Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 12 April 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Products originating in certain ACP states ***I
 Fisheries partnership agreement with Denmark and Greenland: fishing opportunities and financial contribution ***
 EU-Macao Agreement on certain aspects of air services ***
 Minimum standard rate of VAT *
 Agreement on strategic cooperation between Brazil and Europol *
 Request for the waiver of immunity of Hermann Winkler
 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: fisheries aspects
 Breeding animals and their germinal products ***I
 The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration
 Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality
 Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme
 Towards improved single market regulation
 Learning EU at school
 Erasmus+ and other tools to foster mobility in vocational education and training
 The EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies
 Small-scale coastal fishing in regions dependent on fishing
 External dimension of the CFP, including fisheries agreements

Products originating in certain ACP states ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 April 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council applying the arrangements for products originating in certain states which are part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States provided for in agreements establishing, or leading to the establishment of, Economic Partnership Agreements (recast) (COM(2015)0282 – C8-0154/2015 – 2015/0128(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0094A8-0010/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure – recast)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0282),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0154/2015),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 8 October 2015(1),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts(2),

–  having regard to the letter of 16 September 2015 from the Committee on Legal Affairs to the Committee on International Trade in accordance with Rule 104(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Rules 104 and 59 its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0010/2016),

A.  whereas, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the Commission proposal does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance;

1.  Adopts its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal and taking account of the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 12 April 2016 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2016/... of the European Parliament and of the Council applying the arrangements for products originating in certain states which are part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States provided for in agreements establishing, or leading to the establishment of, economic partnership agreements (recast)

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2016/1076.)

(1) OJ C 32, 28.1.2016, p. 23
(2) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.


Fisheries partnership agreement with Denmark and Greenland: fishing opportunities and financial contribution ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 April 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community on the one hand, and the Government of Denmark and the Home Rule Government of Greenland, on the other hand (11634/2015– C8-0377/2015 – 2015/0152(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0095A8-0067/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (11634/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community on the one hand, and the Government of Denmark and the Home Rule Government of Greenland, on the other hand (11633/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0377/2015),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0067/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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


EU-Macao Agreement on certain aspects of air services ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 April 2016 on the draft Council decision on conclusion of the Agreement on certain aspects of air services between the European Union and the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (05255/2014 – C8-0040/2015 – 2012/0015(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0096A8-0072/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (05255/2014),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on certain aspects of air services (08179/2012),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 100(2) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(8), first subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0040/2015),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0072/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and to the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.


Minimum standard rate of VAT *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 April 2016 on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax, with regard to the duration of the obligation to respect a minimum standard rate (COM(2015)0646 – C8-0009/2016 – 2015/0296(CNS))
P8_TA(2016)0097A8-0063/2016

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2015)0646),

–  having regard to Article 113 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0009/2016),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0063/2016),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Regrets that the Commission published its proposal so late which means that the application of a minimum standard rate of VAT will be retroactive;

3.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

4.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

5.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the Commission proposal;

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – point 1
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 97
From 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2017, the standard rate may not be lower than 15 %.
From 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2018, the standard rate may not be lower than 15%.

Agreement on strategic cooperation between Brazil and Europol *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 April 2016 on the draft Council implementing decision approving the conclusion by the European Police Office (Europol) of the Agreement on Strategic Cooperation between the Federative Republic of Brazil and Europol (13980/2015 – C8-0010/2016 – 2016/0801(CNS))
P8_TA(2016)0098A8-0070/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (13980/2015),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0010/2016),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol)(1), and in particular Article 23(2) thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2009/934/JHA of 30 November 2009 adopting the implementing rules governing Europol’s relations with partners, including the exchange of personal data and classified information(2), and in particular Articles 5 and 6 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2009/935/JHA of 30 November 2009 determining the list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements(3),

–  having regard to Rules 59 and 50(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0070/2016),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

2.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

3.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the text approved by Parliament;

4.  Calls on the Commission to assess, after the entry into force of the new Europol Regulation (2013/0091(COD)), the provisions contained in the cooperation agreement; calls on the Commission to inform Parliament and the Council of the outcome of this assessment and, if appropriate, to submit a recommendation for an authorisation to open international renegotiation of the agreement;

5.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and Europol.

(1) OJ L 121, 15.5.2009, p. 37.
(2) OJ L 325, 11.12.2009, p. 6.
(3) OJ L 325, 11.12.2009, p. 12.


Request for the waiver of immunity of Hermann Winkler
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European Parliament decision of 12 April 2016 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Hermann Winkler (2016/2000(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0099A8-0062/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Hermann Winkler, forwarded on 25 September 2015 by the public prosecutor’s office in Leipzig, in connection with a preliminary investigation concerning a traffic accident (ref. 600 AR 3037/15), and announced in plenary on 14 December 2015,

–  having regard to the fact that Hermann Winkler has waived his right to be heard in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Articles 8 and 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 Article 46 of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz),

–  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 (A8-0062/2016),

A.  whereas the public prosecutor’s office in Leipzig (Germany) has requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Hermann Winkler, Member of the European Parliament, in connection with launching investigative proceedings concerning an alleged offence;

B.  whereas, according to Article 9 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members shall enjoy, in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

C.  whereas, under Article 46(2) of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz), a Member may not be called to account for a punishable offence without the permission of Parliament unless apprehended while committing the offence or in the course of the following day;

D.  whereas the request relates to preliminary investigations into a serious road traffic accident which took place on 23 September 2015 and in which Hermann Winkler was involved;

E.  whereas the criminal proceedings do not concern any opinion expressed or vote cast in the performance of the duties of a Member of the European Parliament for the purposes of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

F.  whereas, in the light of the information acquired by the committee, there is no reason to assume that the intention underlying the criminal proceedings is to damage a Member’s political activity (fumus persecutionis);

G.  whereas the alleged offence thus clearly has no connection with the position of Hermann Winkler as a Member of the European Parliament;

H.  whereas it is therefore advisable that parliamentary immunity be waived in the case in question;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Hermann Winkler;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the German authorities and to Hermann Winkler.

(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.


United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: fisheries aspects
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on Fisheries aspects within the international agreement on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (2015/2109(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0100A8-0042/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its two implementing agreements: the Part XI Implementation Agreement and the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA),

–  having regard to the UN General Assembly resolution on the development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ),

–  having regard to the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, entitled ‘The Future We Want’,

–  having regard to the UN Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group reports,

–  having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted by the parties to the CBD, and in particular Targets 6, 10 and 11,

–  having regard to the 2009 Azores Scientific Criteria and Guidance for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSA) and designing representative networks of marine protected areas in open ocean waters and deep sea habitats of the CBD,

–  having regard to the CBD process for the description of EBSAs, which has already led to the description of 204 areas that meet the criteria, many of which are located in ABNJ,

–  having regard that while EBSAs have been described in the Southern Indian Ocean, Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific, North Pacific, South-Eastern Atlantic, Arctic, North-West Atlantic, Mediterranean, Western South Pacific, Wider Caribbean and Western Mid Atlantic, other regions are not yet covered,

–  having regard to the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation),

–  having regard to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, adopted in October 1995 by the FAO Conference and its associated instruments, in particular the 1995 Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas,

–  having regard to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNGA A/RES/70/1 adopted in 2015), and the Sustainable Development Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,

–  having regard to Goal 14 of the UN sustainable development programme,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0042/2016),

A.  whereas the sea covers 71 % of the Earth’s surface and contains 97 % of the planet’s water; whereas the sea is home to a significant part of the world’s biodiversity much of which is still unexplored;

B.  whereas an estimated 64 % of the sea, notably the high seas and the deep seabed, are areas beyond the national jurisdiction of states and are governed by international law;

C.  whereas the ocean plays an integral role in many of the Earth’s systems including climate and weather and is the place where a wide range of human activities are conducted such as fishing, energy, transport and trade;

D.  whereas less than 1 % of areas beyond national jurisdiction are protected as a result of the establishment of marine protected areas, and whereas in the vast majority of ocean regions there is no management framework in place with a legal mandate to establish marine protected areas;

E.  whereas the preservation and conservation of marine biological diversity is a common concern for all humankind and should be treated as such;

F.  whereas the maintenance of healthy marine habitats and sustainable fish stocks is essential for the long-term sustainability of fisheries;

G.  whereas, in 2014, protected ecosystems covered 15,2 % of land and only 8,4 % of marine areas worldwide;

H.  whereas climate change and acidification are exacerbating the negative impact of over-exploitation, pollution, marine litter and the destruction of marine habitats and ecosystems;

I.  whereas the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio de Janeiro, 2012) entitled ‘The Future We Want’ underlined that protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development;

J.  whereas the seas and oceans have a potential for blue growth that is still largely untapped, such as in the areas of renewable energy and pharmaceutical products, which could also be seen as a valid development path for today’s developing countries; whereas a prerequisite for maritime development, and its potential for blue growth, is development of the knowledge of marine species and the marine environment, its bathymetry and the mapping of vulnerable marine ecosystems;

K.  whereas the conservation of marine biodiversity and its sustainable use are directly connected to long-term sustainable development and therefore have a social, economic and environmental relevance for all countries and territories;

L.  whereas the existing relevant legal framework for areas beyond national jurisdiction, developed more than 30 years ago, based on the doctrine of the freedom of the high seas, requires further elaboration in order to successfully promote the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond jurisdiction;

M.  whereas the number of activities developed in the marine environment has increased in the last decades; whereas we acknowledge the dynamics between the different activities that take place on the high seas and how they affect marine biodiversity;

N.  whereas we acknowledge the interactions and cumulative effects of different activities that take place on the high seas and whereas they have an impact on marine biodiversity;

O.  whereas, in 2004, the UN General Assembly established the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group with the purpose of studying and analysing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction;

P.  whereas, in 2011, the Working Group recommended that a process be initiated that would identify gaps and ways forward, including the possible development of a multilateral agreement under UNCLOS, and that the process should address, taken together, marine genetic resources (including questions on the sharing of benefits), measures such as area-based management tools (including marine protected areas), environmental impact assessment processes, capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology;

Q.  whereas the summary by the co-chairs of the 2011 Working Group acknowledged the gap between the scientific process for describing ecologically and biologically significant areas and the actual identification/designation of such areas since no global forum had a formal mandate at that time, and existing regional and sectoral forums were facing legitimacy issues in doing so;

R.  whereas the summary by the co-chairs of the 2011 Working Group noted that there was a general recognition of the limitations and shortcomings of the status quo;

S.  whereas, in the outcome document from Rio+20, in June 2012, heads of state and government committed to address, on an urgent basis, building on the work of the Working Group, and before the end of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, the issue of the conversation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, including by taking a decision on the development of an international instrument under the Convention on the Law of the Sea;

T.  whereas fishing both as a stand-alone activity and in conjunction with climate change, marine pollution or other human marine activities, has a significant impact on marine biomass and biodiversity, and thus the impact of fishing on marine biodiversity in ABNJ should be comprehensively addressed by all maritime conservation and management measures, in order to avoid or minimise such impacts; whereas, additionally, fisheries are not the only human-induced mortality factor on the oceans resources and should not be the only levy of international action;

U.  whereas, amongst other things, mineral extraction, energy drilling and the use of land space by urban platforms are other mortality factors for fishery resources today, and future maritime development could result in unanticipated mortality factors against which vigilance must be exercised;

V.  whereas marine biodiversity has already suffered a significant decline; whereas there is a close link between the preservation of fishing opportunities for future generations and the protection of marine biodiversity and conservation of marine ecosystems;

W.  whereas sustainable and selective fishing techniques are a vital tool for the sustainable management of fishery resources and for minimising incidental catches, thereby helping to conserve marine biodiversity;

X.  whereas coordination and consultation between all actors concerned in maritime activity is vital to ensure the conservation of marine biological diversity and sustainable use of resources;

Y.  whereas the EU’s outermost regions have, by their very nature, special geographical and sometimes geopolitical circumstances and are included in specific regional cooperation mechanisms;

Z.  whereas fisheries are a very important activity that take place both in national jurisdiction areas and in those beyond this jurisdiction;

AA.  whereas the EU plays a key role in the world governance of the seas and oceans and exerts great influence internationally with regard to fisheries, also because of its participation in 17 regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs); whereas this leading role implies that the EU is responsible for adopting a proactive policy regarding the protection of marine biodiversity worldwide;

AB.  whereas the UNFSA, which establishes the rights and obligations of state parties with respect to the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, is a comprehensive and forward-thinking document that should not be changed, undermined or watered down and whose full implementation must be ensured through the enhanced cooperation processes to be adopted in the new international instrument;

AC.  whereas lessons should be learned from the EU’s recent disagreements with the Faroe Islands and Iceland, in order to enable stocks to be managed sustainably worldwide;

AD.  whereas every country has the right to benefit from the conservation and sustainable use of their resources, as provided for by the UNCLOS;

AE.  whereas we recognise the obligation of the states to protect and preserve the marine environment, including the protection of rare and fragile ecosystems and the habitats of vulnerable, depleted, threatened and endangered species and other forms of marine life;

AF.  whereas the UNFSA provides a framework for the application of the precautionary approach and ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management, for conservation and management measures for straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, for international cooperation, through the work of the regional and sub-regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and arrangements; whereas its effective implementation should be improved;

AG.  whereas UNGA resolutions 61/105 and 64/72 call upon states and RFMOs to adopt a range of measures to ensure the effective conservation of deep sea resources and to prevent bottom fishing from having a significant adverse impact on vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) in ABNJ;

AH.  whereas we recognise and support the rights and special requirements of developing states in the context of capacity-building in order for them to be able to benefit from the conservation and sustainable use of resources and of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks;

AI.  whereas the course of action of the so-called ‘Kobe Process’ recognises the efforts already made by those RFMOs which manage tuna stocks and that have undertaken independent performance reviews, and calls on those RFMOs to regularly undertake such reviews and make the results publicly available and fully implement the recommendations made by them; whereas authorities such as the UNGA and COFI have also called on the other RFMOs to do likewise and whereas those reviews have been conducted;

AJ.  whereas RFMOs are in place and some are working towards establishing marine protected areas in order to conserve and restore fish stocks to a sustainable level;

AK.  whereas the CBD has facilitated a series of workshops to describe EBSAs including in ABNJ and the results of these workshops are now widely available for management consultation purposes on a CBD website;

AL.  whereas the need for gathering and sharing scientific data and knowledge is of the utmost importance in order to take decisions in good faith and based on the best available scientific advice;

AM.  whereas the environmental problem of plastic marine litter poses a direct threat to maritime diversity, and whereas the extent and means of combating the problem remain inadequately researched, and whereas overcoming it might prove to be an economic opportunity;

AN.  whereas the Working Group, in its document of 23 January 2015, stressed the need for the comprehensive global regime to better address the conservation and management of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction;

AO.  whereas the EU actively develops and encourages best practices in order to accomplish a sustainable use of fish stocks, and through its programs like Horizon 2020 encourages and finances data collection, research and sustainable development;

AP.  whereas, on 23 January 2015, the Working Group expressed support for a recommendation to develop an international legally binding instrument under the Convention;

AQ.  whereas, on 19 June 2015, the UNGA adopted a resolution on the development of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction;

1.  Welcomes the decision taken by the UNGA to develop an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in ABNJ in order, amongst other things, to address the current shortcomings; stresses that this process will not undermine existing relevant instruments and frameworks nor relevant global, regional and sectorial bodies (e.g. RFMOs); highlights the importance of making swift yet careful progress in developing this new instrument and of achieving the aim of finalising the draft text by the end of 2017;

2.  Highlights the vision, the opportunity and the consequences for good relations between the states and for the sustainable exploitation of the resources under UNCLOS, while recognising that the new pressures and opportunities require that adjustments be made;

3.  Stresses the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and of their resources; calls on the EU and the international community to promote conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity by implementing, among other measures, modern and sustainable concepts of marine ecosystem management, principles of ocean governance, managing the exploitation of marine resources (be it exploitation of minerals, energy drilling, etc.) and fisheries, incorporating science-based marine governance, restoring and maintaining stocks above levels which are capable of producing maximum sustainable yield, ecosystem-based management and conservation of marine biodiversity, enforcement of existing legislation, and the precautionary approach;

4.  Points out that in order to deal with the pressure on marine biodiversity by 2020, Member States will have to take steps to implement management plans, monitor the application of the rules, deepen their knowledge base and strengthen research networks and the coordination of information on marine biodiversity;

5.  Recognises and supports the positive and leading role played by the EU and the Commission, taking into consideration the major actor position of the EU fishing industry and market and the fact that the European fisheries policy is geared towards sustainability;

6.  Recognises the important role that the EU has been playing in securing the sustainable management of marine living resources, particularly in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; stresses that IUU fishing, by its very nature, is a threat to marine biodiversity and seriously undermines the preservation of marine ecosystems; points out that the EU has made combating IUU fishing a priority and that international cooperation is paramount in order for the fight to succeed; encourages the FAO and RFMOs to strengthen their efforts to improve multilateral cooperation;

7.  Highlights the positive role of environmental labelling in the seafood products sector, which enables consumers to contribute to the sustainability of resources and the preservation of marine biodiversity, whilst making an informed choice;

8.  Encourages the Commission to further promote, coordinate, and ensure that the impact of human activities, including fisheries and all forms of sea bed and ocean exploitation, on biodiversity in ABNJ is effectively addressed within the context of this new international agreement; notes therefore the need to further promote the enforcement of existing legislation and to develop the necessary management tools to ensure coherence and consistency;

9.  Encourages RFMO to ensure full implementation of their recommendations, to continue to undertake regular independent assessment and to ensure proper implementation of such assessments;

10.  Urges the Commission to support and promote a holistic and comprehensive approach with regard to marine protected areas (MPAs) because no genuine coordination and cooperation on conservation efforts is possible without the participation of the widest possible circle of stakeholders involved in a comprehensive variety of human marine activities in oceans and seas;

11.  Encourages and urges the Commission and Member States to promote the designation and implementation of EBSA in ABNJ;

12.  Urges the Commission to work with all the relevant stakeholders to continue to support and promote, within the context of the new international agreement under UNCLOS, the development of an institutional mechanism for the designation, management and establishment of necessary provisions concerning monitoring and enforcement of connected, coherent, workable and representative networks of MPAs as essential tools to ensure ecological and biological connectivity;

13.  Calls on the Commission to process a set of comprehensive data on marine biodiversity in Europe’s regional seas; takes the view that it is a necessary challenge to collect that data, given that 80 % of species and habitats covered by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive are classified as unknown;

14.  Calls for the EU to take a leading role in combating plastic marine litter and for the relevant research to be funded under the blue economy;

15.  Stresses that this new international agreement should secure a level playing field among all stakeholders; considers that the new international agreement should, moreover, address the specific needs of developing countries, in particular small island states, in terms of capacity-building with a view to achieving the goals of the international community concerning MPAs, among other things;

16.  Urges the Commission to promote enhanced cooperation, coordination, transparency and accountability between all concerned stakeholders, including between the new instruments negotiated, the existing UNFSA and FAO instruments, RFMOs and other sectoral bodies such as, inter alia, the International Seabed Authority and the International Maritime Organisation;

17.  Calls on the UN to work with states to implement more effectively existing rules, and where necessary to create additional rules that could indirectly help protect biodiversity on the high seas and improve social, safety and monitoring conditions, such as the establishment of global management tools, i.e. a centralised instrument for vessel registration such as the Global Record of Fishing Vessels being developed under the authority of the FAO, but avoiding an increase in the bureaucratic burden for fishermen;

18.  Stresses that the impacts of fisheries on marine biodiversity in ABNJ will need to be part of the RFMOs mandate;

19.  Urges the Commission and Member States to support and promote, within the mandate of the new international agreement under UNCLOS, the development of an institutional mechanism for the implementation of prior Environmental Impact Assessment for activities with a potential significant impact on the marine environment, as required under Article 206 UNCLOS, including for the exploitation of marine resources, with a solid scientific basis as far as practicable and that these activities are accompanied by detailed environmental and socio-economic monitoring;

20.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of the new international agreement, to push for recognition of environmental damage at sea and identification of the chain of responsibility for such damage;

21.  Urges the Commission to call upon states that have not done so to ratify or accede to the UNCLOS;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and to the preparatory committee responsible for drafting the text of the future international agreement.


Breeding animals and their germinal products ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 April 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the zootechnical and genealogical conditions for trade in and imports into the Union of breeding animals and their germinal products (COM(2014)0005 – C7-0032/2014 – 2014/0032(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0101A8-0288/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)00052014/0032(COD)),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)00042014/0033(COD)),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 42 and 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0032/2014),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 25 March 2014(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 18 December 2015 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0288/2015),

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

2.  Considers that, due to the incorporation of the content of Commission proposal COM(2014)0004 into that position, legislative procedure 2014/0033(COD) has lapsed;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 12 April 2016 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2016/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on zootechnical and genealogical conditions for the breeding, trade in and entry into the Union of purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs and the germinal products thereof and amending Regulation (EU) No 652/2014, Council Directives 89/608/EEC and 90/425/EEC and repealing certain acts in the area of animal breeding (“Animal Breeding Regulation”)

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2016/1012.)

(1) OJ C 226, 16.7.2014, p. 70.


The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (2015/2095(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0102A8-0066/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Geneva Convention of 1951 and the additional protocol thereto, and in particular the right to non-refoulement,

–  having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

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

–  having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and to the European Parliament resolution of 27 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(1),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974 and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue of 1979 as amended,

–  having regard to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all migrant workers and members of their families of 1990,

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

–  having regard to the Commission Communication ‘Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors (2010-2014)’ (COM(2010)0213) and to the European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2013 on the situation of unaccompanied minors in the EU(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 April 2015 on the latest tragedies in the Mediterranean and EU migration and asylum policies(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on migration and refugees in Europe(4),

–  having regard to the debates held in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in 2015: on 14 April in the presence of Commissioner Avramopoulos; on 6 May on solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including search and rescue obligations; on 26 May on the strategy on cooperation with third countries; on 4 June on developing safe and lawful routes for asylum seekers and refugees into the EU and on the implementation of the Common European Asylum System; on 25 June on tackling criminal smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation of irregular migrants, developing adequate legal economic migration channels, and border management and visa policy; on 2 July on how Home Affairs funds are spent in the migration and development context; on 6 July on the first package of Commission proposals following the Agenda on Migration and on solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including search and rescue obligations and developing safe and lawful routes for asylum seekers and refugees into the EU; on 16 July in the presence of experts on EU funds for migration policies, on policies, practices and data on unaccompanied minors in the EU Member States and Norway, on EU cooperation with third countries in the field of migration, and on exploring new avenues for legislation for economic migration; on 22 September on the second package of Commission proposals following the Agenda on Migration; on 23 September with national parliaments on the hotspots approach and on addressing migration at the national and local level; on 19 October on tackling smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation of irregular migrants; on 10 November on the Commission communication entitled ‘Managing the refugee crisis: State of Play of the Implementation of the Priority Actions under the Agenda on Migration’ (COM(2015)0510); on 19 November on the EU internal and external funding related to its migration and asylum policy; on 10 December on EU cooperation with third countries in the field of migration; on 21 December on border management and visa‑policy, on effective implementation of the CEAS and on developing adequate legal economic migration channels,

–  having regard to the debates held in the joint meeting of its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Committee on Development on 1 April 2015 on the nexus between development and migration, and in the joint meeting of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Committee on Foreign Affairs and Sub-Committee on Human Rights on 15 September 2015 on respecting human rights in the context of migration flows in the Mediterranean,

–  having regard to the reports of its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the visits by its delegations to Lampedusa on search and rescue operations in September 2015 and to Tunisia on cooperation with third countries in the area of migration, asylum and border control in October 2015, and having regard to the report of its Committee on Budgets and Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the visit by their joint delegation to Sicily on how to address the migratory pressures in the region, including in particular from a budgetary perspective in July 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission Ten Point Action Plan on Migration, presented at the Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council held in Luxembourg on 20 April 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A European Agenda on Migration’ (COM(2015)0240),

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/778 of 18 May 2015 on a European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean,

–  having regard to the decision to start the second phase of operation EUNAVFOR Med, renamed Operation Sophia, taken by EU Ambassadors within the Political and Security Committee(5), and having regard to the NATO-led operations in the Aegean Sea,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 2240 (2015) of 9 October 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (2015-2020)’ (COM(2015)0285),

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document on Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints (SWD(2015)0150),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation on a European resettlement scheme (C(2015)3560) and to the Conclusions of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on resettling through multilateral and national schemes 20 000 persons in need of international protection, presented at the Justice and Home Affairs’ Council meeting of 20 July 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission Explanatory note on the ‘Hotspot’ approach, and the state of play reports on Greece and Italy of 10 February 2016, as well as the Progress report on Greece of 4 March 2016,

–  having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2015/1523 of 14 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and of Greece,

–  having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (COM(2015)0450),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin for the purposes of Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and amending Directive 2013/32/EU (COM(2015)0452),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘EU Action Plan on Return’ (COM(2015)0453),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation establishing a common ‘Return Handbook’ to be used by Member States’ competent authorities when carrying out return related tasks (C(2015)6250) and its Annex,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Public procurement rules in connection with the current asylum crisis’ (COM(2015)0454),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the European Commission and the High Representative entitled ‘Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Europe: The Role of EU External Action’ (JOIN(2015)0040),

–  having regard to the Commission Decision on the establishment of a European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (C(2015)7293),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Managing the refugee crisis: immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration’ (COM(2015)0490) and its Annexes,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Managing the refugee crisis: State of Play of the Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration’ (COM(2015)0510) and its Annexes,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A European Border and Coast Guard and effective management of Europe’s external borders’ (COM(2015)0673) and to the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (COM(2015)0671), to the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (COM(2015)0668), to the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (COM(2015)0670), to the Commission Proposal for a Council Decision establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Sweden in accordance with Article 9 of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1523 and Article 9 of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (COM(2015)0677), and to the Commission Recommendation for a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey (C(2015)9490),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the state of play of implementation of the priority actions under the European Agenda On Migration (COM(2016)0085),

–  having regard to the Commission Recommendation addressed to the Hellenic Republic on the urgent measures to be taken by Greece in view of the resumption of transfers under Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 (C(2016)0871),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council Implementing Decision on the temporary suspension of the relocation of 30 % of applicants allocated to Austria under Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (COM(2016)0080),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council entitled ‘Back to Schengen – A roadmap’ (COM(2016)0120),

–  having regard to the Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Second Report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap’ (COM(2016)0140) and the accompanying Commission Staff Working Document (SWD(2016)0097),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council Regulation on the provision of emergency support within the Union (COM(2016)0115) and the upcoming amending budget No 1/ 2016 to create the budget line for this instrument,

–  having regard to the Conclusions adopted by the European Council at its special meeting of 23 April 2015, at its meeting of 25 and 26 June 2015, at the informal meeting of EU Heads of State or Government on migration of 23 September 2015, at its meeting of 15 October 2015, at its meeting of 17 and 18 December 2015, and at its meeting of 18 and 19 February 2016,

–  having regard to the Conclusions adopted by the Council on safe countries of origin at its meeting of 20 July 2015, on migration at its meeting of 20 July 2015, on the future of the return policy at its meeting of 8 October 2015, on migration at its meeting of 12 October 2015, on measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis at its meeting on 9 November 2015, and on statelessness at its meeting of 4 December 2015, and on migrant smuggling at its meeting of 10 March 2016,

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions adopted on 14 September 2015,

–  having regard to the conclusions adopted by the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on resettling through multilateral and national schemes 20 000 persons in clear need of international protection at their meeting on 20 July 2015,

–  having regard to the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan of 15 October 2015, and its implementation reports of 10 February and 4 March 2016,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EU Heads of State or Government of 7 March 2016,

–  having regard to the Declaration of the High-Level Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean – Western Balkans Route, adopted on 8 October 2015, and to the leaders’ statement on refugee flows along the Western Balkan route adopted at the meeting on 25 October 2015 and to its progress report of 10 February 2016,

–  having regard to the Action Plan and Political Declaration adopted at the European Union-Africa Summit on Migration, held in Valletta on 11 and 12 November 2015,

–  having regard to the work and reports of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), and in particular to their Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union 2014 and to the monthly Asylum Trends,

–  having regard to the work and reports of Frontex, and in particular to their Annual Risk Analysis 2015 and their Risk Analysis Network Quarterly Reports,

–  having regard to the work and reports of Europol, and in particular to Joint Operational Team MARE, and the establishment of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) by Europol,

–  having regard to the work and reports of Eurojust, and in particular to its reports on trafficking in human beings,

–  having regard to the work, annual reports and studies of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), and in particular to their studies on severe forms of labour exploitation and on criminalisation of migrants in an irregular situation and of persons engaging with them,

–  having regard to the Policy Department C studies on the implementation of Article 80 TFEU, on new approaches, alternative avenues and means of access to asylum procedures for persons seeking international protection, on exploring new avenues for legislation for labour migration to the EU, on enhancing the Common European Asylum System and Alternatives to Dublin, on EU cooperation with third countries in the field of migration, and on the Reception of Female Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the EU, and having regard to the Policy Department D study on EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future, and to the Policy Department EXPO study on Migrants in the Mediterranean: protecting human rights,

–  having regard to the studies by the European Migration Network (EMN), and in particular to their study on policies, practices and data on unaccompanied minors,

–  having regard to the work and reports of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,

–  having regard to the work and reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants,

–  having regard to the work, reports and resolutions of the Council of Europe,

–  having regard to the work and reports of the International Organization for Migration,

–  having regard to the work and reports of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime,

–  having regard to the Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions – European Agenda on Migration, adopted at its 115th plenary session of 3-4 December 2015,

–  having regard to the Opinions of the European Economic and Social committee on the European Agenda on migration and on the EU action plan against migrant smuggling,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2014 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration(6),

–  having regard to the working document on Article 80 – Solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including search and rescue obligations,

–  having regard to the working document on tackling criminal smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation of irregular migrants,

–  having regard to the working document on border management and visa-policy, including the role of Frontex and other relevant agencies,

–  having regard to the working document on developing safe and lawful routes for asylum seekers and refugees into the EU, including the Union resettlement policy and corresponding integration policies,

–  having regard to the working document on developing adequate legal economic migration channels,

–  having regard to the working document on the EU internal and external funding related to its migration and asylum policy,

–  having regard to the working document on effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), including the role of EASO,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Budget, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the Committee on Petitions (A8-0066/2016),

A.  whereas in its resolution of 17 December 2014, it instructed the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to assess the various policies at stake, develop a set of recommendations and report to Plenary in the form of a strategic initiative report;

B.  whereas according to Frontex data(7), in 2015 1,83 million persons were detected while attempting to cross irregularly the EU’s external borders, setting an unprecedented record compared to the 282 500 migrants who arrived in the Union in the course of the whole 2014; and whereas, according to IOM/UNICEF data, around 20 % of all migrants arriving by sea are children(8);

C.  whereas according to EASO data(9), in 2015 over 1,4 million applications for international protection were lodged in the EU+(10), with numbers rising steadily since April, while the share of repeated applications has been decreasing; and whereas around 6 % of applicants claimed to be unaccompanied minors; whereas in February 2016, 22 % of the sea arrivals in Greece were women and 40 % children(11);

D.  whereas, for the purposes of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years;

E.  whereas in 2015 over 3 771 persons were reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the International Organisation for Migration(12); and whereas up to 8 March 2016, 444 persons had been reported as drowned in the Mediterranean; whereas in the first nine weeks of 2016, 77 children died – an average exceeding one per day; whereas according to recent Europol data at least 10 000 unaccompanied children have disappeared after arriving in Europe;

F.  whereas 3 October should be recognised as a Day of Remembrance for all the men, women and children who perish while attempting to flee their countries as a result of persecution, conflict and war, as well as all the men and women who risk their lives every day in order to save them;

G.  whereas some parts of the world are affected by war and violence and suffer the combined effects of extreme poverty, environmental degradation and a lack of opportunities for young people, which can engender more violence and insecurity and lead to further population movements;

Article 80 TFEU – Solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including search and rescue obligations

H.  whereas Article 80 TFEU puts the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility at the heart of the whole of the Union system, providing a legal basis for the implementation of these principles in the Union policies on asylum, migration and border control;

I.  whereas solidarity can take the forms of internal and external solidarity; and whereas relocation, mutual recognition of asylum decisions, operational support measures, a pro-active interpretation of the current Dublin Regulation and the Temporary Protection Directive are all tools for internal solidarity, while resettlement, humanitarian admission and search and rescue at sea promote external solidarity, and the civil protection mechanism can target both;

J.  whereas, on 3 March 2016, only 338 of the 39 600 asylum seekers awaiting reassignment from Italian reception facilities to other Member States had actually been relocated, while in the case of Greece 322 out of the 66 400 projected relocations had actually taken place;

Tackling criminal smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation of irregular migrants

K.  whereas migrant smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation are distinct legal phenomena tackled by distinct legal frameworks at Union and international level, requiring properly targeted responses, while often overlapping in practice; and whereas criminal smuggling and trafficking networks can change their modus operandi very quickly, thus requiring rapidly adapted responses based on the most recent and accurate data; whereas efforts to counter the criminal smuggling of migrants should not affect those providing humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants;

L.  whereas the fight against migrant smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation necessitates both short, medium and long-term responses, including measures to disrupt criminal networks and to bring criminals to justice, the gathering and analysis of data, measures to protect victims and to return irregularly staying migrants, as well as cooperation with third countries and longer-term strategies to address the demand for trafficked and smuggled persons and the root causes of migration which force people into the hands of criminal smugglers;

Border management and visa policy, including the role of the Borders Agency and other relevant Agencies

M.  whereas the ordinary legislative procedure is ongoing on numerous Commission proposals in the area of borders and visa policy, in particular on the proposal for a Regulation on the Union Code on Visas (recast) (2014/0094(COD), the proposal for a regulation establishing a touring visa (2014/0095(COD) and the proposal for a regulation on Uniform format for visa: security (2015/0134(COD); and whereas new proposals in this area have recently been launched by the Commission and will be dealt with according to the ordinary legislative procedure;

N.  whereas the abolition of internal border controls must go hand in hand with the effective management of external borders, with high common standards, effective exchange of information between Member States, and full respect for everyone’s fundamental rights;

O.  whereas the European Parliament has called for the Union Border Agency to strengthen its capacity to deal with possible violations of fundamental rights, including within the framework of its working arrangements concluded with the competent authorities of third countries, and whereas the Commission proposal for a new Union Border Agency contains a complaint mechanism;

P.  whereas the current Visa Code allows Member States to deviate from the normal admissibility criteria for a visa application ‘on humanitarian grounds’ (Articles 19 and 25);

Developing safe and lawful routes for asylum seekers and refugees into the EU, including the Union resettlement policy and corresponding integration policies

Q.  whereas 86 % of the world’s refugee population is hosted by non-industrialised countries; and whereas criminal networks and smugglers exploit the desperation of people trying to enter the Union while fleeing persecution or war;

R.  whereas safe and legal routes for refugees to access the Union are limited, and many continue to take the risk of embarking on dangerous routes; and whereas the creation of new safe and lawful routes for asylum seekers and refugees to enter the Union, building on existing legislation and practices, would allow the Union and the Member States to have a better overview of the protection needs and of the inflow into the Union and to undermine the business model of the smugglers;

The strategy on cooperation with third countries, in particular on regional protection programmes, resettlement, returns and to address the root causes of migration

S.  whereas EU-third country cooperation is developed through political instruments such as regional dialogues, bilateral dialogues, common agendas for migration and mobility and mobility partnerships, through legal instruments such as migration clauses in ‘global agreements’, readmission agreements, visa facilitation agreements and visa exemption agreements, and through operational instruments such as Regional Protection Programmes (RPP), Regional Development and Protection Programmes (RDPP), Frontex working arrangements and EASO cooperation with third countries;

T.  whereas individual Member States continue to develop intense external action on migration at the bilateral level;

U.  Whereas the Union has intensified its external cooperation with third countries in migration and asylum to respond adequately to the current refugee crisis, and has launched new cooperation initiatives such as the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan, the commitments taken on the Western Balkans Routes and the Action Plan adopted at the Valetta summit;

Developing adequate legal economic migration channels

V.  whereas the working-age population in the Union is projected to decline by 7,5 million by 2020; whereas projections on the development of labour market needs in the Union points to emerging and future shortages in specific fields; and whereas third-country nationals face many difficulties in obtaining recognition of their foreign qualifications, and therefore tend to be over-qualified for their jobs;

W.  whereas the current Union approach to labour migration is fragmented, with numerous directives focusing on specific categories of workers and of third-country nationals who are, under certain conditions, allowed to work; and whereas this approach can only serve to meet short-term, specific needs;

Analysis on how Home Affairs funds are spent in migration & development context, including emergency funds

X.  whereas several Union financial instruments exist to fund Member States’ and third countries’ actions in the area of migration, asylum and border management; whereas in particular funds for Member States are allocated mainly through the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF), but whereas numerous other programmes and funds can be used for activities related to migration; and whereas funding to third countries, while allocated mainly through the Development Cooperation Instrument, is administered by numerous Commission Directorates-General and the European External Action Service;

Y.  whereas the existing fragmentation of budget lines and responsibilities can make it difficult to provide a comprehensive overview of how funds are used, and even to quantify exactly how much the Union spends on migration;

Effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System, including the role of the European Asylum Support Office

Z.  whereas the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) includes a set of common rules for a common asylum policy, a uniform asylum status and common asylum procedures valid throughout the Union; whereas, however, many alerts, including the infringement decisions adopted by the Commission, show that the CEAS has not been fully implemented in many Member States; whereas implementation is essential in order to harmonise national laws and promote solidarity among Member States, and whereas Member States can seek supporting assistance from EASO to meet the standards required by the CEAS; whereas harmonisation of reception conditions and asylum procedures can avoid stress on countries offering better conditions and are key to responsibility sharing;

AA.  whereas the current mechanisms of the Dublin system have failed to be objective, to establish fair criteria for allocating responsibility for applications for international protection and to provide swift access to protection; whereas the system is not being applied in practice, and explicit derogations have been adopted with two Council decisions on temporary relocation; and whereas the Commission had announced a proposal for a proper revision of the Dublin III Regulation by March 2016;

AB.  whereas Article 3 of the Geneva Convention of 1951 provides that Member States shall not discriminate against refugees on the basis of their race, religion or country of origin;

On solidarity

1.  Points out that solidarity must be the principle upon which Union action on migration is based; notes that the principle of solidarity, as set out in Article 80 TFEU, covers asylum, immigration and border control policies; takes the view that Article 80 provides a legal basis ‘jointly’ with Articles 77-79 TFEU to implement the principle of solidarity in those areas;

On search and rescue

2.  Starts from the premise that saving lives must be a first priority and that proper funding, at Union and Member State level, for search and rescue operations is essential; notes that there has been an increase in the number of irregular arrivals by sea and an alarming increase in the number of deaths at sea, and that a better European response is still required;

3.  Recalls that the saving of lives is an act of solidarity with those at risk, but that it is also a legal obligation under international law, as Article 98 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea – ratified by all Member States and the Union itself – requires assistance to be given to any person in distress at sea;

4.  Takes the view that a permanent, robust and effective Union response in search and rescue operations at sea is crucial to preventing an escalating death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea;

5.  Suggests, in that respect, that search and rescue capacities must be strengthened, and that Member States’ governments must deploy more resources – in terms of financial assistance and assets – in the context of a Union-wide humanitarian operation, dedicated to finding, rescuing and assisting migrants in peril and bringing them to the closest place of safety;

6.  Points out that private shipmasters or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who genuinely assist persons in distress at sea should not risk punishment for providing such assistance; believes that merchant shipping should not provide an option in lieu of Member States and the Union fulfilling their obligations in terms of search and rescue;

On tackling human trafficking and criminal smuggling

7.  Calls for a clear distinction to be made between those persons who are smuggled into the Union and those who are trafficked into the Union because, while the policy response must be properly integrated, they must also be properly targeted; states that, in general terms, the criminal smuggling of migrants involves facilitating the irregular entry of a person to a Member State, whereas human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation or reception of a person through the use of violent, deceptive or abusive means, for the purpose of exploitation;

8.  Holds that any holistic approach to migration must necessarily contain measures aimed at disrupting the activities of criminal networks involved in the trafficking and smuggling of people;

9.  Welcomes the positive role played by navy vessels in saving lives at sea and in disrupting criminal networks to date; supports the aims of navy operations such as Operation Sophia, and stresses the need to protect life, emphasising that all aspects of the operation should ensure that migrant lives are protected;

10.  Underlines that military operations should not be the predominate aspect of any holistic approach to migration and reiterates that Operation Sophia must not distract assets already deployed in the Mediterranean from saving lives at sea;

On the role of Union agencies in the fight against criminal smuggling

11.  Points out that, since criminals can and do change their modus operandi very quickly, policy responses must adapt to the most recent and accurate data; notes, as a positive step forward, that the Commission adopted a Union Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling on 27 May 2015 (‘the Action Plan on Smuggling’), under which it provides for the setting up of a Contact Group of Union Agencies on migrant smuggling, to strengthen their operational cooperation and information exchange;

12.  Emphasises that full use should be made of existing instruments, such as the agencies’ risk analyses; observes that Union agencies should cooperate fully, but that they also need to step up cooperation with Member States; notes that better coordination of efforts should allow for the collection of data at national level and its onward communication to the Agencies;

On relocation

13.  Recalls that the process of relocation – that is to say, transferring an applicant for international protection, or a beneficiary of international protection, from one Member State to another – is a practical example of solidarity within the Union; recalls, in addition, that, since 2009, Parliament has been calling for a binding mechanism for the distribution of asylum seekers among all the Member States;

14.  Notes that, within the last year, the Council has adopted two decisions on temporary relocation measures in the Union (‘Relocation Decisions’)(13), and that they involve the transfer of applicants for international protection from Greece and Italy to other Member States; observes that, although the Relocation Decisions do not end the current Dublin rules on allocation of responsibility, they do constitute a ‘temporary derogation’ from the Dublin rules;

15.  Takes the view that the establishment of urgent relocation measures is a move in the right direction, and calls on Member States to fulfil their obligations with regard to those measures as soon as possible;

16.  Recalls that, for the purposes of the Relocation Decisions, relocation will cover only those nationalities for which the proportion of positive decisions granting international protection in the Union has been 75 % or more for the preceding three months, on the basis of Eurostat data; notes that the Relocation Decisions will affect a relatively small number of people, and will leave out the large numbers of applicants originating from other third countries who cannot be relocated under those decisions;

17.  Is concerned that, under the current Relocation Decisions, Member States of first arrival still have to handle the more complicated claims for international protection (and appeals), have to organise longer periods of reception, and will have to coordinate returns for those ultimately not entitled to international protection; reiterates that any new system for the management of the Common European Asylum System must be based on solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibility;

18.  Is of the opinion that, in addition to the criteria contained in the Relocation Decisions, namely the GDP of the Member State, the population of the Member State, the unemployment rate in the Member State, and the past numbers of asylum seekers in the Member State, consideration should be given to two other criteria, namely, the size of the territory of the Member State and the population density of the Member State;

19.  Believes that the preferences of the applicant should, as much as practically possible, be taken into account when carrying out relocation; recognises that this is one way of discouraging secondary movements and encouraging applicants themselves to accept relocation decisions, but that it should not stop the relocation process;

On resettlement

20.  Takes the view that resettlement is one of the preferred options for granting safe and lawful access to the Union for refugees and those in need of international protection, where the refugees can neither return to their home countries nor receive effective protection or be integrated into the host country;

21.  Observes, furthermore, that resettlement through the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a well-established humanitarian programme, and is a useful tool for managing orderly arrivals of persons in need of international protection onto Member State territories;

22.  Points out that, given the unprecedented flows of migrants that have reached and continue to reach the Union’s external borders, and the steady increase in the number of people asking for international protection, the Union needs a binding and mandatory legislative approach to resettlement, as set out in the Commission’s agenda for migration; recommends that, to have an impact, such an approach must provide for resettlement of a meaningful number of refugees, with regard to the overall numbers of refugees seeking international protection in the Union, and taking into account the global resettlement needs published annually by the UNHCR;

23.  Underlines that there is a need for a permanent Union-wide resettlement programme, with mandatory participation by Member States, providing resettlement for a meaningful number of refugees, having regard to the overall number of refugees seeking protection in the Union;

On humanitarian admission

24.  Points out that humanitarian admission can be used as a complement to resettlement in order to give urgent protection, often on a temporary basis, to the most vulnerable where needed, e.g. unaccompanied minors or refugees with disabilities or those in need of urgent medical evacuation;

25.  Underlines that, in so far as resettlement remains unavailable for third-country nationals, all Member States should be encouraged to establish and implement humanitarian admission programmes;

On humanitarian visas

26.  Points out that humanitarian visas provide persons in need of international protection with means of accessing a third country in order to apply for asylum; calls on the Member States to make use of any existing possibilities to provide for humanitarian visas, particularly for vulnerable persons, at Union embassies and consular offices in countries of origin or transit countries;

27.  Considers that persons seeking international protection should be able to apply for a European humanitarian visa directly at any consulate or embassy of the Member States, and, once granted following an assessment, such a humanitarian visa would allow its holder to enter the territory of the Member State issuing the visa for the sole purpose to lodge therein an application for international protection; believes, therefore, that it is necessary to amend the Union Visa Code by including more specific provisions on humanitarian visas;

On the Common European Asylum System (CEAS)

28.  Points out that further steps are necessary to ensure that the CEAS becomes a truly uniform system;

29.  Recalls that a comprehensive assessment (in the form of the Commission’s evaluation reports) of the implementation of this package, followed by a speedy follow-up in case implementation is unsatisfactory in certain Member States, is absolutely necessary in order to improve harmonisation;

30.  Notes, for example, that inadmissible applications, subsequent applications, accelerated procedures and border procedures are all specific cases in which the recast of the Asylum Procedures Directive tried to strike a delicate balance between the efficiency of the system and the rights of the applicants, in particular those of vulnerable persons, underlines that such a balance can only be achieved if the legislation is fully and properly implemented;

31.  Stresses the importance of judicial control of all forms of detention pursuant to the laws on immigration and asylum; recalls that both international law and the Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights require Member States to examine alternatives to detention; calls on Member States to correctly apply the Asylum Procedures and the Reception Conditions Directives in relation to access to detention centres;

32.  Recalls the importance of reducing the number of stateless persons, and encourages Member States to introduce statelessness determination procedures and share good practices amongst themselves concerning the collection of reliable data on stateless persons as well as on the procedures for determining statelessness;

On the revision of the Dublin III Regulation

33.  Observes that the operation of the Dublin III Regulation(14) has raised many questions linked to fairness and solidarity in the allocation of the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection; notes that the current system does not take into sufficient consideration the particular migratory pressure faced by Member States situated at the Union’s external borders; believes that the Member States need to accept the on-going difficulties with the Dublin logic, and that the Union should develop options for solidarity both among Member States and the migrants concerned;

34.  Points out that the pressure placed on the system – as established by the Dublin Regulation – by the rising number of migrants arriving in the Union has shown that, as implemented, the system has largely failed to achieve its two primary goals of establishing objective and fair criteria for allocation of responsibility and of providing swift access to international protection; reiterates its reservations regarding the criterion whereby currently it is the Member State of first entry that is determined to be responsible for the examination of a claim for international protection, and considers that this criterion should be revised;

35.  Further points out that, at the same time, the incidence of secondary movements across the Union remains high; views it as self-evident that, since its creation, the Dublin system was not designed to share responsibility among Member States, but that its main purpose was to assign swiftly responsibility for processing an asylum application to a single Member State;

36.  Recommends that the criteria on which the Relocation Decisions are based should be built directly into the Union’s standard rules for allocating responsibility for handling claims for international protection; emphasises that, in reviewing the Dublin Regulation, the concept of ‘applicants in clear need of international protection’ needs to be reviewed, since those migrants and refugees who do not fall into that category would then still have to be dealt with by the Member State of first arrival;

37.  Takes the view that the European Union should support the Member States receiving the most asylum claims with proportionate and adequate financial and technical support; considers that the rationale of using solidarity and responsibility-sharing measures is to enhance the quality and functioning of the CEAS;

38.  Points out that one option for a fundamental overhaul of the Dublin system would be to establish a central collection of applications at Union level – viewing each asylum seeker as someone seeking asylum in the Union as a whole and not in an individual Member State – and to establish a central system for the allocation of responsibility for any persons seeking asylum in the Union; suggests that such a system could provide for certain thresholds per Member State relative to the number of arrivals, which could conceivably help in deterring secondary movements, as all Member States would be fully involved in the centralised system and no longer have individual responsibility for allocation of applicants to other Member States; believes that such a system could function on the basis of a number of Union ‘hotspots’ from where Union distribution should take place; underlines that any new system for allocation of responsibility must incorporate the key concepts of family unity and the best interests of the child;

On mutual recognition

39.  Notes that, at present, Member States recognise asylum decisions from other Member States only when they are negative; reiterates that mutual recognition by Member States of positive asylum decisions is a logical step towards proper implementation of Article 78(2)(a) TFEU, which calls for ‘a uniform status of asylum valid throughout the Union’;

On the Temporary Protection Directive

40.  Points out that, in the event of a mass influx, the Commission, acting on its own initiative or after examination of a request by a Member State, can propose to trigger Council Directive 2001/55/EC on Temporary Protection (the ‘Temporary Protection Directive’)(15); observes that the actual triggering requires a Council decision adopted by a qualified majority; notes that the directive should be triggered where there is a risk that the Union asylum system would be unable to cope with the mass influx or imminent mass influx of displaced persons; highlights, however, that, since its adoption in 2001, the Temporary Protection Directive has never been triggered;

41.  Notes that the Temporary Protection Directive also provides for the possibility of evacuation of displaced persons from third countries, and that such evacuation would allow for the use of humanitarian corridors, in cooperation with UNHCR, with an obligation on Member States – where necessary – to provide every facility for obtaining visas;

42.  Believes that the asylum systems of some frontline Member States are already clearly overburdened and that the Temporary Protection Directive should – under its own logic – have been triggered; calls, in any case, for a clear definition of ‘mass influx’ to be established upon revision of this directive; understands that such a revision of the Temporary Protection Directive can form part of the review of the Dublin system;

On integration

43.  Notes that the participation of all actors involved in society is crucial, and therefore suggests that, while respecting the competences of Member States as regards integration measures, the exchange of best practice in this field should be strengthened; underlines that integration measures for all legally residing third-country nationals should promote inclusion, rather than isolation; notes that local and regional authorities, including cities, have a key role in integration processes;

44.  Emphasises that hosting Member States must offer refugees support and opportunities to integrate and build a life in their new society; notes that this should necessarily include accommodation, literacy and language courses, inter-cultural dialogue, education and professional training, and also effective access to democratic structures in society – as provided for in the Qualifications Directive(16); notes that – just like Union citizens – refugees have both rights and obligations in the host Member States; emphasises therefore that integration is a two-way process and that respect for the values upon which the Union is built must be an integral part of the integration process, as must respect for the fundamental rights of the refugees;

45.  Recalls that, under Article 15 of the Reception Conditions Directive, Member States are to determine the conditions for granting access to their labour markets for applicants for international protection, provided that such access is effective and is in accordance with the timeframe laid down in Paragraph 1 of that Article; understands that, under Article 15(2) for reasons of labour market policies, Member States may give priority to Union citizens and nationals of states parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, and to legally resident third-country nationals;

46.  Takes the view that, where those persons granted international protection in the Union have an offer of employment in a Member State other than the one in which they have been granted international protection, they should be able to avail themselves of such an offer;

47.  Reaffirms that better recognition of foreign qualifications is one practical way of ensuring that those third-country nationals already present in the Union can integrate better, and calls on the Commission to come forward with appropriate proposals in that regard;

48.  Encourages private and community integration programmes for those persons accepted for resettlement, in cooperation with, and building on best practices of, Member States and local authorities;

On family unity

49.  Encourages the Member States to seek to keep families together, which will assist integration prospects in the long-term as the focus can be directed towards the establishment of a new life instead of concerns towards family members that are still in insecure situations;

50.  Underlines that Member States should overcome any legal and practical obstacles to arrive at swifter decisions on family reunification;

51.  Recommends that, until such time as the Dublin Regulation has been fundamentally overhauled, it is important for Member States to make better use of the discretionary clauses to respect the principle of family unity;

On children

52.   Emphasises the vulnerable position of children arriving in the Union and reiterates the right of every child to be treated as a child first and foremost; calls on Member States to fully apply the specific provisions of the CEAS concerning unaccompanied minors, including access to legal assistance, guardianship, access to healthcare, accommodation and education, the right to be spoken to in a language they understand and to be interviewed by properly trained officials; reiterates that Member States should not detain children on the grounds that they are migrants;

53.   Recalls that support, information and protection should be extended to unaccompanied and separated children, in line with their best interests, and that applications for family reunification filed by unaccompanied and separated children should be expedited;

54.  Notes that an effective guardianship and a child-sensitive protection system are key to preventing abuse, neglect and exploitation of children deprived of parental care; stresses the importance of defining Union guidelines for a guardianship system aimed at providing adequate support and protection and ensuring that foreign and national children are treated equally;

55.  Believes that age assessment should be carried out in the least invasive manner, should be multi-disciplinary and safe, should respect children's physical integrity and human dignity, with particular attention to girls, and should be performed by independent, qualified practitioners and experts;

56.  Calls on Member States to gather disaggregated data on the situation of refugee and migrant children in order to improve the ability of systems to integrate refugee and migrant children;

On returns

57.  Understands that the safe return of those people who, following an individual assessment of their asylum application, are determined not to be eligible for protection in the Union is something that must be carried out as part of the proper implementation of the CEAS;

58.  Acknowledges that, in the light of the fact that, in 2014, 36 % of third country nationals who were ordered to leave the Union were effectively returned, there is a need to improve the effectiveness of the Union’s return system;

59.  Considers that in order to increase the efficiency of readmissions, and in order to ensure the coherence of returns at a European level, it will be necessary to adopt new EU readmission agreements which should take preference over bilateral agreements between Member States and third countries;

60.  Believes that the return of migrants should only be carried out safely, in full compliance with the fundamental and procedural rights of the migrants in question, and where the country to which they are being returned is safe for them; reiterates, in that regard, that voluntary return should be prioritised over forced returns;

61.  Suggests that any attempt by Member States to ‘push back’ migrants who have not been given the opportunity to present asylum claims runs contrary to Union and international law, and that the Commission should take appropriate action against any Member State that attempts such ‘push backs’;

On a list of safe countries of origin

62.  Acknowledges the recent Commission proposal for a Union list of safe countries of origin, amending the Asylum Procedures Directive(17); observes that if such a Union list would become obligatory for Member States it could, in principle, be an important tool for facilitating the asylum process, including return;

63.  Regrets the current situation in which Member States apply different lists, containing different safe countries, hampering uniform application and incentivising secondary movements;

64.  Underlines, in any event, that any list of safe countries of origin should not detract from the principle that every person must be allowed an appropriate individual examination of his or her application for international protection;

On infringement procedures

65.  Notes that, in September 2015, the Commission was obliged to adopt 40 infringement decisions related to the implementation of the CEAS against 19 Member States, which was in addition to 34 cases already pending; reiterates that Parliament should be kept fully informed of proceedings launched by the Commission against Member States that have not implemented, or have not properly implemented, Union legislation in this area;

66.  Re-emphasises how essential it is that, once Union legislation has been agreed upon and adopted, the Member States uphold their side of the bargain and implement that legislation;

67.  Notes further that it is impossible properly to evaluate the advantages and drawbacks of certain elements of the CEAS owing to the fact that many Member States have not yet fully implemented the legislation;

On the European Asylum Support Office (EASO)

68.  Recommends that EASO be developed, in the long term, into a principal coordinator of the CEAS with a view to guaranteeing common application of the rules of that system; reiterates that, as the CEAS becomes genuinely European, EASO needs to develop from a collection of experts from Member States into a fully-fledged Union agency providing operational support to Member States and at the external borders; emphasises, in that regard, that it must be provided with the necessary funding and human resources in the short, medium and long term;

69.  Observes that the EASO budget for 2015 for relocation, resettlement and the external dimension was a mere EUR 30 000; reiterates that this very small budget cannot be taken seriously in the light of current events in the Mediterranean and in the light of the multiple references made to EASO in the Relocation Decisions; recalls that significant increases in the budget of EASO, in its human resources and in the amounts it allocates in respect of relocation and resettlement, will be needed in the short, medium and long term;

On Frontex and the proposed new European Border and Coast Guard

70.  Notes the recent role of Frontex in rendering assistance to any vessel or person in distress at sea, and acknowledges its contribution, through the Triton and Poseidon joint operations, to the rescuing and saving of many lives in the Mediterranean;

71.  Understands that the recently proposed European Border and Coast Guard is intended to replace Frontex and is meant to ensure a European integrated border management at the external borders with a view to managing migration effectively and ensuring a high level of internal security within the Union, while safeguarding the free movement of persons therein; in line with the Treaties and their Protocols, notes that Member States which are party to the Schengen Agreements but not yet part of the Schengen Area without internal border controls can participate in and/or benefit from all the actions under the new proposal;

72.  Looks forward to negotiations on the proposal within and between the co-legislators in the context of the ordinary legislative procedure, in accordance with Article 294 TFEU;

On Schengen and the management and security of the external borders

73.  Recalls that, since the establishment of the Schengen Area, the Union is an area without internal borders, that the Schengen Member States have developed a step-by-step common policy towards the Schengen external borders, and that the inherent logic of such a system has always been that the abolition of internal border controls has to go hand in hand with compensatory measures strengthening the external borders of the Schengen Area and the sharing of information through the Schengen Information System (‘SIS’);

74.  Acknowledges that the integrity of the Schengen Area and the abolition of internal border controls are dependent on having effective management of external borders, with high common standards applied by all Member States at the external borders and an effective exchange of information between them;

75.  Accepts that the Union needs to strengthen its external border protection and further develop the CEAS, and that measures are necessary to enhance the capacity of the Schengen Area to address the new challenges facing Europe and preserve the fundamental principles of security and free movement of persons;

76.  Points out that access to the territory of the Schengen Area is generally controlled at the external border under the Schengen Borders Code and that, in addition, citizens of many third countries require a visa to enter the Schengen Area;

77.  Reiterates the UNHCR’s call that respect for fundamental rights and international obligations can only be ensured if operating procedures and plans reflect those obligations in practical, clear guidance to border personnel, including those at land, sea and air borders; points out to the need to further strengthen the Union Civil Protection Mechanism in order to respond to events with wide-ranging impacts which affect a significant number of Member States;

78.  Emphasises again that, as for legislation specifically in the area of asylum and migration, in order for legislation on internal and external borders to be effective, it is essential that measures agreed at Union level are implemented properly by the Member States; underlines that better implementation of measures by Member States at the external borders, following increased pressure, is essential and will go some way towards allaying the security fears of citizens;

79.  Takes note that on 15 December 2015 the Commission came forward with a proposal for a targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code, proposing to introduce systematic controls of all Union nationals (not only on third-country nationals) against the relevant databases at the external borders of the Schengen Area;

80.  Considers that the Schengen Area is one of the major achievements of European integration; notes that the conflict in Syria and other conflicts elsewhere in the region have triggered record numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in the Union, which in turn has revealed deficiencies at parts of the Union's external borders; is concerned at the fact that, in response, some Member States have felt the need to close their internal borders or introduce temporary border controls, thus calling into question the proper functioning of the Schengen Area;

On hotspots

81.  Recalls that, in the ‘hotspot approach’ set out by the Commission in its European Agenda on Migration, the Borders Agency, EASO, Europol and Eurojust are to provide operational assistance to Member States in accordance with their respective mandates;

82.  Points out, in that regard, that the Union agencies require the resources necessary to allow them to fulfil their assigned tasks; insists that the Union agencies and the Member States keep the Parliament fully informed of work undertaken at the hotspots;

83.  Notes that both of the Relocation Decisions provide for operational support at the hotspots to be provided to Italy and Greece for the screening of migrants when they first arrive, registration of their application for international protection, provision of information to applicants on relocation, organisation of return operations for those who did not apply for international protection and are not otherwise entitled to remain or those who applied unsuccessfully, and the facilitation of all steps involved in the relocation procedure itself;

84.  Calls for the hotspots to be set up as soon as possible in order to give concrete operational assistance to those Member States; calls for the allocation of technical and financial resources and support to Member States of first arrival, such as Italy and Greece, to enable the swift and effective registration and referral to the competent authorities of all migrants arriving in the Union with full respect for their fundamental rights; considers that quick and effective support by the Union to Member States and the acceptance of such support is important for mutual trust;

85.  Recognises that one of the main purposes of hotspots is to allow the Union to grant protection and humanitarian assistance in a swift manner to those in need; emphasises that great care needs to be taken to ensure that the categorising of migrants at hotspots is carried out in full respect for the rights of all migrants; acknowledges, however, that proper identification of applicants for international protection at the point of first arrival in the Union should help facilitate the overall functioning of a reformed CEAS;

On criminal law related to migration

86.  Notes that, in its Action Plan on Smuggling, the Commission states that it is considering a revision of Council Directive 2004/81/EC on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, and who cooperate with the competent authorities;

87.  Believes that such a revision is necessary and should consider introducing a system allowing for victims of trafficking and criminal smuggling to come forward and aid in the effective prosecution of a trafficker or criminal smuggler without fear of being prosecuted themselves;

88.  Notes that the Commission is considering a revision of Council Directive 2002/90/EC defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence; takes the view that anyone who provides different forms of humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be criminalised and that Union law should reflect that principle;

89.  Underlines that another crucial step in dismantling criminal smuggling and trafficking networks is to prioritise financial investigations, as tracking and confiscating the profits of those criminal networks is essential if they are to be weakened and eventually dismantled; calls, in this regard, for the Member States to transpose swiftly and effectively the fourth Anti‑Money Laundering Directive;

90.  Recalls that, to ensure that criminal investigations are conducted effectively, training of practitioners is essential, so that those involved fully understand the phenomenon they are seeking to tackle and know how to recognise them at an early stage;

On cooperation with third countries

91.  Points out that the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) pillar on asylum and international protection should be developed further, with greater involvement of third countries; notes that current actions in this field, under Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs) or Regional Development and Protection Programmes (RDPPs), focus on capacity building to tackle criminal smuggling and human trafficking networks within third countries of origin and transit; notes, at the same time, that the resettlement component of these programmes continues to be weak; believes that capacity-building efforts and resettlement activities should be stepped up and carried out together with third countries hosting large refugee populations;

92.  Acknowledges that the basic instrument that sets out the objectives of the Union’s external policies on migration, asylum and borders is the GAMM; takes note that various instruments exist under that umbrella, including regional dialogues, bilateral dialogues, mobility partnerships, common agendas for migration and mobility, readmission agreements, visa facilitation agreements, visa exemption agreements, RPPs and RDPPs;

93.  Understands that the external dimension should focus on cooperation with third countries in tackling the root causes of, and addressing, irregular flows to Europe; understands that partnerships and cooperation with key countries of origin, transit and destination should continue to be a focus, for example through the Khartoum and Rabat processes, the Africa-EU migration and mobility dialogue, the Budapest Process and the Prague Process;

94.  Points out that the Union and its Member States must be selective in their support for third-countries’ law enforcement agencies taking into account the record of those agencies in breaching the human rights of migrants;

95.  Recommends that cooperation with third countries involves assessing those countries’ asylum systems, their support for refugees, and their ability and willingness to tackle human trafficking and criminal smuggling into and through those countries;

96.  Calls on the Union to help third countries build up their asylum systems and integration strategies in order to allow third country nationals in need of international protection to seek protection there; believes that the Union must adopt a win-win approach to cooperation with third countries, that is, an approach that is beneficial to the Union, to the third country in question and to the refugees and migrants in that third country;

97.  Recalls that the Union has intensified its external cooperation with third countries in migration and asylum in order to respond adequately to the current refugee crisis, and has launched new cooperation initiatives, such as the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan; emphasises, in that respect, the need for all parties to fulfil their commitments deriving from the Joint Action Plan, including addressing the root causes leading to the massive influx of Syrians, stepping up cooperation for the support of Syrians under temporary protection and their host communities in Turkey, and for Turkey to fulfil its commitments to prevent irregular migration flows from its territory to the Union;

On awareness-raising campaigns

98.  Points out that many smuggled persons have some level of awareness of the risks they will face on a potentially hazardous trip to Europe, but choose to embark on the journey regardless, as they assess those risks to be lower than those they would face if they were not to migrate;

99.  Welcomes the fact that the Action Plan on Smuggling links the launching of new awareness-raising campaigns to the assessment of existing ones; recommends that any such campaigns should contain information on the criteria to be used to determine protection status in the Union, since such information may convince some migrants – who risk embarking on a perilous journey only to be returned if they are not granted protection – not to make the journey;

On addressing root causes

100.  Reaffirms that the Union must adopt a long-term strategy to help counteract the ‘push factors’ in third countries (conflict, persecution, ethnic cleansing, generalised violence or other factors such as extreme poverty, climate change or natural disasters), which force people into the hands of criminal smuggling networks, which they see as their only chance to reach the Union;

101.  Recalls that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants has also called on the Union to open up regular migration channels so as to allow migrants to use formal entry and exit channels instead of having to resort to criminal smuggling networks;

102.  Highlights that the recent increase in arrivals of refugees into the Union has shown that, on their own, preventive measures are not sufficient for managing the current migration phenomena;

103.  Understands that, in the long term, greater impetus is needed in solving the geo-political issues that affect the root causes of migration, as war, poverty, corruption, hunger and a lack of opportunities means that people will still feel forced to flee to Europe unless the Union looks at how to help re-build those countries; points out that this means that the Commission and the Member States must put up the money to help build capacity in third countries, such as by facilitating investment and education, strengthening and enforcing asylum systems, helping to manage borders better, and reinforcing legal and judicial systems there;

On funding to third countries

104.  Notes that the main funding instrument for funding to third countries is the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), which includes the only Union global thematic funding for migration under the Global Public Goods and Challenges Programme managed by the Directorate General (DG) for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO); notes further that, as with funds allocated directly to the Member States, other Commission DGs, and other Union bodies, are involved in managing the DCI, so that, Union assistance to neighbourhood countries is provided by DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance; humanitarian aid is provided by the DG for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (‘ECHO’); and the European External Action Service (‘EEAS’) manages the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace; recalls that, since the two funds managed by the DG for Home Affairs and Migration (HOME) – the AMIF and the ISF – also provide for an external dimension, this provides a new stakeholder on the external funding scene;

105.  Welcomes the recently established Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the EUR 1,8 billion pledged to the fund, which has added an additional element to third-country funding; calls on the Member States to continue contributing to the fund;

106.  Recommends that, in line with the GAMM, the four thematic pillars addressing (i) legal migration and mobility, (ii) irregular migration and trafficking in human beings, (iii) international protection, and (iv) the development impact of migration should be of equal importance in Union external policy and funding;

On transparency in funding

107.  Notes that the Union’s migration policy is implemented through different policy instruments, each having its own objectives, which are not necessarily interlinked, and that there is insufficient coordination of funding between the multiple actors involved; points out that the fragmentation of budget lines and responsibilities creates a management structure that could make it difficult to provide a comprehensive overview on how the different funds available are allocated and ultimately used; points out, furthermore, that such fragmentation makes it harder to quantify how much the Union spends overall on migration policy;

108.  Is of the opinion that such a comprehensive overview of Union funding related to migration, both within and outside the Union must be provided, as the absence of such an overview is a clear obstacle to transparency and sound policymaking; notes, in that regard, that one possible option could be a website comprising a database of all Union funded projects related to migration policy; underlines that the need for transparency also extends to budget lines in order to ensure adequate funding for all objectives of Union migration policy;

109.  Recalls that the positive impact of the EU migration funds relies on processes at national and Union level to ensure transparency, effective monitoring and accountability, believes that consideration should be given as to how to make monitoring and evaluation ongoing processes and not only ex-post processes and that the role of the Court of Auditors should be strengthened in that regard; notes that comparable qualitative and quantitative indicators should be established in order to measure the impact of EU funds and help to assess whether those funds have achieved their objectives;

On additional funding for migration

110.  Welcomes the additional funding made available in the Union’s budget for 2016 to start to deal with the current migration phenomena; points out that most of that new funding represents funding under the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which has been brought forward, with the result that the Union is spending today what was intended to be spent tomorrow;

111.  Agrees that, while recent budgetary proposals and the additional funding foreseen in the Union’s budget for 2016, including the use of the flexibility instrument, should be welcomed, medium and longer-term funding remain a concern; is concerned that the increase in the amounts proposed for budget lines under AMIF for 2016 have not been accompanied by a proposed revision of the global resources available under that fund for the 2014-2020 funding period; understands that, left as is, the result will be that funding under AMIF will have dried up long before 2020;

112.  Encourages the Member States to take full advantage of the possibilities offered by funds which are not directly related to migration policy, but which can be used to fund actions in that area (e.g. integration actions), such as those available under the European Social Fund, the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, Horizon 2020, the European Regional Development Fund and the Rights and Citizenship Programme;

113.  Recommends that, under the MFF review scheduled for the end of 2016, substantial additional resources be provided under the Union budget, Heading 3, on Citizenship, Freedom, Security and Justice, so that adequate funding is made available on the basis of migration trends and the attendant financial requirements for the Union’s and the Member States’ asylum, migration and integration policies;

On the involvement of civil society

114.  Points out that securing operational funding is a key challenge for NGOs as most funding is project-related; affirms that volunteer and civil-society initiatives dedicated to providing assistance to migrants should be promoted and, where appropriate, funded by the Commission and the Member States; calls on the Member States and the Commission to seek, where appropriate and possible, to fund projects managed by civil society organisations working in the areas of migration, integration and asylum;

115.  Reiterates that civil society involvement in the development of Union actions and national programmes must be ensured, in line with the partnership principle as laid down in AMIF; proposes that, at Union level, thought be given to regular consultation between the Commission and relevant civil society organisations working on migration, asylum and integration issues;

On demographic trends

116.  Notes that, prior to the increased migratory flows into the Union in 2015, according to an OECD and Commission study of 2014, the working-age population (15-64) in the Union will decline by 7,5 million between 2013 and 2020, and that if net migration were to be excluded from their projections, the decline would be even more pronounced, as it would amount to a reduction of the working age population by 11,7 million;

117.  Points out, nevertheless, that as of November 2015, the youth unemployment rate across all the Member States stood at 20 %;

118.  Further notes that, according to recent Eurostat projections, the ratio of people aged 65 or older, relative to those aged 15 to 64, will increase from 27,5 % at the beginning of 2013 to almost 50 % by 2050; notes that this would mean a change from the present ratio of four working-age persons for every person aged 65 or older to only two working-age persons for everyone aged 65 or older;

On legal labour migration

119.  States that the legal basis for the management of legal migration at Union level is set out in Article 79 TFEU;

120.  Understands that Article 79(5) specifically reserves the right for Member States to determine the volumes of admission of third country nationals coming from third countries to their territory in order to seek work;

121.  Points out that the Europe 2020 strategy has identified the need for a comprehensive labour migration policy, and for better integration of migrants, in order to meet the Union’s goals for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;

122.  Notes that the existing Union legislative framework regulating the access of third-country nationals to work in the Union is rather fragmented, as it focuses on specific categories of workers rather than on regulating, generally, all migrant workers;

123.  Takes the view that, in the long run, the Union will need to establish more general rules governing the entry and residence for those third-country nationals seeking employment in the Union to fill the gaps identified in the Union labour market;

On the need for better data

124.  Calls for a comprehensive vision of the labour market in the Union as a necessary pre‑condition for the development of labour market policies; points out that it is necessary to develop tools for identifying and forecasting present and future labour market needs in the Union in a better way; suggests, in that regard, that existing tools – such as those developed by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) or the OECD – could be improved upon, and even merged, with international statistics on potential labour supply from third countries in order to provide a more accurate picture of the situation;

125.  Believes that better data and improved tools for analysing such data can only help policy-makers determine future labour migration policies, and that the Union and the Member States should identify gaps in their labour markets that could help them fill jobs that would otherwise remain vacant;

On labour exploitation

126.  Notes that labour exploitation can take place as a consequence of trafficking, of smuggling, or even in the absence of both, with the result that there is impunity for those exploiting irregular migrants in those Member States in which it is not criminalised as such;

127.  Deplores the fact that the low risk of being detected and/or prosecuted as an employer exploiting the labour of irregular migrants has been identified as an important factor in labour exploitation, in particular in sectors most at risk (agriculture, construction, hotels and restaurants, domestic workers and care services); recommends that in order to tackle this impunity it is necessary, firstly, to ensure that all cases of severe labour exploitation are criminalised and adequately punished under national law and, secondly, to increase labour inspections in at-risk sectors;

128.  Takes note of the fact that, at present, many Member States criminalise labour exploitation only when it takes place as a form of trafficking, which leaves a wide gap in all cases where the labour exploiters were not involved in the trafficking, or their involvement cannot be proved;

129.  Reiterates that special procedures to ensure facilitation of complaints foreseen by Directive 2009/52/EC providing for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals (the ‘Employers’ Sanctions Directive’) should be fully implemented and correctly applied in practice; believes that increased protection for those victims of trafficking, and for those smuggled into the Union, who cooperate and facilitate prosecution of traffickers and/or criminal smugglers, is necessary; suggests that, in addition, support should be given for the setting up of a European Business Coalition against Trafficking in Human Beings (as mooted in the 2014 Strategy against Trafficking in Human Beings) with the purpose of developing supply chains that do not involve trafficking in human beings;

130.  Believes that, in the end, any effort to eradicate labour exploitation must take the dual approach of effectively prosecuting abusive employers while protecting the victims of such exploitation;

On revision of the Blue Card

131.  Recalls that in the Agenda on Migration, the Commission announced its intention to revise the Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment (the ‘Blue Card Directive’), looking particularly at the issues of scope (possibly covering entrepreneurs willing to invest in Europe) and improving the rules on intra-EU mobility;

132.  Reiterates that the Commission’s Implementation Report on the current Blue Card Directive underlines its flaws, including the very limited level of harmonisation brought about by the wide discretion in implementation it gives the Member States, in particular the right for Member States to maintain parallel national schemes;

133.  Believes, moreover, that it is clear that the directive should focus not just on the highly-qualified, but also on targeted high-qualification occupations where there are proven labour shortages; believes, in addition, that the revision of the Blue Card should be both ambitious and targeted, and should seek to remove the inconsistencies of the existing directive, particularly as regards parallel national schemes; recommends that thought be given to revising the scope to include those third-country nationals who could help tackle the gaps identified in Union labour markets;

o
o   o

134.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, to the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and to EASO, Frontex, Europol, Eurojust, FRA, eu-LISA, the Council of Europe, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0070.
(2) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 165.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0176.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0317.
(5) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/09/28-eunavfor/
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0105.
(7) Frontex news, http://frontex.europa.eu/news/number-of-migrants-arriving-in-greece-dropped-by-half-in-november-cITv3V.
(8) IOM and UNICEF, Data Brief: Migration of Children to Europe, http://www.iom.int/sites/default/files/press_release/file/IOM-UNICEF-Data-Brief-Refugee-and-Migrant-Crisis-in-Europe-30.11.15.pdf.
(9) EASO Newsletter, November-December 2015, https://easo.europa.eu/wp-content/uploads/EASO-Newsletter-NOV-DEC_-20151.pdf.
(10) The EU+ is composed of EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland.
(11) UNHCR – Greece data snapshot – 7 March 2016.
(12) IOM, Missing Migrants Project, http://missingmigrants.iom.int/
(13) Council Decision (EU) 2015/1523 and Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601.
(14) Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 31).
(15) Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof (OJ L 212, 7.8.2001, p. 12).
(16) Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted (OJ L 337, 20.12.2011, p. 9).
(17) Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, p. 60).


Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on the Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality (2014/2252(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0103A8-0301/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making(1),

–  having regard to the practical arrangements agreed on 22 July 2011 between the competent services of the European Parliament and the Council for the implementation of Article 294(4) TFEU in the event of agreements at first reading,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on EU Regulatory Fitness and Subsidiarity and Proportionality – 19th report on Better Lawmaking covering the year 2011(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2012 on the 18th report on Better legislation – Application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (2010)(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on better legislation, subsidiarity and proportionality and smart regulation(4),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report 2012 on subsidiarity and proportionality (COM(2013)0566) and to the Commission’s annual report 2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality (COM(2014)0506),

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions on Smart Regulation of 4 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Conclusions of the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments of 21 April 2015,

–  having regard to the Bi-annual reports of COSAC on Developments in European Union Procedures and Practices Relevant to Parliamentary Scrutiny of 27 September 2012, 17 May 2013, 4 October 2013, 19 June 2014, 14 November 2014,

–  having regard to the final report of 14 October 2014 of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, entitled ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe – Legacy and Outlook’(5),

–  having regard to Rule 52 and Rule 132 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0301/2015),

A.  whereas in 2012, the Commission received reasoned opinions addressing 83 legislative proposals; whereas the total number of submissions received in 2012 was 292, including those submissions which did not qualify as reasoned opinions;

B.  whereas in 2013, the Commission received reasoned opinions addressing 99 legislative proposals; whereas the total number of submissions received in 2013 was 313, including those submissions which did not qualify as reasoned opinions;

C.  whereas in 2012, national parliaments issued 12 reasoned opinions on the Monti II proposal(6), representing 19 votes (18 being the threshold), and thus for the first time triggered a so-called yellow card, which requires the institution that has presented the proposal to review it and to justify its decision as regards whether to withdraw, to amend or to maintain the proposal;

D.  whereas the Commission withdrew the Monti II proposal but stated that it considered the proposal to be in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity and that the proposal was withdrawn in view of insufficient support for it in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers(7);

E.  whereas in 2013, national parliaments issued 13 reasoned opinions on the proposal for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office(8), representing 18 votes, thereby triggering the second yellow card procedure;

F.  whereas the Commission concluded that its proposal complied with the principle of subsidiarity and that a withdrawal or an amendment of the proposal was not required; whereas the Commission declared that in the legislative process it would take due account of the reasoned opinions(9);

G.  whereas several national parliaments expressed concern regarding the Commission’s approach, considering the justifications and arguments presented by the Commission insufficient; whereas the Legal Affairs Committee and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament held debates on this topic;

H.  whereas in the subsequent negotiations with the Council on the European Public Prosecutor the scope and working methodologies have been narrowed as compared with the initial proposal upon which the reasoned opinions were issued;

I.  whereas given its right of initiative, the Commission has a responsibility to ensure that the correct choices about whether and how to propose action at EU level are made at an early stage of policy development;

J.  whereas the Commission is undertaking a revision of the guidelines applying to the impact assessment process, which includes consideration of subsidiarity and proportionality;

K.  whereas the Parliament has established its own Impact Assessment Unit, which produced 50 initial appraisals and two detailed appraisals of Commission impact assessments in 2013;

L.  whereas national parliaments have observed that the inclusion of significant and numerous delegated powers makes it difficult to effectively evaluate whether final rules would comply with the principle of subsidiarity;

M.  whereas the subsidiarity and proportionality check as well as an impact assessment are done only at the beginning of the legislative process;

1.  Observes that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality are fundamental guiding principles for the European Union;

2.  Emphasises that the use of the EU’s competences should be guided by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, as stated in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union; welcomes the fact that in 2012 and 2013 compliance with these two principles was carefully scrutinised by the EU institutions and by national parliaments;

3.  Welcomes the closer participation and stronger involvement of national parliaments in the European legislative process in recent years, which has resulted in an increased awareness of the principles on which the EU is founded, including the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in the interinstitutional context; notes, however, that further work still needs to be done in this context; suggests as a first step that the Commission engage in a yearly debate with each of the national parliaments in order to strengthen the dialogue between the Commission and the national parliaments;

4.  Believes furthermore that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality represent the starting point for policy formulation; stresses therefore the importance of assessing at the beginning of the legislative process whether policy objectives can be achieved better at European level than by means of national or regional initiatives;

5.  Notes the importance of parliaments and of their territorial impact and closeness to the citizens, and calls, where appropriate, for their greater involvement in the early warning system;

6.  Notes, however, that a majority of opinions by national parliaments are submitted by only a few national chambers; encourages the other chambers to become more involved in the European debate;

7.  Stresses the need for the European institutions to respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality embodied in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union and Protocol No 2 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which are of a general nature and binding on the institutions exercising the powers of the Union, except for those areas which fall within the exclusive remit of the Union, where the subsidiarity principle does not apply;

8.  Considers that the mechanism for verification of the subsidiarity principle is of major importance for collaboration between European and national institutions;

9.  Notes that the annual reports prepared by the Commission are somewhat perfunctory, and calls on the Commission to consider preparing more detailed reports regarding the way subsidiarity and proportionality are observed in EU policy-making;

10.  Notes the methodology of the Commission in the 2012 and 2013 Annual reports, within which statistics are used to classify reasoned opinions submitted by national parliaments on a package of proposals as only one reasoned opinion, rather than a reasoned opinion on each of the individual proposals;

11.  Notes that, when taken as a whole, the proportion of reasoned opinions has increased significantly as a percentage of total submissions when compared to 2010 and 2011 and that in 2012 reasoned opinions represented 25 % of all submissions, while in 2013 they accounted for 30 % of submissions from national parliaments under the Protocol 2 process; notes in this regard the consultation of national parliaments in the legislative process;

12.  Points out that 2012 saw the first use of the so-called yellow card procedure by national parliaments regarding the principle of subsidiarity in response to the Commission’s proposal for a regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services (Monti II); notes that although the Commission concluded that the principle of subsidiarity had not been breached it did withdraw the proposal due to lack of political support; remarks that a second so-called yellow card was triggered in 2013 on the Commission’s proposal for a Council Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO); notes that Commission concluded that the proposal complied with the principle of subsidiarity and decided to maintain it;

13.  Notes that reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments point out the existence of various interpretations of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; recalls in this context that the subsidiarity principle as formulated in the Treaties allows the Union to act in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence only ‘if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level’; recalls equally that ‘under the principle of proportionality, the content and form of Union action shall not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objective of the Treaties’; encourages national parliaments to be faithful to the letter of the TEU when assessing compliance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; strongly recommends that national parliaments and European institutions engage in exchanges of views and practices of scrutinising subsidiarity and proportionality;

14.  Notes that the reasoned opinions submitted by national parliaments vary considerably with regard to the types of arguments raised and their form; regrets the absence of common patterns which makes it more difficult to evaluate on what basis national parliaments intervene;

15.  Recalls concerns raised in previous Parliament reports regarding instances where subsidiarity had not been adequately addressed in impact assessments (IAs) prepared by the Commission; further recalls that the Annual Reports of the Impact Assessment Board (IAB) have raised this issue; notes that the IAB considered more than 30 % of IAs reviewed by them in 2012 and 2013 to have included an unsatisfactory analysis of the principle of subsidiarity; expresses concern that this number rose to 50 % in 2014, and urges the Commission in its revision of the guidelines for IAs to address this issue and reverse this trend;

16.  Notes the importance of impact assessments as decision-making aids in the legislative process and stresses the need, in this connection, to give due consideration to issues relating to subsidiarity and proportionality;

17.  Stresses that thorough impact assessments which thoroughly evaluate subsidiarity compliance are essential to improve the trust of citizens, who often consider the subsidiarity principle a key aspect of the democratic process; highlights, therefore, that enhanced subsidiarity checks could be considered an important tool for reducing the so-called ‘democratic deficit’;

18.  Reiterates the call made in its abovementioned resolution of 14 September 2011 for the use of national impact assessments as a complement to those carried out by the Commission – the reform of which is under discussion – in support of proposed legislation; believes that Parliament’s recently created impact assessment units will offer a positive complement to the Commission’s work;

19.  Expresses disappointment at the response of the Commission to national parliaments in instances where yellow cards have been issued; believes that it is necessary for the Commission to respond comprehensively to any concerns raised by national parliaments, and on an individual basis as part of a dialogue in addition to any published opinion; considers that it is also necessary for the Commission to appear before the relevant committee or committees of the Parliament to explain its position in detail;

20.  Highlights that the yellow card procedure, which is an instrument for influencing EU decision-making, could effectively be strengthened by an earlier exchange of information on positions of national parliaments and therefore encourages national parliaments to exchange views on the scope and evaluation methods applied in order to assess conformity with the subsidiarity and proportionality principles;

21.  Believes that political dialogue is increasingly important in ensuring that subsidiarity is respected; considers that political dialogue should be improved not only in instances of a yellow or orange card, but as a general rule; welcomes in this regard the Juncker Commission’s undertaking to appear before more national parliaments, and calls for the Parliament to consider undertaking similar initiatives; believes that rapporteurs could be encouraged to engage more often with national parliaments, particularly as video-conferencing and other methods of online engagement are made easier and more effective;

22.  Stresses that the European institutions and the national parliaments should continue to work to promote a ‘subsidiarity culture’ across the EU; recommends two particular initiatives which will aid better consideration of subsidiarity in the legislative process at present, namely facilitating greater inclusion of positions, perspectives or other suggestions made by national parliaments in the political dialogue, in particular in the course of preparatory work such as Green Papers or White Papers produced by the Commission, and considering an extension of the time period for consultation of national parliaments under the subsidiarity check if national parliaments request this on grounds of time constraints on the basis of justified objective reasons, such as natural disasters and recess periods, to be agreed between national parliaments and the Commission; considers that this could be achieved through a political undertaking agreed by the institutions and the national parliaments in the first instance, without giving rise to a delay in the adoption of relevant legislation;

23.  If the Member States agree to extend the period given to national parliaments to issue a reasoned opinion under Article 6 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, it should be included in a next Treaty revision; such an extension period could then also be determined in secondary legislation;

24.  Considers it important that the yellow card procedure be easily implementable for parliaments, while reaffirming the principle of subsidiarity in accordance with the Treaties;

25.  Notes that several national parliaments in COSAC have expressed their interest in proposing the introduction of a green card as an instrument for improving political dialogue, which would afford national parliaments, having first secured the support of Parliament, the opportunity to make constructive proposals for the Commission’s consideration and with due regard for the Commission’s right of initiative;

26.  Notes that legislative proposals may change dramatically in the lead-up to adoption by the institutions; recalls that a check on compliance with the principle of subsidiarity is only undertaken at the outset and not at the conclusion of the legislative process; further recalls that impact assessments more generally are only prepared for the initial rather than the final stages of the legislative process; stresses the need for a mid-term evaluation after the opening of the adoption procedure, and at the end of the legislative process, making it possible in certain cases to issue a warning to Member States failing to respect the principle of subsidiarity;

27.  Calls therefore for a further subsidiarity check and full impact assessment to be undertaken at the conclusion of the legislative negotiations and in advance of the adoption of a final text, in order that compliance with subsidiarity can be guaranteed and that assessments including proportionality can be made; believes that such a ‘cooling off’ period would help policy-makers in assessing whether legislation complies with the principles of the Union, and would increase transparency about the results of periods of often rather intense negotiation;

28.  Takes note of the new Commission’s policy goals relating to initiatives and proposals for EU legislation, namely: minimum cost; benefits for citizens, businesses and workers; and avoidance of unnecessary regulatory burdens;

29.  Considers that programmes under the multiannual financial framework should assess and prove compliance with the subsidiarity principle in terms of demonstrable added value within the beneficiary Member States;

30.  Asks the Commission, in compliance with the proportionality and subsidiarity principles, to simplify the procedure for applying for EU funds, with a view to making the application procedure more efficient and results-oriented;

31.  Underlines its commitment to ensuring compliance with principles of subsidiarity and proportionality through assessments of its own legislative own-initiative reports, ex-ante appraisals of Commission impact assessments and the constant assessment of the potential EU added value and the ‘cost of non-Europe’;

32.  Notes namely the recent discussions on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and the Commission’s proposals to replace the current model; recalls that Article 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union designates the common commercial policy as an integral area of exclusive Union competence which shall be based on uniform principles; notes, therefore, that the principle of subsidiarity does not apply to the common commercial policy;

33.  Calls on the Member States to unblock the UNCITRAL Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration in order for the Commission to sign the convention on behalf of the whole Union; deplores the current situation in which some Member States are party to the convention while others are not; considers that this example underlines the need for improved clarity on all sides regarding the scope of the Union’s exclusive competence on foreign direct investment; recalls that different policies implemented by the Member States as regards investment protection have led to the current situation in which the Member States are party to some 1 400 bilateral investment treaties with, at times, different provisions, which could lead to varying treatment of EU investors abroad, depending on the origin of the investment in question;

34.  With respect to EU financial assistance to other countries, specifically macro-financial assistance, calls for more in-depth ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments regarding the proportionality of the proposed measures in order for the assistance to be efficient and genuinely helpful to our partners in need; insists on the necessity of establishing conditionality for disbursement of the assistance and proper control of the use of the funds, including measures in relation to the prevention of, and fight against, fraud and corruption, and detailed scrutiny by Parliament; calls for a strong integration of the EU’s external instruments, combining trade, development and foreign and security policy; stresses that the Member States have to show more commitment in this regard;

35.  Points out the utmost importance of proper consultation, dialogue and involvement of citizens, businesses (namely SMEs) and civil society in the EU decision-making process for trade policy;

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

(1) OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0061.
(3) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 117.
(4) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 87.
(5) http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/refit/admin_burden/docs/08-10web_ce-brocuttingredtape_en.pdf
(6) Proposal for a Council Regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services (COM(2012)0130).
(7) Letter of 12 September 2012 by Vice-President Šefčovič to National Parliaments.
(8) Commission proposal for the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) (COM(2013)0534).
(9) Communication of 27 November 2013 to the European parliament, the Council and National Parliaments on the review of the proposal for a Council Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office with regard to the principle of subsidiarity, in accordance with Protocol No 2 (COM(2013)0851).


Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook (2014/2150(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0104A8-0208/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreements on Better Lawmaking(1),

–  having regard to the practical arrangements agreed on 22 July 2011 between the competent services of the European Parliament and the Council for the implementation of Article 294(4) TFEU in the event of agreements at first reading,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on EU regulatory fitness and subsidiarity and proportionality – 19th report on better lawmaking covering the year 2011(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on the revision of the Commission's impact assessment guidelines and the role of the SME test(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2014 on follow-up on the delegation of legislative powers and the control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2012 on the 18th report on better legislation – application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (2010)(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on better legislation, subsidiarity and proportionality and smart regulation(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2011 on guaranteeing independent impact assessments(7),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Smart Regulation of 4 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission report on Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook (COM(2014)0368),

–  having regard to the Commission’s previous communications on EU Regulatory Fitness (COM(2012)0746 and COM(2013)0685),

–  having regard to the Commission report on subsidiarity and proportionality (19th report on Better Lawmaking covering the year 2011) (COM(2012)0373),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Smart regulation – Responding to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises’ (COM(2013)0122),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document on monitoring and consultation on smart regulation for SMEs (SWD(2013)0060),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on smart regulation in the European Union (COM(2010)0543),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Stakeholder Consultation Guidelines 2014,

–  having regard to the final report of 24 July 2014 of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, entitled ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe – Legacy and Outlook’, and in particular the dissenting opinion in Annex 12 from four members of the High Level Group with a background in advocacy for workers, for public health, for the environment and for consumers,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 10 December 2014(8),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Better regulation for better results – An EU agenda’ (COM(2015)0215),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Regulation’ (COM(2015)0216),

–  having regard to the Commission decision establishing the REFIT Platform (C(2015)3261) and the Commission communication entitled ‘The REFIT Platform - Structure and Functioning’ (C(2015)3260),

–  having regard to the decision of the President of the European Commission on the establishment of an independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board (C(2015)3263), the Commission communication ‘Regulatory Scrutiny Board – Mission, tasks and staff’ (C(2015)3262), and the Commission communication ‘Standard Explanatory Memorandum’ (C(2015)3264/2),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled ‘Better Regulation Guidelines’ (SWD(2015)0111),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0208/2015),

A.  whereas the REFIT Programme is a key component of the new Commission strategy for better lawmaking;

B.  whereas the REFIT Programme aims to consolidate better lawmaking procedures, to simplify EU law and reduce administrative and/or regulatory burdens, and to embark on a path towards good governance grounded in evidence-based policymaking, in which impact assessments and ex-post evaluations play an important role, without replacing political decisions;

C.  whereas the Commission has set up a new Refit Platform to support its work in the context of the REFIT Programme, which is made up of two groups: the ‘government group’, comprising high-level experts from the civil service in each Member State, and the ‘stakeholder group’, comprising up to 20 experts, two of whom represent the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, with the remaining experts representing business, including SMEs, the social partners and civil society organisations;

D.  whereas the annual REFIT scoreboard allows for the assessment of progress made in all policy areas and of each initiative identified by the Commission, including actions taken by Parliament and the Council;

E.  whereas the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking of 2003 has been outdated by the current legislative environment created by the Treaty of Lisbon;

F.  whereas in the past years the better regulation agenda has nevertheless contributed to improving legislative practices; whereas the large number of different names and programmes introduced by the Commission in the area, such as ‘better regulation’, ‘better lawmaking’, ‘smart regulation’, ‘regulatory fitness’, ‘Think Small First’, ‘fitness checks’ and ‘ABR+’, do not provide sufficient clarity and transparency as regards the aims of the measures, particularly for citizens, and should therefore be better combined;

G.  whereas, with its communication ‘Better regulation for better results – An EU agenda’ of 19 May 2015, the Commission has now proposed a coherent holistic approach to better lawmaking that takes account of the entire policy cycle of lawmaking and requires targeted interaction among all the institutions, and whereas for this reason the communication will be closely studied by Parliament in order to achieve the best possible results in the interest of Union citizens;

H.  whereas the aims and objectives of the Union spelled out in Article 3 TEU are all of equal import; whereas the Commission underlines that the REFIT programme does not call into question existing policy objectives, nor should it impact negatively on the health and safety of citizens, consumers, workers or the environment;

I.  whereas in the second half of 2014 the Commission conducted public consultations on the revision of its Impact Assessment guidelines and on its Stakeholder Consultation guidelines;

J.  whereas the Commission, in establishing its work programme for 2015, for the first time applied the so-called principle of political discontinuity as justification for withdrawing a huge number of pending legislative proposals;

K.  whereas in its work programme for 2015 the Commission planned to focus its activities on the major economic and social challenges, and its new structure aims to guarantee a more coherent policy approach, thereby increasing transparency in the EU and thus acceptance among citizens;

Better regulation

1.  Notes the decision of Commission President Juncker to entrust the First Vice-President of the Commission with the portfolio of better regulation, which responds to calls by the European Parliament and underlines the high political importance of this topic; expects that this designation will lead to European legislation which is of the best possible quality, meets the expectations of citizens and stakeholders and ensures that public policy objectives, including consumer, environmental, social and health and safety standards, will not be jeopardised;

2.  Points out that better regulation should encompass the ‘culture’ of public administration at all levels of the European Union, bearing in mind the excessive levels of red tape EU‑wide and the need to simplify legislation, and should include the implementation and application of Union acts at European level, as well as at national, regional and local level, in order to ensure good administration and ‘Europe-friendly conduct’ at all levels;

3.  Underlines that the Commission should prioritise the development of certain measures and should focus on the quality of legislation and better enforcement of existing legislation rather than on the number of legislative acts; underlines in this regard that costs should not be the decisive factor but that quality of legislation is the only appropriate benchmark and that the REFIT programme must not be used to undermine sustainability or any social, labour, environmental or consumer standards;

4.  Suggests that the Commission takes the introduction of ‘sunset clauses’ into consideration in time-limited legislative initiatives, on condition that this does not lead to legal uncertainty, and include if appropriate ‘review clauses’ in legislative measures to regularly reassess the continued relevance of legislative measures at European level;

5.  Stresses that a European standard generally replaces 28 national standards, thereby underpinning the single market and cutting down on bureaucracy;

6.  Welcomes the package of measures of 19 May 2015 aimed at better regulation; supports the continued commitment shown by the Commission to the better lawmaking agenda; underlines that the work foreseen in the REFIT Communication should be seen as an ongoing process, ensuring that the legislation in force at European level is fit for purpose, achieves the shared objective of the legislators and meets the expectations of citizens, in particular employees, businesses, and other stakeholders;

7.  Notes the Commission’s commitment to the new interinstitutional agreement on better lawmaking that takes account of the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty and the Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission, which consolidates best practices in areas such as legislative planning, impact assessments, systematic ex-post checks of EU legislation and the implementation and handling of delegated and implementing acts, and notes the conclusion of the negotiations;

8.  Welcomes the confirmation given by the Commission that its better regulation strategy is not aimed at deregulating particular policy areas or calling into question values to which we attach importance, such as social protection, environmental protection and fundamental rights, including the right to health;

9.  Acknowledges the long-term intensive work of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders, which has submitted proposals for reducing administrative burdens to the European Commission and identified best practice with a view to implementing EU legislation in the Member States in as unbureaucratic a way as possible; takes note that four members of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders have come out against several of the conclusions presented in the Group’s final report on administrative burdens and produced a dissenting opinion; expects the Commission to take account of the concerns of all stakeholders involved in the process;

10.  Stresses the importance of social dialogue and respect for the autonomy of the social partners; underlines in particular with regard to Article 9 TFEU that the social partners may, in accordance with Article 155 TFEU, conclude agreements that can lead to EU legislation at the joint request of the signatory parties; expects the Commission to respect the autonomy of the parties and their negotiated agreements, and to take their concerns seriously, and stresses that the better regulation agenda should not be a pretext for disregarding or bypassing agreements reached between the social partners, and would therefore reject any impact assessments of social partner agreements;

11.  Points out that during the previous parliamentary term the choice between implementing acts and delegated acts caused numerous interinstitutional disputes; considers it important, therefore, for specific guidelines to be drawn up, as requested by the European Parliament in its resolution adopted on 25 February 2014;

12.  Welcomes the announcement by the Commission that it intends to simplify the administration of grants under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Structural and Investment Funds and Horizon 2020;

Transparency and stakeholder consultations

13.  Welcomes the recognition by the Commission of the important role played by the consultation process in the REFIT programme; points out that, according to Article 11(2) TEU, all EU institutions are required to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society; calls on the institutions to pay special attention to the obligatory and regular dialogue with representative associations, and with civil society;

14.  Observes that by means of greater transparency the functioning of the EU can be rendered more efficient and civil society’s confidence in the EU strengthened;

15.  Welcomes in this connection the Commission’s affirmation that dialogue with citizens, the social partners and other economic and civil society stakeholders contributes to ensuring transparent, effective and coherent EU legislation, and supports the Commission’s intention of indicating more precisely how it arrives at its proposals, for example in the form of legislative texts or Commission communications;

16.  Observes that, in its better lawmaking strategy, the Commission significantly upgrades the role of public consultation; notes that in future the Commission will carry out a 12‑week public consultation exercise (a) before drafting new legislative proposals and (b) when existing legislative provisions are assessed and their suitability checked and (c) on roadmaps and ex-ante impact assessments; notes furthermore that, in addition, after a proposal has been adopted, the Commission will give citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the Commission proposal within eight weeks and will forward these positions to the Council and Parliament;

17.  Calls on the Commission, against this background, to conduct a balanced and transparent assessment of the positions of, and feedback from, all participants in the consultation procedure and in particular to ensure that public consultations cannot be misused for their own purposes by well-funded and -organised stakeholder organisations; calls on the Commission to publish its conclusions from consultations;

18.  Observes that impact assessments should be published only when the Commission has adopted the political initiative concerned; in the interests of the transparency of Commission decisions, considers it necessary that impact assessments should also be published when it has taken the decision not to submit a legislative proposal;

19.  Notes that the Economic and Social Committee, which enjoys consultative status, plays a key role in representing civil society; notes that the Committee of the Regions, which likewise enjoys consultative status, plays a key role in representing regional and local authorities in the EU and in assessing the implementation of EU legislation; notes that both advisory bodies may, under current legislation, be consulted in advance by Parliament, Council and Commission in all cases where Parliament and the Council deem it useful; takes the view that, if they are properly consulted on specific issues sufficiently well in advance and advantage is taken of their specific areas of expertise, this can contribute to the purposes of better legislation;

20.  Considers that there should be stronger involvement on the part of regional and local authorities in EU policy making, in particular by involving Member State expertise and experience at regional and local levels at an early stage in the preparation of legislation; notes that all the institutions must observe the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in their legislative work;

21.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention of making the legislative process more transparent and involving the public and stakeholder representatives more in the whole process;

22.  Welcomes the Commission’s decision in future also to conduct four-week public consultation exercises on draft delegated acts and major implementing acts before the Member States vote on their position in the committee responsible;

23.  Calls on the Commission to review its evaluation guidelines by stepping up the participation and consultation of stakeholders and using the most direct method in order to enable EU citizens to take part in decision-making;

24.  Notes the new ‘Lighten the Load – Have Your Say’ section of the Commission’s webpages on better lawmaking and calls for a balanced and transparent examination by the Commission and by the new REFIT Platform of the comments received there; believes, however, that the REFIT panel should not be too burdensome in its processes and deliberations, but should be a body capable of fast responses as well as more detailed work in the European legislation process; is of the opinion that consultation via this Commission website cannot replace public consultations of stakeholders;

Impact assessments and European added value

25.  Notes that impact assessments constitute an important tool for supporting decision-making in all the EU institutions and play a significant role in better regulation; in this regard, calls on the Commission and Member States to be more rigorous in fulfilling their commitments and in assessing the impact of future and existing legislation; underlines, however, that such assessments are not a substitute for political assessments and decisions and that the freedom of Members of the European Parliament to carry out their political work must not be restricted in any way;

26.  Believes that a competitiveness assessment should form a significant part of the impact assessment process; considers that the draft revised guidelines should contain guidance on how impacts on competitiveness should be assessed and weighted in the final analysis; supports a standing presumption that proposals with a negative impact on competitiveness should not be adopted by the Commission unless evidence supporting significant unquantifiable benefits is presented;

27.  Believes that better regulation principles should apply to decisions on secondary legislation as well as primary legislation; calls on the Commission, where appropriate, to accompany delegated and implementing acts with an impact assessment, including consultation with interested parties and stakeholders;

28.  Believes that impact assessments must be comprehensive, that there must be a balanced evaluation of economic, social and environmental consequences in particular, and that impact on the fundamental rights of citizens and equality between women and men must be assessed; stresses that the cost-benefit analysis is only one of many criteria;

29.  Points out that in many Member States, such as Sweden, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany, independent bodies provide governments with constructive input in connection with legislative processes, with the aim of cutting red tape for business and citizens and of measurably and verifiably reducing costs related to obligations to provide information; notes that the best practices and experience of existing better regulation bodies could be taken into account; takes note of the conversion of the Commission’s Impact Assessment Board (IAB) into an independent ‘Regulatory Scrutiny Board’ (RSB) and expects that the inclusion of independent experts will have an advantageous effect on the impact assessment process within the Commission; insists that the Regulatory Scrutiny Board has only an exclusively advisory role and must not issue binding opinions; insist that impact assessments must be consistent and take any changes introduced at the inter-service consultation phase into consideration and should be based inter alia on estimating what the additional costs would be for the Member States if there were no solution at European level; considers that the opinion of the RSB should accompany the final legislative proposal; proposes to discuss in the forthcoming negotiation on the interinstitutional agreement the idea whether a Regulatory Control Council might be of common interest for the institutions as a purely advisory body;

30.  Welcomes the fact that the Council Working Parties are now, at an early stage of the debate on specific legislative proposals, to consider the relevant Commission impact assessments on the basis of an indicative check list: regrets, however, that the Council Secretariat does not yet have an impact assessment unit of its own and believes that the aforementioned solution could contribute towards the Council fulfilling its obligations in assessing any substantive amendments to the Commission proposals;

31.  Points out that Parliament has established an in-house Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value, which offers a host of ex-ante and ex-post impact assessment services for parliamentary committees, assesses the added value of prospective or current EU policies, and assesses science and technology policy options; notes that, according to information from the Commission, about twenty Parliament in‑house impact assessments have been conducted in connection with changes to Commission proposals; reminds Parliament’s specialist committees to make more consistent use of in-house impact assessment instruments, particularly where substantial changes to the original Commission proposal are being envisaged; points out, however, this must not lead to a restriction of the room for manoeuvre available to Members of the European Parliament;

32.  Stresses the need to take account of each of the principles upon which the Union is founded, including the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; calls on all EU institutions always to consider the short- and long-term effects of legislation;

33.  Notes that a cooling-off period taken after the conclusion of negotiations but in advance of a final vote – currently used for lawyer-linguistic revision – could be further utilised for the completion of an impact assessment and subsidiarity check;

34.  Believes that all EU institutions should develop a common methodological approach to impact assessments; stresses the fact that the legislative prerogatives of Parliament and the Council to amend a proposal from the Commission must remain undiminished;

35.  Urges the Commission to increase its consultation procedure, both public and private, with all stakeholders, including consumers, when preparing delegated and implementing acts, with a view to considering how to enhance awareness of proposals at a provisional stage;

SMEs and Think Small First

36.  Notes the Commission’s commitment to further improving the SME test, particularly in view of the fact that the more than 20 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99 % of all businesses in the EU and that, as such, SMEs are the cornerstone of economic activity, growth and employment; supports consideration of adapted agreements and more flexible SME impact assessment rules, provided that it can be shown that they do not undermine the effectiveness of legal provisions and that exemptions or more flexible provisions do not encourage fragmentation of the internal market or hamper access to it; welcomes, therefore, the Commission's commitment to give consideration to more flexible rules for SMEs, including an outright exemption for microbusinesses, provided it is appropriate and feasible and effective realisation of the social, ecological and economic objectives of proposed legal provisions is not undermined;

37.  Calls on the Commission not to abandon its ambitious targets of reducing the administrative burden on SMEs and thereby helping to establish a basis for the creation of quality jobs, and urges that measures be taken to ensure that objectives concerning the public interest including user-friendly, ecological, social, health and safety and gender-equality standards are not compromised; stresses that the reduction of administrative burdens must not lead to a reduction in employment standards or an increase in precarious employment contracts, and that workers in SMEs and micro‑enterprises must enjoy the same treatment and high standard of protection as workers in larger companies;

38.  Stresses that evaluation of new rules regarding their impact on SMEs must be in no way detrimental to workers' rights;

39.  Stresses the need for more clearly worded regulations that can be implemented in a simple manner and can help all actors operate within the rule of law; underlines that simpler and smarter regulation can facilitate consistent transposition and more effective and uniform enforcement by Member States;

Ex-post evaluations

40.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is making ex-post analysis an integral part of better regulation; stresses that, in the interests of legal certainty for citizens and businesses, such analyses should be carried out within a sufficient time-frame, preferably several years after the deadline for transposition into national law; recalls, however, that ex-post evaluations should never replace the Commission's duty as guardian of the Treaties to monitor effectively and in a timely fashion the application of Union law by Member States and to take all necessary steps to ensure good application thereof;

41.  Underscores the importance of ex-post assessment and policy performance appraisal for an evaluation of the implementation and efficiency of EU legislation and EU policies in the light of the legislative authority's intended outcomes;

42.  Considers that national parliaments should be involved in the ex-post evaluation of new legislation, as this would also benefit the Commission’s reports and help explore the different national challenges posed by individual laws and regulations;

The implementation of EU legislation by Member States

43.  Notes that, according to the Commission, one third of the regulatory and administrative burden of EU legislation follows from transposition measures undertaken by the Member States;

44.  Acknowledges that, in the case of directives, it is the prerogative of the Member States to decide whether to adopt higher social, environmental and consumer protection standards at national level than those minimum standards of protection agreed upon at EU level, and welcomes any decision to do so; reaffirms that such higher standards must not be regarded as 'gold plating'; calls, however, on the competent national authorities to be aware of the possible consequence of the practice of so-called ‘gold plating’, by which unnecessary bureaucratic burdens are added to EU legislation, since this may lead to a misconception of the legislative activity of the EU, which in turn might foster Euroscepticism; calls, for the sake of user-friendliness, on Member States to waive unnecessary administrative rules on site in the implementation of directives and regulations;

45.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to intensify the exchange of best practices in the implementation and application of EU directives; considers that this would encourage stakeholders and local and regional authorities to participate in determining the difficulties encountered in implementing EU policy at local, regional and national level;

46.  Stresses that Parliament, as one arm of the legislative authority, has an interest in understanding what the impact of EU legislation actually is after it has been implemented; calls on the Commission, therefore, to grant Parliament full access to any assessments in that connection, including the source data collected and preparatory documents;

47.  Calls on the Commission, in view of the serious and persistent problems which arise in the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, including problems of distortion of competition, to review the scientific basis of this regulation and how useful and realistic it is and, if appropriate, to eliminate the concept of nutrient profiles; considers that the aims of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, such as ensuring that information which is provided concerning foods is true and that specific indications are given concerning fat, sugar and salt content, have now been achieved by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers;

48.  Points to the Joint Political Declaration of 28 September 2011 of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents and to the Joint Political Declaration of 27 October 2011 of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on explanatory documents, and calls on the Commission to ensure that Parliament has access to explanatory documents;

The Commission’s withdrawal of pending legislative proposals

49.  Notes that, in its 2015 working programme the newly elected Commission has, for the first time, put all pending legislative initiatives to the test under the principle of political discontinuity;

50.  Points out that the Court of Justice affirmed in its judgment of 14 April 2015(9) that the Commission may at any time in the course of the adoption of a Union act under the ordinary legislative procedure withdraw a proposal as long as the Council has not acted; calls, therefore, for the sake of interinstitutional balance, on the Commission, in the event of withdrawal, to first consult Parliament, especially after the first reading, and to duly take into account its positions; refers in this context in particular to Parliament’s resolutions of 15 January 2015;

51.  Points out, furthermore, that the Court of Justice, in the same judgment, takes up the Council's arguments to the effect that the Commission, in the event of the withdrawal of a legislative proposal, must comply with the principle of conferral of powers, the principle of institutional balance and the principle of sincere cooperation, as laid down in Article 13(2) TEU, and with the principle of democracy, as laid down in Article 10(1) and (2) TEU;

52.  Highlights the importance of avoiding legislative duplication;

o
o   o

53.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1; Texts adopted on 9 March 2016, P8_TA(2016)0081.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0061.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0069.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0127.
(5) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 117.
(6) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 87.
(7) OJ C 380 E, 11.12.2012, p. 31.
(8) EESC document INT/750.
(9) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 14 April 2015 in Case C-409/13, Council v Commission [ECLI:EU:C:2015:217].


Towards improved single market regulation
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on Towards improved single market regulation (2015/2089(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0105A8-0278/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 November 2014 entitled ‘Annual Growth Survey 2015’ (COM(2014)0902),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 February 2013 with recommendations to the Commission on the governance of the Single Market(1), and to the Commission’s follow-up thereon adopted on 8 May 2013,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 June 2012 entitled ‘Better Governance for the Single Market’ (COM(2012)0259),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 June 2014 entitled ‘Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook’ (COM(2014)0368),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 7 March 2013 entitled ‘Smart regulation – Responding to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises’ (COM(2013)0122),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 26-27 June 2014,

–  having regard to the Competitiveness Council conclusions on smart regulation of 4 December 2014,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2015 on single market governance within the European Semester 2015(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 February 2014 on SOLVIT(3), and to the Commission’s follow-up thereon adopted on 28 May 2014,

–  having regard to the research study commissioned by its Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on ‘Smart Single Market Regulation’,

–  having regard to the April 2015 edition of the online Single Market Scoreboard,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0278/2015),

A.  whereas the single market is a key tool for reigniting economic growth and job creation in the Union;

B.  whereas, more than 20 years after its official creation, the single market framework is still fragmented, in particular because the Member States have not fully transposed or correctly implemented EU legislation;

C.  whereas there is a need to strengthen the governance of the single market by addressing the whole policy cycle;

D.  whereas the forthcoming internal market strategy should be aimed at improving single market regulation through an effort to learn from the experiences of the past in the areas of free movement of goods and services, the digital single market, professional qualifications and public procurement;

E.  whereas it is the concept of shared responsibility that should frame how the Union seeks to improve single market regulation;

F.  whereas the responsibility for subsidiarity extends beyond the Commission, the Council and Parliament, and includes a role for national and – where appropriate – regional parliaments; whereas the subsidiarity principle implies that policies should be decided at the most appropriate institutional level, be it local, regional, national or European;

G.  whereas we have a single market for goods but not a single market for services;

H.  whereas specific tools should be strengthened, revised or better promoted in order to make a positive contribution to providing a competitive regulatory environment for our businesses, supporting growth and job creation, and enhancing consumers’ trust in European legislation;

I.  whereas there is a low level of knowledge and awareness among both citizens and businesses of various assistance services such as Your Europe and SOLVIT;

J.  whereas there is a lack of sufficient indicators and data for measuring successful implementation of legislation in different areas of the single market;

K.  whereas such indicators and data could clarify the aim and purpose of the legislation in question;

L.  whereas digital innovation is outpacing politics, and entrepreneurs are driving the digital agenda; whereas it is of key importance to provide future-proof rules that are digital by default;

M.  whereas the proper transposition, implementation and enforcement of consumer rights and law is essential in order to achieve a high level of consumer protection in the Union;

N.  whereas one of the main priorities of the 2015 European Consumer Summit, an annual forum bringing together key European and international policymakers and stakeholders, was better implementation and enforcement of the law;

I.Introduction and general principles

1.  Asks the Commission to take into account the recommendations contained in this resolution in the implementation of its recent internal market strategy;

2.  Considers that improving single market regulation should be both a priority and a shared responsibility of the EU institutions; believes that good legislation works to the benefit of citizens and should contribute to stimulating competitiveness, job creation, growth and SME development while delivering a high level of consumer protection, and that it must do so in a way that stimulates, rather than frustrates, the European economy;

3.  Views ‘better regulation’ in the context of the whole policy cycle, whereby all elements contribute to efficient and effective regulation; considers, therefore, that specific indicators for measuring the success of relevant legislation should be included right from the initial impact assessment and used throughout the whole policy cycle, including the implementation of the legislation when it enters into force;

4.  Recalls, in this context, the importance of transparent and accessible information; considers it regrettable that whereas Parliament documents are accessible to the wider public, Council documents are not, and instead remain restricted;

5.  Considers that the principle of subsidiarity must represent the starting point for policy formulation, so as to underline ‘European added value’ in the governance of the single market;

6.  Notes that the deadlines associated with the subsidiarity mechanism do not always provide adequate time for parliaments to consider in detail aspects of implementation, coherence with existing legislation, and other practical matters; considers, therefore, that parliaments themselves could play a more active role, particularly in consultation processes;

7.  Believes that the institutions should jointly undertake to ensure that the principle of proportionality is reflected in the drafting of the relevant legislation; believes, furthermore, that the process should achieve the aims of simplicity, transparency, coherence and respect for fundamental rights;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to reflect, together with Parliament, on how best to ensure that simplification is an ongoing process, as efforts in these areas are of benefit to consumers and SMEs;

9.  Considers that single market regulation should take into account the new opportunities afforded by the digital revolution and should be fully compatible with the e-government dimension;

10.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen the role of the single market as a separate pillar of the European Semester process, which should be supported by an annual Single Market Integration report as an input to the Annual Growth Survey;

II.Tools to improve single market regulation

Impact assessment

11.  Believes that single market legislation should have as its aim the better functioning of the single market, be developed in accordance with Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and serve to promote competitiveness, innovation, growth and job creation; views effective impact assessments as an important tool for informing policymakers about how best to design regulation to achieve these aims and their single market objectives, and about the potential effects of its interplay with existing legislation;

12.  Considers it regrettable that around 40 % of draft impact assessments examined by the Commission Impact Assessment Board from 2010 to 2014 were considered to be of insufficient quality and were sent back for improvements;

13.  Considers that, in order to be effective tools, impact assessments should be prepared on the basis of comprehensive, objective and complete information and evidence, and should include all options which have a significant impact or are politically important; takes the view that impact assessments should be conducted in such a way as to also take account of ex‑post assessments of existing legislation in the same sector, and should give consideration to consistency between a new legislative initiative and the other policies and general objectives of the European Union;

14.  Considers it regrettable that impact assessments submitted to Parliament to accompany draft proposals are still found to have shortcomings, as highlighted, for instance, by Parliament’s Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit in its analysis of the impact assessment accompanying the proposal on making radio equipment available on the market;

15.  Believes that careful consideration of scientific advice should form part of the impact assessment process and, in particular, substantiate how or why policy choices have been made in preparatory phases, which will assist the political process; further considers that impact assessments must take into account the pace of digital innovation and evolution and the need for legislation to be technology-neutral and as future-proof as possible;

16.  Points out that no clear guidance is given as to whether or not potential impacts of REFIT proposals should be quantified; highlights the need for REFIT proposals to be more targeted, with potential benefits and cost savings being quantified in each proposal;

17.  Points out that the impact assessment accompanying a proposal should be supplemented by impact assessments on substantial amendments adopted by the co-legislators; emphasises that clear and transparent rules should be set out, stipulating conditions under which such additional impact assessments should be made; recalls, for example, that Parliament has carefully assessed the potential impact on SMEs of some of its amendments to the two Public Procurement Directives; urges, therefore, the Council – which has not carried out any impact assessment on its own amendments since 2007 – to become more involved;

18.  Recalls that the responsibility for subsidiarity extends beyond the Commission, the Council and Parliament, and includes a role for national parliaments;

19.  Notes that the ‘Smart Single Market Regulation’ study commissioned by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee suggests that Parliament and the Council may have valuable insights to contribute to the Commission’s impact assessments; calls on the Commission to explore ways in which to include Parliament and the Council in the impact assessment process;

The consultation process

20.  Recalls that, under Article 11(2) TEU, all the EU institutions are required to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations, civil society and the social partners;

21.  Considers that the consultation phase should always include a ‘digital by default’ section whereby the Commission seeks to gain a deep understanding of user needs and of what ‘digital by default’ means for the design of the service;

22.  Reiterates its position that consultation processes should be open, transparent and inclusive, and should be expanded to include submissions on draft impact assessments from a broad variety of stakeholders; believes this to be equally important for secondary legislation, which is of great consequence for the implementation of single market regulation and therefore requires greater transparency and scrutiny; considers the Union Customs Code to be one area in which regular consultation of stakeholders could improve the implementation of secondary legislation;

23.  Acknowledges the proposals for an expanded strategic programming phase in the ‘Better Regulation’ package, with the inclusion of inception impact assessments, for example; considers, however, that an overview of the Commission’s working process is still lacking; calls on the Commission to make roadmaps outlining policy initiatives in specific sectors more visible, and to facilitate their use;

24.  Considers input from citizens and businesses into various assistance services such as Your Europe and SOLVIT to be of great importance to the legislative process, and therefore calls on the Commission to evaluate the data provided by these services and to take it into consideration when reviewing the relevant legislation;

25.  Believes that wide, proper and balanced consultation is essential as part of the legislative process; considers the publication of documents and evidence, and an invitation to all stakeholders to contribute effectively to policy development in this area, to be an important driver for innovation and the strengthening of the single market, particularly with regard to the digital single market agenda;

26.  Emphasises that small businesses often do not have the time or resources to participate in regular consultations; considers that the Commission should find user-friendly and innovative ways to reach out to SMEs and start-ups;

27.  Considers that a holistic approach should be taken to stakeholder consultation, which should be an ongoing process throughout the whole legislative cycle rather than an occasional exercise; reiterates, in this connection, its calls on the Commission to consider establishing a European Stakeholder Forum on better regulation and less bureaucracy;

28.  Stresses that such stakeholder consultations should be as inclusive as possible, and in particular should involve SMEs, micro-businesses and civil society organisations;

29.  Believes that making public consultations available in all the official languages and more accessible and intelligible will lead to a corresponding increase in participation and more transparent access to the consultation process;

Implementation

30.  Believes that full and proper implementation of single market legislation is fundamental, and that clear, comprehensive and multi-dimensional indicators are a useful contribution if the benefits of the single market are to be fully felt; expresses concern that implementation targets are not always met; calls, in particular, for the full and correct implementation of the Services Directive; recalls the large degree of heterogeneity remaining between Member States and sectors;

31.  Considers that as the Commission seeks to reduce its legislative output, this will allow a greater focus on policy initiatives, leaving more time for deeper reflection which can be used to improve the involvement of interested stakeholders;

32.  Emphasises the importance of correlation tables in monitoring correct implementation; calls on the Member States to draw up and publish their own correlation tables;

33.  Considers it regrettable that, despite the 0,5 % target proposed by the Commission in the Single Market Act, some Member States are still lagging behind; stresses that it is not only the formal transposition and implementation targets that are important, but also the quality of transposition, practical implementation on the ground, and the problems or challenges these may present in real life for the stakeholders concerned;

34.  Considers that, for the benefits of a fully functioning single market to be realised, the Commission and parliaments should work together to learn from best practices and experience gained in the implementation of EU legislation, in order to ensure that the aims and objectives of specific legislation are not lost as a result of poor or inconsistent implementation across the Member States;

35.  Believes there should be greater clarity on gold-plating and that stronger measures are needed with a view to identifying instances where it occurs, which present challenges and extra costs for people and businesses seeking to understand and apply law originating at EU level; calls on the Member States, in implementation documents, to clarify and identify what is the result of EU legislation and what of national requirements; recalls the possibility for the Member States to apply stricter standards where EU law only provides for minimum harmonisation;

Monitoring and problem-solving

36.  Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts and regularly to update guidance on the regulations; calls, in particular, for a rapid update, in close cooperation with Parliament, of the 2009 Guidance on the implementation/application of Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair commercial practices in order to make sure it fits the digital age; considers it regrettable that the quality of services differs vastly among the Member States as a result of a lack of both prioritisation and resources; calls, therefore, for an enforced governance framework at EU level with a view to improving the functioning of these tools and services;

37.  Considers alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and online dispute resolution (ODR) to be key tools for improving the single market for goods and services; emphasises that they will allow consumers and traders to solve their disputes in a cost‑effective and simple way without going to court; encourages the Commission and the Member States to raise awareness of these important tools;

38.  Stresses that one-stop shops in support of dispute resolution, along the lines of SOLVIT, ECC-Net and FIN-Net, are services which improve the functioning of the internal market; calls on the Commission to deploy resources in order to publicise these tools and develop complementarities between them;

39.  Applauds the SOLVIT and EU Pilot projects, which are designed to avert the need for the Commission to institute infringement proceedings against Member States; considers, however, that the services offered by EU Pilot should be improved as regards the response time once alerts have been received;

40.  Considers that the Internal Market Information System (IMI) should continue to be expanded to other single market tools so that it can become a central information hub; stresses that this would be consistent with the ‘once only’ principle, in line with recent Commission initiatives;

41.  Considers digital platforms such as the Points of Single Contact, IMI and ISA2 to be important in improving the functioning of the single market by facilitating cross-border information exchange between authorities in Member States;

42.  Is concerned by the low level of awareness and understanding among Europeans of the services available, such as Your Europe, Your Europe Advice, the European Employment Service, the CPC network, the points of single contact, SOLVIT, ADR and ODR;

43.  Considers that services such as Your Europe, Your Europe Advice, the European Employment Service, the CPC network, the points of single contact, SOLVIT, SOLVIT Plus, ADR and ODR are useful, low-cost alternatives to legal action; notes that only 4 % of consumers and companies are aware of such tools and that the level of take-up of these services is very low at present; calls on the Commission and the Member States, with a view to resolving this problem, to foster further awareness of such tools, while examining whether the outcomes and responses they generate are adequate for users; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to work on better cooperation between the various assistance services, such as Your Europe and SOLVIT, with the aim of increasing user satisfaction;

44.  Asks the Commission to carry out in-depth reflection on the interaction between these services and to explore the possibility of replacing them with a single point of contact for consumers which would then direct the consumer to other tools as appropriate;

45.  Considers that this reflection should ensure a better definition of the services concerned in order to obtain a better separation of activities and thus avoid overlapping;

46.  Calls on the Commission to develop a communication and training strategy with a view to raising awareness of assistance services among citizens and businesses of all sizes; recommends, in this context, the development of a single portal for access to all assistance services;

47.  Considers that the forthcoming revision of the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Regulation should take fully into account the need to improve the information flow between the various single market tools;

48.  Highlights the important role of the Commission’s ‘EU Sweeps’ monitoring tool, especially with regard to a well-functioning digital single market;

49.  Acknowledges the positive role of the ‘EU Sweeps’ actions, launched by the Commission to enhance enforcement through coordinated control actions in the online environment; believes that ‘EU Sweeps’ could also be broadened to the offline sector;

50.  Notes with concern that, according to Your Europe reports, there are areas that are consistently the subject of queries from people trying to exercise their rights, such as e‑commerce and the recognition of qualifications; considers that the Commission, together with national and regional bodies, should respond to this in order to foster understanding of those rights;

51.  Considers a qualitative as well as a quantitative assessment of implementation – not just the bare figures as to whether or not directives have formally been transposed – to be appropriate in order to gain a full understanding of how single market legislation is actually working for consumers and for business;

52.  Calls on the Commission to consider whether an ‘early warning system’ could be created that signals where problems exist in the implementation or application of EU law;

53.  Believes that the systematic screening of consumer markets at EU level would detect emerging trends and threats to consumers and businesses in a more timely manner; highlights, in this context, the positive role played by all involved stakeholders, including consumer organisations;

54.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the performance of the Products Contact Points provided for in the 2009 Mutual Recognition Regulation and the 2011 Construction Products Regulation;

Enforcement and market surveillance

55.  Underlines the need for closer cooperation between single market governance tools that receive consumer complaints about traders breaching EU legislation and national enforcement bodies via formal procedures and improved data sharing;

56.  Calls on the Commission to assess seriously the consistency and effectiveness of implementation and – ultimately – infringement proceedings, in particular as they regard single market legislation;

57.  Considers it regrettable that Parliament’s access to relevant information relating to pre‑infringement and infringement proceedings is limited, and calls for improved transparency in this area, with due respect for confidentiality rules;

58.  Urges the Commission to launch timely and faster infringement proceedings where evidence exists to demonstrate a failure in implementation and where reasonable efforts to solve problems through tools such as mediation, in the form of ADR, ODR, EU Pilot, SOLVIT or other pre-infringement mechanisms, have failed; stresses that Member States have an equal responsibility to enforce EU law, and should ensure effective and efficient enforcement in order to uphold consumer rights and create a level playing field for businesses throughout Europe;

59.  Undertakes to fulfil its role in the enforcement of EU legislation, inter alia by reviewing the implementation of legislation and exercising scrutiny of the Commission, in particular through an engagement on the part of Parliament with annual, or at least more detailed, reporting by the Commission on work programmes relating specifically to enforcement;

60.  Recalls that in its resolution of 4 February 2014 on the implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC)(4), Parliament called on the Commission to compile and analyse data on penalties applied by Member States and on the efficiency of enforcement regimes, in particular with regard to the complexity and length of enforcement procedures; has called repeatedly on the Commission to provide Parliament with the results of these analyses;

61.  Considers that market surveillance tools should be used in conjunction with single market tools to strengthen the enforcement of EU law;

62.  Points out, in this connection, that national authorities do not always make correct use of the Information and Communication System on Market Surveillance (ICSMS), or fail to take the necessary measures in a timely fashion; underlines, in particular, the need to improve the passing-on of cases between public authorities;

63.  Is concerned that, according to a sample analysis conducted by the Commission in 2014, 60 % of completed product investigations did not report on the country of origin, 32 % of machinery product investigations were not accompanied by a risk classification, and 5 % of entries did not make reference to the EU regulation/directive breached; asks the Council and the Member States to give serious consideration to this issue and to inform Parliament of the follow-up action taken;

Ex-post evaluation and review

64.  Welcomes the regular review period and the introduction of sectoral analysis under the REFIT programme, the ultimate aim of which should be to improve the quality of EU legislation and simplify it, thus aligning it more effectively with the needs of citizens and undertakings, with particular reference to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises;

65.  Considers, however, that analysis should be improved as to whether the legislative steps taken so far have contributed effectively to achieving their aim and are consistent with current policy goals; emphasises, also, the importance of transparency in the REFIT process; believes, in this context, that a rolling target for administrative and regulatory burden reduction can make a positive contribution to ensuring that aims are met in the most efficient way possible and with the least possible cost to people and businesses;

66.  Notes that the cumulative cost of regulation often represents a barrier for participants in the single market, particularly SMEs; welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s commitment to examining this issue; stresses that any such analysis should aim to remove barriers to market entry and to ensure fair competition for all players;

67.  Calls on the Commission to improve its understanding of the factors influencing the achievement of policy objectives, such as the impact of complementary or clashing policies adopted at EU or national level, but also the impact and costs of non-action, in order to improve policymaking and, ultimately, to contribute to better single market regulation;

68.  Considers that sunset or enhanced review clauses may be considered on an exceptional basis, in particular for temporary phenomena, with the institutions undertaking to keep legislation up to date and in place only where necessary; views safeguards as a necessary means of ensuring that essential legislation does not lapse;

III.Conclusion

69.  Emphasises that improving single market regulation does not mean removing all regulation or diminishing the level of ambition of regulation, for instance in terms of environmental protection, safety, security, consumer protection and social standards, but rather means removing unnecessary regulation, bureaucracy and negative impacts while achieving policy objectives and delivering a competitive regulatory environment that supports employment and enterprise within Europe;

70.  Stresses that a single market that does not overburden or frustrate production, innovation and commerce is a tool that will bring back to Europe jobs and growth that would previously have been located elsewhere;

71.  Stresses, therefore, that shared responsibility for improved single market regulation will lead to the realisation of shared benefits: a strong and vibrant single market contributing to the long-term growth of Europe and thereby to the prosperity of its citizens;

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

(1) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 75.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0069.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0164.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0063.


Learning EU at school
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on Learning EU at school (2015/2138(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0106A8-0021/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing ‘Erasmus+’: the Union programme for education, training, youth and sport and repealing Decisions No 1719/2006/EC, No 1720/2006/EC and No 1298/2008/EC(1),

–  having regard to Decision No 1093/2012/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on the European Year of Citizens (2013)(2),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 390/2014 of 14 April 2014 establishing the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme for the period 2014-2020(3),

–  having regard to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning(4),

–  having regard to the Declaration on Promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education (‘Paris Declaration’) of the informal meeting of European Union Education Ministers of 17 March 2015,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(5),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 26 August 2015 entitled ‘Draft 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)’ (COM(2015)0408),

–  having regard to the Commission Implementing Decision of 14 September 2015 on the adoption of the 2016 annual work programme for the implementation of ‘Erasmus+’: the Union Programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport (C(2015)6151),

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 28 and 29 November 2011 on a benchmark for learning mobility(6),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 15 September 2015 entitled ‘Draft 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)’ (COM(2015)0429),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 April 2009 entitled ‘An EU Strategy for Youth: Investing and Empowering – A renewed open method of coordination to address youth challenges and opportunities’ (COM(2009)0200),

–  having regard to the Council Resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)(7),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 May 1992 on education and training policy in the run-up to 1993(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 September 2006 on initiatives to complement school curricula providing appropriate support measures to include the European dimension(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 September 2008 on improving the quality of teacher education(11),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0021/2016),

A.  whereas education is a fundamental human right and a public good that should be equally accessible to all;

B.  whereas the main role of education is to form fully aware citizens and therefore goes beyond the fulfilment of the economic targets of EU and national strategies;

C.  whereas the objectives of education include preparing individuals for life and active citizenship in increasingly complex, demanding, multicultural and integrated societies;

D.  whereas, according to a 2014 Eurobarometer opinion poll, 44 % of European Union citizens feel that they have limited understanding of how the EU works and 52 % of Europeans believe that their voice does not count in the EU(12);

E.  whereas only 42,61 % of EU citizens, and only 27,8 % of 18-24 year-olds, voted in the last European Parliament elections, representing the lowest voter turnout since 1979(13);

F.  whereas insufficient knowledge about the EU and poor understanding of its concrete added-value may contribute to the perception of a democratic deficit and lead to widespread Euroscepticism in Member States and candidate countries; whereas democratic deficits need to be addressed in order to tackle the growing gap between the voice of European citizens and the EU institutions;

G.  whereas, according to the 2015 Special Eurobarometer 437, a vast majority of Europeans agrees that school lessons and material should include information about diversity in terms of religion or beliefs, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and gender identity(14);

H.  whereas increased awareness about the benefits of European policies, such as free movement of people and services within the Union and EU mobility programmes, can help create a sense of belonging to the EU, community spirit and acceptance of multicultural and multinational societies;

I.  whereas successful education systems and curricula, together with increased influence and participation of Europeans in EU policy decision making processes, could create greater interest in EU affairs, and a sense of understanding and belonging, while contributing to tackling social divisions, cultural segregation and feelings of deprivation;

J.  whereas a majority of Member States have integrated learning about the EU into their curricula and teacher training programmes; whereas disparities between and within Member States continue to exist;

K.  whereas, in some Member States, while EU topics are generally taught across the different education levels and across various subjects of compulsory education, they primarily constitute a small part of the curriculum that a given teacher has to deliver;

L.  whereas the knowledge and skills of teachers and other educational staff about EU topics need to be developed further and updated through initial and ongoing training, and whereas, in this regard, educational institutions and teachers require effective assistance that is tailored and relevant to their particular needs;

M.  whereas according to ‘Learning Europe at school’, a study prepared by private consultancy ICF GHK for DG Education and Culture(15), it is primarily institutions and associations outside of higher education that are involved in delivering teacher education on EU issues;

N.  whereas the Erasmus Impact Study presented by the Commission in 2014 demonstrates the positive impact mobility in education and internationalisation of studies has, not only on curricula and employability, but also in terms of knowledge of Europe, the development of a sense of European citizenship and a positive attitude towards Europe, and on voting in the European elections;

A European dimension in education

1.  Underlines the increasing importance of a European dimension in education across the different disciplines, levels and forms of education, while stressing the need for a broad and in-depth understanding of the concept which takes into account its complex, dynamic and multi-layered nature, with learning about the EU at school being a crucial component;

2.  Emphasises that an EU dimension in education is crucial to help citizens better understand – and reconnect them with – the EU, and can deepen the role of the values set out in Article 2 TEU and strengthen the voice of the Union in an interdependent world;

3.  Emphasises the need of understanding and promoting attachment to the fundamental values of the European Union; points out that knowing and understanding the common history and values of the EU and its Member States is a key for mutual understanding, living together peacefully, tolerance and solidarity, and also for understanding the core principles of the European Union;

4.  Points out that the EU should be more visible, and better integrated, in teaching materials and extracurricular activities, given its impact on the everyday life of its citizens; considers that content explicitly related to the EU can add substantial value to school curricula and to the personal development and growth of learners;

5.  Emphasises the need to use active and participative teaching methods tailored to learners’ age, levels, needs and interests, and to exploit fully the opportunities offered by the information and communication technologies and the media, including social media;

6.  Underlines that an EU dimension in education should enable learners not only to acquire knowledge and develop a sense of belonging and European citizenship skills, but also to engage in a critical reflection on the EU, including through learning about EU fundamental values, based on the rule of law and human rights, EU governance and decision-making processes, and how these influence their Member States and their democratic participation; encourages the use of European Youth Parliament roleplay games to help children and students understand the European processes and raise their awareness of European issues;

7.  Draws attention to the fact that the EU has been shaped by its Member States, with their unique histories and cultures, and that the development of the Union remains inextricably linked to its Member States; highlights, at the same time, the contribution of different cultures to the European societies and heritage;

8.  Notes that the impact of the EU on the Member States is considerable, and that learning about the EU at school should reflect both the role of Member States in the development of the EU and the influence of the EU on national developments;

9.  Points out that the Member States and the EU have to lead by examples to all actors involved in teaching and learning EU at school, by practising core European values of social inclusion and European and international solidarity;

10.  Recalls the need to ensure, enhance and broaden initial and ongoing, professional, lifelong development opportunities for teachers and educators and to provide them with appropriate support and resources in order to enable them to incorporate an EU dimension into their teaching, in particular with regard to history and citizenship education, as well as to implement learner-centred strategies and to adapt their teaching methods to the needs of learners;

11.  Stresses the need to promote and encourage multi-lingual and intercultural competences of educators, as well as mobility opportunities, peer-to-peer learning and exchanges of best practices among teaching staff, for instance through the organisation of European-level seminars;

12.  Stresses the role of universities in the preparation and training of highly qualified and motivated teachers and educators; calls for encouragement and support for the actions of the Member States in their efforts to provide possibilities for specialised qualification courses within universities, open and accessible to enrolled students as well as to practicing teachers and educators;

13.  Stresses the importance and the potential of a European approach to the teaching of history, while bearing in mind the competence of the Member States in this area, as some historic events were determinant in the emergence of the European ideals and values; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support history societies and centres for historical research, in order to highlight the value of their scientific contribution to European history and their role in keeping schoolteachers up to date;

14.  Calls for the House of European History to develop, especially for students and teachers at all levels of education, specific programmes, instruments and activities that build up a cogent narrative of European integration and its basic values;

15.  Calls for an urgent renewal and strengthening of EU citizenship and civic education in both current and future Member States, with the aim of equipping learners, by means appropriate to their age, with relevant knowledge, values, skills and competences, empowering them to think critically and form well-informed and balanced opinions, exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities, including the right to vote, value diversity, encourage intercultural and interreligious dialogue and be active and responsible citizens;

16.  Points out that increased student and parent participation in school governance can contribute towards tackling discrimination and strengthening sustainable participatory democracy and citizenship, fostering trust and cooperation between various actors; calls on educational institutions to introduce, and increase the scope of, democratic governance, also by means of giving a bigger weight to the voice of students’ representations, since democracy has to be learned and experienced;

17.  Stresses the need to enhance teachers’ and learners’ motivation and opportunities to learn more about the EU through their own first-hand experiences, such us school visits to other countries, visits to the European institutions, contacts with EU officials, traineeship opportunities for students within the EU institutions, and through media education, such as the European Youth Portal, making full use of the new information and communication technologies and open educational resources;

18.  Calls to make full use of the opportunities offered by digital technologies to further develop cross-border teaching, through digital courses and video conferences, in order to facilitate the discovery for students of other points of view and approaches regarding their disciplines;

19.  Underlines that the learning of foreign languages can play a crucial role in increasing intercultural awareness and providing citizens with the skills needed to live and work in an increasingly complex and globalised world;

20.  Highlights the crucial role of non-formal and informal learning, including youth work, volunteering and inter-generational, family and adult learning, as well as sport as a pedagogical instrument, in developing social and civic skills, competences and behaviours, and in shaping responsible and active European citizens; underlines the need to recognise and validate such competences within formal learning and to create closer links between formal, non-formal and informal learning;

21.  Calls for the adoption of an intercultural approach to education policy capable of enabling the genuine integration of immigrant students into schools based on mutual knowledge of different cultures and the construction of shared common values;

The role of the Union

22.  Encourages the Commission to continue its support for efforts to develop and promote an EU dimension in education as well as the mobility of educational actors, and to actively disseminate information – including information on relevant funding opportunities and available studies and reports – to key stakeholders and citizens; encourages, in this regard, the better use of new communication technologies and media, including social media;

23.  Calls on the Commission to provide a common framework, and to prepare guidelines with concrete examples, for learning about the EU in order to foster objective and critical thinking about the benefits of the European Union for its citizens, while respecting Member States’ competence in the field of education and training;

24.  Asks the Commission to encourage further research to ascertain how the EU is currently taught in schools across Europe, how it features in curricula and exams, and whether (a) teachers and educators have sufficient access to relevant EU programmes and actions for professional development, lifelong learning and platforms for exchange of best practices, and (b) funded actions to incorporate efficient school learning about the EU do have an impact on schools in the end;

25.  Calls on the Commission to encourage, support and facilitate networks that promote, and are involved in, learning about the EU at national, regional and local level, as well as exchanges of best practice between these networks at Union level, and to identify areas of improvement;

26.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate an exchange of best practices among the Member States as well as candidate countries, with regard to the EU dimension in education and combating discrimination and prejudice in educational settings, including by evaluating teaching materials and anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies;

27.  Underlines the major role of Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens and Creative Europe in promoting education and training, language skills, active citizenship, cultural awareness, intercultural understanding and other valuable key and transversal competences; stresses the importance of these programmes in strengthening European citizenship and the need for increased and adequate financial support for these programmes, greater focus on their qualitative outcomes and wider access to mobility, paying special attention to teachers and other educators, young people with different socio-economic backgrounds as well as vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, and people with special needs;

28.  Recalls the wide range of actions offered by the Erasmus+ programme, as well as its popularity and recognition by the general public, in particular as regards the mobility of students as part of their studies; calls on the Commission and the Member States to raise awareness about those parts of the Erasmus+ programme that are less well-known, such as the European Voluntary Service;

29.  Welcomes the Commission’s 2016 Work Programme for the implementation of the Erasmus+ programme and its commitment to concrete actions in following up the Paris Declaration, in particular those aimed at increasing the impact of Erasmus+ on fostering active and democratic citizenship, intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and solidarity, including stronger support for civil society organisations in their key role in citizenship education;

30.  Calls on the Commission to enhance the pedagogical aspects, and the responsiveness to schools’ needs, of projects funded via the Jean Monnet projects by making sure schools can apply directly, and by providing funding for a longer period of time, such as three years, in line with the way Jean Monnet Modules are funded; calls on the Commission to make the Jean Monnet Module action available to teacher-training institutions and to encourage such institutions to incorporate them in their programmes;

31.  Notes that the Union is currently undergoing a crisis in its democratic legitimacy, not only because Europeans have insufficient knowledge about the EU mechanisms, but also because their voices are removed from decision-making processes; stresses that, in order to regain its legitimacy, the Union must halt the breakdown of its democratic structures and re-establish the link with its citizens;

32.  Calls on the Commission to implement the Europe for Citizens programme in an efficient way in order to fulfil the objectives of a democratic and more inclusive society, thereby reinforcing citizen participation in decision-making processes;

33.  Calls on the Commission to monitor closely the impact of all EU programmes on developing participants’ sense of citizenship and civic participation;

34.  Asks the Commission to develop further, and to promote as widely as possible, the eTwinning, EPALE and School Education Gateway virtual platforms, and to continue supporting and developing other digital platforms, such as Teachers’ Corner, in order to facilitate access to high-quality, easy-to-use and up-to-date teaching materials that are relevant to EU-learning and available in all EU languages;

35.  Asks the Commission to facilitate a critical review of the material currently available on the Teachers’ Corner platform by educators currently engaged in teaching, and by academics specialised in EU studies, in order to ensure quality and appropriateness;

36.  Highlights the role that the information offices of the European institutions play, and welcomes their commitment to fostering relations with the Member States, with national, regional and local educational institutions, and with youth organisations and media, in order to bring them closer to each other and to ensure that young people understand the role the institutions play in their daily lives;

37.  Calls for an open and shared debate between the Commission and cities, and local and regional authorities, regarding the connection between school systems and urban models, as a way to understanding the effects of different approaches to intercultural relations in Europe today;

38.  Encourages the Commission to promote learning EU at school as a recommendation to be put forward as soon as possible in negotiation processes with candidate countries for EU membership;

The role of Member States

39.  Encourages Member States to support, review and update their education systems – and all forms of EU-related curricula content at all levels of education, including vocational education and training – with a view to strengthening the EU dimension in close collaboration with all relevant actors at EU and national level, while strongly encouraging regions and local authorities to do the same, in particular when they have direct competences in educational systems;

40.  Encourages the Member States to support all possibilities of conveying more information about the EU to learners as well as to teachers and other educators through formal, non-formal and informal learning, and to fully exploit and complement EU financial instruments, programmes and initiatives in this regard;

41.  Asks Member States to take further action to promote intercultural, non-discriminatory and inclusive education and citizenship values in school and university curricula;

42.  Calls on the Member States to increase investment in quality education, also by means of greater partnership with the private sector, and to promote equal opportunities for all, and to provide all educational and training institutions, as well as teachers and other educators, with the support necessary to empower them to introduce and continuously develop an EU dimension in education from an early age that goes beyond the class room;

43.  Calls on the Member States to ensure equal and inclusive access to innovative and high-quality formal and non-formal education for all learners, as well as lifelong learning opportunities; calls, in this regard, on the Member States to adopt the 2008 proposal for a directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, which would protect against discrimination on these grounds in education;

44.  Calls on the Member States to involve migrants, refuges and faith communities in respectful and empowering citizenship-building processes, ensuring their participation in civic and cultural life;

45.  Calls on the Member States to encourage and facilitate high-quality training on EU topics for teachers, other educational staff, youth leaders and trainers, also by means of allowing them to spend part of their formation in another Member State, and by ensuring the recognition of their competences to teach about the EU, for example by creating and promoting a ʻEuro Teacherʼ label award;

46.  Considers that the Member States, in dialogue and cooperation with educational actors, should seek opportunities to exchange ideas and examples of good practice in integrating an EU dimension into their educational programmes, in order, inter alia, to boost young people’s knowledge and understanding of the process of building EU citizenship and the EU institutions, thereby enabling them to see the Union as an integral part of their living environment that they can and are expected to shape;

47.  Urges the Member States to acknowledge and support social partners and civil society organisations, in particular youth organisations, in bridging the gap between the EU institutions and the European citizens in a structural and sustainable way, promoting and strengthening participatory and direct-democracy tools;

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 50.
(2) OJ L 325, 23.11.2012, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 115, 17.4.2014, p. 3.
(4) OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, p. 10.
(5) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(6) OJ C 372, 20.12.2011, p. 31.
(7) OJ C 311, 19.12.2009, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 150, 15.6.1992, p. 366.
(10) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 100.
(11) OJ C 8 E, 14.1.2010, p. 12.
(12) Standard Eurobarometer 81, Spring 2014: ‘Public opinion in the European Union’ (http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb81/eb81_publ_en.pdf), p. 117 and 131.
(13) http://www.eprs.sso.ep.parl.union.eu/lis/lisrep/13-EPRS-publications/2015/COMM_STUD_558351_UpdateReview-EN.pdf, p. 43-45.
(14) Special Eurobarometer 437, 2015: ‘Discrimination in the EU in 2015’ (http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/PublicOpinion/index.cfm/ResultDoc/download/DocumentKy/68004), p. 100.
(15) http://www.eupika.mfdps.si/Files/Learning%20Europe%20at%20School%20final%20report.pdf.


Erasmus+ and other tools to foster mobility in vocational education and training
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on Erasmus+ and other tools to foster mobility in VET – a lifelong learning approach (2015/2257(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0107A8-0049/2016

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 14 thereof,

–  having regard to the Copenhagen Declaration of 30 November 2002 on enhanced cooperation in European vocational education and training,

–  having regard to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training(1),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(2),

–  having regard to the Council resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing ‘Erasmus+’: the Union Programme for education, training, youth and sport(4),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning(5),

–  having regard to Decision No 2241/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on a single Community framework for the transparency of qualifications and competences (Europass)(6),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 28 June 2011 entitled ‘“Youth on the Move” – promoting the learning mobility of young people’(7),

–  having regard to Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2010 on promoting youth access to the labour market, strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status(9),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF-LLL)(10),

–  having regard to the different instruments for recognition of competences, such as the European Framework of Certifications (CEC), the European Credits Transfer System (ECTS), the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET), and the European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations project (ESCO),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2012 entitled ‘Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes’ (COM(2012)0669),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 28 January 2014 on the implementation of the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (COM(2014)0030),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 May 2014 on quality assurance supporting education and training,

–  having regard to the Declaration of the Ministers in charge of Vocational education and training of 22 June 2015 on a new set of medium-term deliverables in the field of VET for the period 2015-2020,

–  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 Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and to the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0049/2016),

A.  whereas learning mobility and training mobility are important for personal development, young people’s social inclusion, multicultural dialogue, tolerance, the ability to work in an intercultural environment, and active citizenship, and have clearly proved their potential to contribute to high-quality education and employability;

B.  whereas learning mobility and training mobility should be further strengthened in the context of both current and successive EU programmes in the area of education and training, employment and cohesion policy;

C.  whereas in 2002 the EU ministers responsible for vocational education and training (VET) launched the ‘Copenhagen process’ with the aim of enhancing European cooperation in this field with the objective of improving the performance, quality and attractiveness of VET in Europe;

D.  whereas the Copenhagen process is based on mutually agreed priorities that are periodically revised, seeking amongst its goals, to facilitate mobility and promote the use of different vocational training opportunities within the lifelong learning context;

E.   whereas, according to Eurostat, unemployment in the EU remained as high as 10,2 % in 2014 despite there being a slow recovery; whereas across the EU youth unemployment currently stands at 22,1 %, while only 51 % of the 55-64 age group is in work and the gender gap in the employment rate for older workers stands at 13,6 percentage points;

F.  whereas non-formal and informal learning and vocational training have an important contribution to make in tackling current challenges in lifelong learning, such as early school leaving, unacceptable numbers of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), and skills shortages and mismatches;

G.  whereas the persistence of skills mismatches on the labour market is evidenced by the high job vacancy rate recorded in the Commission’s 2015 Autumn Economic Forecast;

H.  whereas language skills are lower in VET and need specific boosting;

I.  whereas it is necessary to reaffirm the political commitment to support EU action in the areas of lifelong learning and VET, notably through mobility activities that focus on developing transversal competences such as adaptability, curiosity, learning to learn, and interpersonal and civic skills;

J.  whereas recent socio-economic developments have accentuated the need to make lifelong learning and VET systems not only more efficient, but also more accessible and inclusive with respect to disadvantaged groups and people with special needs; whereas wider access to education should not be implemented at the expense of the quality of education;

K.  whereas continuous financial support for mobility measures and activities related to lifelong learning and VET knowledge is crucial, especially in the current period of economic crisis;

L.  whereas the regional and local level is crucial for supporting initiatives exploring new paths for mobility in order to ensure the effectiveness, transparency and quality of funds and programmes devoted to VET; whereas mobility in VET of young people and apprentices promoted at regional and local level should be coordinated in a broad process of democratic and participatory governance aimed at addressing the most relevant socio-economic and environmental issues, involving micro, small and medium enterprises, start-ups, local communities and social partners;

M.  whereas entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce and industry and the equivalent professional bodies for craft trades and farmers, as well as trade unions and other relevant social partners, should be actively involved in the design, organisation, delivery and financing of VET, including mobility; whereas with regard to the design of VET, a social dimension should be addressed to include areas such as fair trade, social entrepreneurship, and alternative business models such as cooperatives, and should be organised with relevant partners in those fields;

N.  whereas while youth mobility must be encouraged so as to enhance employability, it must not become the only envisaged solution for youth unemployment;

Taking stock of results and identifying key challenges

1.  Believes that education is a fundamental human right and a public good that should be equally accessible to all; calls on the EU and the Member States to address all socio-economic limitations that prevent equal access for all to VET opportunities, including mobility; acknowledges that the role and results of existing programmes and initiatives for mobility in VET should be enhanced in terms of accessibility, openness and inclusiveness, in order to promote a personalised approach to education, reduce school dropout rates, and guarantee equal access to Erasmus+ mobility actions for disadvantaged groups and those with special needs; stresses, therefore, the need for flexible, diversified and customised range of mobility options for training, also maintaining a gender perspective, for people from immigrant backgrounds or economically disadvantaged families, learners from remote regions, people with disabilities and those with other specific needs;

2.  Affirms the need, when dealing with the issue of mobility and education, to maintain a gender perspective and to take into account the needs of people suffering from multiple forms of discrimination, including people with disabilities, people identifying as LGBTI and those from marginalised communities; encourages, in this perspective, further measures to facilitate access for people from disadvantaged groups or with special needs to Erasmus+ mobility actions;

3.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and key stakeholders to increase the visibility of VET programmes in order to remove cultural barriers and combat the phenomena of lack of motivation, lack of proactive predisposition and lack of language skills, particularly in those areas most affected by youth unemployment; believes that it must be ensured that these programmes are accessible to all citizens without discrimination; calls for the targeting of groups at risk of unemployment, such as people with disabilities; calls for access to VET and qualifications to be made easier by promoting adaptability in apprenticeship pathways and adjustability of arrangements, as well as training opportunities for groups with insufficient basic skills and employees with low or intermediate-level qualifications; recalls that the gender balance in access to such experiences has to be taken into account, in the context of the efficient promotion of VET mobility programmes among women; considers, in this regard, that ambitious targets should be set and progress monitored;

4.  Highlights the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, skills and employment across the EU, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to fully commit to Erasmus+ and to use this mechanism as a key opportunity for developing STEM education in order to enhance women’s ability to embark on a career in the STEM field and thus reduce the existing skills gap in this area;

5.  Highlights the importance of a common European education area grounded in a strong mobility component – including not only higher education but also VET - that will contribute to the creation and development of a stronger European identity and enhanced citizenship;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to make every effort with a view to attaining the objectives of the European Strategy for Education and Training 2020; believes that mobility must take account of the continuous vocational education and training (CVET) aspect, as it is key to the improvement and updating of skills and expertise; stresses that lifelong learning and VET are key to achieving better employment prospects for the long-term unemployed;

7.  Believes that the above cooperation should result in a review of requirements with the aim of ensuring their relevance as regards duration, content, competences and learning outcomes, while combining mobility for both training centres and the workplace and also giving priority to longer-term experience periods (e.g. for six months) over their shorter-term equivalents;

8.  Notes that the European resources allocated to Erasmus+ and VET programmes are not proportional to the numbers or needs of the potential beneficiaries of the mobility offered by these schemes, and accordingly calls on the Member States to promote bilateral agreements to supplement the activities of Erasmus+ and the European VET programmes, thus increasing the mobility of young Europeans;

9.  Acknowledges the important role and results of existing programmes and initiatives for mobility, such as Key Action 1 in Erasmus+, Europass, the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET), and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF); calls on the Commission to create a ‘European student e-card’ which would grant the status of EU student in a mobility context and offer access to services;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, as well as on EU agencies such as CEDEFOP, to take action to improve the VET mobility programmes so that they deliver added value for all participants as regards qualifications, recognition and content, and to ensure that quality standards are introduced for apprenticeships;

11.  Points out that the mobility initiatives contribute to improving not only learners’ civic values and sense of belonging to Europe, but also their academic skills and job prospects, and more specifically those skills linked to problem-solving capacity, planning and structuring, capacity to act and adapt in the face of new situations, entrepreneurship, leadership and decision-making, social responsibility skills, knowledge of foreign languages, communication skills and teamwork skills. as well as those personal skills that impact on employability such as confidence, motivation, curiosity, critical and creative thinking, initiative and assertiveness;

12.  Insists on the need to facilitate the implementation of mobility in Erasmus+, by taking action to raise the success rate of applications, simplifying the design and use of electronic tools for mobility management, raising awareness of the value of mobility programmes in all general and vocational education establishments in the Union, and providing better-targeted information and training to beneficiaries and intermediaries of the programmes and actions, including school and college staff; stresses the importance, in this regard, of the contribution made by EuropeanSchoolNet; asks the Commission to reduce the present excessive and over-complex administrative burdens, both for applicants and for the sending and hosting companies and institutions involved in Erasmus+ projects, facilitating and simplifying the processes for application, registration and reporting, and the projects themselves; points out in addition that excessive red tape in the schools and colleges concerned acts as a barrier to the simple implementation of the programme;

13.  Asks the Commission to put in place schemes aimed at reducing linguistic and cultural barriers to the organisation of mobility programmes; considers that such schemes should be able to assess implementation progress; stresses that action schemes should, in particular, support the learning of basic elements of the language of the host country; encourages Member States and regional and local authorities to examine the specific learning needs of VET teachers and trainers, encouraging and supporting the exchange of best practices, and to provide them with more professional development opportunities; highlights the importance of designing a basic training model that can provide information on the key features of the business and working culture of the destination country, as well as promoting and providing specific programmes for the training of teaching staff in the context of mobility management by the training centres;

14.  Points out that occupations linked to VET have the necessary flexibility to be carried out anywhere, and that, therefore, mobility in the VET context is a key tool in the fight against unemployment, as it enhances employability, helps reduce the skills gap and facilitates job matching, especially for young people, providing skills and a unique experience of the kind needed for competitiveness in today’s labour markets in the EU; considers that Erasmus+ helps develop specific professional skills and transversal and transferable competences such as entrepreneurship, as well as broadening opportunities for the involvement of the production sector, thus constituting an effective tool for the job market;

15.  Stresses the significance and importance of recognisability concerning brand names and logos connected with Erasmus+ and its subprogrammes; considers that these brand names should be used in particular for the purpose of Erasmus+ publications and brochures;

16.  Expresses concern that Erasmus+ is viewed by young people primarily as a programme for students in higher education; recommends, therefore, that greater importance be attached to raising the profile at European, national and regional level of the different areas and the subprogrammes relating to each area, including school-level education (Comenius), higher education (Erasmus), international higher education (Erasmus Mundus), vocational education and training (Leonardo da Vinci), and adult education (Grundtvig), as well as youth (Youth in Action) and sport;

17.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and public employment bodies to publicise and raise awareness of the Erasmus+ programme and other tools aimed at promoting mobility in the area of VET, in particular among SMEs; believes that maximising the effectiveness of these tools will allow more people to benefit from these opportunities, so that the goal of mobility may be achieved;

18.  Stresses the urgent need for industry and services in both private and public sectors, including the production sector (notably SMEs and micro-enterprises), to be consulted and/or involved in the design, framing, implementation and support of quality VET mobility programmes; considers that the programme selection should take account of job opportunities with host businesses and organisations; believes that a flexible and constructive partnership based on dialogue, cooperation and best practice involving all stakeholders will ensure the success and the added value of VET; takes the view that the exchange of knowledge and best practices between training centres and firms is also needed; calls on the Commission to keep track of demand and supply on the labour market within the EU, as well as of geographic and occupational mobility, in order to match the needs of the labour market; considers that this would reduce the gap between, on the one hand, the training on offer and what actually awaits young people in the business environment, and, on the other, market needs in added value sectors (e.g. the digital and green economies, energy, defence, the care sector and housing rehabilitation);

19.  Underlines the key aspects that need to be taken into account when planning mobility actions and assessing their implementation, namely: learners’ economic capacity to engage in mobility; recognition of studies, competences and qualifications, and training content between countries, whether via credits or certificates; level of language knowledge; organisation of curricula or studies; the practical value of students’ credits and examinations once they have returned to their university of origin; legal aspects; information or motivation to complete studies; guidance and counselling activities throughout the mobility period; and students’ personal situation; calls, therefore, on the Commission to improve indicators and assessment criteria so as to enable the monitoring on a more regular basis of the effectiveness of EU programmes and make it possible to carry out any necessary improvements;

20.  Points out that, at present, only 1 % of young people in work-related training schemes, including apprentices, are involved in mobility schemes during their training; points to the vital need to create the conditions for greater apprentice mobility within the EU, so as to give apprentices the same opportunities as higher education students; encourages, therefore, the definition by the EU of a statute of the ‘European Apprentice’; calls on the EU and the Member States to ensure that both apprenticeships and traineeships remain formative opportunities that are not used as a source of precarious labour, do not substitute full-time professional positions, and guarantee dignified working conditions and students' rights, including financial and remuneration-related rights; encourages the Commission, in addition, to analyse the implications of the above-mentioned statute, monitor the implementation of related measures, to prompt all related stakeholders, including those of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, to follow its recommendations with a view to improving the conditions, quality and availability of apprenticeships in the EU, and to consider this issue as a strategic priority;

21.  Calls on the Commission to present, and on the Member States to endorse, a proposal for an EU apprenticeship scheme that would guarantee a set of rights for apprentices and VET learners; highlights the positive role that ‘seniors’ can play in the education and training of youth with a view to maximising intergenerational exchange through traineeships and mentoring, as well as facilitating experience-based learning in cross-generational teams; encourages the Commission and the Member States to adopt concrete measures to ensure that apprenticeships and traineeships under Erasmus+ are not misused by being turned into an instrument for lowering the cost of labour;

22.  Values positively the launch of pilot projects, as well as the recently approved ‘European framework for mobility of apprentices’, as a basis for improvements to the Erasmus+ programme aimed at enabling more and better VET mobility of long-term duration; urges the creation of a framework for long-term initiatives as opposed to solely project-focused actions, in order to establish a permanent and sustainable system that is fully operational, is predictable, and encourages the free movement of skills across Europe;

23.  Notes that early school leaving is one of the most distinct problems faced by mobility target groups, and that better vocational options lead to fewer dropouts from education and training; stresses, therefore, how important the results of educational systems may be in reducing early school leaving and in better equipping students with transversal skills which will eventually help them match their qualifications with the demands of the labour market;

24.  Stresses the need to help young people in vocational training overcome their difficulties by means of certain complementary and accompanying measures, such as reinforcing the group nature of the mobility schemes, better mentoring and accompaniment by the home and host institutions before and during their mobility, improving access to high- quality information on VET opportunities, offering specialised guidance and counselling activities and tools, and financing linguistic support for all participants without language restrictions;

25.  Points out that a number of factors that impact the expectations of young people being trained in VET systems can be identified, in particular socio-economic factors, family typology and a lack of guidance (and tutorial) tools once compulsory secondary education has been completed or during vocational training courses;

26.  Emphasises the key role of learning and training mobility in tackling social and cultural challenges, with a view to maximising young people’s opportunities to develop their own scheme of action in society; recalls that the EU has focused its efforts, notably through the Europe 2020 strategy, on increasing the competitiveness of its economy, generating employment and, ultimately, strengthening its capacity to compete globally in the third decade of the century; emphasises, in this context, the important role of research, innovation, the digital society and energy sustainability, as instruments to provide higher added value;

27.  Stresses the role of the EU and the Member States in developing and encouraging a high-quality and well-organised VET system by implementing a holistic approach that balances theoretical education focused on the profession concerned, practical training and general, formal, informal and non-formal education; calls on the Member States to introduce a ‘dual education’ approach into their upper secondary school systems, or to strengthen existing systems through traineeships and work placements, thus facilitating VET students’ sustainable integration into the labour market and increasing their participation in transnational mobility programmes; recalls that in general, improving the quality of VET in cooperation with social partners and public employment services, is a means to address social inclusion, increase participation in higher education, promote student success and ease integration into the labour market, which should facilitate mobility in the lifelong learning process;

28.  Calls for the issues surrounding the European Voluntary Service (EVS), with regard to insurance for participants, approval, database management and support for volunteers, to be addressed in a targeted manner, so as to prevent a decrease in participation;

29.  Deplores the fact that non-formal learning has lost visibility and budget share in the current Erasmus+ programme; highlights the importance of non-formal learning at European level, especially through youth work and senior volunteering; calls for non-formal and informal learning to be given a clear and visible place in the Erasmus+ programme; believes, in addition, that the possibility should exist of submitting applications in respect of large-scale adult education projects that would be governed by the same principles as sector skill alliances or knowledge alliances;

30.  Supports the development of modern technologies and infrastructures in strengthening and modernising national vocational education systems so as to improve access to and quality of mobility; considers that, in order to tackle skills mismatches, greater emphasis should be placed on innovation and the development of new academic and professional skills, digital learning and teaching platforms, life technologies, innovative technologies for the enhancement of cultural heritage, and information and communication technologies; strongly believes that the EU and the Member States should deliver an effective strategy aimed at matching current and future circular economy job opportunities with VET systems;

31.  Notes that in the transition to a more digitised economy a redefinition of jobs and skills is taking place; calls, in consequence, on the Member States and the Commission to work in conjunction with the private sector in order to develop skilling strategies and VET programmes for the reskilling of workers;

Access: improving mobility options for young people in vocational training

32.  Encourages the creation of a framework along the lines of the previous Leonardo da Vinci programme, to be referred to in the dedicated Erasmus+ calls, that identifies as clearly and precisely as possible the mobility options for young people in VET, especially through cross-platform campaigns launched by public authorities, with the coordinated participation of all stakeholders who play an active role in or have an influence on VET;

33.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to provide sufficient financial resources to support mobility programmes, taking into account potential financial barriers; advocates examining the issue of broadened visibility concerning how companies complement the allocated allowance or the possibility of providing other types of aid; considers that complementarity between the European Social Fund (ESF) and Erasmus+ should be ensured and monitored with a view to successful outcomes;

34.  Calls for improved synergies between EU policies and instruments impacting on mobility and education, and in particular for complementary measures between the ESF and Erasmus+, as well as for greater coordination of all actions at all levels (national, regional and local planning);

35.  Reiterates the need for measures to ensure coordination, complementarity and consistency between Structural Funds including the ESF and programmes such as Erasmus+ at national, regional and local level;

36.  Underlines the need to compensate for the obstacles that derive from the lower socio-economic status of VET students, through measures such as a possible increase in the amounts of individual grants from the Commission, or an increase in the contributions made by Member States and regional and local administrations, intermediate institutions or NGOs, whether funded from their own budgets or via partnership schemes involving businesses, foundations and organisations collaborating in the system of qualification and vocational training in their region or territory;

From mobility to employability: validation and recognition of learning outcomes, skills and competences

37.  Underlines that acquiring new, diverse and creative ideas abroad may motivate and boost entrepreneurship and creativity; stresses that the opportunities offered by learning and training mobility, such as building international networks, may also have positive effects on employability, transnational cooperation and Europe’s competitiveness;

38.  Considers that current and future measures to tackle skills mismatches should both facilitate the involvement of employers, businesses and local communities, and be better connected with forecasts concerning labour market developments and future skill needs;

39.  Highlights that there is a positive association between learning mobility and future mobility and earnings, since EU and international mobility programmes enhance participants’ employability abroad, as the Commission’s Joint Research Centre found in 2013; stresses that apprenticeships and traineeships abroad improve participants´ language skills (as occurs in 79 % of cases, according to Eurobarometer in 2013)(11);

40.  Underlines the importance of mobility retraining programmes, for unemployed people of all ages and for people threatened by restructuring measures;

41.  Draws attention to the diversity and uneven development of validation and recognition systems between Member States, despite growing convergence in the last decade; stresses the need to improve compatibility between different vocational education and training systems and facilitate the validation and recognition of skills and competences acquired in companies or training centres in different Member States, as also to increase the attractiveness of the Erasmus+ programme; calls on Member States to improve the implementation of the EQF(12) and remove barriers; encourages the definition of a European standard that is acceptable and implementable at all levels (national, regional and local);

42.  Encourages further measures to promote the recognition and validation of learning outcomes, including those developed through non-formal and informal learning, particularly through better use of existing tools such as Europass and ECVET;

43.  Recalls that important improvements have been made thanks to the EQF, as regards the recognition of diplomas, credits, skills certificates, competency accreditations and acquired expertise in the context of VET; calls for the establishment of specific targets, among them the implementation of a fully operational system of credit transfers and recognition, to be based on ECVET; encourages the development of joint VET qualifications that can ensure the international recognition of qualifications;

44.  Advocates drawing up a Green Paper on vocational education, training and mobility and the recognition of skills and competences in Europe, to be drafted in close cooperation with all key stakeholders; recalls that the current recommendations concerning VET need to be fully implemented; points out that the non-recognition of competences has a negative impact on the Europe 2020 employment rates target, and hinders free movement as enshrined in the Treaties;

45.  Favours greater mobility in employment, education, apprenticeships and traineeships in the context of national European Youth Guarantee Schemes, in order to improve the skills of young people and reduce the geographical skills mismatch in the EU;

46.  Stresses the importance of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative in supporting apprenticeships, traineeships, VET, job placements and further education leading to a qualification; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that adequate funding is allocated to these programmes for the whole programming period 2014-2020;

47.  Urges the translation into all official languages of the Union of the EU Skills Panorama website, in order to make it a source of information accessible for all on skills needed throughout Europe;

48.  Notes the progress that have been achieved towards ensuring higher VET quality in numerous Member States, supported by the European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) framework; and encourages those Member States that are currently in the process of developing a national quality assurance approach in line with EQAVET; stresses that Member States should make more effort to ensure that quality assurance arrangements take greater account of learning outcomes and that they value and support non-formal learning and work-based learning in either formal or non-formal settings, as appropriate to the national context;

49.  Underlines that apprenticeship programs should be conducted under the guidance of a competent supervisor;

Towards more efficient, accessible and inclusive mobility programmes

50.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, also in collaboration with CEDEFOP, to define and strengthen the role of the intermediary institutions, both territorial and sectoral, involved in the preparation, management and follow-up of mobility, while demanding that they practise the highest standards of transparency, and to assist in the setting-up of such institutions at national, regional and local level;

51.  Stresses the need for such intermediary institutions to have adequate budgetary and human resources to enable mobility organisation and management structures to guarantee the involvement of the network of vocational training schools, and to have the power and capacity to establish operational alliances and agreements with potential partners, both at home and in the Member States participating in mobility programmes;

52.  Stresses the need for legal protection of minors abroad;

53.  Emphasises that mobility actions and/or services adapted to the needs of trainers, tutors and entrepreneurs should be encouraged and highlighted within ERASMUS+;

54.  Points out that coherent, complementary and well-coordinated co-funding schemes at European, national, regional and local level are necessary in order to enable training centres to cover the total range of costs and plan and implement permanent actions;

55.  Welcomes the fact that Erasmus+ has significantly expanded the number of beneficiaries of VET programmes among those young persons who do not go to university or college;

56.  Supports all necessary accompanying measures, first of all to assist and encourage apprentices wishing to take part in mobility programmes, and later to help them better communicate their acquired skills through mobility and develop their self-assertiveness in order to make their know-how and the richness of their experience visible and worthwhile;

57.  Considers that the learning outcomes of apprenticeship should be designed and discussed with the apprentice in line with ECVET principles before the apprentice embarks on training, and that the outcomes should be listed in the Certificate Supplement after completion of the training;

58.  Emphasises the importance of quality teacher training and of monitoring, evaluation and quality assurance in this field, as well as the need to encourage inclusiveness and tolerance in mobility programmes;

59.  Emphasises the need for quality placements that can enable students to acquire desirable professional skills, in addition to highlighting the need, at all levels, for good communication vis-à-vis entrepreneurs in order to bring them on board with a view to further recognition of the experience acquired by young people taking advantage of mobility schemes;

60.  Supports all measures in line with the Erasmus+ objectives taken by entrepreneurs, NGOs or civil society to develop mobility schemes for young employees or apprentices, either by branch of activity or in interaction with bodies representing the industries, such as chambers of commerce and industry, in addition to European networks such as Eurochambres and the relevant trade unions; calls for the recognition of the role of Skilled Craft Chambers and their training centres in supporting mobility and very small companies; believes that all measures taken to improve VET schemes should also focus on domains promoting zero carbon energy and sustainable mobility;

61.  Recommends that all key stakeholders work on joint strategies aimed at enhancing either the return home of vocational education trainees and apprentices or their mobility to other parts of Europe, while respecting their preferences, the aim being to channel the knowledge and experience acquired ‘abroad’ for the reduction of imbalances and enhancement of cohesion in their own ‘skill-deprived’ areas of origin or elsewhere in Europe;

62.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish and effectively implement a European network of workshops and incubators, as being crucial for encouraging knowledge alliances among schools, universities and businesses and promoting access to training, experience, refresher courses for teachers and lecturers, apprenticeships and start-ups;

63.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support and strengthen the European Network of Science Centres (ECSITE), which brings together science centres as places providing access to scientific culture;

64.  Calls for the setting-up of a one-stop-shop mechanism for pooling data and communication tools in order to provide a convenient and efficient service for those seeking information and support regarding the various mobility programmes existing at EU, national, regional and local level;

65.  Calls on the Commission to provide up-to-date statistics and to carry out assessments and/or studies regarding Erasmus+ and other VET mobility programmes, where feasible, in order to measure their impact in matching work experience with jobs with regard to the hiring rate, and also to examine why some Member States are generating more applications for VET work and learning experiences abroad and draw up a plan for their greater involvement; believes that the resulting statistics and assessments should be included and taken into account in the mid-term review of Erasmus+;

66.  Welcomes the conclusions agreed by the ministers responsible for vocational education and training in Riga on 22 June 2015, proposing a new set of medium-term deliverables in the field of VET for the period 2015-2020, and calls for their timely and thorough implementation;

67.  Stresses the importance of promoting the gains derived from mobility in terms of employability and acquired skills, in order to demonstrate its genuine utility and to reduce the perception that time is wasted on training which a priori depends on purely national competences;

68.  Encourages improving the promotion and visibility for young people and enterprises of such platforms as Drop'pin@EURES, the aim of which is to facilitate the mobility of young people in terms of apprenticeships, internships, training programs, and e-learning language courses;

69.  Encourages Member States to promote the full range of opportunities offered by the new Erasmus+ programme, which provides young people not only with opportunities to study abroad, but also with opportunities for apprenticeships and work placements;

70.  Encourages the introduction of a minimum level of allowances, adjusted in accordance with variations in living conditions, prices and costs between Member States; supports the notion that Member States should introduce measures to enable necessary and beneficial support where relevant, e.g. for accommodation and transport, paying special attention to the needs of minors, as well as preparing students before their international experience, for example through career guidance, language teaching and cross-cultural communication;

71.  Calls for a review/revision of the multiannual financial framework (MFF), to be based on criteria including the prior assessment of the effectiveness of measures to combat unemployment, with funding for the less effective provisions being cut; considers that such an approach is particularly important in times of crisis, such as the present moment, which are marked by unacceptable imbalances;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 155, 8.7.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(3) OJ C 311, 19.12.2009, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 50.
(5) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 390, 31.12.2004, p. 6.
(7) OJ C 199, 7.7.2011, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, p. 10.
(9) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p. 29.
(10) OJ C 111, 6.5.2008, p. 1.
(11) http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_378_en.pdf
(12) See: Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning.


The EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies (2015/2060(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0108A8-0027/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the principle of sincere cooperation between the Union and the Member States, referred to in Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Articles 121 and 138 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Protocol 14 to the TFEU on the Euro Group,

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 October 2010 with recommendations to the Commission on improving the economic governance and stability framework of the Union, especially in the euro area(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 May 2011 on ‘The EU as a global actor: its role in multilateral organisations’(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on global economic governance(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 June 2015 on ‘The review of the economic governance framework: stocktaking and challenges’(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on ‘Building a Capital Markets Union’(5),

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

–  having regard to the Five Presidents’ report of June 2015 calling for the consolidation of the external representation of the euro,

–  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 Constitutional Affairs (A8-0027/2016),

A.  whereas the stability of the financial system, which is essential for the effective allocation of resources for growth and jobs, is a global public good;

B.  whereas the growing interdependence among economies across the world makes it necessary to move towards increasingly global forms of governance;

C.  whereas if the EU is not able to speak with one voice in international institutions/bodies, all European voices should be coordinated to shape global governance towards the objectives and values of the EU treaties;

D.  whereas the EU should contribute to the creation of a democratic framework in order to cope with global challenges;

E.  whereas global cooperation can lead to a dilution of responsibilities and lack of accountability at the expense of democracy; whereas national parliaments and the European Parliament should not be reduced to a role of mere rubberstamping but must be incorporated, actively and comprehensively, into the whole decision-making process;

F.  whereas the existing international institutions/bodies with their own distinct governance structures and remits of action have been created across history as a response to each specific situation; whereas this has led to complexity, and sometimes duplication of tasks, and to a system which may be opaque and lack overall coordination;

G.  whereas Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001(6), under which Union citizens have the right of access to documents, should apply to institutions and agencies of the Union participating in international organisations/bodies;

H.  whereas the Treaties provide that any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or incorporated in a Member State has a right of access to documents of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, whatever their medium (Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights); whereas the same degree of transparency should apply to institutions and agencies of the Union participating in international organisations and fora, especially when setting rules affecting EU citizens;

I.  whereas the diversity of the legal structures and financial and operating procedures of international economic organisations/bodies(7) makes it difficult to undertake an overall monitoring, although consistency in financial and operating procedures is fundamental in ensuring an international level playing field; whereas the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are genuine international organisations, set up through conventions, with broad remits and composition, while the G20, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the Basel Committee, for example, are among the informal public bodies with limited membership, some of which have enjoyed a new impetus following the crisis, and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPs) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) are private specialist associations of a sectoral nature with a greater or lesser degree of involvement on the part of the sectors concerned;

J.  whereas a number of informal exchanges are already taking place, albeit not on a systematic basis, between the European Parliament and certain of these organisations/bodies;

K.  whereas transparency is important for democracy, while the protection of market- sensitive information has to be properly taken into account;

L.  whereas the crisis has prompted the G20 to establish a global agenda focusing on an effective set of specific reforms, while in the longer term a genuine multilateral and democratic framework is essential for its legitimacy;

M.  whereas the respective roles of banks and markets in financing the economy vary from one country to another;

N.  whereas the economic and financial crisis which began in 2008 has highlighted a striking lack of economic and financial governance in the world; whereas numerous macroeconomic matters require greater coordination, particularly in relation to tax matters; whereas, therefore, the common goal of all stakeholders should be to design a comprehensive framework providing financial stability and to ensure consistency between the global and local levels;

O.  whereas the creation of new EU supervisory bodies should not automatically imply an increase in the number of EU representatives, which may have undemocratic effects, such as a greater likelihood of blocking minorities and unease among the EU’s partners;

P.  whereas the IMF has decided to include the Renminbi in the basket of currencies which make up the IMF’s Special Drawing Right; whereas this has resulted in a reduction of the weight of both the euro and the pound, but no change in the weight of the US dollar; whereas this stresses the need for a stronger European voice;

1.  Stresses the need for enhanced international regulatory cooperation, with strong EP involvement;

2.  Expresses concern at the lack of coherence caused by the fragmentation and diversity of the various organisations/bodies and at the implementation delays regarding rules and orientations agreed at international level;

3.  Calls for clarification as to the remit of each organisation/body and the ways in which they operate and are financed, including voluntary contributions, gifts and donations, in order to ensure absence of vested interests and legality of decisions;

4.  Calls for better policy coherence and coordination among the global institutions through the introduction of comprehensive standards of democratic legitimacy, transparency, accountability and integrity; considers that this should, inter alia, concern:

   relations with the public (for example public access to documents, open dialogue with diverse stakeholders, the establishment of mandatory transparency registers and rules on transparency of lobby meeting);
   internal rules (for example human resources based on skills, sound financial management, prevention of conflict of interests);

5.  Considers that the under-representation of least developed countries in most international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies is creating an imbalance and that as a consequence issues relating to inequalities or financing for the poorest countries face the risk of not being properly addressed;

6.  Considers that, as well as geographical disparity in representation, there are also certain sectors - notably civil society, SMEs, consumer representatives and employee representatives – whose involvement in the consultation process could be improved in international discussions regarding financial, monetary and regulatory bodies; considers it the duty of those bodies and sectors to work on improving the situation;

7.  Takes the view that the EU should streamline and codify its representation in multilateral organisations/bodies with a view to increasing the transparency, integrity and accountability of the Union's involvement in these bodies, its influence and the promotion of the legislation it has adopted through a democratic process; additionally, considers that the EU should become a more proactive global actor in ensuring the future G20 commitments, such as transforming shadow banking, implementing over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives reforms, addressing systemic risks and ensuring that emerging risks to the global economy are taken up on the agenda of the relevant global institution;

8.  Calls on the European actors to include a stronger focus on the global competitiveness of the EU’s financial sectors when making policy at European and international level;

9.  Recalls that the EU should seek full membership of international economic and financial institutions where this has not yet been granted and is appropriate (e.g. in the cases of the OECD and the IMF); calls for the relevant international economic and financial institutions to make all the necessary statutory changes to allow the EU’s full participation;

10.  Regards as detrimental to the Union situations in which representatives of a Member State or national authority assume positions in international organisations/bodies that are contrary to European legislative or regulatory decisions democratically adopted by majority vote; calls accordingly for the coordination between these representatives to be enhanced and made more effective, for instance through more binding mechanisms;

11.  Stresses the need for the Commission, representing the whole Union in an international body or organisation or monitoring a private specialist body, to be held more directly accountable to citizens; stresses the importance of the role of Parliament in this process;

12.  Considers that the priorities of organisations and related working groups should be clarified and formally set out; takes the view that systematic recourse to consensus risks not only slowing down deliberations but also diluting the substance of the recommendations, and that the composition of the organisations must reflect their diversity, in financial, economic and supervisory terms;

13.  Stresses the need to carry out ex ante evaluations when developing regulatory, supervisory and other financial sector policies at global level; considers that such evaluations are without prejudice to the political prerogatives of the co-legislators;

14.  Takes the view that the implementation of recommendations on the part of the various countries involved is still insufficient to contribute to the creation of a global level playing field;

15.  Notes that the FSB is now engaging in developing standards in the insurance sector; recognises that the IAIS is playing an important role in global insurance policy, but stresses that involving the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) would bring the benefit of strengthening the contribution of European insurance-specific expertise and would ensure that the standards developed at global level do not go against the logic the EU has been the first to develop;

16.  Welcomes the work done by the OECD on tax issues, especially the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project; considers that monitoring implementation is the new challenge ahead; stresses that the coordination between the Commission and the Member States which are members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should be improved in order for the EU to make its voice heard;

17.  Views favourably the willingness of the ECB President to further cooperate with Parliament regarding the ECB's role in banking matters, in particular in the framework of global standards-setting bodies such as the FSB;

18.  Welcomes the organisational arrangements agreed by the euro area countries which are members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, taking the form of a single seat on the Board of Governors representing those euro area members;

19.  Accordingly makes the following proposals:

   Calls on the Commission to draw on existing best practices at European and national levels in order to draft a European code of conduct on transparency, integrity and accountability, designed to guide the actions of EU representatives in international organisations/bodies; calls for Parliament to be closely associated in the drafting process;
   Stresses in particular its concerns regarding the statute, financing and operation of those organisations/bodies, their interaction with authorities, stakeholders and the public, their communication and access to their documents; stresses the need to ensure a fair balance of interests, including NGOs with adequate technical expertise and financial means, in order to strengthen the voice of civil society;
   Calls on the European institutions and agencies, as well as the Member States, to promote the accountability of each and every European representative to democratically elected bodies;
   Calls for the adoption of an interinstitutional agreement with the aim of formalising a ‘financial dialogue’, to be organised with the European Parliament for the purpose of establishing guidelines regarding the adoption and the coherence of European positions in the run-up to major international negotiations, making sure that these positions are discussed and known ex ante and ensuring a follow-up, with the Commission reporting back regularly on the application of these guidelines and scrutiny; proposes that the European institutions, the Member States and, where appropriate, the heads of the international organisations concerned be invited to attend; considers that the nature (public or in camera) and frequency of this dialogue would depend on practical requirements; is of the opinion that active involvement of national parliaments at their respective levels, by controlling the positions taken by the representatives of the member states concerned, is also necessary;
   Considers that these more detailed guidelines could be complemented by proactive 'guidance' resolutions, to be adopted by Parliament with an appropriate frequency, which would spell out its view on general policy orientation;
   Observes that, in areas where the European Parliament is co-legislator with the Council, the dialogue would serve to define their negotiating remit, unifying European positions around legislation adopted by majority vote or avoiding inconsistencies with legislation pending adoption;
   Calls on the European representatives to pay particular attention in international negotiations to coherence and consistency between international requirements/standards and binding adopted EU legislation, and to compliance in order to create a level playing field at international level;
   Calls for enhancing the accountability of the Commission to the European Parliament by streamlining the process for the definition of EU positions at the meetings of the G20 in policy fields related to employment, energy, trade, development and anti-corruption;
   Urges the Member States to comply without delay with the sincere cooperation provisions;
   Calls on the Member States to accept the representation of the Banking Union in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision through the Single Supervisory Mechanism;
   Calls on the Commission to include in its work programme the external dimension of economic and financial regulation, that is, the work anticipated to take place in international financial institutions, and, in order to enhance internal policy coherence, to set up a working group on global economic governance and financial institutions;
   Takes note of the initiative of the Commission to progress towards a single representation of the euro area within the IMF; considers that this needs to be done without prejudice to a single European Union constituency in the long term;
   Points out that, under Protocol N° 14 to the Treaty, closer coordination between euro area Member States is the responsibility of the Euro Group, whose nature is temporary and informal pending the euro becoming the currency of all Member States of the Union; considers that the transparency and accountability of the Euro Group could be improved; advocates that, along the lines of the European Parliament resolution of 20 November 2012(8), which formulates incremental recommendations for the banking, economic, fiscal and political unions, a more formal and perennial solution should be found; recalls that the independence of the role of the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs needs to be reinforced and to be accompanied by strong accountability mechanisms vis-à-vis both Parliament and the Council;
   Considers that, beyond the sole case of the IMF, progressive streamlining of the EU representation should be implemented over the next years, first through enhanced coordination and then, after an assessment, through the unification of seats; believes that membership of these organisations and bodies should be allocated in accordance with the respective competences of the EU institutions and the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), the Council/Eurogroup, and the national authorities; is of the opinion that in parallel the EU should work on the functioning of those organisations and bodies with a view to moving away from consensus to a weighted majority voting system;
   Underlines that it is the duty of the Commission, the Council, or where appropriate the Euro Group, to strengthen coordination through preparatory meetings; considers that if necessary new ad hoc Council working groups should be set up on the lines of the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), the Working Group on IMF matters (SCIMF), the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG) and the Economic Policy Committee (EPC);
   Calls for a thorough assessment of the two separate seats currently allocated to the European Council and Commission presidencies at G20 meetings, in order to determine to what extent this arrangement detracts from the EU’s external credibility, particularly in view of the existence of a single market in financial services; considers that with a view to encouraging the convergence of Member States represented individually various improvements are possible, which should help to achieve an effective coordination ahead of the meetings and foster a strong European voice at the meetings;
   Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to promote the establishment of a roadmap towards the creation of a global treaty-based financial organisation, following the lines suggested by the de Larosière report, with wide-ranging powers of recommendation, negotiation of minimum binding standards, multilateral dispute settlement mechanisms and, where appropriate, sanctions; believes that the experience gained, notably in the trade sector through the WTO, could be used to set up the above-mentioned multilateral dispute settlement mechanisms; stresses that the proposed organisation should be subject to the highest standards of transparency and accountability;
   Is of the opinion that the Commission should be provided with an explicit mandate to foster a new impetus for the promotion of multilateralism regarding financial, monetary and regulatory international cooperation;
   Calls on the Commission to ensure that any EU financial legislative proposals are complementary to actions at the global level;

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

(1) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 41.
(2) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 66.
(3) OJ C 131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 51.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0238.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0268.
(6) Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43).
(7) The Bank for International Settlements, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) also have a rule-making function; the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) plays a significant role in global economic governance; the African Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the West African Development Bank (WADB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), the World Bank Group, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) support the financing of development cooperation.
(8) European Parliament resolution of 20 November 2012 with recommendations to the Commission on the report of the Presidents of the European Council, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup ‘Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union’ (OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 48).


Small-scale coastal fishing in regions dependent on fishing
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on innovation and diversification of small-scale coastal fishing in fisheries-dependent regions (2015/2090(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0109A8-0044/2016

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of 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,

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2328/2003, (EC) No 861/2006, (EC) No 1198/2006 and (EC) No 791/2007 and Regulation (EU) No 1255/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council,

—  having regard to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on measures during the adoption of which it is necessary to take into account the special characteristics and constraints of the outermost regions,

—  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on small-scale coastal fishing, artisanal fishing and the reform of the common fisheries policy(1),

—  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on marine knowledge 2020: seabed mapping for promoting sustainable fisheries(2),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 May 2014 entitled ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’ (COM(2014)0254),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 October 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative: Innovation Union’ (COM(2010)0546),

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) and repealing Decision No 1982/2006/EC,

—  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee, delivered on 15 October 2014, on the communication entitled ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’ (2015/C 012/15),

—  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions, delivered on 21 January 2015, on the communication entitled ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’ (2015/C 019/05),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 September 2012 entitled ‘Blue Growth – opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth’ (COM(2012)0494),

—  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 its resolution of 8 September 2015 on untapping the potential of research and innovation in the blue economy to create jobs and growth(3),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 May 2013 entitled ‘Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic area: delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2013)0279),

—  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 29 August 2012 entitled ‘Marine Knowledge 2020: from seabed mapping to ocean forecasting’ (COM(2012)0473),

—  having regard to its resolution of 2 July 2013 on Blue Growth: enhancing sustainable growth in the EU’s marine, maritime transport and tourism sectors(4),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 February 2014 entitled ‘A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism’ (COM(2014)0086),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0044/2016),

A.  whereas coastal fishing accounts for 80 % of the European fleet and, together with shellfishing, guarantees a high level of employment in coastal areas, islands and the outermost regions, and generally represents a socially and environmentally sustainable form of fishing that has considerable potential; whereas its influence on the social heritage and cultural characteristics of coastal and island areas is exceptional and diverse;

B.  whereas most coastal and island fishing constitutes a traditional form of commercial fishing, i.e. a way of life and the principal fishing source of livelihood and of direct and indirect job creation, particularly in areas which depend on coastal fishing and which require special measures and support to facilitate growth and development;

C.  whereas coastal fishing varies to a great degree between individual Member States and also between different coastline regions within a single Member State, in terms of its basic definition and characteristics, a situation that will need to be rectified and harmonised in the common fisheries policy (CFP) in the future, and whereas significant differences exist between the Member States in terms of geography, climate, ecosystems and socio-economic factors;

D.  whereas there are differences in the characteristics of coastal fishing in the various seas within the European Union, such as in the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea as a whole, which differ from those in the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean, including along the coast of French Guiana and in the Indian Ocean basin;

E.  whereas Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) defines small-scale coastal fishing as fishing carried out by vessels of less than 12 metres and not using towed fishing gear, and whereas this is the only definition of coastal fishing in EU legislation;

F.  whereas the reformed CFP has regionalisation as one of its cornerstones in recognition of the fact that, given the huge diversity of Europe's fisheries, centralised management is not appropriate; whereas given the very nature of coastal and island fishing, regionalisation and a non-centralised approach is of particular importance in this sector and the communities it serves;

G.  whereas operations financed by the EMFF may benefit from an increase by 30 points in aid intensity where they concern small-scale coastal fisheries;

H.  whereas Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the EMFF states that in Member States where over 1 000 vessels can be considered to be small-scale coastal fishing vessels, an action plan must be drawn up for the development, competitiveness and sustainability of small-scale coastal fishing;

I.  whereas coastal fishing should be managed pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013, taking into account the diversity of the fleets’ fishing gears, geographical and climate-based constraints, techniques and fish stocks in individual Member States and in every individual fishing zone, thereby contributing to the conservation of local traditions and fishing-related activities;

J.  whereas given that each fishing area has its own specific characteristics, the exchange of information and of good practices between the different areas may help to considerably improve the impact of fishing activities on the environment and marine ecosystems and also enable better interaction between all of the human and economic activities taking place in and around coastal areas;

K.  whereas the revenues of small-scale fishing have been decreasing substantially, as a result of the significant increase in operating costs, in particular owing to fuel costs, and owing to the reduction in the value of fish at first sale, often imposing an increase in fishing effort;

L.  whereas the management of various stocks of several prime target species has in many regions placed serious restrictions on fishing and on small fishing communities;

M.  whereas mainly traditional fishing gears and techniques, such as almadraba fishing traps, which by virtue of their specific characteristics define the identity and way of life of coastal regions, are used in coastal fishing, and there is a vital need to preserve their use and protect them as an element of cultural, historical and traditional heritage;

N.  whereas non-industrial fishing contributes to the viability of coastal and island communities in terms of controlling increasing depopulation, the fight against ageing in the fisheries sector and unemployment; whereas development and innovation may play a fundamental role in job creation in these communities; whereas, in addition, non-industrial fishing makes use, in certain zones, of ancient fishing gears and techniques which are more environmentally friendly and which have less of an impact on the status of endangered stocks;

O.  whereas non-industrial, coastal and traditional fishing is environmentally friendly and forms the basic economic building block for maintenance, development and employment in coastal and island communities;

P.  whereas, in accordance with the Mediterranean Regulation, the classification of towed gears also includes trawl nets and seine nets, even though other classifications – such as that of the Food and Agriculture Organisation – consider seine nets to be a separate group of fishing gears; whereas provisions relating to towed trawl nets should not be applied to traditional coastal seine nets, which are used to catch species that are not endangered;

Q.  whereas despite talk of innovating and diversifying the fisheries sector, account must be taken of the fact that a huge fishing community is extremely dependent on traditional and ancient forms of fishing;

R.  whereas the new CFP acknowledges the importance of fishing-dependent coastal and island regions, and whereas the role to be played by Member States in ensuring an adequate standard of living for those who depend on fishing activities, contributing to the attainment of such a standard in the context of coastal fishing, and promoting sustainable coastal fishing and the diversification of activities in fisheries and income for those living in these coastal areas, while taking into account its cultural socio-economic reality and environmental factors, should also emphasise the importance of training and health and safety at sea for fishermen; in line with the special protection conferred by Article 174 TFEU;

S.  whereas the new Regulation on the Common Fisheries Policy gives preferential access to small-scale, coastal and traditional fishermen within a zone extending for 12 nautical miles, i.e. in the most sensitive part of the EU’s waters, and whereas the Commission's evaluation of the old Regulation on the Common Fisheries Policy found that the 12-mile zones were one of the few successes of the old management regime, which was subject to many conflicts in relation to the use of space and resources with other overlapping human activities on the coastline;

T.  whereas Article 349 TFEU states that, when adopting measures – especially measures relating to the fisheries sector – the special characteristics and constraints of the outermost regions must be taken into account, with emphasis on their geographical isolation, remote location and oceanic conditions, in an often highly specific regional context where self-reliance is needed in terms of food production;

U.  whereas it should be noted that, because of the particular geographical characteristics of the outermost regions and their extreme remoteness from Europe, coastal fishing is integral to the economic development of these regions;

V.  whereas coastal fishing in the outermost regions also faces competition from vessels sailing under non-EU flags that use the same fishing areas and target the same species to sell on the same markets, in addition to competition from non-EU imports which are subject to completely different operating costs and regulatory, sanitary and environmental constraints; whereas, in this context, any efforts to aid endogenous development and self‑reliance in terms of food production would come to nothing unless supported by specific EU policies in these regions;

W.  whereas, in the outermost regions, marine aquaculture also contributes, alongside coastal fishing, to economic development and the supply of fresh produce to the local area;

X.  whereas the majority of coastal regions, especially those in southern European countries and island regions, are facing a significant economic decline, which is resulting in depopulation and the exodus of their inhabitants, who seek opportunities in areas offering better prospects for employment and education;

Y.  whereas the European crisis has demonstrated the need for Europe to diversify its economic activities, and the importance of analysing new models of innovation and knowledge which may create new employment at local level.

Z.  whereas some coastal fishing regions are located close to economically developed regions and tourist destinations but are nonetheless unable to achieve adequate economic growth; whereas the pressure to use the sea’s resources is already growing in such regions, and the fisheries sector is being marginalised in favour of tourism, even though the two sectors are compatible and complementary;

AA.  whereas logbooks often represent an administrative burden for small coastal fishing businesses and greater flexibility would be desirable;

AB.  whereas this pressure on coastal areas from the tourism sector is principally caused by certain specific activities, such as uncontrolled recreational fishing, which in some areas are putting a strain on the sea’s resources and affecting business opportunities for those who live in traditional fishing areas;

AC.  whereas the founding of Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) in areas which rely on fishing is vital, as such groups are recognised as a useful instrument that provides opportunities and possibilities for the diversification of activities in fisheries, which ultimately leads to the general development of coastal and island regions and to social cohesion in these regions, and there is therefore a need to further increase economic resources to enable these groups to form and to act in the relevant areas;

AD.  whereas female shellfish gatherers remain invisible and women are under‑represented in general in the fisheries sector;

AE.  whereas women working in the maritime sector as net‑makers, provisioners, unloaders and packers remain invisible as a group;

AF.  whereas the economic crisis is also making itself felt in the fisheries sector, especially for those population groups that have been most affected by the unemployment situation such as young people and women, and therefore diversification and innovation are necessary in order to increase employment, to take advantage of new possibilities such as blue and green development, and to prevent and counteract the marginalisation of fisheries in developing and peripheral regions; whereas special attention should be taken on professional training;

AG.  whereas diversification in coastal and island regions may be carried out through activities related to the marketing and promotion of fish products, gastronomy, tourism, cultural, historical and traditional heritage, the environment and green growth;

AH.  whereas the concept of the blue economy is developing and may give a strong boost to growth and economic development, as well as the creation of employment, in particular in coastal and island countries and regions and in the outermost regions;

AI.  whereas the coastal and island communities have a fundamental interest in the materialisation of the concept of the blue economy;

AJ.  whereas the EU’s ‘Innovation Union’ initiative acknowledged and identified shortcomings that restrict and prevent the development of research and innovation, such as inadequate investment in science, the lack of adequate data on seas and oceans, insufficient funding and a lack of cooperation between the private and public sectors;

AK.  whereas the development of the blue economy would contribute to economic growth overall – and particularly in coastal, island and outermost regions – and it is precisely the regions that depend on fisheries that have a key role to play in the development of innovations and that should be involved at every phase of the development of the blue economy;

AL.  whereas in the fisheries sector, in the same way as in other sectors, the environment and the economy go hand in hand; whereas the development of the blue economy should therefore focus on social economy and on sustainable and environmentally friendly projects and activities aimed at introducing developing coastal activities and preserving the maritime environment and biodiversity as a whole, with specific support for environmentally friendly artisanal fishing activities which encourage biodiversity; whereas these projects and activities must also be sustainable from the social and economic point of view so as to ensure that non‑industrial fishing remains viable;

AM.  whereas the blue economy may also contribute to developing safety aboard fishing vessels and improve fishermen’s working conditions and day‑to‑day wellbeing;

AN.  whereas environmental and selectivity targets apply equally across the board, but it will be problematic for small vessels to meet the landing obligation for discards;

AO.  whereas anthropogenic influences, i.e. human activities, in coastal regions have been underestimated in the context of environmental protection issues; whereas the cumulative effects of various activities on coastal regions have not been adequately recognised or assessed; whereas activities that take place in some areas, such as maritime transport, tourism, uncontrolled and exhaustive recreational fishing in some areas, the sale of species obtained through this activity, poaching, urban and industrial waste water from the mainland, etc., particularly affect the fisheries sector;

AP.  whereas knowledge of the marine environment, specifically of the state of the marine ecosystem, is vital for assessing the impact of various activities on the environment, as is the laying down of suitable protection measures and monitoring programmes with the goal of promoting the recovery of fish stocks, the sustainable use of resources and the development of innovations; whereas data on the marine environment are inadequate and inadequately systematised;

AQ.  whereas in certain regions illegal fishing poses a real threat to the continued existence of non‑industrial coastal fishing as well as jeopardising the preservation of fishery resources and biodiversity;

AR.  whereas the Integrated Maritime Policy aims to respond to the new challenges faced by the seas, industry and fishermen throughout Europe, from protection of the environment to coastal development, by way of aquaculture, nautical tourism or other economic activities related to blue growth;

1.  Calls on the Commission to adapt the definition of coastal, small-scale coastal and traditional fishing in line with the socio-economic characteristics and specificities of the different regions, rather than solely according to the dimensions and power of fishing vessels, since the current EU regulations are not satisfactory; proposes to make use of regionalisation in order to adapt the definition of coastal fishing on a case‑by‑case basis in line with the specificities of each fishery; proposes to take into account a number of indicative criteria such as the size of the vessels, the fishing gears used, the selectivity of fishing techniques, the lengths of the fishing trips and whether the owner of the vessel is on board, the traditional formulas of entrepreneurship and the property and business structures traditionally operating in these areas, the involvement of the extractive sector in the activities of processing and sales, the true nature and scale of the extractive activities and other factors linked to traditional activities, the support from businesses or the influence on local communities;

2.  Calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of small-scale coastal fishing in island communities which traditionally depend on fishing for their own livelihood, and are engaged in fishing activities throughout the year;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to gradually increase the quotas allocated to non‑industrial fisheries, in order to boost this socially and ecologically sustainable form of fishing;

4.  Calls on the Commission to support innovative projects and legal provisions that facilitate the development of the coastal, island and outermost regions, taking account of the diversity of socio-economic activities, as a means to drive the positive externalities of non‑industrial fishing, in terms of both social and economic cohesion and environmental protection by means of new types of support within the context of existing European funding; emphasises that priority should be given to projects that focus on sustainable job creation and retention, the increasing involvement of the extractive sector in processing and sales, the promotion of entrepreneurship formulas linked to social economy, the promotion of short market chains, the introduction of new technologies in the promotion and sale of fishing goods and services, innovation in the development of new goods and services, and maintaining and protecting traditional roles;

5.  Considers that the revision of the framework of technical measures must take into account the specificities of coastal fishing and allow for certain derogations, provided these are justified, in the context of regionalisation;

6.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate an investigation at European level to ascertain the impact of recreational coastal fishing on traditional fishing activities and also to define the parameters that are required in order to reduce recreational coastal fishing in some areas; calls for increased monitoring of this activity to prevent any interference between the extractive sector and these practices that are already a cause for concern in outermost regions with important tourism sectors;

7.  Calls on the Member States to give priority to small‑scale coastal fishing when granting EMFF funding and to streamline procedures for operators of those types of fisheries;

8.  Urges the authorities involved in promoting these activities to ensure that all local stakeholders, entrepreneurs’ associations, fishing and oceanography research institutes, universities, centres for technology and local and regional institutions participate in the innovation processes, in order to help the projects to introduce comprehensive measures, to improve their financing prospects and to provide them with sufficient support to meet the conditions specified in the European Fisheries Fund;

9.  Calls on the Commission to be accountable to the Parliament in respect of the action plans for the development, competitiveness and sustainability of small‑scale coastal fishing drawn up by the Member States for the purposes of the EMFF;

10.  Calls on the Commission to implement the necessary measures to support the various groups of women in the maritime sector so as to encourage their participation and ensure they are represented in all areas, both in decision‑making roles and fishing activities;

11.  Calls on the Commission to introduce specific measures to recognise and improve working conditions for women working as net‑makers, provisioners, unloaders and packers;

12.  Calls on the Commission, in close coordination with the Member States, to strengthen the role of the European Fisheries Areas Network (FARNET), which provides significant assistance to FLAGs;

13.  Calls on the Commission to promote and drive the founding and the work of FLAGs by increasing economic resources, since these groups are providing continued support and advice directly to the fisheries sector and thus promoting a socially inclusive sustainable development model in fishing areas, inspiring young people and women to become involved in new business projects and contributing to innovation infrastructure refurbishment, economic investment and diversification, and local management plans by the fisheries themselves; calls on the Commission to strengthen the role and functions of competent authorities in developing new innovative activities and to work in close coordination with the various sector operators;

14.  Calls on the Commission to help strengthen the role of fisheries communities in local development and the governance of local fisheries resources and maritime activities;

15.  Calls on the Commission to consider the particular role of women in the economy in coastal areas and to act consistently with this, as is already done in the agricultural industry; calls for an acknowledgement of the amount in terms of GDP that is contributed by women in auxiliary roles and of the particular relevance of their contribution in households in which gender‑based division of work traditionally meant that extraction was solely a male activity; calls for professional recognition at all levels of traditional female roles in the sector and for the setting up of dedicated programmes aimed at supporting entrepreneurship by women in these areas;

16.  Calls on the Commission to promote and support investment in the diversification of the fisheries sector through the development of complementary activities and the versatility of careers in fisheries, including investments in vessels, safety equipment, training, environmental services in the fisheries sector activities, and cultural and educational activities, with particular emphasis on protecting the environment and promoting sustainable growth; stresses that the key objective must be to fund activities that are socially, environmentally and economically viable and capable of creating employment, particularly for young people and women; stresses that marine aquaculture is compatible and complementary with coastal fishing in the outermost regions, and calls on the Commission to support the development of farming and varietal‑selection techniques in the warm waters of tropical or subtropical areas; calls on the Commission to highlight the role played by women in non‑industrial coastal fishing and all associated activities;

17.  Calls on the Commission to boost the creation and development of fishing tourism, with the aim of applying a differentiated business strategy that is appropriate to the potential of this segment and able to meet its needs more effectively, working towards a new form of tourism in which the key concerns are for quality, flexibility, innovation and preserving the historic and cultural heritage of fishing areas as well as the environment and health, among other aspects; calls on the Commission also to promote and support investment in fisheries in the area of tourism, in order to create differentiated tourism capacities by promoting gastronomy connected with non‑industrial fish products, angling tourism activities, underwater and diving tourism, etc., thereby sustainably capitalising on fishing heritage and the recognisability of a specific fishing region;

18.  Highlights the growing importance of nautical sporting activities in the strengthening of local communities, particularly out of season, through new underwater, diving or other nautical sports such as surfing or bodyboarding.

19.  Calls on the Commission, in the interests of boosting the creation and development of fishing tourism, to actively promote and support investment in the diversification of fisheries in the area of culture and art as part of traditional heritage (handicrafts, music and dance) and to support investment in the promotion of tradition, history and fishing heritage in general (fishing gears, techniques, historical documents, etc.) by opening museums and organising exhibitions that relate closely to coastal fishing;

20.  Calls on the Commission to look into the possibility of allowing mixed use of vessels intended for extractive activities so that, while still retaining this purpose, they may also accommodate other kinds of activities linked with the recreational and tourism sector, such as nautical information days or activities related to processing, learning or gastronomy, etc., in line with the system that operates in the rural sector involving farm schools or agrotourism;

21.  Calls on the Commission, and the Member States via their governing agencies, to ensure that small‑scale coastal fisheries receive their fair share of EMFF funding, particularly given the administrative constraints imposed on them;

22.  Calls on the Commission to create measures which encourage and promote mobility between professions related to the sea.

23.  Calls for the results of research and projects financed from the public budget to be made publicly available under certain conditions, for more effective disclosure of and access to existing data on seas and oceans to be ensured, and for the current administrative barriers hindering growth and the development of innovation to be removed;

24.  Urges the Commission to improve the regulations by introducing mechanisms to oversee the fair allocation of quotas to small‑scale fishing with regard to shared species;

25.  Emphasises that the main product of fishing is the fish itself and that it is vital to strengthen the various means of using fish, including canning and the use of fish by-products; calls on the Commission to actively promote and support investment in the diversification of fisheries in terms of the marketing and processing of local fish products and to boost the development of local distribution channels, the promotion of these products through the creation of local distinctive signs and/or trademarks for fresh products and by supporting the creation of local business projects aimed at carrying out these activities; stresses that promoting innovation in this manner must in particular include the development of labels and seals guaranteeing the quality of local fish products;

26.  Calls for greater flexibility with regard to logbooks for vessels of less than 12 metres, in particular in terms of the requirement that documents must be sent within 48 hours, as this represents a considerable administrative burden; proposes in this context to allow vessels that sell all of their fish at auction to be exempted from this obligation, which would enable the required information to be obtained without imposing an unnecessary administrative burden;

27.  Encourages the establishment of marine protected areas, which will promote sustainable fisheries resources and facilitate the control of and fight against IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing; stresses the need for the EU to provide adequate guidance, coordination and support to Member States in this respect;

28.  Calls for firm support for the work of women since they play an essential role in non-industrial fishing; stresses in particular the key tasks performed by women in the processing chain and their fundamental role in shellfishing;

29.  Notes that coastal fishing in the outermost regions is eligible for a compensation scheme recognised under the EMFF because of the significant additional costs it incurs; calls on the Commission to expand this scheme with the addition of a specific mechanism for the outermost regions that is similar to the POSEI scheme in the agricultural sector;

30.  Calls on the Commission to support the introduction of fresh produce obtained through non‑industrial fishing, shellfishing and small‑scale, sustainable, extensive aquaculture to public eating establishments (educational institutions, hospitals, restaurants, etc.);

31.  Stresses that the outermost regions have specific characteristics as a result of their remoteness and insular nature; emphasises that these specific characteristics incur additional costs for coastal fishing in these regions and that these additional costs should be compensated in full as part of the EMFF;

32.  Stresses that coastal fishing fleets in the outermost regions often consist of ageing vessels, which causes issues in terms of on-board safety; calls on the Commission to propose a revision of Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the EMFF with a view to authorising aid for the renewal of small‑scale coastal fishing vessels in the outermost regions, providing this does not increase capacity;

33.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide access to marine and ecological data with a view to promoting transparency, innovation and development, and to guarantee access to all interested parties to scientific information developed with the support of public cofinancing;

34.  Stresses that the oceans and areas along and near to the coasts have a potential that remains largely unexplored in terms of development, employment, energy autonomy, innovation and sustainable development; considers that the EU’s recognition of this potential and of the role played by these areas would make these coastal, island and outermost regions more attractive and boost their development;

35.  Expresses concern at the application of the Horizon 2020 programme to the blue economy area, since it is the main programme for research and the development of innovation at European level; supports the creation of a blue economy Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) within Horizon 2020 which contributes to strengthening activities in coastal regions though transnational public-private partnerships;

36.  Supports the use of funds intended for innovation and blue growth to fund basic research, R&D, training, the setting up of companies, environmental protection and the launch of innovative products and processes on the market;

37.  Calls on the Commission to provide support as part of initiatives for the direct management of project financing, in which emphasis is placed on coastal fisheries and the development of coastal regions;

38.  Stresses the importance of environmental protection instruments, such as Environmental Impact Assessments for individual projects and Strategic Environmental Assessments for strategies, plans and programmes, which contribute to sustainable fisheries;

39.  Stresses the importance of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the future of fishing-dependent regions and understands that there must be an increasing commitment to the strategy of blue growth. The aim is to provide long-term support for sustainable growth in all marine and maritime sectors, acknowledging the importance of seas and oceans as the powerhouses which generate employment and create employment in the coastal regions;

40.  Stresses that coastal and island regions, as well as the outermost regions, are the main actors in the development of innovation and that they must be involved at every stage of the development of the blue economy;

41.  Stresses the importance of the EMFF, which has a particular focus on diversification and innovation in the fisheries sector, with a view to supporting fisheries which are socio‑economically and environmentally sustainable, innovative, competitive, effective and knowledge based; supports the need to strengthen funding for Axis 4 of the European Fisheries Fund with a view to supporting the members of fishing communities and improving their living standards by developing new activities; calls on the Commission to validate the regional versions of the EMFF as soon as possible;

42.  Stresses the importance of strengthening the relationship between local communities and universities/technology centres which will contribute decisively to the creation of new business incubators which enable the generation of new business ideas in the maritime sector;

43.  Calls on the Commission to actively promote projects which offer support for the strengthening of innovation and technological development, the objective of which is the development or introduction of new products, equipment, techniques, as well as new or improved systems for management and organisation; calls on the Commission to promote and encourage the exchange of information and the sharing of good practices between the different fishing areas so as to foster the development of innovative and sustainable fishing methods; considers it essential in this regard to incorporate modules for the training of entrepreneurs and for diversification in professional nautical and fishing schools;

44.  Calls on the Commission to encourage the creation of new, innovative businesses in fishing-dependent regions, providing an incentive for entrepreneurship and the creation of start-ups with a good possibility of success in the maritime sector, which will contribute to the diversification of the activity of traditional coastal fishing, create employment and attract or maintain the population;

45.  Calls on the Commission to use a selective approach when developing legislative proposals on the use of fishing gears and techniques so as to take into account the actual impact that these gears and techniques have on non‑industrial fishing resources in each of the relevant areas; calls on the Commission to ensure that any legislative initiatives are subject to a thorough prior impact assessment taking account of the specific factors that apply in each fishing area; feels that a non-selective approach to the use of fishing gears and techniques is having a serious impact on the viability of already marginalised coastal and island communities, causing further depopulation and hindering development and innovation; feels that positive discrimination should be applied to artisanal coastal fishing; believes that this approach, as with the case of the proposal to ban driftnets, suggests that the Commission is still adjusting to the decentralised reformed CFP which the co-legislators chose to adopt; reminds the Commission of its duty to operate within the framework of regionalisation as set out in the new CFP Regulation;

46.  Notes that coastal marine ecosystems are sensible and urges Member-States and the Commission to evaluate the environmental impact of any activities that could affect the sustainability of fish stocks, such as maritime transport, waste, transport, aquifer pollution, drilling activities or the construction of new tourist facilities along the coast, in accordance with the precautionary principle;

47.  Advises the Commission to give the highest importance to the socio-economic relevance of artisanal coastal fishing and small-scale fishing within the EU, the adoption of alternative methods of defining the segments of the fleet, and the importance of the diversification of the activity in strongly fishing-dependent coastal regions; notes the relevance of gathering a body of scientific information which facilitates better management of artisanal fisheries, in order to make them sustainable from a biological, social, economic and environmental point of view;

48.  Calls on the Commission to speed up the process of transposition of the social partners' agreement on implementation of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 of the International Labour Organisation into an appropriate EU legislative instrument;

49.  Calls on the Commission, in accordance with the expert classification of fishing gears set out in the Mediterranean Regulation, to take into account the differences between trawl nets and seine nets in order to give the best provisions towards the more sustainable use of each kind, taking into account the most recent scientific advice;

50.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that a review of the assessment of the status of fish stocks relevant to coastal fisheries is carried out, and stresses the need for an analysis of small-scale fishing’s impact on fish stocks, not forgetting more substantial techniques such as tuna fishing given that the species fished in coastal fisheries are extremely valuable in socio‑economic terms, even though they only account for a small proportion of total catches but are, nevertheless, very significant for the survival of those fishermen who rely on them for their daily earning;

51.  Expresses concern at the loss of traditional fishing techniques and skills due to unfavourable regulations that affect coastal communities;

52.  Calls on the Commission to amend the provision on the technical specifications for fishing nets, such as the minimal mesh size, the height of the net, the distance from the coast and depth at which nets may be used in order to ensure a more balanced harvesting of fish stocks and to preserve biodiversity;

53.  Calls on the Commission to amend the provisions of the existing regulation that prescribe the required distance from the coast and the depth at which fishing gears may be used to take account of the geographical specificities of border areas of Member States;

54.  Stresses the need for an amendment to the Regulation concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea, also known as the ‘Mediterranean Regulation’, which was adopted in 2006 and which lays down rules on the technical characteristics of fishing gears and their uses; feels that this regulation must be brought into line with the new CFP, while keeping in mind that the basin is managed jointly with non‑EU countries, in particular the objective of maximum sustainable yield;

55.  Stresses the need for effective coordination between the Member States to ensure that fishermen are given timely and comprehensive information on the implementation of existing regulations and any amendments to them;

56.  Calls on the Commission to promote projects, in the context of cohesion policy, that will make a contribution to protecting coastal and island areas as traditional, cultural and historical fishing and maritime heritage areas;

57.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to use European funds to subsidise the sustainability certification of almadraba traps, in order to promote the recognition and contribution of this fishing method;

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

(1) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 167.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0438.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0291.
(4) OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 24.


External dimension of the CFP, including fisheries agreements
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European Parliament resolution of 12 April 2016 on common rules in respect of application of the external dimension of the CFP, including fisheries agreements (2015/2091(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0110A8-0052/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of 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(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2328/2003, (EC) No 861/2006, (EC) No 1198/2006 and (EC) No 791/2007 and Regulation (EU) No 1255/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council(2),

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

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982,

–  having regard to the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks,

–  having regard to the Food and Agriculture Organisation Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, adopted in October 1995, and to the associated instruments and guidelines,

–  having regard to the vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) concept that emerged from discussions at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and gained momentum following the adoption of UNGA resolution 61/105 of 2006, and to the fact that VMEs constitute areas that may be vulnerable to the impact of fishing activities,

–  having regard to the 2009 Azores Scientific Criteria and Guidance for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) and designing representative networks of marine protected areas in open ocean waters and deep sea habitats under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy(3),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Long Distance Advisory Council Conference of 16 and 17 September 2015,

–  having regard to Court of Auditors Special Report No 11/2015 of 20 October 2015 entitled ‘Are the Fisheries Partnership Agreements well managed by the Commission?’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0052/2016),

A.  whereas, according to the 2014 Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report entitled ‘The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture’, the number of over-exploited stocks increased continuously until 2008 but decreased slightly in 2011;

B.  whereas the EU is one of the world’s main fishing players, with a strong historical presence and significant activities in all the world’s oceans through a combination of fleet activities, private investments by EU nationals, its network of bilateral fisheries agreements, its outermost regions, and its participation in all of the major regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs), and whereas the EU encourages good practice and respect for human rights;

C.  whereas the sustainable management of global fish stocks must inevitably involve multilateralism and international cooperation, including bilateral cooperation; whereas the EU has a key role to play in global governance of the seas and oceans, and whereas the CFP must be based on an ambitious vision that is coherent with the internal dimension provided for in the basic regulation on the subject;

D.  whereas the FAO recently published Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, which set out objectives in relation to such fisheries, particularly in developing countries;

E.  whereas the EU is a major market for fishery products (including fish caught by EU fleets as well as imports) and the largest importer of such products, consuming 11 % of the world’s fish production in terms of volume and importing 24 % of fishery products in terms of value, even though it only accounts for 8 % of the world’s catch; whereas the EU has an extensive processing industry with a significant social dimension which must be protected;

F.  whereas the external dimension of the new CFP encompasses international agreements and fisheries in the areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJs), whereas the Convention on Biological Diversity and the FAO advocate the identification of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) and vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), respectively, and whereas marine protected areas are essential tools for ecosystem-based management, as recognised by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs);

G.  whereas quotas in RFMOs have been based primarily on historical catches, which led to preferential access to global fish stocks for developed countries; whereas allocation criteria established by some RFMOs must now be used to take account of fishing by coastal developing countries which have depended on adjacent fisheries resources for generations, a fact that the EU must continue to respect;

H.  whereas it is essential to differentiate between the northern agreements with Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, and sustainable fisheries partnership agreements (SFPAs) involving other countries;

I.  whereas the EU has to seek policy coherence for development under Article 201(1) of the TFEU, according to which ‘the Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries’;

J.  whereas in some cases there are insufficient data on the status of resources and total removals by local and third-country fleets in respect of fish stocks that the EU is fishing in the waters of third countries, or which are destined for the EU market, thus making it difficult to evaluate the level of surplus stocks under many mixed agreements as required under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); whereas it would be desirable to increase the quantity and transparency of such data;

K.  whereas the EU should take all possible steps to ensure that the sustainable fisheries agreements entered into with third countries provide mutual benefits to the EU and to the third countries in question, including their local populations and fisheries sectors;

L.  whereas the problem of piracy also has negative effects on regions where regulated fishing is practised within the framework of bilateral and multilateral fisheries agreements;

1.  Welcomes the inclusion in the basic regulation on the CFP, for the first time, of a chapter referring to the external dimension, including minimum conditions for bilateral agreements, a duty to foster cooperation among RFMOs and consistency between the measures they take, an explicit reference to common standards both inside and outside EU waters, and a statement that measures must be based on the best available scientific advice;

2.  Emphasises the importance of ensuring consistency between fishery, environmental and trade policy and development cooperation;

3.  Recognises the importance of maintaining and expanding the coherence and compatibility of the existing legal framework;

4.  Calls for increased cooperation between Commission bodies relevant to fisheries, namely DG MARE, DG DEVCO and DG TRADE;

5.  Insists that the promotion, by the EU and the partners with whom it has bilateral and other agreements, of environmentally, socially and economically sustainable fisheries based on transparency and the participation of non-governmental stakeholders, especially professionals who depend on fishing for their livelihoods, is essential in order to secure a future for coastal communities, the marine environment, the development of local industry, the employment generated by fishing, processing and trade, and the contribution of fishing to food security;

6.  Insists on the importance of promoting ecosystem protection and maintaining fish stocks above levels capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield, as more abundant fish stocks are an important requirement to enable the development of third countries’ coastal fishing communities, in line with the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries;

7.  Stresses the need to support the development of local communities whose livelihoods depend mostly on fishing and activities related to the fishing industry; underlines the need to support measures aimed at promoting the transfer of technologies and know‑how, capacity management, multi-stakeholder partnerships and other investments for the benefit of the fishing industry;

8.  Recalls that the environmental standards that must also apply to EU external fisheries include the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management together with the precautionary approach, so as to rebuild and maintain exploited stocks above levels that can produce the maximum yield by 2015 wherever possible, and by 2020 at the latest for all stocks;

9.  Emphasises that all aspects of the external dimension of the CFP must be predicated on equitable and mutually beneficial relationships between the EU, its Member States and their partners globally, be they bilateral (SFPAs) or multilateral (RFMOs), with a view to promoting sustainable development of the local fishing industry; stresses that such equity must also be reflected in EU trade agreements with third countries, consistent with the requirement for policy coherence for development;

10.  Calls on the Commission to include, in the external dimension of the CFP, consideration of the outermost regions, including bilateral agreements signed with third countries, so as to ensure that local fisheries in the outermost regions benefit;

11.  Recognises the work done by the Long Distance Advisory Council in developing its position on the external dimension of the revised CFP and the implementation thereof, in conjunction with stakeholders from third countries;

12.  Insists that, in its external fishery-related activities (catching, processing and marketing), the EU must promote its highest environmental and social standards and implement rigorous and effective control and inspection measures, while ensuring transparency in all its activities, so as to ensure fair competition on the EU market;

13.  Recognises the role of the external dimension of the CFP in the creation of employment (both in the EU and elsewhere) and the supply of fish to EU markets (and to local markets in some circumstances), and as a vehicle by which the EU can provide technical, financial and scientific assistance to third countries, in particular through support for improvements in scientific research, control and surveillance regimes and the development of port infrastructure;

14.  Welcomes the significant improvements in the way in which the EU has managed the external dimension of the CFP in recent years, in terms of both the SFPAs and their implementation, with the result that EU fleets are generally among the most progressive distant-water fishing fleets in meeting high social and environmental standards; considers that the EU should promote such environmental and social standards in the international context via RFMOs and its network of SFPAs;

15.  Recognises that when the EU fleet ceases to operate in a fishery, its fishing rights may be redistributed among other fleets that have much lower standards of conservation, management and sustainability than those advocated and defended by the EU;

16.  Considers the provision of sectoral support to the fishing sector in SFPA partner countries to be critical in addressing their growing needs relating to fishing management, scientific research capacity, infrastructure construction and maintenance, and the training of fisheries inspectors and crew members, and in improving the supply and availability of fish with a view to the food security of populations in SFPA partner countries by providing support for the work done by women in the fisheries sector;

17.  Insists, therefore, on better linkage between the sectoral support provided under fishing agreements and the instruments available within the scope of cooperation on development, specifically the European Development Fund (EDF), and for full transparency in the funding of fisheries projects and the use of sectoral support, so as to ensure the proper use of EU funds;

18.  Reiterates the need for better scientific information on the status of resources and catch/effort data for fishing outside EU waters, especially in the waters of certain developing coastal states, with funds available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the EDF being used for that purpose;

19.  Notes that, according to the recent Court of Auditors report on the fisheries partnership agreements (FPAs), while one of the main objectives of the FPAs is to fish only surplus stocks, this has proved very difficult to implement in practice, ‘due to a lack of reliable information on fish stocks and on the fishing effort of domestic fishing fleets, or of other foreign fleets which have also been granted access by the partner countries’; stresses, in this connection, the importance of reliable scientific data and independent ex‑post evaluations concerning the effectiveness of FPAs;

20.  Insists that the EU should promote, through its SFPAs and its work in RFMOs, harmonisation of the conditions governing access to African waters for all foreign fleets in respect of tuna and small pelagic and demersal species, with a view to establishing favourable conditions for fishermen working in a sustainable and responsible manner;

21.  Calls for the expansion of independent observer programmes that contribute to the monitoring of fisheries and the collection of scientific data;

22.  Is convinced that it is only through regional management of fisheries, including observer programmes and inspection (in port and at sea) and control systems at a regional level, that sustainable and equitable exploitation can be developed for highly migratory stocks and straddling and shared stocks as required by UNCLOS and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement;

23.  Notes that a legal framework for regional management of highly migratory species, together with many other stocks, exists through the tuna and other RFMOs, although some fisheries remain outside the RFMO network, and urges the Commission to work to ensure that all relevant fisheries are managed by an RFMO as soon as possible;

24.  Calls on the Commission to allocate greater funding to RFMOs, since they have a crucial role to play in combating illegal, undeclared and unregulated (IUU) fishing;

25.  Is concerned that certain other fisheries, especially for shared stocks not found on the high seas, do not yet have an effective forum for regional cooperation and management; considers this a serious problem, particularly for the stocks of small pelagic species in West Africa, given their strategic importance for food security, as noted in a recent advisory opinion of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea(4);

26.  Urges the EU to use its influence to ensure that all fisheries with a regional dimension are managed by an RFMO; particularly urges the EU to push for the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF) to become a full-fledged RFMO with decision-making authority, rather than an FAO regional fisheries advisory body;

27.  Is convinced that, insofar as EU fleets have access to other fisheries (e.g. for demersal species), there is a need for the EU to promote measures applicable to all in order to ensure harmony between industrial and artisanal fishing fleets, which may require a zoning system that allows for the protection of the local artisanal fishing sector;

28.  Calls for more studies on, and increased protection of, deep sea species and habitats, in particular those which are especially sensitive or fundamental for the ecosystem's long‑term sustainability;

29.  Encourages the Commission to promote a balanced distribution of the allocation of access in RFMOs, taking into account the environmental and social impact, food security needs, and developing countries’ aspiration to develop their own fisheries; notes that any reallocation needs to involve all fleets, both distant-water and national, and to be based on any appropriate allocation criteria developed by the relevant RFMO;

30.  Welcomes the requirement in the basic regulation that all foreign fleets operating in a country with which the EU has an SFPA must be subject to similar conditions of access which promote sustainable fisheries, as an important measure ensuring that other distant-water fleets operate to the same standards as the EU rather than undermining them; encourages the Commission to pursue this requirement vigorously;

31.  Calls for the EU to utilise its network of SFPAs and negotiations in RFMOs to ensure that our partner countries limit access by all distant-water fleets to surplus stocks, as required by UNCLOS and the CFP, and as the EU does, and to provide preferential access to fleets using the most environmentally and socially sustainable practices for the region and stocks concerned;

32.  Is concerned about the potential interruption of fishing activities between two protocols when negotiations on a new protocol become protracted; calls on the Commission to guarantee the legal and economic security of operators by assuring the continuity of fishing operations between two protocols;

33.  Recognises the importance of establishing a broader framework with developing countries which encompasses not only fisheries but also the preceding and subsequent areas of the supply chain;

34.  Encourages the EU to avoid negotiating SFPAs with countries where corruption is accepted;

35.  Recognises the importance of establishing a broader framework with developing countries which integrates fisheries with other development-related themes;

36.  Believes in the importance of recognising fishing licences through diplomatic channels;

37.  Recognises the importance for developing countries of fisheries, especially artisanal fisheries, on account of their contribution to food security, the local economy and employment for both men and women, without prejudice to the role played by those industrial fisheries activities which take place within a responsible and transparent framework in ensuring the socio-economic development of coastal areas and the supply of fish products;

38.  Underlines the need for the EU to respect its obligation to promote environmentally and socially sustainable fisheries in developing countries through all EU policies that affect fisheries in developing countries (aid, trade, fisheries);

39.  Emphasises the importance of involving women throughout the value chain, from financing through to the processing and/or marketing of fish products; believes that promoting women’s access to these activities would reinforce their economic and social empowerment, thereby playing an important role in closing gender gaps; insists that more attention be paid to equality-related priorities in EU relations with developing countries;

40.  Emphasises the need to promote local development by means of sectoral support, by increasing the empowerment of partner countries' fisheries through, in particular, strengthening sustainable aquaculture, developing and conserving artisanal fishing, improving scientific knowledge about the condition of fish stocks and boosting private‑sector initiatives by local parties; calls for the EU, through SFPAs, to encourage good governance, in particular the good management of public revenues from the fisheries sector and of financial compensation;

41.  Considers that the EU should encourage third countries, starting with those with which it negotiates an SFPA, to establish a regulatory framework for joint ventures by EU and other interests in the catching, processing and marketing sectors; is of the opinion that such a framework is the best means of ensuring that joint ventures are set up and operate in line with high sustainability and transparency standards as promoted by the reformed CFP, thus also providing better legal stability for EU interests in supporting sustainable fisheries development in third countries;

42.  Insists that transparency, accountability and stakeholder participation are to be considered key elements of EU fisheries relations with third countries;

43.  Emphasises that European investments in third countries’ fisheries under the guise of joint ventures must be covered by the CFP; stresses that the EU should, through its SFPAs, promote a dialogue with partner countries on the establishment of a regulatory framework in order to ensure that joint ventures in the catching, processing and marketing sectors formed with partners from the EU or other countries operate in a transparent manner, do not compete with the local artisanal sector and contribute to the development objectives of the country concerned;

44.  Gives consideration to the Court of Auditors report, which stresses that the under‑utilisation of the tonnage quotas adopted in certain recent protocols results in high costs; invites the Commission, therefore, to avoid unnecessary costs for the EU budget in this area as far as possible;

45.  Believes that Parliament should have a more active role than the current consent procedure, and insists that it be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the proceedings as regards the conclusion or renewal of FPAs, in order to increase the transparency and democratic accountability of the protocols;

46.  Recognises the importance of the external dimension of the CFP in creating employment in both the EU and our partner countries, including through the hiring of local crew in the context of SFPAs; encourages, where possible, EU vessels to unload their catches in the partner countries for initial processing; calls for instruments to protect workers and decent working conditions to be included in European regulations on fishing matters (especially in respect of International Labour Organisation Convention 188) and in SFPAs in order to guarantee the same working conditions, remuneration, protection of workers' rights and levels of training for EU and other nationals;

47.  Warmly welcomes the transparency provisions of the most recent protocol with Mauritania, whereby the latter undertakes to publish all agreements with states or private entities granting foreign vessels access to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and urges that such transparency provisions be included in all SFPAs;

48.  Warmly welcomes, also, the fact that the protocol with Mauritania grants the EU fleet priority access to fishing surpluses in that country, and encourages the Commission to follow this example in negotiating protocols with other third countries, taking into account the strict sustainability requirements which the EU fleet must meet;

49.  Strongly encourages the Commission to ensure that similar transparency provisions are included in other future protocols, leading to much-improved transparency regarding total fishing effort and conditions of access; calls for information on the aggregated catches of vessels from all fleets allowed to fish in Mauritanian waters, and the associated conditions of access, to be publicly available;

50.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of those international bodies with which it is involved, to encourage other third countries also to publish the terms of other agreements that they sign with other states or private entities, including the identity of vessels authorised to fish and their activities and catches; encourages, likewise, third countries to comply with RFMO resolutions, which promote transparency in fisheries agreements;

51.  Encourages other third countries to consider RFMOs’ recommendations, resolutions and decisions promoting the transparency of fisheries agreements within the EEZ concerned;

52.  Believes that the Commission should, as soon as possible, improve transparency by setting up a database covering all private agreements between or on behalf of EU ship‑owners and local or regional bodies or authorities or third countries that involve access to third-country fisheries, including conditions for access, allowable fleet capacity, the identity of the vessels and the resulting fishing activities, and that this database should be in the public domain, with the exception of those parts which contain commercially sensitive information;

53.  Notes that ship‑owners sign private agreements with the governments of third countries which are outside the scope of the CFP; is concerned that the Commission is not systematically notified of such agreements; is worried that this could, under certain circumstances, lead to unfair competition with developing countries’ local fishing communities, as well as with EU ship‑owners operating under bilateral agreements;

54.  Considers that vessels fishing under the provisions of an SFPA but which do not fulfil their obligations, such as that of supplying their Member State with the data required under the terms of their fishing authorisation, should be subject to the penalties provided for in the Control Regulation and the IUU Regulation, including, where appropriate, denial of a fishing authorisation;

55.  Considers it regrettable that previous estimates of the size of the ‘external fleet’ have used differing definitions of the types of vessel to be included, with the result that existing estimates are not comparable, which makes it impossible to carry out an analysis of the fleet’s size and evolution over time, thus severely limiting transparency; encourages the Commission to develop a definition of the external fleet that includes all vessels operating outside EU waters, while paying due attention to the relevant specificities of the northern agreements, so as to allow historical comparison;

56.  Notes that, despite the role played by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), differences in the rules applied to EU and third‑country fleets operating in the same fisheries have been causing considerable problems for EU fishermen; considers it necessary for the EU to increase its efforts in the Mediterranean Basin by means of closer cooperation with local bodies, regional organisations, scientific institutions, observatories and country-based fisheries clusters; considers that the EU has a role to play in the resolution of conflicts between vessels in the Mediterranean, and asks the Commission to consider supporting and assisting fishermen who are frequently subject to confrontations with third-country vessels, and to establish closer cooperation with countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean;

57.  Welcomes the recent publication of the names of EU-flagged vessels granted authorisation to fish outside EU waters, and insists that the Commission publish such information as a matter of course, including data on their activities and catches;

58.  Notes that transparency is a prerequisite for consultation with, and the informed participation of, fisheries stakeholders, especially professionals whose livelihoods depend on fisheries; considers that such consultation and participation should be promoted in SFPAs, including the negotiation of agreements and protocols, their implementation, the allocation and use of sectoral support, work carried out in RFMOs, and the application of development cooperation projects;

59.  Notes that the basic regulation includes a provision requiring vessels that leave and subsequently return to the EU register to provide information on their activities before their return; considers that this requirement should be strengthened such that a vessel’s complete flagging history must be submitted to the Commission and included in the Community Fishing Fleet Register database prior to the vessel’s acceptance in the register;

60.  Recognises the work done by the EU in combating IUU fishing, which is a threat to fish stocks and constitutes unfair competition to legitimate fishermen; acknowledges the contribution of the IUU Regulation to promoting sustainable fishing in the world; considers that, thanks to the EU’s pivotal role as the world’s leading market for fish, it has the capacity to secure support from other states, including those with which it has SFPAs, and international actors in order to ensure a common approach and an effective global regime to combat IUU fishing;

61.  Promotes the development of a unique international system for registering all vessels sailing in international waters;

62.  Insists that the IUU Regulation must be applied rigorously, objectively and transparently, in a non-discriminatory and harmonised manner, in order to promote a level playing field among fleets and countries, and encourages the Commission and the Member States to do so; considers, further, that in order to ensure the success of the regulation it must not be subject to the short‑term needs of the EU’s trade policy or be used by EU fishing interests as a tool for unfairly improving competition;

63.  Calls on the Commission to study the inclusion in the IUU Regulation of provisions relating to working conditions;

64.  Emphasises that SFPAs should also ensure the complete traceability of marine fisheries products;

65.  Believes that bilateral and multilateral trade agreements negotiated by the EU should promote environmentally sustainable and socially just conditions for the production of fisheries products in the third countries concerned, through the use of appropriate quantitative and qualitative restrictions on access to the EU market, so as to not undermine the progress being made in combating IUU fishing through this regulation; also believes that these conditions should be a requirement for placing any fish or fishing-derived product on the European market, and that any fish or fishing‑derived product not guaranteed to comply with these conditions or with consumer protection requirements should be barred from the European market;

66.  Believes that the economic, social and environmental conditions prevailing in the collection and processing of fish should be clear to consumers;

67.   Suggests that the provisions of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements should include an explicit reference to the IUU Regulation, including the standards contained therein; advises the Commission to propose the suspension of trade relations with a third country that has been identified under Article 31 of the IUU Regulation;

68.  Urges the Commission to introduce into the IUU Regulation a system similar to the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) in order to verify and cross-check data relating to catch certificates and vessels, or to establish a minimum percentage for the verification of imports of processed products;

69.  Considers it important to issue detailed guidance to, and monitor the efforts made by, countries which have been the subject of yellow or red cards;

70.   Welcomes the inclusion of fishing vessels as vulnerable in the context of Operation Atalanta activities, and requests that continued support and protection be given to the EU fleet;

71.  Considers that the UN negotiations for a new system of international oceans governance in ABNJs must have the objective of arriving at a regime that allows the study and equitable, sustainable and precautionary utilisation of the resources of international ocean waters, including the continuing work of identifying EBSAs with a view to implementing a coherent network of marine protected areas;

72.  Recalls the Commission’s duty as guardian of the Treaties to ensure that Member States meet their due diligence obligations regarding the external activities of their nationals and vessels, and calls for the EU to take account of the recent International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea advisory opinion identifying the EU as flag state in the context of bilateral agreements;

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

(1) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 22.
(2) OJ L 149, 20.5.2014, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 175.
(4) Advisory Opinion of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea of 2 April 2015, in response to the request submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC): https://www.itlos.org/fileadmin/itlos/documents/cases/case_no.21/advisory_opinion/C21_AdvOp_02.04.pdf

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