Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 17 December 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Setting up a Committee of Inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector, its powers, numerical strength and term of office
 Ibrahim Halawa potentially facing the death penalty
 Situation in the Maldives
 Malaysia
 EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (protocol to take account of the accession of Croatia) ***
 EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (consent) ***
 EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (resolution)
 Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union
 Annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2014 and the EU policy on the matter
 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement
 Arms export: implementation of the Common Position 2008/944/CFSP
 Patents and plant breeders’ rights
 Situation in Burundi
 Protection of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Setting up a Committee of Inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector, its powers, numerical strength and term of office
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European Parliament decision of 17 December 2015 on setting up a Committee of Inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector, its powers, numerical strength and term of office (2015/3037(RSO))
P8_TA(2015)0462B8-1424/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request presented by 283 Members for a committee of inquiry to be set up to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to emission measurements in the automotive sector,

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

–  having regard to Article 226 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Decision 95/167/EC, Euratom, ECSC of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 19 April 1995 on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament’s right of inquiry(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2007 on type-approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6), and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe(4), and ongoing infringement procedures in respect of it,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 October 2015 on emission measurements in the automotive sector(6), which calls for a thorough investigation regarding the role and responsibility of the Commission and of Member States’ authorities, bearing in mind, inter alia, the problems established in the 2011 report of the Commission’s Joint Research Centre,

–  having regard to the draft Commission Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 692/2008 as regards emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 6) (D042120),

–  having regard to the opinion delivered on 28 October 2015 by the Technical Committee – Motor Vehicles (TCMV) established by Article 40(1) of Directive 2007/46/EC,

–  having regard to Rule 198 of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Decides to set up a Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to emission measurements in the automotive sector, without prejudice to the jurisdiction of national or Union courts;

2.  Decides that the Committee of Inquiry shall:

   investigate the alleged failure of the Commission to comply with the obligation imposed by Article 14(3) of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 to keep under review the test cycles used to measure emissions and to adapt them, if they are no longer adequate or no longer reflect real world emissions, so as to adequately reflect the emissions generated by real driving on the road, despite information relating to serious and persistent exceedances of the emissions limit values for vehicles in normal use, in contravention of the obligations set out in Article 5(1) of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007, including the Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s reports of 2011 and 2013 and research by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) made available in May 2014;
   investigate the alleged failure of the Commission and the Member States’ authorities to take proper and effective action to oversee the enforcement of, and to enforce, the explicit ban on defeat devices, as provided for in Article 5(2) of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007;
   investigate the alleged failure of the Commission to introduce tests reflecting real-world driving conditions in a timely manner and to adopt measures addressing the use of defeat mechanisms, as provided for in Article 5(3) of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007;
   investigate the alleged failure of Member States to lay down provisions on effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties applicable to manufacturers for infringements of the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007, including the use of defeat devices, the refusal to provide access to information, and the falsification of test results for type-approval or in-service conformity, as required by Article 13(1) and (2) of that Regulation;
   investigate the alleged failure of the Member States to take all measures necessary to ensure that the provisions on penalties applicable for infringements of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 are implemented as required by Article 13(1) of that Regulation;
   collect and analyse information to ascertain whether the Commission and the Member States had evidence of the use of defeat mechanisms before the Notice of Violation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America on 18 September 2015;
   collect and analyse information on the implementation by the Member States of the provisions of Directive 2007/46/EC, in particular as regards Article 12(1) and Article 30(1), (3) and (4);
   collect and analyse information to ascertain whether the Commission and Member States had evidence of defeat devices being used for CO2 emissions tests;
   make any recommendations that it deems necessary in this matter;

3.  Decides that the Committee of Inquiry shall present an interim report within six months of starting its work and shall submit its final report within 12 months of starting its work;

4.  Decides that the Committee of Inquiry shall have 45 members;

5.  Instructs its President to arrange for publication of this decision in the Official Journal of the European Union.

(1) OJ L 113, 19.5.1995, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 171, 29.6.2007, p. 1
(3) OJ L 263, 9.10.2007, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 152, 11.6.2008, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 140, 5.6.2009, p. 1.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0375.


Ibrahim Halawa potentially facing the death penalty
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on Ibrahim Halawa, potentially facing the death penalty (2015/3016(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0463RC-B8-1402/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular that of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Egypt(1) and that of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty(2),

–  having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Egypt of August 2013 and February 2014,

–  having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement of 2001, which entered into force in 2004, supplemented by the EU-Egypt Action Plan of 2007,

–  having regard to the ENP Country Progress Report 2014 on Egypt of 25 March 2015,

–  having regard to the recent statements by the European External Action Service on Egypt, including those of 16 June 2015 on court sentences in Egypt and of 4 February 2015 on the sentencing of activists in Egypt,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of 10 October 2015 by the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the EU, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, on the European and World Day against the Death Penalty,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the death penalty and the Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Egypt is a party; having regard to the UN General Assembly resolutions, in particular that of 18 December 2014 on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty (69/186),

–  having regard to the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt,

–  having regard to Egyptian Law 107 of 24 November 2013 on the right to public meetings, processions and peaceful demonstrations,

–  having regard to the presidential decree of November 2014 (Law 140), which allows foreign nationals charged with a criminal offence to be returned to their home country,

–  having regard to the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

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

A.  whereas Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa has been detained for more than two years on charges of attending an illegal protest on 16 and 17 august 2013 while on a family holiday in Cairo, during which protesters allegedly caused deaths and criminal damage; whereas 97 people died in these protests, most as a result of excessive use of force by security forces; whereas Ibrahim Halawa was 17 years old – and therefore still a juvenile under Egyptian and international law – at the time of his arrest;

B.  whereas Ibrahim Halawa was arrested along with his three sisters, having sought refuge in the Al-Fateh mosque when violence erupted during a demonstration; whereas his three sisters were subsequently released by the authorities;

C.  whereas the prosecutor has failed to provide evidence that Ibrahim Halawa was involved in a single act of violence during the protests; whereas the prosecutor has depended entirely on police witnesses and reports, and investigations by intelligence services; whereas his trial has been repeatedly postponed and adjourned by the Egyptian Court, most recently on 15 December 2015; whereas he was not charged for a year after his arrest; whereas Ibrahim Halawa is awaiting, along with 493 individuals, the majority of whom are adults, a mass trial due to take place on 19 December 2015, without any guarantee of the minimum standards for a free and fair trial being applied, and will potentially face the death penalty if convicted; whereas, in May 2015, Egypt executed six individuals, one of whom was the same age as Ibrahim Halawa is currently;

D.  whereas a large number of death sentences have been handed down through mass trials since 2013 against alleged Muslim Brotherhood members and alleged supporters of ousted President Morsi; whereas these procedures are in breach of Egypt’s obligations under international law;

E.  whereas Article 10 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his/her rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him/her;

F.  whereas Ibrahim Halawa is being detained for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly and is considered by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience; whereas freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are indispensable pillars of any democratic and pluralist society; whereas Article 73 of the Egyptian Constitution stipulates that citizens shall have the right to organise public meetings, marches, demonstrations and all forms of peaceful protest;

G.  whereas it has been reported that, since the military takeover of June 2013, a great number of detentions of protesters and prisoners of conscience have taken place in Egypt; whereas the freedoms of association, assembly and expression have remained areas of particular concern since July 2013;

H.  whereas Ibrahim Halawa faces extremely harsh prison conditions, which include alleged acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment upon arrest and in detention, and has been denied medical and legal assistance; whereas, according to his family and legal representatives, Ibrahim Halawa has been on hunger strike in protest at his continued detention since 21 October 2015, thus seriously endangering his state of health;

I.  whereas the Egyptian Cairo North Prosecution Services and the Court have failed to recognise Ibrahim Halawa as a juvenile at the time of his arrest, in violation of the obligations incumbent upon the Egyptian authorities under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Egypt is a party;

J.  whereas any sentence inflicting the death penalty on people under the age of 18 at the time of the offence, and execution, are incompatible with Egypt’s international obligations;

K.  whereas Charles Flanagan, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, has expressed disappointment following the continuous adjournment of the case of Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt; whereas Irish consular officials have attended all the hearings to date and have also paid 48 consular visits to Ibrahim Halawa, and whereas this underlines the importance which the Irish Government attaches to the case;

L.  whereas Egypt has released foreign nationals under a presidential decree issued in November 2014 which allows foreigners charged with a criminal offence to be deported to their home country;

M.  whereas, to date, Egypt has failed to implement the Provisional Measures requested by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in March 2015 to guarantee the integrity of Ibrahim Halawa and the other juveniles involved in the case by releasing them immediately on bail;

N.  whereas the EU and its Member States are seeking to develop closer relations with Egypt and its people, as an important neighbour and partner, in a wide range of areas; whereas Egypt is the most populous Arab country, with over 80 million people, and is a pivotal country in the southern Mediterranean; whereas it is facing serious security concerns owing to the impact of the situation in neighbouring countries; whereas political, economic and social developments in Egypt have significant implications for the whole region and beyond;

1.  Expresses its deep concern about the unacceptable breach of basic human rights arising from the arbitrary detention of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa, and calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him to the Irish authorities pursuant to a presidential decree issued in November 2014 under Egyptian Law 140;

2.  Expresses its deepest concern at the deteriorating condition of Ibrahim Halawa due to his hunger strike and his alleged poor conditions in prison; calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure, as a matter of priority, that the good health and well-being of Ibrahim Halawa are maintained while he remains in prison; demands that all allegations of torture and maltreatment of Ibrahim Halawa be thoroughly and independently investigated;

3.  Asks the Egyptian authorities to ensure that Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that ‘all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person’, is respected;

4.  Reminds the Egyptian authorities that Egypt is bound by indisputable international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child as they apply to Ibrahim Halawa; demands that the Egyptian authorities categorically rule out the threat of the death penalty should Ibrahim Halawa be convicted, given that he was arrested as a juvenile;

5.  Reiterates the EU’s absolute opposition to the use of the death penalty under all circumstances and calls for a full moratorium on the issuance of capital punishment in Egypt; urges Egypt to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1996, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;

6.  Is extremely concerned about the failure of the Egyptian authorities to uphold the right to a fair trial for Ibrahim Halawa and his 493 co-defendants, in particular the lack of opportunity to review or challenge their continued detention and the charges against them, the repeated denial of access to lawyers and the excessive pre-trial detention period, which violates Egypt’s domestic and international obligations;

7.  Remains convinced that it will be extremely difficult for Ibrahim Halawa’s lawyers to mount an individual defence in the event that his case is heard as part of a mass trial of all defendants arrested in connection with the August 2013 protests;

8.  Strongly condemns the use of a mass trial in the judicial process and calls on the Egyptian authorities to abide by international law and safeguard the highest international standards with regard to the right to a fair trial and due process; calls on the Egyptian authorities to release those detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association as enshrined in the Egyptian constitution and other international conventions to which Egypt is a party; expresses its profound preoccupation with the severe deterioration of the media environment; condemns the trials against and conviction of Egyptian and foreign journalists, in absentia;

9.  Calls on the European External Action Service, via the EU Delegation in Cairo, and the Member States, notably Ireland, to monitor all hearings in the trial of Ibrahim Halawa and his co-defendants; expects the EEAS to raise this case at the highest level of its dialogue with Egypt and to report back regularly to Parliament on the trial monitoring; calls on the Irish authorities to continue providing their full legal, consular and other forms of support to Ibrahim Halawa and his relatives, and to visit him regularly in prison, as well as the EU Delegation; calls on the Egyptian authorities, in regard to Ibrahim Halawa’s European citizenship, to continue to facilitate consular access for the Irish Government;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and his interim government.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0012.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0348.


Situation in the Maldives
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on the situation in the Maldives (2015/3017(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0464RC-B8-1409/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Maldives, in particular those of 16 September 2004(1) and of 30 April 2015(2),

−  having regard to the final report of 22 March 2014 of the EU Election Observation Mission to the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Maldives,

−  having regard to the Joint Local Statement of 30 September 2014 on Threats to Civil Society and Human Rights in the Maldives, issued by the EU Delegation in agreement with the Embassies of EU Member States and the Embassies of Norway and Switzerland in Colombo accredited to the Maldives,

−  having regard to the statement of 12 March 2015 by the Chair of its Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia on the arrest of former president Mohamed Nasheed in the Maldives, and to the letter of 10 April 2015 from the Chair of its Committee on Foreign Affairs to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives,

−  having regard to the statement of 14 March 2015 by the spokesperson for the Vice‑President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the conviction of former president Mohamed Nasheed,

−  having regard to the statement of 5 November 2015 by the spokesperson for the Vice‑President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the declaration of a state of emergency by the President of the Maldives,

−  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Maldives is a party,

−  having regard to the statement of 18 March 2015 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed,

−  having regard to Opinion No 33/2015 (Maldives) of 4 September 2015 of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,

−  having regard to documentation related to the latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council concerning the Maldives, of 6 May 2015,

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

A.  whereas the presidential election process in 2013, which brought Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to power, was marred by irregularities;

B.  whereas on 13 March 2015 Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on politically motivated charges, and whereas this was condemned by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; whereas his trial was marred by irregularities; whereas other former officials, including former vice-president Ahmed Adeeb and former defence ministers Mohamed Nazim and Tholhath Ibrahim, have also been arrested and imprisoned;

C.  whereas concerns have been raised over the highly politicised Maldivian judiciary, which over the years has abused its powers and acted in favour of the current ruling party and against opposition politicians;

D.  whereas on 4 November 2015 the Government of the Maldives declared a state of emergency, revoked six days later, which appeared to be a means of preventing mass anti‑government protests, and whereas the government was widely condemned for suspending citizens’ basic rights and for giving the military and the police the power to search and arrest arbitrarily;

E.  whereas on 27 and 28 November 2015 police in the Maldives dispersed opposition protesters, using tear gas and pepper spray and arresting more than a dozen demonstrators who were demanding the release of a former president and other jailed political leaders;

F.  whereas Mahfooz Saeed, a human rights lawyer and member of the legal team of former president Mohamed Nasheed, was attacked on 4 September 2015;

G.  whereas a moratorium on the death penalty in the Maldives (including delayed sentences imposed on minors) which had been enacted in 1953 was overturned in April 2014;

H.  whereas the parliament has passed legislation making it a treasonable offence to call for restrictive measures and other associated penalties against the Government of the Maldives and its members;

I.  whereas the Maldives has been identified by the Inter-Parliamentary Union Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians as one of the worst countries in the world for attacks against opposition MPs, with opposition politicians routinely being intimidated, arrested and imprisoned; whereas freedom of expression (including freedom of the media), freedom of association and democratic pluralism have been increasingly under threat, with the arrest and charging of hundreds of anti-government protesters;

J.  whereas there are also concerns about increasing radical Islamist militancy and about the number of radicalised young men and women alleged to have joined ISIS; whereas the Maldives is estimated, on a per capita basis, to have the largest number of ISIS recruits of any country;

K.  whereas Ahmed Rilwan, a journalist critical of the government who ‘disappeared’ in August 2014, is still missing and is now feared dead;

L.  whereas gangs and radical Islamist groups – allegedly in cooperation with the police – often attack institutions, organisations and individuals who are critical of the government’s actions or accused of promoting atheism, and whereas this creates a climate of intimidation;

M.  whereas there is increasing harassment of, and threats and attacks against, civil society organisations and human rights defenders, including the former Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), which the Supreme Court criticised for submitting a report for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review;

1.  Expresses its deep concern about the gradual deterioration of democratic standards and the increasing authoritarian tendencies in the Maldives, which are creating a climate of fear and political tension that could jeopardise any gains made in recent years in establishing human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the country;

2.  Deplores the crackdown on political opponents; calls on the Government of the Maldives to release, immediately and unconditionally, former president Mohamed Nasheed, former vice-president Ahmed Adeeb and former defence ministers Tholhath Ibrahim and Mohamed Nazim, together with Sheikh Imran Abdulla and other political prisoners, and to clear them of all charges; is also concerned about the former president’s deteriorating health;

3.  Reiterates its gross dissatisfaction with the serious irregularities in the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed;

4.  Calls on the Maldivian Government to guarantee full impartiality of the judiciary and to respect due process of law and the right to a fair, impartial and independent trial; stresses the need to depoliticise the country’s judiciary and security services;

5.  Expresses its strong concern, in this context, about the dismissal of the prosecutor‑general, and reminds the government that the prosecutor-general’s office is an independent constitutional body under the Maldives constitution and that the prosecutor-general must be enabled to carry out his legitimate constitutional mandate without arbitrary political interference or intimidation by other branches of government;

6.  Is deeply worried by the constant erosion of human rights, including the misuse of the state of emergency by executive powers in the Maldives, and by the risk of further deterioration; reminds the Republic of Maldives of its international commitments regarding respect for human rights, including children’s rights and fundamental freedoms;

7.  Calls for the establishment of a genuine dialogue among all political parties on the future of this fragile island state;

8.  Calls on the Government of the Maldives to respect and fully support the right to protest and the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and not to seek to restrict those rights; also calls on the Government of the Maldives to end impunity for vigilantes who have used violence against people promoting religious tolerance, peaceful protesters, critical media and civil society; calls on the Maldives to respect fully its international obligations;

9.  Calls on the Maldivian Government to safeguard the rights of pro-democracy campaigners, moderate Muslims, supporters of secularism, and those who oppose the promotion of Wahhabi-Salafist ideology in the Maldives, and to ensure their right to participate in all areas of public life in the Maldives;

10.  Recalls that media freedom is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy; calls on the Maldivian Government and authorities to ensure adequate protection of journalists and human rights defenders who face threats and attacks on account of their legitimate work, and, in this context, to allow a proper investigation into the disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan, the assault on Mahfooz Saeed and the attacks and threats against journalists, members of civil society, and independent institutions;

11.  Calls, as a matter of urgency, for the re-establishment of the moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its abolition, and for a revision of the penal code with the aim of stopping the use of corporal punishment;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to issue comprehensive warnings about the Maldives’ human rights record to tourists planning to go to the country; also calls on the European External Action Service to monitor closely the human rights and political situation in the Maldives;

13.  Calls for the EU and its Member States, in the face of continuing democratic backsliding and deterioration of the human rights situation in the Maldives, to introduce restrictive measures in the form of targeted sanctions to freeze the assets abroad of certain members of the Maldivian Government and their leading supporters in the Maldivian business community, and to impose travel bans on them;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Member States and the Government and Parliament of the Maldives.

(1) OJ C 140 E, 9.6.2005, p. 165. .
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0180.


Malaysia
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on Malaysia (2015/3018(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0465RC-B8-1412/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Malaysia,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on the future of EU-ASEAN relations(1),

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 15 April 2015 on the recently adopted amendment to the Sedition Act in Malaysia,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 17 March 2015 on the arrest of Nurul Izzah, opposition Member of Parliament in Malaysia,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 10 February 2015 on the conviction of Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim,

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 9 April 2015 on draft anti-terror and sedition laws,

–  having regard to the joint press release by the EEAS on the EU-ASEAN policy dialogue on human rights of 23 October 2015,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to UN Universal Periodic Review session of October 2013,

–  having regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons of June 2015,

–  having regard to the second Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia before the UN Human Rights Council, and its recommendations, of October 2013,

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

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

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

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

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

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

A.  whereas the EU regards Malaysia as a key political and economic partner in South-East Asia; whereas the EU and Malaysia are negotiating a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement;

B.  whereas the space for public debate and free speech in Malaysia is rapidly narrowing as the government resorts to vaguely worded criminal laws to silence its critics and quell public discontent and peaceful expression, including debates on matters of public interest; whereas these laws include the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act and the Peaceful Assembly act, amongst others;

C.  whereas on 3 December 2015 the National Security Council Bill was passed in the Malaysian Parliament by a majority vote; whereas the bill grants the National Security Council led by the Prime Minister sweeping powers to declare a state of emergency in any area deemed a security risk, giving broad powers of arrest, search and seizure without warrant;

D.  whereas under the Sedition Act alone at least 78 people have been investigated or charged since the beginning of 2014;

E.  whereas former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced on charges of sodomy in February 2015 following a politically motivated prosecution which resulted in criminal proceedings that failed to meet international standards of fair trial; whereas he has been denied appropriate medical care;

F.  whereas LGBTI people in Malaysia are criminalised under the country’s anti-sodomy law and regional laws prohibiting cross-dressing, and face political hate speech, arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, and other abuses;

G.  whereas Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (Zunar) is facing charges under the Sedition Act following critical tweets against the government with regard to the sentencing of Anwar Ibrahim; whereas blogger Khalid Ismath and academic Azmi Sharom face similar charges;

H.  whereas the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has questioned the Prime Minister in connection with graft allegations after the discovery of over 600 million euros in his bank account without any justification of source and purpose, as well as on separate allegations that hundreds of millions of euros were missing from deals involving a state firm he launched, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB);

I.  whereas media outlets and publishing houses have faced restrictions under the Printing Presses and Publications Act following reporting about these allegations, and whereas lawyer Matthias Chang and politician Khairuddin Abu Hassan were arrested following their investigations into these allegations;

J.  whereas the High Representative raised concerns regarding the abusive use of criminal laws during her visit to Malaysia on 5-6 August 2015;

K.  whereas, according to the UN and NGOs, the Malaysian police forces have increasingly resorted to acts of torture, late night arrests, unjustifiable remands and selective prosecution;

L.  whereas Malaysia continues to practice the death penalty with up to 1 000 prisoners currently on death row;

M.  whereas Malaysia is a Member of the UN Security Council and the current ASEAN Chair, and the 27th ASEAN Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur from 18 to 22 November 2015;

1.  Reaffirms the EU’s strong commitment to the Malaysian people with whom the EU has strong and longstanding political, economic and cultural ties;

2.  Deplores the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia and in particular the crackdown on civil society activists, academics, media and political activists; expresses concern with regard to the spike in the number of people facing charges or arrest under the Sedition Act;

3.  Is particularly concerned about the adoption of the National Security Council Bill and urges its withdrawal; calls on the government to maintain a proper balance between the need to safeguard national security and the imperative to protect civil and political rights;

4.  Urges the Malaysian Government to immediately release all political prisoners, including former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and to provide them with appropriate medical care, and to drop politically motivated charges, including those against cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (Zunar), blogger Khalid Ismath, academic Azmi Sharom, political dissidents Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang, and human rights activists Lena Hendry and Maria Chin Abdullah;

5.  Urges the Malaysian authorities to repeal the Sedition Act and to bring all legislation, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act, the Peaceful Assembly Act, and other relevant provisions of the penal code, in line with international standards on freedom of expression and assembly and the protection of human rights; calls on the Malaysian authorities to facilitate peaceful assemblies, and to guarantee the safety of all participants and their freedom of expression across the whole country;

6.  Urges the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as recommended by the Police Commission of Inquiry in 2005, to investigate allegations of torture and deaths in police custody;

7.  Underlines the importance of independent and transparent investigations into the graft allegations, and of full cooperation with the investigators; urges the Malaysian Government to refrain from putting pressure on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and media;

8.  Deeply deplores the rise of supremacist groups which contribute further to the creation of ethnic tensions;

9.  Encourages the Malaysian Government to open a dialogue with opposition parties and civil society stakeholders;

10.  Calls on the Malaysian Government to ratify key international human rights conventions, including the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the CAT, the ICERD, ILO Convention 169, the ICC Rome Statute, as well as the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its optional protocol;

11.  Asks the Malaysian Government to extend a standing invitation to all the UN Special Procedures, thereby enabling special rapporteurs to visit Malaysia without asking for an invitation;

12.  Reiterates its position that the death penalty is a cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and calls on Malaysia to introduce a moratorium as the first step towards the abolition of the death penalty for all offences and to commute all death sentences to prison terms;

13.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to coordinate policies towards Malaysia, in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights, in order to encourage reform on the above issues of concern through all possible means, including in the context of the UN where Malaysia is a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2015-2016;

14.  Urges the EU Delegation to Malaysia to step up efforts to finance projects on freedom of expression and reforming repressive laws, and to use all appropriate tools, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, to protect human rights defenders; urges the withdrawal of the anti-sodomy law and calls on the EEAS, in line with the EU guidelines on the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI persons, to step up its work on the rights of LGBTI people in Malaysia who face violence and persecution, and to aim in particular towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality and transgenderism;

15.  Reaffirms the importance of the EU-ASEAN policy dialogue on human rights as a useful tool to exchange good practices and promote capacity-building initiatives;

16.  Calls on the Commission to make sure that human rights concerns are duly taken into account during future negotiations on an EU-Malaysia FTA and PCA;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the parliament and government of Malaysia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the ASEAN Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0022.


EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (protocol to take account of the accession of Croatia) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 17 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, of the Protocol to the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (13079/2014 – C8-0282/2014 – 2014/0222(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0466A8-0340/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (13079/2014),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (13078/2014),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 207 and 209 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0282/2014),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0340/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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


EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (consent) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 17 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, of the other part (05432/2015 – C8-0062/2015 – 2013/0440(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0467A8-0339/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (05432/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, of the other part (18204/2010),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 207 and 209 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0062/2015),

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 17 December 2015(1) on the draft decision,

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0339/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0468.


EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (resolution)
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European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 17 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, of the other part (05432/2015 – C8-0062/2015 – 2013/0440(NLE)2015/2096(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0468A8-0342/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (05432/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, of the other part (18204/2010),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 207 and 209 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in conjunction with Article 218(6)(a) thereof,

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 17 December 2015(1) on the draft decision,

–  having regard to the diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the EU (at the time the European Communities) which were established on 22 October 1990,

–  having regard to the EU-Vietnam Framework Cooperation Agreement (FCA) which entered into force on 1 June 1996(2),

–  having regard to the announcement of 4 August 2015 by the Commission that the EU and Vietnam have reached an agreement on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) under negotiation since 26 June 2012,

–  having regard to the draft recommendation by the EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly of 26 March 2015, calling on the Commission to carry out, without further delay, a human rights impact assessment in the context of the envisaged FTA with Vietnam,

–  having regard to the European Union’s Multiannual Indicative Programme for Vietnam 2014-2020,

–  having regard to the EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue which was launched in 2003, and the 4th round of the enhanced EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue which was held in Brussels on 19 January 2015,

–  having regard to the negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with Vietnam in relation to the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, which started in November 2010,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EEC) No 1440/80 of 30 May 1980 concerning the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – member countries of the Association of the South-East Asian Nations(3), and the Protocol on the extension of the cooperation agreement between the European Community and the ASEAN to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam signed on 14 February 1997(4),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of 18 May 2015 to Parliament and the Council entitled ‘The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose’,

–  having regard to the 10th ASEM Summit held in Milan on 16-17 October 2014 and the next summit to be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2016,

–  having regard to the visit of Parliament’s delegation for relations with Southeast Asia to Vietnam in October 2013,

–  having regard to the interparliamentary EP-Vietnam meeting in Hanoi on 30 October 2013,

–  having regard to the visit of the Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Vietnam in August 2014,

–  having regard to the visit of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to the European Union in October 2014,

–  having regard to the 22nd meeting of the ASEAN-EU Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) which was held in Jakarta on 5 February 2015,

–  having regard to its recent resolutions on Vietnam, in particular those of 12 July 2007 on human rights in Vietnam(5), of 22 October 2008 on democracy, human rights and the new EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement(6), of 26 November 2009 on the situation in Laos and Vietnam(7), of 18 April 2013 on Vietnam, in particular freedom of expression(8), of 15 January 2014 on the future of EU-ASEAN relations(9), of 17 April 2014 on the state of play of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement(10),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of press and media in the world(12),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on ‘Human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries’(13),

–  having regard to Vietnam becoming a full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 28 July 1995,

–  having regard to Vietnam as the founding Member of the Mekong River Commission, which was formed on 5 April 1995 to enhance cooperation for the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin,

–  having regard to the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia on 26-28 April 2015,

–  having regard to the 14th Asia Security Summit (IISS Shangri-La Dialogue) held in Singapore on 29-31 May 2015,

–  having regard to the Hanoi Core Statement (HCS), Vietnam’s national strategy for implementing the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness,

–  having regard to the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Vietnam of 9 October 2009 as well as to the recommendations of the second UPR Report on Vietnam at the 26th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council of 20 June 2014, and Vietnam’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2014-2016,

–  having regard to the recent ratification by Vietnam of the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by Vietnam, as well as the long-awaited visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in July 2014,

–  having regard to this year’s commemoration of the end of the Vietnam War (40 years ago),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0342/2015),

A.  whereas 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of EU-Vietnam relations; whereas these relations have broadened rapidly from trade and aid to a more comprehensive relationship;

B.  whereas the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement aims to establish a modern, broad-based and mutually beneficial partnership, based on shared interests and principles such as equality, mutual respect, the rule of law and human rights;

C.  whereas the EU is Vietnam’s biggest export market; whereas the EU together with its Member States is the largest ODA provider to Vietnam and there will be an EU budget increase for this purpose of 30 % to EUR 400 million in 2014-2020;

D.  whereas the Vietnamese authorities announced the lifting of bans on foreign direct investment in 45 sectors and adopted measures to ease the business regulations in the country to sustain foreign investments;

E.  whereas Vietnam over the past decades has consistently adopted a markedly pro-European approach and has been actively engaged with the EU as the ASEAN country coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations from 2012-2015 and as host of the 132nd Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly (IPU) in Hanoi from 28 March to 1 April 2015; whereas its coordinatorship was marked by a significant increase in the number and level of meetings between the EU and ASEAN; whereas Vietnam has become a member of the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB);

F.  whereas EU-ASEAN relations are comprehensive and cover a wide range of sectors including trade and investment, development, economics and political affairs; whereas the Bandar Seri Begawan Plan of Action from 2012 was adopted to give a more strategic focus to the regional cooperation between EU and ASEAN in these sectors;

G.  whereas the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries, including Vietnam, was finalised on 5 October 2015, creating a new trade block that encompasses 36 % of global GDP and which could have far-reaching effects on world trade;

H.  whereas Vietnam has made a great achievement in attaining the MDGs, poverty reduction, economic development, social security, employment, education, and healthcare in the last two decades;

I.  whereas the impact of the ‘doi moi’(renovation) policy and steps towards establishing a market economy have also led to an increase in the poverty gap; whereas protests over land and property seized by the government have increased; whereas, however, the global recession hurt Vietnamese exports, with GDP in 2014 growing at one of the slowest rates since the end of the Asian economic crisis; whereas Vietnam faces the challenge of a labour force that is growing by more than one million every year;

J.  whereas Article 1(1) of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement confirms the commitment to the general principles of international law and lays down ‘respect for democratic principles and human rights’ as an essential element of the agreement, underpinning the internal and international policies of both Parties; whereas cases of human rights activists being arrested in circumstances that are far from transparent still occur, and whereas the next Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, scheduled for January 2016, will be the true testing ground for measuring real respect for democratic principles in Vietnam;

K.  whereas restrictions in Vietnam on freedom of expression both online and offline, freedom of the press and media, access to information, freedom of assembly and association as well as freedom of religion, as reported by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, remain a serious concern;

L.  whereas Vietnam is a valued partner for the EU in the climate change negotiations and has pledged to reduce emissions by 8 to 10 per cent compared to 2010 and to reduce energy consumption per GDP by 1 to 1,5 per cent per year in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015;

M.  whereas a number of European citizens are of Vietnamese descent owing to historical ties and whereas the Czech Republic has recognised its citizens of Vietnamese descent as an ethnic minority;

N.  whereas a recent escalation in tension has arisen between China and neighbouring countries in the South China Sea, including Vietnam, as a result of unilateral actions taken in contested areas in the South China Sea, which are not in line with international law; whereas the escalation of territorial disputes in the region has implications for global affairs and represents a serious threat to peace, security, stability and international trade; whereas resolving these tensions constitutes a major strategic interest for the EU, in view of maintaining global security as well as securing stability in major maritime routes in the South China Sea that are vital to EU trade; whereas Vietnam officially supports the legal submission by the Philippines to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague of 16 March 2015 on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);

O.  whereas Vietnam has simultaneously enhanced strategic, security and energy cooperation with its Asian neighbours and is reinforcing its bilateral ties with key international players such as the US and Russia given the resurgent tensions in the South China Sea;

P.  whereas Vietnam remains heavily contaminated by the explosive remnants of the Vietnam War, and people and the environment are still suffering from the effects of some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange (dioxin) that was sprayed;

1.  Welcomes the conclusion of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Vietnam underlining the major strategic importance held by Vietnam as a crucial partner of the EU in South East Asia and ASEAN; stresses that the Agreement defines the future relations in a broad spectrum, to further enhance the cooperation on global and regional challenges, such as good governance and the fight against corruption, economic and social progress taking into account the principle of sustainable development, disarmament and weapons of mass destruction, and the fight against terrorism; calls on the governments and parliaments of the Member States to speed up the ratification process in order to ensure that the agreement can enter into force;

2.  Hopes that the EU and Vietnam will both benefit economically from the ratification of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement; highlights the potential impact of a future agreement on trade and investment on job creation and poverty reduction; welcomes the economic and financial reforms undertaken by the Vietnamese authorities to boost Vietnam’s further integration into the world economy and calls for Vietnam to continue such reforms; calls upon the Vietnamese Government and the EU to continue economic, trade and new technology cooperation in multilateral fora; welcomes the near doubling of Vietnamese GDP per capita since 2010;

3.  Stresses the importance of Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreements in EU-ASEAN relations; believes that EU-ASEAN cooperation could be strengthened in various areas such as financial sector development, transparency and the coordination of macro-economic policies;

4.  Calls on the Member States, in an effort to achieve policy coherence, to align the individual goals of their respective cooperation on development as much as possible with the goals set out in the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;

5.  Welcomes the early implementation of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, while the ratification process is ongoing, in the fields of trade, human rights, migration, regional security, energy, science and technology;

6.  Stresses the importance of establishing clear benchmarks and binding deadlines for the implementation of Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;

7.  Welcomes the articles in the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which refer to joint commitment and cooperation on human rights; expresses its hope that the mutually agreed respect for democratic principles and human rights will further foster the longstanding dialogue with the Vietnamese Government on promoting in particular, freedom of expression, assembly, association and religion as enshrined in Article 69 of Vietnam’s Constitution and in Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights;

8.  Stresses the enabling, creating and catalysing potential of the open internet and ICTs for community building, civil society, and global economic, social, scientific, cultural and political development; emphasises therefore the importance of unrestricted access to the free and open internet, both from an economic, social and human rights perspective;

9.  Welcomes the decision of the Vietnamese authorities to lift the visa regime for citizens of five European countries and believes that this decision will stimulate stronger cooperation in the tourism sector;

10.  Welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister of Vietnam of a ‘master plan’ for implementing the recommendations of the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), as well as the judicial reform strategy that should be concluded by 2020;

11.  Welcomes the EU ODA budget increase for Vietnam to EUR 400 million in 2014-2020; urges the Commission to invest in increasing the visibility of EU activities in and support to Vietnam to maximise the strategic potential of these resources;

12.  Encourages the EU to continue support for Vietnam’s capacity development in promoting respect for good governance and the rule of law and welcomes the focus of EU cooperation on, inter alia, reforms of public administration, including on taxation, which is key for ensuring the maximisation of internal revenue generation capabilities and combating tax evasion and corruption, science and technology, transport, and urban and regional planning and development;

13.  Calls on Parliament and the Commission to evaluate in close consultation any human rights abuses in order to ensure the proper democratic oversight of the implementation of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement; calls on the Commission to ensure the simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to Parliament;

14.  Welcomes the conclusion of the negotiations on the FTA, strongly believes that the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the FTA between the EU and Vietnam need to contribute to the strengthening of human rights in Vietnam;

15.  Commends the inclusion in the future FTA of a chapter on trade and sustainable development, commitments to the core labour standards and Conventions of the ILO, respect for fundamental workers’ rights by both parties, commitments which will support the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources with particular attention to corporate social responsibility and fair and ethical trading schemes;

16.  Calls on the Vice President/High Representative to live up to the expectations raised by the new agreement and to ensure that the policies the EU and its Member States pursue in the context of the implementation of the PCA and the future FTA with Vietnam help advance the respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance; calls for capacity building to enhance the settlement of complaints by affected individuals and communities in the context of Article 35 of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement; calls on the Vietnamese Government to strengthen the involvement of civil society through the participation of associations and NGOs in the country’s political, economic and social development;

17.  Calls on the Vietnamese Government to make concrete progress on the implementation of the UNHRC UPR recommendations, starting with the creation of an independent national human rights institution; urges the Commission to provide Vietnam with the necessary capacity building support; welcomes EU funding via the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and urges that these initiatives be continued in order to support the government’s efforts;

18.  Calls on the 12th Vietnamese Communist Party Congress in view of the 2016 elections, to allow for the enhanced participation of citizens in the democratic functioning of the state, notably by allowing the creation of opposition parties, civil society movements and NGOs;

19.  Deplores the fact that more than 500 prisoners are estimated to be on death row; calls on the Vietnamese Government to establish an immediate moratorium on executions and to pass appropriate legislation abolishing capital punishment, and while welcoming openings in the system, still regrets the detention of human rights activists; welcomes in this respect the government’s readiness to reduce the number of crimes punishable by death and calls on the government to be transparent about whether executions still take place and if so, on the basis of what charges;

20.  Recalls the importance of EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue as a key instrument to be used in an efficient and pragmatic manner to accompany and encourage Vietnam in the implementation of the necessary reforms;

21.  Urges the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;

22.  Takes note that the garment and textile industry, which employs more than two million workers, is Vietnam’s largest export sector, and is concerned about the lack of mechanisms available for workers to defend their rights; highlights the positive signal that would be sent were the Vietnamese authorities to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Rights to Organise and Convention No 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining;

23.  Calls on the authorities to refrain from suppression of peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association; urges, in this context, the revision of the Criminal Code, particularly Articles 79, 87, 88 and 258 thereof; notes the amnesty granted recently to more than 18 000 prisoners and regrets that political prisoners were not included; remains concerned about some 60 prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, as well as land rights activists, workers and environmental activists held in Vietnamese prisons sentenced in summary trials of various kinds for offences concerning, above all, freedom of speech and crimes against the state, and calls for their release; encourages the reforms of the criminal justice system in particular the criminal procedure code including the clauses that criminalise peaceful activities on the grounds of national security; calls on the authorities to establish an independent criminal justice system;

24.  Calls for the respect of freedom of religion and an end to discrimination and repression of ethnic and religious minorities, including harassments, surveillance, intimidation, detention, house arrest, physical assaults and travel bans against Christians, Buddhists, Hoa Hao and Cao Dai, in particular the persecution of religious communities such as the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, as well as Montagnard Christians and Khmer Krom Buddhists; urges the implementation of reforms to improve the socio-economic conditions of ethnic and religious minorities; calls for a review of the legislation which regulates registration of religious groups; recalls the tragic fate of Venerable Thich Quang Do, a 87 year-old Buddhist dissident, who has been under house arrest at his monastery for over 30 years without charge and reiterates the call for his release;

25.  Calls for an urgent reform of the justice system to ensure international fair trial standards, as provided for in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

26.  Expresses concern about Vietnam being one of the major source countries for victims of human trafficking, and about reports of large numbers of children, especially boys who are not protected by the law against sexual abuse, falling victim to child prostitution, trafficking or maltreatment; urges Vietnam to develop strong and effective child protection laws that protect all children regardless of their gender; calls on the Commission to support Vietnam in strengthening its capacities in the field of migration policies and the fight against human trafficking and organised crime, including in the context of its labour and migration policies; is equally concerned about reports on the exploitation of Vietnamese victims of human trafficking, including minors, in the Member States; calls on the Commission to urgently ensure that key protection provisions set out in the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings are fully implemented; encourages the Government of Vietnam and the Commission to consider the establishment of a subcommittee or specialised working group on human trafficking under the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;

27.  Stresses the socio-economic challenges that Vietnam is facing with its young population and increasing internal migration to cities;

28.  Welcomes the adoption of the 2013 amended land law but remains seriously concerned by abuses of property rights, forced evictions and state confiscation of land for development projects, which lead to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of farmers; appeals to the government to stop land grabbing and to set up adequate complaints mechanisms;

29.  Welcomes the extensive legal commitments by the Vietnamese authorities in promoting gender equity and combating discrimination, but expresses concern that domestic violence, trafficking of women and children, the growing problem of HIV/AIDS among women, violations of sexual and reproductive rights remain serious problems; urges the Vietnamese Government to continue to reform its civil registry and end the discriminatory practices that are sometimes due to the peculiarities of the ‘Hộ khẩu’ (family register), which blocks many families, and particularly children, from being registered and thus having access to education and social services;

30.  Commends Vietnam for its leading role in Asia on the development of LGBTI rights, notably the recently adopted law on marriage and family which allows same-sex wedding ceremonies;

31.  Shares the Vietnamese Government’s concerns that corruption represents one of Vietnam’s main challenges; calls for a closer examination of situations where citizens who denounce corruption are targeted by the authorities; urges the Vietnamese authorities to thoroughly investigate the abuses made against journalists, bloggers and whistle-blowers; regrets too the improper use by the Vietnamese Government of Article 258 of the Penal Code concerning ‘abusing democratic freedoms’ – which can result in up to seven years imprisonment; notes that only very few cases have been prosecuted successfully despite the Anti-Corruption Law and appeals to the government to enhance its implementation;

32.  Calls on the Vietnamese authorities to put in place greater anti-corruption efforts with a view to sending a positive signal to foreign investors; notes that the weak legal infrastructure and the corruption system lead to financial unpredictability and pose a serious obstacle for investment and business operations;

33.  Expresses serious concern over environmental damage in Vietnam, in particular, pollution, deforestation and unsustainable mining activities that destroy whole regions, waterways and disrupt the way of life of local communities as well as activities of Vietnamese companies abroad which contribute to environmental degradation and land grabbing;

34.  Urges the Vietnamese Government to introduce measures to guarantee the effective enforcement of legislation to protect the environment and biodiversity particularly from the negative effects of deforestation and the extraction of raw materials with clear, time-bound and result-based targets in each of the above areas; calls on the Commission to provide the necessary capacity-building support for this purpose;

35.  Stresses the need for the Mekong River Commission to carry out thorough prior consultations and to make comprehensive environmental, fisheries, livelihoods and cross-border impact assessments of hydropower development plans in the mainstream of the Mekong River;

36.  Takes note that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has adopted a climate change adaptation strategy; points out that the country is engaged in developing biomass and solar energy and welcomes the strong focus of the EU aid package (2014-2020) on sustainable energy development;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in view of the health and environmental legacy of the Vietnam War, to consider setting up a fund to support victims and war veterans, and also to step up action through the dispatch of specialist missions to decontaminate harmful substances and demine areas which even now, 40 years after the conflict has ended, continue to claim victims;

38.  Calls on the government to reconsider its decision to build and operate Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant located in Ninh;

39.  Welcomes the fact that Vietnam has taken specific measures to develop knowledge and research on science and technology, to address the weaknesses in higher education, to attract overseas Vietnamese and to cooperate with European and US academic institutions to help in this process;

40.  Calls on China and the neighbouring countries concerned including Vietnam to intensify efforts to defuse tension in the contested area in the South China Sea; considers that the situation risks jeopardising major EU interests in the region, including in terms of global security and the freedom of navigation of major maritime routes that are vital for EU trade; stresses the need to address the disputes peacefully, through confidence building, bilateral and regional discussions and on the basis of the international law including the law of the sea and mediation by impartial international bodies such as UNCLOS; recalls the importance of building cooperative solutions that include all parties; urges the Commission and Vice-President/High Representative to actively monitor the situation and support a solution to the dispute in accordance with international law; welcomes the joint statement of the Chinese and Vietnamese leaders in April 2015 pledging a peaceful resolution to the island disputes;

41.  Welcomes the role played by ASEAN to peacefully managing the disputes in particular by seeking to set up a regional code of conduct;

42.  Calls for an enhancement of parliamentary cooperation and the role of Parliament and the inter-parliamentary meetings as means to monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;

43.  Considers the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Vietnam as an opportunity for the EU to reinforce its positioning in Asia and play a greater role in the region; stresses that this agreement is also a chance for the EU to foster its objectives of peace, the rule of law, democracy and human rights, maritime safety and resource sharing;

44.  Stresses that, according to Article 218(10) TFEU, Parliament must be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure concerning the Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement; insists that this should include providing Parliament with extensive written information on the objectives pursued by EU actions and positions, in particular on the evolution in the situation of human rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law in the country; stresses, furthermore, the fundamental role played by EU Delegation Focal Points in the monitoring of human rights in the country;

45.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and the National Assembly of Vietnam.

(1) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2015)0467.
(2) OJ L 136, 7.6.1996, p. 28.
(3) OJ L 144, 10.6.1980, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 117, 5.5.1999, p. 31.
(5) OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 615.
(6) OJ C 15 E, 21.1.2010, p. 58.
(7) OJ C 285 E, 21.10.2010, p. 76.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0189.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0022.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0458.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0288.


Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (2015/2936(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0469B8-1347/2015

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 October 2015 on steps towards completing Economic and Monetary Union (COM(2015)0600),

–  having regard to the Commission decision of 21 October 2015 establishing an independent advisory European Fiscal Board (C(2015)8000),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 21 October 2015 for a Council recommendation on the establishment of National Competitiveness Boards within the Euro Area (COM(2015)0601),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 October 2015 on a roadmap for moving towards a more consistent external representation of the euro area in international fora (COM(2015)0602),

–  having regard to the Commission’s proposal of 21 October 2015 for a Council decision laying down measures in view of progressively establishing unified representation of the euro area in the International Monetary Fund (COM(2015)0603),

–  having regard to the report on Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (‘Five Presidents’ Report’),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 June 2015 on the review of the economic governance framework: stocktaking and challenges(1),

–  having regard to Regulations (EU) No 1173/2011(2), (EU) No 1174/2011(3), (EU) No 1175/2011(4), (EU) No 1176/2011(5) and (EU) No 1177/2011(6), Directive 2011/85/EU(7), and Regulations (EU) No 472/2013(8) and (EU) No 473/2013(9) (the ‘six-pack’ and the ‘two-pack’),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/49/EU on deposit guarantee schemes(10),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (O-000152/2015 – B8‑1113/2015),

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

A.  whereas the Five Presidents’ Report on Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union set out proposals for completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union;

B.  whereas its resolution on ‘the review of the economic governance framework: stocktaking and challenges’ underlined the need for ambitious and rapid progress in strengthening the euro area;

C.  whereas the Commission, as part of stage 1 of the roadmap in the Five Presidents’ Report, published a package on 21 October 2015 containing steps towards completing the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), composed of two communications, a recommendation for a Council recommendation, a proposal for a Council decision and a Commission decision;

General assessment

1.  Takes note of the Commission’s proposals to strengthen the EMU and, while recognising that some steps have been taken in the right direction, notes that further efforts will be necessary to address the current shortcomings of the institutional framework of the euro area;

2.  As stated in its resolution on ‘the review of the economic governance framework: stocktaking and challenges’, insists on the implementation of the provisions of the six-pack and the two-pack, while stressing that existing Treaties and instruments would allow some of the necessary additional steps to be taken towards completing the EMU;

3.  Regrets that the package published by the Commission does not leave enough room for parliamentary oversight and debate at European level, which are necessary to ensure the democratic accountability of the decisions taken in the context of the EMU and consequently for ensuring citizens’ ownership of euro area governance;

4.  Asks the Commission, as provided for in the Five Presidents’ Report, to consult Parliament in due time in the context of the preparation of the White Paper on the transition between phase 1 and phase 2 of the reforms of the EMU;

European Semester

5.  Urges the Commission to launch negotiations on an interinstitutional agreement (IIA) on European economic governance, including the European Semester and the scrutiny of the implementation of the macroeconomic adjustment programme, with Parliament, the Council and the Eurogroup, as provided for in the Five Presidents’ Report; insists that this IIA should ensure, within the framework of the Treaties, that the structure of the European Semester allows for meaningful and regular parliamentary scrutiny of the process, in particular as regards euro area recommendations;

European Fiscal Board and National Competitiveness Boards

6.  Regrets that the Commission chose not to use the ordinary legislative procedure for the decisions regarding National Competitiveness Boards, and calls on the Commission to make a legislative proposal to that effect;

7.  Stresses that the European Fiscal Board, as the advisory board of the Commission, should be accountable to Parliament and that, in this context, its assessments should be public and transparent;

External representation of the euro area

8.  Asks the Commission to ensure that the international representation of the euro area is subject to the democratic scrutiny of Parliament;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0238.
(2) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 8.
(4) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 12.
(5) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 25.
(6) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 33.
(7) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 41.
(8) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 11.
(10) OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, p. 149.


Annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2014 and the EU policy on the matter
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter (2015/2229(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0470A8-0344/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other United Nations (UN) human rights treaties and instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in New York on 16 December 1966,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and to the European Parliament resolution of 27 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(1),

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

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3, 8, 21 and 23 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012(2),

–  having regard to the European Union’s Human Rights Guidelines,

–  having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 12 May 2014(3),

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief(4),

–  having regard to the Guidelines for EP Interparliamentary Delegations on promoting human rights and democracy in their visits outside the European Union(5),

–  having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2014, adopted by the Council on 22 June 2015(6),

–  having regard to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015(7),

–  having regard to the Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020 (GAPII), adopted by the Council on 26 October 2015(8),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 14 May 2012 on ‘Increasing the impact of EU development policy: an agenda for change’(9),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 5 December 2014 on the promotion and protection of children’s rights(10),

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/260 of 17 February 2015 extending the mandate of the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights(11),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on Gender in Development(12),

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 1325 of 31 October 2000 on women and peace and security(13),

–  having regard to its urgency resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on EU policies in favour of human rights defenders(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2011 on EU external policies in favour of democratisation(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of press and media in the world(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2013 on corruption in the public and private sectors: the impact on human rights in third countries(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on caste-based discrimination(19),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2014 on EU priorities for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)(20),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the EU’s priorities for the UNHRC in 2015(21),

–  having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 2 April 2014 on the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)(22),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on the eradication of torture in the world(23),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(24),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy(25),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries(26),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on migration and refugees in Europe(27),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the renewal of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development(28),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty(29),

–  having regard to the communication of 8 October 2014 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the enlargement strategy and main challenges 2014-2015(30),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of 8 March 2011 of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to the European Council, the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean(31),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of 25 May 2011 of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a new response to a changing Neighbourhood(32),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 30 April 2014 on a rights-based approach, encompassing all human rights for EU development cooperation (SWD(2014)0152),

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council Resolution of 26 June 2014 calling for the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the aim of drawing up an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights(33),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the EU’s new approach to human rights and democracy – evaluating the activities of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) since its establishment(34),

–  having regard to the 2014 annual report of UNFPA-UNICEF on the Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation(35),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0344/2015),

A.  whereas Article 21 TEU commits the EU to developing a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principle of equality and solidarity and compliance with the UN Charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and international law;

B.  whereas under Article 6 TEU the European Union is to accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

C.  whereas respect for, and the promotion, indivisibility and safeguarding of, the universality of human rights must be cornerstones of the EU’s external action;

D.  whereas increased coherence between EU internal and external policies, as well as between the EU’s external policies stands as an indispensable requirement for a successful and effective EU human rights policy; whereas improved consistency should enable the EU to respond more rapidly in the early stages of human rights violations;

E.  whereas the EU’s commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is an integral part of the Union’s external policy and is rooted in the conviction that a multilateral system founded on universal rules and values is best suited to addressing global crises, challenges and threats;

F.  whereas respect for human rights is being challenged and is under threat worldwide; whereas the universality of human rights is being seriously challenged by a number of authoritarian regimes, notably in multilateral forums;

G.  whereas more than half the world’s population is still living under non-democratic and repressive regimes and global freedom has continuously declined over the past few years; whereas non-respect of human rights has a cost for society and for the individual;

H.  whereas there are numerous attempts worldwide to shrink the space of civil society, including in the UN Human Rights Council;

I.  whereas, in addition to the holding of free elections, features of democratic regimes include transparent governance, respect for the rule of law, freedom of expression, respect for human rights, the existence of an independent judicial system, and respect for international law and international agreements and guidelines on respecting human rights;

J.  whereas the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) stated, when the New Joint Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy was proposed, that human rights would be one of the overarching priorities of her mandate, a compass in all relations with EU institutions as well as with third countries, international organisations and civil society; whereas in 2017 a mid-term review of the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy is to be performed which will coincide with the mid-term review of external financing instruments, which should contribute to greater coherence of the EU’s external action;

K.  whereas the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Commission, the Council and the Member States are responsible for implementing the new Action Plan; whereas the EU missions and EU representations in third countries can play a significant supplementary role in the success of the Action Plan;

L.  whereas appropriate resources need to be ensured, and those resources need to be deployed in the most efficient manner, in order to enhance the promotion of human rights and democracy in third countries;

M.  whereas more should be done by the EU to measure the human rights impact of its own policies, maximise the positive impacts and prevent and mitigate the negative impacts, and reinforce access to remedies for affected populations;

N.  whereas engaging with third countries’ leaders and authorities, in all bilateral and multilateral forums, is one of the most effective tools for addressing human rights issues in third countries; whereas civil society organisations in third countries are key interlocutors in shaping and implementing the EU’s human rights policy;

O.  whereas the EU considers close cooperation with civil society and human rights defenders in third countries to be one of its main priorities in tackling human rights abuses;

P.  whereas international cooperation should play an increased role in reinforcing respect for fundamental rights and effective parliamentary oversight of intelligence services using digital surveillance technology;

Q.  whereas the EU and its Member States have been close allies of the International Criminal Court since its inception, providing it with financial, political, diplomatic and logistical support while promoting the universality of the Rome Statute and defending its integrity with the purpose of strengthening the Court’s independence;

R.  whereas human rights and democracy support policy should be mainstreamed across all other EU policies with an external dimension, such as development, migration, security, counter-terrorism, enlargement and trade, in order to continue the promotion of respect for human rights;

S.  whereas Article 207 TFEU stipulates that the EU’s commercial policy is to be based on the principles and objectives of the European Union’s external action;

T.  whereas the various forms of migration represent an important EU external policy challenge requiring immediate, effective and sustainable solutions in order to ensure that the human rights of people in need, such as those fleeing war and violence, are respected in line with European values and international human rights standards;

U.  whereas the world economyhas been going through a crisis which could have an impact on economic and social rights, on people’s living conditions (increases in unemployment and poverty, inequality and insecure employment, and lower quality of and restricted access to services), and therefore also on people’s wellbeing;

V.  whereas on the basis of universal and indivisible values, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief should become one of the priorities of the EU and must be unconditionally supported; whereas these rights remain widely under threat, as the number of related violations has significantly risen;

W.  whereas the universal abolition of the death penalty remains one of the EU’s priorities in its external human rights policy; whereas in June 2016 the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty is to take place in Oslo, Norway;

X.  whereas children, women and persons belonging to minorities face increasing and specific threats, acts of violence and sexual violence, especially in war zones;

Y.  whereas the Sakharov Prize for 2014 was awarded to Dr Denis Mukwege for his unremitting efforts, as a doctor and human rights defender, on behalf of victims of sexual violence and genital mutilation; whereas female genital mutilation is a fundamental violation of the rights of women and children and whereas it is absolutely necessary to assign efforts to combat genital mutilation and sexual violence a central role in the EU’s external policy and human rights policy;

Z.  whereas in 2014 230 million children currently living in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts were estimated to be exposed to extreme violence and trauma, being forcibly recruited or deliberately targeted by violent groups;

AA.  whereas Article 25 of the UDHR recognises the right of every person to a ‘standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family’, in which motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance, and which includes medical care; whereas UNHRC Resolution 26/28(36) calls for the next UNHRC Social Forum meeting to focus on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; whereas the Constitution of the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition;

AB.  whereas climate change has an impact on access to water, natural resources and food;

AC.  whereas the deliberate and systematic destruction of valuable archaeological sites which form part of the world heritage by terrorist organisations and warring groups has the aim of destabilising populations and depriving them of their cultural identity, and should be regarded not only as a war crime but also as a crime against humanity;

General considerations

1.  Expresses its deep concern that human rights and democratic values, such as freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of assembly and association, are increasingly under threat in many parts of the world, including under authoritarian regimes; also expresses its deep concern that the public space for civil society is shrinking and a growing number of human rights defenders are under attack worldwide;

2.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to enhance their efforts to effectively place human rights and democratic values at the heart of their relations with the wider world, as they committed to so doing in the TEU; notes that the EU should use appropriate measures when dealing with serious human rights breaches in third countries, in particular in the case of authoritarian regimes, including through trade, energy or security relations;

3.  Reiterates the crucial importance of ensuring increased coherence between the EU’s internal and external policies with regard to respect for human rights and democratic values; emphasises in this context that, while this report deals with the EU’s external policies for advancing human rights, Parliament also adopts an annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union, drawn up by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; equally stresses the importance of greater consistency, of coherence, and of avoiding double standards in the EU’s external policies and all its instruments;

4.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to effectively address internal human rights challenges, such as the situation of Roma, the treatment of refugees and migrants, discrimination against LGBTI persons, racism, violence against women, detention conditions and media freedom in the Member States, in order to maintain credibility and consistency in its external human rights policy;

5.  Insists on the importance of ensuring coherence of EU policy towards situations of occupation or annexation of territory; recalls that international humanitarian law should guide EU policy towards all such situations;

6.  Expresses its firm opposition to the annexation, occupation and settlement of territories, and insists on the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination;

7.  Considers that, in order to live up to their commitment to advancing human rights and democracy in the world, the EU and its Member States need to speak with a consistent, single voice and ensure that their message is heard;

8.  Emphasises, moreover, the importance of enhanced cooperation between the Commission, the Council, the EEAS, Parliament and the EU Delegations with a view to improving the overall coherence of the EU’s policy on human rights and democracy and its centrality among all EU policies with an external dimension, particularly in fields relating to development, security, employment, migration, trade and technology;

9.  Calls the EU to improve and systematise the full extent of the human rights impact of its own policies, and ensure these analyses serve to reframe its policies in consequence; calls for the EU to develop more efficient mechanisms to maximise the positive human rights impacts of its policies, prevent and mitigate the negative ones and reinforce access to remedies for affected populations;

10.  Draws attention to its long-term commitment to promoting human rights and advancing democratic values, as reflected, inter alia, in the annual award of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in the work of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and in the monthly plenary debates and resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

11.  Expresses its deep concern at the deliberate and systematic destruction and looting of valuable archaeological sites which form part of the world heritage carried out with the aim of destabilising populations and undermining their cultural identity by terrorist organisations and warring groups which finance their violent activities by means of illegal trade in stolen artworks; calls, therefore, on the Commission, in cooperation with the UN and UNESCO, to combat illegal trading in art treasures from war zones and to devise initiatives to protect the cultural heritage in such zones; calls on the Commission to classify the deliberate destruction of the collective human heritage as a crime against humanity and to take legal action against it accordingly;

EU policy instruments for advancing human rights and democracy worldwide

EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World

12.  Welcomes the adoption of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014; considers that the Annual Report is an indispensable tool for scrutiny, communication and debate regarding the EU’s policy on human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the world; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to ensure comprehensive follow-up to the issues raised in the Annual Report, including specific proposals tailored to resolving these problems, as well as greater coherence of the various reports on the EU’s external human rights and democracy policy;

13.  Reiterates its invitation to the VP/HR to debate with the Members of the European Parliament in two plenary sessions per year, one at the time the EU Annual Report is presented, and the other in response to Parliament’s report; underlines that written answers from the Commission and the EEAS to Parliament’s resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy play an important role in interinstitutional relations, as they allow for a systematic and in-depth follow-up to all the points raised by Parliament;

14.  Commends the EEAS and the Commission for their exhaustive reporting on the activities undertaken by the EU in the area of human rights and democracy in 2014; considers nevertheless that the current format of the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy could be improved by offering a better overview of the concrete impact of the EU’s actions on human rights and democracy in third countries, and of progress made, as well as a more reader-friendly format; calls, furthermore, for reporting on steps taken in response to resolutions of Parliament on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

15.  Recommends in this respect that the EEAS adopt a more analytical approach in the drafting of the Annual Report, while continuing to report on the implementation of the EU Strategic Framework and the Action Plan; considers that the Annual Report should not only underline the EU’s achievements and best practices in the field, but also indicate what challenges and limitations the EU encounters in its efforts to promote human rights and democracy in third countries, and what lessons can be drawn for concrete action in the years ahead;

16.  Maintains its view that the country reports presented in the Annual Report should be less descriptive and less static, and should instead better reflect the implementation of the human rights country strategies and give an overview of the impact of the EU’s action on the ground;

EU Strategic Framework and the (new) Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy

17.  Reiterates its view that the adoption of the EU Strategic Framework and of the first Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy in 2012 constituted a major milestone for the EU in integrating human rights and democracy without exception in its relations with the wider world;

18.  Welcomes the adoption by the Council in July 2015 of a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2015-2019; commends the EEAS for consulting the Commission, Parliament, the Member States, civil society and regional and international organisations during the evaluation of the first Action Plan and the drafting of the new one;

19.  Welcomes the EU’s renewed commitment to promoting and protecting human rights and supporting democracy worldwide; notes that the Action Plan aims to allow the EU to take a more focused, systematic and coordinated approach in the area of human rights and democracy, as well as to reinforce the impact of its policies and tools on the ground; supports, in this regard, the prioritisation of five strategic areas of action;

20.  Calls on the VP/HR, the EEAS, the Commission, the Council and the Member States to ensure an efficient and coherent implementation of the new Action Plan; draws attention, in particular, to the importance of increasing the effectiveness and maximising the local impact of the tools used by the EU to promote respect for human rights and democracy in the world; highlights the need to ensure a rapid and appropriate response to human rights infringements; reiterates the importance of intensifying efforts to mainstream human rights and democracy in all EU external action, including at a high political level;

21.  Stresses that in order to fulfil the ambitious objectives set out in the new Action Plan, the EU must set aside sufficient resources and expertise, both in terms of dedicated human resources in Delegations and in Headquarters and in terms of funds available for projects;

22.  Reiterates its view that a solid consensus and enhanced coordination between Member States and the EU institutions is needed in order to coherently and consistently advance the human rights and democracy agenda; recalls that the Action Plan concerns both the EU and the Member States; firmly stresses, therefore, that Member States should, without exception, take on greater ownership of the implementation of the Action Plan and of the EU Strategic Framework and use them as their own blueprint in promoting human rights and democracy bilaterally and multilaterally; takes positive note of the foreseen interim evaluation of the new Action Plan, and highlights the importance of inclusive consultations in order to consistently reflect the results achieved in human rights mainstreaming;

23.  Urges the Foreign Affairs Council, in this respect, to regularly discuss democracy and human rights topics; reiterates its call on the Foreign Affairs Council to hold an annual public debate on EU action in the area of human rights and democracy;

24.  Commends the EEAS and the Commission on their reporting on the implementation of the first Action Plan, and expects such reporting to continue in the framework of the new Action Plan; recalls, moreover, its determination to be closely associated with and consulted on the implementation of the new Action Plan;

25.  Calls on the VP/HR, in coordination with all the other Commissioners, to draft a programme that mainstreams human rights in various EU activities, particularly in the areas of development, migration, environment, employment, internet data protection, trade, investment, technology and business;

Overview of other EU policy instruments

Mandate of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights

26.  Recalls the importance of the mandate of the EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Human Rights in enhancing the EU’s visibility and effectiveness in protecting and promoting human rights and democratic principles around the world; commends the current mandate holder for his significant achievements and for engaging in regular exchanges with Parliament and with civil society;

27.  Welcomes the extension of the EUSR’s mandate until February 2017, and reiterates its request for this mandate to be turned into a permanent one; calls, therefore, for the revision of the mandate, so as to grant the EUSR own-initiative powers, adequate staff and financial resources, and the ability to speak publicly, to report on achievements of visits in third countries and to communicate the EU’s position on human rights issues, in order to reinforce the EUSR’s role by improving its visibility and effectiveness;

28.  Reiterates its call for the Council to stipulate in the mandate of the geographical EUSRs the requirement to collaborate closely with the EUSR on Human Rights;

Human rights country strategies and the role of the EU Delegations

29.  Notes that 132 human rights country strategies (HRCSs) have been endorsed by the Political and Security Committee, following concerted efforts by the EU Delegations, EU institutions and Member States; reiterates its support for the objective of the HRCSs, which is to tailor the EU’s action in each country to its specific situation and needs; points to the need to continuously assess the HRCSs and adjust them if necessary, and calls for further improvement in cooperation, communication and exchange of information between EU Delegations, Member States’ embassies and EU institutions in drawing up and implementing the HRCSs;

30.  Reiterates its call for the Members of the European Parliament to have access to the content of the strategies in a proper format, so as to fulfil their duties properly and transparently; recommends that the EEAS and the Commission communicate externally the objective of each strategy in order to enhance the transparency of HRCSs; insists that the EEAS include clear and measurable progress indicators for each individual strategy;

31.  Strongly underlines the importance of taking into account the HRCSs at all levels of policymaking vis-à-vis individual third countries, including during the preparation of high-level political dialogues, human rights dialogues, country strategy papers and annual action programmes;

32.  Welcomes the designation of human rights and/or gender focal points by all Delegations and by the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions; notes, however, that the information publicly available online is in many instances out of date, and calls, therefore, for its swift revision;

33.  Recalls its recommendation to the VP/HR and the EEAS to develop clear operational guidelines as to the role of focal points in Delegations, in order to empower them to act as true human rights advisors and enable them to efficiently carry out their work with coherence and inclusiveness, so as to optimise the work of the Delegations; believes that the work of the human rights focal points should be equally supported by Member States’ diplomatic staff; takes the view that the work of the human rights focal points should be fully independent and free of political interference and harassment from national authorities of third countries, especially in their contacts with human rights activists and civil society;

Human rights dialogues and consultations

34.  Acknowledges that human rights dialogues with third countries can be an efficient tool for bilateral engagement and cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights, provided they do not constitute an end in itself but a means to secure specific commitments and achievements from the counterparts; welcomes and encourages, therefore, the establishment of human rights dialogues with a growing number of countries, such as Myanmar/Burma; takes positive note in this context, for example, of the sixth round of the EU-Moldova human rights dialogue;

35.  Urges the VP/HR and the EEAS to conduct their human rights dialogues and the corresponding civil society seminars with a clear, results-oriented focus mirroring the HRCSs; urges the EEAS to consistently include a preparatory dialogue with civil society organisations, which should automatically feed into the dialogue proper; further insists that the VP/HR, the EUSR on Human Rights and the EEAS systematically raise individual cases of human rights defenders at risk or in jail, of political prisoners, and of human rights infringements in an accountable and transparent manner during human rights dialogues; considers it essential that the EEAS systematically ensure that all the commitments made during each of the human rights dialogues are honoured;

36.  Reiterates its call on the EEAS to develop a comprehensive mechanism for monitoring and reviewing the functioning of human rights dialogues, in cooperation with civil society and human rights organisations, with a view to improving their impact; believes that if such dialogues persistently fail political conclusions should be drawn and alternative tools for supporting the advancement of human rights in the country concerned should be used; notes, in this respect, that the human rights dialogue with Russia was suspended in 2014, and also notes the lack of results from the human rights dialogues with China and Belarus; urges, therefore, that the EEAS profoundly rethink its human rights strategy vis-à-vis Russia and China;

37.  Calls for the EU and its delegations to increase their political dialogue with governments in breach of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, together with civil society, and insists that the political dialogue on human rights between the EU and third countries must include a more inclusive and comprehensive definition of non-discrimination, inter alia with regard to LGBTI people, religion or belief, sex, racial or ethnic origin, age, disability and sexual orientation; underlines that, particularly in countries which have poor records on both development and respect for human rights, development aid should be maintained and even strengthened, but should preferably be channelled through civil society organisations and non-governmental local partners, and should be systematically monitored and accompanied by governmental commitments to improve the human rights situation on the ground;

38.  Acknowledges the importance of additional measures against individuals (targeted sanctions such as freezing of assets or travel bans) in dealing with authoritarian regimes should dialogues persistently fail;

EU Human Rights Guidelines

39.  Welcomes the Council’s adoption in May 2014 of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline; recalls, however, its request to the EEAS to clarify the selection process for the topics covered by the EU Guidelines and also to consult Parliament and civil society on this matter prior to selecting the topics;

40.  Reiterates its call on the VP/HR and the EEAS to effectively and consistently implement the EU Guidelines on International Humanitarian Law (IHL)(37), including in relation to conflicts and humanitarian crises in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine; recommends, in this context, that the EEAS support civil society organisations that promote respect for IHL by state and non-state actors; urges, moreover, that the EU actively use all instruments at its disposal to enhance compliance of state and non-state actors with IHL; calls for the EU and its Member States to contribute to the ongoing Switzerland/International Committee of the Red Cross initiative on strengthening compliance with IHL;

41.  Underlines strongly the importance of systematically assessing the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights, including the implementation of the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child, by using well-defined benchmarks; considers that, in order to ensure proper implementation of the Guidelines, further measures aimed at raising awareness of their content among EEAS and EU Delegation staff and Member State representations abroad must be taken; reiterates its call for civil society and human rights organisations to be more actively involved in the selection, development, evaluation and review of the Guidelines;

Human rights and democracy in EU external policies and instruments

42.  Recalls that the EU has committed itself to placing human rights and democracy at the centre of its relations with third countries; stresses, therefore, that the advancement of human rights and democratic principles needs to be supported through all EU policies and appropriate financial instruments which have an external dimension, such as enlargement and neighbourhood policy, the Common Security and Defence Policy, and development, trade, migration and justice and home affairs policies; highlights in this context the EU’s recent efforts to include human rights infringements in its early warning matrix linked to crisis prevention;

43.  Underlines the EU’s treaty-based obligation to ensure that all its external policies and activities are designed and implemented in a manner which consolidates and supports human rights and the rule of law;

44.  Considers the EU’s external financial instruments an important tool for promoting and defending the values of democracy and human rights abroad; reiterates its calls for improvements in the coherence of different thematic and geographical instruments;

45.  Notes the Commission’s efforts to fulfil its commitment to including human rights provisions in its impact assessments for legislative and non-legislative proposals, implementing measures and trade agreements; urges the Commission to improve the quality, comprehensiveness and follow-up of the impact assessments, so as to ensure the systematic incorporation of human rights issues; highlights the role which civil society could play in this process;

Enlargement and neighbourhood policy

46.  Recalls that EU enlargement policy is one of the strongest tools for reinforcing respect for human rights and democratic principles; notes that the enlargement process will be pursued despite the fact that no enlargement can take place until 2019 because of the state of negotiations and the situation in the countries concerned, and welcomes the implementation of the new approach in accession negotiations to the chapters covering the judiciary and fundamental rights and justice, freedom, and security, which duly takes into account the time needed for the reforms concerned to be properly implemented;

47.  Expresses its concern at the deterioration of freedom of expression and media in certain enlargement countries and in a number of countries of the European neighbourhood; emphasises the urgent need to improve the independence and transparency of ownership of the media in those countries and to address the political and economic pressures on journalists, which often lead to censorship and self-censorship; calls on the Commission to continue monitoring and prioritising respect for freedom of expression and of the media in the accession negotiation process;

48.  Deplores the fact that the proper implementation of legal frameworks for the protection of minorities remains a challenge, as stated in the Commission’s Enlargement Strategy for 2014-2015(38); invites the enlargement countries to step up their efforts to forge a culture of acceptance of minorities by improving their involvement in decision-making processes and their enhanced inclusion in the education system, with a special focus on Roma children; urges the EU to follow closely the implementation of provisions protecting human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities and the fight against all forms of discrimination, including hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation, throughout the enlargement process;

49.  Notes with concern the deterioration of democratic political cultures in some candidate and potential candidate countries and in a number of European neighbourhood countries; recalls that good governance, respect for the rule of law, freedom of opinion and human rights, political dialogue, achievement of compromise and inclusiveness of all stakeholders in the decision-making process are at the heart of democratic regimes; notes with equal concern the weak progress made by enlargement countries in improving the independence of the judiciary and fighting corruption; joins the Commission in urging the enlargement countries to build up credible track records of investigations, prosecutions and final convictions;

50.  Recalls, in the context of the ongoing review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, that the TEU stipulates that the EU shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries founded on the values of the EU, which include respect for human rights and democracy(39); also recalls that, following the 2011 Arab Spring, the EU has redefined its policy towards the neighbourhood on the basis of the principle of ‘more for more’, meant to reinforce democratic institutions and the advancement of human rights; underlines the fact that with the significant challenges the EU’s neighbourhood has faced in the last few years, such as the spreading of instability and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, with extremists and jihadist groups exploiting those situations, as well as the human suffering caused by Russia’s actions, respect for human rights and democratic principles has been significantly affected;

51.  Expresses, therefore, its conviction that the revised European Neighbourhood Policy should continue to have the promotion of human rights and democratic principles at its core; reiterates that the promotion of human rights and democracy are at the same time in the interest of both partner countries and the EU;

52.  Stresses that the EU should continue to actively support democratic and effective human rights institutions, civil society and free media in the neighbouring countries; positively notes in this context the continued substantial support under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Civil Society Facility; welcomes equally the consistent and efficient engagement of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) in the eastern and southern neighbourhood in favour of the promotion of democracy and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, as stated in Parliament’s first evaluation report on the EED(40); strongly encourages the EU and the Member States to continue offering strong incentives and know-how from their own transition processes to support democratic reform processes in the EU’s neighbourhood;

53.  Maintains that it is absolutely essential to end the Russian aggression in Ukraine and ensure stability and respect for human rights;

Human rights through trade

54.  Reiterates its support for the systematic introduction of human rights clauses in all international agreements between the EU and third countries, taking into account, inter alia, the European social dialogue and ILO labour standards; calls on the Commission to effectively and systematically monitor and assess the implementation of the human rights clauses and to report regularly to Parliament on partner countries’ respect for human rights; welcomes the more systematic use by the Council of restrictive measures towards third countries which are deliberately violating human rights; in this regard recommends that, whenever a gross breach of human rights occurs in a third country with which an agreement has been concluded, the EU take concrete steps in carrying out the appropriate measures as stipulated in the human rights clauses;

55.  Welcomes the entry into force of the new Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) (Regulation (EU) No 978/2012) on 1 January 2014; positively notes that 14 countries had been granted GSP+ preferences by the end of 2014, and recalls that countries are required to maintain the ratification of the 27 core international conventions, as well as to monitor their effective implementation, in line with the criteria stipulated by those conventions as well as by the EU; looks forward to the Commission assessing matters in a genuine and transparent manner and reporting back to Parliament and the Council on the status of ratification and the effective implementation of the conventions by the beneficiaries of the GSP+ preferences by the end of 2015; reiterates its recommendation that the Rome Statute be added to a future list of conventions;

Business and human rights

56.  Considers that trade and human rights can go hand in hand and that the business community has an important role to play in promoting human rights and democracy; believes that the promotion of human rights should be built on cooperation between government and private sector; reaffirms in this context that European companies should undertake adequate measures to ensure that their operations in third countries respect human rights standards; reaffirms, moreover, the importance for the EU to promote corporate social responsibility and for European enterprises to play a leading role in promoting international standards on business and human rights; calls, moreover, for the EU to take an active role in the 12th session of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and to support efforts to align their policies with the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises; recommends that the EU and its Member States engage in the debate regarding a legally binding international instrument on business and human rights within the UN system;

57.  Believes, in view of the above, that the EEAS should require that EU Delegations engage with EU companies operating in third countries in order to ensure respect for human rights in their business-related activities; recalls, furthermore, its request that EU Delegations include respect for human rights in business operations as a priority in local calls for proposals under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), and that EU delegations take all necessary action to protect human rights defenders, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders;

58.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to report on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights(41) by the EU Member States, by the end of 2015;

59.  Calls for concerted EU action to address the problem of land-grabbing through the promotion of adequate safeguards, in order to prevent this phenomenon in the countries concerned and among EU and other European companies present in those countries;

60.  Calls for the EU to develop a pilot project on the indivisibility of human rights, land issues (land-grabbing and forced evictions) and the coherence of EU policies in that regard; calls for the EU to report on its consideration of accession to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in line with the commitment made in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019;

Human rights and development

61.  Considers that development cooperation and the promotion of human rights and democratic principles should go hand in hand; recalls in this context that the UN has stated that in the absence of a human rights-based approach development goals cannot be fully achieved; also recalls that the EU has committed itself to supporting partner countries, taking into account their development situation and their progress as regards human rights and democracy; encourages the inclusion of clearly defined results frameworks in all instruments in order to ensure the inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups, as well as to mainstream a human rights-based approach;

62.  Welcomes the Commission’s staff working document on a rights-based approach (RBA), encompassing all human rights, including women’s and girls’ rights, for EU development cooperation, published in April 2014 and welcomed by the Council; encourages the Commission to monitor the implementation of the RBA and to ensure that human rights and development cooperation are mutually reinforcing on the ground; calls on the Commission to provide transparent and public assessment of the implementation of the RBA EU toolbox; urges that the EU reinforce its role as a strong promoter of human rights in the world, by the effective, consistent and considered use of all available instruments for the promotion and protection of human rights and their defenders and the effectiveness of our development aid policy, in line with the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16;

63.  Welcomes the adoption of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the special UN summit in New York, as well as the leading role played by the EU in this process, and in particular regarding the inclusion of fundamental EU values such as human rights and good governance; positively notes that the new agenda is clearly anchored in human rights commitments and that its 17 goals and 169 targets seek to realise human rights for all; shares the vision underpinning this document of a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination, as well as of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity and of equal opportunity, permitting the full realisation of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity; stresses the need to ensure that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its monitoring measures and its future implementation by all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, are underpinned by human rights- and gender equality-based approaches, as well as by the goals of eradication of poverty, reduction of inequalities and social exclusion and democratisation of the economy;

64.  Underlines the importance of policy coherence for development (PCD) in achieving the new sustainable development agenda; points out that the human rights-based approach should lead to a deepened understanding of PCD, since without addressing the obstacles to the realisation of rights there can be no progress towards sustainable development and the eradication of poverty;

65.  Reaffirms the urgent need to address the global burden of poverty-related and neglected diseases; calls for an ambitious long-term political strategy and plan of action on global health, innovation and access to medicines that includes, inter alia, investment in research and development, so as to safeguard the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of every human being, without discrimination on grounds of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, gender identity or sexual orientation;

66.  Insists that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda means a commitment to deliver a universal social protection floor, universal health coverage and essential public services for all, including health and education;

67.  Takes positive note of the counter-terrorism guidance document drafted by the EEAS and the Commission and endorsed by the Council with the aim of ensuring respect for human rights in the planning and implementation of counter-terrorism assistance projects with third countries; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to ensure effective implementation of the document, starting with its wide dissemination; recalls, in this context, that respect for fundamental rights and freedoms is the foundation of successful counter-terrorism policies, including the use of digital surveillance technologies; supports the international efforts to stop the human rights violations being perpetrated by ISIS/Da’esh;

Rights of indigenous peoples

68.  Calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to support the review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in line with the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (UN General Assembly Resolution 69/2(42)), with a view to monitoring, evaluating and improving the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; urges the Member States to request that all Special Procedure mandate holders pay special attention to issues affecting indigenous women and girls, and systematically report such issues to the UNHRC; urges the EEAS and the Member States to actively support the development of the system-wide action plan on indigenous peoples, as requested by the UN General Assembly in its September 2014 resolution, especially as regards the organisation of regular consultation of indigenous peoples as part of that process; deeply regrets that in some areas of West Africa individuals affected by mental disorders are chained to trees in the forests or abandoned in the streets, these being widespread practices approved by local communities;

EU action on migration and refugees

69.  Expresses its deep concern and solidarity with regard to the large number of refugees and migrants who suffer grave human rights violations as the victims of conflicts, persecution, governance failures, and networks of illegal immigration, trafficking, smuggling, extremist groups and criminal gangs; also expresses its deep regret at the tragic loss of lives among people trying to reach the EU’s borders;

70.  Stresses the urgent need to tackle the root causes of migration flows and, therefore, to address the external dimension of the refugee crisis, including by finding sustainable solutions to conflicts in our neighbourhood, through building cooperation and partnerships with the third countries concerned and through EU external policies; underlines the need for a comprehensive human rights-based approach to migration, and calls on the EU to reinforce its collaboration with the UN, including its agencies, as well as with regional organisations, governments and NGOs, in order to address the root causes of migration flows and improve the situation in refugee camps located near conflict areas; reiterates its call on the EU to ensure that all migration cooperation and readmission agreements with non-EU states comply with international law; recalls that a global strategy on migration is closely linked with development and humanitarian policies, including setting up humanitarian corridors and delivering humanitarian visas, as well as other external policies; takes note of the operation of the European Union Naval Force – Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) against smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean; also stresses the urgent need to develop stronger policies at Union level in order to deal with the pressing issues related to migrants and refugees and find an effective, fair and sustainable mechanism for burden-sharing among Member States; highlights the measures proposed by the Commission on 9 September 2015 to address the refugee crisis, such as the foreseen revision of the Dublin regulation;

71.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to increase their support for the fight against trafficking of human beings through external policies, with a particular focus on the protection of victims and especially minors; strongly considers that the EU should strengthen cooperation with third countries and other relevant actors in order to exchange good practices and contribute to the dismantling of international trafficking networks; reiterates the need for all EU Member States to implement the EU directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims(43) and the Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016(44);

72.  Points out that 17,5 million people were displaced in 2014 as a result of climate-related disasters; points out that these displacements chiefly affect regions in the South, which are those most exposed to climate change impacts; points out that 85 % of these displacements occur in developing countries, primarily within one country or within parts of countries; points out that under the Millennium Development Goals the EU Member States have committed themselves to earmarking 0,7 % of GDP for development aid financing;

73.  Requests the EU to participate actively in the debate on the term ‘climate refugee’, including its possible legal definition in international law or in any legally binding international agreements;

74.  Reiterates its call for an EU common position on the use of armed drones which upholds human rights and international humanitarian law and should address issues such as legal framework, proportionality, accountability, protection of civilians and transparency; urges once again that the EU ban the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention; calls for the EU to oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial and targeted killings and to commit to ensuring appropriate measures, in accordance with domestic and international legal obligations, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an individual or entity within its jurisdiction may be connected to unlawful targeted killings abroad;

International cultural and sports events and human rights

75.  Is seriously concerned that some major sports events are being hosted by authoritarian states where human rights and fundamental freedoms violations occur; emphasises the need for awareness-raising campaigns among the general public concerning the need to ensure human rights provisions in regard to sports events, including the problem of forced prostitution and trafficking in human beings; calls for the EU and its Member States to engage with the UNHCR and other multilateral forums, as well as with national sports federations, corporate actors and civil society organisations to ensure full compliance with human rights in such events, including by being one of the determining awarding criteria for major international sports events; in this regard, pays particular attention to the upcoming FIFA World Cups in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, and the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022;

EU action in multilateral organisations

76.  Reiterates its full support for the EU’s strong engagement in promoting the advancement of human rights and democratic principles through cooperation with the structures of the UN and its specialised agencies, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the OECD, in line with Articles 21 and 220 TEU; welcomes, therefore, the adoption of the SDGs;

77.  Reiterates, furthermore, the importance of the EU actively and consistently engaging in all UN human rights mechanisms, in particular the Third Committee of the UNGA and the UNHRC; acknowledges the efforts of the EEAS, the EU Delegations in New York and Geneva and the Member States to increase EU coherence on human rights issues at UN level; encourages the EU to increase its efforts to make its voice heard, including by intensifying the growing practice of cross-regional initiatives and by co-sponsoring and taking the lead on resolutions;

78.  Calls for the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara, including freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to assembly, to be respected; demands the release of all Sahrawi political prisoners; demands access to the territories of Western Sahara for members of parliament, independent observers, NGOs and the press; urges the United Nations to provide MINURSO with a human rights mandate, in line with all other UN peacekeeping missions around the world; supports a fair and lasting settlement of the Western Sahara conflict, on the basis of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions;

79.  Recalls the importance of keeping the institutionalised practice of sending a parliamentary delegation to the UNGA; welcomes the renewal of the practice in 2015, at the 28th session of the UNHRC;

80.  Emphasises that in order to strengthen the credibility and legitimacy of the UNHRC, all its members must uphold the highest human rights standards and fulfil their human rights commitments; considers that human rights must be promoted, developed and consolidated in all international forums; calls on the Commission to publicly report on the activities and actions it is carrying out to advance the human rights agenda and to reinforce the human rights accountability and liability of international organisations such as the WTO and the World Bank (BIRD, IFC, MIGA);

81.  Reaffirms its strong commitment to ending impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community and to providing justice for the victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and reiterates therefore its strong support for the International Criminal Court (ICC); considers it regrettable that no state ratified the Rome Statute in 2014; emphasises the responsibility to put an end to impunity and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including those related to sexual violence; expresses serious concern that several arrest warrants have still not been executed; urges that the EU continue its strong diplomatic and political support for strengthening and expanding the relationship between the ICC and the UN, in particular in the UN Security Council, as well as in its bilateral relations and all other forums; calls for the EU, including its Delegations, as well as the Member States, to increase their efforts in promoting the universality of the Rome Statute and its ratification and effective implementation; calls on the Member States to provide the ICC with the resources needed, and to enhance their support for the international criminal justice system via, inter alia, financial support to civil society actors through, for example, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR); calls for the implementation of the 2013 EU toolkit on complementarity between international and national justice;

82.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to actively promote the ICC and the need for the enforcement of its decisions in all type of dialogues with third countries;

Enhancing respect for human rights in the world

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief

83.  Recalls that freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief is a fundamental human right, as recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as guaranteed by Article 18 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; equally, recalls its interrelatedness with other human rights and fundamental freedoms encompassing the right to believe or not to believe, the freedom to practise theistic, non-theistic or atheistic belief alike, and the right to adopt, change and abandon or return to a belief of one’s choice; expresses its concern that some countries still fail to abide by UN standards and use state repression, which may include physical punishment, prison terms, exorbitant fines and even the death penalty in violation of freedom of religion or belief; is concerned at the increased persecution of religious or belief minorities, including Christian communities, as well as unlawful damage to their places of assembly;

84.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to step up their efforts to contribute to the eradication of all form of religious discrimination and to promote inter-religious dialogue when engaging with third countries; requests concrete actions to protect religious minorities, nonbelievers, apostates and atheists who are victims of blasphemy laws, and calls on the EU and its Member States to engage in repealing such laws; welcomes the EU’s commitment to promote freedom of religion or belief in international forums, including by supporting the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; fully supports the EU practice of taking the lead on thematic resolutions at the UNHRC and the UNGA on this topic; requests concrete action and measures for the effective implementation and improvement of the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief; considers that action should be taken both in international and regional forums by maintaining an open, transparent and regular dialogue with religious associations and communities, pursuant to Article 17 TFEU, including through EU Delegations; equally draws attention to the need to ensure systematic and consistent training of EU staff, at headquarters and in delegations;

EU action against the death penalty

85.  Welcomes the Joint Declaration by the VP/HR and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe(45) of October 2014, which reaffirmed their strong and absolute opposition to capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances; maintains its view that the worldwide abolition of the death penalty should be one of the EU’s central objectives as regards human rights; notes that support for third countries for drug enforcement policy should aim at the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences; requests the EU and the Member States, in the context of the Sixth World Congress against the Death Penalty to be held in Oslo, Norway, in June 2016, to speak out unambiguously against the death penalty, to intensify commitments for the abolition of the death penalty and to support public awareness campaigns on this topic;

86.  Expresses its concern at the growing number of death sentences and executions worldwide; deeply regrets that some third countries still have capital punishment in their legislations; considers it regrettable that Belarus has resumed executions after a two-year pause; reiterates, therefore, its call on Belarus to implement a moratorium on the death penalty, which should ultimately lead to its abolition; notes that eight states legislate the death penalty for homosexuality;

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

88.  Calls for the EU to continue engaging with retentionist countries, making use of all diplomatic and cooperation tools in order to secure the abolition of the death penalty; reiterates, moreover, its call for the EU to continue monitoring the conditions under which executions are carried out in the countries that still use the death penalty;

Fight against torture and ill-treatment

89.  Considers that, following the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention against Torture and given that torture and ill-treatment continue worldwide, the EU should intensify its efforts to eradicate these serious human rights violations; stresses the fact that members of vulnerable groups, such as children and women or ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities, who are exposed to torture or ill-treatment in detention, require special attention; urges, therefore, the EEAS and the VP/HR to engage more strongly in the fight against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, through increased diplomatic undertakings and a more systematic public positioning, reflecting the values and principles the EU has committed itself to; recommends that the EEAS, the EU Delegations and the Member States make use to their full potential of all existing instruments, such as the EU Guidelines on Torture(46); recommends in this context the constant improvement of export control mechanisms for drugs that can be used for executions or torture, including a targeted end-use clause that would suspend or halt the transfer of security-related items that clearly have no practical use other than for the purposes of capital punishment or torture;

90.  Underlines that there are countries which have failed to take steps to address the urgent need for fully resourced plans to tackle prison conditions; notices that very little progress has been made in ensuring that prison facilities comply with international human rights standards and that prisoners’ rights to life, physical integrity and dignity are protected; emphasises the need to improve conditions of detention in order to respect human rights and that incarcerated persons should not be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

Discrimination

91.  Stresses that under no circumstances whatever can discrimination of any kind, violence, punishment by way of reprisal, torture, sexual abuse of women and girls, genital mutilation, child marriage, forced marriage, trafficking in women, discrimination or social exclusion on grounds of social class or origin, or domestic violence be justified on grounds of social, religious or cultural convictions or traditions;

92.  Condemns in the strongest terms all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, culture, religion or belief, social origin, caste, birth, age, disability or any other status; urges that the EU intensify its efforts to eradicate all types of discrimination, racism and xenophobia through human rights and political dialogues, the work of the EU Delegations and public diplomacy; further urges that the EU continue to promote the ratification and full implementation of all UN conventions that support this cause, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

LGBTI rights

93.  Considers that the EU should continue its efforts to enhance respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people, in line with the EU Guidelines on the topic(47); recommends the implementation of the Guidelines, including through training of EU staff in third countries; regrets that 75 countries still criminalise homosexuality, including 8 which provide for the death penalty, and believes that practices and acts of violence against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation should not go unpunished; supports the continuing work of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to combat these discriminatory laws, as well as the work of other UN bodies; is concerned over restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI human rights defenders, and calls for the EU to increase its support for them; notes that the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons are more likely to be respected if they have access to legal institutions, possibly through registered partnership or marriage;

94.  Emphasises that minority communities in third countries have specific needs and that their full equality should be promoted in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life;

Caste-based discrimination

95.  Notes with great concern the scale and consequences of caste-based discrimination and the perpetuation of caste-based human rights violations, including the denial of access to the legal system or employment, continued segregation, poverty, and stigmatisation; calls for the adoption of an EU instrument for the prevention and elimination of caste-based discrimination; recommends the mainstreaming of the topic in the EEAS and Commission guidelines and action plans, in particular in the EU fight against all forms of discrimination, and in efforts to combat violence against women and girls and all forms of discrimination against them;

Rights of persons with disabilities

96.  Welcomes the ratifications of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; reiterates the importance of efficient implementation by both the Member States and the EU institutions; stresses, in particular, the need to credibly mainstream the principle of universal accessibility and all rights of persons with disabilities throughout all relevant EU policies, including in the area of development cooperation, and underlines the prescriptive and horizontal nature of this issue;

97.  Encourages the VP/HR to continue to support the process of ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by those countries which have not ratified or implemented it as yet;

98.  Stresses that the international community has identified the situation of women with disabilities as a priority; recalls the conclusions of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which stated that policies and programmes to address violence against women and girls with disabilities should be developed in close partnership with those persons who have disabilities, recognising their autonomy, and with disability organisations; underlines the need for regular oversight of institutions and appropriate training for caregivers; calls on the EU to incorporate the fight against disability discrimination into its external action, cooperation and development aid policies, including the EIDHR;

Rights of women and girls

99.  Recalls that the 2014 Sakharov Prize was awarded to Dr Denis Mukwege for his strong engagement with victims of sexual violence and continuous promotion of women’s rights, which raised awareness of the use of violence and sexual mutilation of women, girls and children as means of war; strongly condemns all forms of abuse and violence against women, girls and children, especially the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, as well as female genital mutilation, child, early and forced marriage, sexual slavery, marital rape, and other forms of harmful traditional practices; stresses the need for women, girls and children abused in conflicts to have access to health and psychological care, in line with international law; takes note in this context of the VP/HR letter regarding humanitarian aid policy, in particular preventing sexual violence and providing women with appropriate support and access to health and psychological care in case of rape in conflict situations; calls on the Council of Europe member states to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence;

100.  Stresses the need for exchange of good practices on the part of the EEAS to combat the lack of access to justice for victims of crimes related to sexual violence; strongly condemns the lack of access to justice for women in third countries, and specifically when they are victims of gender-based violence; asks the Commission to take an active role in the prosecution of these crimes in third countries and, in some instances, by Member States; urges the Commission to work with the EEAS to improve the support available for victims, to incorporate gender-based violence interventions into EU humanitarian actions and to prioritise EU humanitarian actions targeting gender-based violence and sexual violence in conflict; welcomes the EU’s commitment to give a follow-up to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict held in London in June 2014, and therefore urges the Commission to take concrete action;

101.  Deplores the lack of prevention policies on gender-based violence, the lack of victim support and the high rate of impunity for offenders in a large number of countries; asks the EEAS to exchange good practices with third countries on law-making procedures and training programmes for police, judicial personnel and civil servants; urges the EU to support civil society organisations working to defend human rights and promote gender equality in third countries, and to cooperate closely with international organisations active in the gender equality field, such as the ILO, the OECD, the UN and the African Union, with a view to creating synergies and promoting women’s empowerment;

102.  Is deeply concerned about the rise in gender-based violence in many parts of the world and the increasing rates of feminicide in Latin America, which takes place in the context of generalised violence and structural discrimination; strongly condemns gender-based violence in all forms and the abhorrent crime of feminicide, as well as the prevailing impunity for these crimes, which may encourage yet more violence and killings;

103.  Expresses its deep concern about possible human rights violations affecting women and girls in refugee camps in the Middle East and Africa, including reported cases of sexual violence and unequal treatment of women and girls; asks the EEAS to push for stricter rules and good practices in third countries in order to put an end to inequality among refugees independently of gender;

104.  Deplores the fact that half the world’s population is faced with wage discrimination, and that globally women earn between 60 and 90 % of men’s average income;

105.  Invites the Commission, the EEAS and the VP/HR to continue promoting the political and economic empowerment of women and girls by mainstreaming gender equality in all their external policies and programmes, including through structured dialogues with third countries, by publicly raising gender-related issues and by ensuring sufficient resources for this purpose; takes positive note of the new framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for 2016-2020(48); underlines the need to focus on the horizontal pillar, which aims for the Commission and the EEAS to deliver more effectively on EU commitments to strengthening women and girls’ rights through external relations;

106.  Deplores the lack of gender equality in the political realm; recalls that women and men are equal and should enjoy the same political rights and civil liberties, and deplores likewise the fact that women are under-represented in economic, social and political decision-making; underlines the need for effective protection mechanisms for women human rights defenders; recommends that a quota system be introduced in order to provide a way of promoting women’s participation in political bodies and the democratic process, primarily as candidates;

107.  Calls for the EU to continue to support the economic, social and political empowerment of women as a tool for promoting the proper enjoyment of their rights and fundamental freedoms, and to attach the highest importance to access to quality education for girls, including those from the poorest and most marginalised communities; calls for support to be given to vocational education for women, for a greater take-up of vocational training to be ensured in the fields of science and technology, for gender equality training programmes to be devised for education professionals in third countries, and for steps to be taken to prevent stereotypes from being conveyed through educational materials; urges the EU to include this priority in all its diplomatic, trade and development cooperation activities;

108.  Stresses the need for continuity of education for girls in refugee camps, in conflict areas and in areas affected by extreme poverty and environmental extremes such as drought and floods;

109.  Encourages the EU to continue mainstreaming support for women and girls within CSDP operations and the UN peacebuilding architecture, and to pursue its efforts for the implementation and strengthening of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325(2000)(49) and 1820(2008)(50) on women, peace and security; in this regard, calls on the EU to support at international level the recognition of the added value of women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, as well as in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction and democratic transition processes leading to lasting and stable political solutions; underlines equally the importance of ensuring the full range of human rights for women and of contributing to their empowerment, including in the framework of the post-2015 agenda and through support for the Beijing Platform for Action and the Istanbul Convention; welcomes the EU’s support for UN resolutions on gender issues, especially with regard to the role of freedom of expression and opinion in women´s empowerment; takes positive note of the conclusions of the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women(51);

110.  Calls on the Commission to systematically include concrete actions to improve women’s participation in electoral processes in all EU election observation missions in line with the EU guidelines in that domain, taking into account the conclusions reached by the senior electoral expert seminar held in Brussels in April 2014 and learning from the experience of past missions;

111.  Welcomes the efforts made by the EEAS in third countries to step up the implementation of the obligations and commitments in the area of women’s rights arising from CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Cairo Declaration on Population and Development in the post-2015 development agenda;

112.  Stresses the importance of not undermining the ‘acquis’ of the Beijing Platform for Action regarding access to education and health as a basic human right, and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights; emphasises the fact that universal respect for sexual and reproductive health and rights and access to the relevant services contribute to reducing infant and maternal mortality; points out that family planning, maternal health, easy access to contraception and safe abortion are important elements in saving women’s lives and helping them rebuild their lives if they have been victims of rape; highlights the need to place these policies at the core of development cooperation with third countries;

113.  Regards underage marriages as fundamental human rights violations that affect all aspects of the lives of the girls involved, jeopardising their education and thus limiting their prospects, endangering their health and increasing the risks of them suffering violence and abuse;

114.  Notes with grave concern that since the 1980s the mail-order-bride industry has soared at an alarming rate; notes with concern that there are a number of documented cases of women being attacked and/or murdered after marrying a man as a ‘mail-order bride’; deplores the fact that a significant number of underage girls appear on ‘mail order’ websites, and stresses that where children are used for sexual purposes this must be considered child abuse;

115.  Condemns the practice of surrogacy, which undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity; considers that the practice of gestational surrogacy which involves reproductive exploitation and use of the human body for financial or other gain, in particular in the case of vulnerable women in developing countries, shall be prohibited and treated as a matter of urgency in human rights instruments;

Children’s rights

116.  Reaffirms the urgent need for universal ratification and effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child and its Optional Protocols; calls on all states to commit themselves to eliminating the worst forms of child labour as defined by Article 3 of ILO Convention No 182, which include child slavery, trafficking, prostitution, and hazardous work affecting a child’s physical and mental health;

117.  Welcomes the Council conclusions on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child(52), adopted in December 2014, and calls for the EU to continue supporting partner countries in combating all forms of violence against children, including sexual exploitation, and reinforcing their capacities to protect children’s rights; welcomes the global rollout in 2014 of the EU-UNICEF Child Rights toolkit(53); takes note of the statement of May 2014 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the rights of intersex children;

118.  Reiterates its request for the Commission to propose a comprehensive Child Rights Strategy and Action Plan for the next five years, in order to prioritise children’s rights within EU external policies, supporting the EU’s efforts to promote their rights, in particular by contributing to ensuring children’s access to water, sanitation, healthcare and education, by ensuring the rehabilitation and reintegration of children enlisted in armed groups, by eliminating child labour, torture, the issue of child witchcraft, trafficking, child marriage and sexual exploitation, and by assisting children in armed conflicts and ensuring their access to education in conflict zones and refugee camps; calls on the VP/HR to report annually to Parliament on the results achieved with regard to child-focused EU external actions; commends the ‘Children No Soldiers’ campaign, and calls for the EU and the Member States to step up their support in order to reach the target of ending the recruitment and use of children in conflicts by government armed forces by 2016;

119.  Welcomes the EU’s cooperation with UNICEF, which has resulted in a toolkit for the mainstreaming of children’s rights in development cooperation and in support for key MDGs and child protection programmes for realising children’s rights, especially in fragile contexts, as well as with UNRWA;

120.  Welcomes the EU’s active cooperation with several UN Special Rapporteurs (UNSRs) working on economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs), including the SR on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the SR on the right to education, the SR on the right to food, the SR on extreme poverty and human rights, and the SR on adequate housing; positively notes that the promotion of ESCRs has been reinforced in the EIDHR Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2017, which aims, inter alia, to contribute to the strengthening of trade unions, increased awareness of wage-related issues, the protection of land heritage, the promotion of social integration through economic empowerment, and a reduction in economic discrimination and workplace violence;

Strengthening democracy worldwide

121.  Emphasises the EU’s engagement in upholding and promoting respect for human rights and democratic values in its relations with the wider world; recalls that democratic regimes are characterised not only by free and fair electoral processes, but also by freedom of speech, the press and association, the rule of law and accountability, the independence of the judiciary, and impartial administration, among other aspects; stresses that democracy and human rights are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing, as recalled in the Council conclusions of 18 November 2009 on democracy support in the EU’s external relations; welcomes the fact that the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy pays enhanced attention to democracy support activities;

Defending freedom of expression and strengthening civil society

122.  Reiterates the fact that freedom of expression is a vital component of any democratic society, as it nourishes a culture of pluralism that empowers civil society and citizens to hold their governments and decision-makers accountable, and supports respect for the rule of law; urges the EU, therefore, to intensify its efforts to promote freedom of expression through its external policies and instruments;

123.  Reiterates its call for the EU and its Member States to enhance their monitoring of all types of restrictions on freedom of expression and the media in third countries, and to rapidly and systematically condemn such limitations even when imposed with legitimate aims such as counter-terrorism, state security or law enforcement; emphasises the importance of ensuring effective implementation of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline and of regularly monitoring their impact; recalls the EU’s goal of ensuring and protecting non-discriminatory access to information and freedom of expression for all individuals, both online and offline;

124.  Considers that by making information as accessible as possible information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide opportunities for the enhancement of human rights, democratic practices and for social and economic development; emphasises, moreover, the contribution of ICTs to the efforts of civil society movements, in particular in undemocratic regimes; expresses concern at the uses of ICTs by some authoritarian regimes which increasingly threaten human rights and democracy activists; highlights the need for increased support in the areas of promoting freedom of the media, protecting independent journalists and bloggers, reducing the digital divide and facilitating unrestricted access to information; calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to the human rights aspects of dual-use goods in the framework of the revision of the EU’s export control system;

EU support for human rights defenders

125.  Deplores the fact that civil society, including human rights defenders, is increasingly under assault all over the world; is deeply concerned that an increasing number of countries, such as Russia and some of the Central Asian countries, are passing harsh laws to stifle NGOs’ activities by restricting their access to foreign funding and introducing burdensome reporting requirements and severe penalties for non-compliance; recalls that the right to freedom of association and assembly is an essential characteristic of a democratic, open and tolerant society; calls for renewed efforts to challenge the restrictions and intimidation that people working for civil society organisations face worldwide, and for the EU to set an example in protecting and promoting the rights concerned;

126.  Positively notes that in the new Action Plan the VP/HR reiterates the EU’s commitment to empowering local actors and civil society organisations, and stresses that, given the significant shrinking of its space, civil society, including in particular human rights defenders, requires increased attention and efforts from the EU; urges that the EU and its Member States therefore elaborate a coherent and comprehensive response to the major challenges that civil society, including human rights defenders, faces worldwide;

127.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to constantly monitor and raise, at every level of political dialogue, cases of violations of freedom of assembly and association, including through various forms of bans and limitations on civil society organisations and their activities;

128.  Calls, in addition, for the EU and its Member States to use all available means to systematically raise individual cases of human rights defenders and civil society activists at risk, particularly regarding those currently imprisoned; encourages the EU Delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic staff to continue to actively support human rights defenders, by systematically monitoring trials, visiting detained activists, and issuing statements on individual cases, as well as addressing human rights violations with their relevant counterparts; insists that senior EU representatives, notably the VP/HR, Commissioners, EU Special Representatives and government officials from the Member States should systematically meet human rights defenders when travelling to countries where civil society is under pressure;

129.  Positively notes the EU’s assistance to human rights defenders and civil society around the world through EIDHR funding; emphasises the particular importance of using the EIDHR to protect those human rights defenders most at risk; stresses also that support for human rights defenders at risk should primarily take into account the effectiveness criteria and avoid overly prescriptive conditions; calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the EU Delegations to ensure that the funding available for human rights defenders is properly used;

Supporting electoral processes and enhancing the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and impartial administration in third countries

130.  Welcomes the eight Election Observation Missions (EOMs) and the eight Electoral Expert Missions (EEMs) deployed around the globe by the EU in 2014; reiterates its positive view of the EU’s continued support for electoral processes and its provision of electoral assistance and support for domestic observers;

131.  Recalls the importance of a proper follow-up to the reports and recommendations of the EOMs, as a way of enhancing their impact and strengthening the EU’s support for democratic standards in the countries concerned;

132.  Recommends that the EU step up its efforts to develop a more comprehensive approach to democratisation processes, of which free and fair elections are only one dimension, in order to positively contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutions and public confidence in electoral processes worldwide;

133.  Positively notes, in this context, the start of a second generation of pilot projects on democracy support in 12 selected EU Delegations in 2014, following a commitment made in the Council conclusions of November 2009 and in the 2012 Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy; strongly emphasises the importance of these pilot projects for achieving greater coherence in supporting democracy through the EU’s external policies and instruments;

134.  Welcomes the commitment made by the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States in the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy to engage more firmly and consistently with election management bodies, parliamentary institutions, local NGOs, human rights defenders and civil society organisations in third countries, in order to involve them more intensively in monitoring elections and contribute to their empowerment and, therefore, to the strengthening of democratic processes;

135.  Recalls that the experience gained by the European Union, politicians, academics, the media, NGOs and civil society, and the lessons learned from transitions to democracy in the framework of the enlargement and neighbourhood policies, could positively contribute to the identification of best practices that could be used to support and consolidate other democratisation processes worldwide;

136.  Recalls that corruption is a threat to the equal enjoyment of human rights and undermines democratic processes such as the rule of law and the fair administration of justice; recalls also that the EU has claimed exclusive competence for the signing of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC);

137.  Expresses the view that the EU should emphasise, in all platforms for dialogue with third countries, the importance of transparency and accessibility, integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs, the public budget and public property, as stipulated in the UNCAC; believes that corruption in all its forms undermines democratic principles and negatively affects social and economic development; calls for follow-up on its request for improved monitoring of the UNCAC and, equally, for proper consideration of OECD recommendations; considers that the EU should support third countries more consistently and systematically in tackling corruption, through expertise in setting up and consolidating independent and effective anti-corruption institutions, including through proactive cooperation with the private sector; equally recommends developing innovative financial mechanisms for strengthening the fight against all types of corruption; notes, in this context, the call for improved regulation of financial transactions at international level;

138.  Is of the opinion that the EU should strengthen its efforts to promote the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary at multilateral and bilateral levels; encourages the EU to support the fair administration of justice worldwide by assisting processes of legislative and institutional reforms in third countries; also encourages the EU Delegations and Member States’ embassies to systematically pursue trial monitoring with a view to promoting the independence of the judiciary;

Enhancing the European Parliament’s actions on human rights

139.  Welcomes the review of the Guidelines for the European Parliament’s Interparliamentary Delegations on promoting human rights and democracy, conducted by the Conference of Delegation Chairs in cooperation with the Subcommittee on Human Rights; recommends, in this context, a more systematic and transparent practice of raising human rights issues, especially the individual cases referred to in Parliament’s resolutions, during delegation visits to third countries, and of reporting in writing to the Subcommittee on Human Rights on actions taken and, where politically warranted, through a specific debriefing session;

140.  Emphasises the need for continued reflection regarding the most appropriate ways to maximise the credibility, visibility and effectiveness of Parliament’s resolutions on breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

141.  Encourages discussion of the inclusion of the different tools available to Parliament regarding support for and promotion of human rights in a single strategy document, to be adopted by Parliament in plenary;

o
o   o

142.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 70th UN General Assembly, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Heads of Delegation.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0070.
(2) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11855-2012-INIT/en/pdf
(3) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/142549.pdf
(4) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/137585.pdf
(5) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201203/20120329ATT42170/20120329ATT42170EN.pdf
(6) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/pdf/st10152-en15_pdf/
(7) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10897-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(8) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2015/10/st13201-en15_pdf/
(9) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/130243.pdf
(10) http://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=ST%2015559%202014%20INIT
(11) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32015D0260
(12) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9242-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(13) http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1325(2000)
(14) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 69.
(15) OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 165.
(16) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.
(17) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0394.
(19) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0420.
(20) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0252.
(21) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0079.
(22) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0259.
(23) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0206.
(24) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0076.
(25) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0272.
(26) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0288.
(27) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0317.
(28) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0350.
(29) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0348.
(30) http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2014/20141008-strategy-paper_en.pdf
(31) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52011DC0200
(32) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0303:FIN:en:PDF
(33) http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G14/082/52/PDF/G1408252.pdf?OpenElement
(34) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0274.
(35) http://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Joint%20Programme%20on%20FGMC%20Summary%20Report.pdf
(36) http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G14/086/06/PDF/G1408606.pdf?OpenElement
(37) https://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/hr/news53.pdf
(38) http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2014/20141008-strategy-paper_en.pdf
(39) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2014:077:0027:0043:EN:PDF
(40) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0274.
(41) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf
(42) http://wcip2014.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/N1446828.pdf
(43) OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.
(44) https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/eu_strategy_towards_the_eradication_of_trafficking_in_human_beings_2012-2016_1.pdf
(45) http://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/10-october-against-death-penalty
(46) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/TortureGuidelines.pdf
(47) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/foraff/137584.pdf
(48) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5690_en.pdf
(49) http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1325(2000)
(50) http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1820(2008)
(51) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=E/2015/27
(52) http://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=ST%2015559%202014%20INIT
(53) http://www.unicef.org/eu/crtoolkit/downloads/Child-Rights-Toolkit-Web-Links.pdf


20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement (2015/2979(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0471RC-B8-1362/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Dayton Peace Agreement, its general framework and the twelve annexes thereto,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 7 July 2005(1), 15 January 2009(2) and 9 July 2015(3) concerning Srebrenica,

–  having regard to the Venice Commission Opinion of 11 March 2005 on the constitutional reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed on 14 December 1995 in Paris and put an end to the bloodiest war in Europe since the Second World War;

B.  whereas the Agreement ended the war but failed to create a functioning, self-sustainable state, and whereas the institutional set-up of the country is overly complex and has proved to be ineffective;

1.  Recalls the importance of the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, remembers all of the tragic victims of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and expresses its sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives;

2.  Notes with regret that, 20 years after the end of the war and the setting up of a General Framework Agreement outlining the main aspects of the peace settlement and the future shape of the country, successive governments have failed to build a fully functioning, self-sustainable state;

3.  Welcomes the results achieved with the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), reconstruction and property restitution, in line with the provisions of Annex VII to the Dayton Agreement; insists on the need for full implementation of the annex and the related strategy in order to ensure a sustainable return and also fair, comprehensive and durable solutions for internally displaced persons, refugees and other war-affected persons; underlines in this regard the need for the sustainable return of Croats, Bosniaks and others into the Republika Srpska; stresses the need to make progress in improving the socio-economic integration of those who have returned; calls for better coordination of efforts at all levels and more attention to be given to the most vulnerable displaced people, including Roma and women victims of violence; notes with regret that, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there are still about 7 000 missing people whose fate remains unknown;

4.  Acknowledges the positive transformation that Bosnia and Herzegovina has undergone in the past 20 years, from a war-torn country emerging from war to a state aspiring for membership of the European Union;

5.  Reiterates the EU’s commitment to the European perspective and the further accession process of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of all Western Balkan countries; believes that regional cooperation and the European integration process are the best way to promote reconciliation and to overcome hatred and divisions;

6.  Calls on the authorities to use the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement as an incentive to move forward with the necessary reforms – especially in view of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s forthcoming EU membership application; recalls that addressing the socio-economic needs of citizens must be the priority, as well as the establishment of an effective coordination mechanism on EU matters; reiterates that it is also crucial to continue, in parallel, with constitutional and political reforms and democratisation of the political system, which will lead in the direction of ensuring true equality and democratic representation of all three constituent peoples and all the country’s citizens; underlines that all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina must have an equal opportunity to be elected to all levels of political decision-making;

7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its entities, and the governments and parliaments of the countries of the Western Balkans.

(1) OJ C 157 E, 6.7.2006, p. 468.
(2) OJ C 46 E, 24.2.2010, p. 111.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0276.


Arms export: implementation of the Common Position 2008/944/CFSP
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP (2015/2114(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0472A8-0338/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment (hereinafter ‘the Common Position’)(1),

–  having regard to the review of the Common Position conducted by the EU Council Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM),

–  having regard to the Council’s Sixteenth Annual Report according to Article 8(2) of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment(2),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2012/711/CFSP of 19 November 2012 on support for EU activities in order to promote the control of arms exports and the principles and criteria of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP among third countries,

–  having regard to the EU strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of 9 December 2003,

–  having regard to the European Security Strategy ‘A Secure Europe in a Better World’, adopted by the European Council on 12 December 2003,

–  having regard to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2014 on the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2015 on the impact of developments in European defence markets on the security and defence capabilities in Europe(5), in particular paragraphs 4, 10, 18, 19, 20, and 21,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2013/768/CFSP of 16 December 2013 on EU activities in support of the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty in the framework of the European Security Strategy(6),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items(7), as amended by Regulation (EU) No 599/2014, and to the list of dual-use goods and technology in its Annex I,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 24 April 2014 to the Council and the European Parliament entitled ‘The Review of export control policy: ensuring security and competitiveness in a changing world’ (COM(2014)0244),

–  having regard to the Joint Statement of 12 June 2014 by Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the review of the dual-use export control system,

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on ‘Human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries’(8),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community(9),

–  having regard to the EU strategy to combat illicit accumulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, adopted on 15-16 December 2005 by the European Council, and to the Council Joint Action 2002/589/CFSP of 12 July 2002 on the European Union’s contribution to combating the destabilising accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons and repealing Joint Action 1999/34/CFSP,

–  having regard to Council Common Position 2003/468/CFSP of 23 June 2003 on the control of arms brokering(10),

–  having regard to the updated Common Military List of the European Union adopted by the Council on 9 February 2015,

–  having regard to the User’s Guide to Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment,

–  having regard to the Wassenaar Arrangement of 12 May 1996 on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, together with the lists, updated in 2015, of these goods and technologies and munitions(11),

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

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 of 27 June 2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 April 2015 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the European Agenda on Security (COM(2015)0185),

–  having regard to the European Consensus on Development, adopted on 24 February 2006,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 October 2011 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Increasing the impact of the EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change’ (COM(2011)0637),

–  having regard to the Sustainable Developments Goals, in particular goal 16: target 16.4, which calls for states to significantly reduce illicit arms flows;

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine,

–  having regard to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to Article 346 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which entered into force on 24 December 2014,

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council resolution 24/35 of 8 October 2013 on the impact of arms transfer on human rights in armed conflicts(12),

–  having regard to Rules 52 and 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0338/2015),

A.  whereas the global security environment around the EU has dramatically changed, especially in its southern and eastern neighbourhood;

B.  whereas there is an inherent right of individual or collective self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter;

C.  whereas in the interests of international stability it is important to provide means for deterrence on the basis of a case-by-case assessment, in full compliance with Article 51 of the UN Charter and Criterion Four of the Common Position on the preservation of regional peace, security and stability;

D.  whereas the uncontrolled spread of weapons constitutes a serious risk for peace and security, human rights and sustainable development; whereas every minute somewhere in the world a person dies because of armed violence and 15 new weapons are manufactured;

E.  whereas regulating the international arms trade is by definition a global ambition; whereas the EU must ensure the consistency of its external activities as a whole in the context of its external relations, in order to promote democracy and the rule of law, prevent conflicts, eradicate poverty, foster intercultural dialogue, and maintain international stability and security; whereas over the period 2010-2014 EU Member States were responsible for 25,4 % of volumes of actual deliveries(13) of major conventional weapons worldwide;

F.  whereas, pursuant to the Lisbon Treaty, poverty eradication is the primary objective of EU development policy, and whereas it is also one of the priorities for EU external action to build a more stable and prosperous world; whereas supplying weapons to countries in conflict not only increases the likelihood of the violence escalating but also has a negative impact on those countries’ development potential, as is made clear in reports by humanitarian organisations that have quantified that impact(14);

G.  whereas EU Member States exported arms with a total value of EUR 36,7 billion in 2013, including EUR 26 billion to third countries; whereas, by way of comparison, the overall budget for the European Neighbourhood Instrument for 2014-2020 is EUR 15,4 billion; whereas EU Member States accounted for 30 % of overall arms exports to third countries; and it can hardly be claimed that these trade flows are in the direct security interests of the EU;

H.  whereas Common Position 2008/944/CFSP is a legally binding framework laying down eight criteria for the export of conventional arms to be applied by EU Member States to their licensing decisions; whereas due account of this Common Position should be taken specifically in the context of the development of a European defence market and a European Defence Technological and Industrial Base;

I.  whereas the third countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Canada, Montenegro and Norway have officially aligned themselves with the Common Position’s criteria and principles;

Global security environment and arms exports

1.  Is deeply concerned at the spread of armed conflicts, notably those in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen as well as all international conflicts, which, in an increasingly globalised world, are a threat to world stability and security and have determined a less stable and less secure neighbourhood for the EU; notes that arms transfers to states in conflict may have contributed to these conflicts;

2.  Finds it regrettable that developments in the last two years have shown that weapons sometimes end up in the hands of terrorists or repressive regimes or of countries where children might be recruited or used in hostilities, or of regimes which have dubious relations with international terrorism or an aggressive domestic and foreign policy, and believes it is therefore necessary to adopt effective arms export control regimes; condemns the use of arms with the aim of fuelling insecurity and armed conflicts internally and externally or of supporting internal repression, regional conflicts or grave violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms; also finds it regrettable that the illicit trade in arms continues to be a big and profitable business;

3.  Deplores the fact that around half a million(15) people die every year as a result of armed violence, both in armed conflicts and in connection with criminal activity;

4.  Reasserts that adherence to the Common Position is fundamental to the fulfilment of the EU’s principles and values, particularly in the fields of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and of its responsibilities in its own right in terms of regional and global security;

5.  Notes that EU Member States are major global arms exporters, accounting in 2013 for EUR 36,711 billion in exports worldwide, of which EUR 10,735 between Member States and EUR 25,976 billion to third countries, according to the 16th Annual Report; reiterates that Article 10 of the Common Position states that considerations of economic, commercial and industrial interests by Member States shall not affect the application of the eight criteria regulating arms exports;

6.  Regrets, however, that Article 10 is often overlooked, especially since European defence companies are increasingly compensating for their reduced turnover in Europe through extra-EU exports; is seriously concerned at the consequences for the security and defence of the EU caused by the transfer of sensitive knowledge and technology to third countries, which represents an increased risk of dependency on third countries with diverging strategic interests such as Russia;

7.  Recalls that the defence industry should serve as an instrument for implementing the defence and security of the Member States, ensuring a security of supply regime in the EU while also contributing towards the implementation of a strengthened CFSP and CSDP, given that this is important in helping ensure global stability and security; recognises that arms exports have been instrumental in terms of strengthening and further developing the industrial and technological base of European defence, which has been important in a wide range of innovation and technological development;

8.  Acknowledges the legitimacy of exports that fully meet the criteria laid down in Article 4(c) of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP and are carried out in response to a request made to the EU in accordance with the right to self-defence; supports the supply of defensive arms in case of legitimate self-defence; notes the decision of some Member States to supply defensive arms to the Peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan and to Ukraine; notes that in this respect Member States are not coordinating with each other;

9.  Points out that, while denials and suspensions of licences following embargos or conflicts are a positive sign, they indicate that EU export policy is merely reactive in character; considers that according to the Common Position a more thorough assessment of the specific risks associated with recipient countries and of the EU’s security interests would be necessary before licensing;

10.  Notes that the risks deriving from the diversion, smuggling and stockpiling of arms and explosives are increasing and remain a challenge to be addressed; stresses the risks that arms from third countries which have high levels of corruption might be introduced into Europe owing to increased arms smuggling and trafficking and the lack of inspections at points of entry, such as ports, thus compromising the security of citizens as was highlighted in a recent Europol report(16);

11.  Stresses that arms export controls are an integral part of EU foreign and security policy and must be guided by the principles enshrined in Article 21 TEU, notably the promotion of democracy and the rule of law and the preservation of peace, prevention of conflicts and strengthening of international security; recalls that it is crucial to ensure coherence between arms exports and the credibility of the EU as a global human rights advocate; is deeply convinced that a more effective implementation of the eight criteria of the Common Position would represent an important contribution to the development of both the CFSP and the CSDP; calls for the new EU global strategy on foreign and security policy to properly consider arms exports issues in view of the changed security environment and associated risks and threats to European security interests;

12.  Deplores the fact that illegitimate, illicit and unregulated arms transfers continue to undermine political stability and hinder democratic social and/or economic development in certain parts of the world; recognises that the coherent interpretation and effective implementation of Criterion Eight of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP would be a decisive contribution to the EU’s Policy Coherence on Development objectives; calls for continued attention to Criterion Eight in order to assess the possible negative impact of arms spending on the development prospects of poorer recipient countries;

The Arms Trade Treaty

13.  Welcomes the entry into force of the ATT; welcomes the outreach activities undertaken by the EU to promote universal ratification and implementation of the ATT, and calls for sustained efforts in this regard, notably with countries that are major arms traders; urges those Member States which have not yet ratified the ATT to do so at the earliest opportunity; recognises that the ATT, while representing a positive achievement, still has its limitations and ambiguities (unclear concepts, exception to reporting obligations, lack of sanctioning regime);

14.  Welcomes the success of the first Conference of States Parties held in Cancún from 24 to 27 August 2015, but points out that no agreement was reached on the template to be used for the annual reports; believes that the Treaty will be genuinely successful only if steps are taken to make it universally applicable and if binding or punitive mechanisms are established, to be used in case of failure to apply the rules;

15.  Welcomes the requirement that states parties to the ATT take into account in the licence decision-making process the risk that the weapons to be transferred may be used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children; calls on the Member States to strengthen the language of the Common Position with regard to gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children;

16.  Commends the fact that the EU has a legally binding framework, unique in the world, through which arms export control is being enforced, including in crisis regions and countries with questionable human rights records; welcomes the fact, in this connection, that several European and third countries have joined the arms exports control system on the basis of the Common Position;

17.  Welcomes the fact that Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro and Norway have aligned themselves with the criteria and principles of the Common Position 2008/944/CFSP; notes that a special information exchange system between the EU and the aligned third countries has been in place since 2012;

The Common Position

18.  Recalls that the Common Position should lead to a coordinated approach to the arms trade which does not affect the right of Member States to operate more restrictive national policies as stated in Article 3 of the Common Position; further recalls that in any case refusal to transfer any military technology or arms remains the exclusive competence of the Member States and that the common standards set by the Common Position are to be regarded as the minimum standard for the management of transfers of military technology according to recital 3; points out that harmonisation at European level should not be used as a pretext for watering down stricter national rules;

19.  Calls on the Member States to coherently interpret and rigorously apply the Common Position criteria in all cases, not letting political and economic considerations override a decision-making process; further calls on Member States to cancel already agreed contracts where as a result of a sharply changed situation the deal breaches the Common Position;

20.  Takes the view that the real problem is that the Common Position is being applied loosely and interpreted inconsistently by the Member States, and therefore considers it crucial that a consistent and ambitious application of the eight criteria be pursued; points out in this regard that there are no penalties in case of infringement of the criteria, and considers it advisable to make arrangements for conducting independent checks and for penalties in case of infringement of the Common Position;

21.  Notes COARM’s review of Common Position 2008/944/CSFP and the conclusion that it properly serves the objectives set by the Council and is in line with the ATT; notes that no change was introduced despite the grave situation in Syria and Iraq, the increase in terrorist activity, and conflict and instability which are widespread across the Middle East and North Africa and could, in turn, affect the security of the Union itself;

22.  Takes note of the update of the User’s Guide to the Council Common Position and of the EU Military List; looks forward to the adoption of a new online information-sharing mechanism by COARM; welcomes the new references made to aspects of the ATT which are not yet included in the Common Position and the changes to the elaborative guidance to Criterion Seven; calls for efforts to be made in particular in respect to guidance on implementing Criterion Eight in an effective way;

23.  Calls on the Member States to ensure a stricter application of the eight criteria; believes that Member States, including at European level in COARM, should broaden their assessments to include a focus on the situation in the country of destination as well as on the specific military technology in question; encourages Member States to apply stricter national criteria;

24.  Is concerned at the effect that threats of legal action by companies in some Member States, whether real or perceived, might be having on the consideration of export licence applications; reminds Member States that rigorous and scrupulous application of the eight criteria creates the necessary grounds for licence refusals;

25.  Takes note that Criterion Two requires Member States to deny an export licence only if there is a ‘clear risk’ that the military technology or equipment to be exported might be used for internal repression; considering that this criterion leaves room for an incoherent application of the common rules; calls for liaising with representatives of the Council of Europe, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and human rights organisations in order to further clarify Criterion Two;

26.  Is critical of the frequent violations of the eight criteria by various Member States; regrets that there are no mechanisms for sanctions for violation of the eight criteria by a Member State and that there are no plans to that effect; takes the view that ways and means of carrying out independent verification and mechanisms for sanctions for violations of the Common Position should be provided for;

27.  Urges every Member State to treat the concept of risk in arms transfer licensing processes on a precautionary basis, as is standard when addressing other areas such as terrorism, money laundering and environmental concerns;

28.  Stresses the need to ensure a more coherent policy on embargos and to apply them with immediate effect; calls on Member States to clarify the national and international provisions relating to the export of ‘military’ and ‘non-military’ arms, which could lead to small arms transfers being able to circumvent regulation systems by being described as ‘non-military’;

29.  Recalls that Regulation (EU) No 258/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing Article 10 of the UN Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms is intended to ensure effective control of transfers of firearms for civilian use; acknowledges the legitimacy of exports for hunting and sporting weapons for civilian use under that Regulation; welcomes the review of the EU legislation on firearms (including on deactivation, administrative sanctions and signal weapons) and the intention to strengthen police cooperation with neighbouring countries on arms smuggling; calls, accordingly, on the Commission to enhance Europol’s capabilities;

30.  Calls on Member States to include a mechanism in the Common Position that would automatically freeze existing export licences for arms to countries against which a European weapons embargo has been established after the export control license was granted;

31.  Suggests exploring the possibility of applying and extending the eight criteria, also to the transfer of arms-export-related services such as consultancy and to activities of EU - based private military companies in third countries; calls for a unified EU approach to the issue of floating armouries;

32.  Calls on all Member States that are not yet in full compliance with Council Common Position 2003/468/CFSP of 23 June 2003 on the control of arms brokering to explain why they are not in compliance and what steps they propose to take and when, in order to honour their obligations under the Common Position; encourages Member States to include arms transporting and arms financing services into their arms brokering legislation;

33.  Is concerned over possible diversions of exports, and calls on Member States to establish an effective control system (monitoring systems, non-misuse clause in end-user certificates, and on-site inspections of end users) including reinforcement of staff dedicated to this purpose; believes that there should be enhanced cooperation among Member States and between Member States and Europol and Eurojust, as well as with third countries, to facilitate the prosecution of brokers and smugglers for illegal arms transfers; calls on the Council to better align Criterion Seven to Article 11 of the ATT;

34.  Is deeply concerned at the possible circumvention of EU export controls through licensed production in third countries or through overseas subsidiaries of EU-based companies; urges COARM to consider this issue in depth in its next annual report;

35.  Calls for increased coordination at working level within the Council and the EEAS in order to ensure that aspects related to conflict prevention, development and human rights are duly taken into account; calls for regular consultations between COARM and COHOM as well as for COARM to liaise with all relevant EU actors such as Intcen, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the EU Delegations, in order to better improve coherence and share information that might be relevant to arms transfer licensing decisions, in particular with regard to risks in proposed recipient countries, so as to improve the quality of decisions made in the context of the Common Position;

Transparency

36.  Regrets the late adoption of the Sixteenth Annual Report, making it the most delayed ever;

37.  Notes that full submission means data on the financial value of both arms export licences issued and actual exports, broken down by both destination and EU Military List category; calls on the remaining Member States to fulfil their obligation to submit an annual report and to provide data, for the 16th Annual Report retrospectively and for the forthcoming Annual Reports in due time;

38.  Notes that the report includes standardised information on issued export licences, but does not include comprehensive information on real arms exports; urges the Council and the VP/HR to look at ways of improving compliance with the reporting obligation and increasing the transparency and public scrutiny of the export control framework, in particular ensuring that Member States report all arms exports; calls for this shortcoming to be remedied and for provision be made accordingly for an annual report that highlights the real export data, disaggregated by type and destination;

39.  Calls for the introduction of a standardised reporting and submission procedure, including a deadline, for information on actual exports and licence data, to be applied and complied with uniformly in all Member States; calls on the Member States to report fully on licences denied, including licence-specific information regarding recipient state and specific authority, description and quantity of items to be transferred with regard to the subcategories of the Military List, together with the precise reason for the denial; proposes that the format of the annual report be changed and that the report be relaunched as a public, interactive and searchable online database;

40.  Calls for enhanced consultations between Member States with regard to transfers to fragile and unstable regions or countries, in particular those that are acting aggressively in their neighbourhood; calls for a deep and systematic verification of implementation of the EU sanctions regime against Russia in arms exports and sales of dual-use technologies; calls on the Member States to establish a list of persons (including entities and individuals) that have been convicted of violating arms export-related legislation and of cases of identified diversion and persons who have not been convicted by a court but are known to be involved in illegal arms trading or in activities that pose a threat to international security; calls on the Member States to provide detailed information on procedures for the revocation or suspension of granted licences with regard to countries subject to an embargo;

41.  Considers it vital that countries which are candidates for accession to the EU should comply with EU positions and principles regarding arms exports and the arms trade;

42.  Calls for monitoring of and cooperation on illegal arms trafficking, through cooperation procedures involving police forces and border authorities based on the exchange of information and databases, to minimise security risks for the EU and its citizens;

Public scrutiny

43.  Recalls that governments bear the political responsibility of whether or not to export military or dual-use goods; calls on the Member States to provide detailed information on each of the licences issued, so as to make it possible for checks to be carried out at EU level in order to ensure that countries do not fail to meet the common position criteria out of economic, political or personal interests; calls for the EEAS/COARM to take on the task of scrutinising licenses that are thought not to meet the common position criteria;

44.  Strongly believes that citizens and parliaments have the right to be informed in detail about the arms export decisions of their governments, given that they affect the security and wellbeing of their nation and of countries abroad, and in line with the interests of transparency and greater public scrutiny; calls for the reports to be kept public;

45.  Calls on the Council and the EEAS to also improve access to information regarding EU sanctions and arms embargos, since this information is often not up-to-date or presented in an easily accessible form;

46.  Calls for parliamentary oversight to be strengthened at both national and European level by means of annual reports to parliaments; calls for European arms exports and European industrial defence policy to be discussed at the next interparliamentary conference on the CFSP/CSDP;

47.  Welcomes regular consultations with civil society as increasing transparency; calls on the Commission and the EEAS/COARM to continue this dialogue with civil society, NGOs and thinktanks; encourages civil society and academia to exercise independent scrutiny of the arms trade;

New technologies and the issue of dual-use goods

48.  Considers that technological developments make it increasingly difficult to distinguish between pure military and pure civilian use, and that special attention should therefore be paid to the Dual Use List in the light of the Wassenaar Arrangement; calls on the VP/HR, the Member States and the Commission to ensure that there are no loopholes at the level of the Wassenaar Arrangement or between the Military List and the annexes to the Dual Use Regulation, and to pay particular attention to new technologies of strategic importance, such as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, applied robotics and surveillance technology;

49.  Recalls that the proliferation of certain surveillance and intrusion technologies around the world cannot only be detrimental to human rights but might also pose a significant threat to European strategic interests and our digital infrastructure;

50.  Welcomes the ongoing initiative of the Commission to modernise EU dual-use export controls and its intention to present a new legislative proposal in the first half of 2016 for smart and effective policies to regulate commercial exports of services related to the implementation and use of dual-use technologies, while including effective safeguards in order to prevent such export controls harming scientific and IT security research; underlines that the proposal should also aim to improve coherence and transparency of the export control regime and fully take into account the changing nature of security challenges and the speed of technological development, especially with regard to surveillance and intrusion software equipment; welcomes the agreement reached on 4 December 2013 by the participating states in the Wassenaar Arrangement to adopt controls in the areas of surveillance, law enforcement and intelligence- gathering tools and network surveillance systems; recalls the urgent need to address potentially harmful exports of ICT products and services that can be used in connection with human rights violations in certain third countries, as agreed in the Joint Statement of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of April 2014;

51.  Calls on the Member States to make sufficient resources available to effectively implement and enforce dual-use export, brokering and transit controls; welcomes the ongoing EU-funded capacity-building programmes in support of third countries’ dual-use export control systems; calls on the Member States to mobilise training capacities within the EU as well;

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

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

54.  Reaffirms that EU standards, and particularly those laid down in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, should prevail over other considerations in assessments of incidents involving dual-use technologies used in ways that may restrict human rights;

55.  Deplores the active cooperation of certain European companies, as well as of international companies trading in dual-use technologies, in circumstances where they are aware of the detrimental effects on human rights involved in trading with regimes whose actions violate human rights;

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

o
o   o

57.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President/High Representative and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 335, 13.12.2008, p. 99.
(2) OJ C 103, 27.3.2015, p. 1.
(3) Arms Trade Treaty, UN, 13-27217.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0081.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0215.
(6) OJ L 341, 18.12.2013, p. 56.
(7) OJ L 134, 29.5.2009, p. 1.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0288.
(9) OJ L 146, 10.6.2009, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 156, 25.6.2003, p. 79.
(11) http://www.wassenaar.org/controllists/, ‘list of dual-use goods and technologies and munitions list’ – the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, 25 March 2015.
(12) A/HRC/RES/24/35.
(13) ‘Trends in international arms transfers’, 2014, SIPRI Fact Sheet, March 2015.
(14) IANSA, Oxfam International and Saferworld, ‘Africa’s missing billions – International arms flows and the cost of conflict’, 2007.
(15) ‘Global Burden of Armed Violence 2015: Every Body Counts’ – report of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development.
(16) ‘Exploring Tomorrow’s Organised Crime’, Europol (2015).


Patents and plant breeders’ rights
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on patents and plant breeders’ rights (2015/2981(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0473RC-B8-1394/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2012 on the patenting of essential biological processes(1),

–  having regard to Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions(2), in particular Article 4 thereof, which states that products obtained from essentially biological processes shall not be patentable,

–  having regard to the European Patent Convention (EPC) of 5 October 1973, in particular Article 53(b) thereof,

–  having regard to the decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) of 25 March 2015 in Cases G2/12 (on tomatoes) and G2/13 (on broccoli),

–  having regard to the Implementing Regulations to the EPC, in particular Rule 26 thereof, which states that for European patent applications and patents concerning biotechnological inventions Directive 98/44/EC is to be used as a supplementary means of interpretation,

–  having regard to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 2 December 1961, as revised at Geneva on 10 November 1972, 23 October 1978 and 19 March 1991 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘UPOV Convention 1991’),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94 of 27 July 1994 on Community plant variety rights(3) (hereinafter referred to as ‘Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94’), in particular Article 15(c) and (d) thereof,

–  having regard to the Council Agreement on a Unified Patent Court of 19 February 2013(4) (hereinafter referred to as ‘the UPC Agreement’), in particular Article 27(c) thereof,

–  having regard to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, Including Trade in Counterfeit Goods (TRIPS), in particular Article 27(3) thereof, which states that members may exclude essentially biological processes from patentability,

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

A.  whereas access to biological plant material encompassing plant traits is absolutely necessary for boosting innovation and the development of new varieties in order to guarantee global food security, tackle climate change and prevent monopolies within the breeding sector, while at the same time providing more opportunities for SMEs;

B.  whereas intellectual property rights are important in order to safeguard economic incentives for developing new plant products and to deliver competitiveness;

C.  whereas patents on products derived from conventional breeding or on genetic material necessary for conventional breeding may undermine the exclusion established in Article 53(b) of the European Patent Convention and in Article 4 of Directive 98/44/EC;

D.  whereas products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as plants, seeds, native traits and genes, should be excluded from patentability;

E.  whereas plant breeding is an innovative process that has been practised by farmers and farming communities since the birth of agriculture, and whereas unpatented varieties and breeding methods are important for genetic diversity;

F.  whereas Directive 98/44/EC legislates for biotechnological inventions, in particular genetic engineering, but whereas – as indicated in recitals 52 and 53 thereof – it was not the legislator’s intention to allow the patentability of products obtained from essentially biological processes within the scope of the directive;

G.  whereas numerous applications concerning products obtained from essentially biological processes are currently awaiting a decision by the European Patent Office (EPO), and whereas there is therefore an urgent need to clarify the scope and interpretation of Directive 98/44/EC, in particular Article 4 thereof;

H.  whereas Directive 98/44/EC implicitly acknowledges the freedom to use material falling within the scope of a patent for experimental purposes, as follows from Articles 12(3)(b) and 13(3)(b);

I.  whereas the exemption for breeders provided for in Article 27(c) of the UPC Agreement will only be applicable to patents granted under the unitary patent system and will not automatically apply to national patents within the EU, which will result in a non‑harmonised situation as regards the possibility of breeding with material obtained from essentially biological processes falling under the scope of a patent;

J.  whereas it is a fundamental principle of the international system of plant variety rights based on the UPOV Convention 1991, and of the EU system based on Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94, that the holder of a plant variety right cannot prevent others from using the protected plant for further breeding activities;

1.  Expresses its concern that the recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO on Cases G2/12 (tomatoes) and G2/13 (broccoli) could lead to more patents being granted by the EPO in respect of natural traits introduced into new varieties by means of essentially biological processes such as crossing and selection;

2.  Calls on the Commission, as a matter of urgency, to clarify the scope and interpretation of Directive 98/44/EC, and in particular Articles 4, 12(3)(b) and 13(3)(b) thereof, in order to ensure legal clarity regarding the prohibition of the patentability of products obtained from essentially biological processes, and to clarify that breeding with biological material falling under the scope of a patent is permitted;

3.  Calls on the Commission to communicate its forthcoming clarification regarding the patentability of products obtained from essentially biological processes to the EPO so that it can be used as a supplementary means of interpretation;

4.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the Union will safeguard guaranteed access to, and use of, material obtained from essentially biological processes for plant breeding, in order – where applicable – not to interfere with practices guaranteeing breeders’ exemption;

5.  Calls on the Commission to pursue the exclusion from patentability of essentially biological processes in the context of multilateral patent law harmonisation discussions;

6.  Calls on the Commission to report on the development and implications of patent law in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering, as required in Article 16(c) of Directive 98/44/EC and as requested by Parliament in its resolution of 10 May 2012 on the patenting of essential biological processes;

7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European Patent Office.

(1) OJ C 261 E, 10.9.2013, p. 31.
(2) OJ L 213, 30.7.1998, p. 13.
(3) OJ L 227, 1.9.1994, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 175, 20.6.2013, p. 1.


Situation in Burundi
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on the situation in Burundi (2015/2973(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0474RC-B8-1348/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the revised Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi of 28 August 2000,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Burundi, and in particular Article 96 thereof,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG),

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 13 December 2015 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner in charge of International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, on the deteriorating situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU-Burundi consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, adopted on 8 December 2015,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 2248 (2015) of 12 November 2015 on the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 12 November 2015 by the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Jan Eliasson, the Chairperson of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, on Burundi,

–  having regard to the decisions of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) of 13 June, 17 October and 13 November 2015 on the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the statements issued by the East African Community on 31 May and 6 July 2015 on the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 9 December 2015 on the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1755 of 1 October 2015 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 March, 18 May, 22 June and 16 November 2015 on Burundi,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the situation in Burundi(1),

–  having regard to the letter approved by the Council on 26 October 2015 requesting the opening of consultations with the Burundian authorities under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to the statement made by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, on 6 November 2015,

–  having regard to Article 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the security situation in Burundi has seriously deteriorated over the past few days, following the attacks of three military camps in Bujumbura; whereas Burundian security forces killed at least 87 people on 11 and 12 December 2015; whereas many of these killings seem to have been random executions;

B.  whereas Article 96 of the Constitution of Burundi and Article 7(3) of Protocol II to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement stipulate that the President cannot serve more than two terms; whereas President Pierre Nkurunziza has been in office since 2005, having been re-elected in 2010;

C.  whereas Burundi held legislative and local elections on 29 June 2015 and presidential elections on 21 July 2015; whereas both electoral processes were considered by the international community not to be transparent, inclusive, free and credible; whereas for that reason the African Union (AU) refused to send observers to follow the elections, the EU suspended its electoral mission to Burundi and a large part of the Burundian opposition decided to boycott the elections;

D.  whereas President Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term and his subsequent re-election following the elections of 21 July 2015 have plunged the country into its deepest political crisis since the end of the civil war;

E.  whereas the Burundian Government disregarded the decisions and recommendations by the AU and the East African Community (EAC) adopted on 13 June 2015 and 6 July 2015 respectively, whose full implementation would have paved the way for credible and inclusive elections;

F.  whereas, according to the OHCHR and other human rights organisations, politically motivated human rights violations, human rights abuses and acts of violence were carried out in the country during both the pre-election and the post-election periods, targeting opposition activists, human rights defenders and journalists in particular, including Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, whose son was found dead after having been arrested by the police, Marguerite Barankitse, Antoine Kaburahe and Bob Rugurika; whereas there is a widespread perception that these acts are mostly, but not exclusively, linked to state institutions; whereas the prime responsibility for ensuring security in Burundi and protecting the Burundian population, with respect for the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law, lies with the Burundian Government;

G.  whereas more than 200 000 people have been internally displaced or have sought refuge in neighbouring countries as a result of the worsening political situation in Burundi; whereas in July 2015 the EU stepped up its humanitarian assistance and mobilised an additional EUR 4,5 million in aid for displaced populations;

H.  whereas Burundi is one of the least developed countries in the world; whereas nearly half (45 %) of the 10,6 million inhabitants of Burundi are aged 15 or under (children below the age of 5 represent 19,9 %); whereas Burundi ranks first in the Global Hunger Index, with three in five children suffering stunted growth; whereas between 2013 and 2014 Burundi fell two places, from 178th to 180th, in the UNDP’s Human Development Index, whereas four out of five people in Burundi live on less than USD 1,25 per day, and whereas 66,9 % of the population live below the poverty line;

I.  whereas on 26 October 2015 the EU requested the opening of consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement to investigate the failure to respect essential elements of the agreement, in particular human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law; whereas these consultations started on 8 December 2015;

J.  whereas on 8 December 2015 the EU considered that the positions expressed by Burundi during the Article 96 Cotonou Agreement consultations would make it impossible to remedy Burundi’s failure to respect essential elements of its partnership with the EU; whereas the EU also considered that the positions expressed by Burundi would not allow a satisfactory response to the decisions by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union of 17 October and 13 November 2015, in particular as regards the need to establish without delay a sincere and inclusive dialogue based on the Arusha Agreement;

K.  whereas the political deadlock in Burundi, marked by a lack of dialogue among Burundian stakeholders and a deterioration in the security and economic situation as a result, are having serious consequences for the population and pose a serious risk for the stability of the region, where several elections are planned for the next two years (Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda);

L.  whereas the international community plays a significant role as the guarantor of the Arusha Accords; whereas so far all regional and subregional efforts aimed at addressing the crisis and restoring dialogue between all political forces have failed to produce positive results;

M.  whereas on 1 August 2015 the political opposition and civil society gathered in Addis Ababa to create the National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Accords and the Rule of Law;

N.  whereas on 23 September 2015 the President signed a decree creating a national commission for inter-Burundian dialogue to lead negotiations for six months; whereas civil society has shown great scepticism as to the potential achievements of this commission because most of the actors from the opposition or civil society who oppose President Nkurunziza’s third mandate are being pursued on charges of insurrection and complicity in the failed coup of 13 and 14 May 2015; whereas the Speaker of the new National Assembly, Pascal Nyabenda, stated that ‘the people involved in the organisation and implementation of the coup (…) will not be included in the dialogue’;

O.  whereas the AU, the EU and the US have imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on government and opposition leaders whose actions and statements contribute to the persistence of violence and impede the search for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi;

P.  whereas the US and a number of other countries have advised their citizens to leave Burundi immediately given the deteriorating security situation;

Q.  whereas on 17 October 2015 the Peace and Security Council of the AU requested the finalisation of a contingency planning for the purposes of the deployment in Burundi, should the situation so require, of an African-led Mission to prevent violence in the country, and agreed on the launching of a thorough investigation into the violations of human rights and other abuses against the civilian population in Burundi;

R.  whereas on 30 November 2015 the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, made three proposals to the Security Council recommending a revision of the mandate of the UN presence in Burundi on the basis of the evolution of the situation, which opens the door to a peacekeeping mission, as a last resort, should the crisis worsen;

S.  whereas a UN support team will be deployed with a view to supporting an inter-Burundian dialogue, advising the government on strengthening rule-of-law institutions and disarmament issues, coordinating with regional actors, monitoring and reporting on the situation on the ground and facilitating UN planning for greater presence in Burundi;

T.  whereas the AU and other international actors have repeatedly called for a genuine and inclusive dialogue involving all stakeholders, based on respect for the Arusha Agreement and the Burundian Constitution, in order to find a consensual solution to the conflict in Burundi; whereas the EU and the UN support this position;

U.  whereas mediation efforts continue, with the full support of the AU, the EU and the UN, in order to promote inter-Burundian dialogue with a view to finding a consensual and peaceful solution to the crisis in Burundi;

V.  whereas the EU contributes significantly to Burundi’s annual budget, approximately half of which comes from international aid, and has recently allocated EUR 432 million to Burundi from the European Development Fund 2014-2020;

W.  whereas, by means of decree 530/1597, the Burundian authorities suspended the activities of 10 human rights organisations, namely ACAT-Burundi, APRODH, AMINA, FOCODE, FORSC, FONTAINE-ISOKO, Maison Shalon, PARCEM, RCP, SPPDF, and blocked their bank accounts;

1.  Expresses its deepest concern regarding the grave security and political situation in Burundi, the rapidly worsening humanitarian situation and the consequences that this may have for security and stability in the entire subregion;

2.  Strongly condemns the recent violent attacks and the increased cases of human rights violations and abuses, including assassinations, extra-judicial killings, violations of people’s physical integrity, acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions, including of children and the occupation of schools by military and police, and violations of the freedom of the press and of expression, as well as the prevalence of impunity; calls for a thorough and independent inquiry into the killings and abuses and for the perpetrators of these acts to be brought to justice;

3.  Calls for an immediate end to violence, human rights violations and political intimidation of opponents and for the immediate disarmament of all armed groups allied to political parties, in strict accordance with international law and human rights;

4.  Urges all parties to establish the necessary conditions for rebuilding trust and fostering national unity, and calls for the immediate resumption of an inclusive and transparent national dialogue, including the government, opposition parties and civil society representatives;

5.  Stresses that such dialogue, aimed at achieving lasting peace, security and stability, and at restoring democracy and the rule of law, in the interest of the citizens of Burundi, should be based on the Arusha Agreement and the Burundian Constitution, which requires compliance with international law and treaties;

6.  Points in particular to the presence of many young people, including children under the age of 18, within the armed groups operating in Burundi, and calls on the international community to pay specific attention to their reintegration and to the promotion of their participation in a peaceful political process;

7.  Demands that all sides in Burundi refrain from any action that would threaten peace and security in the country; strongly condemns all public statements aimed at inciting violence or hatred towards different groups in Burundian society, which have the potential to aggravate the current tension, and calls on all actors to refrain from making such statements;

8.  Reminds the Burundian authorities of their obligation to ensure security in its territory and guarantee human rights, civil and political rights and fundamental freedoms, as provided for in the Burundian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and in other international and regional human rights instruments;

9.  Recalls, in this context, that the EU-Burundi partnership is governed by the Cotonou Agreement, and that all parties are bound to respect and implement the terms of that agreement, in particular respect for human rights; recalls, in particular, that Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement provides for the possibility of instituting consultation procedures in cases of failure to respect human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, and welcomes, in this respect, the EU’s decision to request the opening of consultations as provided for in that article;

10.  Strongly condemns President Nkurunziza’s violation of the Arusha Agreement in being sworn in for a third presidential term;

11.  Urges the Burundian authorities to encourage the establishment of the truth about the mass crimes committed between 1962 and 2008, through judicial and non-judicial measures, such as a truth and reconciliation commission and special tribunals, promoting national reconciliation;

12.  Welcomes the mediation efforts led by the EAC, with the support of the AU and the UN, to facilitate dialogue among the Burundian stakeholders; calls on the VP/HR also to support these mediation efforts; urges the Government of Burundi and other stakeholders concerned to fully cooperate with the mediator;

13.  Expresses its grave concern at the number of victims and cases of serious human rights violations reported since the beginning of the crisis; urges the competent authorities to undertake a rigorous and prompt investigation into the circumstances and motives behind these crimes and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice; reiterates that there can be no impunity for those responsible for violations or serious abuses of human rights; calls on the authorities to ensure that schools remain a safe haven for learning; calls on the ICC Prosecutor to closely monitor the situation in Burundi and supports her declaration of 6 November 2015;

14.  Calls for the repeal of Decree 530/1597 providing for the provisional suspension of the activities of several human rights organisations, and calls for the immediate lifting of the freeze on their bank accounts, so that these organisations can freely exercise their activities;

15.  Calls for the safe return of journalists and human rights defenders in exile, the reopening of the media that were closed after the failed coup attempt of 13 and 14 May 2015 and for the charges against those journalists accused of having taken part, directly or indirectly, in the abortive coup to be dropped;

16.  Is particularly concerned by the dramatic levels of discrimination against, and criminalisation of, LGBTI people in Burundi; points out once again that sexual orientation forms part of freedom of expression and of people’s right to a private life, as enshrined in international human rights law, under which the principles of equality and non-discrimination must be upheld and freedom of expression guaranteed; calls, therefore, on the National Assembly and on the Government of Burundi to repeal the articles of the penal code which discriminate against LGBTI people;

17.  Underlines the severe impact of the crisis on children and calls on the Commission to remain engaged with international partners in order to secure the provision of health care services, including essential drugs, safe access to education and protection of children from all forms of violence, and to guarantee access to other social services;

18.  Welcomes the deployment by the AU of human rights observers and experts to monitor the human rights situation, and stresses the importance of cooperating with them in order to facilitate the implementation of their mandate; calls, moreover, on the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged human rights violations, within its jurisdiction, committed during the recent crisis;

19.  Welcomes the targeted sanctions approved by the EU, consistent with the decision taken by the AU to impose targeted sanctions, including a travel ban and asset freeze against Burundians whose actions and statements contribute to the perpetuation of violence and obstruct efforts to achieve a political settlement of the crisis; calls for the EU to extend such sanctions to all those whose actions represent a threat to peace and stability in the region, inciting hate and violating the Arusha Agreement;

20.  Urges the EU and its Member States, in view of the way in which the public consultation conducted under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement has evolved, to consider freezing all non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Burundi until such time as the excessive use of force and human rights violations by government forces, as recorded by the OHCHR, have stopped, and a political solution resulting from a genuine inter-Burundian dialogue has been found, and to reorientate the aid with a view to strengthening civil society; considers that EU aid should tackle the root problems of inequality, poverty and chronic malnutrition in order to achieve the recently approved Sustainable Development Goals;

21.  Expresses its deep concern at the continued exodus of Burundian refugees to neighbouring countries; reiterates its support for all humanitarian organisations operating on the ground and for the neighbouring host countries; appeals to the international community and humanitarian agencies to continue to provide assistance to all those who are now refugees and displaced persons as a result of the conflict; welcomes the EU’s commitment to increasing financial support and humanitarian aid to address the urgent needs of these populations;

22.  Calls on the AU, the UN and the EU to seriously consider the regional dimension and prevent any further destabilisation of the region by increasing their presence on the ground, in particular by maintaining a permanent political dialogue between countries in the region; urges the AU, in this connection, to consider, in coordination with the UN Security Council, deploying an African-led peacekeeping mission should the security and human rights situation further deteriorate in Burundi;

23.  Urges the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, to continue the efforts to secure the immediate release of Richard Spiros Hagabimana, a police officer in Burundi who has been illegally imprisoned and tortured because as a policeman he refused to shoot at a crowd on 28 July 2015;

24.  Takes the view that Burundi’s problems are interlinked with disputes linked to control over fertile farmland, income inequality and discrimination; calls, in this context, for the setting-up of a responsible regulatory framework to govern the way corporations comply with human rights obligations and obligations with respect to social and environmental standards;

25.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of Burundi, the ACP-EU Council, the Commission, the Council, the East African Community and the governments of its member states, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the institutions of the African Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0275.


Protection of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo
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European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on the protection of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2015/2728(RSP))
P8_TA(2015)0475B8-1346/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted on 16 November 1972 in Paris by the General Conference of UNESCO,

–  having regard to the designation by UNESCO of the Virunga National Park (VNP) as a World Heritage Site in 1979 and as a World Heritage Site in Danger in 1994,

–  having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992,

–  having regard to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, adopted in Ramsar in 1971,

–  having regard to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises adopted in 1976, (and to its updates) and to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights adopted in 1971,

–  having regard to the ‘Final Statement following agreement reached in complaint from WWF International against SOCO International plc’ of July 2014,

–  having regard to the legal and contractual framework for the hydrocarbons sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including the ‘Ordonnance-Loi n° 81-013 portant législation générale sur les mines et les hydrocarbures’, the ‘Code minier’ and any future ‘Code congolais des hydrocarbures’, as well as the ‘Contrats de Partage et de Production des hydrocarbures’ (CPPs),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on the protection of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (O-000108/2015 – B8‑1111/2015),

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

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

A.  whereas the VNP, located in the Provinces of North-Kivu and ‘Province Orientale’ of the DRC on the border with Rwanda and Uganda, is Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is globally renowned for its unique habitats and rich biodiversity, making it the most biodiverse park in Africa; whereas the park is, in particular, renowned for its mountain gorillas, a critically endangered species listed in Appendix I of the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES);

B.  whereas, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which has been signed and ratified by the DRC, the conservation of biological diversity is a common concern of humankind and is an integral part of the development process; whereas the Convention is legally binding, obliging its signatories to implement its provisions;

C.  whereas the VNP is also protected by the Ramsar Convention and DRC national law; whereas the European Commission and some EU Member States have been supporting the conservation of the park for the last 25 years;

D.  whereas the VNP is one of the DRC’s three Ramsar sites (No 787); whereas under the Ramsar Convention the DRC has a number of obligations regarding the sites included on the Ramsar list, such as to formulate and subsequently implement its planning to promote the conservation of the wetlands included in the list, and as far as possible, the wise use of wetlands in its territory (Article 3, paragraph 1 of the Ramsar Convention);

E.  whereas, according to the 2013 WWF report entitled ‘The economic value of Virunga park’, the Virunga National Park currently has an annual economic value of USD 48,9 million; whereas, in a stable situation, the park could contribute to growth in the economy and in tourism, and could have a value of USD 1 billion per year and create 45 000 jobs;

F.  whereas, despite its status as protected wilderness, the park has been under threat for decades by armed groups that engage in poaching, deforestation and other forms of unsustainable and illegal resource exploitation; whereas, as a result, Virunga has been included on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger; whereas an oil rush in a context of mass poverty, a weak state, poor governance and regional insecurity would have severe social and environmental destabilising effects;

G.  whereas, in December 2007, the DRC Government granted oil concessions covering 85 % of the park; whereas SOCO International plc (SOCO) is so far the only company to have explored the park;

H.  whereas despite the DRC’s law prohibiting environmentally harmful activities in protected areas, SOCO’s exploration licence exploits an exemption in that law that allows for ‘scientific activities’ in protected areas;

I.  whereas SOCO International no longer holds the licence for Block V in the VNP;

J.  whereas the results of the systemic study show the presence of oil in the VNP; recalls that the exploitation (and exploration) are incompatible with the preservation of the park, which is a World Heritage Site;

K.  whereas the responsibility to respect human rights is a global standard of expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate, as reiterated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;

L.  whereas violent conflict has taken place in and around the VNP for over two decades; whereas illegal mining, illegal exploitation of its natural resources (timber, charcoal, etc.) and poaching of endangered animals, as well as other illegal trade in natural resources in particular, have funded both the rebels and the official army forces, while exploration and exploitation of potential oil reserves will most likely fuel further violence and serious breaches of human rights and generate pollution in the area;

M.  whereas the most critical environmental risks associated with oil development in areas that lack good governance include large-scale clearance of vegetation, the introduction of invasive plants, fragmentation of habitats, the increased likelihood of poaching and pollution from oil spills, gas flaring and waste dumping; whereas the risk of an ‘oil curse’ could result in worsening poverty and inequality indicators, as illustrated by case studies such as that of the Niger Delta;

N.  whereas sustainable management of Virunga’s land, water and wildlife will have direct and indirect economic benefits for communities that rely heavily on the park’s natural resources; whereas, according to the WWF, mountain gorilla tourism alone could generate USD 30 million per year and create thousands of jobs;

1.  Stresses the absolute need to prevent irreversible damage to the VNP, which was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1979 and as a World Heritage Site in Danger in 1994;

2.  Deplores the fact that the VNP has also become one of the most dangerous places in the world when it comes to wildlife conservation; notes with deep concern that armed groups have been involved in illegal exploitation of the park’s natural resources through mining activities and charcoal production used both to sustain their military operations and for personal gain; deplores, also, the fact that armed groups have been involved in large-scale poaching for food purposes and for war-sustaining trade in ivory and bush meat; notes with concern, furthermore, that poor discipline, irregular pay and lack of food have resulted in military personnel becoming increasingly involved in illegal activities, including artisanal mining, charcoal production and wildlife poaching; notes that while the park is an area of great wilderness, its two million acres (790 000 hectares) have huge protection problems, especially with limited government funding; notes that on 15 April 2014 the Chief Warden of the Park, Belgian Prince Emmanuel de Merode, was seriously injured by three gunmen and that more than 140 rangers have been killed in the park on active service in the past decade;

3.  Emphasises that irreversible damage to the VNP could occur as a result of the exploration and exploitation of oil or other illegal activities; deems it unacceptable that oil concessions in the VNP were granted in 2007 to the French oil company TOTAL and the British oil company SOCO International, in violation of the Paris Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention and Congolese law, recalls that, while TOTAL agreed never to explore within the boundaries of the VNP (even if the Congolese Government decides to change the boundaries), SOCO International has carried out oil exploration in the VNP and concluded a seismic survey in July 2014, the results of which were submitted to the Congolese Government and attest to the presence of oil; calls on the DRC Government not to award a licence to another operator;

4.  Points out that the Ugandan Government is in the process of awarding a licence for the Ngaji block, adjacent to the VNP and including Lake Edward, and emphasises that irreversible damage to the VNP could also occur as a result of exploration and exploitation;

5.  Takes note of the agreement reached in June 2014 between SOCO International and the conservation group WWF, in relation to WWF’s complaint to the UK National Contact Point (NCP) on SOCO’s lack of compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, according to which the company commits not to undertake or commission any exploratory or other drilling within Virunga National Park unless UNESCO and the DRC Government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage Status; notes that such conditional agreement offers no guarantees as to the cessation of any oil-related activity in the park; points out that the ambiguous position of SOCO International leaves the door open to the park being fully or partially declassified for oil drilling; observes that the concession that SOCO has been exploring is located in and around Lake Edward, an area which is home to dozens of iconic (and some endangered) species, including chimpanzees, elephants, crocodiles and lions; calls, therefore, on SOCO International plc and its DRC-registered company to stop all exploration and exploitation within Virunga permanently and to respect the park’s current boundaries; calls also on the DRC Government to cancel the oil exploration permits granted within the property of Virunga National Park, as requested by the World Heritage Committee;

6.  Stresses that fishing in Lake Edward generates an estimated USD 30 million per year to the benefit of the local community which lives near the Virunga National Park and, moreover, according to an independent study commissioned by the WWF, over 50 000 families rely on the lake for their fresh water supplies;

7.  Points out that, according to a Global Witness report published in September 2014, in Der Spiegel, the Telegraph and the New York Times, there are allegations that SOCO International and its contractors have made illicit payments, appear to have paid off armed rebels and have benefited from fear and violence fostered by government security forces in eastern DRC as they have sought access to Africa’s oldest national park for oil exploration;

8.  Commends the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of oil exploration/ exploitation in the Northern Albertine Rift region, including in the VNP; considers that, on the basis of that assessment, the governments concerned, including the DRC Government, should be able to take informed decisions based on proper analysis of the impact of oil exploration and exploitation; regrets, however, that the SEA process has been greatly delayed and that oil exploration has already started in the VNP, even though the SEA process has not yet been finalised;

9.  Stresses that the issue of oil exploitation in the DRC is marked by an inadequate and ineffective legislative and regulatory system; calls on the DRC Government to uphold and respect DRC law and regulations that prohibit environmentally harmful activities such as oil exploration and exploitation in protected areas including Virunga, and to close existing loopholes in the draft hydrocarbon and conservation laws that allow for the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in national parks and World Heritage Sites;

10.  Commends the management authorities within the park for their efforts to ensure a sustainable income from natural solar and hydro energy generation, which improves the income of much of the local population without destroying the natural area, and which is within the permitted development activities for a World Heritage site;

11.  Points out that, since the early 1990s, conflicts with armed guerrillas who live inside and around the park have resulted in serious breaches of human rights and much of the violence; points out that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group of guerrillas accused of committing atrocities during the genocide that took place in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 and that also spread to eastern DRC, has been living in the park since 1996 and is still hiding out across the border in Virunga, while Mai-Mai militias are also reported to have killed, raped and injured many people, and to have destroyed villages, within the boundaries of the park; urges the DRC Government to disarm rebels and restore security in the park region; regrets, furthermore, that the repression of human rights activists and journalists in the DRC has increased; calls once more on the DRC Government to recognise and respect freedom of the press and media and to uphold the rule of law and human rights;

12.  Recalls that, according to the Paris Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, oil exploration and exploitation are not compatible with World Heritage Site status; stresses, furthermore, that the VNP is home to many endangered species, such as the iconic mountain gorillas (which are among the last on the planet) and the okapis, and that the habitats of endangered species should be strictly protected; welcomes the decision of the DRC Government to create a special anti-poaching brigade, but calls on the government to identify and take additional legal action in cooperation with the CITES secretariat to combat criminal networks involved in the illegal traffic; urges the DRC Government, more broadly, to strengthen the role of the park rangers and to punish illegal activities committed in the park;

13.  Stresses that the issue of VNP boundary change is reported to have been raised between the Congolese Government and SOCO International, with a view to declassifying parts of the VNP, or Virunga as a whole, in order to legally allow drilling for oil wells, even though it does not appear that the government has officially asked UNESCO about such a change at this stage;

14.  Calls on the European External Action Service to coordinate a diplomatic response from the EU Member States and other potential donors active in the DRC, with a view to helping the DRC Government reject oil exploration and exploitation within the boundaries of the park, cancel the oil exploration permits granted within the property of the VNP, as requested by the World Heritage Committee, and in the other Congolese UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and to reject changes to, and the reduction of, the park’s boundaries;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to uphold the integrity of the park, for example by increasing its commitment to funding sustainable conservation and economic development and diversification of the surrounding region; calls, in particular, on the EU to support the DRC Government in developing sustainable energy and economic alternatives to extractive industries, in improving the mobilisation of domestic resources, especially through fair and progressive tax systems, in governance, and in combating poaching, illegal logging, illegal mining and corruption, which are persistent factors that could cause irreversible damage to the park;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take all the appropriate measures to make the SEA project a real decision-making tool;

17.  Stresses that EU Member States have a duty under international and European human rights law to ensure that companies operating within their jurisdiction do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses, directly or indirectly, through their business activities and that they act in line with adopted codes of conduct detailing social and environmental performance standards, as well as instruments such as ILO Convention 169, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the Guiding Principles of the United Nations on Business and Human Rights; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take legally binding measures to effectively hold accountable companies that have been proven to circumvent national laws and international treaties;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take effective action to further address the root causes of armed conflicts and corruption, and to support sustainable development and peace-building strategies and projects in the VNP and in the surrounding region;

19.  Urges the Commission, the Member States, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the oil companies interested in drilling for oil to protect the current borders and neighbouring areas of the VNP from the exploitation of fossil fuels;

20.  Calls on the European External Action Service to take all necessary initiatives to persuade the DRC Government to investigate acts of violence against human rights defenders active in the DRC, especially in the VNP and including VNP wardens, and to encourage it to do its utmost to prevent the repetition of such acts of cruelty;

21.  Urges the European External Action Service to take all necessary measures to ensure that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office as the primary jurisdiction and any other relevant jurisdiction fully investigate all bribery and corruption allegations put before it regarding SOCO International plc and its DRC-registered company SOCO Exploration and Production DRC SPRL (SOCO);

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States and of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Uganda and the Republic of Rwanda, the World Heritage Committee established within UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.

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