Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Request for the waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski
 Multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean ***I
 Annual report on EU Competition Policy
 The role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values
 Stocktaking and challenges of the EU Financial Services Regulation
 External factors that represent hurdles to European female entrepreneurship
 Skills policies for fighting youth unemployment
 Towards a Digital Single Market Act

Request for the waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski
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European Parliament decision of 19 January 2016 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski (2015/2241(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0001A8-0004/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski, forwarded on 13 August 2015 by the Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Poland in connection with proceedings to be brought by the Polish General Inspector of Road Transport (Ref. No CAN-PST-SCW.7421.35493.2015.5.A.0475), and announced in plenary on 9 September 2015,

–  having regard to the fact that Czesław Adam Siekierski waived his right to a hearing, in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1),

–  having regard to Articles 105(2) and 108 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and Articles 7b(1) and 7c(1) in connection with Article 10b of the Polish Act of 9 May 1996 on the exercise of the mandate of Deputy and Senator,

–  having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0004/2016),

A.  whereas the Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Poland has forwarded a request from the Polish General Inspector of Road Transport for waiver of the immunity of a Member of the European Parliament elected with respect to Poland, Czesław Adam Siekierski, in connection with an offence under Article 92a of the Code of Petty Offences of 20 May 1971 in conjunction with Article 20(1) of the Road Traffic Act of 20 June 1997; whereas, in particular, the alleged offence amounts to exceeding the permitted speed limit in a built-up area;

B.  whereas Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament must enjoy, on the territory of their own Member State, the immunities accorded to members of the Member State’s parliament;

C.  whereas Articles 105(2) and 108 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland state that a deputy or a senator shall not be subject to criminal accountability without the consent of the Sejm or of the Senate respectively;

D.  whereas it is thus incumbent upon the European Parliament to decide whether the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski is or is not to be waived;

E.  whereas the alleged offence does not have a direct or obvious connection with Czesław Adam Siekierski’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament;

F.  whereas, in this case, Parliament has found no evidence of fumus persecutionis, that is to say, a sufficiently serious and precise suspicion that the request has been made with the intention of causing political damage to the Member concerned;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the Republic of Poland and to Czesław Adam Siekierski.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C‑200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C‑163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski
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European Parliament decision of 19 January 2016 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski (2015/2268(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0002A8-0005/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski, forwarded on 7 September 2015 by the Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Poland in connection with proceedings to be brought by the Polish General Inspector of Road Transport (Ref. No CAN-PST-SCW.7421.573278.2015.3.A.0475), and announced in plenary on 5 October 2015,

–  having regard to the fact that Czesław Adam Siekierski waived his right to a hearing, in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1),

–  having regard to Articles 105(2) and 108 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and Articles 7b(1) and 7c(1) in connection with Article 10b of the Polish Act of 9 May 1996 on the exercise of the mandate of Deputy and Senator,

–  having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0005/2016),

A.  whereas the Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Poland has forwarded a request from the Polish General Inspector of Road Transport for waiver of the immunity of a Member of the European Parliament elected with respect to Poland, Czesław Adam Siekierski, in connection with an offence under Article 92a of the Code of Petty Offences of 20 May 1971 in conjunction with Article 20(1) of the Road Traffic Act of 20 June 1997; whereas, in particular, the alleged offence amounts to exceeding the permitted speed limit in a built-up area;

B.  whereas Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament must enjoy, on the territory of their own Member State, the immunities accorded to members of the Member State’s parliament;

C.  whereas Articles 105(2) and 108 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland state that a deputy or a senator shall not be subject to criminal accountability without the consent of the Sejm or of the Senate respectively;

D.  whereas it is thus incumbent upon the European Parliament to decide whether the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski is or is not to be waived;

E.  whereas, pursuant to Rule 9(7) of the Rules of Procedure, the Committee on Legal Affairs may not, under any circumstances, pronounce on the guilt or otherwise of the Member;

F.  whereas, in this case, Parliament has found no evidence of fumus persecutionis, that is to say, a sufficiently serious and precise suspicion that the request has been made with the intention of causing political damage to the Member concerned;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Czesław Adam Siekierski;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the Republic of Poland and to Czesław Adam Siekierski.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C‑200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C‑163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.


Multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean ***I
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Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 19 January 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a multiannual recovery plan for Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean repealing Regulation (EC) No 302/2009 (COM(2015)0180 – C8-0118/2015 – 2015/0096(COD))(1)
P8_TA(2016)0003A8-0367/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 3 a (new)
(3a)  The Recovery plan takes into account the specificities of the different types of gears. When implementing the recovery plan, the Union and Member States should pay particular attention to non-industrial fishing activities and to the most artisanal and sustainable gear types, such as traditional traps ("almadrabas", "tonnare"), which contribute very positively to the rebuilding of tuna stocks, due to their high level of selectivity and low environmental impact in marine ecosystems, and which are valuable in scientific terms.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 14
(14)  All the amendments to the Recovery plan adopted by ICCAT in 2012, 2013 and 2014, which have not been subject to transposition yet, should be integrated into Union law. As this transposition concerns a plan whose objectives and measures were defined by ICCAT, this Regulation does not cover all the content of multiannual plans as set out under Articles 9 and 10 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council1.
(14)  All the amendments to the Recovery plan adopted by ICCAT in 2006, 2012, 2013 and 2014, which have not been subject to transposition yet, should be transposed into Union law. As this transposition concerns a plan whose objectives and measures were defined by ICCAT, this Regulation does not cover all the content of multiannual plans as set out under Articles 9 and 10 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council1.
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____________
1Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1954/2003 and (EC) No 1224/2009 and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2371/2002 and (EC) No 639/2004 and Council Decision 2004/585/EC (OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 1).
1Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1954/2003 and (EC) No 1224/2009 and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2371/2002 and (EC) No 639/2004 and Council Decision 2004/585/EC (OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 22).
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 15
(15)  It is necessary to transpose into Union law future binding amendments of the Recovery plan. In order to swiftly incorporate into Union law such amendments, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the European Commission (the "Commission"). It is of particular importance that the Commission carries out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level. The Commission, when preparing and drawing-up delegated acts, should ensure a simultaneous, timely and appropriate transmission of relevant documents to the European Parliament and Council.
deleted
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 15 a (new)
(15a)  Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 establishes the concept of minimum conservation reference sizes. In order to ensure consistency, the ICCAT concept of minimum sizes should be transposed into Union law as minimum conservation reference sizes. Consequently, the references in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/981a to minimum sizes of bluefin tuna should be read as references to minimum conservation reference sizes in this Regulation.
_______________
1a Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/98 of 18 November 2014 on the implementation of the Union's international obligations, as referred to in Article 15(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, under the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (OJ L 16, 23.01.2015, p. 23).
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 17
(17)  The Commission should adopt immediately applicable implementing acts where, in duly justified cases relating to transfer operations, caging operations and recording and reporting of trap and vessel activities, imperative grounds of urgency so require.
deleted
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 24
(24)  Article 15(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 introduced a landing obligation which applies as of 1 January 2015 to Bluefin tuna. However, under Article 15(2) of that Regulation, the landing obligation is without prejudice to the Union's international obligations, such as those resulting from ICCAT Recommendations. Under that same provision the Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts, for the purpose of implementing such international obligations into Union law, including, in particular, derogations from the landing obligation. Accordingly, the discard of bluefin tuna will be allowed in some situations laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 2015/98 of 18 November 2014. This Regulation does therefore not need to cover such discard obligations,
(24)   Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/98 provides for derogations from the landing obligation of bluefin tuna set out in Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 for the purpose of Union compliance with its international obligations under the Convention. It implements certain provisions of ICCAT Recommendation 13-07 that establish a discard and release obligation for vessels and traps catching bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean in certain situations. This Regulation therefore does not need to cover such discard and release obligations and will consequently be without prejudice to the corresponding provisions laid down in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/98,
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1
1.  This Regulation lays down the general rules for the application by the Union of the Recovery plan as defined in Article 3(1).
1.  This Regulation lays down the general rules for the application by the Union of the Recovery plan as defined in Article 3(1), taking into account the specific features of the various types of fishing gear and paying particular attention to traditional, more sustainable and artisanal gear, such as traps.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – point 16
(16)  "farming capacity" means the capacity of a farm to hold fish for fattening and farming purposes in tonnes";
deleted
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Article 5 – paragraph 1
1.  Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the fishing activities of its catching vessels and its traps are commensurate with the fishing opportunities on Bluefin tuna available to that Member State in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.
1.  Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the fishing effort of its catching vessels and its traps are commensurate with the fishing opportunities on Bluefin tuna available to that Member State in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, and to safeguard the socio-economic viability of its traps.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
The annual fishing plan submitted by each Member State shall provide for an even breakdown of quotas among the gear groups in order to help ensure compliance with individual quotas and by-catch allowances.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 – paragraph 1 a (new)
1a.  Member States shall use transparent and objective criteria, including those of an environmental, social and economic nature, for the national allocation of the quotas, giving special consideration to the preservation and prosperity of small-scale, artisanal and traditional fishermen using traps and other selective fishing methods, and to the encouragement of such methods.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 3
3.  The maximum number of fishing vessels flying the flag of a Member State engaged in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna fishery shall be limited to the number, and the total corresponding gross tonnage, of fishing vessels flying the flag of that Member State that fished for, retained on board, transhipped, transported or landed Bluefin tuna during the period from 1 January 2007 to 1 July 2008. That limit shall apply by gear type for catching vessels.
3.  The maximum number and the corresponding gross tonnage of fishing vessels flying the flag of a Member State engaged in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna fishery shall be limited to the number, and the total corresponding gross tonnage, of fishing vessels flying the flag of that Member State that fished for, retained on board, transhipped, transported or landed Bluefin tuna during the period from 1 January 2007 to 1 July 2008. That limit shall apply by gear type for catching vessels.
Amendment 41
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 6 a (new)
6a.  By way of derogation from paragraphs 2, 3, and 5, Member States shall review the Bluefin tuna fishing quota system, which penalises small-scale fishermen, for the purpose of removing the monopoly currently exercised by large vessel owners and encouraging more sustainable fishing systems such as those used for small-scale fishing.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 7
7.  By way of derogation from paragraph 3 and 6, for the years 2015, 2016, and 2017, each Member State shall limit the numbers of its purse seiners not authorised to fish for Bluefin tuna under the derogation referred to in Article 13(2)b to the numbers of purse seiners it authorised in 2013 or 2014.
7.  For the years 2015, 2016, and 2017, each Member State shall limit the numbers of its purse seiners to the numbers of purse seiners it authorised in 2013 or 2014. This shall not apply to purse seiners operating under the derogation provided for in point (b) of Article 13(2).
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Article 10 – paragraph 5
5.  Fishing for Bluefin tuna by gears other than those referred to in paragraphs 1 to 4 and Article 11, including traps shall be permitted throughout the year.
5.  Fishing for Bluefin tuna by gears other than those referred to in paragraphs 1 to 4 and Article 11, including traps, shall be permitted throughout the year in accordance with ICCAT conservation and management measures.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation
Chapter III – Section 2 – title
MINIMUM SIZE, INCIDENTAL CATCH, BY-CATCH
MINIMUM CONSERVATION REFERENCE SIZE, INCIDENTAL CATCH, BY-CATCH
Amendment 16
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12
The provisions of this Section shall be without prejudice to Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013, including any derogation in line with Article 15(2) of that Regulation.
The provisions of this Section shall be without prejudice to Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013, including any applicable derogations therefrom.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a regulation
Article 13 – title
Minimum size
Minimum conservation reference size
Amendment 18
Proposal for a regulation
Article 13 – paragraph 1
1.  The minimum size for Bluefin tuna caught in the eastern Atlantic and in the Mediterranean shall be 30 kg or 115 cm fork length.
1.  The minimum conservation reference size for Bluefin tuna caught in the eastern Atlantic and in the Mediterranean shall be 30 kg or 115 cm fork length.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a regulation
Article 13 – paragraph 2 – introductory part
By way of derogation from paragraph 1, a minimum size for Bluefin tuna of 8 kg or 75cm fork length shall apply to the following fisheries:
By way of derogation from paragraph 1, a minimum conservation reference size for Bluefin tuna of 8 kg or 75cm fork length shall apply to the following fisheries:
Amendment 20
Proposal for a regulation
Article 15 – paragraph 4
4.  If the quota allocated to the Member State of the fishing vessel or trap concerned has already been consumed, the catching of any Bluefin tuna shall be avoided. Dead Bluefin tuna must be landed and shall be subject to confiscation and the appropriate follow-up action. In accordance with Article 27, each Member State shall report information on such quantities on an annual basis to the Commission who shall forward it to the ICCAT Secretariat.
4.  If the quota allocated to the Member State of the fishing vessel or trap concerned has already been consumed, the catching of any Bluefin tuna shall be avoided. Dead Bluefin tuna must be landed whole and unprocessed and shall be subject to confiscation and the appropriate follow-up action. In accordance with Article 27, each Member State shall report information on such quantities on an annual basis to the Commission who shall forward it to the ICCAT Secretariat.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a regulation
Chapter III – Section 3 – title
USE OF AIRCRAFTS
USE OF AERIAL MEANS
Amendment 22
Proposal for a regulation
Article 18 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.  Any Bluefin tuna landed shall be whole, gilled and gutted. Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, the release of Bluefin tuna caught alive, especially juveniles, in the framework of recreational and sport fishing.
Amendment 23
Proposal for a regulation
Article 19 – paragraph 1 – point a
(a)  a list of all catching vessels flying its flag authorised to fish actively for Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean by issue of a special fishing authorisation;
(a)  a list of all catching vessels flying its flag authorised to fish actively for Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean by issue of a fishing authorisation;
Amendment 24
Proposal for a regulation
Article 19 a (new)
Article 19a
Relationship with Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009
The control measures provided for in this Chapter shall apply in addition to those provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009, except where otherwise provided for in this Chapter.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a regulation
Article 20 – paragraph 2
2.  The flag Member State shall withdraw the fishing authorisation for Bluefin tuna and shall require the vessel to proceed immediately to a port designated by it when the individual quota is deemed to be exhausted.
2.  The flag Member State shall withdraw the fishing authorisation for Bluefin tuna and may require the vessel to proceed immediately to a port designated by it when the individual quota is deemed to be exhausted.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a regulation
Article 21 – paragraph 1
1.  By 15 February each year, each Member State shall send to the Commission electronically a list of its traps authorised, by issue of a special fishing authorisation to fish for Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. The list shall include the name of the traps and the register number and shall be set up in accordance with the format set in the Guidelines by ICCAT for submitting data and information required.
1.  By 15 February each year, each Member State shall send to the Commission electronically a list of its traps authorised, by issue of a fishing authorisation to fish for Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. The list shall include the name of the traps and the register number and shall be set up in accordance with the format set in the Guidelines by ICCAT for submitting data and information required.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a regulation
Article 24 – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 2
On duly justified imperative grounds of urgency, the Commission shall adopt immediately applicable implementing acts in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 59 (3).
deleted
Amendment 28
Proposal for a regulation
Article 29 – paragraph 3
3.  Where Member States apply Article 80(3) of Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 to the notification under paragraphs 1 and 2, the estimated quantities of Bluefin tuna retained on board may be notified at the agreed time of notification prior to arrival.
3.  Where Member States apply Article 80(3) of Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 to the notification under paragraphs 1 and 2, the estimated quantities of Bluefin tuna retained on board may be notified at the agreed time of notification prior to arrival. If the fishing grounds are less than four hours from the port, the estimated quantities of Bluefin tuna retained on board may be modified at any time prior to arrival.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a regulation
Article 37 – paragraph 2
On duly justified imperative grounds of urgency, the Commission shall adopt immediately applicable implementing acts in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 59(3).
deleted
Amendment 30
Proposal for a regulation
Article 46 – paragraph 2
On duly justified imperative grounds of urgency, the Commission shall adopt immediately applicable implementing acts in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 59(3).
deleted
Amendment 31
Proposal for a regulation
Article 47 – paragraph 4
4.  Member States shall ensure that their Fisheries Monitoring Centres forward to the Commission and a body designated by it, in real time and using the format ‘https data feed’, the VMS messages received from the fishing vessels flying their flag. The Commission shall send electronically those messages to the ICCAT Secretariat.
4.  Member States shall transmit the data provided for in this Article in accordance with Article 28 of Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011. The Commission shall send electronically those messages to the ICCAT Secretariat.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a regulation
Article 49 – paragraph 2 – point c a (new)
(ca)  during all transfers from one farm to another;
Amendment 33
Proposal for a regulation
Article 49 – paragraph 5 – point a a (new)
(aa)   observe and monitor fishing and farming operations in compliance with the relevant ICCAT conservation and management measures;
Amendment 34
Proposal for a regulation
Article 57
Article 57
deleted
Procedure for amendments
1.  As far as is necessary, in order to incorporate into Union law amendments to the existing provisions of the Bluefin tuna recovery plan which become binding to the Union, the Commission may amend non-essential provisions of this Regulation by means of delegated acts in accordance with Article 58.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a regulation
Article 58
Article 58
deleted
Exercise of the delegation for amendments
1.  The power to adopt delegated acts is conferred on the Commission subject to the conditions laid down in this Article.
2.  The delegation of power referred to in Article 57 shall be conferred on the Commission for an indeterminate period of time.
3.  The delegation of power referred to in Article 57 may be revoked at any time by the European Parliament or by the Council. A decision of revocation shall put an end to the delegation of the power specified in that decision. It shall take effect the day following the publication of the decision in the Official Journal of the European Union or at a later date specified therein. It shall not affect the validity of any delegated acts already in force.
4.  As soon as it adopts a delegated act, the Commission shall notify it simultaneously to the European Parliament and to the Council.
5.  A delegated act adopted pursuant to Article 57 shall enter into force only if no objection has been expressed either by the European Parliament or the Council within a period of 2 months of notification of that act to the European Parliament and the Council or if, before the expiry of that period, the European Parliament and the Council have both informed the Commission that they will not object. That period shall be extended by 2 months at the initiative of the European Parliament or the Council.
Amendment 36
Proposal for a regulation
Article 59 – paragraph 3
3.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, Article 8 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011, in conjunction with Article 5 thereof, shall apply.
deleted
Amendment 37
Proposal for a regulation
Article 61 – paragraph 1
This Regulation shall enter into force on the third day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
This Regulation shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a regulation
Annex I – paragraph 2
2.  In addition to the provisions set out in Article 8(3), the maximum number of catching vessels authorised to fish for Bluefin tuna in the Adriatic sea for farming purposes under the specific conditions applying to the derogation referred to in Article 13(2)(b) is set at the number of Union catching vessels participating in the directed fishery for Bluefin tuna in 2008.
2.  In addition to the provisions set out in Article 8(3), the maximum number of catching vessels authorised to fish for Bluefin tuna in the Adriatic sea for farming purposes under the specific conditions applying to the derogation referred to in Article 13(2)(b) is set at the number of Union catching vessels participating in the directed fishery for Bluefin tuna in 2008. For that purpose, the number of Croatian catching vessels participating in the directed fishery for Bluefin tuna in 2008 shall be taken into account.
Amendment 39
Proposal for a regulation
Annex IV – point 2 – line 2
Number of individuals:
Species:

Number of individuals:
Species:
Weight:

Amendment 40
Proposal for a regulation
Annex VII – point 7 – point a
(a)  allowed access to the vessel and farm personnel and to the gear, cages and equipment
(a)  allowed access to the vessel, farm and trap personnel and to the gear, cages and equipment

(1) The matter was referred back to the committee responsible for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 61(2), second subparagraph (A8-0367/2015).


Annual report on EU Competition Policy
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European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on the Annual report on EU Competition Policy (2015/2140(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0004A8-0368/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 4 June 2015 on competition policy in 2014 (COM(2015)0247) and the Commission staff working document as supporting document of the same date,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 101-109, 147 and 174,

–  having regard to the relevant competition rules, guidelines and resolutions of the Commission,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2015 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy in 2013(1), and its resolution of 11 December 2013 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy in 2012(2) and the requirements laid down therein by Parliament,

–  having regard to the study by the Directorate-General for Internal Policies (Policy Department A (Economic and Scientific Policy)) for the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection entitled ‘Unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food supply chain (UTPs)’(3),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee entitled ‘Internal market of international road freight: social dumping and cabotage’(4),

–  having regard to the May 2012 report of the European Competition Network (ECN) entitled ‘Report on competition law enforcement and market monitoring activities by European competition authorities in the food sector’(5),

–  having regard to Council Directives 77/799/EEC and 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation,

–  having regard to the conclusions and action proposals of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project,

–  having regard to the Commission Decision of 6 May 2015 initiating an inquiry into the e-commerce sector pursuant to Article 17 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 (C(2015)3026),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/104/EU of 26 November 2014 on rules governing actions for damages,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 June 2014 on guidelines for State energy subsidies and environmental aid(6),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the TFEU,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of company amalgamations,

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper ‘Towards more effective EU merger control’ of 9 July 2014 (COM(2014)0449),

–  having regard to the competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector of 8 July 2009 and to the follow-up reports, in particular the 5th Report on the Monitoring of Patent Settlements,

–  having regard to the universal framework for Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0368/2015),

A.  whereas EU competition policy is a cornerstone of the social market economy in Europe and an essential instrument for a properly functioning internal market in the Union;

B.  whereas, in the field of competition, the European Union's voice is heard and respected on the international scene; whereas this unified, independent, external representation, backed up by clearly defined powers, enables the Union to exert its true political, demographic and economic power;

C.  whereas competition policy is in itself a means of safeguarding European democracy, in that it prevents the over-concentration of economic and financial power in the hands of a few;

D.  whereas the European Union is established as an open social market economy with free and fair competition, the purpose of which is to increase the prosperity of consumers and the living standards of all EU citizens, and whereas the European Union is establishing an internal market designed to bring about sustainable development in Europe on the basis of balanced economic growth and price stability;

E.  whereas the aim of the strong application of competition-law principles under the EU Treaty is to contribute to the achievement of the overall objectives of EU economic policy and, at the same time, to benefit consumers, workers and entrepreneurs, and promote innovation and growth, by controlling and restricting unfair market practices resulting from monopolies and dominant market positions, so that every individual has a fair chance of success;

F.  whereas the independence of national competition authorities is of paramount importance;

G.  whereas each year losses of EUR 181-320 billion – approximately 3 % of EU GDP – accrue owing to the existence of cartels;

H.  whereas, in terms of energy costs, the European single market performs worse than the internal US market, with a price dispersion of 31 %, to be compared with 22 % in the latter;

I.  whereas in many Member States a severe credit crunch is still affecting SMEs, which represent 98 % of the EU firms and 67 % of employed people;

J.  whereas tax evasion, tax fraud and tax havens are costing the EU taxpayers an estimated EUR 1 trillion per year in lost revenue, distorting competition in the single market between those companies who pay taxes and those who do not;

K.  whereas in recent years, in particular, the dynamism in the digital economy and, above all, distortions of competition as a result of aggressive tax practices and national taxation policies (which are probably causing considerable harm to the internal market), have brought with them new challenges for market players, requiring an immediate and targeted response from the Commission; whereas global cooperation on the enforcement of competition rules helps avoid inconsistencies in the corrective measures taken and in the outcomes of enforcement measures, and helps businesses to reduce their compliance costs;

L.  whereas, given the challenges of the digital age, the existing competition law instruments need to be reviewed fundamentally;

M.  whereas international air transport rules on fair competition, and the regulation of state-owned enterprises, are deficient with respect to airlines from certain third countries operating to and from Europe dominating certain routes, causing considerable harm to European airlines and impairing the connectivity of European hub airports, thereby reducing choice for European consumers;

N.  whereas competition does not have the same impact in all Member States;

O.  whereas competition policy needs to take particular account of the objectives of sustainable development and social cohesion;

P.  whereas social dumping is a factor distorting the internal market, hurting both consumers’ and workers’ rights;

Q.  whereas guaranteeing the free movement of people, goods, services and capital is the basis of Europe’s growth;

1.  Welcomes the report by the Commission, which underlines the importance of competition policy in the EU, and notes that it essentially covers the term of office of the last Commission under Competition Commissioner Almunia;

2.  Calls on the Commission in future to send the sectoral working paper to Parliament as an integral part of the report;

3.  Welcomes the fact that Competition Commissioner Vestager wishes to work in close cooperation with Parliament to develop competition policy as one of the key instruments of the European Union towards making the common internal market a reality, and calls on the Commission not to implement internal EU competition policy in such a way as to restrict firms’ market strategies, so that they can compete on world markets with actors from outside the EU;

4.  Stresses that an effective and credible competition policy must not be directed exclusively towards bringing down prices for consumers, but must also be mindful of the strategic interests of the European economy, such as: the ability to innovate; investment; competitiveness and sustainability; the special competitive conditions for SMEs, start-ups and microenterprises; and the need to promote high labour and environmental standards;

5.  Calls on the Commission to put a stop to social dumping, and emphasises that competition policy decisions must take particular account of the social impact;

6.  Considers that the specific nature of the digital economy, characterised by decreasing marginal costs tending towards zero and by strong network effects, favours an increase in the level of concentration in key markets; invites the Commission to adapt its competition policy to the specificities of this sector;

7.  Calls on the Commission to complete the internal market in areas where it is still fragmented and incomplete, and to end unjustified market restrictions and distortions of competition as soon as possible wherever they are found; calls on the Commission to ensure that competition policy at the same time strengthens social cohesion in the Union;

8.  Stresses that the prioritisation of the work of the competition authority, and the presentation in the 2014 Competition Report, are largely consistent with the common priorities; sees, however, the need in some areas for a more determined course of action, which the Commission should emphatically address in the coming year; highlights the importance of global cooperation on competition enforcement; supports an active participation of the Commission in the International Competition Network;

9.  Calls again on the Commission – as it did with regard to the previous annual report – to prevent the development of excessive market concentration and abuse of market dominance in connection with the creation of the digital single market, as doing so will ensure a higher level of service for consumers and the possibility of more attractive prices;

10.  Regards it as essential to guarantee fair terms of competition on the digital market and to combat the abuse of dominant positions and tax optimisation, aims which ultimately benefit consumers;

11.  Believes that the development of e-government is an important factor in supporting growth, including as regards the participation of SMEs; calls, therefore, on the Member States to use all the tools made available to them by the new public procurement legislation for promoting growth in the EU, and calls on the Commission to support all initiatives connected with the development of e-government; stresses, furthermore, that the promotion and implementation of e-governance systems in all Member States is instrumental to the efficient monitoring of infringements and to ensuring transparency in both the public and the private sector;

12.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the Member States implement the new public procurement legislation in a timely manner, in particular as regards the deployment of e-procurement and e-administration, and the new provisions on consideration of social and environmental criteria and on the division of contracts into lots, in order to boost innovation and fair competition, support SMEs in procurement markets and ensure best value for money in the use of public funds;

13.  Calls on the Commission to go even further in seeking an ambitious opening-up of international public procurement markets, in order to eliminate the imbalance which exists with regard to the degree of opening-up of public procurement markets between the EU and other trading partners, and, to that end, to take account of its report on the Commission’s proposal for an international procurement instrument and the forthcoming revision thereof;

14.  Points out that customers on the single market are being sold products containing ingredients that differ from one consignment to another even though the brand name and the packaging is the same; calls on the Commission to determine whether, in the context of EU competition policy, this is a practice that has negative repercussions for suppliers of local and regional produce, in particular SMEs;

15.  Considers it essential for the Commission to continue to promote better convergence of, and cooperation among, national competition authorities in the EU;

16.  Welcomes the strong interplay between competition enforcement and the digital single market strategy, in particular in actions related to geo-blocking practices and licensing agreements, with a view to completing the digital single market; considers that a similar interplay is vital in the internal energy market to remove barriers to the free flow of energy across borders, and to build the Energy Union;

17.  Considers that competition in the telecommunications sector is essential not only to drive innovation and investment in networks, but also encourage affordable prices and choice in services for consumers; calls, therefore, on the Commission to safeguard competition in this sector, including in the allocation of spectrum;

18.  Calls on the Commission to scrutinise the unfair and unlawful clauses and practices employed by the banking sector in consumer contracts; calls on the Commission, in the context of the ECN, to foster exchanges of proven practices; urges the Commission to reduce the amount of red tape of all kinds generated by the implementation of competition policy;

19.  Believes that competition policy should play an important part in making financial markets more secure and transparent for consumers; welcomes, furthermore, the legislative measures adopted in the field of electronic payments and, in particular, the introduction of ceilings on interbank commissions for card payment transactions;

20.  Reminds the Commission that competition policy also entails regulating the price of services for which it is difficult to set a market value, such as ATM fees;

21.  Calls on the Commission to examine ATM networks from the perspective of competition policy, given that this is a network infrastructure;

22.  Believes that further thought should be given to how European companies must be supported as they compete on a global basis with other like-sized operations from different parts of the world, which do not have to follow the same competition rules that European entities must comply with on their home turf;

23.  Calls on the Commission to ensure coherence between the Union’s trade and competition policies and the objectives of its industrial policy; points out that the Union’s competition policy should not hinder the emergence of European industrial champions in economy; calls, therefore, for trade and competition policies to promote the development and competitiveness of European industry on the world stage;

24.  Recognises that many energy-intensive industries are struggling economically and that some, such as the steel industry, are in crisis; urges the Commission to review EU State aid rules for energy-intensive industries, guaranteeing effective carbon leakage protection and providing fair opportunities for EU industries, particularly the most vulnerable energy-intensive industries;

Antitrust proceedings – cases of abuse of dominant position

25.  Calls on the Commission to increase its efforts as regards investigations of instances of abuse of dominant market positions to the detriment of EU consumers;

26.  Notes that abuses of dominant position are prohibited and constitute a serious competition problem;

27.  Considers that the Commission is working successfully in cases involving infringements of the rules on cartels and is able to demonstrate that it has made a significant contribution towards the realisation of internal market and equal competition rules;

28.  Underlines that anticompetitive practices and monopolies can constitute barriers to trade which distort trade and investment flows; calls on the Commission – in the interest of free and fair global trade – to take action internationally against cartels and anticompetitive, oligopolistic and monopolistic practices that are damaging to competition;

29.  Considers that the existing rules on fines to be imposed on legal persons for infringements must be supplemented by concomitant penalties against the natural persons responsible; takes the view that the fines should be high enough to act as a deterrent; emphasises the importance of a successful whistleblower policy, which has allowed the Commission to detect cartels;

30.  Regards legal certainty as crucial, and calls on the Commission to incorporate the rules on fines, such as those imposed in cartel proceedings, into a legislative instrument;

31.  Notes that the original market models of the competition policy may be inappropriate for the digital economy, and that the use of price-based indicators in this dynamic economic sector often fails to achieve the desired outcome; calls on the Commission to carry out, on the basis of new criteria, a comprehensive legal and economic assessment of fast-moving markets and ephemeral business models employed by digital undertakings, in order to obtain a clear understanding of the market structure and market trends, take appropriate measures to protect consumers and take proper account of the importance of data and of the specific market structures of the digital economy; points out that, for the purposes of defining the relevant market, in particular in the digital economy, relevant assessment criteria in terms of competition must be applied;

32.  Maintains that the protection of intellectual property is central to fair competition, and notes with regret that global companies are unwilling to acquire the licences required for using European patents; calls on the Commission to provide effective protection for standard essential patents (SEPs) and to exercise close supervision to ensure that patent users obtain licences in the proper way;

33.  Calls on the Commission to investigate if there is any kind of correlation between a high incidence of politicians and former ministers on the governing boards of energy companies and oligopolistic practices in the energy sector in some Member States;

34.  Call into question the long duration of the investigations into US internet giant Google, and regrets the fact that these investigations have already dragged on for several years, with no transparency and no definitive results to show, reflecting the fact that until 2014 the Commission was reluctant to indicate its intention to abolish market restrictions; points out that, especially where dynamic markets are concerned, proceedings that take so long can amount to de facto market cleansing and create uncertainty for all parties;

35.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a thorough investigation into the Google practice whereby the ‘Android’ operating system is offered only in conjunction with other Google services, and whereby manufacturers may not pre-install rival products; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to examine in detail Google’s dominant market position in the area of direct hotel bookings, and to seek an appropriate solution to this problem; supports the Commission measures designed to bring about a greater degree of interoperability and portability across all digital sectors and, thereby, avoid a winner-takes-all scenario; stresses the importance of equipping the Commission with the right tools to maintain an up-to-date overview of swift developments on the digital market;

36.  Calls on the Commission to conduct and complete all other pending cartel investigations carefully, and to do away with any market restrictions; welcomes the new Commissioner’s refusal to bow to political pressure, and calls for the proceedings to be speeded up so that results can be achieved within the next year; welcomes, therefore, the Statement of Objections sent by the Commission to Google concerning its comparison shopping service; calls on the Commission to continue to examine determinedly all concerns identified in its investigations, including other areas of search bias, in order to guarantee a level playing field for all market players in the digital market;

37.  Points out that under Article 8 of the Cartel Proceedings Regulation, Regulation (EC) No 1/2003, the Commission may order interim measures when there is a risk of serious and irreparable damage to competition; calls on the Commission to determine how far such measures could be applied in protracted competition proceedings, especially on the digital market;

38.  Recalls that net neutrality (meaning the principle according to which all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender, recipient, type, content, device, service or application) is of utmost importance when it comes to ensuring that there is no discrimination between internet services and that competition is fully guaranteed;

39.  Stresses that competition policy should be evidence-based, and welcomes the Commission’s sector inquiry into e-commerce, focusing on potential barriers to cross-border online trade in goods and services in, e.g., the sectors for electronics, clothing, shoes and digital content;

40.  Notes that the Google case has triggered a general discussion on the power of dominant internet platforms such as eBay, Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, etc., their influence on markets and on the public sphere, and the need to regulate them to protect both; points out that the aim of regulating internet platforms should be to guarantee higher user protection while maintaining incentives to innovate;

41.  Calls on the Commission to investigate the market dominance of Google in the market for direct hotel bookings; points out that the company is seeking to have hotel searchers book and pay via Google rather than a third-party travel or hotel site; underlines that this move is potentially controversial as it turns Google into an online travel agency, or its equivalent, charging booking fees; notes that most hoteliers would prefer direct bookings rather than through a third-party site or aggregator; underlines that Google could leverage its dominant position and, by the same token, weaken competitors in travel markets, and thereby harm consumers;

42.  Welcomes the Commission’s newly adopted amendments to Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 relating to the conduct of proceedings by the Commission pursuant to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, and the related communications arising out of the Directive on Actions for Damages; considers it unfortunate that Parliament was not involved in the drafting of the amendments;

43.  Points out that competition policy has a key role to play in the completion of the digital single market; shares the view that a robust competition policy on fast-moving markets requires thorough market knowledge; welcomes, therefore, the fact that a sector inquiry into e-commerce is being carried out in implementation of the digital single market strategy;

State aid

44.  Calls on the Commission, as the guardian of the Treaties, to monitor closely the Member States’ implementation of the above directive, and to ensure that its provisions are enforced in a uniform manner throughout the EU; calls on the Commission, on the Member States and on authorities at regional and communal administrative levels actively to promote compliance with EU competition policy and to explain its legal basis; emphasises the importance of addressing horizontal and vertical State aid in the same way; sees a need for action to be taken to raise awareness in all parts of the European Union about the classification and granting of illegal State aid, in particular when aid decisions of this kind are tantamount to anti-competitive and protectionist measures; takes the view, however, that remote or outlying regions and islands should be given greater leeway than at present when it comes to applying rules on State aid;

45.  Considers that the Commission, particularly in State aid proceedings, must examine evidence provided by the Member States more rigorously, and improve fact security, since there are regular attempts to circumvent the legal basis and the legal constraints, or to seek more or fewer borderline compromises; considers, furthermore, that such examinations should be premised on the recognition that, in strategic and vital sectors such as energy, transport and healthcare, states need to ensure the total security, the continuity of supply and the provision of services for all their citizens, and that they need to take care not to enact legal provisions that are damaging to other Member States or to the Union;

46.  Reiterates that EU Structural Funds may not be used in a way that directly or indirectly encourages the relocation of services or production to another Member State, e.g. by a waiting period for undertakings receiving such funds; stresses that State aid is sometimes necessary in order to guarantee the delivery of services of general economic interest (SGEI), including energy, transport and telecommunications; emphasises that State intervention is often the most effective policy tool for guaranteeing the provision of services that are vital to safeguarding economic and social conditions in isolated, remote or outlying regions and islands in the Union;

47.  Welcomes the adoption by the Commission in 2014 of the new Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy, and its implementation of these as the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER);

48.  Welcomes the inclusion in the GBER of social aid for the transport of residents of remote regions, whereby the problem of connectivity is now recognised; stresses that the connectivity of peripheral island regions is also essential for sustaining and developing acceptable levels of economic and social initiative by maintaining vital business connections;

49.  Welcomes the current Commission inquiry regarding deferred tax assets and deferred tax credits (DTAs/DTCs), which is to the benefit of the banking sector in several Member States; is of the opinion that DTA/DTCs should retroactively be authorised under State aid provisions if they are tied to explicit conditions regarding financing targets for the real economy;

50.  Recalls its request to the Commission that it examine whether the banking sector has benefited, since the beginning of the crisis, from implicit subsidies and State aid in the form of unconventional liquidity support;

51.  Welcomes the introduction of new guidelines on State aid for risk financing, the primary purpose of which is to make it possible to promote more effectively SMEs, innovative midcaps and start-ups, which have a significant size disadvantage;

52.  Criticises the fact that competition-distorting tax models, in particular, can lead to considerable problems for medium-sized businesses, as well as for a number of Member States that do not apply such tax models’;

53.  Welcomes the fact that, as part of the modernisation of State aid law, the Commission is taking the initiative of issuing new guidelines that will make it clear what is meant by State aid in the tax sphere and in appropriate transfer pricing;

54.  Requests a separate study from the Commission that assesses whether EU State aid provisions are inhibiting the consolidation and strengthening of competitiveness among European firms vis-à-vis their global competitors, not least with regard to state procurement mechanisms, also in the light of the recent conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP);

Merger control

55.  Notes that, in the past, assessments of mergers and takeovers in the digital economy have predominantly been made on the basis of the turnover of the businesses in question, which is inadequate; stresses that businesses with low turnovers and substantial start-up losses may also have a large customer base, and therefore substantial volumes of data, and significant market strength, as the Commission’s unconditional approval of the takeover of WhatsApp by Facebook, which set a precedent, proves;

56.  Takes the view that in some economic sectors, first and foremost the digital economy, additional criteria should be applied that go above and beyond price-based approaches, market share, and turnover, since mergers can often entail market restrictions;

57.  Considers that particularly in the digital economy, and in the context of consumer protection, the general competition rules must be updated to stay abreast of market realities, and additional new criteria must be introduced in assessing mergers, such as the purchase price, possible market entry barriers, the vital importance of data and of access to data, platform specifications and associated network effects, and also the issue of whether or not there is global competition in the sector in question; calls on the Commission to give particular consideration to the commercial model for businesses in the digital economy and to possible market entry barriers, including factors such as the scope for switching between platforms and data portability;

58.  Calls on the Commission to examine the possibility for independent retailers – who under competition law are allowed to work together through their brick-and-mortar shops – to provide joint e-commerce offerings as well;

59.  Considers that the erroneous assessment of market strength, combined with the current market definition, is often working to the detriment of European businesses, in particular in times of globalisation and in a dynamic digital market; calls on the Commission to consider a readjustment within the framework of the Merger Regulation;

60.  Expresses concern that too often a narrowly national approach is adopted with regard to the issue of market definition, whereby proper account is not taken of the internationalisation of markets, as was the case, for example, of the Merger Regulation;

Financial aid and taxation

61.  Stresses that – as stated for the fifth time in its annual competition report – the temporary State aid in the financial sector was necessary for the stabilisation of the global financial system, but must quickly be reduced, or totally removed and scrutinised, if the Banking Union is to be completed; emphasises the continuing urgent need to eliminate subsidies – in the form of implicit guarantees for financial institutions that are still too big to fail – in order to level the playing field in the financial sector, and to protect taxpayers, with regard to whom care must be taken to ensure that this does not generate windfall profits or benefits for private legal persons; stresses the importance of a restrictive approach to State aid;

62.  Emphasises that fair tax competition is essential to the integrity of the internal market, to the viability of public finances and to ensuring a level and competitive playing field;

63.  Considers that the significant disparities that have emerged among Member States in the use of State aid in the financial sector in recent years may lead to distortions of competition in this sector; calls on the Commission to clarify the rules and procedures under which State aid in the financial sector can be authorised; takes the view that, at the very latest when the Banking Union is completed, State aid for the banking sector must be scaled back, whereby care must be taken to ensure that regulation does not distort competition to the benefit of large banks, and that sufficient credit is available for SMEs;

64.  Believes that the Commission should consider the possibility of linking State aid to banks to conditionality on credit to SMEs;

65.  Calls on the Commission to launch a road map for less, but better targeted, State aid, aiming for a reduction of State aid that opens up for lower taxes stimulating new businesses and fair competition, rather than supporting old structures and incumbents;

66.  Underlines the fact that when State aid is used to promote services of general interest, it is the benefit to citizens, not to individual companies or to public entities today, that is crucial;

67.  Calls on the Commission to follow closely the conditions to be proposed by the European Central Bank for granting new banking licenses, with a view to ensuring the creation of a level playing field without high barriers of entrance to the market; strongly believes that, given the high concentration in the banking sector of some Member States, a higher number of banking entities would be good for consumers and SMEs;

68.  Emphasises the key importance of EU subsidy law in the fight against tax avoidance by multinational undertakings;

69.  Welcomes the investigations initiated by the Commission in 2014 into unlawful State aid, through unfair tax competition, to the benefit of certain individual companies, which was extended to all the 28 EU countries in 2015; calls, furthermore, on the Member States in future to present to the Commission, in good time and without delay, all relevant information about their tax practice, and, at long last, to comply with their obligation to disclose to the Commission and to Parliament details of any special arrangements that may have an impact on other Member States and SMEs;

70.  Notes that, during recent terms of office, the Commission has opened only a very limited number of investigations into potentially tax-related State aid cases, in spite of the well-founded suspicions that have been made public in the meantime; calls on the Commission to use the findings of the current investigations as the basis for more precise and effective guidelines for tax-related State aid, to make use of its full powers under EU competition rules to tackle harmful tax practices, and to penalise Member States and companies found to be involved in such practices; calls on the Commission to specify, at the same time, which tax measures are not consistent with State aid policy;

71.  Considers that, in order to ensure fair competition among companies in line with Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014, companies located in regions experiencing temporary or permanent disadvantages should be supported, and that increased flexibility should be granted to regions experiencing severe economic problems, such as regions included in the Convergence and Competitiveness objectives, and to insular regions;

72.  Regrets that only a very limited number of cases of State aid pertaining to unfair tax competition have been investigated since 1991, underlining the need to ensure broad access to information in order to trigger more investigations on suspicious cases; expresses its concern over the limited resources currently available to the competent Commission services, which may limit their ability to handle a significantly larger number of cases;

73.  Stresses that State aid proceedings alone cannot put a permanent stop to the unfair tax competition in a number of Member States; one year after the ‘LuxLeaks’ revelations, further tangible results are required, such as a common consolidated corporate tax base, a review of the VAT Directive in order to prevent fraud, the obligation on large international companies to report publicly their turnover and profits on a ‘country-by-country’ basis, and a call on the Member States to introduce greater transparency in their tax practices and mutual reporting requirements;

74.  Takes the view that the tax practices currently employed by certain Member States are seriously jeopardising the internal market, that multinational undertakings in particular must make a fair and appropriate contribution to the public finances of the Member States, and that further investigation is needed into widespread harmful tax practices and tax rulings that are leading to corporate tax base erosion and aggressive tax planning in Europe; welcomes the new TAXE committee;

75.  Considers that fair tax competition is one of the constitutive elements of the internal market, but that, the primary competence of the Member States notwithstanding, unfair tax competition must be prevented, for example through harmonised tax bases, exchanges of information between tax authorities, and the granting of an explicit legal right to control movements of capital if this is essential to the proper functioning of the tax system in the Union; takes the view that introducing a common corporate tax base (CCTB) would help make the system more transparent; believes that the issue of consolidation can be addressed at a later date, and should not be a barrier to the swift introduction of a CCTB;

76.  Stresses that, on the internal market, new entrants and SMEs doing business only in one country are penalised as compared to multinational companies, which can shift profits or implement other forms of aggressive tax planning through a variety of decisions and instruments, available to them only; notes with concern that, all things being equal, the resulting lower tax liabilities leave multinationals with higher post-tax profits, and create an uneven playing field to the detriment of their competitors on the internal market, who do not have recourse to aggressive tax planning and who pay taxes in the place or places where they generate their profits; stresses that promoting harmful tax practices through the creation of a European single-member private limited liability company (SUP), the governing rules of which explicitly state that it may have two different seats – i.e., a registered office in one place and an administrative headquarters elsewhere – is the wrong approach for the EU;

77.  Emphasises that the Commission must, as a matter of course, have access to data exchanged between tax authorities which are relevant in the context of competition law;

78.  Considers that fair competition can be hampered by tax planning; invites the Commission to adjust the definition of ‘permanent establishment’ so that companies cannot artificially avoid having a taxable presence in Member States in which they have an economic activity; stresses that this definition should also address the specific situation of the digital sector, ensuring that companies engaged in fully dematerialised activities are considered to have a permanent establishment in a Member State if they maintain a significant digital presence in the economy of that country;

79.  Underlines that the Commission, when dealing with competition rulings, must see the internal market as one market, not as a number of local or national markets;

80.  Considers that, in view of studies estimating the annual value of tax fraud and tax avoidance to up to EUR one trillion (1 000 000 000 000), the Member States must ultimately tackle and restrict this practice; takes the view that reducing tax fraud and tax avoidance is fundamental to progress on the consolidation of state budgets; welcomes the recent adoption by the finance ministers of the G20 of new rules drawn up by the OECD on base erosion and profit shifting, which will improve transparency, close loopholes and restrict the use of tax havens; takes the view that, given its degree of integration, the EU must go further than the proposals presented in the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project in terms of coordination and convergence aimed at avoiding all forms of harmful tax competition within the internal market; stresses, however, that the OECD approach is still based on soft law, and that its action must be complemented by a proper legislative framework at EU level if it is to address the needs of the single market, e.g. in the form of an anti-BEPS directive going beyond the OECD BEPS initiative in areas that are not sufficiently covered; calls for an assessment of the economic, financial and competition-related impact of tax avoidance and tax fraud;

81.  Takes the view, in the light of the unfair tax practices employed by some Member States, that internal market policy and competition policy must go hand in hand, in an effort to ensure that profits are distributed fairly and that the shifting of profits to certain Member States, or even outside the EU, in order to minimise tax liability, becomes impossible;

82.  Emphasises that comprehensive, transparent and effective exchanges of tax information are a key prerequisite for preventing aggressive tax planning; stresses, at the same time, that simplifying tax arrangements at Member State level would do much to foster transparency and clarity;

83.  Welcomes the intention of the Competition Commissioner to reorganise the control of State aid as part of a fair tax burden for all; expects that, prior to this reorganisation, there will be an unconditional and complete evaluation, and calls on the Member States to make all requested documents available to Parliament and to abandon their current blockade mentality, which is preventing progress in this area, in which connection it must be borne in mind that different Member States must respond to different policy imperatives on the basis of their geographical location, their size, their physical and other endowments and their state of economic and social development, and calls for state aid guidelines on taxation to be revised to cover cases of unfair competition that go beyond tax rulings and transfers;

84.  Calls on the Commission to lay down in the near future detailed guidelines on State aid in the tax sphere and on transfer pricing; emphasises that guidelines of this kind in other policy areas have proved very effective in eliminating and preventing the introduction of certain practices in Member States that do not comply with EU rules on State aid; points out that such guidelines are effective only if they set out very precise provisions, including in the form of quantitative thresholds;

85.  Calls on the Commission to consider the introduction of sanctions, either against the state or the company involved, for serious cases of illegal State aid;

86.  Calls on the Commission to modify the existing rules without delay, in order to allow the amounts recovered following an infringement of EU tax-related State aid rules to be returned to the Member States which have suffered from an erosion of their tax bases, or to the EU budget, and not to the Member State which granted the illegal tax-related State aid, as is currently the case, as this rule provides an additional incentive for tax dodging; calls on the Commission to make full use of its powers under EU competition rules to tackle harmful tax practices;

87.  Calls for an EU legislative framework to prevent distortions of competition by aggressive tax planning and tax evasion; recommends, with a view to creating a level playing field, the introduction of an automatic mandatory exchange of tax rulings, a CCCTB and a guarantee that no profit leaves the EU untaxed;

Competition in the era of globalisation

88.  Maintains that international cooperation is essential for the effective application of competition-law principles in the era of globalisation; calls on the Commission, therefore, to foster closer international cooperation on competition-related matters; stresses that competition-law agreements allowing information to be exchanged between investigating competition authorities could make a particularly effective contribution to international cooperation on competition-related matters;

89.  Takes the view that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and all other trade and investment international agreements should have a strong competition section;

90.  Stresses that trading partners should derive benefit from growing competition in the field of trade, from investments by the private sector, including investments under public-private partnerships, and from the greater affluence of consumers;

91.  Stresses that the EU should make greater efforts to monitor the implementation of trade agreements in order to assess, inter alia, whether competition rules are being complied with, and whether the obligations to which trading partners have committed themselves are fully being complied with and fulfilled;

92.  Calls on the Commission to use trade policy as a means of working towards establishing global competition policy rules, with a view to eliminating the numerous persistent barriers to trade; regards the long-term goal of a multilateral agreement on competition rules, concluded within the framework of the World Trade Organisation, as the ideal solution;

93.  Supports the competition policy initiatives of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the OECD, and their efforts to improve worldwide cooperation in the field of competition policy;

94.  Encourages the Commission and the competition authorities of the Member States to participate actively in the International Competition Network;

95.  Calls for measures to ensure that all products imported from third countries comply with the environmental, health and social standards applied by the Union and defended on the world market, so as to protect European industrial producers from unfair competition;

96.  Calls on the Commission to support developing countries in their efforts to promote fair competition; calls on the Commission to develop cooperation further, in particular with the competition authorities of emerging economies, and to ensure that appropriate safeguards are put in place;

97.  Notes that access to resources, including energy sources, on equal terms is of vital importance for ensuring fair competition on the global market; highlights, in this regard, the importance of affordable and sustainable energy, and of security of supply in trade agreements;

Competition in the various sectors

98.  Calls on the Commission to release the findings of current investigations into competitive practices in the food supply, energy, transport and media sectors;

99.  Welcomes the new guidelines on state aid to airlines and airports in the EU, part of the Commission’s State Aid Modernisation package; calls on the Commission urgently to establish, in international agreements, a similar set of rules for subsidised airlines operating from third countries to and from the EU, in order to ensure fair competition between EU and third-country carriers;

100.  Urges the Commission to foster the exchange of good practices via the European Competition Network, with a view to addressing concerns raised with respect to alliances between distributors, many cases of which are already being investigated by the relevant authorities in the Member States; calls for these discussions to consider interactions between the national and European levels;

101.  Encourages the European Competition Network to discuss the growing network of retail-buying alliances at national and EU level;

102.  Calls on the Commission to develop progressively the EU competition framework to include in the monitoring of the food supply chain in Europe the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) indicators of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), including indicators under the headings of Fair Pricing and Transparent Contracts (S.2.1.1) and Right of Suppliers (S.2.2.1);

103.  Calls for the establishment of a European observatory for food and agricultural prices at origin and at destination; draws attention to the Spanish origin-destination price index IPOD as a possible model for monitoring potential abuses by retailers of farmers and consumers;

104.  Calls for binding action in the food supply chain against retailers harming farmers and consumers;

105.  Is particularly concerned by the situation in the dairy sector, where retailers have been imposing prices well below costs following the end of the quota system;

Democratic strengthening of competition policy

106.  Welcomes the regular dialogue between the Competition Commissioner and Parliament, but considers that the right to a hearing on essential matters of principle is not sufficient;

107.  Notes that in the area of competition law Parliament is involved in the legislative process only through the consultation procedure, with the result that it can exert much less influence on legislation than the Commission and the Council;

108.  Welcomes the regular dialogue that the Commission conducts with Parliament on competition matters; calls again for fundamental legislative directives and guidelines to be adopted within the co-decision procedure; considers that the current dialogue between Parliament and the EU competition authority should be stepped up, in particular for the purpose of assessing and acting on the calls made by Parliament in previous years; believes that the independence of the Commission’s DG Competition is of the utmost importance if it is to achieve its goals in a successful manner; calls on the Commission to re-allocate sufficient financial and human resources to DG Competition; calls in particular for a strict separation between the departments that draw up guidelines and those that have the responsibility to apply those guidelines in specific cases;

109.  Considers that it should have co-decision powers in competition policy; regrets that Articles 103 and 109 TFEU provide only for consultation with Parliament; believes that this democratic deficit cannot be tolerated; proposes that this deficit be overcome as soon as possible, through inter-institutional arrangements in the field of competition policy, and corrected in the next Treaty change;

110.  Calls for it to be given codecision powers in competition policy, particularly where fundamental principles and binding guidelines are concerned, and regrets that this area of Union policy has not been strengthened in its democratic dimension in recent Treaty amendments; calls on the Commission to put forward proposals for a corresponding amendment to the Treaties to extend the scope of the ordinary legislative procedure to cover competition law as well;

111.  Calls on the Commission to give it greater involvement in sector-specific investigations, while safeguarding the confidentiality of certain information submitted by stakeholders; calls for Council regulations in future to be based on Article 114 TFEU, which deals with the functioning of the internal market, so that they can be adopted under the codecision procedure, if the desired Treaty amendment is not expected soon; emphasises that the work on the Directive on Damages Claims can provide a template for future interinstitutional cooperation in competition matters; calls on the Competition Commissioner to continue the dialogue begun with the relevant Parliament committees, and with the Competition Working Group of Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs;

112.  Considers that a results-driven and focused public evaluation of the various proposals by Parliament for development of competition policy should also be undertaken and published by the Commission in the near future;

113.  Emphasises that, in its future work, the Commission’s DG Competition should take proper account of the standpoints adopted by Parliament in past reports on competition policy;

114.  Considers that all forms of dialogue that have been tried and tested to date should be maintained;

o
o   o

115.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and to national competition authorities.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0051.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0576.
(3) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2015/563438/IPOL_STU(2015)563438_EN.pdf
(4) http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.ten-opinions.36372
(5) http://ec.europa.eu/competition/ecn/food_report_en.pdf
(6) OJ C 200, 28.6.2014, p. 1.


The role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values
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European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values (2015/2139(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0005A8-0373/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 21 and 27(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 165 and 167 thereof, and Article 17 in particular thereof, according to which the Union must respect the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations and must recognise their identity and their specific contribution and must maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with them,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Articles 10, 11 and 22 thereof, and the preamble thereto,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, and in particular Article 2 of Protocol No 1 thereto,

–  having regard to the United Nations resolution of 20 December 2010 entitled ‘Culture and Development’,

–  having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000), and in particular the articles under the heading ‘Human rights, democracy and good governance’,

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

–  having regard to the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (UNESCO Convention),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), in particular Article 16 thereof and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 67/179 of 20 December 2012 and UN Human Rights Council resolution 22/20 of 22 March 2013,

–  having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 13 June 2013 on the draft EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief(1) and to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 24 June 2013,

–  having regard to Decision No 1983/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (2008)(2),

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 20 November 2008 on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States(3),

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (11855/2012), adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe White Paper of 7 May 2008 on Intercultural Dialogue entitled ‘Living Together As Equals in Dignity’,

–  having regard to the European agenda for culture in a globalising world (COM(2007)0242), which aims to promote awareness of cultural diversity and EU values, dialogue with civil society and exchanges of good practices,

–  having regard to the outcomes and follow-up actions of the Preparatory Action for Culture in EU External Relations, 2014,

–  having regard to the Protocol on Cultural Cooperation annexed to the model Free Trade Agreement(4),

–  having regard to the Paris Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education, adopted at the informal meeting of EU education ministers on 17 March 2015 in Paris (8496/15),

–  having regard to the final joint recommendations of the Trio Presidency from the 2015 EU Youth Conference in Luxembourg, which took into account the Structured Dialogue consultation aimed at empowering young people for political participation in democratic life in Europe and called on Parliament to promote values-based education and active citizenship education,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0373/2015),

A.  whereas Europe represents an immense richness of cultural, social, linguistic and religious diversity; whereas, in this context, the shared values that hold together our societies, such as freedom, social justice, equality and non-discrimination, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, tolerance and solidarity, are crucial for Europe’s future;

B.  whereas not being a legal concept, intercultural dialogue is not regulated by national, EU or international law, but is built on international frameworks aimed at protecting human rights and cultural diversity;

C.  whereas intercultural dialogue was tentatively defined in different studies and conclusions during the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (2008) as a process that comprises an open and respectful exchange or interaction between individuals, groups and organisations with different cultural backgrounds or world views; whereas among its aims are: to develop a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and practices; to increase participation and the freedom and ability to make choices; to foster equality; and to enhance creative processes;

D.  whereas it is important that the necessary means are provided, especially financially, to prioritise the funding of programmes designed to foster intercultural dialogue and dialogue between citizens in order to strengthen mutual respect in a context of strong cultural diversity and to address the complex realities of our societies and the coexistence of different cultural identities and beliefs, as well as to highlight the contribution of different cultures to European societies and heritage, and to effectively manage conflicts;

E.  whereas achieving this objective is not only a task for public authorities and decision makers, but is a shared responsibility of society as a whole, including a broad range of stakeholders such as families, media, educators, businesses, community and faith leaders; whereas in addition to political actors, it is important to emphasise the role of all other stakeholders involved in intercultural dialogue;

F.  whereas specific articles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union are of particular importance to intercultural dialogue by promoting equality, non-discrimination, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, freedom of expression and movement, citizenship rights to economic and political participation;

G.  whereas a meaningful intercultural dialogue requires solid knowledge of one’s own and other cultures;

H.  whereas, in light of the European Year of Development 2015, the review of the UN Millennium Development Goals and the outcome of the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015, the role of culture is instrumental in achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty in the world; calling furthermore for more explicit integration of culture in the UN post-2015 agenda for sustainable development;

I.  whereas Europe and the world face numerous challenges linked to globalisation, migration, religious and inter-cultural conflicts and rise of radicalism;

J.  whereas in the context of intercultural dialogue, the application of both universal human rights (as individual rights) and cultural rights (recognising specific and multiple cultural identities) are essential;

K.  whereas the development of learning mobility for students and teachers and any other form of international exchange can lead to a better world, in which people move freely and enjoy open intercultural dialogue;

1.  Argues that a European Union approach should take stock and resume the excellent work initiated during the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, step up the exchange of good practices and promote a new structured dialogue with all stakeholders in intercultural and interfaith issues in the light of all recent and dramatic events: European and national politicians, local and regional authorities, churches, religious associations and communities and philosophical and non-confessional organisations, civil society organisations and platforms, sport, culture and education workers, national and European youth councils, academics and the media;

2.  Encourages all stakeholders to establish an up-to-date, clear, policy-related definition of intercultural dialogue, to implement or harmonise methods, quality criteria and indicators with a view to evaluating the impact of intercultural dialogue programmes and projects, and to research methodologies for intercultural comparisons;

3.  Advocates that fostering an intercultural, interfaith and value-based approach in the educational field should be encouraged in order to address and promote mutual respect, integrity, ethical principles cultural diversity, social inclusion and cohesion, including through exchange and mobility programmes for all;

4.  Advocates that cultural diversity should also be addressed in the audio visual and cultural industries; encourages these industries to find creative ways to push for an agreement on national, regional and local action plans for the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions;

5.  Calls for interfaith dialogue to be taken into account as a component of intercultural dialogue, a precondition for peace, and an essential tool of conflict management, focusing on the dignity of the individual and on the need to uphold human rights around the world, with particular reference to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and religious minorities’ right to protection;

6.  Stresses that a genuine intercultural and interfaith dialogue encourages positive and cooperative interactions, promotes understanding and respect between cultures, increases diversity and respect for democracy, liberty, human rights as well as tolerance for universal and culture specific values;

7.  Highlights the importance of the timely integration and education of segregated communities;

8.  Advocates that the EU, acting as global peace actor, should include culture and cultural exchanges and enhance education in EU external relations and development policy, as vehicles for strengthening common core values such as the values of respect and mutual understanding, providing effective tools for a meaningful and sustainable approach to conflict resolution, peace-making and crisis prevention;

9.  Considers that, in line with Article 167(4) TFEU, cultural dialogue and diversity should be integrated in a transversal way in all EU policy areas that impact on shared EU fundamental values and rights such as youth policy, education policy, mobility, employment and social affairs, external policies, women’s rights and gender equality, trade and regional development;

10.  Highlights the need to train and prepare future generations to be audacious problem solvers and address effectively and innovatively the challenges European citizens will face in the future by giving them access to a genuine education in citizenship and ensuring that they have the motivation and commitment to acquire competences and skills such as entrepreneurship, leadership and capacity building;

11.  Recognises that intercultural dialogue is a tool for inclusive democratic participation and empowerment of citizens, in particular in relation to common goods and public spaces; argues that as such, intercultural dialogue may significantly contribute to the improvement of democracy and the development of greater and deeper inclusivity and sense of belonging;

12.  Believes that increasing public investment in inclusive, quality and accessible formal, non-formal and informal education is the first step to providing equal access and opportunities for all; recalls the need to ensure cultural and social diversity in classrooms and learning settings including among educators, to reduce early school leaving and to foster the education of disadvantaged children in order to promote equity and foster social cohesion among future generations;

13.  Stresses that formal, non-formal and informal education and access to lifelong learning not only provide knowledge, skills and competences, but should also help learners to develop ethical and civic values and become active, responsible, open-minded members of society; stresses, in this regard, the need for civic education to start from an early age and recognises the importance of cooperation among all education stakeholders; advocates building on children and young people’s sense of initiative and engagement in order to strengthen social ties as well as generate a sense of belonging and develop ethical codes to challenge discrimination;

14.  Highlights the important role of non-formal and informal learning and recognises the benefit of building synergies and partnerships between all levels and forms of learning, including across generations; highlights as well the importance of participation in sports and volunteering activities in stimulating the development of civic, social and intercultural competences and contributing to the social inclusion of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, and of citizens more generally, particularly children, by teaching the spirit of teamwork and respect for diversity, thereby combating social phenomena such as violence, radicalism, racism and xenophobia and rebuilding the foundations for a constructive and peaceful dialogue among communities; recalls in this regard the crucial role of EU programmes in the field of culture, media, education, youth and sport as tools to tackle intolerance and prejudices and foster a sense of common belonging and respect for cultural diversity;

15.  Stresses the importance of building strong bridges between culture and education in order to develop competences and transferable skills, increase high-level and secure jobs in line with the ILO Decent Work Agenda and achieve a higher level of social inclusion and active citizenship; considers these among the main goals in the implementation of EU fundamental values as enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) and in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union; recalls the value of CONNECT, the only EU programme promoting culture and education projects and encourages the Commission to consider a new pilot action line to test the present feasibility of such a scheme;

16.  Supports the mobility of young people and teachers as well as all forms of cooperation between schools and universities, for example common educational platforms, joint study programmes and joint projects, as a means to foster understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity and to provide young people with social, civic and intercultural competences and skills; is of the opinion, in this regard, that exposing children to other cultures at a very young age helps them obtain basic life skills and competences necessary for their personal development, future employment and active EU citizenship; stresses that including targeted educational school visits in different Member States and transnational mobility of young children is also a tool for laying down the foundations of European cultures, arts, languages and values; encourages mobility specifically for teachers from primary and secondary levels in order to share experiences and develop their own tools to face and answer evolving societal challenges; emphasises the role and importance of the Erasmus+ programme which fosters a European awareness among young people and creates a sense of common belonging and a culture of intercultural dialogue by facilitating their mobility, as well as increasing their employability; encourages in particular further measures to facilitate the access and integration of disadvantaged groups and people with special needs in Erasmus+ mobility actions;

17.  Encourages the Member States to develop quality training programmes promoting diversity, empowering educators, youth and community workers, as well as counselling services at schools and in non-formal and informal settings, for both children and their parents, to meet the educational and training needs of children from different cultural and social backgrounds and to address all forms of discrimination and racism, including bullying and cyber-bullying; notes that educational resources should be re-examined to foster multi-perspective and multi-language learning and that the multi-lingual and intercultural experiences and skills of teachers must be valorised and promoted systematically in this context;

18.  Underlines the importance of investing in lifelong learning programmes for teachers, equipping them with the necessary pedagogical competencies on the topics of migration, acculturation and social psychology as well as enabling them to utilise diversity as a rich source for learning in classrooms;

19.  Notes the essential role of teachers in strengthening – in cooperation with families – social ties, generating a sense of belonging and helping young people to develop ethical and civic values;

20.  Reiterates the need to create rights-based and gender-sensitive learning environments for students to learn about and stand up for human rights, including women’s and children’s rights, fundamental values and civic participation, rights and responsibilities of citizens, democracy and the rule of law, being confident in their identity, knowing their voice is heard and feeling valued by their communities; encourages the Member States and educational settings to strengthen students’ active participation in the governance of their learning structures;

21.  Highlights the role of new information and communication technologies and the internet as instruments for promoting intercultural dialogue; promotes the use of social media in order to strengthen the awareness of common fundamental values and principles of the European Union among citizens and underlines the importance of media literacy at all levels of education as a tool for promoting intercultural dialogue among young people; also encourages the EEAS and all the heads of EU representations to make the most of new digital tools in their work;

22.  Recognises the need to provide sustainable and structural support to NGOs, human rights organisations, youth organisations and training institutions to challenge extremism through social cohesion and inclusion, active citizenship and empowerment and participation of youth, in particular small-scale local initiatives and those working at grassroots level;

23.  Recognises the key role NGOs, cultural networks and platforms, as well as the abovementioned institutions play and should continue to play where formal intercultural dialogue structures, policies or programmes are less developed; encourages further dialogue between the EU and large cities, regions and local authorities, with a view to analysing more effectively (i) the connection between the urban models, which are home to citizens, and the success or failure of school systems, (ii) the benefit of formal and informal education for all children and families, and (iii) the coordination of education structures to promote an efficient intercultural dialogue;

24.  Calls for renewed attention to be paid to the promotion of a solidarity-based and intercultural society, especially among young people, through the implementation of the Europe for Citizens programme, using adequate funding to enable the fulfilment of its objectives of building a more coherent and inclusive society and fostering an active citizenship open to the world, respectful of cultural diversity and based on the common values of the EU;

25.  Encourages inclusive artistic and sports educational and training activities for all ages, as well as volunteering, in order to strengthen socialisation processes and the participation of minorities, disadvantaged groups, marginalised communities, migrants and refugees, in cultural and social life including in leadership and decision making;

26.  Recognises the importance of formal, non-formal and informal learning, as well as volunteering, to promote self-development focusing on cognitive and non-cognitive skills and competences, critical thinking, capacity to deal with different opinions, media literacy, anti-discrimination and intercultural skills and competences and language learning as well as social and civic competences including learning about cultural heritage as a tool to address contemporary challenges through sensitive interpretation;

27.  Affirms the need, when dealing with the issue of intercultural dialogue and education, to keep a gender perspective and to take into account the needs of people suffering multiple forms of discrimination, including people with disabilities, people identifying as LGBTI and people from marginalised communities;

28.  Encourages the EU institutions to broaden their analysis of all forms of radicalisation and initiate new reflections on the nature and the processes of political extremism and violence, starting from the premise that radicalisation is a dynamic, relational process and an unforeseen and unpredictable consequence of a series of transformations; welcomes therefore the Paris Declaration of 17 March 2015 on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education as an effort to foster active dialogue between cultures as well as global solidarity and mutual respect, focusing attention on the importance of civic education, including raising awareness of the unique role of cultural tools to foster mutual respect among pupils and students;

29.  Recalls the legitimacy and accountability that governments and European institutions have, with the support of intelligence services and law enforcement agencies, to address criminal activities; notes nevertheless that, in compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, punitive measures must always respect fundamental rights such as the right to data protection, freedom of expression, presumption of innocence and effective remedy;

30.  Believes that the EU, when promoting fundamental values, intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity at international level, should strongly condemn any inhuman and degrading treatment and all human rights violations so as to concretely promote the full respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

31.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the full implementation of binding European and international anti-discrimination standards in national law;

32.  Calls on the Member States to involve marginalised communities, migrants, refugees and host communities as well as faith and secular communities in respectful and empowering inclusion processes, ensuring their participation in civic and cultural life in a human, respectful and sustainable way in all situations, in particular in emergency situations;

33.  Welcomes the Preparatory Action on Culture in EU External Relations and its role in enhancing the role of culture as a strategic factor for human, social and economic development, contributing therefore to external policy objectives, and calls on the European External Action Service and EU representations all over the world to also include culture as an integral element of external EU policy, to appoint a cultural attaché in each EU representation in third partner countries and to provide EEAS staff with training on the cultural dimension of external policy; calls on the Commission to mainstream cultural diplomacy and intercultural dialogue in all EU external relations instruments and in the EU development agenda; calls furthermore on the EU and the Member States to strengthen cooperation with other European and international organisations such as the United Nations and its related agencies, in particular UNESCO, UNICEF and UNHCR, and to require an effective and stronger EU representation within their bodies; calls moreover for cooperation with national cultural institutes with the aim of improving implementation of existing instruments, such as cultural network-based clusters of European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC), and the design of new tools to tackle common challenges in a globalised world;

34.  Considers that culture should become an essential part of political dialogue with third countries and recalls the need to systematically integrate culture into development projects and programmes; highlights therefore the need to remove obstacles to mobility for artists, educators, academics and culture professionals, by harmonising and simplifying visa procedures to encourage cultural cooperation with all parts of the world;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop strategies which recognise intercultural dialogue as a process of interactive communication within and between cultures, to ensure mutual respect and equal opportunities, to deliver and implement effective solutions to tackle the economic and social inequalities and causes of exclusion as well as all forms of discrimination and to develop a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and practices; recalls the key role played by the media, including social media, both as a potential platform for extreme discourses and as a vehicle for countering xenophobic narratives, breaking down stereotypes and prejudices and promoting tolerance;

36.  Recalls that cultural heritage represents the diversity of cultural expressions and it should therefore be protected and promoted through the adoption of harmonised legislation and international agreements, in close cooperation with UNESCO;

37.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to prevent extremism, such as xenophobia, racism and all forms of discrimination and marginalisation through community cohesion measures that are able to successfully challenge economic and social inequalities, involving a broad range of actors such as urban planners, social workers, community, churches and religious associations, educators, family support organisations and health professionals, with the objectives of countering extremism, ensuring social inclusion as well as formal and substantial equality, promoting diversity and fostering community cohesion;

38.  Recommends that the EU cooperate in making learning and schooling accessible for refugee children by continuing to support programs on access to education in humanitarian crises and to ensure the integration of migrant students in Europe;

39.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to explore, design and implement interactive youth and child-focused methods of participation at all levels of government;

40.  Underlines the family role in the preservation of cultural identity, traditions, ethics and the value systems of society, and stresses that the introduction of children to the culture, values and norms of their society begins in the family;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to adopt intercultural dialogue as a strong and committed political objective of the EU and therefore guarantee EU support through various policy measures, initiatives and funds, including intercultural dialogue with third countries, especially fragile states;

42.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to further prioritise initiatives directed towards supporting cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and education, and to fully exploit EU financial instruments, programmes and initiatives, such as the Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens, Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 programmes, EU neighbourhood policy and external relations instruments, and bodies such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, for the promotion and support of intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity within Europe and with its neighbour countries and other world regions;

43.  Emphasises the rich contribution of European artistic production to cultural diversity and the role it thus plays in spreading the values of the EU and exhorting European citizens to develop critical thinking;

44.  Recalls the role played by the LUX Prize in rewarding European films celebrating European identity or European cultural diversity;

45.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to assess the impact of the measures taken in the context of this report and calls on the Commission to submit a monitoring report and review;

46.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and 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 and to the Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0279.
(2) OJ L 412, 30.12.2006, p. 44.
(3) OJ C 320, 16.12.2008, p. 10.
(4) OJ L 127, 14.5.2011, p. 1418.


Stocktaking and challenges of the EU Financial Services Regulation
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European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on stocktaking and challenges of the EU Financial Services Regulation: impact and the way forward towards a more efficient and effective EU framework for Financial Regulation and a Capital Markets Union (2015/2106(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0006A8-0360/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper entitled ‘Building a Capital Markets Union’ (COM(2015)0063) and to Parliament’s resolution of 9 July 2015 thereon(1),

–  having regard to the report of 25 February 2009 by the High-Level Group on Financial Supervision in the EU, chaired by Jacques de Larosière,

–  having regard to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s Report on the impact and accountability of banking supervision of July 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document entitled ‘Initial reflections on the obstacles to the development of deep and integrated EU capital markets’ (SWD(2015)0013),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on a Capital Markets Union, adopted by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 19 June 2015,

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

–  having regard to the informal ECON report(2) entitled ‘Enhancing the Coherence of EU Financial Services Legislation’, adopted in committee on 30 January 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 May 2014 entitled ‘A reformed financial sector for Europe’ (COM(2014)0279),

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document ‘Economic Review of the Financial Regulation Agenda’ (SWD(2014)0158),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) Review(3),

–  having regard to the Commission report on the mission and organisation of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) (COM(2014)0508),

–  having regard to the Commission report on the operation of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) (COM(2014)0509),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on long-term financing of the European economy(4),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 27 March 2014 on ‘Long-Term Financing of the European Economy’ (COM(2014)0168),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 May 2015 entitled ‘Better regulation for better results – An EU agenda’ (COM(2015)0215),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 May 2015 entitled ‘Proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Regulation’ (COM(2015)0216),

–  having regard to the European Systemic Risk Board report on the regulatory treatment of sovereign exposures of March 2015(5),

–  having regard to the UK Parliamentary Commission for Banking Standards’ final report ‘Changing banking for good’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0360/2015),

A.  whereas the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and its widespread negative impact were caused, inter alia, by a lack of application of appropriate, high-quality financial services regulation for increasingly complex markets and products; whereas in recent years an ambitious reform agenda for the EU financial sector has been launched to strengthen financial regulation and supervision, restore financial stability and make the financial system more resilient to shocks, limit risks to taxpayers and better serve the needs of investors and the funding needs of the real economy; whereas, while the outlook for growth in Europe has improved, full recovery has not yet been achieved;

B.  whereas profound changes have occurred, and are still ongoing, in all financial sectors, including banking, insurance, securities markets, investment funds and financial market infrastructure;

C.  whereas the transposition and implementation of the financial regulatory reform is still ongoing and not yet completed, with a number of important reforms still due and many delegated and implementing acts in particular still to be finalised; whereas the situation in the banking and insurance sectors and the financial markets is marked by continual change and innovation, which means that the regulations governing these sectors have to undergo permanent evaluation with a view to ensuring proportionality and effectiveness and consequently continual adaptation of those regulations;

D.  whereas the capital market in the Union remains fragmented; whereas the Capital Markets Union (CMU) potentially offers a valuable framework to safeguard equal access to finance for SMEs throughout the EU and to promote innovative venues for market-based funding; whereas specific shortages of credit to SMEs and micro enterprises derive also from economic instability and a lack of targeted solutions for the real economy; whereas the capital-market-based context in the United States is often cited, but fundamentally differs from the banking-based EU context, and should not be copied or used as a template; whereas the CMU is a chance to strengthen capital markets in the EU as a complement to banking-based finance; whereas in the US, following the financial crisis, bank lending to corporates has developed stronger than capital markets based financing;

Stocktaking and challenges for the current framework

1.  Notes that the Commission communication entitled ‘A reformed financial sector for Europe’ provides a first stocktake of the financial sector reforms but does not provide a full assessment and quantitative analysis of the overall effects and the interaction of the individual measures;

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s Investment Package, including the CMU; underlines the need for complementary non-bank financing of companies and furthermore that a core principle for building a CMU must be to place greater focus on the end-users of capital markets, i.e. companies and investors; stresses that an efficient and effective financial services framework ensuring financial stability is a prerequisite for increasing (long-term) investment and fostering growth in a competitive European economy; underlines the link between economic and financial stability; stresses further that reliable economic policies, effective structural reforms and sound budget policies pave the way for the health and growth potential of the real economy in the Member States and in the EU; acknowledges the important role that capital markets can play in addressing the financing needs of Member State economies;

3.  Acknowledges the fact that the ongoing financial and debt crisis has led to unprecedented negative consequences, in particular for the real economy and taxpayers’ money; recognises, in this context, the financial regulation agreed by the European institutions in the last five years, which has strengthened Europe’s financial architecture for future crises; welcomes the Commission’s CMU action plan; welcomes the Commission’s inclusion of an effective level of consumer and investor protection as one of the principles underpinning the CMU;

4.  Recognises the achievements of financial regulation in responding to the ramifications of the financial crisis; notes concerns about the increased complexity, reflected in the greater amount, detail and number of layers of regulation and supervision with requirements at international, European and national level; notes that complex regulation also reflects complex financial markets, including financial instruments, market infrastructure and institutions; underlines that overly complex regulation and tighter preconditions can affect investments negatively; believes that the complexity of regulation must also be addressed regarding its application to non-financial end-users of financial products; stresses the need for international regulatory cooperation in a global framework with improved cooperation and increased accountability;

5.  Notes that a sound and robust CMU has to acknowledge the interdependencies with other financial sectors, explore additional market-based sources of funding for the real economy and be based first and foremost on well-established existing structures; stresses the need for a holistic view of EU financial services regulation in which the CMU contributes to complementing banking financing; calls for the CMU to reflect the perspective of consumers and investors, besides its orientation towards the financing of companies; to that end, the Commission should work closely with the ESRB, ESAs and National Competent Authorities to resolve any mismatches in approach that could risk undermining the objectives of the CMU; asks the Commission to use well-functioning best practices in order to develop a capital market for the whole Union;

6.  Considers that legislation is not always the most appropriate policy response and that non-legislative and market-based approaches should be duly taken into account;

7.  Calls on the Commission to pursue an integrated approach in the CMU and pay attention to other policy agendas, such as the development of a digital single market and ongoing reforms in the field of company law and corporate governance; believes further that the Commission should take account of the latest technological developments; raises concerns, in this connection, of threats to cyber security and asks the Commission to ensure that this is an integrated dimension of the EU strategy;

8.  Believes that effective and efficient EU financial services regulation should be coherent, consistent (also on a cross-sectoral basis), proportionate, non-duplicative and free of superfluous complexity and prevent legal uncertainty, regulatory arbitrage and high transaction costs; believes further that it should enable intermediaries to fulfil their role in channelling funding to the real economy, thereby facilitating its financing, serve savers and investors and effectively address risks to financial stability and to the taxpayer, preventing financial crises from reoccurring and acting as a shield against systemic risks; considers that it should support the deepening of the single market and focus on tangible goals that can be achieved better at European level, while leaving space for innovative financing with a local focus;

9.  Expresses concern at the persistent problems concerning IBAN codes, which are still not considered valid for making direct debits from bank accounts domiciled in Member States other than that of the beneficiary;

10.  Underlines the need to take stock of the financial services framework using a both quantitative and qualitative approach; notes that similar exercises are being undertaken in other jurisdictions, notably in the US; stresses that this stocktaking exercise should contribute to building better functioning financial markets serving the financing needs of the real economy, including by addressing loopholes, gaps, inconsistencies, incoherence and disproportionality, should not undermine the legislative achievements obtained so far, bearing in mind the requests made in review clauses as adopted in each specific legislative act, and without anticipating results should not be seen as an exercise leading to deregulation;

11.  Believes that a single market for financial services serves businesses, but ultimately has to benefit customers and investors; insists that numerous barriers and obstacles to cross-border access, marketing and investment remain and have to be analysed, addressed and overcome while maintaining the highest level of investor protection; recalls that reduced barriers to capital flows can only be safely predicted to enhance long-term growth prospects if the overall incentives for companies are set right; considers further the importance of a well-developed local ecosystem that enables smaller companies to attract capital for growth;

12.  Believes that consumer protection does not necessarily entail large volumes of information and that the focus should rather be on the quality and comprehensibility of information enabling proper decision-making – information must be relevant, accurate, comparable, user-friendly, reliable and timely; is concerned that the multiplicity and complexity of customer information might not ultimately serve real customer needs; argues for a balance to be struck to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices, and to understand the risks involved, while not unnecessarily burdening businesses, especially SMEs; encourages further digitalisation of information; stresses that financial advisers and employees providing consumer advice at financial institutions should be given the training and time necessary to be able to serve customers in an accurate way; notes the importance of effective supervisory powers to intervene in the marketing of products where necessary; points to the need for a European initiative for more and better financial education by no later than the end of 2016, taking account of the specific needs of each Member State, also to ensure full awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of capital market investments; underlines also that financial education should be targeted towards SMEs, teaching them how to use capital markets; believes in the benefit of better transparency in order to enable companies, investors and consumers to understand the comparative costs and benefits of different services provided by market participants, but also notes that more transparency has to come with added value for customers or competent supervisors and be targeted towards the practical use of the information and data;

13.  Highlights the benefits of asset diversification, both in terms of asset classes and asset origin, for allowing better risk diversification and matching investors' needs; emphasises that the purpose of prudential regulation is not to favour certain asset classes; calls for a risk-based approach to regulation, with the same rules being applied to the same risks, and which is complemented by other standardised measures; believes that a more granular categorisation of asset classes is appropriate, in particular by establishing categories such as infrastructure; recognises that infrastructure projects are not less risky per se and calls for appropriate prudential regulation; supports further research concerning risks and benefits of infrastructure, including the disclosure of the applied methodology, to be able to draw evidence-based conclusions;

14.  Stresses the need for consistency in the risk-based approach, and thus also for reduced opportunities for regulatory arbitrage; stresses the need to break the link between sovereigns and banks at national level through full and consistent national implementation of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) and the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) and Single Resolution Fund (SRF) provisions; takes note of the contributions of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) on sovereign debt exposure of banks, which include careful consideration of the next steps; stresses that policies should explicitly take into account the interactions between both individual and endogenous risk, in particular when financial institutions use the same regulator-approved standard risk models;

15.  Notes the possible unintended consequences of multiple capital, liquidity and leverage requirements on maturity transformation, the provision of long-term financing and market- and liquidity making, while recalling that the requirements were put in place as a response to the financial crisis; is concerned that the disproportionality of requirements might endanger the business model of small- and medium-sized banks and therefore have unintended consequences for the structure of the financial industry; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the supervisors, to analyse these consequences for banking and insurance and possible complementarities as a matter of priority;

16.  Expresses concern about the interaction between markets legislation and capital requirements where new entities have been brought into scope as regulated entities in the review of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) but the Capital Requirements Regulation has not been calibrated to reflect more diverse types of firms;

17.  Expresses concern that valid exemptions in the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) for non-financial companies have been partly undone in the Capital Requirements Directive and Regulation with regard to the application of the Credit Valuation Adjustment (CVA) charge; calls on the Commission to better perform its role in ensuring consistency in policy approach and outcome across different legislative proposals;

18.  Considers that specialised provisions in existing regulation for non-financial companies should be extended and made more proportionate so as to limit the administrative burden and not to reduce capital available to the economy for future investment; calls on the Commission, when reviewing EMIR, to respond to difficulties in applying complex regimes by simplifying procedures, but to continue to recognise the purpose of the exemption so as to ensure that non-financial companies are not burdened by legislation aimed at financial market participants;

19.  Calls on the Commission, when reviewing EMIR, to examine the effect that lowering the quality of collateral accepted by central counterparties (CCPs) could have on the resilience of CCPs and to consider whether certain market participants such as pension funds should be permanently exempt from central clearing should their participation decrease the stability of the overall financial system due to alternative non-cash collateral being accepted;

20.  Is concerned about the lack of available and attractive risk-appropriate (long-term) investments and cost-efficient and suitable savings products for consumers; reiterates the need for diversity in investor and consumer choices, as investor confidence is key to more investment; stresses that an environment must be fostered that stimulates financial product innovation, creating more diversity and benefits for the real economy and providing enhanced incentives for investments, and that may also contribute to the delivery of adequate, safe and sustainable pensions, such as, for example, the development of a Pan European Pension Product (PEPP),with a simple transparent design; calls on the ESAs to analyse and report, in compliance with their mandate, on consumer trends, in particular in relation to retail products;

21.  Welcomes the diversity of business models; calls for the need to reflect this diversity in regulation and supervision fully taking into account the nature, size, riskiness and complexity of the entities under consideration, provided that the principles of fair competition and effective supervision are met; recalls that diversity in funding means is a strength;

22.  Believes that a successful CMU should enable EU companies of all sizes and at different stages of growth to access EU capital markets in a user-friendly, efficient and low-cost manner; believes that regulation should not complicate listings and should not prevent non-listed companies from becoming listed; stresses the need for a streamlined primary market regulatory regime to facilitate raising funds while ensuring appropriate levels of protection for investors; underlines the potential of innovative market-based funding, in particular the opportunities of financial technologies, including crowdfunding and peer-to-peer loans, and stresses the need to streamline the respective regulatory requirements; asks the Commission to give breathing space for the emergence of these new models and to explore and promote them, giving priority to their cross-border dimension and ensuring the reduction of market entry barriers; calls on the Commission to support those Member States with developing capital markets sectors through its Structural Reform Support Service;

23.  Calls for an appropriate and clear-cut division of competences between EU and national level, bearing in mind that national supervisors have more knowledge of local market characteristics; highlights that the effectiveness of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), a level-playing field and transparency are to be ensured and that conflicts of interest between supervisory authorities and supervised entities are to be avoided; is concerned about the effect of a one-size-fits-all supervisory approach on entities that are smaller and primarily active at national level within the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM);

24.  Notes the achievements in establishing a banking union and stresses its crucial role in addressing interdependencies between sovereign and bank risks and reducing systemic risks through joint action; takes note of the step-by-step completion of the banking union; stresses that full and timely implementation of the existing legislation is required; notes the discussions on a European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS), on which Parliament will have its say as co-legislator; emphasises the aim of avoiding moral hazard, ensuring that the principle of liability remains a guiding theme; criticises the low sensitivity to risk in the calculation of contributions to the SRF; recognises the efforts to conclude the Regulation on Bank Structural Reform;

25.  Underlines the need to implement and enforce the application of adopted legislation before any consideration is given to a substantial revision of this legislation; stresses that the rapid transposition into national law of Directive 2014/59/EU and the adequate funding and effectiveness of the SRM must be paramount, and therefore insists that the full implementation of these measures must be completed within the proper legislative framework; stresses in this connection the fundamental importance of cutting direct reciprocal links between state budgets and bank risks, which represent a major threat to financial stability; notes that, owing to the lack of rules for dealing with states that lose access to the financial markets through severe indebtedness, action is often taken too late, which may adversely affect financial stability;

26.  Reiterates the need for a level playing field within the EU, including with regard to SSM-supervised banks and the banks of non-participating Member States, and encourages the full inclusion of non-euro Member States into the Banking Union, while recognising that certain elements currently provide for voluntary participation; calls on the Commission to ensure that the single market continues to be developed, while recognising national specificities; calls on the Commission to further pursue a strong approach, in terms of regulation and supervision, to 'parallel' or 'shadow banking' with the aim of mitigating systemic risks and improving transparency; welcomes the major steps achieved in European insurance regulation by the application of Solvency II, as of 1 January 2016, which has to be assessed and possibly developed further, while considering the international framework for global systemically important insurers;

27.  Acknowledges the traditional reliance of SMEs on bank funding on account of their specific nature, different risk profiles and variety across Europe; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the ESAs, the ECB and national authorities, to assess the sufficiency of SME funding, to analyse the obstacles to, and benefits of, the diversification of funding channels and how to enable banks and non-banks to increase SME funding, widening companies’ choice among different methods of funding for different stages of their development; recalls the importance of tools such as the ‘SME Supporting Factor’; suggests that the initiatives for improved SME funding should be expanded to start-ups, micro enterprises and mid-cap companies; highlights the potential of innovative and largely untapped venues for financing SMEs, including peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and private placement, and stresses the need to streamline the respective regulatory requirements;

28.  Stresses the importance of rapidly implementing measures already adopted which accompany the objectives of the CMU; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make active use of the SME Growth Market category in future financial services regulation;

29.  Believes that companies should have access to an appropriate choice of market types in the EU depending on their size, complexity and fund-raising ambitions, and stresses the need to have deeper, more integrated pan-European capital markets that are separate from, but compatible with, critically important regional local markets;

30.  Welcomes the upcoming review of the Prospectus Directive; stresses that the review should be geared towards reducing costs and simplifying procedures for SMEs, while striking the right balance in terms of investor protection;

31.  Recognises the ongoing efforts for establishing a more transparent securitisation market, ensuring high standards for the process, legal certainty and comparability across securitisation instruments; stresses the need to set up a data repository; emphasises that stringent requirements for underlying high-quality assets and calibrations according to the actual risk profile and the risk awareness of all participants in the securitisation markets are necessary, taking into account the riskiness of securitisation, in particular synthetic securitisation, as shown during the crisis, while recognising the differing experiences in the EU and the US; insists that retention requirements must not be lowered so as to avoid moral hazard; stresses the need to consider independent certification of compliance with qualifying criteria; calls on the Commission to conduct a thorough assessment of the risks and benefits of securitisation for SMEs, investors and financial stability and the marketability of securitisation instruments as a matter of priority, and to report to Parliament;

32.  Believes that an approach aimed at greater standardisation of products and procedures may reduce complexity but also intensify concentration risks; is concerned about the danger that market participants may run in the same direction in the event of market stress, and calls for appropriate safeguards and supervision at the competent level with regard to the development of a quality securitisation market;

33.  Underlines the need to streamline the content and frequency of reporting requirements and reporting fields, including by providing entities with one point of contact, in order to avoid any duplication of requirements and reporting channels; calls on the Commission, the ESAs and SSM to examine what data are actually needed, to align templates and provide simplifications and, for SMEs, exemptions; underlines that reporting data is of best use to supervisors if it can be interrogated and is internationally consistent; considers it necessary to apply a proportionate approach in the development of the Analytical Credit Dataset (AnaCredit); believes that the scope and the level of granularity has to be further assessed as regards its costs and benefits;

34.  Asks the Commission and supervisors to address the interaction between International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and prudential requirements, as more coherence would serve both the economy and the prudential supervisor, and to review the impact of tax accounting on own funds; supports attempts to harmonise the definition of non-performing loans;

35.  Calls for a considerable reduction in the debt-equity bias so as to enhance economic resilience and capital allocation, and to strengthen the CMU, which will make equity more attractive to issuers and investors; underlines that a transaction tax affects market liquidity, especially in the short term, while also contributing to limiting excessive speculation;

36.  Stresses that, in addition to regulation and supervision, efforts towards a cultural change in the financial sector have to be pursued further; calls on all actors in the financial sector, including banks, non-banks, national central banks and the ECB, to work towards a cultural change and a culture of compliance within their organisations that puts the interest of customers first, ensures a system of liability for responsible key managers and a longer-term orientation of financial market participants, and contributes to the diversity of funding sources; stresses the benefits of a long-term partnership approach to funding and a diversified European banking sector with an important role of relationship banking for consumers and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular in terms of reducing asymmetries in information, thanks also to instruments available through new digital technologies;

37.  Calls for the promotion of additional rating providers with a view to increasing competition in a highly concentrated market; recalls that the Commission is due to publish a report on the appropriateness and feasibility of supporting a European Public Rating Agency for sovereign debt and/or a European credit rating foundation for all other credit ratings by the end of 2016; criticises the high level of costs incurred by SMEs when obtaining an external credit rating; stresses the need to further explore how SMEs can be rated in a comparable and affordable way, including the advanced internal rating-based (AIRB) approach; calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to bridge information asymmetries;

38.  Calls for a stronger focus in policy-making on the global competitiveness of the EU financial sectors, while avoiding a regulatory race to the bottom and without detriment to financial stability and consumer protection; underlines that an EU-wide CMU must be seen in the context of improving the competitiveness of European business and the EU economy; emphasises that an effective financial sector is a necessary condition for efficient capital allocation and thus growth;

39.  Underlines the importance of the international framework with respect to its scope, methodologies and implications for the EU framework; calls on the Member States, the Council, the Commission and ESAs to streamline the EU position, with a view to increasing its influence and promoting the legislation it has adopted through a democratic process; stresses the need to achieve consistency of new regulation, both with the European acquis and with international guidance, and proportionate implementation, including in scope, to avoid unnecessary divergences and duplication in legislation; believes that these are prerequisites for succeeding in the overarching goals of promoting long-term global stability, keeping Europe as an attractive place for international investors and avoiding unnecessary adverse impacts on the competitiveness of the EU financial sectors; recalls the principle of sincere cooperation between the Union and the Member States, referred to in Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union; believes that the ESAs should be involved in the discussions on global regulatory principles within the international standard-setting bodies; stresses that the regulatory dialogue with the US should be further strengthened; reiterates, in this context, that financial services regulatory matters should be included in international negotiations where appropriate;

40.  Underlines that equivalence decisions are needed in addressing obstacles regarding market access and the respective regulatory frameworks, bearing in mind that such unilateral decisions must benefit European businesses and consumers and that equivalence with other jurisdictions has the potential to increase capital inflows and attract further investment into Europe; underlines the need to evolve towards a consistent and coherent system of sensible recognition of each other’s equal or similar standards;

41.  Asks the Commission to propose a consistent, coherent, transparent and practical framework for procedures and decisions on third-country equivalence, taking into account an outcome-based analysis and international standards or agreements; calls for all equivalence decisions to be adopted by means of delegated acts; considers that the ESAs should play an appropriate role in aligning assessments of third countries for equivalence decisions;

Better EU financial services regulation

42.  Believes that better financial regulation implies a robust framework and starts with Member States applying the current acquis; stresses that effective, efficient and consistent implementation of the legislation is crucial and calls on the Commission for regular reports to Parliament on the state of transposition and implementation of the legislation, and where applicable, the infringement proceedings brought against Member States; urges the Member States to properly enforce the legislation; considers that gold-plating does not facilitate the functioning of the internal market and competition; considers that attracting business through the discretionary use of lower standards does not facilitate the functioning of the internal market either; asks the Commission to come up with a thorough analysis and report of all gold-plating measures taken by Member States in the field of financial legislation and to submit them to Parliament by the end of 2016;

43.  Calls on the Member States to commit to respecting the deadlines set for the transposition of directives since, in addition to being a legal requirement, this is key in order to avoid undue delays in the full implementation of legislation, as well as its partial or uneven application across the Union, which might result in the absence of a level playing field for the different actors involved and in other types of distortions;

44.  Highlights the need for better quality and cross-sectoral coordination in the Commission’s or the ESAs’ drafts and drafting processes, encompassing timing, prioritisation and the avoidance of overlaps; stresses that this should avoid any duplication of the basic act in delegated acts, but also avoid political decisions which should be resolved within the basic act from being left to the delegated acts;

45.  Calls on the Commission to enable the early involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including at the level of experts groups; urges the Commission to ensure balanced participation in consultations by reflecting the diversity of stakeholders, and by facilitating and providing better conditions for the participation of small stakeholders representing business, consumers and civil society, including the way consultations are organised and questions asked;

46.  Welcomes the objectives of the better regulation agenda; acknowledges the general need to examine the fitness of regulation now and in the future; however, this fitness cannot be decoupled from the functioning of the financial sector as a whole; underlines the role of REFIT in achieving efficient and effective financial services regulation that takes due account of the proportionality principle and in supporting the stocktaking exercise; calls for Parliament to have a bigger role in the decisions and assessments intrinsic to REFIT; recalls that the focus must be on improving regulation, not deregulating; stresses that ensuring transparency, simplicity, accessibility and fairness across the internal market should be part of the better regulation agenda for consumers; stresses also that the EU must not create an unintended compliance burden in the drive to bring about greater harmonisation under the CMU;

47.  Believes that the ESAs and SSM have a crucial role to play in achieving the objectives of better regulation and supervision; highlights the role of the ESAs and the SSM in ensuring coherence and consistency between different pieces of legislation, in reducing uncertainty and regulatory arbitrage and in fostering mutually beneficial cooperation among market participants; stresses that the ESAs and SSM have to be adequately funded and staffed if they are to fulfil the tasks given to them by the co-legislators;

48.  Highlights that the revision of the ESA regulations must reflect the accountability and transparency provisions for enhanced scrutiny by Parliament, as laid down in the SSM and SRM regulations, and must reinforce the independence of the ESAs from the Commission; considers it necessary to explore possibilities for facilitating greater ESA participation at an advisory level during the level 1 phase while respecting the prerogatives of the co-legislators;

49.  Stresses the need to respect the interplay, consistency and coherence between the basic acts and delegated and implementing acts; stresses again that political decisions have to be made by the co-legislators within the basic act, and should not be left to the delegated acts, which are meant ‘to supplement or amend certain non-essential elements of the legislative act’ (Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union); insists that the Commission and the ESAs, when drafting delegated and implementing acts and guidelines, stick to the empowerments laid down in the basic acts and respect the co-legislators’ agreement; regrets that in the past the supervisory authorities, in drawing up implementing acts, have not always adhered to the mandate set out by the European legislators; deplores that the coordination between the Commission (delegated acts) and the ESAs (technical standards) is insufficient and may therefore negatively affect the quality of compliance, particularly where detailed requirements are not adopted until shortly before the implementation deadline of the basic act;

50.  Calls on the Commission to fully unbundle both delegated and implementing acts and to avoid package approaches in order to allow for the timely adoption of those acts;

51.  Calls on the Commission to make any amendments made to the draft regulatory technical standards (RTS) and implementing technical standards (ITS) submitted by the ESAs transparent to the co-legislators and stakeholders;

52.  Emphasises that an early legal review by the Commission should not reduce either the transparency of the process vis-à-vis Parliament or Parliament’s right to be consulted; requests that during the drafting process the ESAs proactively provide Parliament regularly, comprehensively and without delay with provisional drafts and interim information on the progress of work and consult Parliament thereon;

53.  Calls on the Commission and the ESAs to fully respect the deadlines for submission set by the co-legislators and to immediately provide the co-legislators with an explanation when a deadline is not expected to be met;

54.  Reminds the ESAs that technical standards, guidelines and recommendations are bound by the principle of proportionality; calls on the ESAs to adopt a careful approach to the extent and number of guidelines, particularly where they are not explicitly empowered in the basic act; notes that such a restrictive approach is also required in view of the ESAs’ limited resources and the need to prioritise their tasks, whereby the practical limits of effective supervision must not be set by budgetary constraints, and asks that adequate resources be secured for ESAs so as to enable them to carry out reliable, independent and effective supervision in the performance of their mandate;

55.  Calls on the ESAs to make use of the their right to request information on how basic acts are applied by Member States and to conduct peer reviews more regularly on national competent authorities with a view to enhancing supervisory convergence across Member States;

56.  Calls on the Commission and ESAs to regularly publish consolidated versions of EU financial services regulations on their websites, including a summary which can be accessed and understood by businesses, consumers, civil society organisations and others; believes that the creation of a common register that includes references to national implementation would be an option worth exploring;

The way forward

57.  Calls on the Commission and ESAs to conduct regular (at least annual) coherence and consistency checks, including on a cross-sectoral basis and on every draft legislative act, and on the implementation of adopted legislation, including RTS and ITS, and to dedicate resources to this activity;

58.  Calls on the Commission and ESAs to conduct regular (at least annual) proportionality and effectiveness checks, particularly with regard to the requirements applicable to small and medium-sized market participants, and on every draft legislative act, and to dedicate resources to this activity; calls on the Commission to publish a Green Paper exploring new approaches to promoting proportionality in financial regulation;

59.  Stresses that the impact of individual legislative measures differs from their cumulative impact; calls on the Commission services, in cooperation with the ESAs, SSM and ESRB, to conduct a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative assessment every five years of the cumulative impact of EU financial services regulation on financial markets and its participants at EU and Member State level in order to identify shortcomings and loopholes, to assess the performance, effectiveness and efficiency of the financial services regulation and to ensure that it is not impeding fair competition and the development of the economy, and to report back to Parliament; stresses the importance of performing detailed impact assessments and cost-benefit analyses for any future legislation in order to demonstrate the added value of legislation, in particular as regards economic growth and job creation; underlines that impact assessments and cost-benefit analyses should include thorough evaluations of the impact of Level-2 measures, which form a significant part of the EU financial regulatory framework; recalls that quantifying the impact of legislative measures might be difficult, in particular given that their benefits are difficult to measure, but methods for quantification should still be used;

60.  Calls on the Commission services to complete the first assessment by the end of 2016 and to report on the overall impact and, in separate chapters, relying also on independent research, on the following:

   the effects on the different financial sectors, including an appropriate differentiated breakdown of the market participants by size, complexity and business model, and on non-financial entities,
   possible gaps and loopholes, while considering the possible development of new threats and risks as well as overlaps and unintended consequences,
   the actual and expected economic effects, as well as the competitiveness of the European financial sector in the world,
   the possibilities of benefiting the real economy, including SMEs, consumers and employment,
   the need to further improve existing, and extend complementary, funding channels, including the effect on access to finance for SMEs and mid-cap companies,
   the effects on supply and demand of long-term financing,
   the effects on the allocation and diversification of assets and risks, and on the development of equity tier 1 to total asset ratios in financial institutions,
   the effectiveness and appropriateness of the framework for retail investors, institutional investors and consumers and customers, including the framework on transparency,
   the effectiveness of removing barriers to the single market, limiting regulatory arbitrage and fostering competition,
   the overall effect on financial stability and moral hazard, including an assessment of the possible costs and risk of the lack of regulation, while taking into account the effective implementation of G20 recommendations, and the level of interconnectedness between financial firms,
   the impact on financial stability of IFRS fair value accounting compared with prudent accounting,
   the effectiveness and appropriateness of the framework for macroprudential supervision in the EU,
   the capacity of ESAs to fulfil the tasks given to them under the current legislative framework and on the steps that may be needed to improve the framework, especially the financing of ESAs in the near future,
   the interdependencies with international standards and the effects on the global competitiveness of European businesses, taking into account a comparison between the EU and other major jurisdictions in terms of existing regulation and the extent to which it is implemented;

61.  Calls on the Commission to present its findings to Parliament and the Council and to suggest measures where appropriate;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0268.
(2) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201402/20140210ATT79138/20140210ATT79138EN.pdf
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0202.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0161.
(5) http://www.esrb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/other/esrbreportregulatorytreatmentsovereignexposures032015.en.pdf?29664e3495a886d806863aac942fcdae


External factors that represent hurdles to European female entrepreneurship
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European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on external factors that represent hurdles to European female entrepreneurship (2015/2111(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0007A8-0369/2015

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to Articles 16, 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979,

–  having regard to Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services(1) and the related judgment of 1 March 2011 of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Test-Achats case (C-236/09)(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(3),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 3 October 2008 entitled ‘Implementation of the Barcelona objectives concerning childcare facilities for pre-school-age children’ (COM(2008)0638),

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

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

–  having regard to Directive 2010/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and repealing Council Directive 86/613/EEC(4),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (the Women on Boards Directive -COM(2012)0614),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 January 2013 entitled ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan: Reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe’ (COM(2012)0795),

–  having regard to the Commission progress report on the Barcelona objectives of 29 May 2013 entitled ‘The development of childcare facilities for young children in Europe with a view to sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2013)0322),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2011 on women entrepreneurship in small and medium-sized enterprises(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on social entrepreneurship and social innovation in combatting unemployment(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on women’s careers in science and universities, and glass ceilings encountered(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on promoting youth entrepreneurship through education and training(9),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 October 2011 entitled ‘Creating a favourable climate for social enterprises, key stakeholders in the social economy and innovation’ (COM(2011)0682),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0369/2015),

A.  whereas entrepreneurship is crucial for employment, economic growth, innovation, development and the reduction of poverty at large;

B.  whereas Article 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union explicitly refers to the freedom to conduct a business for all EU citizens and as such empowers and encourages entrepreneurship, including female entrepreneurship;

C.  whereas women only accounted for 31 % of entrepreneurs (10,3 million) in the EU-28 in 2012(10), and only 34,4 % of the self-employed in the EU are women;

D.  whereas women are often only the officially registered owners of firms, for the sole purpose of securing financial concessions and advantageous conditions from credit institutions and European, national and regional public administrations; whereas in reality these women function as ‘fronts’ since while they bear the business risk the actual decision-making of the company is left to men;

E.  whereas the female entrepreneurial rate lags behind in all Member States and hides an unexploited growth and prosperity potential;

F.  whereas obstacles to female entrepreneurship such as the predominance of women in unemployment, the consistent gap in entrepreneurial activity, and the under-representation of women in management activities, are interwoven and difficult to deal with, and their removal will call for complex criteria;

G.  whereas quantitative research on female entrepreneurship is sparse but recent studies show that men are more likely than women to prefer entrepreneurial careers(11);

H.  whereas female entrepreneurship, once carefully distinguished from ‘bogus’ self-employment, is a powerful source of economic independence that offers women the opportunity of further integration into labour markets; whereas female entrepreneurship offers the opportunity for women to strengthen their role as business leaders and to induce cultural change both inside and outside their companies; whereas these women can be important role models for girls and young women following in their footsteps;

I.  whereas women have huge entrepreneurial potential, and female entrepreneurship is about economic growth, job creation and the empowerment of women;

J.  whereas the decision to become self-employed is an act of self-realisation, but one which calls for a high level of commitment; whereas the high level of personal responsibility leads to exceptionally long working hours, so that self-employment should not be seen simply as an additional source of income; whereas women entrepreneurs can only reconcile family life and work if external circumstances permit, that is to say if suitable childcare is available and fathers play an active role in providing care and running the household;

K.  whereas the availability, quality and affordability of childcare facilities and care facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities remains a key driver for enhancing female labour force participation;

L.  whereas the sharing of family and carer’s responsibilities between women and men impacts female entrepreneurship as well as women's participation in the labour market and achieving work-life balance is a necessity when it comes to women's economic independence; whereas a quarter of Member States do not provide paternity leave;

M.  whereas administrative burdens continue to have a negative effect on the entrepreneurial spirit of both women and men, and therefore effective regulation and legislation are needed in order to economically empower women and create a stable economy with sustainable, smart, and inclusive growth;

N.  whereas women tend to self-assess the level of innovation of their businesses lower than men, and only a small percentage of patents issued by the European Patent Office (EPO) are awarded to women(12);

O.  whereas choices made by women during their education and horizontal and vertical gender segregation in employment mean that fewer women than men would be able to set up a business in the science and technology field or turn an invention into a profitable item; whereas science and technology, innovation and invention are also concepts that are associated for the most part with men, which renders these fields less attractive to women and results in innovations and inventions by women being recognised and appreciated less;

P.  whereas female entrepreneurs more often tend to concentrate on sectors that are considered less profitable, such as education, healthcare and community work, as opposed to the male-dominated, high growth-potential sectors of technology and IT, and more often operate in small-scale enterprises with lower growth and turnover; whereas this resulted in 2012 in an EU-28 average net income gap of 6 % between female and male entrepreneurs(13);

Q.  whereas new green technologies and ecological entrepreneurship constitute a sector that offers enormous potential for developing and promoting parity in entrepreneurship, in terms of both equal access to funding and equal numbers of participating women and men entrepreneurs;

R.  whereas self-employment in one-woman firms, the arrangement many women find themselves in, does not usually generate substantial profits, so that the women in question are particularly at risk of poverty during their working lives and in old age;

S.  whereas various studies(14) reveal that female entrepreneurs start businesses with lower capital levels, opting for smaller loans and using family for advice and funding rather than debt or equity finance from banks, angel investors, private equity or venture capital;

T.  whereas the European Progress Microfinance Facility has the objective of promoting equal opportunities for women and men, but the male-to-female ratio of microloans was 60:40 in 2013(15);

U.  whereas female entrepreneurs, compared to men, are more reluctant to assume a position of debt or to expand their business, thanks largely to lower levels of self-confidence as regards their business;

V.  whereas the greater difficulty for female entrepreneurs in accessing financing could in part be related to a difficulty in building up sufficient credit history and managerial experience;

W.  whereas stereotypes relating to women’s and men’s abilities in the area of entrepreneurship may influence stakeholders’ judgements about new businesses; whereas the high probability of being discriminated against when trying to access financing could have an impact on women’s decisions to start companies or to do so with smaller loans;

X.  whereas involving people from diverse backgrounds in investment processes may help prevent group and stereotyped thinking;

Y.  whereas Directive 2004/113/EC prohibits gender discrimination in access to goods and services and its scope includes banks and financial services, as well as services associated with setting up businesses; whereas it is difficult to prove indirect discrimination in this context and Member States do not have data or precise information on cases of discrimination in terms of access to finance;

Z.  whereas data show that women, despite the belief existing that female investors are better risk managers(16), are likely to have a greater risk aversion tendency and a greater lack of confidence; whereas this may lead to a lesser ability to generate confidence from external parties and could subsequently influence their financing possibilities;

AA.  whereas female entrepreneurs contribute significantly to the creation of new development opportunities as well as the reduction of social exclusion and the strengthening of social cohesion; whereas barriers to social entrepreneurship seem less pronounced for women, and equal participation in social sectors constitutes an empowering experience for women that makes it easier for them to embark on entrepreneurship in other sectors;

AB.  whereas in most cases women entrepreneurs operate in sectors which are secondary from the point of view of economic returns and competitiveness on the market;

AC.  whereas there is a lack of research on gender and access to finance for social entrepreneurs while in general it seems a more complex matter for social enterprises to obtain funding;

AD.  whereas entrepreneurship education, both formal and informal, is key to encouraging more women and girls into the field;

1.  Encourages the Member States to recognise the value of female entrepreneurship for their economies and the hurdles that need to be overcome; calls on Member States and regions to put forward concrete strategies to promote a culture of female entrepreneurship, bearing in mind work being done on needs, motives and conditions in relation to the eradication of gender stereotypes, as well as different management and leadership styles and new ways of organising and managing companies;

2.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the full mainstreaming of gender into all future policy in the area of entrepreneurship;

3.  Calls on the Member States to collaborate actively with the private sector in order to highlight those companies that are seeking to promote gender equality and their best practices;

4.  Calls on the Member States to adopt programmes to help, support and advise female entrepreneurs in starting up value- and wealth-generating and pioneering companies based on socially responsible principles;

5.  Calls on Member States to collect at regional level gender-disaggregated data, including on various female entrepreneurship fields, in order to acknowledge female entrepreneurs’ contribution in the social field, and to report regularly on their numbers; recommends that data be collected and consolidated at European level with the support of the European Institute for Gender Equality and Eurostat; recommends that gender should be mainstreamed into the methodology of any research undertaken on entrepreneurship, social economy and social enterprise, by a qualified gender expert, and that particular attention should be paid to the experiences of women with multiple marginalised identities;

6.  Calls on the Commission to incorporate the issue of women’s entrepreneurship into its post-2015 strategy on equality between women and men;

7.  Calls for a holistic approach to female entrepreneurship, aimed at encouraging and supporting women in building a career in entrepreneurship, facilitating access to finance and business opportunities, and creating an environment enabling women to realise their potential and become successful entrepreneurs by ensuring, inter alia, the reconciliation of professional and personal life, access to childcare facilities, and tailor-made training;

8.  Calls on the EU institutions, the Member States and regional and local authorities to step up their fight against gender stereotypes and to put in place measures aimed at combating the stereotypical beliefs about men's and women's traits and abilities that still persist in male-dominated sectors such as science and technology, innovation and invention; considers that in these sectors, decision-makers, investors, the financial sector and the market may perceive women as being less credible or less professional, as a result of which potential customers, suppliers, partners, banks and investors sometimes regard female entrepreneurs with scepticism, with the latter needing to be far more persistent in proving their knowledge, skills and abilities in order to obtain the funding they need;

Work-life balance

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to recognise the value of entrepreneurship for the work-life balance of women and men, to eliminate barriers that hinder or even prevent female entrepreneurship, and to adopt a coherent framework of measures to support female labour market participation; in the aftermath of the decision to withdraw the proposal to amend the Maternity Leave Directive and in order to safeguard progress on equality policies at EU level, encourages a constructive dialogue among institutions to see how best to support and implement work-life balance policies as well as an equal distribution of family responsibilities, also by highlighting the role of men in promoting equality; reiterates that parental and paternity leave can have a positive impact on female labour force participation, and encourages Member States, if they have not yet done so, to consider introducing paternity leave; calls on the Commission, by the end of 2016, to propose concrete steps, including legislative proposals, for increasing the participation of women in the labour market through measures to improve work-life balance;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to recall the importance of achieving the Barcelona targets in order to make work-life balance a reality for all, as well as of implementing the appropriate legislative and non-legislative actions foreseen in the Commission’s roadmap on work-life balance published in August 2015, and using the appropriate tools and incentives, including European funds such as the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, to guarantee the provision of affordable quality care for children and other dependent persons, including elderly dependents and family members with disabilities; stresses the importance of rational and flexible working hours in order to enable parents and carers to contribute to a sound work-life balance; recalls the importance of full protection of social rights for the specific circumstances of the self-employed, without which innovative and inclusive entrepreneurship is not possible;

11.  Emphasises the need to change the way that gender roles have traditionally been assigned in society, the workplace and the family, by encouraging men to become more involved in housework and caring for dependent relatives, by means of, for example, mandatory paternity leave, non-transferable parental leave and public policies enabling effective reconciliation of family- and work-related responsibilities, particularly for women and especially in highly competitive and mobile sectors, where long and flexible working hours are the norm, as well as lifelong learning in order to keep up with the latest technological developments and market opportunities;

Information and networks

12.  Underlines the importance of looking beyond the start-up phase to help those women who have chosen the path of entrepreneurship to consolidate and expand their businesses, as also of networking and sharing best practices, mentorship, female role models and peer-to-peer support for these women, including with a view to moving towards more innovative, sustainable and profitable sectors while not undermining the conditions for a healthy general wellbeing;

13.  Underlines the huge potential of women innovators and entrepreneurs and the important role they can play in the digital transformation of the economy; calls on the Commission and the Member States to invest in women’s and girls’ digital potential, and to fully support and promote a digital entrepreneurial culture for women and women´s integration and participation in the information society;

14.  Emphasises the great importance of public spaces in helping to develop projects (providing visibility and acting as incubators for companies) and providing financial and tax-related support, relevant and up-to-date information, and advice on starting up a business, in particular for new female entrepreneurs; stresses, likewise, the importance of funds for business consolidation, greater presence in social forums, work-life balance policies and recognition by the authorities of the importance of this group – both new and long-established entrepreneurs – to society;

15.  Welcomes the creation of the various European networks for female entrepreneurs; urges the Commission to communicate more actively on the achievements of female entrepreneurs and to recognise them explicitly as potential role models, through the Enterprise Promotion Awards and the European Social Innovation Competition;

16.  Considers that European networks of women entrepreneurs should create a European and national network to facilitate and assist women in seeking financing and advice services for ease of access;

17.  Calls on the Commission to emphasise the use of forums in its upcoming European e-Platform for Women Entrepreneurship, and to include a step-by-step plan for accessing European funding possibilities, while also making the e-Platform attractive for potential investors and for Member States’ government services, in an attempt to cut red tape for female entrepreneurs by clarifying administrative procedures, thus creating an e-Platform that could become a future reference in the sector;

18.  Calls on the Commission to establish, with no impact on the Commission budget and in the framework of the existing structure, a European Business Centre for women, in close cooperation with Member States and companies from the private sector, which would function as a focal point to promote the Commission's initiatives for female entrepreneurs, providing management and technical assistance, creating and boosting existing networks, and monitoring and gender-mainstreaming business initiatives and programmes financed from the EU budget;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate the access of women entrepreneurs to the most relevant technical, scientific and business networks, since such access is essential for developing business concepts, meeting potential customers, suppliers and partners, understanding the market with its trends, opportunities and weaknesses, and obtaining strategic information, cooperation and support;

Access to funding

20.  Calls on Member States’ governments, authorities and equality bodies (where they exist) to collaborate with the financial sector regarding their obligation to ensure equality between men and women in access to capital for freelancers and SMEs; invites them to explore the possibilities of introducing gender equality into their reporting structures on the attribution of loans, into the tailoring of their risk profiles, investment mandates and staff structures, and into financial products and the advertising thereof;

21.  Calls on the Member States to draw up aid maps setting out measures to support entrepreneurship among women and competitiveness and entrepreneurship in business, ranging from the fostering of an entrepreneurial culture to the adoption of new technologies or funding for RDI;

22.  Calls on the Commission to diligently monitor the implementation of gender mainstreaming in the allocation of EU funds in relation to entrepreneurship; suggests to the Commission the introduction of gender quotas in all forms of targeted support provided to under-represented and disadvantaged groups, in order to ensure progress towards achieving parity in entrepreneurship;

23.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to enhance the visibility of financing for entrepreneurial activity by drawing up aid maps for microfinance, among other measures, under the European Progress Microfinance Facility, and to look into the possibilities of collaboration with the private sector for investment in ‘female’ sectors, such as government loan guarantees;

24.   Stresses the importance of using all possible financial streams, and especially the Structural Funds, within the next programing period 2014-2020;

25.   Urges the Member States to promote measures and actions to assist and advise women who decide to become entrepreneurs, to encourage business enterprise on the part of women by facilitating and simplifying access to funding and other support, and to remove bureaucratic and other obstacles to women's start-ups;

26.   Calls on the Commission to explore and develop proposals for ways of interesting women in business start-ups; stresses that women with the necessary business acumen should be made aware of support programmes and funding opportunities;

27.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to start accumulating gender-disaggregated data on entrepreneurs’ access to finance, in close collaboration with the European Institute for Gender Equality, and to further explore and research whether there is any hard evidence of direct or indirect discrimination against women in this context and, if so, how the external factors that influence investors’ assessments of the viability of female-led start-ups should be addressed;

28.  Calls on the Commission to address the specific challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in its next review and update of the Small Business Act (SBA), as well as the annual SBA reports; believes that these challenges should be taken into consideration in all SBA programmes, and that an additional Action Plan should be established to overcome the obstacles facing women entrepreneurs;

29.  Welcomes the Commission’s review of the application of Directive 2004/113/EC and its transposition into national law by Member States, but regrets the lack of focus on identifying indirect discrimination; asks the Commission to further review the Directive by considering more effective measures to tackle this type of potential discrimination;

30.  Considers that easier access to financing should be provided for women entrepreneurs in innovative and sustainable sectors where men are in the majority, with particular reference to ICT, construction and transport; calls in this respect for greater monitoring to avoid the phenomenon of women being used by men as ‘fronts’ in order to secure financing on easier terms;

Entrepreneurial education and training

31.  Encourages the Member States to promote an entrepreneurial culture within education and training; highlights the importance of education at all levels, both formal and informal and including lifelong learning, for boosting entrepreneurship and new business development, including in ICT, and especially in subject areas mostly studied by girls, such as healthcare and other services; calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide incentives to ensure a more balanced representation of women and men in the business sector and to boost this representation by making women more aware of the advantages of business training;

32.  Calls on schools and universities to encourage girls and women to take up subjects that lead to careers in sectors in the areas of science, finance and high-growth profitable sectors such as new technologies, including green technology, digital environments and IT;

33.  Calls on the Member States to collaborate with the public sector, the private sector, NGOs, universities and schools in order to establish more apprenticeships and non-formal and informal learning programmes, including those enabling students to conduct development projects based on real business concepts from a young age onwards and business incubators that aim to empower young entrepreneurs while learning, understanding and implementing the labour rights culture;

34.  Calls for the EU to invest in programmes providing continuing training for women, both workers and entrepreneurs, constantly updating their skills and ensuring quality professional development, with particular reference to the commercial sector;

35.  Underlines the importance of facilitating access for female entrepreneurs, including through grants and training courses on basic legal aspects of starting and running a company, such as laws on starting a business, intellectual property and data protection, tax rules, e-commerce, available public grants, etc, and of training in new information and communications technologies, social networks, online commerce, networking, etc;

36.  Notes with concern that women often underrate their skills, probably as a result of stereotypes anchored in society, and are more likely than men to confess to a lack of entrepreneurial skills, self-confidence, assertiveness and willingness to take risks when starting a business, and that there is thus a need for motivational and psychological support programmes to boost the self-confidence of female entrepreneurs;

Social entrepreneurship

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to conduct research with a view to explaining women’s greater entrepreneurial activity in social entrepreneurship and its possible multiplier effect on traditional entrepreneurship;

38.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the development of financial instruments that value companies in correlation with their contribution to society and the development of trustmarks for social and environmental entrepreneurship; recommends the inclusion of gender equality and women's empowerment as measures of social impact which, in turn, would encourage more social entrepreneurs to consider their enterprise from a gender perspective;

39.  Highlights that alternative business models such as cooperatives and mutuals play an important role in promoting gender equality and advancing sustainable and inclusive development and growth; calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate and promote such alternative models;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(2) OJ C 130, 30.4.2011, p. 4.
(3) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(4) OJ L 180, 15.7.2010, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 56.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0074.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0320.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0311.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0292.
(10) Commission report (2014), ‘Statistical data on Women entrepreneurs in Europe’.
(11) Commission (2012), Flash Eurobarometer 354, on ‘Entrepreneurship in the EU and beyond’.
(12) Commission report (2008), ‘Evaluation on policy: promotion of women innovators and entrepreneurship’.
(13) Commission (2014), Study on ‘Statistical data on Women entrepreneurs in Europe’.
(14) European Parliament (2015), Policy Department study on ‘Women’s Entrepreneurship: closing the gender gap in access to financial and other services and in social entrepreneurship’.
(15) Commission (2015), Interim evaluation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility.
(16) KPMG (2015), Report on ‘Women in Alternative Investments’.


Skills policies for fighting youth unemployment
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European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on skills policies for fighting youth unemployment (2015/2088(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0008A8-0366/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Articles 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2010 on promoting youth access to the labour market, strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status(1),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2013 on a Youth Guarantee(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 April 2014 entitled ‘How can the European Union contribute to creating a hospitable environment for enterprises, businesses and start-ups to create jobs?’(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2014 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2014 priorities(4),

–  having regard to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning(5),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships(6), and having regard to written question E-010744/2015 of 2 July 2015 on the Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of April 2015 on enhancing cross-sectoral policy co-operation to effectively address socio-economic challenges facing young people(7),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

–  having regard to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ ‘List of issues in relation to the initial report of the European Union’(8),

–  having regard to the Cedefop briefing note of June 2013 entitled ‘Roads to recovery: three skill and labour market scenarios for 2025’,

–  having regard to the Cedefop briefing note of March 2014 entitled ‘Skill mismatch: more than meets the eye’,

–  having regard to the Cedefop study of November 2014 entitled ‘The validation challenge: how close is Europe to recognising all learning?’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion: investment for jobs and growth’ (COM(2014)0473),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 – A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe’ (COM(2010)0636),

–  having regard to the Commission report of April 2015 entitled ‘Piloting Youth Guarantee partnerships on the ground – A summary report of key achievements and lessons from the European Parliament Preparatory Action on the Youth Guarantee’,

–  having regard to the Eurofound report of 2015 entitled ‘Youth entrepreneurship in Europe: values, attitudes, policies’,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006, and in particular Chapter IV thereof on the ‘Youth Employment Initiative’(9),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0366/2015),

A.  whereas at present 4,5 million young people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed in the European Union and whereas more than 7 million young Europeans aged between 15 and 24 are neither employed nor in education or training;

B.  whereas the rate of unemployment across the Union was 9,9 % at the end of 2014, and whereas the unemployment rate for young people was more than double this figure, at 21,4 %;

C.  whereas young people have been especially hit by the crisis;

D.  whereas a lack of relevant skills for available jobs and an education and training mismatch are important factors causing youth unemployment; whereas, despite being more educated and skilled than previous generations, young people continue to face significant structural hurdles in obtaining quality employment which respects EU and national standards; whereas without efficient and sustainable quality job creation in Europe, the youth employment crisis cannot be solved;

E.  whereas delays in access to the labour market and long periods of unemployment adversely affect career prospects, pay, health and social mobility;

F.  whereas young people are an asset to the European economy and whereas they should commit themselves to acquiring the skills sought by the labour market, anticipating tomorrow’s needs;

G.  whereas young people fall into three main groups – students, workers and the unemployed – and whereas distinct political approaches should be adopted for each of these groups in order to ensure that members of the group are integrated into the labour market, which means that young students must have the skills needed by the labour market, young workers must update their skills and training throughout their careers and, in the case of jobless young people, the distinction must take into account the fact that they may be active jobseekers or not in education, employment, or training (NEETs);

H.  whereas every effort must be made to ensure that education systems adequately prepare students for professional realisation and to guarantee close cooperation between representatives of the education sector, social services where appropriate, employers and students;

I.  whereas the planning of training and education improves significantly when student and youth organisations are included in decision-making processes and it better meets the demands of society, the labour market and skills needs;

J.  whereas persons who are disadvantaged, discriminated against and vulnerable are often excluded from the possibility to develop their talents, abilities and skills when the social dimension is not taken into consideration in education, employment and social policies; whereas sufficient financial resources should be allocated to the education sector;

K.  whereas the implementation of effective education, training and skills policies with the support of employers, employment agencies and other relevant stakeholders can help reduce youth unemployment;

L.  whereas appropriate training for recruiters, human resource managers, employment services, employers and the education sector is necessary;

M.  whereas the financial crisis of 2008 created additional problems in the access of young people to the jobs market, as youth unemployment is more sensitive to the economic cycle than overall unemployment because young people are generally less experienced;

N.  whereas micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are one of the most important generators of employment in the EU, accounting for considerably more than 80 % of all jobs and have led the way in many ‘green’ sectors, but may face particular difficulties in anticipating the skills needed and in fulfilling the potential for jobs;

O.  whereas youth entrepreneurship can contribute to reducing youth unemployment and through education and training it can boost the employability of young people;

P.  whereas internships and apprenticeship schemes vary in success across the Union, according to their characteristics;

Q.  whereas the Youth Guarantee, when effectively implemented, constitutes a comprehensive approach to helping young people to successfully transition to the labour market or high-quality education, as demonstrated by the achievements of the European Parliament Preparatory Action on the Youth Guarantee;

R.  whereas, in order for the Youth Guarantee to achieve effective results, it is vital to assess the real employment needs of young people and the real sectors offering future work opportunities, such as the social economy and the green economy, backed up by constant and careful monitoring not only of the projects concerned but also of the agencies that provide them, drawing up regular reports on the progress of this measure to combat youth unemployment;

S.  whereas the Youth Employment Initiative is an essential tool for delivering targeted support to young people who are NEETs;

Co-operation, participation, partnerships

1.  Notes that individual skills development and dissemination of knowledge and skills are one of the key elements of integrated employment and social policies and that it can make it possible to generate long-term growth, promote European competitiveness, combat unemployment and build a more inclusive European society if skills development policies acknowledge the multi-layered needs and abilities of unemployed youth; recalls that skills development will remain without effect if job creation and appropriate social security protection are not addressed in parallel;

2.  Stresses that ‘a new boost to jobs, growth and investment’ is an essential priority of the Commission and that in its Work Programme for 2015, the Commission committed to taking practical initiatives to promote integration and employability in the labour market, particularly measures to support Member States in getting young people into work; reiterates that Parliament has regularly proposed different solutions stressing that youth employment, education and training should be one of the highest political priorities for the EU;

3.  Recalls that engaging young people, relevant stakeholders, organisations and social partners in promoting the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of relevant initiatives aimed at supporting youth employment at EU, national and local level is of the highest importance;

4.  Points out that there are, on one hand, 24 million unemployed people in Europe, including 7,5 million young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) and on the other 2 million unfilled vacancies in the EU; notes that there are many over-qualified youth unemployed whose skills do not match the demand of the labour market; stresses, therefore, the need to build up strong partnerships between local authorities, education and employment services – both mainstream and specialised – and social partners and the business community to support the creation, implementation and monitoring of short- and medium-term sustainable, inclusive and quality employment strategies and action plans; calls for closer and structural co-operation and interaction between schooling and vocational education, public administration, business, civil society, especially student and youth organisations, with a view to better matching skills to labour market needs, including though second-chance options, in order to maximise the quality of education and training; highlights that this better cooperation is also crucial for an effective implementation of the Youth Guarantee;

5.  Welcomes the tools for skills development and the forecasting of skill needs proposed by the Commission; highlights the fact that skills development should encourage the development of STEM skills, which are widely useful in an economy; stresses, however, that more ambitious action and investment is needed; believes that in order to anticipate future skills needs, all labour market stakeholders must be strongly involved at all levels;

6.  Calls on the Member States, regional governments and local authorities to adopt and implement, together with the social partners and training providers, skills development and anticipation strategies with the objective of improving generic, sectoral and occupation-specific skills; stresses, furthermore, the importance of partnerships and trust between educational institutions, businesses, the social partners and authorities;

7.  Emphasises the role higher education institutions play in developing the knowledge and competence graduates require in order to be successful on the job market;

8.  Highlights the essential role of competent and supportive teachers and trainers in reducing early school leaving, especially in underdeveloped areas, and in improving the employability of young people; stresses that teachers need to be better supported by schools, training institutions, local communities and educational policies, e.g. through more efficient and up-to-date training in new skills, such as entrepreneurial and ICT skills, promotion of peer learning and exchange of best practices, and easier access to training opportunities and improved systems of continuous VET; stresses, in this regard, the importance of investing in lifelong learning development for teachers; strongly opposes any cutbacks in education budgets, especially when combined with the reduction of scholarships and grants and the increase in educational fees;

9.  Encourages the integration of new teaching and training methods, developed by teachers in response to the specific needs of the class;

10.  Stresses that providers of education and training and businesses should work together to devise qualifications which faithfully reflect the actual skills that holders of those qualifications have acquired throughout their lives;

11.  Stresses the importance of bringing young, innovative employers into the ongoing dialogue between educational institutions and employers in an effort to better tailor education and specialist training to job market requirements; welcomes and stresses the importance of mentoring programmes designed to prepare young people for future jobs;

12.  Stresses the importance of administrative capacity and functioning employment agencies; calls for the strengthening of the partnership principle between public authorities and civil society as well as for the provision of relevant training for local and regional authorities and other relevant stakeholders in order to ensure the more effective and strategic use of European funds; calls furthermore on governments to be more ambitious and to make efforts in anticipating the needs of young people, businesses and civil society as well as of academic and vocational training establishments, in implementing employment programmes more quickly and in monitoring progress achieved;

13.  Stresses the importance of close cross-sectoral cooperation, particularly between employment and education services;

14.  Recalls that policies should focus on helping NEETs, including those who have become disengaged, to further their education or integrate into the labour markets;

15.  Notes that European funds, when used in a more efficient and strategic manner, can be an extraordinary tool for the growth and development of universities and businesses; calls for greater financial resources to be used to spread information on European financing instruments and to broaden, in universities and businesses, the knowledge and skills that are necessary for seeking funds, studying and managing funding projects;

16.  Stresses that in order to guarantee that EU funds are used properly, it is paramount that a supervisory and monitoring system be implemented in order to ascertain how those funds are being used;

17.  Calls for an EU award for the best projects in combating youth unemployment, which could be linked to the pan-European contest ‘European Youth Award’ and to the European Prize ‘For youth employment in the Social Economy’; calls on the Commission to give visibility to such initiatives in order to raise awareness and to become closer to citizens’ needs; stresses however the need for budgetary responsibility and calls therefore for such initiatives to be financed from within the existing budget;

18.  Calls for a forward-looking and output-oriented European Skills Strategy to guide national skills strategies and integrate them into the National Job Plans while providing a comprehensive framework for the sectoral action plans proposed in the employment package;

19.  Calls on the Member States to act, as soon as possible, on education- and labour market-related country-specific recommendations in the European Semester and other Commission recommendations;

SMEs and entrepreneurship

20.  Stresses the key role of enterprises, including SMEs, social and solidarity economy actors and micro-enterprises in training for working-life skills and job creation for young people; stresses the need to provide young people with education preparing them for entrepreneurship in the broadest possible way; encourages including in curricula the development in a safe environment of the vocational skills needed in starting and managing businesses as well as fostering transversal entrepreneurship competence, skills and knowledge, that are effectively delivered through hands-on and real-life experiences; suggests that entrepreneurship may be taught across various subjects or as a separate subject and stresses the need for access to high-quality traineeships and professional training throughout and after the university stage of education; underlines that obtaining democratic and teamwork skills, learning to take responsibility, analysing situations is a part of life-long learning which supports active citizenship; draws attention to the opportunities and advantages of getting more people (e.g. successful young entrepreneurs, NGOs whose aim is to promote entrepreneurship) involved in providing education on entrepreneurship;

21.  Recalls that supporting entrepreneurship, an understanding of economics and fostering a sense of responsibility and initiative are important factors in promoting an active approach towards one’s own career; believes that it is the responsibility of public bodies, the education sector, businesses and civil society to promote entrepreneurship; reiterates the need to develop mobility within businesses; reiterates the role of financial institutions in business starts-up and access to financing and calls for investment, skills development and forecasting in emerging and potential sectors, including clean technologies and green jobs as they have great potential to create quality jobs;

22.  Underlines that entrepreneurial skills can also be acquired through skills development programmes organised outside of the general education system and that these programmes may include coaching and mentoring activities supplied by experienced trainers, entrepreneurs and business experts that facilitate not only valuable business know-how, advice and feedback to potential entrepreneurs but also allow them to develop valuable networks of contacts with existing enterprises and entrepreneurs that could otherwise take very long time to achieve;

23.  Stresses the need to ease existing administrative and financial requirements when starting and managing businesses, through the simplification of procedures, easier access to credit, venture capital and microfinance for start-ups, guaranteed high-speed internet access, multidisciplinary tailor-made counselling, the introduction of incentive measures for entrepreneurs employing young unemployed when possible; underlines the importance of microfinance and the EU Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme, as well as the Investment Plan for Europe, for achieving these goals; stresses the need for the creation of one-stop-shops to deal with all relevant administrative procedures related to setting up and running a business; recalls that all administrative requirements should take into account the respect for workers’ rights;

24.  Encourages Member States to take part in the Erasmus Programme for Young Entrepreneurs and to promote it among young people who wish to engage in business projects, so that they can gain experience abroad and acquire new skills which will help them to carry out their business projects successfully;

25.  Recalls that the creative industries are amongst the most entrepreneurial and fast-growing sectors, and that creative education develops transferable skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and resourcefulness; acknowledges that the arts and media sectors are of particular appeal to young people;

26.  Recalls the wealth of jobs connected to traditional skills, often ones that cannot be relocated elsewhere, which, moreover, help stimulate local economies and are of cultural interest; encourages the Member States to ensure, therefore, that crafts and professions with traditional and cultural elements are preserved and effectively passed down to younger generations through the implementation of specialised programmes;

27.  Calls for the creation of favourable conditions for the social economy in order to combine job creation for young people and social capital development; calls for better inclusion of social and solidarity economy enterprises into national and European action plans for employment, skills development and social integration, with a view to unlocking and exploiting their job creation potential and their contribution to meeting the EU 2020 headline targets;

28.  Recalls that employers and entrepreneurs play an important role in training in the workplace and in providing apprenticeships and that this should be further supported and developed;

29.  Points out that policies for promoting youth entrepreneurship require mid-term and long-term planning; stresses that policies for promoting entrepreneurship should take account of the different requirements of each Member State;

30.  Calls for effective support of socially responsible, green and sustainable entrepreneurial projects as well as the promotion of sustainable alternative models such as cooperatives, which are based on a democratic decision process and that try to have an impact on the local community;

Skills for employability

31.  Stresses the urgent need to improve the qualifications and motivation of advisors working at public employment agencies, so that they can proactively respond to the needs of young job seekers, help them to gain additional qualifications and identify the skills they need for the job market;

32.  Recalls that good quality educational tailor-made guidance and support at all stages of education and training is necessary and can lower the risk of early school-leaving as well as help to overcome difficulties in accessing the labour market; stresses that this occupational guidance should be anchored in the curriculum and must be provided in cooperation with economic actors and employment agencies; recalls that language learning and digital literacy are fundamental;

33.  Points out the lack of high-quality career guidance in the Member States; emphasises the need to improve the quality of career guidance in schools and to provide ongoing professional training for careers advisors so that they are properly qualified to help students and pupils choose a suitable career path;

34.  Calls on the Member States to examine best practices in the school career guidance system where pupils are monitored from an early school stage to the first steps in the labour market;

35.  Stresses the importance of regular monitoring of future skills needs and therefore encourages the Member States and all relevant stakeholders to share good practices in this regard and to further develop monitoring and forecasting tools;

36.  Welcomes the transformation of the existing EU Skills Panorama website, which provides a more comprehensive and user-friendly central access point for information and intelligence on skills needs in occupations and sectors in the EU, and which helps policymakers, experts, employment agencies, careers advisers and individuals to take better and more informed decisions;

37.  Calls on the Member States to exchange good practices in vocational education and the development of training through skills, thus ensuring greater access to the labour market for young people, and to revise training programs anticipating market needs where necessary; emphasises the importance of practical, entrepreneurial, coding and e-skills as indispensable for professional development in the 21st century; points to the importance of implementing the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan and the EU e-Skills strategy; recalls that lifelong guidance on professional career development should be available over the whole working life to maintain and develop one’s skills and knowledge;

38.  Encourages the Member States to promote and support opportunities for professional mobility among young apprentices to enable them to develop their skills through contact with other training systems and other types of business, but also to give them the opportunity to practise speaking a foreign language, which will help them to find a lasting place in the jobs market;

39.  Emphasises the importance of developing ‘soft skills’, which make it easier to successfully negotiate the job market and develop a professional career, and which are an essential complement to professional knowledge and experience;

40.  Stresses the urgent need to promote non-formal and informal learning, which includes volunteering, and which is an invaluable resource in helping young people get the skills they need for working life;

41.  Recalls that non-formal and informal learning are crucial for soft skills development such as communications and decision-making skills; calls therefore for investment in inclusive opportunities providing for non-formal and informal learning and for recognition of the impact and value of experience, skills and competences gained;

42.  Urges the establishment of a system of training and studies, which adopts innovative but accessible approaches, and which focuses on developing basic skills as well as intellectual and technical capacities;

43.  Stresses the importance of pursuing the development of the EURES tool, particularly in border areas, to encourage young people to take an interest in offers of jobs, traineeships or apprenticeships abroad, and to support them in their mobility projects by providing them with assistance and advice on their projects;

44.  Recalls that education and skills policies should be aimed not only at fulfilling labour market needs but also at equipping individuals with the necessary transversal competences to develop as active and responsible citizens; calls on the Commission and the Member States to respect the fact that education and training constitute a fundamental right and carry a strong value in themselves;

45.  Emphasises the importance of holistic education, for example in the form of civic education, which should be an integral part of all streams of education and can help to prepare young people in the transition to working life;

46.  Emphasises the importance of building students’ capacity to learn and the need to provide them with effective learning strategies; stresses that learning to learn will facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes and aptitudes which enable individuals to set, plan and reach their own learning goals and become autonomous learners able to cope with the intensive labour market changes;

47.  Underlines that playing sports provides participants with opportunities to develop a wide range of transversal skills which enhance their employability as well as help them to succeed as leaders and to achieve their goals; further stresses the link between sports, employability, education and training;

48.  Expresses its concern about the fall in scores observed in the last PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey in certain European Union Member States; calls on Member States to make education a leading priority in order to attain the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy;

49.  Stresses that training in the workplace and high-quality and formative apprenticeships, backed by partnerships between schools, training establishments and businesses, are ways of improving youth access to the labour market and a better use of these opportunities could, by improving career orientation, enlarge the pool of potential candidates for vacancies and also improve their preparedness for work; notes the success of such measures in some Member States; suggests that the sharing of best practice in this area would contribute to reducing youth unemployment; stresses that disadvantaged trainees need special support, e.g. in the form of extra tuition and support courses, and assistance for undertakings in coping with their administrative and organisational tasks;

50.  Stresses the value of high-quality apprenticeships in all employment sectors and calls on the Commission and Member States to encourage women to undertake traditionally male-dominated apprenticeships and occupations;

51.  Stresses that a smooth transition from education to employment should be promoted by linking theoretical education with practical training and integrating employability skills into the core academic curriculum, providing high-quality internships as stipulated in the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships as well as through the recognition of qualifications gained during formal and non-formal education, or during volunteering experiences; stresses that high-quality internships/traineeships should always have clear learning outcomes and the trainees should not be exploited;

52.  Recalls that high-quality traineeships and apprenticeships reflecting actual needs should lead to employment and that traineeships should prepare trainees for a job, and condemns any abuses including false traineeship which undermines workers’ acquisition of social security rights; underlines that traineeships should lead to increased skills and employability; calls on the Member States to take dissuasive measures to prevent abuses of traineeship status and intensify information campaigns about the rights of trainees;

53.  Welcomes the Quality Framework for Traineeships and the European Alliance for Apprenticeships; stresses the importance of the Commission monitoring their implementation in the Member States closely; urges the Alliance for Apprenticeships to promote access for young people to apprenticeships by calling for the removal of barriers such as education fees for apprentices;

54.  Recalls, with respect to the Member States’ competences in this area, that the dual model of education and the acquisition of practical, social and communication skills are of high importance; emphasises that societal and communication skills could help young people’s confidence and make it easier for them to enter the labour market; stresses that the dual model must be targeted for the social, economic and cultural context of each country and is not to be seen as the one and only correct VET system; calls therefore for recognition and strengthening of dual learning at all levels;

55.  Calls for enhanced cooperation between education institutions – both at vocational and higher level – and entrepreneurs in developing curricula adjusted to the labour market needs;

56.  Points out the advantages of a flexible, student-focused approach to education which makes it possible to change or adapt the direction of study in line with the student’s needs and does not bind them to their initial choice;

57.  Warns the Member States against dispersion in the types of contract offered to young people; calls for greater thinking along these lines in order to increase effectiveness;

58.  Calls on the Member States to increase the attractiveness of STEM programmes and studies in order to address the existing shortage in this field; stresses, however, that humanities and general humanistic knowledge are indispensable in making effective use of the opportunities presented by STEM disciplines and thus should receive effective support within their institutions and play an explicit role in curricular development; calls on the Member States to encourage a cross-sectoral approach between different areas within educational institutions, such as joint programmes involving arts, science, ICT, engineering, business and other relevant fields;

59.  Encourages the Member States to urgently incorporate new technologies in the learning process, and to intensify and improve ICT and digital skills training at all levels and in all types of education and training, including for teaching staff, in order to provide more digitally aligned degrees and curricula and to motivate young people to study ICT and pursue related careers; stresses the need to build a better technological base in schools and universities and to provide the necessary infrastructure; underlines, furthermore, in this regard, the importance of open educational resources (OERs), which ensure access to education for all and enhance employability by supporting the lifelong learning process; recalls the need to encourage girls and young women to pursue ICT studies;

60.  Stresses the need to develop measures to encourage girls to engage in STEM subjects and establish quality career guidance to support them in continuing their professional careers in this field since women remain largely under-represented in STEM-related professions, accounting for just 24 % of science and engineering professionals and since STEM occupations are among the top 20 bottleneck vacancies in the Member States;

61.  Points out that, despite high youth unemployment rates in some Member States and unfilled job vacancies in others, intra-EU labour mobility remains low; recalls therefore the importance of the mobility of workers for a competitive labour market, and stresses the need to reduce the linguistic and cultural barriers that are liable to restrain it by providing sector-specific language courses and training on intercultural communication for the unemployed;

62.  Emphasises the importance of addressing skills shortages and mismatches by promoting and facilitating mobility for learners, as well as cross-border recognition of qualifications, through a better use of all EU tools and programmes, such as Erasmus+, the European Qualifications Framework, the European Skills Passport, the Youth Guarantee, the Europass CV, the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass, EURES, Knowledge Alliances, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, the European Credit Transfer System, the European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) and the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET); highlights the importance of ESCO, which identifies and categorises the skills, competences and qualifications relevant for the EU labour market and education and training, in 25 European languages; underlines in this context the importance of the adequate transferability of social rights within the Union and reiterates the importance of Erasmus+, the European Social Fund and EURES in this respect; calls on the Member States to promote training courses in particular sectors in which there are particular gaps between supply and demand;

63.  Encourages the optimal use of existing EU funding such as the Erasmus+ programme in stimulating the development of transversal skills and competences among young people in order to tackle youth unemployment in the EU more effectively;

64.  Points to Erasmus+ as a key instrument for ensuring the quality of VET across the EU and encourages international exchanges for the purposes of professional training;

65.  Recalls that the effective implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative can also help to improve the labour market opportunities of young people by overcoming educational deficits and by providing skills relevant to the needs of a sustainable labour market and economy, and can offer valuable work experience and facilitate the establishment of successful businesses; points out, to that end, that it is vital to assess the real employment needs of young people and the real sectors offering future work opportunities, such as the social economy and the green economy, backed up by constant and careful monitoring not only of the projects concerned but also of the agencies that provide them, drawing up regular reports on the progress of these measures to combat youth unemployment;

66.  Stresses the need to simplify administrative measures for implementing the Youth Guarantee and the urgency of removing any red tape that might limit its effectiveness;

67.  Welcomes the recent decision by EU co-legislators on increasing pre-financing for the Youth Employment Initiative, which aims to smooth the implementation of this important initiative for regions and states facing financial difficulties; calls on the Member States and local and regional authorities to use the available funds for bringing forward the necessary improvements and creating sustainable instead of ad hoc solutions; calls on the Member States to rapidly and effectively implement the Operational Programmes of the Youth Employment Initiative;

Equal opportunities

68.  Stresses that skills development, if carried out as an integrated concept, could become a mechanism leading to and promoting equal opportunities for people from disadvantaged groups, including disadvantaged minorities, in particular for children and young people from families affected by poverty, the long-term unemployed, disadvantaged immigrants and people with disabilities; stresses that prevention and lifelong support and counselling from the earliest stage possible for disadvantaged groups are of the utmost importance for providing productive and highly-skilled workforce for the labour market; stresses, furthermore, the need to provide support and skills development via training for employers, recruiters and human resource managers to support the inclusion of disadvantaged groups into the labour market; stresses that, in order for the most disadvantaged to be included, appropriate training must be provided for employers, human resource teams and teachers, in order to support the most disadvantaged in society in the best possible way so as to make their integration as effective as possible; reiterates the importance of universal access to education for all;

69.  Highlights that developing networking skills is of great importance for all young people, but particularly for those with limited work experience and those coming from under-represented and disadvantaged groups; stresses that teaching networking can be a strategy for facilitating employment, career development and exploration;

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

71.  Stresses the need for employment agencies to do more to make sure that disabled persons are not physically prevented from accessing their services, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

72.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to promote best practices and support the inclusion of young people with disabilities in education, including lifelong learning programmes, and employment, through measures such as investments in social entrepreneurship initiatives that support these young people, or financial incentives for organisations that recruit them;

73.  Stresses the importance of making sure that persons with disabilities have access to financial support and grants, which should be an integral part of informational and educational programmes intended to promote entrepreneurship;

New generation, new opportunities, new challenges

74.  Notes that young people, raised in an era of rapid technological progress have not only potential, talents and skills, but also values and priorities that differ from those of previous generations and that it is therefore worthwhile stressing the need for programmes and initiatives that would overcome the gap between generations; notes that this will also help in understanding the younger generation’s assets such as multitasking, creativity, mobility, readiness to change and, above all, teamwork; stresses that education and training systems should be flexible enough to allow for the full development of the skills and talents of young people; emphasises moreover that recruitment and employment services staff should be well trained and equipped with skills that would give them an understanding of the new generation; notes also that not all youth automatically have the skills and abilities for fully meeting the digital demands and reiterates therefore that giving everyone equal access and training to digital tools is even more important than before;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p. 29.
(2) OJ C 440, 30.12.2015, p. 67.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0394.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0038.
(5) OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, p. 10.
(6) OJ C 88, 27.3.2014, p. 1.
(7) OJ C 172, 27.5.2015, p. 3.
(8) CRPD/C/EU/Q/1
(9) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.


Towards a Digital Single Market Act
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European Parliament resolution of 19 January 2016 on Towards a Digital Single Market Act (2015/2147(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0009A8-0371/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2015)0192) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2015)0100),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 July 2014 entitled ‘Towards a thriving data-driven economy’ (COM(2014)0442),

–  having regard to Decision (EU) 2015/2240 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 establishing a programme on interoperability solutions and common frameworks for European public administrations, businesses and citizens (ISA² programme) as a means for modernising the public sector(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Unleashing the potential of crowdfunding in the European Union’ (COM(2014)0172),

–  having regard to the annex to the Commission communication entitled ‘Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT): results and next steps’ (COM(2013)0685),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent, and amending Directives 2002/20/EC, 2002/21/EC and 2002/22/EC and Regulations (EC) No 1211/2009 and (EU) No 531/2012 (COM(2013)0627),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 23 April 2013 entitled ‘E‑commerce action plan 2012-2015 – State of play 2013’ (SWD(2013)0153),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (COM(2013)0147),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to ensure a high common level of network and information security across the Union (COM(2013)0048),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 December 2012 entitled ‘On Content in the Digital Single Market’ (COM(2012)0789),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites (COM(2012)0721),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 October 2012 entitled ‘A stronger European industry for growth and economic recovery’ (COM(2012)0582),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2012 entitled ‘Single Market Act II – Together for new growth’ (COM(2012)0573),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 April 2011 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Single Market Act: Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence’ (COM(2011)0206),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 27 October 2010 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Towards a Single Market Act: For a highly competitive social market economy – 50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another’ (COM(2010)0608),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the term of protection of copyright and related rights (COM(2008)0464),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/758 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system based on the 112 service and amending Directive 2007/46/EC(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 283/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 on guidelines for trans-European networks in the area of telecommunications infrastructure and repealing Decision No 1336/97/EC(4),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/26/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on collective management of copyright and related rights and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online use in the internal market(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2013/37/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information(7) (PSI Directive),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 524/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Regulation on consumer ODR)(8),

–  having regard to Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services(9),

–  having regard to Decision No 243/2012/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 establishing a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme(10),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(11),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1211/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the Office(12),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market(13),

–  having regard to Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector(14),

–  having regard to Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases(15),

–  having regard to the First evaluation of Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases,

–  having regard to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(16), including the amendments brought by Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003,

–  having regard to the agreement of 28 September 2015 on 5G partnership between China and the European Union and related agreements,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the implementation of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2015 on ‘Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: An EU Action Plan’(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2015 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy(19),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on supporting consumer rights in the digital single market(20),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 February 2014 on private copying levies(21),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on an integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU(22),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on reindustrialising Europe to promote competitiveness and sustainability(23),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 December 2013 on unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe(24),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 December 2013 on the evaluation report regarding BEREC and the Office(25),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2013 on the implementation report on the regulatory framework for electronic communications(26),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2013 on misleading advertisement practices(27),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the Digital Agenda for Growth, Mobility and Employment: time to move up a gear(28),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2013 on completing the digital single market(29),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 June 2013 on a new agenda for European Consumer Policy(30),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2013 on the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive(31),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on completing the Digital Single Market(32),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2012 on the online distribution of audiovisual works in the European Union(33),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 June 2012 on critical information infrastructure protection ‒ achievements and next steps: towards global cyber-security(34),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 April 2012 on a competitive digital single market – eGovernment as a spearhead(35),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 September 2010 on completing the internal market for e-commerce(36),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2010 on internet governance: the next steps(37),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on a new Digital Agenda for Europe: 2015.eu(38),

–  having regard its resolution of 15 June 2010 on the Internet of Things(39),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as incorporated into the Treaties by Article 6 of the EU Treaty,

–  having regard to Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD), ratified by the EU on 23 December 2010 (2010/48/EC),

–  having regard to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on 20 October 2005,

–  having regard to Articles 9, 12, 14, 16 and 26 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

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

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Legal Affairs, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0371/2015),

A.  whereas the rapidly evolving use of the internet and mobile communications has changed the way citizens, companies and their employees communicate, access information and knowledge, invent, consume, share, participate and work; whereas this has expanded and changed the economy, facilitating access by small and medium-sized companies to a potential customer base of 500 million customers within the EU, as well as to global markets, and allowing individuals the opportunity to develop new, entrepreneurial ideas and business models;

B.  whereas all Union policies and legislation in the area of the Digital Single Market should allow new opportunities for users and businesses and new innovative cross-border online services at competitive prices to emerge and grow, remove barriers between Member States and facilitate access for European businesses, in particular SMEs and start-ups, to cross-border market, as key for growth and employment in the EU, while recognising that these opportunities will inevitably involve structural changes and taking a holistic approach, including the social dimension, and the need for the digital skills gap to be quickly filled;

C.  whereas while 75 % of the value added by the digital economy comes from traditional industry, the digital transformation of traditional industry remains weak, with only 1,7 % of EU enterprises making full use of advanced digital technologies and only 14 % of SMEs using the internet as a sales channel; whereas Europe must use the great potential of the ICT sector to digitise the industry and maintain global competitiveness;

D.  whereas building a data economy depends heavily on a legal framework that encourages the development, curation, maintenance and augmentation of databases, and is therefore dependent on a legal framework that is innovation-friendly and practical;

E.  whereas in 2013 the market size of the sharing economy was around USD 3,5 billion worldwide, and today the Commission is forecasting a growth potential that goes over USD 100 billion;

F.  whereas a high and consistent level of consumer protection, empowerment and satisfaction necessarily entails choice, quality, flexibility, transparency, information, interoperability and an accessible, secure online environment with a high level of data protection;

G.  whereas creativity and innovation are the drivers of the digital economy, and whereas it is therefore essential to ensure a high level of protection of intellectual property rights;

H.  whereas 44,8 % of households in the EU(40) do not have access to fast internet, and current policies and incentives have failed to deliver adequate digital infrastructure, particularly in rural areas;

I.  whereas the regions in the EU are on very different levels when it comes to their digital connectivity, human capital, use of internet, integration of digital technology by businesses, and digital public services as shown by the Digital Agenda Scoreboard; whereas the regions which score low on these five indicators run the risk of missing out on the benefits of the digital era;

1.INTRODUCTION: WHY WE NEED A DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET

1.  Welcomes the Communication on ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’; considers that achieving a Digital Single Market, based on a common set of rules, could foster EU competitiveness, have positive effects on growth and jobs, relaunch the Single Market and make society more inclusive, offering new opportunities to citizens and businesses, especially by exchanging and sharing innovation, believes that the horizontal approach taken needs now to be strengthened in its implementation, including the timely adoption of the 16 initiatives, as the digital drivers affect each and every citizen and dimension of society and the economy;

2.  Agrees with the Commission that the governance and timely delivery of the Digital Single Market is a shared responsibility of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission; encourages the Commission to engage with societal and social stakeholders and to involve them in the decision-making process to the widest extent possible;

3.  Believes that better regulation requires taking an approach to legislation that is digital by default, principle-based, and technologically neutral; in order to provide room for innovation, it requires an assessment of whether existing legislation, complementary non-regulatory actions and enforcement frameworks, following necessary consultations and impact assessments, are fit for purpose in the digital age, in light of new technologies and new business models, with the aim of overcoming legal fragmentation of the single market, reducing administrative burden, and boosting growth and innovation;

4.  Considers that the trust of citizens and businesses in the digital environment is vital to fully unlocking innovation and growth in the digital economy; is convinced that reinforcing their trust, through data protection and security standards and a high level of consumer protection and empowerment, as well as up-to-date legislation for businesses, should be at the basis of public policy, while recognising that the business models of digital businesses are built on the trust of their users;

5.  Points out that e-commerce generates EUR 500 billion per year in the European Union and is an important complement to offline trade, while providing consumers with greater choice, especially in remote areas, and SMEs with new opportunities; calls on the Commission to identify and dismantle barriers affecting e-commerce in order to build a genuine cross-border e-commerce market; believes that these barriers include lack of interoperability and common standards, lack of adequate information allowing consumers to make informed decisions, and inadequate access to enhanced cross-border payments;

6.  Supports the Commission's plan to ensure that EU competition policy applies fully to the digital single market, as competition gives consumers more choice but will also provide a level playing field, and regrets that the current lack of a European digital framework has highlighted the failure to reconcile the interests of large and small providers;

7.  Stresses the urgent need for the Commission and the Member States to promote a more dynamic economy that allows innovation to flourish and removes barriers for businesses, in particular innovative ones, SMEs, start-ups and scale-ups, so that they can access markets in a level playing field, through the development of e-government, a future-proof and integrated regulatory and non-regulatory framework, access to finance, including new funding models for EU start-ups, SMEs and civil society initiatives, and a long-term investment strategy in digital infrastructure, skills, digital inclusion, research and innovation; recalls that the basis of innovation-friendly policy that fosters competition and innovation should include the possibility for projects to access financing possibilities; calls upon the Commission, therefore, to ensure that crowdfunding can be done seamlessly across borders, and encourages the Member States to introduce incentives for crowdfunding;

8.  Believes that the effects of digitalisation on health and safety at work need to be assessed and existing health and safety measures adapted accordingly; notes the possibility of accidents to which persons teleworking or crowdworking from home may be exposed; emphasises that work-related mental health problems such as burnout caused by constant accessibility and the erosion of traditional working time arrangements represents a serious risk for workers; calls on the Commission to arrange for a study to be produced on the spillover effects of digitalisation, such as greater labour intensity, on workers’ psychological wellbeing and family life and on the development of cognitive abilities in children;

9.  Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to further develop initiatives to boost entrepreneurship, particularly innovative business models that will help change the mind-set on how success is defined and promote an entrepreneurial and innovation culture; believes, in addition, that the diversity and specific attributes of the different national innovation hubs can be turned into a real competitive advantage for the EU on the global market, so they should be interconnected and innovative ecosystems where different sectors and businesses cooperate should be strengthened;

10.  Is concerned about the different national approaches taken so far by the Member States on regulating the internet and the sharing economy; urges the Commission to take initiatives, in line with EU competences, to support innovation and fair competition, remove barriers to digital trade, and preserve economic and social cohesion and the integrity of the single market: calls on the Commission also to preserve the internet as an open, neutral, secured, inclusive, global platform for communication, production, participation, creation, cultural diversity and innovation, in the interest of citizens, consumers and the success of European companies globally;

11.  Notes that the digital revolution affects every aspect of our societies, bringing about challenges and opportunities; believes that it has the potential to further empower citizens, consumers and entrepreneurs in ways not possible before; calls on the Commission to develop a policy that fosters active participation of citizens and allows them to benefit from the digital shift; calls further on the Commission to continue to assess how the digital revolution shapes European society;

12.  Calls on the Commission to fight legal fragmentation by significantly increasing the coordination of its various DGs while drafting new regulation and strongly encouraging the Member States to ensure that the way they are implementing the regulation remains coherent;

13.  Stresses the need for compliance with fundamental rights, in particular data protection legislation, by all initiatives developed under the Digital Single Market Strategy, while recognising the strategy’s added value for the EU economy; recalls the importance of swift adoption of both the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Directive, in the interest of both data subjects and businesses; calls for a revision of the ePrivacy Directive to ensure the consistency of its provisions with the data protection package by the time the package enters into force;

2.BETTER ACCESS FOR CONSUMERS AND BUSINESSES ACROSS EUROPE TO THE DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET

2.1.Cross-border e-commerce rules that consumers and business can trust

14.  Welcomes the Commission's undertaking to adopt a strong proposal on online contracts covering digital content purchased online and to improve consumers’ legal protection in this sphere; believes that any such improvements must be targeted and that differences between content, on the one hand, and tangible goods on the other should be carefully analysed; points out that while consumers who buy content on a tangible medium are protected by consumer protection laws, consumer rights when buying digital content online remain largely unregulated and unclear, particularly with regard to legal guarantees, defective content and specific unfair terms regarding digital content; highlights that the current classification of all digital content as services may raise concerns, as it may not conform to consumer expectations, since streaming service subscriptions are not distinguished from downloadable content purchases; agrees that consumers should enjoy an equivalent and future-proof level of protection regardless of whether they purchase digital content online or offline;

15.  Believes that further harmonisation of the legal framework governing business-to‑consumer online sales of digital content and tangible goods, irrespective of whether they are cross-border or domestic transactions, while maintaining the coherence of online and offline rules, avoiding a race to the regulatory bottom, closing legislative gaps and building upon existing consumer legislation, constitutes a practical and proportionate approach; emphasises that this should be done in a technology-neutral manner and not impose unreasonable costs for business;

16.  Considers that the Commission’s proposals for cross-border contract rules for consumers and businesses should avoid the risk of a growing disparity between the applicable legal standards for offline and online purchases, and believes that online and offline sales should be dealt with coherently and treated equally on the basis of the existing high level of consumer protection, as different legal standards might be perceived by consumers as a denial of their rights; insists that any new proposal should observe Article 6 of the Rome I Regulation, and points out that the Commission is planning a REFIT of the whole consumers acquis for 2016; calls on the Commission in this context to consider whether the Commission`s planned proposal for tangible goods ought not to be launched at the same time as the REFIT;

17.  Believes that contractual rules for digital content need to be principle-based in order to be technologically neutral and future-proof; stresses, furthermore, with regard to the Commission proposal in this area, the importance of avoiding inconsistency and overlap with existing legislation, as well as any risk of creating an unjustified legal divide in the long run between online and offline contracts and different distribution channels, also bearing in mind the consumer acquis REFIT;

18.  Requests an ‘Active Consumers’ strategy to assess in particular whether consumer switching is facilitated in the online world, and whether action is needed to make consumer switching easier, in order to boost competition in online markets; points further to the need to ensure accessible e-commerce services through the whole value chain, including accessible information, accessible payment mechanisms and customer service;

19.  Calls on the Commission to assess, together with stakeholders, the feasibility, usefulness and potential opportunities and weaknesses created by the introduction of sector-specific EU trustmarks for online sales, drawing on best practices of existing trustmark schemes in the Member States in order to engender consumer trust and quality, particularly in relation to cross-border online sales, and to end the possibly confusing large numbers of existing trustmarks, in parallel with assessing other options such as self-regulation or the setting-up of stakeholder groups to define common principles of customer service;

20.  Welcomes the Commission's overall efforts in establishing the EU-wide online dispute resolution (ODR) platform, and calls on the Commission to work towards the timely and correct implementation of the ODR Regulation, especially concerning translation facilities, as well as the ADR directive, together with the Member States; calls on the Commission and the relevant stakeholders to consider how access to information on common consumer complaints could be further improved;

21.  Calls for an ambitious enforcement framework of the consumer acquis and of the Services Directive; encourages the Commission to make use of all the means at its disposal to ensure the full and correct implementation of existing rules, and infringement procedures whenever incorrect or insufficient implementation of the legislation is identified;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt the necessary measures against the sales of illicit content and goods online by increasing cooperation and exchange of information and best practices to combat illegal activity on the internet; stresses in this context that digital content supplied to consumers should be free of any third-party rights, which could prevent the consumer from enjoying the digital content in accordance with the contract;

23.  Calls for a thorough, targeted and evidence-based analysis of whether all actors in the value chain, including online intermediaries, online platforms, content and service providers, and also offline intermediaries such as resellers and retailers, should take reasonable and adequate measures against illegal content, counterfeit goods and intellectual property rights infringements on a commercial scale, while safeguarding the ability of end-users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice;

24.  Stresses that the zero-tolerance principle as regards the transposition of EU regulations must be a fundamental rule for the Member States and the European Union; takes the view, nevertheless, that infringement proceedings should always be the last resort and should be opened only after several attempts at coordination and rectification have been made; emphasises that it is vital to shorten the duration of these proceedings;

25.  Welcomes a review of the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation announced by the Commission; considers that extension of competencies of supervisory authorities and strengthening of their mutual cooperation is a prerequisite for the effective enforcement of consumer rules for online shopping;

2.2.Affordable high-quality cross-border parcel delivery

26.  Highlights the fact that while parcel delivery services work well for consumers in some Member States, inefficient delivery services, especially as regards the final mile delivery, are one of the main barriers to cross-border e-commerce in some Member States and one of the most reported reasons for withdrawing from online transactions for both consumers and businesses; believes that the inadequacies of cross-border parcel delivery can be solved only from a European single market perspective, and underlines the importance of competition in this sector as well the need for the parcel industry to adapt to modern living patterns and offer flexible delivery options, such as networks of collection points, parcel points and price comparators;

27.  Stresses that accessible, affordable, efficient and high-quality delivery services are an essential prerequisite for thriving cross-border e-commerce, and therefore supports the proposed measures to improve price transparency in order to increase consumer awareness of the price structure, information on liabilities in case of loss or damage, interoperability and the regulatory oversight that should be directed at the smooth functioning of cross-border parcel delivery markets, including promoting cross-border track-and-trace systems, allowing enough flexibility for the delivery market to evolve and adapt to technological innovations;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively share best practices in the parcel delivery sector, and on the Commission to report to the European Parliament on the public consultation on cross-border parcel delivery, as well as presenting the results of the self-regulation exercise; welcomes the creation of an ad hoc working group on cross-border parcel delivery;

29.  Calls on the Commission in addition to propose a comprehensive action plan, including guidelines for best practices, in cooperation with operators, to find innovative solutions to improve services, lower costs and the environmental impact, to further integrate the single market for parcel delivery and postal services, to dismantle barriers postal operators encounter in cross-border delivery, to strengthen the cooperation between BEREC and ERGP, and to propose if necessary a revision of the relevant legislation;

30.  Stresses that the further harmonisation of parcel delivery by the Commission should not lead to lower social protection and working conditions for parcel deliverers, irrespective of their employment status; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that workers´ rights in this sector concerning access to social security systems and the right to exercise collective actions are respected; highlights the fact that the provision of social security is a Member State competence;

2.3.Preventing unjustified geo-blocking

31.  Considers that ambitious, targeted actions are needed to improve access to goods and services, in particular by ending unjustified geo-blocking practices and unfair price discrimination based on geographical location or nationality which often have the effect of building monopolies and of consumers resorting to illegal content;

32.  Supports the Commission’s commitment to address unjustified geoblocking in an effective manner by complementing the existing e-commerce framework and enforcing the relevant provisions of existing legislation; considers it vital to focus on business-to-business relations that lead to geo-blocking practices, such as selective distribution where that is not in accordance with competition law and market segmentation, as well as on technological measures and technical practices (such as IP tracking or the deliberate non-interoperability of systems) resulting in unjustified limitations on access to information society services provided across borders, on the conclusion of cross-border contracts to buy goods and services, and also on adjacent activities, such as payment and delivery of goods, taking into account the principle of proportionality, in particular for small and micro businesses;

33.  Stresses the need for all consumers within the Union to be treated equally by online merchants selling in one or more Member States, including their access to discounts or other promotions;

34.  Supports in particular the Commission’s planned scrutiny of the practical enforcement of Article 20(2) of Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market in order to analyse possible patterns of unjustified discrimination against consumers and other recipients of services based on their nationality or their country of residence; calls on the Commission to identify and define concise case groups of justified discrimination under Article 20(2) of the Services Directive in order to clarify what is unjustified discriminatory behaviour by private entities and in order to provide interpretative assistance to authorities responsible for applying Article 20(2) in practice, as referred to in Article 16 of the Services Directive; calls on the Commission to make concerted efforts to add the provision of Article 20(2) to the Annex of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 in order to utilise the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network’s investigation and enforcement powers;

35.  Stresses that a ban on geo-blocking should never oblige retailers to deliver goods from their web shops to a certain Member State when they have no interest in selling their products to all Member States and prefer to stay small or only sell to consumers close to their shops;

36.  Further points out the importance of the ongoing competition sector inquiry into the e-commerce sector in order to investigate, inter alia, whether unjustified geo-blocking restrictions, such as discrimination on the basis of IP address, postal address or the country of issue of credit cards, infringe the rules of EU competition law; stresses the importance of increasing consumer and business confidence by taking into account the sector enquiry results and assessing whether targeted changes to the Block Exemption Regulation are necessary, including Article 4a and Article 4b, in order to limit undesirable re-routing and territorial restrictions;

37.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal to enhance portability and interoperability in order to stimulate the free circulation of legally acquired, and legally available, content or services, as a first step towards bringing an end to unjustified geoblocking, as well as the accessibility and cross-border functionality of subscriptions; stresses that there is no contradiction between the principle of territoriality and measures to remove barriers to portability of content;

38.  Cautions against indiscriminately promoting the issuing of mandatory pan-European licences since this could lead to a decrease in the content made available to users: highlights that the principle of territoriality is an essential element of the copyright system given the importance of territorial licensing in the EU;

2.4.Better access to digital content – a modern, more European copyright framework

39.  Welcomes the Commission's commitment to modernise the current copyright framework to adapt it to the digital age; underlines that any modification should be targeted and focus on fair and appropriate remuneration for creators and other right holders, economic growth, competitiveness and enhanced consumer experience, but also on the need to ensure the protection of fundamental rights;

40.  Stresses that professional activities or business models based on the violation of copyrights are a serious threat to the functioning of the Digital Single Market;

41.  Believes that the reform should strike the right balance between all the interests involved; points out that the creative sector has specificities and different challenges, notably arising from the different types of content and creative works and from the business models used; whereas the ‘Territoriality and its impact on the financing of audiovisual works’ study underlines the important role of territorial licensing regarding the refinancing of European films; calls therefore on the Commission to better identify and take into account these specificities;

42.  Calls on the Commission to make sure that any reform of the copyright directive should take into account the results of the ex-post impact assessment and the European Parliament resolution of 9 July 2015 on Directive 2001/29/EC, and be based on solid evidence, including an assessment of the possible impact of any modification on growth and jobs, on cultural diversity and in particular on the production, financing and distribution of audiovisual works;

43.  Highlights the crucial role of targeted exceptions and limitations to copyright in contributing to economic growth, innovation, job creation, encouraging future creativity and enhancing Europe’s innovation and creative and cultural diversity; recalls Parliament's support for examining the application of minimum standards across the exceptions and limitations to copyright and the proper application of those exceptions and limitations set out in Directive 2001/29/EC;

44.  Underlines that the approach to copyright exceptions and limitations should be balanced, targeted and format-neutral and should only be based on demonstrated needs, and should be without prejudice to European cultural diversity, its financing and the fair compensation of authors;

45.  Emphasises that while the use of text and data mining needs greater legal certainty to enable researchers and educational institutions to make wider use of copyright-protected material, including across borders, any European-wide exception for text and data mining should apply only when the user has lawful access, and should be developed in consultation with all stakeholders following an evidence-based impact assessment;

46.  Stresses the importance of improving the clarity and transparency of the copyright regime, in particular with regard to user-generated content and to private copying levies in those Member States which choose to apply them; notes, in this regard, that citizens should be informed of the actual amount of the copyright levy, its purpose and how it will be used;

2.5.Reducing VAT-related burdens and obstacles when selling across borders

47.  Considers that, with due respect to national competences, in order to prevent market distortion, tax avoidance and tax evasion and to create a true European Digital Single Market, more coordination on taxation is needed, requiring inter alia the establishment of an EU-wide Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base;

48.  Considers as a priority the development of a simplified, uniform and consistent online VAT system to reduce compliance costs for small and innovative companies operating across Europe; welcomes the introduction of the VAT Mini One-Stop Shop, which is a step towards ending the temporary EU VAT regime; is nevertheless concerned that the absence of a threshold makes it difficult for certain SMEs to comply with the current regime; calls therefore on the Commission to review this regime in order to make it more business-friendly;

49.  Calls, furthermore, for the tax neutrality principle to be fully respected for similar goods and services, regardless of whether they are digital or physical; calls on the Commission to submit a proposal, in accordance with the commitments given and as soon as possible, to allow Member States to reduce rates of VAT for the press, digital publishing, e-books and on-line publications in order to avoid discrimination in the single market;

50.  Invites the Commission to facilitate the exchange of best practices between tax authorities and stakeholders to develop appropriate solutions for payment of taxes in the sharing economy;

51.  Welcomes the adoption of the review of the payment services directive; stresses that if the Union is to enhance EU-wide e-commerce, pan-EU instant e-/m-payments under a common standard and the appropriate implementation of the review of the payment services directive must be achieved without delay;

3.CREATING THE RIGHT CONDITIONS AND A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR ADVANCED DIGITAL NETWORKS AND INNOVATIVE SERVICES

3.1.Making the telecoms rules fit for purpose

52.  Emphasises that private investments in fast and ultra-fast communication networks are a requirement for any digital progress that must be incentivised by a stable EU regulatory framework enabling all players to make investments, including in rural and remote areas; considers that increased competition has been associated with higher levels of infrastructure investment, innovation, choices and lower prices for consumers and businesses; considers that little evidence exists of a link between consolidation of operators and increased investment and output in networks; considers that this should be carefully assessed, and competition rules enforced, to avoid excessive market concentration, the creation of oligopolies at European level and a negative impact for consumers;

53.  Highlights the importance of a successful implementation of EFSI to maximise investments by targeting projects with higher-risk profiles, boosting economic recovery, stimulating growth, and incentivising private investments, inter alia microfinancing and venture capital to support innovative companies at different funding stages of their development; stresses, in cases of market failure, the importance of fully exploiting the public funds already available for digital investments, of enabling synergies between EU programmes such as Horizon 2020, CEF, other relevant structural funds and other instruments, including community-based projects and state aid in compliance with state aid guidelines, inter alia to promote public WLAN networks in larger and smaller municipalities, as this has proved to be indispensable for regional, social and cultural integration as well as education;

54.  Reminds the Member States of their commitment to reach by 2020 full deployment of at least minimum target speeds of 30 Mbps; calls on the Commission to evaluate whether the current broadband strategy for mobile and fixed networks, including targets, is future-proofed, and to meet the conditions for high connectivity for all to avoid the digital divide for the needs of the data-driven economy and the rapid deployment of 5G and ultra-fast broadband;

55.  Stresses that the development of digital, including over the top (OTT) services, has increased demand and competition to the benefit of consumers and the need for investments in digital infrastructure; considers that the modernisation of the telecommunications framework should not lead to unnecessary regulatory burdens, but guarantee non-discriminatory access to networks and implement future-proof solutions, based where possible on similar rules for similar services that foster innovation and fair competition, and ensure consumer protection;

56.  Stresses the need to ensure that end-user rights laid down in the telecommunications framework are coherent, proportionate and future-proofed, and, following the adoption of the Connected Continent package, include easier switching and transparency of contracts for end-users; welcomes the upcoming review of the Universal Services Directive alongside the review of the telecommunications framework to ensure the requirements on high-speed broadband internet access are fit for purpose to reduce the digital divide and examine the availability of the 112 service;

57.  Stresses that the European Digital Single Market should make daily life easier for the end consumer; calls, therefore, on the Commission to solve the problem of the cross-border handover of telephone calls so that consumers will be able to make uninterrupted telephone calls when crossing borders in the Union;

58.  Welcomes the various ongoing public consultations launched by DG Connect recently on the digital agenda for Europe, notably on the review of EU telecoms rules, on the need for internet speed and quality beyond 2020 and on Online platforms, cloud and data, liability of intermediaries, and the collaborative economy, but urges the Commission to ensure consistency among all these parallel initiatives;

59.   Highlights that radio spectrum is a critical resource for the internal market for mobile, wireless broadband communications, as well as broadcasting, and is essential for the future competitiveness of the European Union; calls as a priority for a harmonised and pro-competitive framework for spectrum allocation and effective management to prevent delays in spectrum allocation, and for a level playing field for all market players, and in light of the Lamy report(41), for a long-term strategy on the future uses of the various bands of spectrum, which are necessary in particular for 5G deployment;

60.  Stresses that the timely implementation and uniform, transparent enforcement across Member States of EU telecommunication rules such as the ‘Connected Continent package’ is a crucial pillar for establishing a Digital single market, to ensure the rigorous application of the net neutrality principle and, particularly with a timely wholesale review, to deliver the end of roaming charges for all European consumers by 15 June 2017;

61.  Calls on the Commission, in order to further integrate the Digital single market, to ensure that a more efficient institutional framework is in place by strengthening the role, capacity and decisions of BEREC in order to achieve consistent application of the regulatory framework, ensure oversight in the development of the single market and resolve cross-border disputes; stresses, in this regard, the need to improve the financial and human resources and further enhance the governance structure of BEREC accordingly;

3.2.A media framework for the 21st century

62.  Stresses the dual character of audiovisual media as a social, cultural and economic asset; observes that the need for future European media regulation arises from the need to ensure and to promote diversity of audiovisual media and to set high standards for the protection of minors and consumers and personal data, fair conditions for competition and more flexibility regarding quantitative and commercial communication rules;

63.  Stresses that the ‘country of origin’ principle enshrined in the AVMS Directive is a necessary prerequisite for the provision of audiovisual content across borders on the way to a common market in services; underlines, at the same time, that this principle does not prevent the achievement of social and cultural objectives and that it does not preclude the need to adapt EU law outside the AVMS Directive; stresses that in order to fight the practice of ‘forum shopping’, the country of origin of the advertising profit, the language of the service and the targeted public of the advertisement and content should be part of the criteria to determine or contest the ‘country of origin’ of an audiovisual media service;

64.  Believes that everyone, including providers of online audiovisual media platforms and user interfaces, should be subject to the AVMS Directive as far as it concerns an audiovisual media service; underlines the importance of rules aimed at enhancing the findability of legal content and information in order to strengthen media freedom, pluralism and independent research, and to guarantee the non-discrimination principle, safeguarding linguistic and cultural diversity; stresses that to ensure the idea of findability of audiovisual content of public interest, the Member States can introduce specific rules that aim to preserve cultural and linguistic diversity and the variety of information, opinions and media, the protection of children, young people or minorities and the protection of consumers in general; calls for measures to ensure that audiovisual media services are made accessible to vulnerable people; urges the Commission to stimulate the legal offer of audiovisual media content by favouring independent European works;

65.  Urges the Commission to take into account changing viewing patterns and new ways of accessing audiovisual content by aligning linear and non-linear services and by setting out European-level minimum requirements for all audiovisual media services, with a view to ensuring their consistent application, except where such content is an indispensable completion of other than audiovisual content or services; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop the concept of media services defined in Article 1 of the AVMS Directive in such a way that, while the Member States retain an appropriate degree of flexibility, more account is taken of the potential socio-political impact of services and of specific features of that impact, particularly their relevance to opinion-forming and to diversity of opinion, as well as the question of editorial responsibility;

66.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement equally, and to treat efficiently, the prohibition of any audiovisual media service in the EU in the case of a violation of human dignity, incitement to hatred or racism;

67.  Underlines that an adaptation of the AVMS Directive should reduce regulation and strengthen co- and self-regulation by bringing into balance the rights and obligations of broadcasters, through a horizontal and cross-media regulatory approach, with those of other participants in the market; considers priority should be given to the principle of clear recognisability and differentiation between advertising and programme content over the principle of separation of advertising and programme content across all media forms; calls on the Commission to check whether it is still useful and pertinent to adhere to section 6.7 of its communication on the application of state aid rules to public service broadcasting;

68.  Considers that the legal concept set out in Directive 93/83/EEC could, after a further assessment has been conducted, improve cross-border access to legal online content and services in the Digital Single Market without questioning the principles of freedom of contract, appropriate remuneration of authors and artists and the territorial nature of exclusive rights;

3.3.A fit-for-purpose regulatory environment for platforms and intermediaries

3.3.1.Role of online platforms

69.  Urges the Commission to examine whether potential issues related to online platforms could be resolved by proper and full implementation of existing legislation and effective enforcement of EU competition law in order, to ensure a level playing field and fair and effective competition between online platforms and to avoid the creation of monopolies; calls on the Commission to maintain an innovation-friendly policy towards online platforms that facilitates market entry and fosters innovation; considers that transparency, non-discrimination, facilitation of switching between platforms or online services enabling consumer choice, access to platforms, and identifying and addressing barriers to the emergence and scale-up of platforms should be priorities;

70.  Notes in addition that the provisions of the E-Commerce Directive have been subsequently enhanced by the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Consumer Rights Directive and other components of the consumer acquis, and that these directives need to be properly enforced and apply as much to traders using online platforms as to traders in traditional markets; calls on the Commission to work with all stakeholders and Parliament to introduce clear guidance on the applicability of the consumer acquis to traders using online platforms and, where necessary, assistance to Member State consumer protection authorities to properly enforce consumer law;

71.  Appreciates the Commission’s initiative to analyse the role of online platforms in the Digital Economy as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy, as it will affect several upcoming legislative proposals; believes that the analysis should serve to identify confirmed and well-defined problems within specific business areas and possible gaps in terms of consumer protection, and to distinguish between online services and online service providers; emphasises that platforms dealing with cultural goods, especially audiovisual media, have to be treated in a specific manner that respects the UNESCO convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions;

72.  Asks the Commission to report to Parliament in the first quarter of 2016 on the results of the relevant consultations and to ensure a consistent approach in upcoming legislative revisions; cautions against creating market distortions or barriers to market entry for online services by introducing new obligations to cross-subsidise particular legacy business models;

73.  Stresses that the limited liability of intermediaries is essential to the protection of the openness of the internet, fundamental rights, legal certainty and innovation; recognises in this respect that the provisions on intermediary liability in the e-Commerce Directive are future-proof and technologically neutral;

74.  Draws attention to the fact that to benefit from a limitation of liability the provider of an information society service, upon obtaining actual knowledge or awareness of illegal activities, has to act expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information concerned; asks the Commission to ensure uniform implementation of this provision in compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights in order to avoid any privatisation of law enforcement and to ensure that adequate and reasonable measures are taken against the sale of illicit content and goods;

75.  Considers that, in view of the rapidly evolving markets and the diversity of platforms ranging from non-profit platforms to B2B platforms and encompassing different services, sectors and a vast variety of actors, there is no clear definition of platforms, and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach could seriously impede innovation and put European companies at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy;

76.  Takes the view that some online intermediaries and online platforms generate income from cultural works and content, but this income may not always be shared with the creators; calls on the Commission to consider evidence-based options to address any lack of transparency and transfer of value from content to services that will make it possible for authors, performers and right holders to be fairly remunerated for the use of their work on the internet without hampering innovation;

3.3.2.New opportunities offered by the sharing economy

77.  Welcomes the increased competition and consumer choice arising from the sharing economy, as well as opportunities for job creation, economic growth, competitiveness, a more inclusive job market and a more circular EU economy through the more efficient use of resources, skills and other assets; urges the Commission and Member States to support the further development of the sharing economy by identifying artificial barriers and relevant legislation hindering its growth;

78.  Encourages the Commission to analyse, in the framework of the sharing economy, how to strike a balance between empowering and protecting consumers and, where clarification is needed, to ensure the adequacy of the consumer-related legislation framework in the digital sphere, including in cases of possible abuses, and to also determine where ex-post remedies are sufficient or more effective;

79.  Notes that it is in the self-interest of companies utilising these new business models based on reputation and trust to adopt measures to discourage illegal activities while providing new consumer safety features;

80.  Encourages the Commission to set up a stakeholder group in charge of promoting best practices in the sharing economy sector;

81.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that employment and social policies are fit for purpose for digital innovation, entrepreneurship, and the growth of the sharing economy and its potential for more flexible forms of employment, by identifying new forms of employment and assessing the need for the modernisation of social and employment legislation so that existing employment rights and social welfare schemes can also be maintained in the digital world of work; highlights that the provision of social security is a Member State competence; asks the Commission to identify and facilitate exchanges of best practices in the EU in these areas and at international level;

3.3.3.Combatting illegal content on the internet

82.  Calls on the Commission to advance policies and a legal framework to tackle cybercrime and illegal content and materials on the internet, including hate speech, that will be in full compliance with fundamental rights as set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular the right to freedom of expression and information, with existing EU or Member State legislation and with the principles of necessity, proportionality, due legal process and the rule of law; considers that, in order to achieve that goal, it is necessary to:

   provide consistent and efficient law enforcement tools for European and national police agencies and law enforcement authorities,
   provide clear guidelines on how to tackle illegal content online, including hate speech,
   support public-private partnerships and dialogue between public and private entities, in compliance with existing EU legislation,
   clarify the role of intermediaries and online platforms with respect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
   ensure that the creation within Europol of the European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) is founded on a legal basis that is appropriate for its activities,
   ensure special measures to combat the sexual exploitation of children online and effective cooperation between all stakeholders to guarantee the rights and protection of children on the internet and encourage initiatives that strive to make the internet safe for children, and
   cooperate with the relevant stakeholders in promoting education and awareness-raising campaigns;

83.  Welcomes the Commission's action plan to modernise the enforcement of intellectual property rights online with regard to commercial-scale infringement; considers that copyright enforcement as laid down in Directive 2004/48/EC is extremely important and that copyright and related rights are only as effective as the enforcement measures in place to protect them;

84.  Highlights that the EU faces a significant number of IPR infringements; emphasises the role of the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights to provide reliable data and objective analysis of the impacts of infringements on economic actors; calls for an effective, sustainable, proportionate and modernised approach to the enforcement, implementation and protection of intellectual property rights online, particularly with regard to commercial-scale infringement;

85.  Notes that in some cases copyright infringements may result from difficulty in finding legally available desired content; calls, therefore, for a wider range of user-friendly legal offers to be developed and promoted to the public;

86.  Welcomes the ‘follow the money’ approach and encourages the actors in the supply chain to take coordinated and proportionate actions to fight infringements of intellectual property rights on a commercial scale, building on the practice of voluntary agreements; emphasises that the Commission, together with Member States, should promote awareness and due diligence along the supply chain and encourage the exchange of information and best practices, as well as enhanced public and private sector cooperation; insists that any measures should be justified, coordinated and proportionate and include the possibility of effective and user-friendly remedies for adversely affected parties; considers it necessary to raise consumer awareness of the consequences of infringement of copyright and related rights;

3.4.Reinforcing trust and security in digital networks, industries, services and infrastructures and in the handling of personal data

87.  Considers, in order to ensure trust and security in digital services, data-driven technologies, IT and payment systems, critical infrastructure and online networks, that increased resources are required as well as cooperation between the European cybersecurity industry, the public and private sector, in particular via research cooperation including Horizon 2020, and public-private partnerships; supports the sharing of Member States’ best practices in PPPs in this area;

88.  Calls for efforts to improve resilience against cyber-attacks, with an increased role for ENISA in particular, to increase risk awareness and knowledge of basic security processes among users, particularly SMEs, to ensure that companies have basic levels of security, such as end-to-end encryption of data and communications and software updates, and to encourage the use of the security-by-design concept;

89.  Considers that software providers should better promote the security advantages of open source software and security-related software upgrades to users; calls on the Commission to explore an EU-wide coordinated vulnerability disclosure programme, including the repair of known software vulnerabilities, as a remedy against the abuse of software vulnerabilities and security and personal data breaches;

90.  Believes that the swift adoption of a fit-for-purpose NIS directive is needed to provide an EU coordinated approach on cybersecurity; considers that a more ambitious level of cooperation among Member States and relevant institutions and bodies in the EU, and the exchange of best practices, is essential for further digitalisation of the industry, while ensuring the protection of EU fundamental rights, particularly data protection;

91.  Highlights the fact that the fast-growing number of attacks on networks and acts of cybercrime calls for a harmonised response from the EU and its Member States with a view to ensuring a high level of network and information security; believes that providing security on the internet entails the protection of networks and critical infrastructure, ensuring the ability of law enforcement agencies to fight crime, including terrorism, violent radicalisation and sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children online, and use of data that are strictly necessary to fight crime online and offline; stresses that security, thus defined, together with protection of fundamental rights in cyberspace, is crucial to reinforcing trust in digital services and is therefore a necessary basis for establishing a competitive digital single market;

92.  Recalls that tools such as encryption are useful to citizens and businesses as a means of ensuring privacy and at least a basic level of communications security; condemns the fact that it can also be used for criminal purposes;

93.  Welcomes the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) within Europol which contributes to faster reactions in the event of cyber-attacks; calls for a legislative proposal to reinforce EC3’s its mandate, and calls for swift transposition of Directive 2013/40/EU of 12 August 2013 on attacks against information systems;

94.  Notes that the revelations of electronic mass surveillance have shown the need to regain citizens’ trust in the privacy, safety and security of digital services, and underlines, in this connection, the need for strict compliance with existing data protection legislation and respect for fundamental rights when processing personal data for commercial or law enforcement purposes; recalls, in this context, the importance of existing tools such as mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs), which respect the rule of law and decrease the risk of improper access to data that are stored in foreign territory;

95.  Reiterates that, under Article 15(1) of the Directive on electronic commerce (2000/31/EC), ‘Member States shall not impose a general obligation on providers’ of transmission, storage and hosting services ‘to monitor the information which they transmit or store, nor a general obligation actively to seek facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity’; reiterates, in particular, that the Court of Justice of the European Union, in its Judgments C-360/10 and C-70/10, rejected measures for the ‘active monitoring’ of almost all users of the services concerned (internet access providers in one case, a social network in the other) and specified that any injunction requiring a hosting services provider to undertake general monitoring should be precluded;

4.MAXIMISING THE GROWTH POTENTIAL OF THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

96.  Believes that, in light of the central importance of European industry and of the digital economy growing much faster than the rest of the economy, the digital transformation of industry is essential for the competitiveness of the European economy and its energy transition, but can only be successful if European companies understand its significance in terms of increased efficiency and access to untapped potential, with more integrated and connected value chains able to respond quickly and flexibly to consumer demands;

97.  Calls on the Commission to develop a digital transformation plan without delay, including the modernisation of legislation and the use of relevant instruments for investment in R&D and infrastructure, to support the digitalisation of industry in all sectors, such as the manufacturing, energy, transport and retail sectors, by encouraging the adoption of digital technologies and end-to-end connectivity in value chains, as well as innovative services and business models;

98.  Considers that the regulatory framework should enable industries to embrace and anticipate those changes in order to contribute to job creation, growth and regional convergence;

99.  Calls, in addition, for a special focus on SMEs, including in particular a possible review of the Small Business Act, as their digital transformation is imperative for competitiveness and job creation in the economy and for closer cooperation between established companies and start-ups that could lead to a more sustainable and competitive industrial model and the emergence of global leaders;

100.  Reiterates the importance of the European Satellite Navigation Systems, in particular Galileo and Egnos, for the development of the Digital Single Market with regard to the data position and time stamping for Big Data and Internet of Things applications;

4.1.Building a data economy

101.  Considers that a data-driven economy is key to economic growth; emphasises the opportunities that new ICT technologies such as Big Data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, 3D-printing and other technologies can bring to the economy and society, especially if integrated with other sectors such as energy, transport and logistics, financial services, education, retail, manufacturing, research or health and emergency services, and if used by public authorities to develop smart cities, better manage resources and improve environmental protection; highlights in particular the opportunities offered by energy sector digitalisation, with smart meters, smart grids and data hubs for more efficient and flexible energy production; underlines the importance of public-private partnerships and welcomes Commission initiatives in this respect;

102.  Calls on the Commission to investigate the possibility of making every scientific research project which is at least 50 % funded by public funding accessible and free in digital form within a reasonable timeframe which will not jeopardise economic and social gains, including the use of publishing houses in this matter;

103.  Calls on the Commission to carry out, by March 2016, a broad and transparent review on Big Data involving all relevant experts, including researchers, civil society and the public and private sectors, aimed at anticipating the needs of big data technologies and for computing infrastructure, in particular European supercomputers, including better conditions under the non-regulatory and existing regulatory framework for growth and innovation in this sector, and at maximising opportunities and addressing potential risks and challenges to build trust relating, for example, to access to data, security and data protection;

104.  Calls for the development of a future-proof and technologically neutral European approach and further integration of the single market related to the Internet of Things and the industrial internet, with a transparent standard-setting and interoperability strategy, and the reinforcement of trust in these technologies through security, transparency and privacy by design and by default; welcomes the ‘free flow of data’ initiative that should, following a comprehensive assessment, clarify rules on the use, access to and ownership of data, taking into account concerns about the impact of data localisation requirements on the functioning of the single market, and facilitate switching between data service providers to prevent lock-in and market distortions;

105.  Believes public administrations should have open government data by default; urges that progress be made on the degree and pace of releasing information as open data, on identifying key datasets to be made available and on promoting the re-use of open data in an open form, on account of their value for the development of innovative services, including cross-border solutions, transparency, and benefits for the economy and society;

106.  Acknowledges the growing concern of EU consumers about the use and protection of personal data by online service providers, as this is key in building consumers’ trust in the digital economy; underlines the important role active consumers play in fostering competition; stresses thereby the importance for consumers to be better informed of the use of their data, in particular in the case of services supplied in exchange for data, and of their right to data portability; urges the Commission to clarify data control and data portability rules in accordance with the key principle that citizens should be in control of their data;

107.  Believes that compliance with data protection legislation and effective privacy and security safeguards as set in the General Data Protection Regulation, including special provisions regarding children as vulnerable consumers, are crucial for building the trust of citizens and consumers in the data-driven economy sector; stresses the need to raise awareness of the role of data and the meaning of data-sharing for consumers as regards their fundamental rights within the economy, and to lay down rules on data ownership and citizens’ control over their personal data; underlines the role of personalisation of services and products that should be developed in compliance with data protection requirements; calls for the promotion of privacy by default and by design, which could also have a positive impact on innovation and economic growth; stresses the need to ensure a non-discriminatory approach to all data processing; underlines the importance of a risk-based approach, which helps avoid any unnecessary administrative burden and provides legal certainty, especially for SMEs and start-ups, as well as democratic oversight and constant monitoring by public authorities; stresses that personal data need special protection and recognises that putting in place additional safeguards, such as pseudonymisation or anonymisation, can enhance protection where personal data are used by Big Data applications and online service providers;

108.  Notes that the Commission's evaluation of the Directive on Databases considers this directive an impediment to the development of a European data-driven economy; calls on the Commission to follow-up on policy options to abolish Directive 96/9/EC;

4.2.Boosting competitiveness through interoperability and standardisation

109.  Considers that the European ICT standardisation plan and revision of the interoperability framework, including the Commission’s mandates to European standardisation organisations, should be part of a European digital strategy to create economies of scale, budget savings and improved competitiveness for European companies, and to increase cross-sectoral and cross-border interoperability of goods and services through the faster definition, in an open and competitive way, of voluntary, market-driven and global standards that are easily implemented by SMEs; encourages the Commission to ensure that standardisation processes include all relevant stakeholders, attract the best technologies and avoid the risk of creating monopolies or closed value chains, especially for SMEs and start-ups, and to actively promote European standards internationally in light of the global nature of ICT standardisation initiatives;

110.  Urges the Commission and the Council to increase the share of free and open source software and its reuse in and between public administrations as a solution to increase interoperability;

111.  Notes that the Commission is currently consulting with relevant stakeholders on the establishment of an in-vehicle interoperable, standardised, secure and open-access platform for possible future applications or services, as requested by the Parliament in the e-Call Regulation; calls on the Commission to ensure that this platform will not restrict innovation, free competition and consumer choice;

112.  Calls on the Commission, taking into account rapid innovation in the transport sector, to develop a coordinated strategy on connectivity in the transport sector and, in particular, to establish a regulatory framework for connected vehicles to ensure interoperability with different services, including remote diagnostics and maintenance, and applications in order to uphold fair competition and to satisfy a strong need for products which comply with cyber-security and data protection requirements, but also to ensure the physical security of passengers; believes that partnerships between the automotive and telecom industries are needed to ensure that connected vehicles and connected vehicle infrastructure are developed on the basis of common standards across Europe;

4.3.An inclusive e-society

113.  Notes that the internet and ICT have an enormous impact on the emancipation of women and girls; acknowledges that female participation in the EU digital sector has a positive impact on European GDP; recognises the significant potential of female innovators and entrepreneurs and the role they can play in digital transformation; underlines the need to overcome gender stereotypes, and fully supports and encourages a digital entrepreneurial culture for women, as well as their integration and participation in information society;

114.  Recognises the potential of the Digital Single Market to ensure accessibility and participation for all citizens, including people with special needs, elderly people, minorities and other citizens belonging to vulnerable groups, regarding all aspects of the digital economy, including products and services protected by copyright and related rights, especially by the development of an inclusive e-society and ensuring that all e-government and e-administration programmes are fully accessible; is deeply concerned by the lack of progress in ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty and urges its ratification as soon as possible; underlines, in this context, the urgency of swift adoption of the proposal for a directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites;

4.3.1.Digital skills and expertise

115.  Draws attention to the fact that the mismatch between supply and demand with regard to skills is a problem for the development of the digital economy, the creation of jobs and the competitiveness of the Union, and calls on the Commission, as a matter of urgency, to develop a skills strategy which can tackle this shortage; calls on the Commission to use appropriations from the Youth Employment Initiative to support associations (grassroots movements) which teach disadvantaged young people digital skills; calls on Member States to provide support by making premises available;

116.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote media literacy and internet literacy for all EU citizens, in particular vulnerable people, through initiatives and coordinated action and investment in the creation of European networks for the teaching of media literacy; stresses that the ability to use media independently and critically, and the handling of information overload, represents a lifelong learning task across generations that is subject to constant change to enable all generations to manage the appropriate and autonomous handling of information overload; points out that as job and skills profiles become more complex, new demands – especially regarding information and communications technology (ICT) skills – are being placed on training, as well as on further education and life-long learning;

117.  Encourages the Member States to integrate the acquisition of digital skills into school curricula, to improve the necessary technical equipment and to promote cooperation between universities and technical colleges with the aim of developing common e-Learning curricula that are, recognised in the ECTS system; stresses that education and training curricula must aim at developing a critical thinking approach to the use and thorough understanding of new media, digital and information devices and interfaces, so that people can be active users of these new technologies and not simply end users; underlines the importance of proper training for teachers in digital skills, in how to teach these skills efficiently, including the success of play-based digital learning, and in how to use them to support the learning process in general by making mathematics, IT, science and technology more attractive; calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up research into the effects of digital media on cognitive skills;

118.  Notes that public and private investment, and new funding opportunities in vocational education and lifelong learning, is necessary to ensure that workers, especially less qualified workers, are equipped with the right skills for the digital economy; calls on the Commission and Member States, together with private industry, to develop easily accessible, standardised and certified on-line training courses and innovative and accessible e-skills training programmes in order to teach participants a minimum of digital skills; encourages Member States to make these on-line courses an integral part of the Youth Guarantee; encourages the Commission and the Member States to create the basis for mutual recognition of digital skills and qualifications by establishing a European certificate or grading system, following the example of the European common framework of reference for language learning and teaching; stresses that cultural diversity in Europe, as well as multilingualism, benefits from cross-border access to content;

119.  Welcomes the establishment of the Europe-wide grand coalition for digital jobs, encourages businesses to join and urges the Commission and Member states to facilitate the active participation of SMEs; welcomes the Commission’s thoughts on constructing new knowledge storage systems for the public sector by means of cloud technologies and text and data mining that are certified and secured under data protection law; takes the view that using such technologies calls for special training efforts in the library, archiving and documentation professions; calls for digital forms of collaborative work and communication – using and developing CC licences – to be taught and applied across national and linguistic borders in education and training, and in public research establishments, and to be promoted in public procurement procedures; notes the vital role of dual training;

120.  Notes that public and private investment in vocational education and lifelong learning is necessary in order to ensure that the EU workforce, including the ‘digital workforce’ working in non-standard forms of employment, is equipped with the right skills for the digital economy; notes that some Member States have introduced rights which guarantee workers minimum entitlements to paid educational leave as a measure to improve workers’ access to education and training;

4.3.2.e-government

121.  Believes that the development of e-administration is a priority for innovation, as it has a leverage effect on all sectors of the economy and enhances efficiency, interoperability and transparency, reduces costs and the administrative burden, allows for better cooperation between public administrations, and provides better, more user-friendly and personalised services for all citizens and businesses in view of the opportunities offered by digital social innovations; urges the Commission to lead by example in the field of e-government and to develop, together with the Member States, an ambitious and comprehensive e-government action plan; believes that this action plan should be based on users’ needs and best practices, including benchmarks for progress, a step-by-step sectoral approach to apply the ‘once only principle’ in public administrations according to which citizens and businesses should not be asked for information already provided to a public authority, whilst ensuring citizens' privacy and a high level of data protection in compliance with the requirements and principles of the EU Data Protection Reform package and fully in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as a high level of security regarding these initiatives; considers that it should also ensure the full cross-border deployment of highly encrypted e-ID and e-signatures, in particular with the swift implementation of the eIDAS regulation and the increased online availability of public services; stresses the importance for citizens and businesses to have access to interconnected commercial registers;

122.  Calls for the development of a comprehensive and fully accessible single digital gateway, building upon already existing initiatives and networks, as a single end-to-end digital process for businesses, to set up and operate across the EU, including the online set-up of the business as well as domain names, the exchange of compliance information, recognition of e-invoices, filing taxes, a simplified online VAT scheme, online information on product compliance, the hiring of resources and posting of workers, consumer rights, access to consumer and business networks, notification procedures and dispute settlement mechanisms;

123.  Further calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure the full implementation of the Points of Single Contact, as established by the Service Directive, and to take all necessary measures to guarantee their efficient functioning, thus unlocking their full potential;

124.  Is concerned that cloud infrastructures for researchers and universities are fragmented; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, to set up an action plan to lead to the establishment of the European Open Science Cloud by the end of 2016, which should seamlessly integrate existing networks, data and high-performance computing systems and e-infrastructure services across scientific fields, within a framework of shared policies, standards and investments; believes that it should serve as a stimulus to the development of clouds beyond science, to better interconnected innovation centres, start-up ecosystems, and improved cooperation between universities and industry in commercialising technology, in compliance with relevant confidentiality rules, and to facilitating international coordination and cooperation in this field;

125.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to renew their commitment to the EU 2020 strategy's research and innovation targets as building blocks of a competitive Digital Single Market, economic growth and job creation, with a comprehensive approach to Open Science, Open innovation, Open data and knowledge transfer; considers that this should include a revised legal framework for text and data mining for scientific research purposes, the increased use of free and open source software, particularly in educational establishments and public administrations, and easier access for SMEs and start-ups to Horizon 2020 funding adapted to the short innovation cycles of the ICT sector; stresses in this respect the importance of all relevant initiatives, from public-private partnerships and innovation clusters to European technology and science parks, notably in less industrialised European regions, and accelerator programmes for start-ups and joint technology platforms, as well as the ability to license standard-essential patents effectively, within the restraints of EU competition law, under FRAND licensing terms, in order to preserve R&D and standardisation incentives and foster innovation;

126.  Urges the Commission to focus on the implementation of the e-procurement provisions, as well as the European Procurement Single Document (PP passport), in order to facilitate overall economic benefits as well as EU market access for all economic operators in compliance with all selection, exclusion and award criteria; stresses the obligation on procuring authorities to provide an indication of the main reasons for their decision not to subdivide contracts into lots in accordance with existing legislation to improve the access of innovative companies and SMEs to procurement markets;

4.4.International dimension

127.  Stresses the importance of a fully independent internet governance structure to maintain the internet as a transparent and inclusive model of multi-stakeholder governance, based on the principle of the internet as a unique, open, free and stable platform; considers it essential to use the delay in the transition of stewardship of ICANN to serve this purpose; strongly believes that the global dimension of the internet needs to be taken into account in all relevant EU policies and calls on the EEAS to make full use of the opportunities offered by digitalisation in the development of a coherent external policy, to ensure that the EU is represented in internet governance platforms and to be more vocal in global fora, in particular on standard-setting, the preparations for 5G deployment and cybersecurity;

128.  Recognises the global nature of the data economy; recalls that the creation of the digital single market is dependent on the free flow of data within and outside the European Union; calls, therefore, for steps to be taken by the EU and its Member States in cooperation with third countries to ensure high standards of data protection and safe international data transfers, in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and the existing EU case law, when pursuing cooperation with third countries within the Digital Single Market Strategy;

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

(1) OJ L 318, 4.12.2015, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 123, 19.5.2015, p. 77.
(3) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 73.
(4) OJ L 86, 21.3.2014, p. 14.
(5) OJ L 84, 20.3.2014, p. 72.
(6) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 129.
(7) OJ L 175, 27.6.2013, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 81, 21.3.2012, p. 7.
(11) OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 64.
(12) OJ L 337, 18.12.2009, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.
(14) OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37.
(15) OJ L 77, 27.3.1996, p. 20.
(16) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0273.
(18) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0220.
(19) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0051
(20) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0071.
(21) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0179.
(22) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0067.
(23) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0032.
(24) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0535.
(25) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0536.
(26) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0454.
(27) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0436.
(28) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0377.
(29) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0327.
(30) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0239.
(31) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0215.
(32) OJ C 434, 23.12.2015, p. 2.
(33) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 64.
(34) OJ C 332 E, 15.11.2013, p. 22.
(35) OJ C 258 E, 7.9.2013, p. 64.
(36) OJ C 50 E, 21.2.2012, p. 1.
(37) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 33.
(38) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 45.
(39) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 24.
(40) Eurostat 2014: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Information_society_statistics_at_regional_level#People_who_never_used_the_internet
(41) Report on the results of the work of the High Level Group on the future use of the UHF band.

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