01 01

Support for political reforms and related progressive alignment with the Union acquis

188 000 000

190 000 000

2 000 000

22 02 01 02

Support for economic, social and territorial development and related progressive alignment with the Union acquis

326 960 000

327 960 000

1 000 000

22 02 03 01

Support for political reforms and related progressive alignment with the Union acquis

240 300 000

255 300 000

15 000 000

22 02 03 02

Support for economic, social and territorial development and related progressive alignment with the Union acquis

321 484 000

340 484 000

19 000 000

22 04 01 01

Mediterranean countries — Good governance, human rights and mobility

135 000 000

144 000 000

9 000 000

22 04 01 02

Mediterranean countries — Poverty reduction and sustainable development

636 900 000

640 900 000

4 000 000

22 04 01 03

Mediterranean countries — Confidence building, security and the prevention and settlement of conflicts

116 000 000

131 000 000

15 000 000

22 04 01 04

Support to peace process and financial assistance to Palestine and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

272 100 000

290 100 000

18 000 000

22 04 02 03

Eastern Partnership — Confidence building, security and the prevention and settlement of conflicts

8 000 000

9 300 000

1 300 000

22 04 03 03

Support to other multi-country cooperation in the neighbourhood — Umbrella programme

189 500 000

193 500 000

4 000 000

23 02 01

Delivery of rapid, effective and needs-based humanitarian aid and food aid

1 035 818 000

1 061 821 941

26 003 941

Total

132 303 941

As a consequence, and after taking into account pilot projects and preparatory actions, the agreed level of commitments is set at EUR 9 167.0 million, with no margin left under the expenditure ceiling of heading 4 and the mobilisation of EUR 24.0 million through the Flexibility Instrument.

Heading 5

The number of posts in the establishment plans of the Institutions and the appropriations proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016 are approved, with the following exceptions:

—  The European Parliament for which its reading is approved, with a reduction of 9 posts;

—  The Council, for which its reading is approved;

—  The Court of Justice, for which 7 additional posts are granted (+ EUR 300 000);

—  The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, for which the reading of the European Parliament is approved.

On 26 November 2015, the Commission is expected to approve the report on the budgetary impact of the 2015 salary update, which will have retroactive effect as from 1 July 2015 on remunerations of staff of all EU institutions and on pensions.

As a consequence, taking into account pilot projects and preparatory actions, the agreed level of commitments is set at EUR 8 935.2 million, leaving a margin of EUR 547.8 million under the expenditure ceiling of heading 5.

European Union Solidarity Fund

Commitment appropriations are set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, including the mobilisation of EUR 50 million of the European Union Solidarity Fund for the payment of the advances.

1.4.  Payment appropriations

The overall level of payment appropriations in the 2016 budget is set at EUR 143 885.3 million, including EUR 832.8 million related to the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument.

The breakdown of payment appropriations is set at the level proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, integrating the following adjustments agreed by the Conciliation Committee:

1.  First, account is taken of the agreed level of commitment appropriations for non-differentiated expenditure, for which the level of payment appropriations is equal to the level of commitments. That also includes the decentralised agencies, for which the EU contribution in payment appropriations is set at the level proposed in section 1.2 above. The combined effect is a decrease of EUR 140.0 million;

2.  The payment appropriations for all new pilot projects and preparatory actions are set at 50% of the corresponding commitment appropriations, or to the level proposed by Parliament if lower. In the case of extension of existing pilot projects and preparatory actions the level of payments is the one defined in the Draft Budget plus 50% of the corresponding new commitments, or to the level proposed by Parliament if lower. The combined effect is an increase of EUR 29.5 million;

3.  The payment appropriations expenditure are reduced by EUR 460.1 million as follows:

In EUR

Budget line

Name

DB 2016 (incl. AL1&2)

Budget 2016

Difference

02 05 01

Developing and providing global satellite-based radio navigation infrastructures and services (Galileo) by 2020

308 000 000

297 000 000

-11 000 000

02 05 02

Providing satellite-based services improving the performance of GPS to gradually cover the whole European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) region by 2020 (EGNOS)

215 000 000

207 000 000

-8 000 000

02 05 51

Completion of European satellite navigation programmes (EGNOS and Galileo)

17 000 000

16 000 000

-1 000 000

02 06 01

Delivering operational services relying on space-borne observations and in-situ data (Copernicus)

125 000 000

121 000 000

-4 000 000

02 06 02

Building an autonomous Union’s Earth observation capacity (Copernicus)

475 000 000

459 000 000

-16 000 000

04 02 19

Completion of the European Social Fund — Regional competitiveness and employment (2007 to 2013)

1 130 000 000

1 109 595 811

-20 404 189

04 02 61

European Social Fund — Transition regions — Investment for growth and jobs goal

930 000 000

927 965 850

-2 034 150

04 02 62

European Social Fund — More developed regions — Investment for growth and jobs goal

2 200 000 000

2 178 091 258

-21 908 742

04 02 63 01

European Social Fund — Operational technical assistance

12 000 000

7 200 000

-4 800 000

05 04 05 01

Rural development programmes

3 268 000 000

3 235 000 000

-33 000 000

05 04 60 01

Promoting sustainable rural development, a more territorially and environmentally balanced, climate-friendly and innovative Union agricultural sector

8 574 000 000

8 487 000 000

-87 000 000

13 03 18

Completion of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) — Regional competitiveness and employment

2 345 348 000

2 302 998 509

-42 349 491

13 03 61

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) — Transition regions — Investment for growth and jobs goal

1 863 122 000

1 860 036 800

-3 085 200

13 03 62

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) — More developed regions — Investment for growth and jobs goal

2 775 630 000

2 750 605 336

-25 024 664

13 03 64 01

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) — European territorial cooperation

328 430 000

284 930 000

-43 500 000

13 03 65 01

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) — Operational technical assistance

66 215 941

57 415 941

-8 800 000

13 03 66

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) — Innovative actions in the field of sustainable urban development

53 149 262

48 649 262

-4 500 000

13 04 01

Completion of Cohesion Fund projects (prior to 2007)

90 000 000

70 000 000

-20 000 000

13 04 60

Cohesion Fund — Investment for growth and jobs goal

4 100 000 000

4 077 806 436

-22 193 564

13 04 61 01

Cohesion Fund — Operational technical assistance

22 106 496

20 606 496

-1 500 000

32 05 01 02

Construction, operation and exploitation of the ITER facilities – European Joint Undertaking for ITER — Fusion for Energy (F4E)

150 000 000

131 000 000

-19 000 000

32 05 51

Completion of European Joint Undertaking for ITER — Fusion for Energy (F4E) (2007 to 2013)

350 000 000

289 000 000

-61 000 000

Total

-460 100 000

4.  The combined level of payment appropriations set in paragraphs 1-3 above is EUR 570.6 million lower than proposed by the Commission in its Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, for the expenditure items concerned.

1.5.  Budgetary remarks

Amendments introduced by the European Parliament or the Council to the text of budgetary remarks are agreed, insofar as they do not modify or extend the scope of an existing legal base, impinge on the administrative autonomy of institutions, cause operational difficulties, or cannot be covered by available resources (as indicated in the annex to the executability letter).

1.6.  New budget lines

Unless mentioned otherwise in the joint conclusions agreed by the Conciliation Committee or agreed jointly by both arms of the budgetary authority in their respective reading, the budget nomenclature as proposed by the Commission in the Draft Budget, as amended by Amending Letters 1 and 2/2016, will remain unchanged, with the exception of pilot projects and preparatory actions and the split of article 18 04 01 European Citizens' Initiative into two items: 18 04 01 01 Europe for Citizens — Strengthening remembrance and enhancing capacity for civic participation at the Union level and 18 04 01 02 European Citizens' Initiative.

2.  Budget 2015

Draft Amending Budget (DAB) 8/2015 is approved as proposed by the Commission.

3.  Joint Statements

3.1.  Joint Statement by the Parliament, Council and Commission statement on the Youth Employment Initiative

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission recall that reducing youth unemployment remains a high and shared political priority, and to this end they reaffirm their determination to make the best possible use of budgetary resources available to tackle it, and in particular the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI).

They recall that in accordance with Article 14(1) of Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 "Margins left available below the MFF ceilings for commitment appropriations for the years 2014-2017 shall constitute a Global MFF Margin for commitments, to be made available over and above the ceilings established in the MFF for the years 2016 to 2020 for policy objectives related to growth and employment, in particular youth employment".

In the framework of the MFF mid-term review/revision the Commission will draw lessons from the results of the YEI evaluation, accompanied, as appropriate, by proposals for the continuation of the initiative until 2020.

The Council and the Parliament undertake to examine rapidly proposals put forward by the Commission in this respect.

3.2.  Joint statement on a payment forecast 2016-2020

Building on the existing agreement on a payment plan 2015-2016, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission acknowledge the steps taken to phase out the backlog of outstanding payment claims from the 2007-2013 cohesion programmes, and to improve the monitoring of any backlog of unpaid bills in all headings. They reiterate their commitment to prevent a similar build-up of backlog in the future, including through setting-up an early warning system.

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission will, throughout the year, actively monitor the state of implementation of the 2016 budget, in accordance with the agreed payment plan; in particular the appropriations provided in the budget 2016 will allow the Commission to reduce the year-end backlog of outstanding payment claims for the 2007-2013 cohesion programmes to a level of around EUR 2 billion by the end of 2016.

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission will continue taking stock of payment implementation and updated forecasts at dedicated interinstitutional meetings, in accordance with point 36 of the annexe of the Interinstitutional Agreement, which should take place at least three times in 2016 at the political level.

In that context, the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission recall that those meetings should also address the longer-term forecasts on the expected evolution of payments until the end of the MFF 2014-2020.

3.3.  Statement of the European Parliament on the application of Point 27 of the Interinstitutional Agreement

The European Parliament is committed to continue the reduction of the total number of posts in its establishment plan and to complete it by 2019, according to the following timetable, taking into account that a net reduction of 18 posts takes place in 2016:

Annual net reductions in the total number of authorised posts in the establishment plan of the European Parliament compared to previous year

Outstanding reduction to achieve the 5% target(6)

2017

2018

2019

2017-2019

179

-60

-60

-59

-179

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0376.
(2) OJ L 163, 23.6.2007, p. 17.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(5) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(6) The European Parliament considers that the scope of the 5% reduction excludes temporary posts of political groups identified in its establishment plan.


Tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect
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Resolution
Annex
Annex
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2015 on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect (2015/2066(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0408A8-0317/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 4 and 13 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Articles 107, 108, 113, 115, 116, 175 and 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to its decision of 12 February 2015 on setting up a special committee on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect, its powers, numerical strength and term of office(1),

–  having regard to the revelations of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on tax rulings and other harmful practices in Luxembourg, which have become known as ‘LuxLeaks’,

–  having regard to the outcome of the G7, G8 and G20 Summits on international tax issues, in particular the Elmau Summit of 7-8 June 2015, the Brisbane Summit of 15-16 November 2014, the St Petersburg Summit of 5-6 September 2013, the Lough Erne Summit of 17-18 June 2013 and the Pittsburgh Summit of 24-25 September 2009,

–  having regard to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Report ‘Harmful Tax Competition: An Emerging Global Issue’ of 1998,

–  having regard to the OECD Report ‘Addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ (BEPS) of 2013, the OECD’s action plan on BEPS and its subsequent publications,

–  having regard to the recent European Council conclusions on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (14 March 2013), on taxation (22 May 2013), on the automatic exchange of information (18 December 2014), on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), the automatic exchange of information at global level and harmful tax measures (18 December 2014) and on tax evasion (27 June 2014),

–  having regard to the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) conclusions and its report to the European Council on tax issues of 22 June 2015,

–  having regard to the six-monthly reports from the Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) to the Council on the Code of Conduct,

–  having regard to the Administrative Cooperation Directive(2), the Interest and Royalties Directive(3) and the latest Commission legislative proposals to amend them,

–  having regard to Council Directive 90/435/EEC of 23 July 1990 on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States(4) (the ‘Parent-Subsidiary Directive’), as last amended in 2015,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/56/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts(5),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 659/1999 of 22 March 1999 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 108 TFEU(6),

–  having regard to Council Directive 77/799/EEC of 19 December 1977 concerning mutual assistance by the competent authorities of the Member States in the field of direct taxation and taxation of insurance premiums(7),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC(8),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 February 2007 to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee on the work of the EU Joint Transfer Pricing Forum in the field of dispute avoidance and resolution procedures and on Guidelines for Advance Pricing Agreements within the EU (COM(2007)0071),

–  having regard to the Commission notice of 10 December 1998 on the application of the state aid rules to measures relating to direct business taxation(9),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 17 June 2015 entitled ‘A fair and efficient corporate tax system in the European Union: 5 key areas for action’ (COM(2015)0302),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 March 2015 on tax transparency to fight tax evasion and avoidance (COM(2015)0136),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 December 2012 entitled ‘An Action Plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion’ (COM(2012)0722),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 6 December 2012 on aggressive tax planning (C(2012)8806),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 6 December 2012 regarding measures intended to encourage third countries to apply minimum standards of good governance in tax matters (C(2012)8805),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 27 June 2012 on concrete ways to reinforce the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion, including in relation to third countries (COM(2012)0351),

–  having regard to the Commission’s proposal of 2011 for a Council directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) (COM(2011)0121), and to Parliament’s position of 19 April 2012 thereon(10),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 October 2011 on ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (COM(2011)0681),

–  having regard to the resolution of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of 1 December 1997 on a code of conduct for business taxation(11) and to the regular Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) reports to the Council,

–  having regard to the Recommendation of 30 April 2014 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the protection of whistleblowers,

–  having regard to the 1999 Simmons & Simmons report on administrative practices mentioned in paragraph 26 of the 1999 Code of Conduct Group report, the Primarolo report (SN 4901/99) and the update of this report in 2009,

–  having regard to the amendments adopted by Parliament on 8 July 2015 to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2007/36/EC as regards the encouragement of long-term shareholder engagement and Directive 2013/34/EU as regards certain elements of the corporate governance statement(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2015 on tax avoidance and tax evasion as challenges for governance, social protection and development in developing countries(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 March 2015 on the Annual Tax Report(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2015 on the Annual Report 2013 on the Protection of the EU’s Financial Interests – Fight against fraud(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on organised crime, corruption and money laundering(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2013 on the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax havens(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 April 2012 on the call for concrete ways to combat tax fraud and tax evasion(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on Tax and Development – Cooperating with Developing Countries on Promoting Good Governance in Tax Matters(19),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2010 on promoting good governance in tax matters(20),

–  having regard to the various parliamentary hearings and consecutive reports on the same topic held in national parliaments and in particular in the UK House of Commons, the US Senate and the French Assemblée nationale,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect (A8-0317/2015),

LuxLeaks: facts and figures

A.  whereas the LuxLeaks scandal, which erupted on 5 November 2014 thanks to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, with the release of some 28 000 pages of confidential documents setting out more than 500 private tax arrangements between the Luxembourg tax administration and more than 300 multinational corporations (MNCs) between 2002 and 2010, revealed the extent of the use of secret deals featuring complex financial structures designed to obtain drastic tax reductions; whereas in many cases Luxembourg subsidiaries handling hundreds of millions of euros in business maintain little presence and conduct little economic activity in Luxembourg;

B.  whereas issues related to corporate tax base erosion and aggressive tax planning practices have been known and analysed at international level for several decades at least; whereas LuxLeaks brought public and media attention to those issues, disclosing questionable tax practices promoted by accountancy firms in one specific Member State; whereas the Commission’s investigations and the work carried out by Parliament through its special committee have shown that this is not the only case, but that taking tax measures to reduce some large corporations’ overall tax liabilities so as to artificially increase the national tax base at the expense of other countries, some of which are subject to austerity measures, is a practice that is widespread within Europe and beyond;

C.  whereas such behaviours, often resulting in disconnection between where value is created and where profits are taxed, is not limited to tax rulings, but encompasses a wide range of harmful tax practices, which are implemented by national tax administrations within and outside the EU;

D.  whereas subjecting these practices to public scrutiny is part of democratic control; whereas, given their negative impact on society as a whole, they can only persist as long as they remain undisclosed, or are tolerated; whereas investigative journalists, the non-governmental sector and the academic community have been instrumental in exposing cases of tax avoidance and informing the public thereof; whereas, as long as they cannot be prevented, their disclosure should not depend on the courage and ethical sense of individual whistleblowers, but rather be part of more systematic reporting and information-exchange mechanisms;

Member States’ approach to corporate taxation

E.  whereas corporate income tax revenue for the 28 Member States of the Union amounts to an average 2,6 % of GDP in 2012(21);

F.  whereas, according to the Treaty, direct taxation is mainly a competence of the Member States; whereas, to the extent that the EU has competence in taxation, the exercise of that competence is usually subject to the unanimity requirement within the Council; whereas this has resulted in no significant decisions being taken yet at EU level in the area of corporate taxation, despite recent developments in EU integration in connection with the internal market and other areas covered by the EU Treaties, such as international trade agreements, the single currency, economic and fiscal governance and anti-money-laundering principles and legislation; whereas the Member States must comply with European competition law and ensure that their tax legislation is compatible with the principles of the internal market and does not create distortion of competition; whereas, by giving each Member State a veto right, the unanimity rule within the Council reduces the incentive to move from the status quo towards a more cooperative solution; whereas, unless he procedure laid down in Article 116 TFEU is used, Treaty change would be required to change the unanimity requirement in matters of direct taxation;

G.  whereas the current situation of each Member State having a veto right implies that all Member States have to act decisively and cooperatively in tackling the pan-European problem of tax evasion and avoidance;

H.  whereas, with some laudable exceptions, national political representatives have not been sufficiently forthcoming up until now in addressing the problem of tax avoidance, including tax rulings;

I.  whereas in the European internal market capital flows freely and large companies report their activities on a consolidated basis but tax is collected nationally by tax authorities exchanging very little information among them;

J.  whereas, in a completed internal market, no artificial distortion should affect investment decisions and business location; whereas, however, globalisation, digitalisation and free movement of capital create the conditions for more intense tax competition between Member States, and with third countries, in order to attract investment and businesses; whereas it is important to keep and attract companies in Europe, but this should not take the form of potentially harmful tax schemes which are aimed at fostering investment and attracting additional economic activity in the first place, reacting to similar measures launched in neighbouring countries, or are intended to correct what are regarded as pre-existing imbalances between the Member States in terms of relative wealth, size or peripheral location; whereas, incidentally, in some jurisdictions there seems to be a correlation between attractive corporate tax systems and a high level of national wealth; whereas the optimal design for tax systems depends on numerous factors and therefore differs from one country to another; whereas harmful tax competition between Member States limits the potential of the single market;

K.  whereas, instead of merely concentrating on the promotion of an attractive business climate with, for example, good infrastructure and a high-quality workforce, including through productivity-enhancing expenditure, and of ensuring the stability and predictability of the tax system, countries, in their role as players in the tax competition game, use their national legislation in conjunction with their tax treaty networks to promote themselves as countries to invest in, as hubs through which to channel financial flows or in which to book profits, thereby attracting businesses or letterbox companies at the expense of partner countries and creating unfair practices between them; whereas, taken in isolation, each country has a clear interest in adopting ‘free rider’ behaviour, i.e. in being the first to design and implement specific tax schemes and provisions to attract tax base, and the last to participate in any cooperative and coordinated action to tackle tax avoidance;

L.  whereas tax competition exists between Member States; whereas the principle of sincere cooperation between the Union Member States is outlined in Article 4 TEU; whereas Member States should fully apply the principle of sincere cooperation in matters of tax competition;

M.  whereas some Member States adopt an ambivalent position regarding tax avoidance, complaining on the one hand about their national tax base erosion while at the same time being responsible for the design of the current national and international tax systems which made it possible, and still impeding any development of their tax systems towards a more coordinated solution; whereas, in a framework of full capital mobility within the EU and with the Commission’s stated aim of introducing a Capital Markets Union, the interdependence and mutual effects of national tax systems and revenue should be fully taken into account, bearing in mind the extensive positive and negative cross-border spillovers from individual Member States’ tax decisions, since one country’s tax incentive is another’s base erosion;

N.  whereas we are observing a paradox whereby free competition between Member States in tax matters has resulted in anti-competitive behaviours and distortions of competition;

O.  whereas the introduction of the European single market has proved highly beneficial to national economies, making them more competitive and attractive in a globalised economy, and whereas tax convergence between Member States will ultimately have the same effect;

P.  whereas the legislator and often insufficiently resourced tax administrations cannot anticipate, but only react, sometimes with great delay, to the innovative tax avoidance schemes which are designed and promoted by some tax advisers, in particular from very large accountancy firms, by lawyers and by intermediary companies; whereas, in particular, experience shows that EU bodies which should prevent the introduction of new harmful tax measures (such as the Code of Conduct Group set up by Member States in 1998 or the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties) have proved incapable of countering these undesirable developments, sometimes reacting in an ineffective way or on the basis of too a limited mandate, and that many new and often aggressive tax avoidance measures or agreements, such as patent boxes, have been introduced in the EU; whereas MNCs are relying, in the EU and worldwide, on the expertise of a well-organised and skilled sector of tax advisers, as well as banks and other financial service providers, for the development of their tax avoidance schemes; whereas this sector is at the same time represented in bodies advising governments and public institutions on tax matters, such as, for instance, the EU Platform for Tax Good Governance; whereas there are concerns over the conflicts of interest that might arise from the provision by the same firms of advice to both public authorities and private MNCs;

Q.  whereas all tax planning should take place within the boundaries of the law and the applicable treaties; whereas, consequently, the most appropriate answer to aggressive tax planning is good legislation and international coordination as to desired outcomes;

R.  whereas implementation of legislation is decisive for the achievement of the intended objectives; whereas such implementation is matter for national administrations which have often few incentives to cooperate with each other at European level; whereas this situation adds to and worsens the divergences already arising from differences in legislations across the Union;

S.  whereas the Troika of institutions (European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) overseeing financial and fiscal adjustment programs in Member States such as Portugal and Greece did not attempt to prevent tax amnesties, tax rulings, tax benefits and tax exemption schemes which were and are unfairly discriminatory, favouring tax dodging corporations and individuals, causing high bleeding of State revenues and increasing the burden on already overtaxed small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and citizens;

T.  whereas the investigation and prosecution of tax crimes and money laundering, often involving financial operations and legal persons in several jurisdictions, is extremely challenging; whereas Member States’ personnel in charge of investigating and conducting judicial prosecutions against offenders of tax crimes and other financial crimes are often under-trained and under-equipped;

U.  whereas policies of austerity and budget containment in the past few years have significantly reduced the tax administrations’ ability to investigate tax crimes and harmful tax practices; whereas these cuts were particularly harmful in countries under programs of financial assistance led by the Troika, where the increase of state revenues was achieved at the expense of overtaxed SMEs and citizens, while big corporations and wealthy tax dodgers often benefitted from tax amnesties, tax rulings and other tax exemptions and benefit schemes, as was the case in Portugal and Greece;

Tax rulings and harmful tax practices

V.  whereas tax rulings cover a wide range of practices in Member States, ranging from ad-hoc policy to a clearly framed application of the law, in terms of possible scope and topics covered, binding nature, frequency of use, publicity, length and payment of fees; whereas there is no commonly agreed definition of tax rulings at international level except for the Commission’s reference to them as ‘any communication or any other instrument or action with similar effects, by or on behalf of the Member State regarding the interpretation or application of tax laws’;

W.  whereas tax rulings are not intrinsically problematic since they can, as is their original purpose, provide legal certainty for the taxpayer and reduce the financial risk for honest firms in cases where the tax laws or their particular application in certain circumstances are unclear or subject to diverging interpretations, in particular with regard to complex transactions, and thereby avoid future disputes between the taxpayer and the tax authority;

X.  whereas the practice of rulings developed, in the framework of a closer and more cooperative relationship between tax administrations and taxpayers, as a tool to tackle the increasing complexity of the tax treatment of certain transactions in an increasingly complex, global and digitalised economy; whereas – despite Member States’ asserting that rulings are not discretionary, but merely a tool to clarify existing tax legislation, while keeping them secret – its special committee’s work has confirmed that tax rulings can be issued without any legal framework through informal or discretionary arrangements, that support tax-driven structures which rely on tax planning tools typically used by MNCs to reduce their tax contribution; whereas this seems to be an issue particularly – although not exclusively – with rulings related to pricing of intra-company transfers (so-called Advance Pricing Agreements); whereas, in providing legal certainty only to some selected actors, they might create inequality between companies to which they have been granted and companies in the same sector which have no access to them;

Y.  whereas neither the OECD nor the European Commission have called for an end to the practice of tax rulings as such;

Z.  whereas advanced tax rulings are not supposed to affect in any way the tax treatment of any transaction, nor benefit one taxpayer over another, but rather should have, everything being equal, the same effect as the ex post application of the underlying tax provisions; whereas, accordingly, the focus of this report is not strictly limited to tax rulings but includes, in line with the mandate given to its special committee (TAXE), any tax measure similar in nature or in effect, under the generic term of ‘harmful tax practices’, i.e. measures aimed at attracting non-resident firms or transactions at the expense of other tax jurisdictions in which these transactions should normally be taxed and/or measures aimed at privileging only some companies, thus distorting competition;

AA.  whereas harmful tax practices can, to some extent, be connected to one or several of the following undesirable effects: lack of transparency, arbitrary discrimination, distortions of competition and an uneven playing field within and outside the internal market, an impact on the integrity of the single market, and on the fairness, stability and legitimacy of the tax system, more taxation on less mobile economic factors, increased economic inequalities, unfair competition between states, tax base erosion, social dissatisfaction, mistrust and a democratic deficit;

AB.  whereas it should be acknowledged that, while SMEs remain the driving force of the economy and of employment in Europe, multinational companies also play a key role in generating investment, economic growth and jobs; whereas paying their fair share of tax in the countries where the actual economic activity and value creation takes place remains a key contribution by those companies to the welfare and sustainability of European societies;

The work of the Special Committee

AC.  whereas its competent special committee, constituted on 26 February 2015, held 14 meetings, during which it heard Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, the President-in-office of the Council Pierre Gramegna, the Ministers of Finance of France, Michel Sapin, Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble, Italy, Pier Carlo Padoan, and Spain, Luis de Guindos, OECD representatives, as well as whistleblowers, investigative journalists, experts, academics, representatives of MNCs, professional associations, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and members of EU national parliaments (see Annex 1); whereas delegations from the TAXE Committee visited Switzerland, to look into specific aspects of the third-country dimension of its mandate, and the following Member States, to conduct fact-finding missions: Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; whereas meetings with Government representatives of Gibraltar and Bermuda were also organised; whereas all these activities, while yielding diverse and invaluable insights into the tax systems and practices across the EU, did not clarify all pertinent questions, including remaining inconsistencies in the statements made by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with respect to the long-time secret page of the Krecké report;

AD.  whereas some of the committee’s work was hindered by the fact that a number of the Member States and the Council did not reply in due time (see Annex 2) and, in the end, did not forward all the documents requested or simply made courtesy replies that hardly touched upon the substance of the requests made; whereas out of 17 MNCs invited , only four agreed to appear before the committee in June and July 2015 at the first invitation; whereas a further 11 MNCs agreed to appear before the committee only after the report was voted in the TAXE Committee and after repeated invitations, such that a new extraordinary meeting had to be convened shortly before the vote in plenary (see Annex 3); whereas the Commission did not fully cooperate either and send all room documents and informal meeting notes from the Code of Conduct meetings, only offering, because of some Member States’ intransigence, a limited consultation procedure; whereas the committee’s term of office therefore had to be extended;

AE.  whereas a number of state aid investigations by the Commission, in relation to transfer pricing arrangements, validated by tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect which affect the taxable profit allocated to certain MNC subsidiaries, were still in progress at the time of the adoption of this report;

Overview of corporate tax practices in the Member States

1.  Recalls that the models of corporate taxation existing in industrialised countries were designed in the first half of the 20th century, a period in which cross-border activity was limited; notes that globalisation and digitalisation of the economy have radically altered the global value chain and the way markets operate and that most large companies now have a transnational structure which necessitates to go beyond national tax rules; stresses that national and international rules in the field of taxation have not kept pace with the evolution of the business environment;

2.  Stresses the need to formulate a balanced and fair tax policy as an integral part of structural reform in the Member States;

3.  Notes that, while compliance with various tax systems has become increasingly complex for firms operating across borders, globalisation and digitalisation have made it easier for them to organise their activities through off-shore financial centres and to create sophisticated structures in order to reduce their global tax contribution; is concerned that, owing to the economic and debt crisis and to budget consolidation, most Member States have significantly reduced their tax administration staff; stresses that national tax administrations should have sufficient resources, including human resources, to operate effectively in the prevention and detection of, and the fight against, aggressive tax planning, tax evasion and tax avoidance, which generate substantial erosion of their tax base, and ensure better and fairer tax collection and the credibility of the tax system; notes that studies have shown that skilled staff in tax administrations bring in significantly more revenue to the state than related expenditures, as the effectiveness of tax administrations has a direct positive impact on tax revenues;

4.  Stresses the difference between, on the one hand, harmful practices of certain tax and national administrations allowing MNCs to shift profits in order to avoid taxation on the territories where profits were generated and, on the other hand, governments’ competition in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) or keeping economic activities within the country in full compliance with the EU legislation;

5.  Stresses that the Treaty, in line with the subsidiarity principle, allows Member States to determine their own corporate tax rates and tax base until stronger tax convergence measures have been agreed in line with the Treaty; stresses also, however, that the over-complex rules of national tax systems, together with the differences between these systems, create loopholes that are used by MNCs for aggressive tax planning purposes, thus leading to base erosion, profit shifting, a race to the bottom and, ultimately, a suboptimal economic outcome; underlines the fact that this kind of tax avoidance is a negative-sum game for all national budgets taken together, as the increases in tax revenues resulting from harmful practices in one Member State (thanks to derogations, specific deductions or loopholes) do not compensate for the reductions in tax revenues in others; points out that only a more coordinated, joint approach by Member States, which should result in a common framework within which Member States set their tax rates, can prevent further base erosion, harmful tax competition and a tax rate race to the bottom;

6.  Recalls that some Member States have formally higher company taxes than others, but, in reality, owing to deductions and loopholes which favour domestic business, rates are substantially lower, making the effective tax rate lower than in Member States with a formally low rate;

7.  Points to the fact that lower company tax in some Member States can provide for a relative higher tax income than what higher tax rates provide for;

8.  Notes that, according to the Commission(22), statutory corporate income tax rates in the EU fell by 12 percentage points, from 35 % to 23 %, between 1995 and 2014; stresses that this decrease in tax rates is accompanied by a broadening of the tax base to mitigate revenue losses and that the relatively stable revenue stemming from corporate taxation in the same timeframe can also be explained by a substantial ‘incorporation’ trend, i.e. a shift from certain legal forms of doing business, such as (sole) proprietorship, to corporation status, which results in a similar shift from a personal to a corporate tax base;

9.  Notes that most Member States spend large amounts on tax incentives meant to give SMEs a competitive advantage but that, according to the Commission(23), these attempts are undermined by the effect of international tax planning in three out of four Member States surveyed in a recent study; notes that such effects put SMEs at a competitive disadvantage despite the large costs associated with tax expenditures to support these and that such results undermine the intention of national policy makers;

10.  Highlights the growing gap between statutory and effective tax rates, in particular for firms operating at global level, which reflects at least in part various derogations and exemptions from the general tax regime, whether intended by the legislator to reach specific objectives or resulting from aggressive tax planning, i.e. from creating purely artificial arrangements for taxation purposes only;

11.  Emphasises that mismatches between tax systems at a global level contribute to significant tax base erosion and tax evasion, but that action at EU level only will not deal with these issues;

12.  Notes the great diversity of the 28 tax systems in the EU, as regards both the definition of the tax base and the level of the tax rate, which is even greater if one takes into account those special jurisdictions with autonomous tax systems that are connected to EU Member States (overseas territories and Crown dependencies); deplores the fact that basic notions and elements, such as the balance between source and residence taxation, permanent establishment and taxable entities, economic substance and anti-abuse rules, the definition of interest and royalties, the treatment of intangibles, the treatment of debt and equity, let alone what can or cannot be deducted from the tax base, are currently not subject to any joint definition or guidelines in the EU, leaving Member States with uncoordinated tax systems; stresses that it is necessary to harmonise these definitions;

13.  Stresses that national preferential regimes and mismatches between the different tax systems within the single market create opportunities for tax avoidance; notes that these undesirable effects are further aggravated by the interaction with a great number of bilateral tax treaties between Member States and third countries, and insufficient anti-abuse provisions therein;

14.  Notes that this uncoordinated tax framework within the EU also suffers from a blatant lack of cooperation between Member States; stresses, in this connection, that Member States do not necessarily take into consideration the impact of their tax measures on other Member States, not only when they design their tax measures but also when they share information on the implementation of such measures, leading to a de facto beggar-thy-neighbour policy in tax matters, which is contrary to the very foundations of the European project; points out that an automatic, systematic and efficient exchange of information between Member States would make it possible to take account of the tax treatment of specific income flows or transactions in other Member States; stresses that this also contributes to creating an unacceptable situation in which the profits generated by MNCs in a Member State are often taxed at very low rates or not at all in the EU;

15.  Believes that fiscal policy and competition policy should be seen as two sides of the same coin in the internal market and calls on the Commission to reassess and enhance available instruments and resources for competition policy and state aid;

16.  Emphasises that convergence between national tax systems in the EU has been very limited despite an unprecedented deepening of the EU integration process over the last 30 years, particularly in connection with the single market and the Economic and Monetary Union; deplores the fact that coordination of national tax systems lags far behind when compared with coordination efforts in other areas at EU level, in particular in the framework of the European Semester, although, apart from the relevance of measures on the expenditure side, a significant part of the policy mix to ensure fiscal consolidation concerns the revenue side; takes the view that this aspect should have been mentioned in the Five Presidents’ report on ‘Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union’ of June 2015;

17.  Stresses that the lack of political will to bring about convergence between national fiscal policies induces Member States to opt for a bilateral approach, whereas a common approach would be more effective; recalls the option of working towards fiscal convergence using enhanced cooperation; welcomes, in this light, the desire of certain Member States to institute a financial transaction tax;

Aggressive tax planning instruments and their impact

18.  Stresses that tax avoidance by some MNCs can result in close-to-zero effective tax rates for the profits generated in European jurisdictions, highlighting the fact that such MNCs, while benefiting from various public goods and services where they operate, do not pay their fair share, thereby contributing to national tax base erosion and greater inequalities; stresses also that the possibility to shift profits is only available to companies undertaking cross-border activities which penalises competitors only active in one country;

19.  Notes with great concern that corporate tax avoidance has a direct impact on national budgets and on the breakdown of the tax effort between categories of taxpayers as well as between economic factors (to the benefit of the most mobile factors such as capital in the form of FDI); deplores the fact that, in addition to competition distortions and an uneven playing field, this results in an extremely worrying situation where, in a context of intense fiscal consolidation and structural reform efforts, some of those taxpayers with the highest ability to pay contribute significantly less than those most affected by the economic, financial and debt crisis, such as ordinary citizens and firms not using aggressive tax planning, which often belong to the SME category and are often unable to compete with MNCs because of this comparative tax disadvantage; stresses that this situation risks feeding democratic mistrust and affecting overall tax compliance, particularly in those countries subject to adjustment programmes; deplores the fact that whistleblowers, who provide national authorities, in the public interest, with crucial information about misconduct, wrongdoing, fraud or illegal activities or practices, can be subject to legal prosecution, as well as to personal and economic repercussions; notes with great concern that even journalists uncovering illegal or illegitimate practices have at times faced similar consequences;

20.  Notes that research by the IMF(24) covering 51 countries concludes that profit shifting between tax jurisdictions results in an average revenue loss of about 5 % of current corporate income tax revenue – but of almost 13 % in non-OECD countries; notes also that, according to the Commission, econometric evidence shows that FDI’s sensitivity to corporate taxation has increased over time; underlines the fact that, according to a study, an estimated EUR 1 trillion of potential tax revenue is lost each year through the combined effect of tax fraud, tax evasion, including the shadow economy, and tax avoidance in the EU(25), and that estimates point to yearly losses to national budgets of around EUR 50-70 billion as a result of tax avoidance, but that these revenue losses across the EU could in reality amount to around EUR 160-190 billion if special tax arrangements, inefficiencies in collection and other such activities were taken into account(26); whereas the UN Commission for Trade and Development has calculated that developing countries lose around USD 100 billion per year in revenues through tax avoidance by MNCs; stresses that these figures should be considered with caution and may underestimate the actual losses to national budgets, given the limited transparency and different accounting and conceptual frameworks around the globe, which affect the availability of comparable and meaningful data and the reliability of any estimate;

21.  Notes that tax planning strategies can be based on the structuring of corporations, financing arrangements for their branches or transfer pricing disconnected from real economic activities, allowing artificial shifting of profit across jurisdictions with the objective of reducing the global tax contribution of companies; notes with great concern that a growing number of letterbox companies are used in the EU but are companies only in name and are used exclusively for tax evasion purposes; notes the specific example of McDonalds, whose tax practices were shown in a report by a coalition of trade unions to have cost European countries over EUR one billion in lost taxes between 2009 and 2013(27);

22.  Takes the view that national preferential regimes and the poor level of coordination or convergence between the Member States’ tax systems, despite the effective economic interconnections and interplay within the internal market, result in a number of mismatches that allow aggressive tax planning, double deductions and double non‑taxation, for instance through one or a combination of the following practices: abusive transfer pricing, locating deductions in high-tax jurisdictions, passing on funds raised by loans through conduit companies, risk transfer, hybrid financial products, exploiting mismatches, tax arbitrage, royalty agreements, treaty shopping, and locating asset sales in low-tax jurisdictions;

23.  Stresses that, during its fact-finding missions in five Member States and Switzerland, its special committee observed that a number of national tax measures, often used in combination by MNCs, had the potential to be harmful tax practices, in particular the following, which should only be considered as a non-exhaustive list:

   abusive use of tax rulings or settlement agreements to go beyond simple clarification of the existing legislation and get preferential tax treatment,
   diverging definitions of permanent establishment and tax residence,
   little or no consideration for economic substance which allows the creation of special purpose entities (e.g. letterbox companies, shell companies...) with a lower tax treatment,
   deduction of notional interests (enabling companies to deduct from their taxable income a fictitious interest calculated on the basis of their shareholders’ equity),
   excess profit ruling practices (through which a company may obtain written confirmation from the tax administration that its taxable income does not include those profits that would not have been realised in a ‘stand-alone’ situation),
   unclear or uncoordinated transfer pricing provisions,
   a number of preferential regimes, in particular in relation to intangibles (patent, knowledge or IP boxes),
   refund or exemption of withholding tax on interest, dividends and royalties through bilateral tax treaties and/or as laid down in national legislation,
   differences in legal designations between Member States (hybrid entities or hybrid loans, where interest expenses change to exempted dividends),
   in the case of Switzerland, special tax regimes at cantonal level for foreign-controlled companies which are not granted to nationally controlled companies (so-called ring-fencing regimes),
   a lack of effective General or Specific Anti-Abuse Rules or a weak enforcement or interpretation of such rules,
   and structures that can obscure the beneficial owner of assets and may not be subject to information exchange regimes, such as trusts and so-called ‘freeports’;

24.  Takes note that, according to the Commission(28), 72 % of profit shifting takes place in the EU through the channels of transfer pricing and location of intellectual property;

25.  Stresses that a number of Member States have in recent years developed specific corporate tax reduction schemes to attract companies’ mobile intangible assets, such as income resulting from intellectual property; notes the variety in the tax rate reductions and allowances and in the scope of the schemes proposed (innovation boxes, intellectual property boxes, knowledge boxes, patent boxes, etc.); stresses that, in some Member States, taxpayers do not need to produce intellectual property themselves and/or within the country in order to access tax benefits, but merely to acquire it through a company which has its residence within the jurisdiction; stresses, therefore, that any fiscal benefits for R&D must be linked to real expenditures in the said jurisdiction;

26.  Stresses furthermore that the costs of research and development can be already claimed against tax under the national tax systems even without patent boxes, and that patent boxes thus contribute to tax avoidance in a way that runs counter to the system;

27.  Considers such schemes to be examples of harmful tax competition between states, because while their connection with and impact on the real economy is, in most cases, non-existent, they have the effect of reducing the tax revenue of other countries, including Member States; notes that in a review of R&D tax incentives the Commission(29) finds that ‘Patent boxes seem more likely to relocate corporate income than to stimulate innovation’;

28.  Stresses that, in an economic environment characterised by more intangible assets, transfer pricing is often affected by the lack of comparable transactions and benchmarks, which makes the sound application of the arm’s length principle, according to which the pricing of transactions between entities belonging to the same corporate group should be valued in the same way as between independent entities, a challenging exercise;

29.  Notes that the existing guidelines for transfer pricing leave MNCs a significant margin of discretion in the choice and implementation of evaluation methods; stresses that the lack of any effective common standard for transfer pricing and the various derogations, exceptions and alternatives provided for are being exploited by MNCs, in contradiction with the spirit of those guidelines, to calibrate their taxable profits by jurisdiction and reduce their overall tax liability through, for instance, abusive cost-plus, arbitrary setting of profit margins or the questionable exclusion of certain expenditure from their calculation; stresses that the best way to address the issue of transfer pricing at EU level is through common tax base consolidation, which does away with the need for these prices;

30.  Underlines the fact that transfer pricing files submitted by MNCs or their representatives cannot be properly monitored by tax administrations, which are often not sufficiently equipped and staffed to critically and thoroughly examine those analyses and their outcome or impact;

31.  Deplores the fact that, in an economic context where 60 % of world trade is intra-group(30), guidelines for the application of this purely economic concept are fragmented at national level and therefore subject to inconsistencies between Member States and legal disputes;

32.  Underlines, moreover, the fact that, despite the significant number of legal disputes in the EU stemming from differing interpretations of the same transfer pricing principles, no efficient dispute resolution mechanism is in place at European level; notes that the settlement of cases put forward to the EU arbitration convention on transfer pricing can take up to eight years, contributing to legal uncertainty for companies and tax administrations;

33.  Stresses the crucial role of large accounting firms, including the ‘Big Four’, in the design and marketing of rulings and tax avoidance schemes that exploit mismatches between national legislations; stresses that those firms, which seem to derive a considerable amount of their revenue from tax services, to dominate most Member States’ auditing markets and to prevail in global tax advising services, constitute a narrow oligopoly; considers that such a situation cannot continue without damaging the functioning of the single market in the fields of activity of the ‘Big Four’; draws attention to the conflict of interest resulting from the juxtaposition, within the same firms, of tax advice and consulting activities intended, on the one hand, for tax administrations and, on the other, for MNCs’ tax planning services, which exploit the weaknesses of national tax laws; takes the view that good practices in this respect must be promoted and that existing codes of conduct should be improved; questions, nevertheless, the effectiveness of corporate codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility policies in tackling this issue; underlines the fact that tax rulings have become, in the EU and worldwide, a common business practice, not only in order to obtain legal certainty or advantageous tax deals, but also in cases where legislative provisions do not allow any room for interpretation; is concerned by estimations from the tax advice industry that a mere 50 % chance of being lawful is sufficient for a tax planning scheme to be recommended to clients(31);

34.  Calls on tax authorities to improve and diversify their sources of know-how and to substantially improve the process of impact assessment in order to reduce the risks of unexpected consequences of new tax measures; reminds Member States that not only differences between tax systems, but also excessively high complexity of national tax systems and low stability, with too frequent changes, are important contributors to the creation of tax gaps, unfairness of tax systems and low credibility of tax policy; underlines in this respect the obstacle that tax fragmentation poses for the creation of a European Capital Market Union;

State of play and assessment of EU, international and national actions

35.  Recognises that, following the economic crisis and, in addition, the LuxLeaks scandal, addressing aggressive tax planning by MNCs has been high on the political agenda of Member States, the EU, the OECD and the G20, but regrets that, so far, with exemption of G20 sponsored BEPS project of OECD that has just been completed and is not implemented by countries yet, no significant progress has been made in practical terms;

36.  Notes, against this background, that many Member States have introduced or intend to adopt measures to tackle tax avoidance, in particular in connection with the limitation of the deductibility of interests, anti-abuse rules, a better definition of the notion of permanent establishment (including the development of economic substance tests to determine the taxable presence of firms more effectively), the possible exclusion of misbehaving firms from public tenders, or the publication of tax planning schemes that can be instrumental in regaining credibility of the tax system and in reducing the time gap between the establishment of specific schemes and the adoption of corrective action, including at legislative level;

37.  Is concerned, nonetheless, that in the absence of a cooperative approach, unilateral measures taken by Member States against tax base erosion may contribute to increasing complexity, generating new mismatches and, as a result, more opportunities for tax avoidance within the internal market; stresses that any divergent implementation by Member States of international or EU guidelines can have the same effect;

38.  Welcomes the various initiatives and legislative proposals by the Commission over the last 20 years, including the most recent, aimed at moving towards stronger coordination of Member States’ corporate tax systems with a view to reinforcing the internal market, addressing double taxation or double non-taxation issues and preserving the right of Member States to tax effectively; deplores, nevertheless, the fact that, to date, only a small number of these have been adopted by the Council, due to the unanimity requirement and the fact that certain Member States persist in considering that they have more to gain individually from loopholes in the uncoordinated tax system than they would collectively in a coordinated one;

39.  Welcomes the publication of a new set of fiscal policies and calls on the Commission to seek to ensure a fair tax system based on the principle of taxation in the Member State where profits are generated, thus avoiding internal market distortion and unfair competition;

40.  Stresses that the Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation (the ‘Group’), set up in 1998 by Member States, made it possible in the late 1990s and the early 2000s to eliminate what constituted the most harmful individual tax practices at the time through the double-track soft law approach of ‘rolling back’ existing tax measures that constituted harmful tax competition and refraining from introducing any such measures in the future (‘standstill’);

41.  Deplores the fact that the Group’s work seems to have lost momentum; notes that some of the more than 100 measures which have been rolled back as a result of its activity have been replaced in Member States by tax measures with similar harmful effects; notes that tax authorities have countered the Group’s recommendations by creating new structures with the same harmful effects as those rolled back by the Group; deplores the fact that past attempts to strengthen its governance and mandate, and to adjust and broaden the working methods and criteria set in the Code, with the aim of combating new forms of harmful tax practices within the current economic environment, have not been successful; supports the Commission’s latest proposals on this matter, as set out in its action plan of 17 June 2015 for fair and efficient corporate taxation in the EU;

42.  Deplores the fact that, despite ambitious objectives which have been proclaimed since 1997, tax competition has persisted between Member States, arising less from differences in tax rates than from the heterogeneity of national rules for establishing what constitutes taxable profits, invariably illustrated for several decades by the disparities between the nominal and the actual corporate tax rates applied by the Member States;

43.  Deplores also the fact that the Group’s original status and governance arrangements left too much room for political negotiations and compromises in seeking to reach ‘broad consensus’ (i.e. quasi-unanimity effectively, with the possibility to express disagreement in footnotes) on the assessment of harmful practices, thus affecting the reliability and completeness of its work and sometimes leading to the deliberate non-publication or the non-following up of reports, such as the 1999 report by Simmons & Simmons on administrative practices; considers it regrettable that the rollback of existing measures suffered from political delays and, in some cases, allowed the inclusion of new beneficiaries after the deadline, which is also related to the Group’s very weak accountability and monitoring mechanisms;

44.  Stresses more fundamentally that the Code’s case-by-case approach, while having resulted in Member States now competing more with general measures, does not address the systemic weaknesses of a fragmented corporate tax framework in the EU, which requires a more substantial overhaul;

45.  Notes also the efforts made through the creation of the Platform for Tax Good Governance, which brings various stakeholders around the same table with the aim of creating consensus around the issue of tax avoidance, in particular in an international context, and the Joint Transfer Pricing Forum, which issues a number of guidelines on the technical issues surrounding transfer pricing; stresses that, to date, these bodies have contributed to making limited corrections to the corporate tax framework; regrets that the guidelines issued by the Joint Transfer Pricing Forum so far have not sufficiently tackled the issue of tax avoidance; deplores the fact that the composition of the Joint Transfer Pricing Forum, despite a recent update of its membership, is still unbalanced; objects, moreover, to the fact that tax experts contribute to the work on guidelines on transfer pricing while, at the same time, they may be advising their clients on aggressive tax planning strategies based on transfer pricing, and thus be in a position of conflict of interest;

46.  Stresses that EU legislation (the Parent-Subsidiary, Interest and Royalties, Mergers and Administrative Cooperation Directives) though covering limited aspects linked to corporate taxation, has been able to tackle specific issues faced by Member States and firms operating in several countries; highlights the fact that these measures, originally designed to eliminate double taxation, have some unintended counter-productive effects on tax avoidance and sometimes lead to double non-taxation; welcomes the recent adoption by the Council of amendments to the Parent-Subsidiary Directive aimed at introducing a general anti-abuse clause and tackling hybrid loan mismatches, which will be entering into force at the end of 2015, expecting that this will help remove some of the opportunities for tax avoidance in the EU;

47.  Recalls the provisions of Council Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation aimed at implementing the exchange of all relevant financial information; takes the view that an automatic, immediate and comprehensive exchange, and efficient processing, of tax information would have a strong deterrent effect against tax evasion and the introduction of harmful tax practices and would allow Member States and the Commission to have all the relevant information at their disposal in order to react to them;

48.  Deplores the fact that the current legislative and monitoring framework for the exchange of information about tax measures is not effective, given that evidence has demonstrated that the existing requirements for spontaneous or on-demand exchanges of information are not being complied with; deplores the fact that practically no Member State exchanges any information which may have an effect on partner countries of the EU; regrets the lack of coordination between the Commission and the competent authorities of the Member States;

49.  Regrets that tax information is hardly ever exchanged spontaneously between Member States; welcomes automatic exchange of information that is no longer based on reciprocity; draws attention to the structural design problems of a system based on discretion as to what should be communicated or not and accompanied by weak monitoring systems, which make any violation of the exchange information requirement very difficult to identify;

50.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to promoting the automatic exchange of tax information as the future European and international standard for transparency; urges it, as a first step, to fulfil its duty as guardian of the Treaties and take all the necessary action to ensure that existing EU law and the principle of loyal cooperation between Member States laid down in the Treaties are duly complied with; welcomes the proposal by the expert group on automatic exchange of financial account information to look at possibilities to support developing countries with automatic information exchange by granting non-reciprocal exchange agreements;

51.  Notes that state aid rules and sanctions are useful as a means of addressing the most abusive and distortive harmful tax practices and can have a significant deterrent effect;

52.  Welcomes the Commission’s Tax Transparency Package on automatic exchange of information between Member States on their tax rulings, of March 2015, and the action plan for a fair and efficient corporate tax system in the EU of June 2015; stresses, however, that these texts can only be seen as first steps in the right direction and that a consistent framework of legislative provisions and administrative coordination is needed as a matter of urgency, including for the benefit of SMEs and those MNCs that are helping to create genuine economic growth and are paying their fair share of taxes within the internal market;

53.  Welcomes the recent agreement on the OECD BEPS action plan which, following successive calls for action at the G7 and G20 summits, attempts to address the individual issues affecting the functioning of the international corporate tax system by putting forward global and systematic action to tackle them; regrets the late and unequal inclusion of developing countries in the OECD BEPS process, in which they should have participated fairly; also regrets that some outcomes of the BEPS action plan do not go further in areas such as harmful tax regimes, digital economy and transparency;

54.  Notes that, following a systematic analysis of the ‘pressure points’ of the international tax system, the BEPS action plan was delineated into 15 action points, of which seven were endorsed by the G20 in November 2014, and the others delivered upon in October 2015; stresses that, against the background of an evolving business environment, those actions seek to address transparency issues, e.g. by issuing guidelines on country-by-country reporting, the lack of substance in certain tax avoidance arrangements and greater consistency in international rules;

55.  Warns, nevertheless, against compromises which could fall short of the initial ambitions or lead to diverging interpretations at national level; stresses, moreover, that until now, there has been hardly any effective monitoring of the implementation of OECD guidelines in the countries which endorsed them, and that even the best designed solutions cannot be effective if they are not monitored and implemented appropriately;

56.  Stresses the complementary nature of EU and OECD activity in this field; takes the view that, given its degree of integration, the EU must go further than the BEPS proposals in terms of coordination and convergence aimed at avoiding all forms of harmful tax competition within the internal market; is convinced that, while ensuring that its competitiveness is not adversely affected, the EU could put in place more effective tools to ensure fair tax competition and the right of Member States to operate effective taxation on profits generated in their territories;

Commission state aid investigations: overview and results

57.  Stresses that, within the internal market, new entrants and firms, including SMEs, that do not use aggressive tax practices are penalised as compared with MNCs, which are able to shift profits or implement other forms of aggressive tax planning through a variety of decisions and instruments, available to them only by virtue of their size and their ability to arrange business internationally; notes with concern that, all other things being equal, the resulting lower tax liabilities leave MNCs with a higher post-tax profit and thereby create an uneven playing field with their competitors on the single market who do not have recourse to aggressive tax planning and keep the connection between where they generate profit and their place of taxation; points out that this distortion of a level playing field in favour of multinationals contradicts the fundamental principle of the single market;

58.  Stresses that the OECD(32) points to the use by some MNCs of strategies that allow them to pay as little as 5 % in corporate taxes when smaller businesses are paying up to 30 %, and is deeply concerned that, according to some studies(33), the corporate tax contribution of cross-border companies is up to 30 % lower, on average, than that of domestic companies operating in only one country; finds it unacceptable that, as a result of those strategies, some MNCs can pay a very low effective corporate tax rate while some SMEs have to pay their full share of tax;

59.  Stresses that this distortion of economic operators’ decisions, taken on the basis of expected post-tax returns, results in a sub-optimal allocation of resources within the EU and tends to lower the level of competition, thereby affecting growth and employment;

60.  Underlines the fact that some harmful tax practices may fall within the scope of tax-related state aid rules, in particular in so far as that they can, in the same way, grant ‘selective’ advantage and entail distortions of competition within the internal market; notes that, in the past, the State Aid and Code of Conduct Group processes have mutually supported each other, notably in 1999 and in the first half of the 2000s; stresses that the enforcement of EU competition rules has added legal pressure as a complement to the soft-law decision-making process in the Group, partially compensating for the lack of any other effective tool to remedy the issue of tax avoidance at EU level;

61.  Acknowledges the important developments that have taken place in the last 20 years with respect to the Commission’s analytical framework for tax-related state aid, which have made it possible to move towards more clarity in the definition and analysis of state aid through tax measures, as well as more systematic action against such measures; notes, in particular, the Commission’s 1998 guidelines on the application of state aid rules to measures relating to direct business taxation, the 2004 report thereon and various important case law decisions in the 2000s; welcomes, within the State Aid Modernisation process promoted by the Commission, the launch in 2014 of a public consultation on draft guidelines aimed at clarifying the notion of state aid pursuant to Article 107 TFEU, which includes elements on tax-related state aid and, in particular, tax rulings;

62.  Notes that, in recent decades, an increasingly settled European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law has emerged on the application of state aid law to the Member States’ tax measures, most recently in the Gibraltar case in 2011(34);

63.  Notes that the ECJ stressed the principle of ‘substance over form’ and hence that the economic impact of a measure is the reference criterion for its evaluation;

64.  Notes, therefore, that the ECJ has derived from the ban on state aid far-reaching requirements for the Member States’ legislative responsibility in tax matters;

65.  Notes that the concept of ‘nature and general scheme of the national system’ is a central reference in assessing whether direct or indirect tax measures are selective or not, and thus compatible or not with the internal market, and that any state aid should be assessed in relation to the pre-existing equilibrium; stresses that, as the EU benchmark for assessing potential distortions is the national system of reference(35), not all distortions of competition and harmful tax practices within the internal market can be covered by current competition rules; notes, therefore, that the full enforcement of these rules alone would not enable the issue of corporate tax avoidance in the EU to be solved;

66.  Notes that, according to the data provided to its competent special committee(36) by the Commission, only 65 tax-related state aid cases have, since 1991, been formally examined by the Commission, of which 7 were tax rulings and only 10 originated in formal notifications by Member States;

67.  Stresses that the Commission only handled a small number of cases in the field of tax-related state aid in the second half of the 2000s, and that recent state aid proceedings include:

   the initiation, in June 2013, of an inquiry into tax rulings practices in seven Member states, extended to all Member States in December 2014,
   the opening, in October 2013, of an investigation on whether Gibraltar’s corporate tax regime favours certain companies, which in October 2014 was extended to also examine tax rulings in the said territory,
   in parallel, the initiation of a separate inquiry on intellectual property taxation regimes (‘patent boxes’),
   the opening, in June 2014, of formal investigations into three cases: Apple in Ireland, Fiat Finance and Trade in Luxembourg and Starbucks in the Netherlands, concluded in October 2015, followed, in October 2014, by Amazon in Luxembourg,
   the opening, in February 2015, of a formal investigation into a tax scheme in Belgium (excess profit ruling system);

68.  Stresses that ongoing and completed Commission investigations and the cases revealed by LuxLeaks indicate that some Member States fell short of their legal obligation(37) to communicate all potential state aid files to the Commission;

69.  Stresses that these investigations shed light on only a very limited sample of some typical practices which affect the taxable profit allocated to some MNCs’ subsidiaries through transfer pricing; is concerned that the current resources of the Commission’s competent services may limit its ability to handle a significantly larger number of cases and to carry out systematic checks in order to ascertain whether further practices, other than those based on transfer pricing, in the area of corporate taxation might be in conflict with state aid law;

70.  Strongly supports the Commission in its approach, which consists in taking the time needed to consider ongoing cases thoroughly and with all due diligence; believes that the outcome of the investigations will contribute to establishing more precise and effective guidelines on tax-related state aids and transfer pricing and to compelling Member States to adjust their practices accordingly; invites the Commission, nevertheless, to conclude these ongoing tax-related state aid investigations as soon as it is practically possible without prejudice to their quality and credibility and awaits their results with great interest; invites the Commission to report regularly to the European Parliament on these investigations; calls on the Commission to request the recovery of every euro missing in the event of confirmation of illegal state aid in the ongoing investigations;

71.  Stresses that ongoing investigations could lead, in the event of infringement of EU rules, to the recovery, by the Member State which approved the tax measure concerned, of the amount corresponding to the illegal State aid granted to the beneficiary undertakings; stresses that, although this may have a significant negative effect on that specific Member State’s reputation, it constitutes de facto a reward for non-compliance, which is unlikely to discourage Member States, in case of doubt, from engaging in illegal state aid practices and granting abusive tax benefits but, instead, relieves them of their responsibility to comply with EU state aid rules and does not mitigate the financial loss to the budgets of the Member States affected; in more general terms, considers that state aid rules should provide for sanctions that constitute an effective deterrent against illegal state aid;

72.  Points also to the possibility, in the event of abusive transfer pricing between cross-border subsidiaries, that not only the Member State at the origin of the advantageous tax treatment sees its tax revenues adjusted (recovery of aid) but that the same happens to other countries in which the transaction took place (ex post adjustment of transfer pricing and thus of taxable income); stresses that, in some cases, this could lead to double taxation;

73.  Recalls that tax rulings should be aimed at providing legal certainty and create legitimate expectations for their beneficiaries; stresses, against a background where national rulings can be challenged by state aid rules at EU level, that a risk exists of mass notifications of individual rulings requests from Member States for advance clearance by the Commission with a view to avoiding legal uncertainties for tax administrations and undertakings; stresses that an increased capacity within the Commission and improved processes for transmitting information are the appropriate ways to handle an increased flow of notifications as well as the greater transparency required from Member States in tax matters;

Third countries

74.  Is concerned that the negative spillover effects of harmful tax practices by some MNCs seem to be far more significant on developing countries than on developed countries(38), as the former derive a greater proportion of their revenue from corporate tax and have weaker public finance systems, regulatory environments and administrative capacity to ensure tax compliance and tackle these harmful tax practices; notes that the IMF(39) suggests that developing countries lose in relative terms three times as much revenue to aggressive tax planning as developed countries; stresses that Article 208 of the Lisbon Treaty obligates Member States to adjust their policies to support development in developing countries; points out that comprehensive ex post spillover analyses of Member States’ tax practices, the findings of which should be made public, would help guide policy-making to ensure that such practices do not erode the tax base of other Member States or third countries;

75.  Stresses that, at the same time, the few ‘winners’ of global tax competition, which are those countries with very attractive corporate tax policies inside and outside the EU, present some disproportionate economic fundamentals as compared with their size and real economic activity, especially when looking at, for instance, the number of resident companies per inhabitant, the amount of foreign profits booked, FDI or outgoing financial flows as compared to GDP, etc.; notes that this demonstrates the artificial nature of their tax base and incoming financial flows and the disconnection allowed under the current tax systems between where value is generated and where taxation is operated;

76.  Stresses that tax competition is far from being limited to the Member States, including their dependent or associated territories, and that most practices under consideration have an international dimension, through the shifting of profits to low- or no-tax or secrecy jurisdictions where, often, no substantial economic activity takes place; deplores the lack of a coordinated approach on the part of the Member States vis-à-vis all those jurisdictions, not only in terms of joint action or reaction against their harmful practices, but also, despite the Commission’s efforts, regarding their identification and the relevant criteria; strongly supports, therefore, the Commission’s 2012 proposal, which includes substantial criteria for ensuring fair competition in addition to transparency and the exchange of information, as well as the recent publication, in the Commission’s tax package of 17 June 2015, of a list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, established following a ‘common denominator’ approach on the basis of lists existing at national level; stresses that the establishment of such a list is a prerequisite for taking appropriate action against such jurisdictions; believes that this list should be the first iteration of a process that results in a rigorous, objective definition of ‘tax havens’ which can then inform future lists, established on the basis of clear criteria that should be known in advance; encourages the Commission to assess whether European jurisdictions comply with these criteria;

77.  Stresses that the OECD’s work in this regard achieved some significant results in terms of transparency and the exchange of information; welcomes in particular the signing, by close to 100 countries as of June 2015, of the OECD Multilateral Convention of Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (the ‘Joint Convention’), which provides for administrative cooperation between states in the assessment and collection of taxes, in particular with a view to combating tax avoidance and evasion;

78.  Stresses, however, that the OECD’s work on its former list of uncooperative tax havens was based on a political process which led to arbitrary compromises already when setting the criteria for the lists, such as the requirement to conclude tax agreements with 12 other countries, and resulted in no jurisdiction being listed as an uncooperative tax haven; stresses that its current approach is still based on criteria which refer to tax transparency and the exchange of information, and are not comprehensive enough to address the harmfulness of certain tax practices; notes that, whatever its merits, this limits the relevance of the OECD’s approach to identifying those tax jurisdictions which are pillars of tax avoidance practices and harmful tax competition worldwide; stresses, in particular, that this approach does not refer to any qualitative indicators for an objective assessment of compliance with good governance practices or consider quantitative data such as book profits, incoming and outgoing financial flows and their (dis)connection from the economic reality in a given jurisdiction;

79.  Underlines, moreover, the fact that these lists can be used at national level to implement national protection and anti-avoidance rules vis-à-vis third countries (such as a limitation on benefits, the application of a principal purpose test, rules on controlled foreign corporations, etc.), and that the limitations of such lists can therefore also limit the scope and effectiveness of national measures aimed at tackling harmful tax practices;

80.  Is convinced that ensuring fair competition in the internal market and protecting Member States’ tax bases depends very much on addressing the weakest link regarding interactions with low- or no-tax and secrecy jurisdictions, bearing in mind that tax rates are the competence of Member States, since the existence of a tax gateway (e.g. no withholding tax) to third countries, irrespective of their tax practices, considerably increases tax avoidance opportunities within the EU;

81.  Stresses that a coordinated approach by Member States vis-à-vis both developing and developed countries could prove much more effective in tackling harmful tax practices and promoting greater reciprocity in tax matters;

82.  Stresses that, in response to pressure from both the EU and the G20 on the issue of tax transparency, and in the context of the financial, economic and debt crisis, some third countries have finally signed tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with the EU, which should improve cooperation with those countries; points out that, in the case of Switzerland, an agreement was signed in May 2015, after a long ‘transitional’ period during which this important commercial partner of the EU benefited from privileged access to the single market, but, at the same time, did not cooperate in other areas, in particular taxation;

83.  Notes that, despite ongoing negotiations, progress remains slow for signing similar cooperation agreements with San Marino, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Andorra; regrets that the Commission does not have a similar European mandate to negotiate automatic information exchange agreements with overseas territories currently covered by the EU Savings Tax Directive;

84.  Notes with concern that many developing countries find themselves particularly vulnerable to tax avoidance activities by MNCs, and that the main cause of missed revenue for developing countries’ national budgets lies in the transfer pricing practices of MNCs(40); stresses, furthermore, that these countries find themselves in a very weak bargaining position in relation to certain MNCs or foreign direct investors ‘shopping around’ the world in search of tax subsidies and exemptions; denounces the fact that annual losses suffered by national budgets in tax revenues are estimated to range between around EUR 91(41) and EUR 125 billion(42);

85.  Reminds Member States that they are bound under the Lisbon Treaty by the principle of policy coherence for development and must ensure that their tax policies do not undermine the EU objectives on development; encourages the Member States to conduct spillover analyses of their tax policies and their impacts on developing countries, as suggested by the IMF;

Conclusions and recommendations

86.  Concludes, looking back to the mandate which it conferred on its special committee, and despite the various limitations and obstacles encountered during its fact-finding missions as well as by other EU institutions, some Member States and MNCs:

   without prejudice to the outcome of the Commission’s ongoing state aid investigations, the information gathered indicates that, in several cases, Member States did not comply with Article 107(1) TFEU, since they introduced tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect which, by favouring certain undertakings, have distorted competition within the internal market,
   some Member States did not fully enforce Article 108 TFEU since they failed to formally notify the Commission of all their plans to grant tax-related aid, thereby also infringing the corresponding provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 659/1999; stresses that, as a result, the Commission could not keep under constant review all systems of aid, as provided for in Article 108 TFEU, since it did not have access to all the relevant information, at least before 2010, which is the period not covered by its ongoing investigations,
   Member States did not comply with the obligations set out in Council Directives 77/799/EEC and 2011/16/EU since they did not and continue not to spontaneously exchange tax information, even in cases where there were clear grounds, despite the margin of discretion left by those directives, for expecting that there may be tax losses in other Member States, or that tax savings may result from artificial transfers of profits within groups,
   some Member States did not comply with the principle of sincere cooperation enshrined in Article 4(3) TEU, since they did not take all appropriate measures, general or particular, to ensure the fulfilment of their obligations,
   an analysis of individual cases of breaches in community law concerning the aforementioned paragraphs was not possible owing to a lack of detailed information provided by Member States, the Council and the Commission,
   finally, the Commission did not fulfil its role of guardian of the Treaties, as established in Article 17(1) TEU, by not acting in this matter and taking all necessary steps to ensure that they comply with their obligations, in particular those set out in Council Directives 77/799/EEC and 2011/16/EU, despite evidence to the contrary; the Commission has breached its obligations under Article 108 of the Lisbon Treaty on the functioning of the internal market by not launching state aid investigations in the past;

87.  Condemns the fact that several tax documents from the Code of Conduct group meetings that were requested have not been disclosed at all or have only been partially disclosed to the committee, although some of them have already been provided to individual citizens who requested them through the access to documents procedure, thus leading to the European Parliament being less well informed than European citizens about the position of the Member States on tax matters; deplores, in addition, the fact that the Commission has only released less than 5 % of the total number of documents requested, which appeared to be some 5 500; regrets the lack of cooperation with the committee by the Commission and Council, impeding the fulfilment of its mandate;

88.  Given Parliament’s current lack of parliamentary inquiry powers, calls on the Council and the Commission to urgently consent to the pending proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of Parliament’s right of inquiry(43), in order to confer genuine investigative powers needed to exercise its parliamentary right of inquiry;

89.  Calls on the Commission to examine whether the abovementioned infringements could still be brought to the Court of Justice;

90.  Calls on the Member States to respect the principle of profits taxation in the place they are generated;

91.  Calls on the Member States and the EU institutions, which share the political responsibility for the current situation, to put an end to harmful tax competition and fully cooperate in order to eliminate mismatches – and refrain from creating further mismatches – between tax systems and harmful tax measures which create the conditions for massive tax avoidance by MNCs and tax base erosion within the internal market; calls, in this connection, on the Member States to notify the Commission and other Member States about any relevant changes to their corporate taxation law that could have an impact on their effective tax rates or on any other Member State’s tax revenue; stresses that the Member States that play a pivotal role in facilitating tax avoidance should take responsibility and lead the efforts to improve tax cooperation within the EU;

92.  Calls on the EU Heads of State and Government to make new clear political commitments to taking urgent action to tackle this situation, which can no longer be tolerated, not least because of its impact on national budgets, which are already subjected to fiscal consolidation measures, and on the tax contributions of other taxpayers, including SMEs and citizens; stresses, in this context, that it intends to play its role fully and is ready to put in place more effective political scrutiny, in close cooperation with national parliaments;

93.  Calls on the Commission to fulfil its duty as guardian of the Treaties by ensuring that EU law and the principle of sincere cooperation between Member States are fully complied with; urges the Commission to take further legal action as a matter of course in accordance with the powers conferred upon it by the Treaty; calls therefore on the Commission to reinforce its internal capacity, possibly through the creation of a specific tax department in its services, to deal both with an increasing flow of state aid notifications in the field of competition policy and with its reinforced responsibility for coordinating new measures relating to tax transparency;

94.  Calls on the Member States to provide the Commission with all necessary information so that, without hindrance, it can carry out its role as guardian of the Treaties;

95.  Calls on the Commission to promote good practices on transfer pricing and the pricing of loans and finance fees in intragroup transactions, to bring them in line with prevailing market prices;

96.  Underlines the fact that Member States remain fully competent to set their respective corporate tax rates; insists, nevertheless, that tax competition in the EU and vis-à-vis third countries should take place within a clear framework of rules in order to guarantee fair competition between firms in the internal market; calls on the Member States to first and foremost ensure a business-friendly environment, characterised by, inter alia, economic, financial and political stability, as well as legal certainty and the simplicity of tax rules; given their crucial role in ensuring fiscal sustainability, calls on the Commission to more thoroughly address corporate taxation issues, including harmful tax practices and their impact, in the framework of the European Semester and for relevant indicators, including estimates of the tax gap arising from tax evasion and tax avoidance, to be included in the macroeconomic imbalance procedure;

97.  Calls on the Member States, especially those that receive financial assistance, to implement structural reforms, combat tax fraud and enforce action against aggressive tax planning;

98.  Calls on the Commission in this respect to strike the right balance between fiscal and economic convergence, and calls on the Commission to ensure that actions are in support of growth, investment and jobs;

99.  Takes the view that, among other things, a comprehensive, transparent and effective automatic exchange of tax information and a mandatory common consolidated corporate tax base are essential preconditions for achieving a tax system at EU level that complies with and preserves the basic principles of the internal market;

100.  Invites the Member States and the EU institutions, given the complexity of the issue, to implement various sets of complementary actions in order to improve the current situation, bearing in mind the need to reduce complexity for all stakeholders and to minimise compliance costs for businesses and tax administrations; stresses, therefore, that simplification of tax schemes should be the first step in seeking to bring clarity not only to Member States but also to citizens, who are at present excluded from the exchange of information;

101.  Calls on the Commission to further investigate empirically the opportunity of restricting the deduction of royalty payments to related corporations from the corporate income tax base payments as a way to counteract intra-group profit shifting;

102.  Stresses the fact that, despite repeated invitations, only four MNCs(44) initially agreed to appear before the committee to discuss international tax planning matters, out of a total of 17; considers that the initial refusal of 13 of them – some with high public visibility – to cooperate with a parliamentary committee is unacceptable and highly damaging to the dignity of the European Parliament and the citizens it represents; notes, however, that 11 MNCs(45) finally agreed to come to the committee only after the report had been voted on in the TAXE Committee and shortly before the vote in plenary, while two MNCs(46) persisted in their refusal; recommends, therefore, that its competent authorities consider depriving these companies from their access to Parliament’s premises and that serious consideration be given to setting up a clear framework and upgrading the duties set out in the Code of Conduct for organisations included in the Transparency Register(47), in terms of cooperation with Parliament’s committees and other political bodies;

103.  Calls for an investigation into the role of the financial institutions in aiding harmful tax practices;

Cooperation and coordination on advance tax rulings

104.  Deplores the content of the political agreement of 6 October 2015 within the Council, which falls short of the Commission’s legislative proposal of March 2015 amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation; stresses that the latter provided, on top of a common framework for the registration and automatic exchange of information on rulings, provisions allowing the Commission to effectively monitor its implementation by Member States and ensure that rulings do not have a negative impact on the internal market; stresses that the adoption of the Council’s position would prevent drawing all benefits from the automatic exchange of rulings, in particular in terms of effective implementation, and calls on the Council, therefore, to stick to the Commission’s proposal and take due account of the Parliament’s opinion thereon, in particular as regards the scope of the directive (all tax rulings instead of cross-border only), the retroactivity period (all tax rulings still valid should be exchanged) and the information provided to the Commission, which should have access to the tax rulings;

105.  Invites the Member States to support, in all international fora, the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) between tax administrations as the new global standard; invites in particular the Commission, the OECD and the G20 to promote this through the most adequate and effective instruments within an inclusive global process; insists that concrete steps should be taken to ensure that AEOI becomes truly global, and thereby effective, while respecting confidentiality requirements, by supporting developing countries’ efforts to build their capacity for full participation in the AEOI; stresses that, within the EU, automatic information exchange could take place in the form of a central EU-wide register which would be accessible by the Commission and the competent national authorities;

106.  Invites the Member States to consider that any tax ruling should, in particular when involving transfer pricing, be established in cooperation with all involved countries, that the relevant information should be exchanged between them automatically, comprehensively and without delay and that any national action aimed at reducing tax avoidance and tax base erosion within the EU, including audits, should be carried out jointly, giving due consideration to the experience gained through the FISCALIS 2020 programme; reiterates its view that the basic elements of all rulings that have an impact on other Member States should be not only shared between tax administrations and the Commission, but also presented in the country-by-country reporting by MNCs;

107.  Highlights, in this connection, the fact that not only cross-border but also national rulings can impact other Member States, and calls, therefore, for an extension of the automatic exchange of information to all rulings issued by, or on behalf of, the government or the tax authority of a Member State, or any territorial or administrative subdivisions thereof, which are still active at the date of entry into force of the directive; strongly insists on the key role of the Commission’s involvement in the process of data collection and analysis concerning rulings;

108.  Calls, furthermore, for a framework which effectively controls the implementation of the automatic exchange of information, for the collection and publication of statistics on the information exchanged, and, in particular, for the establishment, by the Commission, before 31 December 2016, of a secure central directory to facilitate the exchange of information between the participating tax authorities; recalls that the establishment of a system for the automatic exchange of information on tax rulings will result in a very large quantity of information being collected, which might make it difficult to detect the truly problematic cases; stresses that this situation, in addition to the existence of 28 Member States with different languages and administrative practices, makes it necessary for the Commission and the Member States to reflect on smart ways, including by means of information technology, of dealing with the amount and diversity of the data obtained, in order to make automatic exchange of information in the Union genuinely effective and helpful;

109.  Calls on the Commission to study the conditions for setting up, in the longer term, an EU-wide clearing house system, through which tax rulings would be systematically screened by the Commission so as to increase the system’s level of certainty, consistency, uniformity and transparency and check whether such rulings have a harmful effect on other Member States;

110.  Stresses that, in order to enhance transparency for citizens, the Commission should publish an annual report summarising the main cases contained in the secure central directory, and that, in doing so, the Commission should take into account the provisions of the Mutual Assistance Directive relating to confidentiality;

111.  Calls on the Commission to consider the establishment of a common framework at EU level for tax rulings, including common criteria, in particular:

   the requirement to establish them on the basis of a comprehensive spillover analysis, including the tax rulings’ effect on other countries’ tax bases, with the involvement of all the parties and countries concerned,
   their public disclosure, either fully or in simplified form, but fully respecting confidentiality requirements,
   the obligation to publish the criteria for granting, refusing and revoking tax rulings,
   equal treatment and availability to all taxpayers,
   absence of discretion and full compliance with underlying tax provisions;

112.  Asks the Commission to define common EU guidelines for the application of the OECD’s arm’s length principle aimed at harmonising EU Member States’ practices for fixing transfer pricing in such a way that, when establishing transfer pricing agreements, national administrations have the tools to compare similar undertakings and not only similar transactions;

113.  Believes that a fair and efficient tax system requires an adequate level of transparency and confidentiality; is convinced therefore that Member States’ tax administrations and, where relevant, the Commission, should have access to information regarding the ultimate beneficiaries of any legal vehicle and/or tax rulings;

114.  Calls on the Commission to make use, inter alia, of Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, which includes ‘tax crime’ in the broad definition of ‘criminal activity’, in order to determine the ultimate beneficiaries of certain legal vehicles;

115.  Calls on the Commission to introduce, in-house, a central public register of all legal corporate-tax exemptions, deductions and credits, together with a quantitative budget impact assessment for each Member State;

Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB)

116.  Welcomes the action plan proposed by the Commission on 17 June 2015 to address tax avoidance and promote fair and efficient corporate taxation in the EU; calls on the Commission to speed up the presentation of legislative modifications for the prompt establishment of a compulsory EU-wide Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), which would address not only the issue of preferential regimes and mismatches between national tax systems, but also most of the issues leading to tax base erosion at European level (in particular transfer pricing issues); calls on the Commission to resume, without delay, the work concluded in 2011 on the proposal for a Council directive establishing the CCCTB, taking account of Parliament’s position thereon and of new factors which have emerged since then and incorporating the most recent conclusions from the work carried out by the OECD, in particular standards resulting from the Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), so that a consolidated text can be produced in 2016;

117.  Calls on the Commission to include in its proposals provisions aimed at clarifying the definition of R&D investments and of permanent establishment in line with economic substance, covering also the digital economy; points to the importance of R&D investments and the need to facilitate rather than hamper investment and growth in the digital economy, giving the EU’s emerging economy in this sector a competitive edge vis-à-vis other actors in the United States and elsewhere; stresses that the existing evidence shows that patent boxes do not help in spurring innovation and can lead to major base erosion through profit shifting; stresses, at the same time, that abuse or exploitation of such systems must be minimised through coordinated action by the Member States and common standards and definitions as regards what qualifies as R&D promotion and what does not; stresses that the so-called modified nexus approach for patent boxes recommended by the BEPS initiative will not be enough to sufficiently limit the problems associated with patent boxes;

118.  Stresses that, to restore the link between taxation and economic substance and to ensure that taxes are paid in the countries where actual economic activity and value creation take place, as well as to correct existing mismatches, ‘formula apportionment’ should differentiate between sectors, to take into account their specific features, in particular with regard to digital businesses since the digital economy makes it more difficult for tax authorities to determine where value is created; calls on the Commission to consider carefully Parliament’s position on CCCBT and to adopt a formula apportionment which reflects the real economic activities of companies; calls on the Commission to continue its work on concrete options for the design of this allocation key, in particular with a view to anticipating, for each sector, the impact on the tax revenue of each Member State, according to the structure of its economy; stresses, furthermore, that the CCCTB is a useful means of combating BEPS and creating European added value regardless of whether or not the tax revenue might be partially used as a new own resource for the EU budget;

119.  Strongly supports the introduction of a full, mandatory CCCTB as soon as possible; acknowledges the Commission’s approach of putting forward a simple CCTB (without consolidation) as a first step in its action plan of June 2015, but points out that this will leave many issues open, especially for businesses operating in the single market, given that a CCTB would not provide for the compensation of losses through consolidation, nor address the red tape and uncertainty associated with transfer pricing, which is also one of the main tax avoidance tools used by MNCs, nor put an effective end to tax base shifting within the Union; urges the Commission, therefore, to set a concrete and short deadline to include the ‘consolidation element’ in the CCCTB initiative; calls on the Commission to dispense with any additional impact assessment of this measure, which has been on the EU agenda for decades, has already been the subject of extensive preparatory work and is now blocked in the Council since its formal submission in 2011;

120.  Calls on the Commission, pending the adoption of a full CCCTB and its full implementation at EU level, to take immediate action in order to ensure effective taxation, reduce profit shifting (mainly through transfer pricing), prepare, pending consolidation, an interim regime offsetting cross-border profits and losses, which should be temporary in nature and with sufficient guarantees that it will not create any further opportunity for aggressive tax planning, and further introduce appropriate and effective anti-abuse rules in all relevant directives; calls on the Commission to check the existing directives and draft directives in the field of tax and company law as regards their adequacy for enforcing effective taxation; calls on the Council to prepare for the prompt adoption of these provisions; emphasises that, if it is to achieve one of its goals, i.e. reducing red tape, the application of a common consolidated tax base should be accompanied by the implementation of common accounting rules and appropriate harmonisation of administrative practices in tax matters;

121.  Calls on the Commission to issue clear legislation on the definition of economic substance, value creation and permanent establishment, with a view to tackling, in particular, the issue of letterbox companies, and to develop EU criteria and legislation for the treatment of R&D, compatible with, but not limited to, the work of the OECD on the matter, since Member States are currently reforming their strategy in that regard, often cumulatively with subsidies; stresses that such legislation should clearly indicate that there must be a direct link between the preferential regimes granted by the tax administration and the underlying R&D activities; calls on the Commission to revise EU legislation on controlled foreign companies and its application in accordance with the Cadbury Schweppes judgment of the European Court of Justice (C-196/04) in order to ensure full use of controlled foreign companies beyond situations of wholly artificial arrangements to avoid cases of double non-taxation; calls on the Commission to make proposals for harmonising rules on controlled foreign companies in the EU;

122.  Calls also on the Commission, in the absence of any generally accepted definition, to conduct further analyses and studies in order to define aggressive tax planning and harmful tax practices, and in particular on double taxation treaties abuses and hybrid mismatch arrangements, taking into account the various negative impacts they can have on society, ensure their monitoring and identify more precisely the impact of tax avoidance in the EU and in developing countries; calls on the Commission also to define a methodology for measuring the tax gap arising from tax avoidance and tax evasion – as announced in its proposal of March 2015 – and to ensure that this measurement takes place regularly in order to monitor progress and to design appropriate policy responses; asks the Commission to take the necessary action to clarify the exact status of all the Member States’ ‘dependent jurisdictions’ and what leverage could be used to change their practices with a view to avoiding tax base erosion within the EU;

123.  Recalls that, in addition to corporate taxation fraud, there is sizable fraud in cross-border VAT, a tax that is fundamental for all national treasuries; calls on the Commission to develop measures to tackle this problem, including better coordination on this matter among national tax agencies;

Code of Conduct on business taxation

124.  Calls for an urgent reform of the Code of Conduct on business taxation and of the Group responsible for its enforcement, given that, to date it has proved to be of questionable value, with a view to both addressing real obstacles currently in the way of effectively tackling harmful tax practices and to aiding EU-wide coordination and cooperation on tax policy;

125.  Calls on the Member States, in a spirit of good cooperation, to endorse the proposals included in the Commission’s action plan of 17 June 2015 for fair and efficient corporate taxation in the EU; believes that the Group’s legitimacy would benefit from increased transparency and accountability; advocates therefore that the Group’s governance and mandate be reshaped, including through the appointment of a permanent, politically accountable Chair, the improvement of its working methods, including a possible enforcement mechanism, the regular participation in the Group by finance ministers or senior officials, in order to raise its profile, and enhanced information exchange within the Group with a view to effectively addressing BEPS issues; calls also for the criteria set in the Code to be updated and broadened in order to cover new forms of harmful tax practices, including in third countries; calls on the Chair of the Group and on the Council to regularly report to and exchange with its competent committee on the activities of the Group, in particular with regard to the presentation of its biannual reports to ECOFIN;

126.  Invites the Council, more generally, to support the promotion of genuine democratic scrutiny in cross-border tax matters at EU level, along the lines of what is already in place in other areas where Member States or other independent institutions, such as the European Central Bank and the Board of the Single Supervisory Mechanism, have exclusive competence; calls on the Council and the Member States to consider the possibility of setting up a high-level group on taxation policy, as also suggested by the Commission President; stresses that such a ‘tax committee’, accountable to Parliament, would encompass the Council and the Commission, following the model of Economic and Financial Committee, as well as independent experts, and would more generally exercise oversight of legislative and non-legislative tax policy and would report to ECOFIN; requests that Parliament be given a right of initiative to denounce to the Code of Conduct Group any national measure it deems to fit the criteria of harmful tax competition included in the Code of Conduct;

127.  Calls on the Commission to give a second update to the 1999 Simmons & Simmons report on administrative practices mentioned in paragraph 26 of the 1999 Code of Conduct Group report, the Primarolo report (SN 4901/99);

128.  Urges the Council and the Member States, with due respect for the Treaties and the competence of the Member States in direct tax matters, to improve the transparency, accountability and monitoring work of the Group, and calls on the Commission to initiate framework legislation, under the Community method; considers it essential that the wider public be granted more information on the work of the Group;

129.  Calls on the Commission to fully implement the EU Ombudsman’s recommendations regarding the composition of expert groups and to adopt a roadmap to ensure that expert groups will be composed in a balanced manner; insists that, while working towards this goal, reforms of the current structure and composition should start immediately; stresses that such reforms would not result in a lack of available technical expertise for law-making, as those could be submitted via public consultations or public expert hearings open to representatives of all interests; calls on the Commission to adopt a clear definition of conflict of interests and robust policies to prevent actors at risk of such conflicts of interest, as well as representatives of organisations convicted of tax evasion or any other criminal wrongdoing, from being active members of any expert or advisory body;

State aid

130.  Strongly welcomes and supports the key role of the Commission as the competent competition authority in the ongoing state aid inquiries dealing with tax rulings; considers inappropriate the recurrent practice, engaged in by several Member States, of secrecy in the case of projects that have been in receipt of state aid; encourages the Commission to make full use of its powers under EU competition rules to tackle harmful tax practices and to sanction Member States and companies found to be involved in such practices; stresses the need for the Commission to commit more resources – in terms of finance and staff – to strengthening its ability to pursue all necessary fiscal state aid investigations at once; stresses the need for Member States to comply fully with the investigations and with information requests from the Commission;

131.  Calls on the Commission to adopt new guidelines, at the latest by mid-2017, in the framework of its State Aid Modernisation (SAM) initiative, clarifying what constitutes tax-related state aid and ‘appropriate’ transfer pricing, with a view to removing legal uncertainties for both compliant taxpayers and tax administrations, providing a framework for Member States’ tax practices accordingly, and not discouraging recourse to legitimate tax rulings; contests the usefulness of the arbitration convention, which is not efficient to address disputes, in particular on transfer pricing issues; considers that this instrument should be reshaped and be made more efficient, or replaced by an EU dispute mechanism with more effective mutual agreement procedures;

132.  Calls on the Commission to extend its investigations to other MNCs mentioned in the LuxLeaks scandal and to measures similar in nature or effect to transfer pricing;

133.  Calls on the Commission, in line with the broader responsibility assigned to Member States by the SAM, to consider setting up a network of national tax administrations to exchange best practices and more consistently contribute to preventing the introduction of any tax measures that might constitute illegal state aid; invites the Commission to enhance strategic synergies between the activities of the (reformed) Code of Conduct Group and the Commission’s enforcement of competition rules in the field of tax-related aid;

134.  Takes note that current state aid control rules seek to address anti-competitive practices by recovering undue advantages granted to companies; calls on the Commission to assess the possibility of modifying the existing rules in order to allow the amounts recovered following an infringement of EU state aid rules to be returned to the Member States which have suffered from an erosion of their tax bases and not to the Member State which granted the illegal tax-related aid, as is currently the case, or be allocated to the EU budget; calls on the Commission to modify the existing rules to ensure that sanctions can be adopted against the relevant countries and companies in case of breach of state aid rules;

Transparency

135.  Takes the view that the Union has the potential to become a model and a global leader in terms of tax transparency;

136.  Underlines the crucial importance of transparency with a view to increasing the public accountability of MNCs and supporting tax administrations in their investigations; stresses that it can have a strong deterrent effect and change behaviours, through both the reputational risk for non-compliant firms and the provision of information to the competent authorities, which can then adopt appropriate corrective measures and sanctions; stresses that the need for transparency should be balanced against the need to protect sensitive commercial interests and respect data protection rules;

137.  Considers that increased transparency regarding the activities of multinational companies is essential for ensuring that tax administrations are able to efficiently combat BEPS; reiterates accordingly its position that MNCs in all sectors should disclose clearly and comprehensibly in their financial statements, broken down by Member State and by third country in which they have an establishment, a range of aggregate information, including their profit or loss before tax, taxes on profit or loss, number of employees, assets held, basic information about tax rulings (country-by-country reporting); underlines the importance of making this information available to the public, possibly in the form of a central EU register; stresses furthermore that SMEs and mid-caps which are not MNCs should be exempt from such an obligation; calls on the Council to adopt, by the end of 2015, Parliament’s position as voted in the Shareholder Rights Directive in July 2015; stresses that transparency requirements should be designed and implemented in such a way that they do not result in EU firms being put at a competitive disadvantage;

138.  Calls also on the Member States to implement a more extensive country-by-country reporting system available to tax authorities, building on the OECD standard and including more detailed information, such as tax returns and intra-group transactions; highlights that the provision of tax information by firms to other tax administrations needs to be accompanied by an improvement in the framework for resolving disputes in order to clarify the respective rights of each party and avoid any negative side effects; stresses that, vis-à-vis tax administrations of third countries, information should be transmitted only to the authorities of those countries that have in place arrangements equivalent to those provided by the EU Arbitration Convention; calls also for harmonised accounting standards to be developed, permitting, in particular, more granular disclosure regarding royalties;

139.  Asks the Commission to support this position, in line with its past assessments and positions, and to undertake all the necessary steps in order to ensure the extension of its application to all MNCs operating on the internal market, and calls on the OECD to support its extension worldwide in order to ensure that similar obligations apply to all firms engaging in cross-border operations; underlines the fact that action aimed at improving transparency, though necessary, is not a sufficient means of tackling the issue comprehensively and that national, EU and international tax systems also need to be substantially reformed;

140.  Stresses that the current opacity in the international tax system allows MNCs to avoid taxes, circumvent national tax laws and shift their profits to tax havens; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the competent authorities have full access to central registers of beneficial ownership for both companies and trusts, in accordance with the fourth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive; calls on the Member States to swiftly transpose the fourth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive, ensuring broad and simplified access to information contained in central registers of beneficial owners; reiterates its position that these registers should be public;

141.  Recognises the work undertaken by the Commission for the creation of a European Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN); calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal for a European TIN, based on the outline for a European TIN in the Commission’s Action Plan on the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion of 2012 (action 22); recalls that TINs are considered to provide the best means of identifying taxpayers and urges, therefore, for this project to be accelerated; calls on the Commission, by the same token, to actively work for the creation of a similar identification number on a global level, such as the Regulatory Oversight Committee’s global Legal Entities Identifier (LEI);

142.  Stresses, furthermore, that transparency is also important in ongoing state aid investigations into tax rulings;

143.  Calls on the Commission to examine possibilities for implementing within the EU similar provisions as the US Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) rule(48) requiring state and local governments to report how much revenue they lose to corporate tax breaks given for economic development;

Protection of whistleblowers

144.  Calls on the Commission to propose, by June 2016, an EU legislative framework for the effective protection of whistleblowers and the like; stresses that it is not acceptable that citizens and journalists can be subject to prosecution rather than legal protection when, acting in the public interest, they disclose information or report suspected misconduct, wrongdoing, fraud or illegal activity, in particular in cases of tax avoidance, tax evasion and money laundering, or any other conduct infringing the fundamental principles of the EU, such as the principle of sincere cooperation;

145.  Calls on the Commission to consider a range of tools for ensuring such protection against unjustified legal prosecution, economic sanctions and discrimination, while also ensuring the protection of confidentiality and trade secrets; draws attention, in this connection, to the example of the US Dodd-Frank Act, which both remunerates whistleblowers for providing the authorities with original information and protects them from legal prosecution and job loss, bearing in mind that such remuneration should not be a stimulus for publishing business-sensitive information; proposes the creation of an independent European body responsible for collecting this information and carrying out investigations, as well as a pan-European whistleblower common fund, to ensure that whistleblowers receive adequate financial assistance, both funded through a levy on a proportion of the funds recovered or fines imposed; takes the view that protection should also be granted to whistleblowers in case they inform the public after the competent authorities at national or EU level were notified, after no reaction within one month;

Corporate Social Responsibility

146.  Believes that carrying out a responsible tax strategy is to be considered a pillar of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), in particular in accordance with the updated definition of CSR as ‘the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society’(49); regrets that most firms do not include this in their CSR report; underlines the fact that aggressive tax planning is incompatible with CSR; calls on the Commission to include this element and to properly define its content in an updated Corporate Social Responsibility EU strategy;

Third-country dimension

OECD

147.  Supports the OECD BEPS action plan, while recognising that it is the result of a compromise which is not going far enough to address the scale of the tax avoidance problem and that these proposals should be the basis for further action at EU and global level; calls for the OECD, its member countries and all other countries involved to set up a strong monitoring tool in order to assess progress in the implementation of those guidelines, obtain evidence of their effectiveness and possibly take corrective action;

148.  Recommends that institutional links and cooperation between the OECD and the Commission be strengthened in order to continue to ensure the compatibility of the two processes and avoid double standards; calls on the Member States to promptly transpose all the EU legislation based on the OECD guidelines into national legislation, thereby making the EU a frontrunner in the implementation of the OECD’s recommendations; stresses, however, that the OECD approach is still based on soft law and that its action must be complemented by a proper legislative framework at EU level to address the needs of the single market, e.g. in the form of an anti-BEPS directive going beyond the OECD BEPS initiative in areas that are not sufficiently covered;

Tax havens

149.  Calls for a common EU approach to tax havens; calls on the Commission, in particular, to continue its work on the development and adoption of a European definition, a common set of criteria to identify tax havens, independently of their location, and appropriate sanctions for countries cooperating with them, on the basis of its December 2012 Recommendation regarding measures intended to encourage third countries to apply minimum standards of good governance in tax matters (i.e. going beyond the exchange of information and transparency to include fair tax competition and effective taxation) and for companies using them for the purpose of aggressive tax planning, and on defining appropriate common measures applying to those jurisdictions; refers to its above mentioned resolution of 21 May 2013 on ‘the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion and tax havens’ for a non-exhaustive list of such possible measures(50); reiterates that genuinely European lists, regularly updated and based on comprehensive, transparent, robust, objectively verifiable and commonly accepted indicators, would be more effective as a means of promoting good tax governance and changing tax behaviours towards and within those jurisdictions;

150.  Calls on the Commission to include in the European black list those territories that grant fiscal advantages to entities without requiring substantial economic activity in the country, provide significantly low effective taxation and do not guarantee automatic exchange of tax information with other jurisdictions;

151.  Stresses, in particular, the need to ensure that outgoing financial flows are taxed at least once, for instance by imposing a withholding tax or equivalent measures, in order to avoid profits leaving the EU untaxed, and calls on the Commission to present a legislative proposal to that effect, for instance through the revision of the Parent-Subsidiary and Interest and Royalties Directives; insists that a system should be put in place to ensure that a confirmation document has to be presented to the national tax authorities and communicated to the Commission in order to certify this operation, thereby protecting the single market and maintaining the connection between where profits and economic value are generated and where these are taxed; stresses that such a system should be carefully designed in order to avoid double taxation and disputes; calls on the Commission, while supporting the OECD’s promotion of a multilateral approach to tax issues aimed at streamlining international tax arrangements and ensuring that profits are taxed in the place where the value is created, to enhance the EU’s role on the international stage by speaking with one voice and to work on the development of a common EU framework for bilateral treaties in tax matters and a progressive substitution of the huge number of bilateral individual tax treaties by EU/third jurisdiction treaties; stresses that this would be the most immediate way to tackle treaty-shopping practices; calls, in the interim, on the Member States to immediately insert anti-abuse clauses into their tax treaties in accordance with the BEPS proposals;

152.  Considers that the setting up of free trade agreements needs to be accompanied by enhanced tax cooperation, preventing tax avoidance by firms competing on the same markets and ensuring a level playing field; asks the Commission, therefore, to introduce tax provisions in all EU free trade agreements which would bind partner countries to apply good tax governance and ensure reciprocity in tax matters; stresses that the work undertaken by the Platform for Tax Good Governance forms a good basis on which to implement this concept; underlines the fact that the same could apply to EU cooperation agreements;

153.  Calls on EU bodies not to cooperate with those jurisdictions deemed to be uncooperative on tax matters, nor with companies convicted of tax fraud, tax evasion or aggressive tax planning; asks that institutions such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) no longer cooperate, through their financial intermediaries, with non-cooperative tax jurisdictions; asks, moreover, EU bodies to commit to not granting EU funding to companies convicted of tax fraud, tax evasion or aggressive tax planning;

154.  Calls on the Commission to use all the tools at its disposal to foster a more coordinated approach vis-à-vis developed countries in order to promote greater reciprocity in tax matters, in particular with regard to the exchange of information with the United States of America following the entry into force of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act; calls also on the Commission, against the background of the agreement of 27 May 2015 between the EU and Switzerland on the automatic exchange of financial account information, to monitor carefully, with a view to preserving the single market, the agreed phasing out of some harmful tax practices in Switzerland, in line with BEPS guidelines, and that no new harmful tax measures are introduced in the future; calls on the Commission in its ongoing negotiations with Switzerland to suggest the introduction of controlled foreign companies rules in Swiss law; insists that the Commission must ensure that Switzerland follows the EU approach on taxation and report to Parliament;

155.  Recalls that all Member States have chosen a multilateral approach of automatic exchange of information, through the Convention on Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and through the 2014 review of the relevant EU directives(51); stresses that these two initiatives are key elements for tackling tax evasion and bank secrecy, as they entail the obligation of financial institutions to report to tax administrations a wide range of information regarding residents with income generated by foreign-held assets;

Developing countries

156.  Highlights the fact that specific attention should be paid at national, EU and international level to the situation of developing countries and, in particular, least developed countries, which usually are the most affected by corporate tax avoidance and have very narrow tax bases and low tax-to-GDP ratios, when devising actions and policies to tackle tax avoidance; stresses that those actions and policies should contribute to generating public revenues commensurate with the value added generated on their territory, so as to appropriately finance their development strategies, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda; welcomes, against this background, the work of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters; asks the Commission to support the interests of developing countries in existing international initiatives and to include representatives from developing countries in its Platform for Tax Good Governance;

157.  Calls on the EU and the OECD BEPS members to ensure that the new OECD-developed ‘Global Standard on Automatic Information Exchange’ includes a transition period for developing countries that cannot currently meet reciprocal automatic information exchange requirements owing to a lack of administrative capacity;

158.  Calls on the Commission to propose further measures to help enhance administrative capacities in developing countries, in particular in tax matters, to allow an effective exchange of tax information with their administrations; calls for the establishment of a platform for developing countries by implementing pilot projects on AEOI; calls on developing countries to promote regional agreements or other forms of cooperation on tax matters in order to improve their negotiating position vis-à-vis foreign direct investors and MNCs and tackle issues of common interest;

159.  Calls on the Member States to ensure, that their development aid agencies have sufficient technical expertise at their disposal for addressing tax issues in their development policies, especially from ministries of finance and tax administrations;

160.  Refers to the action plan presented in its resolution of 8 July 2015 on tax avoidance and tax evasion as challenges for governance, social protection and development in developing countries; encourages all countries and international organisations, such as the UN, to be part of an inclusive process and contribute to the G20/OECD tax agenda, addressing BEPS, promoting international tax transparency and the global sharing of tax information, for example through the development of a single common reporting standard in the AEOI or the public disclosure of beneficial ownership; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support a greater role for the UN in future international tax discussions, for instance by supporting the creation of a global tax body under the auspices of the United Nations;

Tax advisers

161.  Points to the problematic and questionable juxtaposition, within the same firms, of tax advice, auditing and consulting activities intended on the one hand to service tax administrations, e.g. for designing tax systems or improving tax collection, and, on the other hand, to provide tax planning services for MNCs, which may be exploiting the weaknesses of national tax laws;

162.  Points out the existence of a European legal framework, which includes the most recent package of reforms to the audit market, approved by Parliament on 3 April 2014(52); calls on the Commission to ensure that the relevant legislative provisions are applied in the Member States within the appropriate time frame and in line with the objectives pursued;

163.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with proposals for guidelines for the tax consulting industry and for the setting up of an EU incompatibility regime for advisers in tax matters and, where appropriate, for banks, establishing a framework effectively preventing conflicts of interest between services provided to the public and private sectors;

164.  Calls, furthermore, on the Commission to launch an inquiry in order to assess the state of concentration in the sector and any resulting distortion of competition; recommends that this inquiry also consider specifically whether the combination of tax advice and auditing functions within the same firms can lead to conflicts of interest, and to propose measures accordingly, including by introducing mechanisms to keep departments within consultancy firms separate;

165.  Requests that the Commission urgently assess the possibility of introducing a legislative framework providing for sufficient sanctions for firms, banks, accountancy firms and financial advisers proved to be involved in implementing or promoting illegal tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning; stresses that these sanctions should have a deterrent effect and may include, among others, fines, barring access to funding from the EU budget, prohibition of any advisory role in the EU institutions and, in extreme and repeated cases, the revoking of business licences;

Further action at national level

166.  Encourages further action at national level to tackle tax avoidance, within the EU and OECD frameworks, since uncoordinated reactions can create further mismatches and tax dodging opportunities; stresses that the best tool for fighting tax base erosion is cooperation, instead of unilaterally introducing preferential regimes to attract investments;

167.  Calls on the Commission to establish guidelines for tax amnesties granted by Member States aimed at defining the circumstances in which such amnesties would comply with the provisions of the EU Treaties relating to the free circulation of capital, freedom to provide services, state aid and money laundering rules, and the EU common approach against tax havens; recalls the need to use such practice with extreme caution in order not to incentivise tax avoiders to wait for the next amnesty;

168.  Calls on the Member States to introduce a system of withholding taxes on royalties, to ensure that royalties paid to third countries not covered by bilateral tax agreements are also taxed;

169.  Urges each Member State to carry out, where necessary with the technical support of the Commission, impact assessments that cover spillover effects in other countries, before introducing any tax measures that may have an impact abroad; calls for a strong involvement by national parliaments on the issue of tax avoidance, since no tax regime or tax treatment should escape proper assessment and democratic control by the legislator;

170.  Strongly urges Member States to stop and reconsider cuts in the resources of their tax administrations, to step up investment and increase the efficiency of their tax administrations and to ensure effective redeployment of staff and technology and expertise upgrades, with a view to tackling the development and impact of harmful tax practices, which have become increasingly sophisticated; calls on the Commission to provide technical support for such efforts, in particular in the context of the FISCALIS 2020 Programme; calls also on the Member States to work towards more simple, effective and transparent taxation regimes in the interest of Member States, citizens and businesses;

171.  Recalls that public procurement accounts for 16 % of GDP in the EU area; requests an assessment of the possibility of introducing tax, transparency or cooperation-related criteria into the public procurement tenders during the next amendment round of the Public Procurement Directive; calls also on the Member States to consider excluding from participating in public procurement companies that have been proved to have engaged in aggressive tax planning and tax avoidance schemes;

172.  Stresses, finally, that the unanimity rule within the Council, by giving each Member State a veto right, reduces the incentive to move from the status quo towards a more cooperative solution; calls on the Commission not to refrain from making use, where appropriate, of Article 116 TFEU, which stipulates the following: ‘Where the Commission finds that a difference between the provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States is distorting the conditions of competition in the internal market and that the resultant distortion needs to be eliminated, it shall consult the Member States concerned. If such consultation does not result in an agreement eliminating the distortion in question, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall issue the necessary directives [...]’;

173.  Commits to continuing the work initiated by its Special Committee, addressing the obstacles that prevented its Special Committee from completing its full mandate, and ensuring a proper follow-up of its recommendations; instructs its competent authorities to identify the best institutional set-up to achieve this;

174.  Reiterates its demand for access to all relevant EU documents; calls on its President to forward this request to the Commission and the Council and makes clear that Parliament is determined to use all possible means at its disposal to achieve this goal;

175.  Calls on its competent committee to follow up on these recommendations in its upcoming legislative initiative report on the same topic;

176.  Calls on its competent committee responsible for constitutional affairs to follow up on these recommendations, in particular regarding the insertion of binding cooperation clauses in the Code of Conduct for organisations included in the Transparency Register, and changes to the rules for access to documents between EU institutions, with a view to better aligning them with the principle of sincere cooperation set out in the TEU;

o
o   o

177.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the national parliaments, the G20 and the OECD.

ANNEX 1

LIST OF PERSONS MET

(COMMITTEE MEETINGS AND DELEGATIONS)

Date

Speakers

30.3.2015

—  Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs

16.4.2015

—  Serge Colin, President of UFE (Union of Finance Personnel)

—  Fernand Müller, Chairman of UFE fiscal committee

—  Paulo Ralha, President of Portuguese Tax Workers Union

—  François Goris (President UNSP-NUOD) for the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CESI)

—  Nadja Salson, European Federation of Public Service Unions

—  Henk Koller, President of the European Federation of tax advisers (CFE)

—  Olivier Boutellis-Taft, Chief Executive of the Federation of European Accountants (FEE)

—  Ravi Bhatiani, Director Legal Affairs of Independent Retail Europe

5.5.2015

—  Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition

—  Wolfgang Nolz, Chair of Code of Conduct Group

—  Jane McCormick, Senior Tax Partner, Head of EMA Tax, KPMG

—  Chris Sanger, Partner, Global Head of Tax Policy, Ernst&Young

—  Stef van Weeghel, PwC Partner, Global Tax Policy Leader

—  Bill Dodwell, Head of Tax Policy of Deloitte UK

11.5.2015

Public Hearing on Tax Rulings and Harmful Tax Practices

—  Stephanie Gibaud, whistle-blower and former UBS employee

—  Lutz Otte, whistle-blower and former information – technology contractor at Julius Baer

—  Kristof Clerix, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

—  Edouard Perrin, ICIJ member

—  Richard Brooks, ICIJ member

—  Lars Bové, ICIJ member

—  Xavier Counasse, journalist “Le Soir”

—  Dominique Berlin, Collège européen de Paris, Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2)

—  Gabriel Zucman, Assistant Professor, London School of Economics and Political Sciences

—  Achim Doerfer, Attorney in the field of taxation, author and legal philosopher

12.5.2015

Delegation to Belgium

—  Jacques Malherbe, University of Louvain (UCL)

—  Axel Haelterman, University of Leuven (KUL)

—  Werner Heyvaert, tax expert, Jones Day

—  Wim Wuyts, Head of Tax – President of tax committee FEB-VBO and Hilde Wampers, Vice President Tax – Group Finance FEB-VBO

—  Christophe Quintard (expert of FGTB, former tax auditor)

—  Eric van Rompuy (Chair) and others Members of Finance and Budget Committee of the Federal Parliament

—  Steven Van den Berghe, Head of the tax ruling service

—  Johan Van Overtveld – Minister of Finance (meeting held on 17 June)

18.5.2015

Delegation to Luxembourg

—  Wim Piot, Tax Leader PWC Luxembourg

—  Nicolas Mackel, CEO Luxembourg for Finance

—  Christine Dahm, Director, and Mike Mathias, member of Cercle de Coopération des ONG du développement

—  Eugène Berger (Chair) and others Members of Finance Committee of the Parliament

—  Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finance

—  Pascale Toussing, Director of Tax matters, Ministry of Finance and members of the tax administration

22.5.2015

Delegation to Bern, Switzerland

—  Markus R. Neuhaus, Chairman of the Board of PwC Switzerland, Member of the office of the Global Chairman of PwC

—  Frank Marty, Member of the executive board, Head Financial Services & Taxes, Economie Suisse

—  François Baur, Permanent Delegate in Brussels, Head European Affairs Economie Suisse

—  Martin Zogg, Member of the Executive Committee, Head Domestic and International Taxation, Swiss Holdings

—  Urs Kapalle, Director Financial Policy and Taxes, Swiss Bankers Association

—  Mark Herkenrath, Alliance Sud, Member of Global Alliance for Tax Justice

—  Olivier Longchamp, Declaration of Berne (DoB)

—  Jacques de Watteville, State Secretary for International Financial matters (SIF)

—  Ambassador Christoph Schelling, Head of Tax Policy Division

—  Adrian Hug, Director of the Swiss Federal Tax Administration

—  Ruedi Noser, Member of the National Council, Head of the Committee for Economic Affairs and Taxation

—  Urs Schwaller Member of the Council of States

—  Ulrich Trautmann, Head of Sector Trade and Economic Affairs, Delegation of the European Union to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

—  Marco Salvi, Senior researcher, Avenir Suisse

27.5.2015

Meeting with HM Government of Gibraltar (with TAXE coordinators)

—  Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister

—  Joseph Garcia, Deputy Chief Minister

28.5.2015

Delegation to Dublin, Ireland

—  Martin Lambe, Chief Executive, Irish Tax Institute

 Michael Noonan, Minister of Finance

—  Niall Cody, Chairman of Revenue Commission

—  Liam Twomy (Chair) and others Members of Finance Committee of Parliament (Oireachtas) + Joint House-Senate European Affairs Committee

—  Frank Barry, Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

—  Seamus Coffey, University College Cork (UCC)

—  Feargal O’Rourke, Head of Tax, PWC

—  Conor O’Brien, Head of Tax, KPMG

—  Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland

—  Micheál Collins, Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI).

29.5.2015

Delegation to Den Haag, the Netherlands

—  Sjoera Dikkers, MP and others Members of Committee of Finance of Dutch Parliament

—  Bartjan Zoetmulder, Dutch Association for Tax Advisors

—  Hans Van den Hurk, University of Maastricht

—  Indra Römgens, SOMO, independent, not-for-profit research and network organisation

—  Francis Weyzig, Oxfam

—  Pieterbas Plasman, Head of Tax Ruling Office

—  Eric Wiebes, Dutch State Secretary for Tax Affairs

1.6.2015

Public Hearing on International Dimension of Tax Rulings and Other Measures

—  Senator Mario Monti, former Commissioner for Competition and for Customs, Taxation and the Internal market

—  Tove Maria Ryding, Policy and Advocacy Manager of European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD)

—  Antoine Deltour, whistle-blower, former Auditor, Pwc Luxembourg

17.6.2015

Interparliamentary meeting on ‘Aggressive tax planning and democratic control Role of Parliaments’

Thirty-seven Members from eighteen national Parliaments:

AT, BE, CY, CZ, FR, DE, GR, HU, IE, IT, LT, LU, MT, PL, PT, RO, ES, SV

—  Heinz Zourek, Director General of DG TAXUD

—  Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

18.6.2015

Delegation to London, UK

—  David Gauke, MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury,

—  Jim Harra, Director General, Business Tax, HM Revenue & Customs

—  Fergus Harradence, Dep. Director, Corporate Tax Team, Business and International Tax Group, HM Treasury

—  Andrew Dawson, Head of Tax Treaty Team, Lead negotiator for UK tax Treaties

—  Maura Parsons, Deputy Director, Head of Transfer Pricing in HMRC Business International and Chair of HMRC’s Transfer Pricing Board.

—  Meg Hillier (Chair), Margaret Hodge (former Chair) and Guto Bebb, member of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons

—  Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting, Essex Business School, University of Essex

—  Frank Haskew, Head of the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Tax Faculty; and Ian Young, International Tax Manager

—  Will Morris, Chair of the Tax Committee and the BIAC Tax Committee

Confederation of British industry (CBI)

—  Richard Collier, Senior tax partner at PwC

—  Joseph Stead, Christian Aid

—  Meesha Nehru, Programme Director, Fair Tax Mark

23.6.2015

Exchange of views with Multinational Corporations

—  Nathalie Mognetti, Chief Tax Officer, Total S.A.

—  Martin McEwen, Head of Tax, SSE plc

—  Christian Comolet-Tirman, Director, Fiscal Affairs, BNP Paribas Group

25.6.2015

Meeting with Government representative of Bermuda (with TAXE coordinators)

—  Everard Bob Richards, Deputy Premier Minister & Minister of Finance

—  Alastair Sutton, EU legal adviser to the Government of Bermuda

2.7.2015

—  Richard Murphy, Tax Research LLP and founding member of the Tax Justice Network

—  Guillaume de La Villeguérin, Vice President Tax & Customs Airbus

17.9.2015

—  Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

—  Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs

—  Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition

22.9.2015

—  Pierre Gramegna, President of the ECOFIN council, Minister of Finance, Luxembourg

—  Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of Finance, Germany

—  Luis de Guindos, Minister of Economy and Competitiveness, Spain

—  Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts, France

—  Pier Carlo Padoan, Minister of Economy and Finance, Italy

16.11.2015

Exchange of views with Multinational Corporations

—  Monique Meche, Vice President, Global Public Policy, Amazon

—  Malte Lohan, Global Corporate Affairs Director, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA

—  Mark Hubbard, Global Head of Tax, Barclays Bank Group

—  Delphine Reyre, Director of Public Policy Southern Europe, Facebook

—  Iain McKinnon, Head of Group Tax, HSBC

—  Krister Mattsson, Head of Corporate Finance, Insurance, Tax & Treasury, IKEA Group

—  Irene Yates, Vice President, Corporate Tax, McDonald’s Europe

—  Werner Schuster, Vice President Tax, Philip Morris International

—  Nicklas Lundblad, Senior Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, Google

—  John Stowell, Senior Vice President, Corporate Taxes, The Walt Disney Company

—  Robert Jordan, Vice President, General Tax Counsel, Coca-Cola Company

ANNEX 2

LIST OF ANSWERS BY COUNTRY/INSTITUTION

(situation as of 16 November 2015)

Country

Reply

1st request on 23.4.2015 – Deadline 31.5.2015

Sweden

29.5.2015

Jersey

29.5.2015

Guernsey

31.5.2015

Luxembourg

1.6.2015

Finland

2.6.2015

Slovakia

3.6.2015

Ireland

5.6.2015

Netherlands

8.6.2015

United Kingdom

8.6.2015

France

10.6.2015

Czech Republic

11.6.2015

Latvia

16.6.2015

Belgium

16.6.2015

Malta

18.6.2015

1st Reminder on 29.6.2015 – Deadline 9.7.2015

Portugal

30.6.2015

Poland

2.7.2015

Lithuania

3.7.2015

Hungary

7.7.2015

Croatia

8.7.2015

Estonia

10.7.2015

Greece

10.7.2015

Spain

10.7.2015

Gibraltar

13.8.2015

Denmark

26.8.2015

Germany

2.9.2015

Romania

3.9.2015

Italy

17.9.2015

Last reminder on 21.9.2015

Austria

21.9.2015

Cyprus

22.9.2015

Bulgaria

28.9.2015

Slovenia

28.9.2015

INSTITUTIONS

Reply

Commission

29.4.2015

3.6.2015

31.8.2015

23.10.2015

9.11.2015

Council

29.5.2015

15.6.2015

27.7.2015

ANNEX 3

MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS INVITED TO

APPEAR IN COMMITTEE MEETINGS

Name

Invited/Representatives

Situation 16 November 2015

Airbus

Guillaume de La Villeguérin,

Vice President Tax & Customs

Participated – 2.7.2015

BNP Paribas

Christian Comolet-Tirman,

Director, Fiscal Affairs

Participated – 23.6.2015

SSE plc

Martin McEwen, Head of Tax

Participated – 23.6.2015

Total S.A.

Nathalie Mognetti,

Chief Tax Officer

Participated – 23.6.2015

Amazon

Monique Meche, Vice President, Global Public Policy

Participated - 16.11.2015

Anheuser-Busch InBev

Malte Lohan, Global Corporate Affairs Director

Participated - 16.11.2015

Barclays Bank Group

Mark Hubbard, Global Head of Tax

Participated - 16.11.2015

Coca-Cola Company

Robert Jordan, Vice President, General Tax Counsel

Participated - 16.11.2015

Facebook

Delphine Reyre, Director of Public Policy Southern Europe

Participated - 16.11.2015

Google

Nicklas Lundblad, Senior Director, Public Policy and Government Relations

Participated - 16.11.2015’

HSBC Bank plc

Iain McKinnon, Head of Group Tax

Participated - 16.11.2015

IKEA Group

Krister Mattsson, Head of Corporate Finance, Insurance, Tax & Treasury

Participated - 16.11.2015

McDonald’s Europe

Irene Yates, Vice President, Corporate Tax

Participated - 16.11.2015

Philip Morris

International

Werner Schuster, Vice President Tax

Participated - 16.11.2015

The Walt Disney Company

John Stowell, Senior Vice President, Corporate Taxes

Participated - 16.11.2015

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Sergio Marchionne,

Chief Executive Officer

Declined, due to ongoing investigation

Walmart

Shelley Broader,

President and Chief Executive Officer, EMEA Region

Declined

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0039.
(2) Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC (OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1), concerning mutual assistance by the competent authorities of the Member States in the field of direct taxation.
(3) Council Directive 2003/49/EC of 3 June 2003 on a common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments made between associated companies of different Member States (OJ L 157, 26.6.2003, p. 49).
(4) OJ L 225, 20.8.1990, p. 6.
(5) OJ L 158, 27.5.2014, p. 196.
(6) OJ L 83, 27.3.1999, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 336, 27.12.1977, p. 15.
(8) OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 73.
(9) OJ C 384, 10.12.1998, p. 3
(10) OJ C 258 E, 7.9.2013, p. 134.
(11) OJ C 2, 6.1.1998, p. 2.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0257.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0265.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0089.
(15) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0062.
(16) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0444.
(17) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0205.
(18) OJ C 258 E, 7.9.2013, p. 53.
(19) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 37.
(20) OJ C 341 E, 16.12.2010, p. 29.
(21) ‘Taxation trends in the European Union’, 2014 edition, Eurostat.
(22) ‘Taxation trends in the European Union’, Eurostat statistical books, 2014 edition.
(23) European Commission (2015), ‘SME taxation in Europe – an empirical study of applied corporate income taxation for SMEs compared to large enterprises’.
(24) IMF policy papers ‘Spillovers in international corporate taxation’, 9 May 2014 and ‘Base Erosion, Profit Shifting and Developing Countries’, 29 May 2015.
(25) Report of 10 February 2012 by Richard Murphy FCA on ‘Closing the European Tax Gap’.
(26) ‘European added value of legislative report on bringing Transparency, coordination and convergence to corporate tax policies in the European Union’, Dr Benjamin Ferrett, Daniel Gravino and Silvia Merler, European Parliament.
(27) ‘Unhappy meal – €1 Billion in Tax Avoidance on the Menu at McDonald’s’, EPSU et al., February 2015.
(28) Commission staff working document of 17 June 2015 on Corporate Income Taxation in the European Union (SWD(2015)0121).
(29) A study on R&D Tax incentives, Taxation paper No 52-2014, European Commission.
(30) ‘Transfer pricing: Keeping it at arm’s length’, OECD Observer 230, January 2002 (corrected 2008).
(31) House of Commons, oral evidence taken before the Public Accounts Committee, 31 January 2013.
(32) OECD Press release, ‘OECD urges stronger international co-operation on corporate tax’, 12.2.2013.
(33) SME taxation in Europe – An empirical study of applied corporate income taxation for SMEs compared to large enterprises – European Commission, May 2015, and P. Egger, W. Eggert and H. Winner (2010), ‘Saving taxes through foreign plant ownership’, Journal of International Economics 81, pp. 99-108.
(34) C-106/09 P and C-107/09 P, Commission v Government of Gibraltar and United Kingdom, judgment of 15 November 2011.
(35) If the measures adopted by the Member States concern the entire tax system, they constitute adjustments to general fiscal policy and not state aid.
(36) Note sent by Commissioner Vestager to the TAXE Committee on 29 April 2015.
(37) As laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 659/1999 of 22 March 1999 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 108 TFEU, regarding the obligation to cooperate and provide all necessary documents.
(38) IMF policy paper, ‘Spillovers in international corporate taxation’, 9 May 2014.
(39) IMF working paper ‘Base erosion, profit shifting and developing countries’, May 2015.
(40) Study ‘Tax revenue mobilisation in developing countries: issues and challenges’, European Parliament, April 2014.
(41) World Investment Report 2015, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
(42) Christian Aid report, 2008.
(43) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 41.
(44) Airbus, BNP Paribas, SSE plc and Total S.A.
(45) Amazon, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Barclays Bank Group, Coca-Cola Company, Facebook, Google, HSBC Bank plc, IKEA, McDonald’s Corporation, Philip Morris, Walt Disney Company.
(46) Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Walmart.
(47) Code of Conduct set out in Annex 3 of the 2014 Interinstitutional Agreement on the Transparency Register.
(48) ‘Tracking corporate tax breaks: a welcome new form of transparency emerges in the US’, Tax Justice Network.
(49) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility’(COM(2011)0681), p. 6.
(50) These include, to quote but a few: to suspend or terminate existing Double Tax Conventions with jurisdictions that are on the blacklist; to prohibit access to EU public procurement of goods and services and refuse to grant state aid to companies based in blacklisted jurisdictions; to prohibit EU financial institutions and financial advisers from establishing or maintaining subsidiaries and branches in blacklisted jurisdictions and to consider revoking licences for European financial institutions and financial advisers which maintain branches and continue operating in blacklisted jurisdictions; to introduce a special levy on all transactions to or from blacklisted jurisdictions; to examine a range of options for the non-recognition, within the EU, of the legal status of companies set up in blacklisted jurisdictions; to apply tariff barriers in cases of trade with blacklisted third countries.
(51) The EU Savings Tax Directive and the Directive on Administrative Cooperation.
(52) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0283 and P7_TA(2014)0284.


Authorisation for uses of bis(2-ethylhexhyl) phthalate (DEHP)
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European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2015 on draft Commission Implementing Decision XXX granting an authorisation for uses of bis(2-ethylhexhyl) phthalate (DEHP) under Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council (D041427 – 2015/2962(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0409B8-1228/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing decision granting an authorisation for uses of bis(2-ethylhexhyl) phthalate (DEHP) under Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council (D041427),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council(1), in particular Article 64(8) thereof,

–  having regard to the opinions of the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC)(2), pursuant to the third subparagraph of Article 64(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006,

–  having regard to Article 11 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2008/98/EC(4), in particular Article 4 thereof,

–  having regard to Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council(5), in particular paragraph 43(viii) of the Annex thereto,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2015/863(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on resource efficiency: moving towards a circular economy(7),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution by its Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to Rule 106(2) and (3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas DEHP is included in Annex XIV to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (the REACH Regulation) because of its classification as a category 1B substance that is toxic to reproduction; whereas DEHP is on the REACH candidate list because of its reprotoxic properties;

B.  whereas the Commission is aiming, through a draft implementing decision on the identification of bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) as substances of very high concern according to Article 57(f) of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, to identify DEHP as a substance of very high concern;

C.  whereas already in 2000, on the basis of the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on a Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters (COM(1999)0706), DEHP was included in Annex 1 setting out the candidate list of 553 substances under category I of chemicals that showed evidence of endocrine disrupting activity in at least one species using intact animals(8);

D.  whereas DEHP was among the first six compounds due to be phased out under the REACH Regulation, as announced by the Commission on 17 February 2011(9);

E.  whereas, on 12 December 2014, the Member State Committee (MSC) unanimously agreed to the identification of DEHP as a substance giving rise to an equivalent level of concern due to its endocrine disrupting properties in the environment(10); whereas the MSC unanimously acknowledged that, in the case of DEHP, there is scientific evidence on endocrine disrupting activity and on the causal link between this activity and adverse effects on human health;

F.  whereas the Commission notes the unanimous agreement in the MSC on stating that four phthalates, including DEHP, have endocrine disrupting properties and that the adverse effects of this mode of action are the same as those which led to their classification as toxic to reproduction and their identification as substances of very high concern under Article 57(c) of the REACH Regulation; whereas the Commission also notes that the majority of members of the MSC considered that the level of concern to which those effects give rise is equivalent;

G.  whereas, on 21 October 2015, the Commission submitted a draft implementing act to identify DEHP as a substance having endocrine disrupting properties whose effects on human health give rise to an equivalent level of concern under Article 57(f) of the REACH Regulation;

H.  whereas the RAC opinion does acknowledge the endocrine mode of action of DEHP but also recognises that it has been included in Annex XIV because of its reproductive toxicity classification (Article 57(c)) and not on the basis of endocrine disrupting properties (Article 57(f)); whereas, as a consequence, the current assessment of DEHP is limited to its reproductive toxicity;

I.  whereas DEHP should be identified as a substance of very high concern because it meets the criteria set out in Article 57(f) of the REACH Regulation in that it is a substance with endocrine disrupting properties for which there is scientific evidence of probable serious effects on human health, which give rise to a level of concern equivalent to that for other substances listed in points (a) to (e) of Article 57 of the REACH Regulation;

J.  whereas the applicant has applied for authorisation through the adequate control route provided for in Article 60(2) of the REACH Regulation; whereas, however, under Article 60(3)(a) of the REACH Regulation, the adequate control route does not apply to substances meeting the criteria in the CMR classification or under Article 57(f) of that regulation for which it is not possible to determine a threshold in accordance with Section 6.4 of Annex I to the regulation;

K.  whereas DEHP has been shown to adversely affect the endocrine system of mammals primarily through in vivo findings on reduced foetal testosterone; whereas these findings are further substantiated by mechanistic findings, also in vivo, of down-regulation of genes in the steroidogenic biosynthesis pathway; whereas the spectrum of adverse effects observed in rats include increased nipple retention, decreased anogenital distance, genital malformations, a reduced number of spermatocytes and testicular changes including multinucleated gonocytes, tubular atrophy and Leydig cell hyperplasia;

L.  whereas scientific evidence on DEHP shows that exposure during sensitive time windows of development may cause irreversible developmental programming effects leading to severe effects on development and reproduction, regarded as particularly serious in relation to human health and wildlife species, also because these adverse effects may first manifest themselves in later life stages as a consequence of exposure during early life stages;

M.  whereas, according to the RAC opinion, based on the information provided in the applications, applicants did not demonstrate that the risks to workers’ health from the uses applied for were adequately controlled in accordance with Article 60(2) of the REACH Regulation; whereas, according to the RAC, it is therefore not appropriate to grant the authorisation based on that provision;

N.  whereas, despite the RAC opinion, the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) concluded that authorisation of the uses would be proportionate and thus that the socio-economic benefits arising from the uses covered by the application outweighed the risks to human health arising from those uses; whereas the SEAC opinion confirmed that there were significant deficiencies in the socio-economic analysis presented by the applicant, including the lack of any health impact assessment identifying the remaining risk to workers’ health;

O.  whereas the SEAC is a scientific committee whose task, under Article 64(4)(b) of the REACH Regulation, is to assess socio-economic factors and the availability and technical feasibility of alternatives associated with use(s) of the substance as described in the application, and whereas its role is not to provide conclusions on the proportionality of an authorisation when the risk to society is not adequately controlled;

P.  whereas the applicant is responsible for assessing and managing the risks posed by chemicals and providing appropriate safety information to their users; whereas the SEAC could not conclude quantitatively on the proportionality of the continued use as information on the remaining risks to workers’ health could not be quantified;

Q.  whereas the purpose of the REACH Regulation is to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment, including the promotion of alternative methods for assessment of the hazards posed by substances, and the free circulation of substances on the internal market, while enhancing competitiveness and innovation;

R.  whereas the applications concern a wide range of uses, which would include use in the formulation of recycled soft PVC containing DEHP in compounds and dry-blends and the industrial use of recycled soft PVC containing DEHP in polymer processing to produce PVC articles; whereas such a broad scope for authorisation would largely reverse the substitution of DEHP as intended by its inclusion in Annex XIV to the REACH Regulation;

S.  whereas DEHP in PVC is widely used in everyday consumer products such as textiles, furniture and building material; whereas it is not chemically bound to the plastic and thus easily leaches out to the environment;

T.  whereas an application for authorisation should focus on the use of the substance, and whereas the fact that the substance is present in recycled materials is not a relevant consideration for granting an authorisation;

U.  whereas the SEAC noted that it was possible to use post-industrial waste with low DEHP content as an alternative feedstock material, which would also increase the quality of the recyclates produced, but that it would be unlikely that the recycler would be able to pass on a price increase for better-quality recyclates to the downstream user, as they tend to produce articles that are at the lower end of the value spectrum; whereas the SEAC stated that the alternative for plastic converters of using virgin PVC with other non-SVHC plasticisers as feedstock rather than recycled material was not considered, as the applicants indicated that the plastic converters might not remain competitive after incurring the additional cost of using virgin PVC;

V.  whereas it is not acceptable to tolerate potentially numerous cases of male infertility simply to allow soft PVC recyclers and downstream users to save costs in the production of low-value articles so as to compete with low-quality imports;

W.  whereas, although DEHP has a wide range of substitutes, the applicants have not provided a comprehensive analysis of alternatives available on the market to substitute the use of DEHP for the uses applied for;

X.  whereas one of the arguments given by the SEAC in favour of granting authorisation is that ‘there is a political and societal incentive to promote recycling as a sustainable way to handle natural resources’; whereas this simplistic argument disregards the waste management hierarchy laid down in Article 4 of Directive 2008/98/EC, according to which prevention takes priority over recycling; whereas this simplistic argument also fails to recognise explicit provisions in the Seventh Environment Action Programme which call for the development of non-toxic material cycles so that recycled waste can be used as a major, reliable source of raw material for the Union;

Y.  whereas, moreover, Parliament stressed in its resolution of 9 July 2015 on ‘resource efficiency: moving towards a circular economy’ that recycling should not justify the perpetuation of the use of hazardous legacy substances; whereas DEHP is a legacy substance, and has also been recognised as such by the industry concerned(11);

Z.  whereas the use of DEHP has been restricted in electrical and electronic equipment pursuant to Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2015/863; whereas this was supported inter alia by an assessment of the availability of safer alternatives for DEHP, as well as a positive socio-economic assessment(12);

AA.  whereas the SEAC finds that it cannot conclude that there would be net societal costs, based on the information provided by the applicant, if authorisation was not granted; whereas, therefore, the applicants have not demonstrated the socio-economic benefits arising from the use of the substance and the socio-economic implications of a refusal to authorise as provided for in Article 60(4)(c) of the REACH Regulation;

AB.  whereas the granting of an authorisation for an application that is fraught with so many deficiencies would set a very bad precedent for future authorisation decisions under REACH;

AC.  whereas Article 1(3) of the REACH Regulation states that it is underpinned by the precautionary principle, and whereas, in the event of uncertainty, considerations relating to the protection of human health and the environment should prevail over general economic considerations;

AD.  whereas the Commission is accountable to the European public for protecting citizens and the environment from hazardous chemicals, while promoting innovation, including in the area of safer chemicals and products to foster a resilient economy;

1.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006;

2.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decision and to submit a new draft rejecting the applications for authorisation for the formulation of recycled soft PVC containing DEHP;

3.  Calls on the Commission to swiftly end the use of DEHP in all remaining applications, all the more so because safer alternatives to soft PVC and to DEHP are widely available;

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

(1) Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amending Directive 1999/45/EC and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 as well as Council Directive 76/769/EEC and Commission Directives 91/155/EEC, 93/67/EEC, 93/105/EC and 2000/21/EC (OJ L 396, 30.12.2006, p. 1).
(2) http://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/b50d9fc3-f6db-4e91-8a95-c8397bb424d2http://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/8d9ee7ac-19cf-4b1a-ab1c-d8026b614d7a
(3) Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13).
(4) Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives (OJ L 312, 22.11.2008, p. 3).
(5) Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’ (OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 171).
(6) Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2015/863 of 31 March 2015 amending Annex II to Directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the list of restricted substances (OJ L 137, 4.6.2015, p. 10).
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0266.
(8) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/archives/docum/pdf/bkh_annex_01.pdf
(9) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-11-196_en.htm?locale=en
(10) http://echa.europa.eu/view-article/-/journal_content/title/the-member-state-committee-unanimously-agreed-to-identify-the-phthalate-dehp-as-an-svhc-because-of-its-endocrine-disrupting-properties-in-the-environm
(11) http://www.vinylplus.eu/uploads/docs/VinylPlus_Progress_Report_2015_English.pdf
(12) http://www.umweltbundesamt.at/fileadmin/site/umweltthemen/abfall/ROHS/finalresults/Annex6_RoHS_AnnexII_Dossier_DEHP.pdf


Prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations
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European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2015 on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations (2015/2063(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0410A8-0316/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 21 of the Treaty on European Union and to Articles 4, 8, 10, 16, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 75, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87 and 88 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the publications ‘European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey Data – Focus Report 2: Muslims’ and ‘FRA survey on Jewish people's experiences and perceptions of hate crime and discrimination in European Union Member States’, both published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA),

–  having regard to the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on 8 October 2004 on ‘Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorism’,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 6, 7, 8, 10(1), 11, 12, 21, 48, 49, 50 and 52 thereof,

–  having regard to the EU Internal Security Strategy as adopted by the Council on 25 February 2010,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2010 entitled ‘The EU Internal Security Strategy in Action: Five steps towards a more secure Europe’ (COM(2010)0673) and creating the European Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the second report on the implementation of the EU Internal Security Strategy(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 January 2014 entitled ‘Preventing radicalisation to terrorism and violent extremism: Strengthening the EU's Response’ (COM(2013)0941),

–  having regard to the Revised EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism, adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council at its meeting on 19 May 2014 and approved by the Council at its meeting of 5 and 6 June 2014 (9956/14),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 June 2014 on the final implementation report of the EU Internal Security Strategy 2010-2014 (COM(2014)0365),

–  having regard to Europol’s EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) for 2014,

–  having regard to the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on 24 September 2014 on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts (Resolution 2178 (2014)),

–  having regard to the report of the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator to the European Council of 24 November 2014 (15799/14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2014 on renewing the EU Internal Security Strategy(2),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council of 9 October and 5 December 2014,

–  having regard to the statement of the informal JHA Council of 11 January 2015,

–  having regard to its plenary debate of 28 January 2015 on anti-terrorism measures,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 2015 on anti-terrorism measures(3),

–  having regard to the informal JHA Council held in Riga on 29 and 30 January 2015,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 12 and 13 March 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 April 2015 on the European Security Agenda (COM(2015)0185),

–  having regard to the ECJ ruling on the Data Retention Directive,

–  having regard to the additional protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism and the Council of Europe’s action plan on the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism adopted on 19 May 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper entitled ‘Strengthening mutual trust in the European judicial area – A Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention’(COM(2011)0327),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0316/2015),

A.  whereas more than 5000 European citizens have joined terrorist organisations and other military formations, particularly ISIS (Da’esh), Jahbat al-Nusra and others outside the European Union, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; whereas this phenomenon is speeding up and taking on significant proportions;

B.  whereas radicalisation has become a term used to describe the phenomenon of people embracing intolerant opinions, views and ideas which could lead to violent extremism;

C.  whereas the recent terrorist attacks in France, Belgium, Tunisia and Copenhagen highlight the security threat which is posed by the presence and movement of these ‘foreign’ fighters who are often EU nationals, in Europe and in its neighbourhood; whereas the EU has condemned these attacks in the strongest terms and has committed itself to combating terrorism alongside the Member States, inside and outside EU territory;

D.  whereas the terrible terrorist attacks that killed and wounded hundreds of people in Paris on 13 November 2015 have highlighted once more the urgent need for coordinated action by the Member States and the European Union to prevent radicalisation and fight against terrorism;

E.  whereas the terrorist threat is significant in the EU, particularly in those Member States that have been or still are militarily engaged in overseas operations in the Middle East and Africa;

F.  whereas the radicalisation of these ‘European fighters’ is a complex and dynamic phenomenon that is based on a series of global, sociological and political factors; whereas it does not correspond to one single profile, and affects men, women, and particularly young European citizens of all social origins, who share the common trait of feeling at odds with society; whereas the causes of radicalisation may equally be socio-economic, ideological, personal or psychological, and, for that reason, it has to be understood in the light of the background of each individual concerned;

G.  whereas, because of terrorism and radicalisation, there is much stereotyping of religions, which in turn is bringing about renewed upsurges of hate crimes and hate speech motivated by racism, xenophobia or intolerance of opinions, beliefs or religions; whereas it must be pointed out that it is the perverse misuse of religion, and not religion per se, that is one of the causes of radicalisation;

H.  whereas radicalisation is not to be associated with any one ideology or faith but may occur within any of them;

I.  whereas one of the arguments used by violent extremists in recruiting young people is that islamophobia is increasing, following years of war on terror, and that Europe is no longer a place where Muslims are welcome or can live in equality and practise their faith without discrimination and stigmatisation; whereas this can lead to a feeling of vulnerability, aggressive anger, frustration, loneliness and isolation from society;

J.  whereas combating radicalisation cannot be limited to Islamic radicalisation; whereas religious radicalisation and violent extremism also affect the entire African continent; whereas political radicalisation also affected Europe in 2011, in Norway with the attacks perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik;

K.  whereas the vast majority of terrorist attacks in EU countries have for years been perpetrated by separatist organisations;

L.  whereas, according to Europol in 2013 there were 152 terrorist attacks in the EU, of which two were ‘religiously motivated’ and 84 were motivated by ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs, while in 2012 there were 219 terrorist attacks in the EU, of which six were ‘religiously motivated’;

M.  whereas combating terrorism and preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations still falls essentially within the sphere of competence of the Member States, but European cooperation is essential for the efficient and effective exchange of information between law enforcement agencies in order to combat the cross-border nature of the threat posed by terrorists; whereas a concerted European approach is thus necessary and will provide added value in terms of coordinating or harmonising where appropriate the legislation applying in an area in which European citizens are free to move, and of making prevention and counterterrorism effective; whereas combating trafficking in firearms should be a priority for the EU in fighting serious and organised international crime;

N.  whereas human rights must be at the core of the Union’s policies on counterterrorism and prevention of radicalisation, while it must be ensured that the right balance is struck between public safety and respect for fundamental rights, including the rights to security, privacy, and freedom of expression, religion, and association;

O.  whereas Jewish communities are the target of terrorist and anti-Semitic attacks, leading to an increasing perception of insecurity and fear within those communities in Europe;

P.  whereas the rise of terrorism and foreign fighters has increased intolerance towards ethnic and religious communities in several countries in Europe; considering that a holistic approach to fighting discrimination in general and Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in particular, are complementary in relation to working for the specific prevention of terrorist extremism;

Q.  whereas a number of instruments already exist in Europe to address the radicalisation of European citizens and whereas the EU and its Member States should make full use of these tools and look to enhancing them in order to reflect the current challenges the EU and Member States face; whereas there remains a reluctance on the part of Member States to cooperate in sensitive areas, such as information and intelligence sharing; whereas, given the increasing significance of terrorist radicalisation, which is in total contradiction with European values, new means must be implemented, and this must take place in compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

R.  whereas it is essential that in all measures undertaken by the Member States and the EU fundamental rights and civil liberties are respected, namely the right to private life, the right to security, the right to data protection, the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial and due process, freedom of expression and freedom of religion; whereas the security of European citizens must preserve their rights and liberties; whereas, indeed, these two principles are two sides of the same coin;

S.  whereas the extent to which Member States assume responsibility to counteract the risk of radicalisation and the prevention of recruitment by terrorist organisations can vary greatly from one Member State to another; whereas, while some Member States have already taken effective measures, others are lagging behind in their action to tackle this phenomenon;

T.  whereas concerted European action is required as a matter of urgency to prevent the radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations in order to contain this growing phenomenon and thus stem the flow of departures by European citizens to conflict zones, deradicalise the home-stayers, and prevent other terrorist acts from being committed;

U.  whereas this is an international phenomenon and lessons may be learned from many parts of the world;

V.  whereas the important thing now is to put greater emphasis on and invest in preventive rather than reactive measures to address the radicalisation of European citizens and their recruitment by terrorist organisations; whereas a strategy to counter extremism, radicalisation and terrorist recruitment within the EU can only work if it is developed in parallel to a strategy of integration and social inclusion and of reintegration and deradicalisation of so-called ‘foreign fighters’ who are returnees;

W.  whereas certain forms of internet use is conducive to radicalisation, enabling fanatics throughout the world to connect with each other and recruit vulnerable individuals without any physical contact whatsoever and in a manner that is difficult to trace;

X.  whereas it is essential to clearly distinguish behaviour aimed at preparing and/or supporting terrorist attacks or acts by or opinions of extremists that lack the mens rea and actus reus;

Y.  whereas terrorist radicalisation appears to be attributable to factors that are both internal and external to the Union;

Z.  whereas combating terrorist radicalisation must form part of a global approach that aims to ensure an open Europe and is based on a set of common values;

AA.  whereas youth radicalisation should not be disconnected from its social and political context and must be investigated within the broader scope of sociology of conflict and violence studies;

AB.  whereas the causes of terrorist radicalisation have not been studied to a sufficient extent; whereas lack of integration cannot be perceived as the primary cause of terrorist radicalisation;

AC.  whereas, according to the European Court of Justice, the fact that a person has been a member of an organisation which, because of its involvement in terrorist acts, is on the list forming the Annex to Common Position 2001/931/CFSP and that the person has actively supported the armed struggle waged by that organisation does not automatically constitute a serious reason for considering that the person concerned has committed a ‘serious non-political crime' or 'acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’; on the other hand, where there are serious reasons for considering that a person has committed such a crime or has been guilty of such acts this is conditional on an assessment on a case-by-case basis of the specific facts and on whether individual responsibility for carrying out those acts can be attributed to the person concerned;

AD.  whereas in order to be able to revoke a residence permit granted to a refugee on the ground that the refugee supports such a terrorist organisation, the competent authorities are nevertheless obliged to carry out, under the supervision of the national courts, an individual assessment of the specific facts concerning the actions of both the organisation and the refugee in question;

I.European added value in the prevention of terrorism

1.  In the light of the dramatic events in Paris, condemns the murderous attacks, and expresses its condolences to and solidarity with the victims and their families, while reaffirming the need to take a stand against violence; condemns also the use of stereotypes and xenophobic and racist discourse and practices by individuals and collective authorities which, directly or indirectly, link the terrorist attacks to the refugees who are currently fleeing their countries in search of a safer place, escaping from war and acts of violence which occur in their home countries on a daily basis;

2.  Emphasises that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any specific religion, nationality or civilisation;

3.  Expresses its concern that, unless the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism are addressed, the phenomenon of EU citizens travelling to other countries to join jihadist or other extremist groups, as well as the specific security risk they present when returning to the EU and the neighbouring countries, is likely to worsen in the years ahead, especially given the ongoing military escalation in the MENA region; calls for a comprehensive study on the effectiveness of national and EU measures aimed at preventing and combating terrorism;

4.  Calls on the Commission to establish as a priority an action plan to implement and evaluate the EU strategy for combating radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism, on the basis of the exchange of best practice and the pooling of skills within the European Union, the evaluation of measures undertaken in the Member States and cooperation with third countries and international organisations, on a basis of full respect for international human rights conventions and through a multistakeholder and multisectoral participative and consultative approach; takes the view that the Commission should contribute to and support the development by Member States of an effective and intensive communication strategy on preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens and of non-EU nationals residing in the EU by terrorist organisations;

5.  Calls on the Member States to coordinate their strategies and share the information and experience at their disposal, to implement good practices at both national and European level, to cooperate with a view to taking new steps in combating radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism by updating national prevention policies and putting networks of practitioners in place on the basis of the ten priority areas for action as identified in the EU strategy for combating radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism; stresses the importance of fostering and strengthening crossborder cooperation among law enforcement authorities to this regard, and highlights the crucial importance of providing adequate resources and training to police forces working on the ground;

6.  Requests the full disclosure of the Council’s action plans and guidelines regarding the ongoing EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism;

7.  Considers that the additional protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, as well as resolution 2178 of the UN Security Council, should be made use of by the Member States and the European institutions with a view to agreeing on a common definition for the criminalisation of persons to be considered as ‘foreign fighters’; calls on the Commission to carry out in-depth studies of the primary causes, the process, and the various influences and factors which lead to radicalisation with the support of the new Centre of Excellence of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN);

8.  Calls on the Commission to prepare, in close cooperation with Europol and the counterterrorism coordinator, an annual report on the state of security in Europe, including with regard to the risks of radicalisation and the consequences for the safety of people’s lives and physical integrity in the EU, and to report back to Parliament on an annual basis;

9.  Stresses the importance of making the fullest use of existing instruments to prevent and combat the radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations; highlights the importance of using all relevant internal and external instruments in a holistic and comprehensive manner; recommends that the Commission and the Member States make use of available means, particularly under the Internal Security Fund (ISF), via the ISF Police instrument, in order to support projects and measures aimed at preventing radicalisation; stresses the major role which can be played by the RAN and its Centre of Excellence in taking on this objective of counteracting the radicalisation of European citizens in a comprehensive way; requests that this network receive better publicity and visibility among players combating radicalisation;

II.Preventing violent extremism and terrorist radicalisation in prisons

10.  Stresses that prisons remain one of several environments which are a breeding ground for the spread of radical and violent ideologies and terrorist radicalisation; calls on the Commission to encourage the exchange of best practices among the Member States in order to counter the increase of terrorist radicalisation in Europe’s prisons; encourages Member States to take immediate action against prison overcrowding, which is an acute problem in many Member States which significantly increases the risk of radicalisation and reduces the opportunities for rehabilitation; recalls that public youth protection institutions or detention or rehabilitation centres may also become places of radicalisation for minors, who constitute a particularly vulnerable target;

11.  Calls on the Commission to propose guidelines based on best practices on measures to be implemented in European prisons aimed at the prevention of radicalisation and of violent extremism, with full respect for human rights; points out that the separation of inmates who are found to have adhered to violent extremism or have already been recruited by terrorist organisations from other inmates as a possible measure to prevent terrorist radicalisation from being imposed on others through intimidation and to contain radicalisation in prisons; warns, however, that any such measures should be imposed on a case-by-case basis only and be based on a judicial decision and subject to review by the competent judicial authorities; further recommends that the Commission and Member States examine the evidence and experience concerning the practice of separation in prisons with the objective of containing the spread of radicalisation; is of the view that this assessment must feed into the development of practices in national prison systems; recalls, however, that these measures should be proportionate and in full compliance with the fundamental rights of the inmate;

12.  Supports the introduction of specialised training for all prison staff, as well as partners operating in the penal system, religious staff and NGO personnel who interact with prisoners, in order to teach them to detect at an early stage, prevent and deal with behaviour tending to radical and extremist behaviour; stresses the importance of appropriately training and recruiting religious, philosophical and secular representatives so that they can not only adequately meet prisoners’ cultural and spiritual needs in prisons, but also contribute to countering potential radical discourse;

13.  Encourages the establishment of educational programmes with adequate funding in European prisons in order to promote critical thinking, religious tolerance, and reintegration into society of inmates, but also to offer special assistance to those who are young, vulnerable or more susceptible to radicalisation and recruitment by terrorist organisations, and thus on a basis of the utmost respect for the human rights of inmates; considers that accompanying measures should also be offered subsequently to release from prison;

14.  Recognizes that central to such efforts is a prison environment which fully respects the human rights of inmates and complies with international and regional standards, including the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;

III.Preventing online terrorist radicalisation

15.  Notes that the internet generates specific challenges given its global and cross-border nature, thus giving rise to legal gaps and jurisdictional conflicts and allowing recruiters and those who are radicalised to communicate remotely and easily from all corners of the world with no physical borders, no need to establish a base, and no need to seek sanctuary in a particular country; recalls that the internet and social networks are significant platforms for the fuelling of radicalisation and fundamentalism, as they facilitate the rapid and large-scale global distribution of hate messages and praise for terrorism; expresses concern at the impact that such messages praising terrorism have especially on younger people, who are particularly vulnerable; underlines the role of education and public awareness campaigns in preventing radicalisation online; affirms its attachment to freedom of expression not only offline but also online, and believes this should underpin all regulatory action regarding the prevention of radicalisation via the internet and social media; notes the dialogue launched at European level with internet companies with a view to preventing the online distribution of illegal content and erasing such content swiftly, in line with EU law and national legislation and in strict compliance with freedom of expression; calls for an effective strategy for the detection and removal of illegal content inciting to violent extremism, while respecting fundamental rights and freedom of expression, and in particular for contributing to the dissemination of effective discourse to counter terrorist propaganda;

16.  Recalls that internet and social media companies and service providers have a legal responsibility to cooperate with Member State authorities by deleting any illegal content that spreads violent extremism, expeditiously and with full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights, including freedom of expression; believes that Member States should consider legal actions, including criminal prosecutions, against internet and social media companies and service providers which refuse to comply with an administrative or judicial request to delete illegal content or content praising terrorism on their internet platforms; believes that refusal or deliberate failure by internet platforms to cooperate, thus allowing such illegal content to circulate, should be considered an act of complicity that can be equated to criminal intent or neglect and that those responsible should in such cases be brought to justice;

17.  Calls on the competent authorities to ensure that websites that incite hatred are monitored more strictly;

18.  Is convinced that the internet is an effective platform for spreading the discourse of respect of human rights and opposition to violence; considers that the internet industry and service providers should cooperate with Member State authorities and civil society to promote powerful and attractive narratives to counter hate speech and radicalisation online, which should be based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; calls on the digital platforms to cooperate with the Member States, civil society and organisations whose fields of expertise are terrorist deradicalisation or evaluation of hate speech, in order to take part in spreading prevention messages calling for the development of critical thinking and for a process of deradicalisation, as well as identifying innovative legal ways to counter praise of terrorism and hate speech, thereby making online radicalisation more difficult; calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage the development of such counter-narratives online, and to work closely with civil society organisations for the purposes of reinforcing the channels for distributing and promoting democratic and non-violent discourse;

19.  Supports the implementation of youth awareness programmes concerning online hate speech and the risks that it represents, and of programmes promoting media and internet education; supports the implementation of training programmes with a view to mobilising, training and creating networks of young activists to defend human rights online;

20.  Takes the view that building a counter-narrative, including in third countries, is one of the keys to combating the appeal of terrorist groups in the MENA region; calls on the EU to increase its support for initiatives such as the SSCAT (Syria Strategic Communication Advisory Team) and to promote the deployment and financing of projects of this kind in third countries;

21.  Considers that the internet industry and service providers must henceforth make it possible to promote radicalisation prevention messages aimed at countering messages that praise terrorism; believes that a special European cooperation unit should be created within Europol with a view to sharing good practices in the Member States, while also permanently cooperating with internet operators, in order to highlight messages that oppose hate speech and praise for terrorism, thereby making online radicalisation more difficult; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the effective use of counter-narratives and mitigation measures via the internet;

22.  Supports the introduction of measures enabling all internet users to easily and quickly flag illegal content circulating on the internet and on social media networks and to report it to the competent authorities, including through hotlines, while respecting human rights, especially freedom of expression, and EU and national legislation;

23.  Raises serious concerns over the increasing use of encryption technologies by terrorist organisations that make their communications and their radicalisation propaganda impossible for law enforcement to detect and read, even with a court order; calls on the Commission to urgently address these concerns in its dialogue with internet and IT companies;

24.  Considers that every Member State should set up a special unit tasked with flagging illegal content on the internet and with facilitating the detection and removal of such content; welcomes the creation by Europol of the Internet Referral Unit (IRU), to be responsible for detecting illegal content and supporting Member States in this regard, while fully respecting the fundamental rights of all parties involved; recommends that such units should also cooperate with the EU anti-terrorism coordinator and the European Counter Terrorist Centre within Europol, and with civil society organisations active in this field; further encourages Member States to cooperate with each other and with the relevant EU agencies on these matters;

25.  Welcomes the establishment with effect from 1 January 2016 of the European Counter-Terrorism Centre (ECTC), of which the European unit tasked with flagging content will be a part; stresses the need to provide the financial resources required to deliver the additional tasks conferred on Europol in connection with the establishment of the European Counter Terrorist Centre; calls for Parliament to be duly involved in the creation of this centre and in its terms of reference, tasks and finance;

26.  Believes that online radicalisation cannot be stamped out without reinforcing the tools available to the EU to combat cybercrime; recommends that the mandate and resources of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) should be strengthened alongside those of Europol and Eurojust, so that the EC3 can play an effective role in better detecting and tackling online threats and better identifying the means used by terrorist organisations; recalls the need to have properly trained experts at Europol as well as in the Member States in order to respond to this specific threat; calls on the VP/HR to reorganise the EU Situation Centre (SitCen) and the Intelligence Centre (IntCen) and ensure their coordination with the Anti-Terrorism Coordinator in order to better track online criminal activities and the spread of hate speech related to radicalisation and terrorism; urges the Member States to significantly increase information sharing among themselves and with the relevant EU structures and agencies;

27.  Considers that all EU and national measures aimed at preventing the spread of violent extremism among European citizens and their recruitment by terrorist organisations should respect EU fundamental rights and the relevant case law of the European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights, including respect for the principle of the presumption of innocence, the principle of legal certainty, the right to a fair and impartial trial, the right of appeal and the principle of non-discrimination;

IV.Preventing radicalisation through education and social inclusion

28.  Stresses that schools and education have an important role to play in preventing radicalisation; recalls the crucial role that schools play in helping to promote integration within society and develop critical thinking, and to promote non-discrimination; calls on the Member States to encourage educational establishments to provide courses and academic programmes aimed at strengthening understanding and tolerance, especially with regard to different religions, the history of religions, philosophies and ideologies; stresses the need to teach fundamental values and democratic principles of the Union such as human rights; highlights that it is Member States' duty to guarantee that their education systems respect and promote EU values and principles and that their functioning does not contradict the principles of non-discrimination and integration;

29.  Urges the Member States to ensure that educational programmes on internet use exist in every school (at both primary and secondary level), aimed at educating and training responsible, critical and law-abiding internet users;

30.  Stresses the importance of empowering teachers to take an active stand against all forms of discrimination and racism; emphasises the essential role of education and of competent and supportive teachers, not only in strengthening social ties, encouraging a sense of belonging, developing knowledge, skills and competences, embedding fundamental values, and enhancing social, civic and intercultural competences, critical thinking and media literacy, but also in helping young people – in close cooperation with their parents and families – to become active, responsible and open-minded members of society; emphasises that schools can build students’ resilience to radicalisation by providing a safe environment and time for debating and exploring controversial and sensitive issues; points out that adolescents are a particularly vulnerable group, as they are at a difficult stage in their lives when they are developing their value system and seeking meaning, and are at the same time highly impressionable and easily manipulated; recalls that groups as well as individuals can be radicalised, and recognises that the development of response to individual and to group radicalisation can be different; emphasises the role society has to play in giving young people better prospects and a purpose in life, in particular by means of high-quality education and training; underlines the role of educational institutions in teaching youth to recognise and manage risks and make safer choices, and in promoting a strong sense of belonging, shared community, care support and responsibility for others; stresses the need to use the various opportunities that vocational education and academic courses offer in order to expose young people to the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities existing in Europe;

31.  Emphasises that Europe’s diversity and its multicultural communities are integral to its social fabric and are an essential cultural asset; considers that any policy for tackling radicalisation must be sensitive and proportionate in order to respect and strengthen the diverse social fabric of communities;

32.  Highlights the importance of combining deradicalisation programs with measures such as establishing partnerships with community representatives, investment in social and neighbourhood projects aimed at disrupting economic and geographical marginalisation, and mentoring schemes for alienated and excluded young people considered at risk of radicalisation; recalls that all Member States are obliged to diligently implement EU anti-discrimination instruments and to take effective measures to address discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes as part of the counter-radicalisation strategy;

33.  Calls on the Commission to support Member States in carrying out a communication campaign to raise the awareness of young people and of supervisory staff as regards issues of radicalisation; stresses that training and awareness-raising campaigns should give priority to early intervention, in order to protect individuals and avoid any risk of radicalisation; calls on the Member States to provide educational staff with special training and appropriate tools enabling them to detect any worrying changes in behaviour, identify circles of complicity which amplify the phenomenon of radicalisation through imitation, and properly supervise young people who are at risk of being recruited by terrorist organisations; further encourages the Member States to invest in and financially support specialised facilities in the proximity of schools that serve as contact points enabling young people, but also their families and teachers and relevant experts, to engage in extracurricular activities open to families, including psychological counselling; stresses the importance of there being clear guidance in this area so as not to compromise the primary role of teachers, youth workers and others for whom the wellbeing of the individual is the primary concern, since excessive intervention by public authorities could be counterproductive;

34.  Points out the opportunities offered to Member States and to media education experts by the 'Creative Europe' programme; notes that the EU’s programmes in the areas of education, culture, social activities and sport constitute essential pillars of support for the actions taken by Member States to tackle inequalities and prevent marginalisation; stresses the importance of developing new actions to promote European values in education, as part of the European strategic framework for cooperation in education and training; insists therefore, among other things, on targeting the transmission and practice of civic values throughout the programmes Europe for citizens, Erasmus + and Creative Europe;

35.  Stresses that it is vital to engage in an intercultural dialogue with the various communities, leaders and experts, with a view to helping achieve better understanding and prevention of radicalisation; stresses the responsibility and the important role of all religious communities in countering fundamentalism, hate speech and terrorist propaganda; draws the Member States’ attention to the issue of the training of religious leaders – which ought, where possible, to take place in Europe – with regard to preventing incitement to hatred and violent extremism in places of worship in Europe, and to ensure that those leaders share European values, and also of training the representatives of religions, philosophies and secular society working inside correctional facilities; notes however, that while places of worship may provide contact points, much of the indoctrination and recruitment process takes place in more informal settings or on the internet;

36.  Highlights the crucial importance of making all actors aware of their responsibility to prevent radicalisation, whether at local, national, European or international level; encourages the establishment of close cooperation between all civil society actors at national and local level, and of greater cooperation between actors on the ground, such as associations and NGOs, in order to support victims of terrorism and their families, as well as individuals who have been radicalised and their families; calls, in this regard, for the introduction of training adapted to those actors on the ground and for additional financial support for them; stresses, however, that funding for NGOs and other civil society actors should be separate from financial support for counterterrorism programmes;

37.  Considers that civil society and local actors have a crucial role to play in the development of projects adapted to their localities or organisations, in addition to their role as an integrating factor for those European citizens who feel at odds with society and are tempted by terrorist radicalisation; believes it essential to raise awareness among and inform and train frontline workers (teachers, educationalists, police officers, child protection workers and workers in the healthcare sector) in order to strengthen local capacity to combat radicalisation; feels that the Member States should support the establishment of structures facilitating, in particular, the guidance of young people, as well as exchanges with families, schools, hospitals, universities, etc.; recalls that such measures can only be implemented through long-term social investment programmes; notes that associations and organisations in this field, which do not bear the mark of governments, can achieve excellent results in the reintegration into society of citizens who had been on the path to radicalisation;

38.  Considers it vital to set up an alert system for assistance and guidance in every Member State which would allow families and community members to obtain support or to easily and swiftly flag the development of sudden behavioural change that might signal a process of terrorist radicalisation or an individual’s departure to join a terrorist organisation; notes that in this regard, ‘hotlines’ have been successful and are enabling the reporting of persons among friends and families suspected of being radicalised, but are also helping friends and families to deal with this destabilising situation; calls on the Member States to look into the possibility of establishing such a system;

39.  Recalls that the rise of Islamophobia in the European Union contributes to the exclusion of Muslims from society, which could create fertile ground for vulnerable individuals to join violent extremist organisations; considers that Islamophobia in Europe is in turn manipulated by organisations such as Da’esh for propaganda and recruitment purposes; recommends, therefore, the adoption of a European framework for the adoption of national strategies to combat Islamophobia, in order also to tackle discrimination that hinders access to education, employment and housing;

40.  Stresses that recent research points to the growing number of young women who have been radicalised and recruited by terrorist organisations, providing evidence of their role in violent extremism; considers that the EU and the Member States should take gender into account at least to some extent in developing strategies for the prevention of radicalisation; calls on the Commission to support generalised programmes aiming to engage young women in their endeavours for greater equality and to provide support networks through which they can safely have their voices heard;

41.  Stresses the importance of the role of women in the prevention of radicalisation;

V.Stepping up the exchange of information on terrorist radicalisation in Europe

42.  Reiterates its commitment to work towards the finalisation of an EU directive on passenger name records (PNR) by the end of 2015 and to guarantee that such a directive will be compliant with fundamental rights and free from any discriminatory practices based on ideological, religious or ethnic stigmatisation, and will fully respect the data protection rights of EU citizens; recalls, however, that the EU PNR directive will be just one measure in the fight against terrorism, and that a holistic, ambitious and comprehensive strategy on counterterrorism and the fight against organised crime, involving foreign policy, social policy, education policy, law enforcement and justice, is required to prevent the recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations;

43.  Calls on the Commission to enhance the EU's expertise regarding the prevention of radicalisation by establishing a European network that incorporates the information provided by RAN and by the Policy Planner's Network on Polarisation and Radicalisation (PPN), as well as that provided by experts specialised in a wide array of disciplines across the social sciences;

44.  Insists on the absolute necessity of stepping up the expedient and effective exchange of relevant information between the law enforcement authorities in the Member States and between Member States and the relevant agencies, in particular by optimising the use of and contributions to the Schengen Information System (SIS) and Visa Information System (VIS), Europol’s secure information exchange network application (SIENA) and Europol's 'Focal Point Travellers' on European citizens who have been radicalised; stresses that stepping up the exchange of information between law enforcement authorities will entail increasing trust between Member States, as well as reinforcing the role and the effective resourcing of EU entities such as Europol, Eurojust and the European Police College (Cepol);

45.  Calls for the EU to include the issue of terrorist radicalisation in the training provided by Cepol;

46.  Stresses the importance of implementing a specialised European training programme for those working in the justice system, to raise their awareness of the different forms of radicalisation;

47.  Stresses that improved cooperation between Member States aimed at countering the radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens is also characterised by intensive exchanges and cooperation between their judicial authorities and with Eurojust; notes that better reporting at European level on the criminal records of terrorist suspects would help speed up their detection and make it easier for them to be properly monitored, either when they leave or when they return to the EU; encourages, therefore, the reform and better use of the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS); urges the Commission to assess the feasibility and added value of establishing a European Police Records Index System (EPRIS); underlines that international treaties and the EU law, as well as fundamental rights, and in particular the protection of personal data, must be respected in such information exchanges and that effective democratic oversight of security measures is essential;

48.  Considers that combating the trafficking of weapons should be a priority for the EU in fighting serious and organised international crime; believes, in particular, that cooperation needs to be strengthened further as regards information exchange mechanisms and the traceability and destruction of prohibited weapons;

VI.Strengthening deterrents against terrorist radicalisation

49.  Believes that measures aimed at preventing the radicalisation of European citizens and their recruitment by terrorist organisations will not be fully effective until they are accompanied by an effective, dissuasive and articulated range of criminal justice measures in all Member States; considers that through effectively criminalising terrorist acts carried out abroad with terrorist organisations the Member States will equip themselves with the tools needed to eliminate terrorist radicalisation among European citizens while making full use of the existing EU police and judicial cooperation tools in criminal matters; considers that law enforcement and justice authorities (judges and prosecutors) should have sufficient capacity to prevent, detect and prosecute those acts, and should be adequately and continuously trained on terrorism-related crimes;

50.  Calls for reinforced capacities for Eurojust's Coordination Centre, which should play a critical role in promoting the joint action of Member States’ judicial authorities in the collection of evidence and enhance the effectiveness of prosecutions of crimes related to terrorism; is, in this regard, of the view that more use should be made of the Joint Investigation Teams instrument, both among Member States and between Member States and third countries with which Eurojust has established cooperation agreements;

51.  Notes that prosecuting terrorist acts carried out in third countries by European citizens or by non-EU nationals residing in the EU requires that the collection of evidence in third countries should be possible, on a basis of full compliance with human rights; calls, therefore for the EU to work on the setting-up of judicial and law enforcement cooperation agreements with third countries to facilitate the collection of evidence in said countries, provided that strict legal standards and procedures, the rule of law, international law and fundamental rights are safeguarded by all parties and under judicial control; recalls, therefore, that the collection of evidence, interrogation and other such investigative techniques must be carried out subject to strict legal standards and must comply with EU laws, principles and values and international human rights standards; warns, in this connection, that the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, torture, extra-judicial renditions and kidnapping is prohibited under international law and may not take place for the purpose of collecting evidence of criminal offences committed inside the territory of the EU or outside its territory by EU nationals;

52.  Welcomes the deployment of security/counterterrorism experts in a number of key EU delegations, with a view to strengthening their capacity to contribute to European counterterrorism efforts and to liaising more effectively with relevant local authorities, while further building up counterterrorism capacity within the European External Action Service (EEAS);

53.  Encourages, therefore, the establishment of cooperation agreements between Eurojust and third countries, on the lines of those already established with the US, Norway and Switzerland, while stressing nevertheless the need to ensure full compliance with international human rights law and EU data protection and privacy rules; points out that priority in establishing such agreements should be given to countries that are also particularly hit by terrorism, such as MENA countries; additionally, is of the view that the deployment of Eurojust liaison prosecutors in the relevant countries, especially in the southern neighbourhood, would promote more exchange of information and would enable better cooperation in order to effectively fight terrorism while respecting human rights;

VII.Preventing the departure and anticipating the return of radicalised European citizens recruited by terrorist organisations

54.  Reiterates that the EU must step up its external border controls as a matter of urgency, on a basis of full compliance with fundamental rights; stresses that it will be impossible to effectively track entry and exit in the EU unless Member States implement the mandatory and systematic controls foreseen at the EU’s external borders; calls on the Member States to make good use of existing instruments such as the SIS and the VIS, including with reference to stolen, lost and falsified passports; also considers that, to this end, one of the EU’s priorities must be to better enforce the Schengen Code;

55.  Invites the Member States to give their border guards systematic access to the Europol information system, which may contain information on people suspected of terrorism, foreign fighters and preachers of hate;

56.  Calls on the Member States to share good practices with regard to exit and return checks and the freezing of financial assets of citizens, in the context of preventing citizens from taking part in terrorist activities in conflict areas in third countries and of how to manage their return to the EU; stresses in particular that Member States should be enabled to confiscate the passports of their citizens planning to join terrorist organisations, at the request of the competent judicial authority, according to their national laws and in full compliance with the principle of proportionality; considers that the restriction of someone's freedom of movement, which is a fundamental right, can only be decided if the necessity and proportionality of the measure are properly evaluated by a judicial authority; further supports criminal proceedings against suspects of terrorism who become involved in terrorist activities on their return to Europe;

57.  Calls for international contributions to the funding mechanism endorsed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to facilitate the immediate stabilisation of areas cleared of Da’esh;

58.  Calls on the VP/HR and the Council to find a clear language of condemnation for the decade-long financial and ideological support provided by some governments and influential individuals in the Gulf countries for extremist Islamist movements; calls on the Commission to review the EU’s relations with third countries in order to more effectively combat material and immaterial support for terrorism; recalls that, in the context of the current revision of the European Neighhbourhood Policy (ENP), the security dimension and the capacity of ENP tools to contribute to improving partners’ resilience and their capabilities to provide for their own security, on a basis of respect for the rule of law, must be strengthened;

59.  Reiterates that making good use of existing instruments such as the SIS, SIS II and VIS systems, Interpol’s SLTD system, and Europol's Focal Point TRAVELLERS constitutes the first step in stepping up external border security in order to identify EU citizens and foreigners residing in the EU who may be leaving or returning from a conflict area for the purpose of committing terrorist acts or may receive terrorist training or take part in non-conventional armed conflict on behalf of terrorist organisations; urges Member States to improve cooperation and sharing of information regarding suspected ‘foreign fighters’ with Member States at the EU’s external borders;

60.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that any foreign fighters are put under judicial control and, where necessary, in administrative detention upon their return to Europe, until such time as due judicial prosecution takes place;

61.  Is seriously convinced that any policymaking in the field of terrorism and radicalisation needs to pool the expertise and assets of the internal and external dimensions of EU policy; believes, in this regard, that it is on the basis of such a holistic approach that an adequate response may be designed to fight terrorism and terrorist recruitment in the EU and its neighbourhood; calls, therefore, on both the Commission and the EEAS, under the leadership and guidance of both the VP/HR and the First Vice-President of the Commission and with the support of the Anti-Terrorism Coordinator, to work together in designing a policy approach that effectively combines the tools of social policy (including employment, integration and anti-discrimination), humanitarian aid, development, conflict resolution, crisis management, trade, energy and any other policy area that might have an internal/external dimension;

VIII. Strengthening links between internal and external security in the EU

62.  Stresses the vital importance of the EU establishing close cooperation with third countries, notably transit countries and destination countries, insofar as this is possible, in respect of EU laws, principles and values and international human rights, in order to be able to identify EU citizens and non-European residents leaving to fight for terrorist organisations or returning thereafter; also stresses the need to strengthen political dialogue and shared action plans to combat radicalisation and terrorism, in the context of bilateral relations and with regional organisations such as the African Union and the League of Arab States;

63.  Notes VP/HR Mogherini’s willingness to support projects for countering radicalisation in third countries, including Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq and the Sahel/Maghreb region, as stated in the report on the implementation of measures following the European Council meeting of 12 February 2015; stresses that it must now be ensured that these projects receive the necessary funding as soon as possible;

64.  Calls on the EU to increase its cooperation with regional partners in order to curb arms trafficking, targeting in particular the countries where terrorism originates, and to follow closely the export of armaments that could be exploited by terrorists; also calls for foreign policy tools and engagement with third countries to be strengthened with a view to countering the financing of terrorist organisations; draws attention to the conclusion of the G20 Summit of 16 November 2015, which calls on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to act more swiftly and efficiently when it comes to cutting off funding for terrorist organisations;

65.  Encourages the EU to conduct targeted and upgraded security and counter-terrorism dialogues with Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, including on past or present state involvement in support of terrorist activities; also believes that cooperation with Turkey should be enhanced in line with the General Affairs Council conclusions of December 2014;

66.  Calls on the Council to keep the EU Regional Strategy for Syria and Iraq and the Counter-Terrorism/Foreign Fighters Strategy, adopted on 16 March 2015, under constant review and development in the light of the developing security situation in the EU’s southern neighbourhood, alongside preventive and other initiatives such as the Commission’s RAN; calls further on the Member States to promote common respect and understanding as crucial elements within the framework of the fight against terrorism, both within the EU and in its Member States, as well as in third countries;

67.  Is convinced that for such enhanced cooperation to be established, the Commission, and the EEAS in particular, need to make greater efforts in terms of increasing and improving expertise in the areas of fighting terrorism, non-conventional armed conflict and radicalisation, and also to reinforce and diversify language skills, for instance for Arabic, Urdu, Russian and Mandarin, given that such skills are currently seriously lacking in the European information and intelligence services; considers it essential that the EUʼs call to combat terrorism, radicalisation and violence can be heard beyond its own borders, through strategic communication that is both incisive and effective;

68.  Supports greater international cooperation and information-sharing on the part of national intelligence services in order to identify EU citizens who are at risk of becoming radicalised and being recruited and travelling to join jihadist or other extremist groups; stresses that countries in the MENA region and the Western Balkans must be supported in their efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters and to prevent jihadist organisations taking advantage of the political instability within their borders;

69.  Acknowledges that radicalisation and recruitment of individuals by terrorist networks is a global phenomenon; believes that the response to this phenomenon ought to be international and not just local or European; considers it necessary, therefore, to strengthen cooperation with third countries to identify recruitment networks and increase security at the borders of the countries concerned; reiterates also that cooperation with key partners that are facing similar challenges has to be stepped up through diplomatic, political dialogue and intelligence cooperation;

70.  Reiterates that the global reach of terrorism requires an effective and united international response in order to successfully prevent the trafficking of weapons to countries that threaten international peace and security;

71.  Welcomes the Commission's allocation in April 2015 of a budget of EUR 10 million to finance a programme of assistance to partner countries to counter radicalisation in the Sahel/Maghreb and stem the flow of foreign fighters from North Africa, the Middle East and the Western Balkans (a first tranche of EUR 5 million to fund technical assistance to enhance the capacities of criminal justice officials to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases of foreign fighters or would-be foreign fighters; a second tranche of EUR 5 million to finance the countering of radicalisation programmes in the Sahel/Maghreb); stresses the importance of strictly monitoring the proper use of these funds to ensure that they do not finance projects linked to proselytism, indoctrination and other extremist purposes;

IX.Promoting the exchange of good practices on deradicalisation

72.  Considers that a comprehensive policy to preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of EU citizens by terrorist organisations can only be successfully put in place if accompanied by proactive deradicalisation and inclusion policies; calls for the EU, therefore, to facilitate the sharing by Member States and with third countries which have already acquired experience and achieved positive results in this area of good practice on the setting-up of deradicalisation structures to prevent EU citizens and non-EU nationals legally residing in the EU from leaving the EU or to control their return to it; recalls the need to offer support to the families of such individuals as well;

73.  Suggests that Member States examine the idea of including mentors or counselling assistants in the process of deradicalising EU citizens who have returned from conflict areas disillusioned by what they experienced there, so as to support them in their reintegration into society through appropriate programmes; underlines the need for better exchange of best practices among Member States in that respect; stresses that mentors should be willing to contribute to specific programmes through appropriate training;

74.  Calls for an EU-level structured communication campaign to be launched, making use of the cases of former European ‘foreign fightersʼ who have successfully undergone deradicalisation and whose traumatic experiences help expose the deeply perverse and fallacious religious dimension of joining terrorist organisations such as ISIS; encourages Member States, therefore, to develop platforms enabling face-to-face meetings and dialogue with former fighters; emphasises furthermore that contact with victims of terrorism also seems to be an effective means of stripping radical rhetoric of its religious or ideological significance; suggests that this campaign be used as a tool to assist in the deradicalisation process in prisons, schools and all establishments focusing on prevention and rehabilitation; further calls on the Commission to support, particularly through funding, and coordinate such national communication campaigns;

X.Dismantling terrorist networks

75.  Underlines that money laundering, tax evasion and other fiscal crimes are in some cases major sources of terrorism funding which threaten our internal security, and that tracking and combating crimes affecting the EU’s financial interests must therefore be a priority;

76.  Stresses that terrorist organisations such as IS/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra have accrued substantial financial resources in Iraq and Syria from smuggling oil, selling stolen goods, kidnapping and extortion, seizing bank accounts and smuggling antiquities; calls, therefore, for the countries and the intermediaries contributing to this black market to be identified and their activities brought to a halt as a matter of urgency;

77.  Supports measures aimed at weakening terrorist organisations from the inside and lessening their current influence on EU citizens and non-EU nationals legally residing in the EU; urges the Commission and the competent agencies to look into ways of dismantling terrorist networks and identifying how they are funded; to this end, calls for better cooperation between the Financial Intelligence Units of the Member States and for the speedy transposition and implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering Package; encourages the Commission to propose a regulation on identifying and blocking terrorism funding channels and countering the ways in which they are funded; calls on the Commission, therefore, to re-evaluate the creation of a common European terrorist finance tracking system; encourages Member States to implement the highest standards of transparency concerning access to information on beneficiary owners of all corporate structures in the EU and in opaque jurisdictions which may be vehicles for financing terrorist organisations;

78.  Welcomes the recent adoption of the European Agenda on Security, which proposes important steps towards enhancing the fight against terrorism and radicalisation, such as the creation of the European Counter Terrorist Centre within Europol; calls on the Member States to make full use of existing measures, and calls on the Commission to flag sufficient financial and human resources to effectively deliver on its proposed actions;

79.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to urgently review the EU firearms legislation by revising Council Directive 91/477/EEC in order to facilitate the role of national police and investigation authorities in detecting and fighting against arms trafficking on the black market and the dark net, and calls on the Commission to put forward common firearms deactivation standards so that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable;

80.  Calls for a harmonised approach to the definition as a criminal offence of hate speech, online and offline, whereby radicals incite others to disrespect and violate fundamental rights; suggests that this specific offence be added in the relevant Council framework decisions;

81.  Calls on the Member States to participate in efforts to trace external flows of funding and to ensure and display transparency in their relations with certain Gulf countries, with the aim of stepping up cooperation in order to shed light on the financing of terrorism and fundamentalism, in Africa and the Middle East but also by some organisations in Europe; encourages Member States to collaborate in the elimination of the oil black market that provides essential income for terrorist organisations; believes that Member States should not hesitate to use restrictive measures against individuals and organisations where there is credible evidence of financing of or other complicity with terrorism;

82.  Would strongly reject any attempts to remove aspects of the report that focus on fighting acts of terrorism and extremism in their own right; takes the view that it is unhelpful and counter-productive to break the link between fighting radicalisation and fighting its manifestations; calls on the Council to create a blacklist of European jihadists and jihadist terrorist suspects;

o
o   o

83.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States and the candidate countries, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the African Union, and the member states of the Union for the Mediterranean, of the League of Arab States and of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0384.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0102.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0032.


EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020
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European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2015 on the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 (2015/2107(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0411A8-0312/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union, in particular the preamble and Articles 3 and 6 thereof,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 3, 6, 9, 20, 151, 152, 153, 154, 156, 159 and 168 thereof,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 1, 3, 27, 31, 32 and 33 thereof,

–  having regard to the European Social Charter of 3 May 1996, in particular Part I and Part II, Article 3 thereof,

–  having regard to the Declaration of Philadelphia of 10 May 1944 on the goals and objectives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO),

–  having regard to the ILO conventions and recommendations in the field of health and safety at the workplace,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 27 February 2015 on the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2014-2020 (6535/15) and to the Council conclusions of 5 October 2015 on a new agenda on health and safety at work to foster better working conditions,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1338/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on Community statistics on public health and health and safety at work(1),

–  having regard to Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work(2) (framework directive) and to its individual directives,

–  having regard to Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(4),

–  having regard to Directive 2007/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2007 amending Council Directive 89/391/EEC, its individual Directives and Council Directives 83/477/EEC, 91/383/EEC, 92/29/EEC and 94/33/EC with a view to simplifying and rationalising the reports on practical implementation(5),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication on an EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 (COM(2014)0332),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on ‘Improving quality and productivity at work: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work’ (COM(2007)0062),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on a ‘Renewed social agenda: Opportunities, access and solidarity in 21st century Europe’ (COM(2008)0412),

–  having regard to the Commission report on the implementation of the European social partners’ Framework Agreement on Work-related Stress (SEC(2011)0241),

–  having regard to the ‘EUROPE 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020), and to its main objective which is to increase employment levels to 75 % by the end of the decade in the European Union, including through the greater involvement of women, older workers and better integration of migrants in the workforce,

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

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Taking stock of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2014)0130),

–  having regard to the 2015 Annual Growth Survey (COM(2014)0902) and Joint Employment Report (COM(2014)0906),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 September 2001 on harassment at the workplace(6),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication to the Council and Parliament transmitting the European framework agreement on harassment and violence at work (COM(2007)0686),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 February 2005 on promoting health and safety at the workplace(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2006 with recommendations to the Commission on protecting European healthcare workers from blood-borne infections due to needle-stick injuries(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 May 2007 on promoting decent work for all(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2008 on the Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 March 2009 on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2011 on the mid-term review of the European strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2013 on asbestos related occupational health threats and prospects for abolishing all existing asbestos(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2014 on effective labour inspections as a strategy to improve working conditions in Europe(14),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 December 2014 and the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 12 February 2015 on the Commission Communication on an EU strategic framework on health and safety at work (2014-2020),

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

–  having regard to the Joint Action on Mental Health and Well-being launched in 2013,

–  having regard to the ‘Think Small First’ principle and the Small Business Act for Europe,

–  having regard to the EU-OSHA’s current campaign entitled ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0312/2015),

A.  whereas good working conditions which protect physical and mental health are a fundamental(15) individual workers’ right that has positive value in itself;

B.  whereas the economic crisis has led to increased job insecurity and atypical employment as well as reduced company earnings, especially for SMEs; whereas this should not mean losing sight of the importance of health and safety at work as well as the high social and individual costs of workplace accidents resulting from non-compliance;

C.  whereas occupational health and safety is a basic interest for society as well as an investment that has a positive effect on companies’ productivity and competitiveness and also improves the sustainability of the social security systems and allows people to work in good health until the statutory retirement age; whereas workplace accidents and occupational diseases are a major societal burden and improvements in occupational health and safety across Europe can contribute to the economic recovery and to reaching the Europe 2020 objectives, where little progress has been made so far towards the target of 75 % employment for 20-64 year olds;

D.  whereas preventing occupational risks, promoting health and safety and protecting workers in the workplace is key to improving working conditions and thus protecting workers health, which in turn confers substantial social and economic benefits on the worker concerned and society as a whole; whereas 9 out of 10 establishments in the EU-28 that carry out regular risk assessments regard them as a useful way of managing occupational health and safety(16);

E.  whereas Article 153 TFEU states that the Union will support and complement the activities of the Member States in the improvement in particular of the working environment to protect workers’ health and safety;

F.  whereas the ageing of the EU population is one of the main challenges of the Member States; whereas there are inequalities in life expectancy between different socioprofessional categories and hardship at work; whereas in addition to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), workers over the age of 55 are particularly prone to cancers, heart disease, respiratory problems and sleep disorders(17); whereas the indicator on healthy life years has regressed by 1,1 years for women and by 0,4 years for men between 2010 and 2013, which underlines the need to raise healthy life expectancy, which would also allow more people to stay in the labour market until they actually reach the statutory retirement age;

G.  whereas cancers are the primary cause of work-related deaths(18), followed by cardiovascular and respiratory disease, while accidents at work account for only a very small minority of deaths; whereas chronic health problems, such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), are widespread in the EU and can limit people’s ability to engage or stay in paid employment(19), and whereas identifying at-risk workers early is vital;

H.  whereas administrative burdens and direct costs incurred by companies as a result of occupational health and safety (OSH) policies that promote well-being, a quality working environment and productivity are significantly lower than those associated with occupational diseases and accidents that the EU regulatory framework aims to prevent(20); whereas some studies suggest that for companies the ‘return on prevention’ can be significant(21);

I.  whereas the fatal injury at work rate and the proportion of workers, who report their physical and mental health and safety to be at risk because of their work, varies significantly across the Member States(22) and sectors of economic activity, which underlines the need for a stronger focus on implementation and enforcement of OSH legislation as an important element of safeguarding workers’ health and productivity;

J.  whereas work-related stress in particular, and psychosocial risks in general, are a growing problem for employees and employers across the EU and almost half of all workers consider it to be present at their workplace; whereas work-related stress contributes to absenteeism, negatively impacts productivity and accounts for almost half the number of working days lost each year; whereas actions taken to manage psychosocial risks vary across the Member States(23);

K.  whereas strong, well-implemented and enforced OSH legislation is an important precondition for compliance with OSH requirements, which safeguards workers’ health and productivity throughout the working life; whereas labour inspections play an important role in the implementation of occupational health and safety policies at regional and local level, and whereas fulfilling legal obligations is the main reason for many companies to manage OSH and put in place preventive measures(24);

L.  whereas comprehensive worker involvement, participation, and representation at company level and commitment from management is highly important for successful risk prevention in the workplace(25) and whereas trade union organised workplaces have lower accident and illness rates;

M.  whereas combating accidents at work as a whole can succeed only by promoting a people-centred approach, in every respect, to the production process;

N.  whereas sufficient resources are needed to appropriately deal with both new and emerging as well as traditional OSH risks, including asbestos, nanomaterial and psycho-social risks; whereas many workers, including construction workers, are potentially exposed to asbestos;

O.  whereas precarious employment has adverse effects on occupational health and safety and is undermining existing occupational health and safety structures; whereas precarious employment may exclude workers from training and access to OSH services and is associated with mental stress due to job insecurity(26); whereas the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC places the responsibility on employers to establish a systematic prevention policy covering all risks; whereas outsourcing of work through subcontracting and temporary agency work may make it more difficult to identify who is responsible for OSH provisions; whereas undeclared work and bogus self-employment constitute a serious challenge to the implementation of OSH measures and workers’ health and safety;

P.  whereas social partners play an important role in the process of designing and implementing OSH policies both at national, international and EU level; whereas TFEU Articles 153 to 155 establish the scope and authority of social partners to negotiate and enforce agreements relating to occupational health and safety;

Q.  whereas the EU regulatory framework is aimed at preventing occupational accidents and ill health for all workers; whereas the smaller the company the less well workers may be informed about health and safety risks at work; whereas no link has been shown to exist between the number of accidents and company size; whereas accident rates do depend on the type of production and the sector of operation(27);

R.  whereas the availability and comparability of data on occupational diseases at EU-level is deficient(28);

S.  whereas sexual harassment at work and the sense of insecurity it engenders should be combated;

T.  whereas employment segregation, the pay gap, working time, workplaces, precarious working conditions, sexism and sex discrimination, as well as the differences associated with the specific physical aspects of maternity, are factors likely to affect working conditions for women;

U.  whereas there is a stereotype of women as having lower-risk jobs, whereas the overall view in Europe is that the division of labour between men and women is never neutral, and whereas, in general, that division obscures women’s health problems, as a result of which less preventive action is taken in connection with women’s jobs;

V.  whereas in the EU, women’s employment is considerably higher in the service sector than in industry, with women being mostly employed in the health and social sector, and in retail, manufacturing, education and business activities with an increasing concentration of women working part-time and in casual jobs, which has significant OSH implications;

W.  whereas women can face specific risks, including musculoskeletal disorders or certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer or endometrial cancer, as a result of certain types of jobs where they are over-represented(29);

X.  whereas women report a higher level of work-related health problems than men irrespective of the type of work(30) and are particularly vulnerable to age-related diseases; whereas, therefore, health and safety at work measures require a gender-based and life-cycle approach;

Y.  whereas reproductive capacity can be endangered by the health problems which can arise when parents-to-be or their unborn children are exposed to the effects of environmental pollution and risk factors present in the working environment;

Z.  whereas empirical research suggests that women are under-represented in health and safety decision-making;

AA.  whereas women in rural areas have more difficulties in exercising their labour and health rights and are more deprived of access to basic public health services, special medical treatments, and early cancer detection examinations;

The EU-OSH strategic framework

1.  Stresses that all employees, including in the public sector, have a right to the highest level of protection regarding health and safety in the workplace, which must be ensured regardless of the size of the employer, the type of job, underlying contract or the Member State of employment; calls on the Commission to work out labour specific strategies covering all forms of employment under the EU-OSH regulatory framework; stresses the need for clear and efficient rules in the field of OSH;

2.  Welcomes the fact that many important fields of action are identified in the EU-OSH strategic framework; regrets, nevertheless, that the Commission has not set out specific targets in the framework; stresses, in this context, that, where supported by scientific evidence and the results from the ex post evaluation of EU-OSH legislation, more concrete legislative and/or non-legislative measures as well as implementation and enforcement tools should be included in the framework, following the 2016 review;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to draw up indicative reduction targets for occupational diseases and accidents at work following the 2016 review of the EU-OSH strategic framework and to rely on the latest peer-reviewed research findings when reviewing the framework; urges the Commission to assign special priority to those sectors where workers are exposed to the greatest risks and to develop guidance and to encourage the exchange of good practices for implementing OSH policies;

4.  Finds regrettable the delay in drawing up the current EU-OSH strategic framework; believes that the many challenges facing European workers, businesses and labour markets, including those identified by the Commission, call for measures to be applied in a timely and effective manner;

5.  Stresses that it is vital to provide a physically and mentally safe and healthy working environment throughout people’s working life in order to achieve the goal of active and healthy ageing for all workers; considers that preventing occupational diseases and accidents and paying more attention to the cumulative effects of occupational risks creates added value for workers and society as a whole;

6.  Stresses the need for specific measures to counter the effects of the crisis by assisting companies seeking to improve safety and health at work;

National strategies

7.  Stresses that national OSH strategies are essential and contribute to improvements in OSH in the Member States; underlines that regular reporting on progress made should be encouraged; considers it essential to continue to initiate and coordinate policies at EU level while applying a stronger focus on implementation and enforcement of the existing OSH legislation with a view to ensuring a high level of occupational health and safety for all workers; takes the view that OSH policies, at European and national level, should be made consistent with other public policies and that compliance requirements should be clear, making it easier for companies, in particular SMEs, to comply; believes that gender mainstreaming should be implemented in order to better reflect the specific risks faced by male and female workers;

8.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure that national OSH strategies reflect the EU-OSH strategic framework and are fully transparent and open to input from social partners and civil society, including health stakeholders in accordance with the customs and practices of the Member States; considers the sharing of good practices as well as social dialogue as an important means of improving occupational health and safety;

9.  Encourages the Member States to incorporate context-appropriate targets that are measurable and comparable into their national strategies; believes that regular and transparent reporting mechanisms on progress achieved should be encouraged; stresses the importance of reliable data;

Implementation and compliance

10.  Acknowledges the importance of taking into account the situation, specific needs and difficulties with compliance by micro and small enterprises as well as certain public service sectors in the context of the implementation of OSH measures at company level; stresses that awareness raising, exchange of good practices, consultation, user-friendly guides and online platforms are of utmost importance to help SMEs and micro enterprises comply more effectively with OSH regulatory requirements; calls on the Commission, EU-OSHA and the Member States to continue developing practical tools and guidelines, which support, facilitate and improve the compliance of SMEs and micro enterprises with OSH requirements;

11.  Calls on the Commission to continue taking into account the specific nature and situation of SMEs and micro-enterprises when revising the strategic framework in order to help these companies meet the objectives set as regards health and safety in the workplace; highlights that the SME concept covers approximately 99 % of all companies in its current form; calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase the efforts to collect reliable data on actual OSH implementation in micro and small enterprises;

12.  Welcomes the introduction of the EU-OSHA’s online interactive risk assessment (OiRA) as well as other e-tools in the Member States that facilitate risk assessment and aim to promote compliance and a culture of prevention, in particular in micro and small enterprises; urges the Member States to use the European funding for OSH actions in general and the development of e-tools in particular with the aim of supporting SMEs; emphasises the importance of awareness-raising campaigns, such as the Healthy Workplaces Campaigns, in the field of OSH and stresses the importance of raising awareness among employers and employees on basic OSH rights and obligations;

13.  Calls on the Member States and social partners to take initiatives to upgrade the skills of health and safety representatives and managers in accordance with national law and practices; calls on the Member States to support the active involvement of employees in implementing preventive OSH measures and ensuring that health and safety representatives are able to receive training beyond the basic modules;

14.  Underlines the importance of promoting a culture of mutual trust, confidence and learning, where employees are encouraged to contribute to the development of a healthy and safe working environment, which also promotes the social inclusion of workers and the competitiveness of companies; stresses, in this context, that workers should not suffer any detriment for raising health and safety concerns;

15.  Points out that key elements of good OSH management and performance are well implemented and enforceable legislation as well as fully documented risk assessment with participation of workers and workers’ representatives, which allows for appropriate preventive measures to be put in place at the workplace;

16.  Calls on the Commission to take all necessary steps to monitor the implementation and enforcement of OSH legislation in the Member States; believes that the ex post evaluation of the practical implementation of EU-OSH directives in the Member States provides a good opportunity for this exercise to be carried out and expects that findings relating to the implementation of existing legislation will be taken into account as part of the review of the strategic framework;

Enforcement

17.  Believes that ensuring a level playing-field across the EU and eliminating unfair competition and social dumping is crucial; stresses that labour inspectorates play a key role in enforcing workers’ rights to a physically and mentally safe and healthy working environment and in providing consultation and guidance to employers, in particular SMEs and microenterprises; encourages the Member States to follow the ILO standards and guidelines on labour inspection, to ensure that adequate staffing and resources are available to labour inspectorates and to improve training for labour inspectors, as recommended by the European Economic and Social Committee(31); welcomes the cooperation of national labour inspectorates in the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC);

18.  Stresses the problem of implementing occupational health and safety with respect to workers who are engaged in undeclared activities; recalls that the labour inspectorates play an important role in deterring undeclared work; calls on the Member States to carry out stringent inspections and impose appropriate penalties on employers using undeclared workers; urges the Commission and the Member States to take all necessary measures to combat undeclared work; highlights that a majority of fatal accidents at work occurs in labour intensive sectors, in which undeclared work is more prevalent than in other sectors;

19.  Considers that effective application of OSH legislation also depends, to a large extent, on labour inspections; believes that resources should be targeted to those sectors which have been identified as posing the highest risks to workers; urges the relevant authorities, while still performing randomised inspections, to employ risk-based supervision and to target repeat offenders in order to hold employers who do not comply with OSH requirements accountable; calls on the Member States to ensure exchange of information and to improve coordination between labour inspectorates in order to improve cross-border cooperation;

Regulatory framework

20.  Welcomes efforts to improve the quality of the regulatory framework and expects further progress in this field; reminds the Commission, however, that the submission of OSH directives to REFIT and modifications of the legislation should be democratic and transparent, involve social partners and should under no circumstances result in reductions in occupational health and safety; underlines, in this context, that changes in the workplace resulting from technological development should be taken into account; points out that Member States are free to adopt higher standards than the minimum OSH requirements; believes, nevertheless, that the existing rules should be improved, inter alia, by avoiding overlapping and promoting better integration of OSH with other policy areas, while preserving and aiming at further raising of the level of health and safety protection of employees;

21.  Stresses that the participation of workers and social partners at all levels, in accordance with national law and practices, is a prerequisite for the effective implementation of OSH legislation and that involvement of social partners at EU level can ensure that the OSH strategic framework is relevant to European employers and employees; calls on the social partners and the Commission to engage in a constructive dialogue on how to improve the existing regulatory framework and believes that it is necessary to strengthen the role of the social partners;

Prevention of work-related diseases and new and emerging risks

22.  Highlights the importance of protecting workers against exposure to carcinogens, mutagens and substances that are toxic to reproduction; stresses, in this context, that women are often exposed to a cocktail of substances, which can increase health risks, including to the viability of their offspring; firmly reiterates its call on the Commission to present a proposal for a revision of Directive 2004/37/EC on the basis of scientific evidence adding more binding occupational exposure limit values where necessary and to develop an assessment system in cooperation with the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work that is based on clear and explicit criteria; believes that possible regulatory overlaps resulting in unintended non-compliance should be addressed in this context;

23.  Stresses the need to introduce more stringent protection of workers, taking into account not only exposure periods but also the mix of chemical and/or toxic substances to which they are exposed; points out that many healthcare workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals in their workplace; calls on the Commission to take action on chemical risk factors in the healthcare sector and to include specific provisions on healthcare workers’ exposure to hazardous drugs in the OSH strategic framework; urges the Commission to ensure that all workers directly or indirectly involved in the use or disposal of medical sharps equipment are adequately protected; points out that this could, if necessary, entail a revision of Directive 2010/32/EU on prevention of sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector;

24.  Points out that many workers are still being exposed to asbestos in their workplaces; calls on the Commission to work closely with social partners and the Member States to promote and coordinate Member States’ efforts to develop national action plans, provide adequate funding and take appropriate action for the management and safe removal of asbestos;

25.  Reiterates its call(32) on the Commission to design and implement a model for asbestos screening and registration in accordance with Article 11 of Directive 2009/148/EC; calls for a European campaign on asbestos, and urges the Member States to compensate workers exposed to asbestos;

26.  Calls on the Commission to take action on one of the most prevalent work-related health problems in Europe and submit without delay a proposal for a comprehensive legal instrument on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) to improve effective prevention and address the causes of MSDs, taking into account the problem of multicausality and the specific risks faced by women; points out that consolidating EU legislation laying down minimum requirements for protecting workers from exposure to ergonomic risk factors can benefit both workers and employers by making the regulatory framework easier to implement and comply with; stresses also the importance of exchange of good practices and the need to ensure that workers are more aware of and better informed about ergonomic risk factors;

27.  Calls on the Member States to implement as quickly as possible the Directive 2002/44/EC of 25 June 2002 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents;

28.  Draws the Commission’s attention to the importance of improving the prevention of occupational exposure to endocrine disruptors, which have numerous harmful effects on the health of male and female workers and their offspring(33); calls on the Commission to draw up without delay a comprehensive strategy on endocrine disruptors which could, where necessary, include the implementation of EU legislation on the marketing of pesticides and biocides and tighten up the rules on preventing occupational risks; stresses that EU support for research in safer alternatives is vital with regard to the application of the precautionary and the substitution principle;

29.  Welcomes the Commission’s engagement in the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 to improve the prevention of work-related diseases especially in the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology; highlights the uncertainty about the distribution and use of nanotechnology and believes that further research on the potential OSH risks associated with new technologies is needed; believes in this regard that the precautionary principle should be applied in order to reduce potential risks to the health and safety of workers handling nanotechnology;

30.  Draws the attention of the Commission to the increased number of workers affected by chronic illness in the workforce; takes the view that accessible and safe jobs should be available for people affected by terminal illnesses, chronic and long-term conditions and disability; urges the Member States to focus on retention and integration of people affected by chronic diseases as well as to support reasonable adaptation of workplaces, which will ensure a timely return to work; calls on the Commission to promote integration and rehabilitation measures for people with disabilities and to support Member States’ efforts by raising awareness and identifying and sharing good practices on accommodations and adjustments in the workplace; urges Eurofound to further examine and analyse the employment opportunities and the degree of employability of people with chronic diseases;

31.  Notes that technological innovation may be beneficial to society at large; is concerned, however, about new risks brought about as a result of these changes; welcomes, in this context, the Commission’s intention to establish a network of OSH professionals and scientists in order to better address future challenges; highlights the increasing use of smart collaborative robots, for example in industrial production, hospitals and retirement homes; calls on the Commission and the Member States to identify potential OSH risks stemming from technological innovation and take appropriate measures to counter them;

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop and implement a programme for systematic monitoring, managing and support for workers affected by psychosocial risks, including stress, depression and burnout in order to, inter alia, draw up effective recommendations and guidelines to fight these risks; emphasises that stress at work is recognised as a major obstacle to productivity and to the quality of life; notes in this regard that mental health and psychosocial risks can be influenced by many factors, not all of them being work-related; points out, however, that psychosocial risks and work-related stress are a structural problem linked to work organisation and that preventing and managing psychosocial risks and work-related stress is possible; stresses the need to carry out studies, improve prevention and consider new measures based on the sharing of best practices and tools for reintegration in the labour market, when revising the OSH strategic framework in 2016;

33.  Welcomes the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign; emphasises that initiatives for tackling work-related stress must include the gender dimension taking into account specific working conditions for women;

34.  Draws attention to the issue of mobbing and its possible consequences on psychosocial health; points to the importance of combatting harassment and violence at work, and calls therefore on the Commission, in close cooperation with social partners, to consider submitting a proposal for a legal act based on the framework agreement on harassment and violence at work; urges the Member States, furthermore, to develop effective national strategies to combat violence at work;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt a targeted approach to eliminate precarious work and to take into account the negative effects that precarious work has on occupational health and safety; underlines that workers with atypical contracts may have greater difficulties accessing training and OSH services; stresses that it is vital to improve the health and safety of all workers in all forms of employment, including those who may be vulnerable such as young people and people previously affected by long-term unemployment; calls on the Member States to comply with the requirements laid down in Directive 96/71/EC to combat social dumping and in this context take all necessary measures to enforce and protect the rights of posted workers to equal treatment as regards occupational health and safety;

36.  Emphasises that work in the domestic sector should be taken into account when consideration is given to ways of improving health and safety in the workplace; urges employers and policy makers to ensure and facilitate a sound work-life balance, taking into account the growing number of employees that need to combine work and care; stresses the importance of tackling excessive working hours to ensure a balance between work and family life; calls on the Member States to fully implement Directive 2003/88/EC and highlights, in this context, the importance of monitoring compliance with the provision on the maximum number of working hours;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to design appropriate policies to address the aging of the workforce; believes that the OSH regulatory framework should promote sustainable working lives and healthy ageing; calls on the Member States to promote rehabilitation and reintegration measures for older workers by implementing the results of the EU pilot project on the health and safety of older workers;

38.  Stresses the importance of occupational health and safety measures to target the specific challenges and risks of women in the workplace, including sexual harassment; calls on the Commission and the social partners to ensure that men and women are more equally represented in all social dialogue processes; urges the Commission to take the gender-equality dimension into account as part of the 2016 review of the OSH strategic framework; calls on the Commission to develop a European strategy to combat violence against women in the workplace and as part of this process to evaluate if Directive 2006/54/EC should be revised to broaden the scope of the Directive to cover new forms of violence and harassment; calls on the Member States to implement Commission Recommendation 92/131/EEC to promote awareness of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct;

39.  Draws the attention of the Commission to the role that the sectoral social dialogue committees can play in tackling sector-specific OSH risks and creating potential added-value through agreements between the social partners using their comprehensive knowledge of sector-specific situations;

40.  Stresses that the Commission should collect data, provide research and develop gender- and age-specific statistical methods of evaluating prevention with a view to targeting the specific challenges faced by vulnerable groups, including women, in the workplace;

41.  Stresses the importance of investing more in risk-prevention policies as well as promoting, developing and supporting a culture of prevention as regards health and safety at work; calls on the Member States to promote awareness raising and give greater prominence to prevention and occupational health and safety in school curricula at all levels, including during apprenticeships; considers it important to focus on prevention as early as possible in the production process and promote implementation of systematic prevention programmes based on risk assessments which encourage employers and employees to contribute to a safe and healthy work environment; points out that in many Member States the quality of preventive services is key to supporting companies, in particular SMEs, to carry out risk assessment and take adequate preventive measures; calls on the Commission to examine the tasks and training requirements of preventive services laid down in national legislation by the Member States;

42.  Emphasises that women must be included in the decision-making processes in relation to the development of better health and safety practices in their work environments;

43.  Calls on the Commission not to overlook the issue of the development of work-related cancers, such as nasal-cavity tumours, the incidence of which is higher in cases where workers’ respiratory systems are not properly protected against relatively common types of dust that are produced during the processing of wood, leather, flour, textiles, nickel and other materials;

44.  Encourages the Member States to ensure equal opportunities for exercising labour rights and equal access to public health care services for all its citizens, especially for women in rural areas and other vulnerable groups of citizens;

Statistical data

45.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the collection of reliable and comparable data on occupational diseases, exposures and hazards across all sectors, including the public sector, with a view to identifying best practices, promoting benchlearning and creating a common database on occupational exposures, without bringing about disproportionate costs; stresses the importance of involving national experts and keeping the database up to date; urges the Member States and the Commission to collect more data on the risks associated with digitalisation, work- related road safety and the effects that the crisis may have had on occupational health and safety;

46.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect high-quality gender- and age-specific statistical data on work-related diseases in order to constantly improve and adapt, where needed, the legislative framework, in accordance to the new and emerging risks;

47.  Calls on the Member States to conduct studies, broken down by gender, age and area of economic activity, into the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders among the working population at national level, with a view to preventing and combating the emergence of these disorders;

48.  Stresses the importance of updating and providing common health indicators and definitions of work-related diseases, including stress at work, and EU-wide statistical data with a view to setting targets to reduce the incidence of occupational diseases;

49.  Highlights the problems in collecting data in many Member States; calls for the work of EU-OSHA and Eurofound to be enhanced; urges the Member States to take all necessary steps to ensure that accidents at work are reported by employers;

International efforts

50.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that all trade agreements with third countries improve the working environment to protect workers’ health and safety;

51.  Emphasises that the EU has an interest in and obligation to raise labour standards, including levels of occupational health and safety worldwide;

52.  Urges the Commission to strengthen cooperation on OSH with international organisations, including ILO, OECD, G20 and WHO;

53.  Deplores the fact that not all Member States have ratified ILO Convention No 187 on the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health; calls on all Member States to ratify the convention;

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

(1) OJ L 354, 31.12.2008, p. 70.
(2) OJ L 183, 29.6.1989, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 299, 18.11.2003, p. 9.
(4) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(5) OJ L 165, 27.6.2007, p. 21.
(6) OJ C 77 E, 28.3.2002, p. 138.
(7) OJ C 304 E, 1.12.2005, p. 400.
(8) OJ C 303 E, 13.12.2006, p. 754.
(9) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 321.
(10) OJ C 41 E, 19.2.2009, p. 14.
(11) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.
(12) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 102.
(13) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0093.
(14) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0012.
(15) Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 31(1): Every worker has the right to working conditions which respect his or her health, safety and dignity.
(16) Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), EU-OSHA (2015).
(17) Eurofound: ‘Working conditions of an ageing workforce’ Eurofound (2008).
(18) Statement by EU-OSHA Director, 18.11.2014.
(19) Report on Employment opportunities for people with chronic diseases, Eurofound (2014).
(20) Evaluation of the European strategy on Safety and Health at Work 2007-2012, EC (2013) and Socio-economic costs of accidents at work and work-related ill health, EC (2012).
(21) Berechnung des internationalen „Return on Prevention“ für Unternehmen: Kosten und. Nutzen von Investitionen in den betrieblichen Arbeits- und Gesundheitsschutz, DGUV (2013).
(22) 5th Working Conditions Survey, Overview Report, Eurofound (2012).
(23) Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), EU-OSHA (2015).
(24) Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), EU-OSHA (2015).
(25) Worker representation and consultation on health and safety, EU-OSHA (2012).
(26) Flexible forms of work: ‘very atypical’ contractual arrangements, Eurofound (2010) and Health and well-being at work: A report based on the fifth European Working Conditions Survey, Eurofound (2012).
(27) 5th Working Conditions Survey, Overview Report, Eurofound (2012) and Third European Company Survey, Eurofound (2015).
(28) Report on the current situation in relation to occupational diseases systems in EU Member States and EFTA/EEA countries, EC (2013).
(29) EU-OSHA, 2013, New risks and trends in the safety and health of women at work.
(30) Occupational health and safety risks for the most vulnerable workers, EP Policy Department A, Economic and Scientific Policy, 2011, p. 40.
(31) OJ C 230, 14.7.2015, p. 82.
(32) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0093.
(33) The Cost of Inaction, Nordon (2014) and Rapport sur les perturbateurs endocriniens, le temps de la précaution, Gilbert Barbier (2011).

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